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The World's First Floating Golf Course Should Be Completed By 2015

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The Maldives will soon be home to a $520 million floating golf course on the Indian Ocean. The design should be completed by 2015, according to The Daily Mail.

Rising sea levels are threatening many of the islands in the Indian Ocean, including the Maldives. As a result, the small island nation is looking to create floating developments to circumvent the rising sea levels.

The world's first floating golf course, which will be built on floating platforms, is one of the first major construction projects to make that transition. The golf course will have 18 holes (built on different floating platforms), an underwater clubhouse and two luxury hotels. Underwater tunnels will connect the holes and facilities together. It will all be developed by the Dutch Docklands.

The artificial islands will be built in India or the Middle East, and then towed to the Maldives.

The maldives floating golf course

The maldives floating golf course

The maldives floating golf course

The maldives floating golf course

 

DON'T MISS: This Solar-Powered, Floating Resort Could Be The Hotel Of The Future >

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Why The Fashion World Hates Kim Kardashian

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Kim KardashianKim Kardashian is fighting an eternal uphill battle in the fashion industry.

High fashion has always has a tough industry to penetrate. It has a "snobbery and classism" that stonewalls those deemed unworthy, writes Benjamin Wallace in NY Mag.

Her big break-in so far has been ShoeDazzle — the online retailer she founded back in 2009. It has raised upwards of $60 million in venture capital.

The Kardashians have clothing lines in Sears and QVC, and Kim has seen success as a model, appearing on the covers of W, Harper's Bazaar and L'Uomo Vogue.

So, there's proof that the industry is beginning to accept her. But, remember, she's a reality superstar, and the one that carries a greater stigma than anyone else.

Wallace explains precisely why they hate her:

"The boundaryless ambit of the Kardashians is the precise obverse of the fashion world, with its exclusionary fences and rigid caste distinctions. Fashion is androgynous, anorexic, self-punishing, full of security-blanket snobberies. It wants to be transcendent, above mass commerce. It hates sex, even as it sells it (coldly). It hates flesh.

Kim Kardashian—a sexpot with curves and a prodigious behind, a sybarite as well as a full-on capitalist—is an affront to everything it holds dear. It’s hard to imagine a model who converted her looks into a business empire being perceived as anything other than impressive—an entrepreneur—but for this world Kim may be the wrong kind of model."

Will she ever break all the way through?

NOW SEE: 9 Trends That Are Transforming The Retail World >

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Luxury Companies Are Getting Hammered Because They're Losing Two Big Cash Cows

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Coach Shopping Retail Handbags Bags

Sales of designer shoes and handbags are plummeting as consumers realize they can get the same product for much cheaper.

This spells trouble for the luxury retail companies who have long considered the categories to be their cash cow, luxury guru and Unity Marketing founder Pam Danziger said in a report.

Caring about Manolo Blahnik shoes or Birken handbags is considered "passe," Danziger said in her email to us. According to her research, people are buying just as many personal luxury items, they're just spending less for them.

"Spending is down both quarter-to-quarter and year-to-year.  This indicates that consumers are still buying, but paying less for their fashion accessories, perhaps by looking for sales and discounts, and perhaps by trading down to less premium brands."

And this attitude means that retailers including Coach, Saks and Ralph Lauren have all posted weak results in recent weeks, Danziger said.

Teri Agins at the Wall Street Journal similarly declared that the days of spending thousands for a logo should be over:

"Personally, I have always despised logos. I tolerate them on sneakers because we have no choice. But I am a stellar hold out when it comes to handbags—I insist on carrying an anonymous bag. I'm an intrepid shopper who likes to scour the marketplace at every price range. I've found gorgeous logo-free bags everywhere from Ann Taylor to Zara to Brooks Brothers, as well as artsy stores like Anthropologie. And yes, even Wal-Mart. My brown woven handbag for $6.97 from the store has fooled the most persnickety bag snobs."

These retailers will have to bend to consumer need and offer more inexpensive items in order to survive, Danziger said. 

DON'T MISS: Here's The Biggest Reason That Abercrombie & Fitch Is In Huge Trouble >

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Take A Tour Of Gold Medal Winner Hope Solo's Bachelorette Pad

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hope solo house

Hope Solo, one of the best soccer goalies in the world, is always traveling, so she is very excited to finally have a place she can call home.

Solo bought a home for $1.2 million in Kirkland, Washington, close to where she grew up and went to college, according to Zillow.com.

The house is more than 5,000 square feet and has four bedrooms and three bathrooms. But the best part of the place is the beautiful view.

Solo calls it her bachelorette pad.

Let's go inside...



The kitchen is huge



Lots of counter space



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This New Luxury Hotel For Dogs Has Full-Size Beds And Flat Screen TVs

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dog in D pet hotel

A swanky new hotel that caters only to dogs will open in Manhattan's trendy Chelsea neighborhood later this summer, the New York Post reports.

Located on West 27th street, D Pet Hotel's luxurious amenities include a fitness center, gourmet meals cooked by a private chef, full-size beds and flat screen TV's.

The hotel has more luxury amenities than many conventional four-star hotels—yet these accommodations are just for pooches.

The hotel has 40 standard rooms that go for $79 a night. There are also eight luxury suites that cost $110 a night. Those "sensational suites" have flat-screen TVs with DVD players for the dogs to watch appropriately hound-themed movies such as “Beverly Hills Chihuahua” and “Fox and the Hound."

There are also two "ubersuites” that have a queen-size bed, 19-foot ceilings and 42-inch TVs with cable for $200 a night.

Add $9 for gourmet meals and $60 an hour for a walk around Chelsea, and a stay in this hotel costs almost $300 a day.

We feel bad for the hotel's neighbors, who hopefully won't be kept awake by barking dogs all night.

There is currently a D Pet Hotel location in Hollywood, but this will be the first D Pet Hotel in New York City.

DON'T MISS: Went To An Extravagant, $250,000 Wedding Last Night—To Celebrate The Marriage Of 2 Dogs >

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Micro-Subletting Is Thriving In New York—But Is It Legal?

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NYC apartment

Micro-subletting is a pretty good business in New York these days. As the New York Post recently reported, residents throughout the city are "bringing in tens of thousands of dollars" renting out their units or spare rooms for days or weeks at a time.

Carol Williams of the East Village made $18,000 in 10 months. Mikey Rox of Harlem pulled in $75,000 over three years. Seth Porges has made $60,000 over two years and published tips for how others can do the same.

The only problem with the scheme — at least in some cases — is that it's illegal. A 2010 state law, implemented in May 2011, prevents someone from occupying a Class A dwelling for fewer than 30 days. Though the primary targets of the law were illegal hotels run by building owners, the provision extends to people living in residential apartment units as well.

There are two major exceptions to the 30-day restriction. One says that residents are free to sublet a room of an apartment so long as they continue to live in it with the guests. Another says that guests may sublet a whole unit for fewer than 30 days "provided that there is no monetary compensation paid to the permanent occupants." Neither seems very attractive to prospective micro-subletters. The former makes for some potentially uncomfortable encounters; the latter, a pretty poor business model.

Which may be why some micro-subletters aren't paying the 2010 law much mind. The New York Times recently reported that a proliferation of short-term renters has become a point of contention in Stuyvesant Town, a private residential community in the East Village. While younger residents enjoy the extra income, older residents see an abundance of negative consequences: from bed bugs to security risks to noise problems.

A general lack of enforcement by the city has made the feud more intense. A few long-time Stuy Town residents have turned into "amateur sleuths" who patrol short-term rental sites, such as Airbnb, in attempt to catch micro-subletters before they strike deals, according to theTimes. Management also claims to be monitoring the problem, saying they've sent "cease-and-desist letters to 50 tenants" since last summer.

Getting the attention of city authorities may be especially difficult if it turns out they're among the offenders. The neighborhood blog EV Grieve found a short-term rental listing at 18th St and 1st Avenue, right in the Stuy Town vicinity, posted by a self-described "Police Officer from New York."

"If it is in fact true a member of the NYPD is listing his apartment as a short-term rental, this will only fuel the Airbnb controversy," writes Grieve. (It's not clear whether the lister is renting just a room, which wouldn't violate the 2010 law if he stays there too, or his entire unit.)

That's not to say the city's doing nothing. As of April it had issued roughly 1,900 violations of the new law, according to another recent Times piece. Still sites like Airbnb (as well as small bed-and-breakfasts throughout the city) feel they're the unintended victims of legislation primarily meant to prevent residential buildings from becoming illegal hotels. An Airbnb spokesperson told Atlantic Cities that New York City residents who use the site to "help make ends meet" shouldn't be the focus of the law:

Our hosts have used the additional income they earn through Airbnb to help pay their rent, make their mortgage payments, and avoid foreclosure and bankruptcy. Airbnb not only helps New York City residents afford to live in one of the most expensive cities in the world, travel facilitated by Airbnb also spurs economic development in New York City's local neighborhoods. Airbnb travelers spend money at local businesses throughout the five boroughs, providing many neighborhoods with access to the city's strongest economic driver — tourism.

Some state lawmakers see their point. A clarification of the 2010 law, currently under consideration by Albany, would separate the "legitimate business model" of mirco-subletting from illegal hoteliers and the numerous maintenance, safety, and health-code problems they create. A memo for the amended bill, which is being sponsored by State Senator Martin Golden, says the new legislation "would help those individuals and small businesses that will no longer be able to operate because of this law."

Operate legally, that is.

DON'T MISS: These Manhattan Prices Will Shock The Rest Of America>

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Retail Workers Reveal The Annoying Little Things That Customers Do

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family shopping mall

Most retailers adopt the mantra that the customer is always right.

But retail employees often get the shaft. Thousands of them recently vented about their experiences on Reddit.

Here are some of the most annoying experiences they had with customers, edited only for clarity. 

 There's a Walmart story:

"I work at Walmart stocking shelves in the grocery department. During one busy day a woman came up to me with a crying kid, probably about 5 years old, and said (exact quote) "my kid is p---ing me off, watch him for me while I go get some things."

I told her that it wasn't my job to watch her kid and that I had to go in back and do things and he couldn't come with me anyway, so then she told me she was going to walk away and leave her kid there and if anything happened to him it would be my fault. So I told her if she did that I was going to take her kid to customer service and tell them he was lost and have them page her until she came back."

At a cell phone company:

"I had someone try to pay cash for their phone bill once. Over the phone, because dollars have a serial number."

At McDonald's:

"I had a customer ask: "whats the difference between the 4 piece nugget meal and a 6 piece nugget meal, besides the price of course?" I just looked at him and said "2 nuggets", and he was actually surprised. I think he was hoping something else would come with the meal, but I don't know why."

At the grocery:

"I was working and this little girl said to her mom "whats he doing mommy" she replied "putting stuff on the shelf". the little girl ask "why?" and then the mom said "because he didn't go to college."

At the bookstore:

"You'd be surprised how many people came in and asked us to help them find a book that they knew nothing about. We're pretty good at figuring out what people need, but when they don't know the author, title, or anything about the book, it's pretty much impossible. My favorite ones were people who insisted we should be able to find a book because "I told you! The cover is red!"'

And at the zoo:

"A woman asked me how much it would cost for her son to go into the tiger exhibit to pet/play with the tiger. She wasn't very happy when I told her that absolutely no one was allowed in with the tiger."

DON'T MISS: Gay Chick-Fil-A Employees Reveal What It Has Been Like To Work There Lately >

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Chef Eric Ripert Is Teaching The World How To Open A Scallop On Twitter Right Now

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eric ripert scallops twitter

Eric Ripert, the executive chef of famous seafood restaurant Le Bernardin in New York, gave a lesson on how to open a scallop on his Twitter feed today.

He makes it look pretty easy. But then again he is a professional chef.

Follow Ripert at @EricRipert.

Note: We left the tweets as-is so excuse the typos, please.

He first tweeted: "Scallops @LeBernardinNY arrived live & in the shell We show you how to open them...in few tweets"

Source: @EricRipert via Twitter



"With a knive follow the top of the shell Until..."

Source: @EricRipert via Twitter



You separate the 2 sides...

Source: @EricRipert via Twitter



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Costco Proves That Big Retailers Can Offer Employees Healthcare

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costco

After the Obamacare ruling, the National Retail Federation said requiring retail employers to offer healthcare would be devastating to the industry.

Since the ruling in June, big businesses including Papa John's have weighed in and complained about the costs of providing employees with benefits.

But there's one major retailer that does offer most employees affordable healthcare: Costco.

Leon Kaye at TriplePundit describes Costco's policies:

"Walk into any Costco and look at the name tags. Chances are you will read the phrases “since 2002,” “since 1999” and “since 1995.” Costco workers get paid very well compared to their counterparts at chains including Walmart. In fact, employees working on the floor can make a salary that reaches the mid-$40,000 range; not bad for someone who starts working for the company out of high school.

And while the vast majority of Costco’s employees are not unionized (most of those are legacy employees from Price Club that the Teamsters represent), over 80 percent have competitively priced health insurance plans.

The outcome includes more productive workers, lower turnover and for what it’s worth, relatively high job satisfaction."

Costco certainly has more resources than small businesses, which the NRF said would suffer most from the SCOTUS ruling.

But the Costco anecdote certainly provides food for thought on how retailers should treat their employees.

DON'T MISS: Luxury Companies Are Getting Hammered Because They're Losing Two Big Cash Cows>

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HOUSE OF THE DAY: This Ultra-Modern $15 Million Hollywood Home Is Absolutely Fantastic

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west hollywood mansion $15 million

A stunning super modern home is on sale for $15 million in West Hollywood, California.

The gigantic house spans 10,000 square feet and has seven bedrooms and seven and a half bathrooms.

The home is considered green and is equipped with solar panels on the roof and in the pool.

It's also high-tech: you can control the lights, sound, air, electricity, doors and alarms from anywhere through an iPhone or iPad.

Welcome to Sierra Alta Way.



The home is known as the Milan Residence.



The water is illuminated at night with LED lights.



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The 5 Best Bars In Barcelona

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dnu

Barcelona is a partygoer’s paradise, with more travelers seeing the Spanish sunrise than the sunset (we need our pre-party evening siesta), and is an absolute can’t-miss destination for any visitor serious about their nightlife.

With beach cerveserias, concerts, countless tapas bars, rowdy pubs, and clubs packed till 6am, there’s something going on day and night. 

Check out the Barcelona hotspots here >

We at Party Earth advise that you reserve Barcelona’s history and colorful architecture from about noon to three – or better yet plan your drinking destinations so that you can see things along the way.

You could spend a lifetime discovering the bars and clubs in Barcelona, but we want to show you a tiny taste of the immense diversity of fun that the city offers. So below are a few of our favorite venues in Catalonia that will keep you happy all night long. And take solace in knowing you won’t be the first to stumble off the subway at dawn to see La Sagrada Familia. 

This story was originally published by Party Earth.

Dry Martini Bar

Start the night off with class at the Dry Martini Bar, which serves up what could possibly be the best martinis in the country. Framed art deco paintings, leather sofas, and a glossy wood finish give off a ritzy 1920’s décor, complemented by bartenders in white tuxedos who specialize in the art of mixing vermouths, bitters, and dashes. It’s the perfect place to join in on a conversation with the sophisticated clientele, sip your handcrafted chef-d'oeuvre, and get the properness out of your system before a wild night out. 



Jamboree

Located just off the bustling nightlife strip of La Rambla, Jamboree is a popular music venue that transforms into a late-night club after the live bands leave the stage. Having hosted some of the century’s most legendary players, the brick cellar of Jamboree holds a spot in jazz history, and provides patrons with intimate jazz shows with big name artists that are usually hard to find. After the music ends, the cellar combines with its upstairs sister establishment, Tarantos, and becomes one of the city’s busiest clubs for tourists and locals looking to dance for little to no cover. Head to Jamboree for an authentic music experience and stay for the dancing where you are free to climb the stage for your own performance – ideally a duet.



La Champaneria (Can Paixano)

After you’re finished tanning on the beach and have gotten your afternoon siesta in, it’s time for some mouthwatering tapas and authentic champagne at La Champaneria (Can Paixano), one of the best tapas bars in Barcelona. To find the place, just head to Port Olympic and look for the masses of people spilling out onto the sidewalk from the open wood door. With cheap Spanish champagnes and delicious tapas, the narrow space is packed to the brim on almost any night, but the fight to the front of the bar can be half the fun. Once you elbow your way there, order a bottle of bubbly and make friends with the half-dozen people butting up against you.



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The Sad Story Of How United Airlines Didn't Help A Lost Little Girl Find Her Parents

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united airlines

Author Bob Sutton has posted on his blog a troubling story involving United Airlines and a lost 10-year-old girl.

His friends Annie and Perry Klebahn sent their 10-year-old daughter Phoebe as an unaccompanied minor on a flight from San Francisco to Chicago, with a transfer to Grand Rapids, on June 30.

Nobody showed up in Chicago to help Phoebe transfer to her next flight, so she missed the connection. 

This could have been rectified with United employees stepping up to help the girl and her parents.

But, unfortunately, they didn't. Not until after a whole lot of persuasion, according to the Klebahns.

The representative that was supposed to help—from an outsourced service that escorts unaccompanied children—had forgotten to show up. It took an hour to find the girl after she had gone "missing."

"The attendants where busy and could not help her she told us," the Klebahns wrote in a letter to United. "She told them she had a flight to catch to camp and they told her to wait. She asked three times to use a phone to call us and they told her to wait. When she missed the flight she asked if someone had called camp to make sure they knew and they told her 'yes — we will take care of it."

"No one did. She was sad and scared and no one helped."

The camp that Phoebe was supposed to be headed to called the parents, informing them that their daughter never arrived at the airport and that she was missing. So, the Klebahns called United.

But they were connected to an outsourced customer service agent in India.

From the letter: "When I asked how she could have missed it, given everything was 100 percent on time, she said, 'it does not matter' she is still in Chicago and 'I am sure she is fine."

Finally, one United employee decided to help—but not as an agent of United. Mr. Klebahn asked her if she was a mother herself. She was, and they convinced her to help. The worker waited until she was off her shift, then found Phoebe and connected the girl with her parents.

"This is the key moment in the story, note that in her role as a United employee, this woman would not help Perry and Annie," writes Sutton on his blog. "It was only when Perry asked her if she was a mother, and how she would feel, that she was able to shed her deeply ingrained United indifference—the lack of felt accountability that pervades the system."

"Yes, there are design problems, there are operations problems, but to me the core lesson is this is a system packed with people who don't feel responsible for doing the right thing."

Phoebe eventually was allowed on a flight to Traverse City four hours later. It took three more days to get her bags.

United gave the Huffington Post a statement on the incident:

"We reached out directly to the Klebahns to apologize and we are reviewing this matter. What the Klebahns describe is not the service we aim to deliver to our customers. We are redepositing the miles used to purchase the ticket back into Mr. Klebahn’s account in addition to refunding the unaccompanied minor charge. We certainly appreciate their business and would like the opportunity to provide them a better travel experience in the future.

Click here to read the full letter that the Klebahns sent to United about the events that transpired.

NOW SEE: An American Airlines Flight Attendant Gave A Really Strange 'Spiritual Heart To Heart' Over The PA System >

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Here's How A Hamptons Fundraiser Works

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dnu

The lawn was filled with Goldman Sachs Group Inc. partners dressed in pink looking out on a pink sunset.

Rows of Moet & Chandon Champagne bottles stood chilled. On the buffet were dishes from Toy Restaurant in Manhattan and Tutto Il Giorno in nearby Sag Harbor.

Plum TV LLC -- brought back into business by LXTV founders Morgan Hertzan and Joseph Varet -- was filming. DJ Cassidy, founder of DJs for Obama, was spinning.

It wasn’t the first time hedge-fund manager Richard Perry and his designer wife, Lisa, opened their home in North Haven for a cause. Still, their first paddle-board race and party to benefit Breast Cancer Research Foundation already looked like one of the most fun benefits on the East End.

“I’m a little surprised that this got traction,” said Lisa Perry standing next to her pool in vintage Pucci. “We thought maybe we’d raise $200,000 and we’re close to $550,000. I think it’s a combination of people being curious about North Haven -- they want to see the property -- and it’s BCRF and Maria Baum.” In the end the party raised more than $615,000.

Baum, a former trader, had the idea for the event over dinner with the Perrys a year ago. Richard Perry had introduced her to paddle-boarding last summer. Baum wound up going out on the water almost every day as she went through chemotherapy for breast cancer.

Bay's Beauty

“I’d be really angry, and then I’d get absorbed in the beauty of the bays,” Baum said. “I would come back so peaceful and so energized that most people didn’t realize what I was going through.”

Maria and Larry Baum and the Perrys became the event co- chairmen. Maria Baum tapped her contacts in finance, including Goldman Sachs partners Heather Shemilt, Rebecca Shaghalian, Stacy Bash-Polley and Michele Docharty, who designated Goldman Sachs Gives as a lead sponsor and member of the host committee.

This backing early in the planning process helped set the ambitious scope of the event, said Myra Biblowit, president of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Knight Capital Group Inc. and Southfield Capital Advisors LLC also supported the event.

At the party, Estee Lauder Inc. Chairman William Lauder chatted with Harvard Business School professor Robert Kaplan, while designers Donna Karan and Reed Krakoff caught up near the Champagne bar. Darcy Miller, editorial director of Martha Stewart Weddings, talked with Clifford Hudis of Memorial Sloan- Kettering Cancer Center, who is the chairman of the BCRF Scientific Advisory Board.

The paddle-board race had 60 competitors, many of them new to the sport.

'I fell'

Mary Scheerer, president of Sag Harbor Industries Inc., finished first in one of the races.

“There was a lot of wind coming across the bay,” Scheerer said. “I fell 10 feet from the finish line, but my closest competitor fell more.”

The Perrys’ home, which they call “The Beach House,” wasn’t open, though one could steal a peek at the brightly colored modern art inside. The grounds offered a Calder sculpture, a Robert Indiana “Love” mosaic, large red and yellow rings by Zhu Jinshi and a pink paddle board propped against the poolside cabana, where the Perrys’ daughter, Samantha, was seen talking with friends.

Ranch hand

Navigator Group Inc. president Charles Stevenson’s son Ryland Stevenson is back in the Hamptons after working as a ranch hand, he said at a party he attended with his stepmom, writer Alex Kuczynski.

Days at Middle Fork Lodge in Challis, Idaho, started at 6 a.m. and included lugging around hoses and sprinklers and bailing hay. “I listened to lively things to keep me going,” the University of San Francisco sophomore said, “Stevie Ray Vaughn, boogie music, Johnny Lang.” As for the future: “I’d like to be a sports lawyer.”

Meanwhile the guest of honor at the party, Gigi Levangie Grazer, had just sat down with a psychic, who was on hand to help Grazer celebrate her new novel, “The After Wife,” about a 44-year-old Santa Monica, California, widow.

“The book is going to be a complete success and I’m going to have five more children,” said Grazer, who’s divorced from film producer Brian Grazer; they had two boys, 8 and 12. “And five more marriages, one for each child.”

She added: “Every book will be made into a movie starring Brad Pitt, George Clooney or Robert Pattison.”

Christopher Burch, CEO of J. Christopher Capital, hosted the party at his Southampton home, less than a mile from the C. Wonder store in the village. Burch’s firm created the chain.

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These 10 Incredible Private Safaris Will Help You And Your Friends Get Away From It All

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private safaris walking tour

The perfect safari should involve plenty of up-close-and-personal encounters—ideally involving wild animals and not the strangers in the tent next door.

Many high-end safari companies are responding to the yearning for even more exclusivity in what is already one of the world’s most elite travel experiences, offering private excursions that allow guests to choose their travel companions, customize their itineraries and witness plenty of once-in-a-lifetime moments.

Andy Cluver, CEO of South Africa–based airline Civair, has organized private travel for scores of celebrities, royals and politicians. High-profile travelers including Bono, Richard Branson, Michael Jackson and Princess Diana have entrusted Civair with their vacation plans. And while some boldfaced names like Bill Gates have been low maintenance (the Microsoft founder opted to travel with just his wife, Melinda), others have asked for a little more. Privacy, security and a support network are key for many private-safari clients.

Adventure outfitters are increasingly catering to guests who want to book an entire camp, boat, balloon or helicopter for themselves and their group. 

Experiential travel is hot the world over, and a host of destinations are getting in on the act, which was pioneered—and perfected—in Africa. Safari companies today offer the chance to encounter a whole ark’s worth of animals, from kangaroos and blue-footed boobies to mountain gorillas and crocodiles.

A river safari down the Amazon with National Geographic/Lindblad Expeditions offers a look at mythic river monsters like piranhas (without a swarm of camera-happy passengers snapping at your heels). At Anantara in Thailand’s Golden Triangle, guests learn to handle elephants in utterly tranquil surrounds. And at Wildman Lodge in Australia’s Northern Territory, kangaroo safaris through the bush encounter a variety of marsupials. Whichever you choose, the experience is truly like nothing else.

More From Departures:


 
 
 
 

Private Safari: Singita Sweni Lodge, South Africa

Located within a private concession of Kruger National Park, the six suites at Singita Sweni Lodge are elevated on stilts to provide a secluded game-viewing platform reminiscent of an eagle’s nest (if eagles had WiFi, outdoor showers and daybeds, that is).

Guests plan their own game-drive schedule and can fully expect to see the big five—lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants, Cape buffalo—along with rarer, more brag-worthy animals like black rhinos, sable antelopes and a trio of the world’s most unusual big cats: the serval (with the body of a cheetah and the ears of a bat), the caracal (a bobcat-like feline once used as a hunting companion) and the African wildcat. From $10,150 a night (including meals and drinks); 12-person capacity; 27-21/683-3424; singita.com.



Private Helicopter Safari: Uncharted Africa Safari Co., Ethiopia

For a bird’s-eye view of some of the most inaccessible and untouched wonders of Ethiopia, sign up with Uncharted Africa Safari Co., whose owner, Ralph Bousfield, leads guests on a ten-day odyssey, working off an itinerary that is easily customizable according to weather and whim.

Typically, Bousfield searches for game over the Omo River Delta and soars to dizzying heights over the jagged Simien Mountains (home to the Walia ibex and Simien fox) before plummeting into the surreal volcanic wasteland of the Danakil Depression, Africa’s lowest point. The heli-safari uses three main base camps near the eerily quiet Makgadikgadi Pans, the remnants of a vast lake that once covered much of Ethiopia and Botswana. $130,000 (all-inclusive); 2-person capacity; 27-11/447-1605; unchartedafrica.com.



Balloon Safari: Abercrombie & Kent, the Serengeti

Experience the Serengeti from the perspective of an African white-backed vulture via an hour-long balloon ride at dawn (available as an extension to any Abercrombie & Kent Serengeti itinerary). It is a magical way to experience this vast floodplain. While ordinary balloon flights soar high above the Oloololo Escarpment, A & K’s specially trained safari balloon pilots maneuver just a few feet above the grassland and treetops, even rotating the basket so all passengers get the chance to face forward.

Thanks to the stealthy approach, you’ll spot unsuspecting leopards lazing in tree boughs, alligators and hippos wallowing in creek beds and antelope and Burchell’s zebras on the vast plains. The toast-worthy safari ends, fittingly enough, with a Champagne breakfast on the Serengeti. $4,000 (including breakfast); 8-person capacity; 800-554-7016; abercrombiekent.com.



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Zynga Employee: I Can't Buy A House Because Of The Stock Crash, But That's Life (ZNGA)

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Zynga headquarters tour

Zynga's stock has cratered to $3 from a high of more than $15, and that's upset a lot of Zynga's employees.

Many of them have come out of the woodwork to complain on Quora, a question-and-answer site popular with the tech set.

Anonymously, that is.

They've written that Zynga made them work long hours and drove them into the ground, and the only thing holding them back from leaving was the impending IPO and the fortune they would make in stock.

But now Zynga general manager Niko Vuori has come out swinging against those anonymous colleagues on the site. Here's the core of his argument, in his own words:

NO ONE IS FORCING ANYONE TO WORK HERE AGAINST THEIR WILL. If you are a top performer, you WILL be rewarded (no politics required). If you are not a top performer, it might suck a little bit. But you can vote with your feet, and just take off. 

Vuori is not saying that working at Zynga is a cakewalk. Zynga is a young company—which means everyone has to work hard. if you perform at Zynga, you are rewarded—not driven into the ground. But if you are just sticking around for the stock price, that's the worst possible reason to stay at the company, Vuori writes.

It's natural to be upset about the stock price. Vuori has had to put off purchasing a house as a result, he says. But he also says he knew what he was getting into.

Here's the full post:

I have worked at Zynga for just over a year now, and am not afraid to hide my real identity, unlike the other answerers on this thread. I was working on my own startup before joining Zynga, and am now the General Manager of FrontierVille. I’ll start by actually answering the question, instead of using this as an excuse to bash the company (or blow smoke up your asses about how awesome it is either).
 
How do I feel about the stock price drop – I don’t feel great about it, of course not. It sucks to go from $10 at IPO, to a high of $15, and then drop to $3. And sure, my theoretical net worth has been impacted. I had plans to buy the house I am renting at the moment – those plans are on hold now, since the RSUs for which I just hit the 1 year cliff for are not worth enough to put together a down payment. That’s a very real impact on my life and my plans. And while untold riches are always in the back of your mind (“What if we go to $20? What if we go to $100?”), you can’t control the markets, and if you miss, the markets will punish you. It hurts, and is annoying and frustrating, especially with all the bad press floating around at the moment, but I walked into this with my eyes open – no one promised me great wealth or a guaranteed share price. The only promise that was made to me was this – that Zynga is a meritocracy, and if I work hard and do well, I will be noticed and rewarded. 
 
With regards to that particular promise, I have been very pleased, and my high expectations have been fully met. I did indeed work hard, especially right after joining, to prove myself and to learn the Zynga way. Late nights and weekends were frequent in those first months, especially since we were launching something big at the time. The learning curve was steep. However, morale was high, the team had fun, and we were excited about what we were (and still are) doing. Making great games that excite millions of players every day is a rush, and being a metrics-driven company means that whenever you get something right, the numbers tell you so immediately. 
 
In specific response to Anon User with over 600 votes, and the second Anon User with over 100 votes, I am surprised by your experiences. That is not my experience at all. Of course, the culture does not sit well with everyone, no company culture is perfect. Yes, we work hard. Yes, we care about metrics and numbers. Yes, we all wish that Q2 had gone better and that the stock price was higher. But no one forces anyone to put in “years being worked into the ground” and no one forces you to “put your life on hold.” If the only thing keeping you around was the IPO after “three and something miserable years” then your priorities are all wrong. 
 
I will not speak for anyone else at Zynga, but what keeps me going is the thrill of making games that millions of people enjoy. What motivates me are the regular, quarterly recognition and rewards (and no, it is not for people “willing to play the politics game,” it is for people who are high performers). What excites me are the opportunities that lie ahead, beyond this single-quarter hiccup. 
 
The stock price, today, is a turd. We have $1.6bn in the bank, and the markets are behaving as if we are about to go bankrupt. Over the last 4 quarters, we generated $350M in free cash flow. At times like these, if you believe in the long-term prospects of the company like I do, you are happy that Mark Pincus has special voting rights, because it means we aren’t at risk of a shareholder revolt or a hostile takeover. It means we can focus on the future and build that share price back up, one great game at a time. 
 
I have no doubt that there are indeed individuals at Zynga who have had a rough experience, same as at any other company. Start-up life is rough, as is life at a freshly-IPO’d company with a brand new business model (just ask Amazon.com– how the hell do you make money selling books on the Internet?). Meritocracies can be rough too – if you aren’t a top performer, you see all your peers reaping the rewards while you are treading water. There are strategy changes, and there are re-orgs, and there are late nights. The markets love you, and then they hate you. You take one misstep, and everyone proclaims your demise. The news media picks up on the prevailing meme and broadcasts it over and over into the echo chamber. It can be tough on morale. But ultimately, the bottom line is this: NO ONE IS FORCING ANYONE TO WORK HERE AGAINST THEIR WILL. If you are a top performer, you WILL be rewarded (no politics required). If you are not a top performer, it might suck a little bit. But you can vote with your feet, and just take off. 
 
On a final note, Zynga has in the region of 3,000 employees. Not everyone is singing kumbaya around a campfire. Shame on Josh Constine and TechCrunch for posting one anonymous individual’s unverified account on Quora of their alleged experience on an unnamed Zynga game team and calling that “news.”

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New Details About IKEA's Secret Fortune Reveal That Its Founder Is Even Richer Than We Thought

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ingvar kamprad ikea

IKEA franchisor Inter IKEA Group recently published its financial performance numbers publicly for the first time, and new details from the report have revealed more about IKEA's fortune, reports Robert LaFranco at Bloomberg

This marks the second time in the past three years that the companies have released financials.

So, what did they find this time?

Bloomberg's Billionaires Index has upped 86-year-old IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad's fortune by more than $1.4 billion, reaching a total of $39 billion.

He's the second-richest man in Europe, according to Bloomberg.

IKEA has a strangely complex, secretive ownership structure that has been subject to a lot of scrutiny in the past. It even warranted an hour-long documentary by a Swedish television network.

This latest report was an attempt at "greater transparency" for IKEA, according to an Inter IKEA spokesperson, but there's still much to be learned about the secret fortune behind the retail behemoth.

NOW SEE: Meet S. Truett Cathy, The 91-Year-Old Billionaire Behind Chick-fil-A > 

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Larry Page And Sergey Brin Are Vacationing In Fiji (GOOG)

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Dragonfly, a 73-meter megayacht

Google's cofounders are vacationing in the South Pacific, the Fiji Times reports.

CEO Larry Page and Sergey Brin have long shared ownership of a fleet of private jets with Google's chairman, Eric Schmidt.  The newspaper photographed one of their planes, a Boeing 767ER, at the Nadi airport.

From there, Page, Brin, and a group of relatives and friends reportedly traveled to the Lau, Mamanuca, and Yasawa archipelagos on board the Dragonfly, a 73-meter megayacht.

According to CharterWorld.com, the Dragonfly has nine cabins and accommodates 18 guests and 16 crew.

So our first question: If Page is up to traveling, does this mean he's gotten his voice back?

We asked a Google spokesperson for comment and will update you if we hear back.

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The King Lives On: A Tour Of Elvis Presley's Famous Stomping Grounds

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Elvis Presley Candle Memory

Thirty-five years ago today, the world mourned the death of one of its greatest musicians: Elvis Presley. And though he's gone, he certainly hasn't been forgotten.

Elvis has been memorialized in films, music and pop culture. Today he is so deeply ingrained in our culture that even the youngest kids know the words to his songs and Elvis impersonators populate stages around the world.

But there is nowhere where he is more revered than Graceland, his former home in Memphis, Tennessee, which he shared with his wife Priscilla and daughter Lisa Marie. Today it's a museum and monument that attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.

Every year we remember the King during Elvis Week, a celebration of his life and career. As part of this week-long celebration, a candlelight vigil is held annually on Aug. 15 to mark his death. Yesterday, about 75,000 people attended the candlelight vigil.

In honor of the anniversary of Elvis's death, we've pulled together some pictures of Graceland.

Originally built in 1939, Elvis purchased the 14-acre property, called Graceland, in 1957.

Source: Elvis.com



Since opening in 1982 as a museum, Graceland has become a major tourist site, attracting over 17 million Elvis fans to date.

Source: Elvis.com



The living room has a custom 15-foot sofa and 10-foot coffee table, which Elvis purchased after buying Graceland.

Source: Elvis.com



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Japan's Epic Fast Food War Inspired These Crazy Menu Items

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Mega Mac

There's a marketing war going on in Japan's fast food industry. Everyone's trying to one-up each other amid intense competition. 

In 2010, McDonald's and KFC had an all-out advertising war to win chicken-lovers across the nation. Wendy's couldn't handle the heat in 2009 and was forced to pull out. It didn't re-enter the market until the very end of 2011.

International fast food titans have to deal with each other, plus, they have to compete with the many local chains, some of which are quite powerful.

Japan has had a recent interest in more sophisticated items, and as the chains keep pushing the envelope, you end up getting some pretty bizarre things on the menus.

Wendy's Foie Gras Burger

This $16 burger consists of a classic Wendy's beef patty loaded up with all the regular fixings plus a healthy dose of fatty duck liver. 



McDonald's Mega McMuffin

The Mega McMuffin consists of two breakfast sausage patties, cheese, egg, bacon, and ketchup all between a classic McDonald's English muffin.



Burger King's NY Pizza Burger

This massive Burger King beef patty is topped with pepperoni, mozzarella and marinara sauce, and stacked on a 9-1/2-inch sesame seed bun.



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Tour An Extraordinary Floating Cabin In The Wilds Of British Columbia

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Float cabin

Years ago, Wayne and Margy Lutz paid $30,000 for a tiny float cabin in the wilds of British Columbia.  

"It cost about the same as taking a fancy cruise," says Margy, who figured the investment would offer a stress-free retirement compared to their home in LA.

She was right: The couple have lived off-grid for years, and relish every moment spent on their scenic but modest-sized property. 

"Living in a 675 square foot cabin with water access only is a bit unique," she told Fair Companies in a video, but for me and Wayne it's perfect."

"Welcome to Hole in the Wall," says Margy. The Lutz's cabin, which sits on Powell Lake, was modeled after others dating back to the early 19th century.



Back then, loggers and fishermen used them as makeshift homes. The Lutz's bought the home in 2001 after "falling in love" with similar cabins on a camping trip.

Source: Fair Companies



The cabins are constructed from large, buoyant cedar wood logs. The Lutz's log float was originally a helicopter landing pad.

Source: Fair Companies



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