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8 facts you probably didn't know about Ashley Madison, the website that helps people cheat on their spouses

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Ashley Madison founder Noel Biderman demonstrates his website on a tablet computer during an interview in Hong Kong August 28, 2013. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

Brace yourselves for a staggering statistic in light of the recent Ashley Madison hack: A jaw-dropping one in five residents of Ottawa, Ontario has an Ashley Madison profile, says Reuters.

That's a higher percentage per capita than any other city in Canada, and potentially, says the company, in the world.

Out of about 883,000 people living in the Canadian capital city, 189,810 of them were listed on Ashley Madison, which allows users to “discreetly” seek extra-marital affairs.

The CEO of its parent company, Noel Biderman, says that they typically experience higher user rates in capital cities, due to the lure of power and prestige.

Here are eight other facts you didn’t know about Ashley Madison users:

1. The Capital Of The United States Is Just As Adulterous

Washington, D.C.has topped Ashley Madison’s list of most users per capita in the United States for two years in a row.

2. There’s Only One Site Bigger Than Ashley Madison

The only dating site with more users than Ashley Madison is Match.com.
gary kremen match.com founder

3. The Average Age Of Male Users Is 41 And Female Users Is 34

Typical cheating cycles happen three to four years after couples get married (usually after their first child is born), or once they’re empty nesters.

4. Lack Of Blow Jobs Leads To Cheating?

Users who are dissatisfied with how much oral sex they’re getting are more likely to seek extra-marital affairs.

5. Male Mistresses Are Totally A Thing

Seventeen percent of messages from from married women go to single men.

6. Ashley Madison Experiences Significant Usership Among The Arranged Marriage Population

Says CEO Noel Biderman, "We have a significant arranged marriage population among women. A lot of Indian women and they're not looking for Indian men."

7. If A Married Woman Is Sending Too Many Messages, It Sends A Red Flag

According to Biderman, "We knowhow a married woman typically behaves: She builds a profile. She peruses a few profiles. She sits back. So if someone signs up, posts a public photo and then sends out 25 message to all kinds of guys, that's a bad actor. We won't deliver those messages." So, uh, resist your urge to express interest, ladies.

Ashley Madison

8. Ashley Madison Is Making Private Investigator Apps More Successful

The Ashley Madison hacks have caused a surge in usage of the D.C.-area PI app Trustify, which allows people to hire a PI by the hour instead of paying pricey retainers.

Bottom line: Maybe just have a nice long wine-fueled conversation with your significant other about opening up your marriage honestly and with transparency, instead of suffering the anxiety of hacker leaks.

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These 4 boat shoe alternatives will get you through the rest of the summer

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We're in the middle of summer, which means most men between the ages of 20 and 40 have been wearing that tried-and-true pair of boat shoes to beat the heat.

It's a default option, but it's far from the only option. Men have a plethora of choices in the summer-shoe department. There's a whole world of moccasin-inspired summer footwear just waiting to be explored — before summer ends.

With four alternatives as good as these, there's no excuse to wear those familiar, worn-out boat shoes from now until it's time to break out the boots again.

Penny Loafers

pennyloafers

No longer relegated to the closets of the prep, the penny loafer has gained acceptance as a three-season casual shoe. It's a definite step up from the boat shoe — and it will get you noticed.

The pair pictured is the Oak Street Bootmakers Beefroll Penny Loafer.

Driving Mocs

driving mocs

Many men are now donning the driving moc for activities other than driving. They have a refined yet laid-back vibe that's ideal for summer in the city. The driving moc is often considered the penny loafer's sportier, more-Euro cousin.

The pair pictures is Cole Haan's Grant Driver.

Camp Moc

camp moc

A very close relative of the boat shoe, the camp moc even has the same wraparound leather lacing and general profile. However, the front lacing sets it apart, with a distinctive row of metal eyelets.

The pair pictured is L.L. Bean's Camp Moc.

Blucher Moc

rangermocs

The blucher moc ditches the wraparound lace in favor of a full four-eyelet system. This changes the profile of the shoe but still provides that low-profile, moc-toe summer look with the oh-so casual spirit we love.

The pair pictured is Rancourt & Co.'s Ranger Moc for Brooks Brothers.

SEE ALSO: 18 things every modern gentleman should have in his closet

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Here’s a $65 drone you can roll up and down walls

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Sky Runner 6 Axis Gyro Drone 4x3

Among people who are new to the world of drones, it’s a common misconception that flying toy helicopters isn’t that difficult. The misconception holds true until said newbie crashes their fancy new gadget into a tree for the twentieth time.

Drones aren’t the most accessible market, either, as the best of the best reach four figures, while many cheaper options are prone to dismantling upon the first hint of contact. You probably don’t want to drop $1,200 on your first drone only to realize you don’t really know what you’re doing — instead, you should find the right mix of accessibility and affordability.

The Sky Runner 6-Axis Gyro Drone looks like something that fits the bill. The neon green machine features a wide roll cage that encompasses the drone itself, giving its blades a little bit of added protection from collisions and even making it so you can walk the device up and down walls. Its 2.4 Ghz remote control is laid out plainly and provides a 100 ft range; the whole contraption is compact enough to fly indoors, too.

You won't use something like this for aerial video, but for first-timers or younger users looking to pull off their first cool stunts, it’s worth a look. You can buy the drone $64.99 at StackSocial.

Sky Runner 6-Axis Gyro Drone, $64.99 (originally $90), available at StackSocial. [27% off]


 

SEE ALSO: This $50 drone is the perfect quadcopter for beginners

READ THIS: If you haven't jumped on the Fitbit bandwagon yet, now is the perfect time to buy a fitness tracker [25% off]

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An engineer spent 3 years building the ultimate high-tech man cave

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skysphere

Jono Williams, a plastics engineer and graphic designer based on the north island of New Zealand, has built the ultimate man cave. 

Dubbed the "Skysphere," his getaway is a stunning steel tower surrounded on all sides by glass. 

The Skysphere makes an ultra-futuristic statement in a field ringed by trees. The tower's lighting and security system can be controlled using an app Williams built for Android. 

"I tried to keep every aspect of the design original," Williams told Business Insider in an email. "I do live near a wind turbine farm, so maybe I got some inspiration from those?"

Williams shared some photos from the tower construction with Business Insider. 

SEE ALSO: Early Uber investor and serial entrepreneur Jason Calacanis is selling his Los Angeles home for $3 million

The tower certainly stands out in the sparse New Zealand countryside.



Williams worked on the construction for three years, spending about 3,000 hours outside of his day job.



Williams works full-time as a plastics engineer and a graphic designer, in addition to directing his own IT company. He did all of the construction on the Skysphere in his rare spare time.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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A prominent global architecture firm has a surprising plan to save Atlantic City

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Atlantic City BoardwalkIt’s been five years now since New Jersey Governor Chris Christie uttered this sentence:Atlantic City is dying.” The governor’s 2010 plan to turn Atlantic City into “Las Vegas East”—what was it before?—has failed. In 2014, four major casinos shuttered, including the Revel Casino Hotel, which was built in part with state money. Three of the casinos declared bankruptcy.

There’s some indication that the bleeding may have slowed. The Associated Press reports that four of the eight surviving Atlantic City casinos enjoyed a better June than they did one year ago. Three saw big gains, even, although one casino—the Trump Taj Mahal, which is mired in a fierce union struggle—suffered a double-digit decline. Signs of life notwithstanding, from January to June, the year-over-year benefits of decreased competition slippedsignificantly.

Has the sun finally set on the Boardwalk Empire? Not quite yet. As it stands now, the sea may rise to reclaim it first.

That’s why a prominent global architecture and design firm has a different future in mind for Atlantic City, something far from the realms of tourism and entertainment and yet very close to the heart of the Jersey Shore. The firm,Perkins+Will, is pitching a plan to make Atlantic City into a research center for climate change and coastal resiliency.  

This scheme aims to turn Atlantic City into Defense Post One in the battle to turn back the rising tide. The firm’s brief recommends repurposing the Atlantic City Convention Center as a “civic-scale academy” for training leaders from around the world on resiliency standards, techniques, and doctrine.

atlantic city

“We’re not suggesting that Atlantic City is doomed and they should fold in their cards,” says Daniel Windsor, senior urban designer and senior associate at Perkins+Will. “We’re just thinking there’s a lot of alignment between what’s happening in Atlantic City and the gap in resiliency preparedness.”

Windsor says the campaign was devised by Janice Barnes, a planning principal and chair of the firm’s Resiliency Task Force. Barnes has worked with theRockefeller Foundation’s Capacity-Building Academies on training leaders who work on climate and sustainability. Chief resilience officers, for example. Windsor says that this work has uncovered a niche, an unfilled gap, in the discussion about preparing the world for climate change. Resilience needs a hub—a headquarters.

Atlantic City is four square miles, roughly the size of a medium college campus, and at present it suffers from a glut of large hotel buildings with flexible spaces for conferences and presentations. The windowless basement rooms currently reserved for slots machines could be transformed as wind tunnels and labs for other experiments. There’s little that the city would need to do structurally to re-jigger these buildings as research institutions, according to the Perkins+Will brief.

Building research institutions requires more than buildings, though. It takes research and researchers, for example. By partnering with universities from around the world, an Atlantic City 2.0 would consolidate the physical-space needs of a variety of research centers. The city’s former casinos would serve as enterprise coordination centers. That’s the idea, anyway, borne out of a pro-bono charrette session at Perkins+Will to think about the future of the city.

“Two things aligned in Atlantic City,” Windsor says. “Its current economic state and its climate vulnerability.”

atlantic city 2

Ultimately, it is within Atlantic City’s own best interests to make sure this work happens, and that it happens in Atlantic City. It took months to convince a majority of people that Superstorm Sandy didn’t completely destroy Atlantic City’s boardwalk, according to polls. In fact, the city avoided the worst of the storm, reopening for business about a week later. That’s not always going to be the case.

Increasingly ferocious storms and rising sea levels will threaten the Atlantic coast sooner rather than later, according to a terrifying new report by James Hansen, the former lead climate researcher for NASA. The paper was just released in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Discussions.

“Humanity faces near certainty of eventual sea level rise of at least Eemian proportions, 5–9 m, if fossil fuel emissions continue on a business-as-usual course,” the paper concludes. “It is unlikely that coastal cities or low-lying areas such as Bangladesh, European lowlands, and large portions of the United States eastern coast and northeast China plains could be protected against such large sea level rise.”

Revel Atlantic CityAuthorities in Atlantic City are already shifting gears away from casinos. This week, the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority—the zoning and regulatory body within Atlantic City’s Tourism District—approved plans to convert a former casino into an 81-000-square-foot hotel and waterpark. The CRDA also approved a mixed-use corporate and academic center called the Gateway, per The Press of Atlantic City.

A focus on family-friendly entertainment may save the city economically (maybe), but a fate worse than financial straits looms over Atlantic City.

"The economic and social cost of losing functionality of all coastal cities is practically incalculable,” Hansen et al. write. “We suggest that a strategic approach relying on adaptation to such consequences is unacceptable to most of humanity, so it is important to understand this threat as soon as possible.”

Changing course from vice to research represents a risk for Atlantic City. Extend the timeline out long enough, though, and the odds that the city can afford to do nothing grow quite long. Against Mother Nature, the house always wins.

SEE ALSO: What's the matter with San Francisco?

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Chipotle has unseated Subway as America's healthy fast food of choice

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chipotle burrito bowl

Call it the Chipotle Diet. 

Chipotle has unseated Subway as the healthy fast food of choice, with people across the internet heralding the positive effects of eating at the burrito chain. 

One California man found fame by eating Chipotle for several months and retaining a bodybuilder physique. Followers of the trendy Whole30 diet, which bans processed foods, say Chipotle has the best options of any chain restaurant. Online testimonials herald the benefits of eating the chain's food to lose weight. 

"The fact they've convinced consumers that the product is healthy is incredible," Darren Tristano, executive vice president at food industry research firm Technomic, told Business Insider. "We're talking about 1300 calorie burritos."

body by chipotle andrew hawryluk chipotlife

But as Chipotle enjoys consistent sales growth, Subway, which arguably invented the idea of "fresh" fast food two decades ago, is facing a steep decline. 

Subway's US sales last year fell by 3%, the most of any of the top 25 fast-food chains, Drew Harwell reports at The Washington Post. Subway also fell two spots to become the third-most-popular fast-food restaurant for the first time in seven years.

Longtime spokesman Jared Fogle, who popularized "The Subway Diet" after losing 245 pounds eating low-calorie sandwiches, parted ways with the company after his house was searched in an FBI investigation and one woman accused him of making inappropriate comments about middle-school girls.

Jared Fogle

Americans who once praised Subway's low-fat offerings are now concerned the chain's lunch meats and sauces are overly processed with fillers and additives.

"What Americans see as healthy has evolved," Drew Harwell at The Washington Post writes. "Subway hasn't."

Generational differences also contributed to Chipotle's newfound popularity as a health food, according to Tristano. 

"Millennials care less about calories and more about where their food comes from," he said. 

While previous generations counted calories, millennials care more about food being "fresh, less processed and with fewer artificial ingredients," Morgan Stanley writes

morgan stanley healthy chart

Chipotle famously serves meats without human antibiotics and chops ingredients fresh daily. 

But its calorie counts after often higher than a typical meal at McDonald's. 

The average Chipotle order contains 1070 calories, more than half the number the typical adult should eat in a day, according to a study by New York Times blog The Upshot

Fans of the Chipotle Diet insist that it's easy to modify calorie counts to a reasonable portion.

Andrew Hawryluk, the man who has eaten Chipotle for 156 days in a row and runs the website Chipotlife, orders a burrito bowl and avoids beans, cheese, and sour cream. 

Hawryluk's 605 calorie concoction includes white rice, chicken, guacamole, and lettuce.

"It's like modified paleo," he told Business Insider, referencing the popular diet that bans dairy and processed grains. "It's an undeniably delicious meal."

SEE ALSO: Chipotle can't compete with McDonald's in one key area

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This 'fat guy' is biking across America to save his marriage

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eric hites

Self-proclaimed “fat guy” Eric Hites was 560 lbs and unhappy with his weight. His marriage was falling apart. And he wanted to get a new job.

So he decided to do something unexpected: go on an epic bike ride across America. The goals? Lose weight, write a second book (his first was a quirky cookbook titled Everybody Loves Ramen), and rescue his flailing relationship with his wife.

“I hit 40 and I said, ‘I’ve got to change this,'” Hites told The Newport Daily News. He’s 90 miles into his journey, which began in Falmouth, Mass. In the first two weeks, Hites shed 60 lbs.

“By completing this ride I hope to encourage others to get up and get moving no matter their weight,” he wrote on his blog, Fat Guy Across America, which chronicles his trip.

Hites is two months into his trip and had expected to finish in four months but is currently stuck in Tiverton, R.I., with a bent rim in his bike. Hites should be on his way soon, though: a local bike shop owner is outfitting Hites with a new bike that will last him to California and beyond.

Join the conversation about this story »

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Here's the easiest way to figure out if your Cuban cigars are real or fake

A tennis shoe from 1963 has suddenly taken the fashion world by surprise

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Stan Smith

Many have heard of the legendary Adidas Stan Smith sneaker.

But few are aware that the shoe, first introduced in 1963 and recently hailed as one of the most important sneakers in the world, takes its name from former No. 1 tennis player Stan Smith.

To boot, a lot of the trendsetters bopping around in Stan Smiths today probably weren't even born by the time Smith had retired from tennis in 1985.

The shoe's recent popularity is somewhat surprising, considering the sneaker hadn't sold particularly well in previous decades. Adidas even pulled Stan Smiths off the shelves in 2012.

It was reintroduced to much fanfare in 2014, with an aggressive social-media campaign targeting celebrities. For the stunt, Adidas sent A-listers shoes with their portrait on the tongue, instead of the usual drawing of Smith, according to an interview Smith did for the book "Out of the Box: The Rise of Sneaker Culture."

Check out my new kicks.

A photo posted by Ellen (@theellenshow) on Sep 10, 2013 at 10:49am PDT on

From there, the shoe's popularity just exploded. Supermodel Gisele Bündchen wore them (and nothing else) on the cover of Vogue, and they started appearing everywhere from the red carpet to the runway at Alexander Wang's spring/summer 2015 show. Cementing the shoe's cultural influence, song-lyric annotation portal Genius.com lists approximately 350 Stan Smith mentions.

Since its 2014 rerelease, collaborators have come out of the woodwork to put their spin on the shoe. High-profile brands like RAF Simons, White Mountaineering,Wings + Horns, and Fragment Designs Kazuki Kuraishi have all designed a version of the sneaker in partnership with Adidas. 

Singer Pharrell released his own line of hand-painted Stan Smiths, which sold out almost immediately.

And Footwear News named it "Shoe of the Year" for its "widespread popularity" during the same year the shoe returned to stores. According to an Adidas spokesperson, the company sold more Stan Smiths in 2014 than from 2010 to 2013 combined.

Stan Smith

Going back to the year it was born, 1963, the shoe was a revelation for the sport of tennis — but it wasn't called the Stan Smith.  

It first appeared as the "Halliet," after French tennis player Robert Halliet. The Halliet caught on because it was constructed out of leather and offered a lot more support; most tennis shoes at that time were made of canvas.

When Smith became No. 1 in 1972, Adidas tapped him to co-brand the shoe, as Halliet wasn't too well-known outside of France and had recently retired. For a while, the shoe was confusingly named after both players: Smith's portrait adorned the tongue, while Halliet's name was written across the sole from 1973 to 1978.

After 1978, the shoe was renamed the Adidas Stan Smith, as we know it today. 

What's changed since '78? In addition to the original green and white shoe, Adidas also sells versions with red and navy substituting for the green. Additionally, there's a variety of materials to choose from, including suede and knit, as well as colorful models with artwork and those designer collaborations we mentioned earlier.

What hasn't changed is the reason this shoe has endured and sold over 40 million pairs since its inception: Its simple lines and low profile are timeless, explaining in part its perennial popularity.

If you ask Smith, however, he'd just say it's the shoe's "simple design" and "clean white color" that have made it such a permanent fixture on and off the court. "It's fun to see people from all walks of life coming back to the shoe," Smith said in the book.

SEE ALSO: The 18 most important sneakers of all time

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30 movies that will inspire you to travel around the world

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Lord of the Rings

Sometimes the best way to experience a destination you haven't been to is to watch a movie that takes place there.

From the "Lord of the Rings" movies, which were filmed in New Zealand to "Into the Wild," which was filmed in Alaska, here are 30 movies that will make you want to travel all over the world.

SEE ALSO: 41 trips to take before you turn 40

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"Under the Tuscan Sun"

Based on the book by Frances Mayes, "Under the Tuscan Sun" tells the story of a recently divorced writer who ends up impulsively buying a villa in the Italian countryside while on vacation in Tuscany.

The movie was filmed in multiple locations throughout Italy, many in Tuscany — Florence, Arrezo, and Siena — as well as Rome and Positano. Think quaint villages, Tuscan countryside, and spectacular coastal views.

Buy it here >



"Slumdog Millionaire"

Featuring a teen who grew up in India's slums and then makes it on the show "Who Wants to be a Millionaire," "Slumdog Millionaire" shows India in its true form: overcrowded, dirty, and poverty-stricken.

But it shows the country nonetheless, and is sure to spark some curiosity in avid travelers who have never been. The movie was filmed mostly in the cities of Agra and Mumbai.

Buy it here >



"The Motorcycle Diaries"

"The Motorcycle Diaries" chronicles the journey of two friends as they ride a motorcycle through South America and the problems they encounter along the way.

The movie captures the beauty of South America — it was filmed in Argentina, Peru, Chile, Colombia, Venezuela, and Cuba. 

Buy it here >



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Ikea has created the kitchen of 2025 — and there's no stove or refrigerator

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Concept Kitchen 2025 at IKEA Temporary Storing Visually 1IKEA didn't just imagine the kitchen of the future. It actually built it. 

The Concept Kitchen 2025, a pop-up exhibit featured at EXPO Milano 2015, isn't about your kitchen and its appliances doing all the work for you; it's about helping you make thoughtful decisions about food and waste.

Innovations are everywhere. And much conventional thinking about what a kitchen actually requires has been thrown out the window. This is the kitchen reimagined for a time when the Internet of Things defines our lives.

The kitchen was developed with IDEO London, a global design firm, and college students focused on "the social, technological, and demographic forces that will impact how we behave around food in 2025." Check out all the bells and whistles below. 

SEE ALSO: Here's a brilliant solution for anyone with a tiny kitchen in their apartment

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Welcome to 2025. This is what your kitchen looks like.



Not sure what to do with that tomato that's about to go bad? Place it on IKEA's Table for Living to get a quick and easy recipe. The aim here is to reduce food waste.



All of the recipe information shows up on the table — leave your iPad on the couch.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider








These 5 simple steps are the keys to a perfect summer clambake

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clambake

A traditional New England clambake involves layering seaweed, rocks, and seafood in a big bonfire pit in the sand, which, for a first-timer, is probably going to end in disaster. 

For the uninitiated, a boil is an infinitely better idea — and you can still do it over a bonfire on the beach and call it a clambake. 

In the Hamptons beachtown of Montauk, New York, they do the clambake a little different. Montaukians and Navy Beach seafood restaurant owners (and couple) Franklin Ferguson and Leyla Marchetto say the secret to a great Hamptons clambake is to brine everything overnight and finish the lobster and vegetables on the grill (or a bonfire with a grill grate overtop). 

Ferguson was nice enough to give us the 411 on how to cook a Montauk-style clambake for two on the beach or at home. 

Ingredients

2 whole lobsters
6 shrimp (shell-on)
2 ears of local corn
6 small red potatoes
6 mussels 
6 clams
1 bottle dry white wine 
1 cup sugar
1 cup sea salt
1 whole pimento or cherry pepper
1 bay leaf 
2 sticks butter (1 for stock, 1 for melted butter sauce)
1 shallot, cut into wheels
4 cloves garlic 
Extra sea salt and fresh-cracked pepper for seasoning 

Supplies if you're cooking on the beach: 1 potato-size, smooth beach stone, 1 Duraflame log, barbecue grate, firewood, matches, 1 large stock pot, 1 small pot (for the butter sauce), and of course, servingware, a cooler with cold drinks, and anything else you might want. 

STEP 1: Soak lobster, shrimp, potatoes, and corn in a brine overnight. 

clam bake ingredients

The night before your clambake, make your brine, or "tea," as Ferguson calls it, by bringing 4 quarts water, 1 cup each sugar and sea salt, pimento (your supermarket may label it as a cherry pepper), and bay leaf to a boil in a large pot. 

Once the tea comes to a rolling boil, turn off the heat and cool it down before adding the whole lobsters, shrimp, corn, and potatoes. 

STEP 2: Drain the seafood and, if cooking on the beach, pack it into a cooler with the other ingredients and supplies. 

clams

The next day, drain your brined seafood and pack it in a cooler along with the wine, butter, shallot, garlic, mussles, clams, and extra sea salt and fresh-cracked pepper. Bring the bonfire and cooking supplies mentioned above, too. 

If cooking at home, simply drain your brined seafood, put it back in the now-empty pot you used for the brine, and move on to step three. 

STEP 3: Build a bonfire (or light up a burner on your stove) and fill a pot with all your clambake ingredients.

beach bonfire

Bonfire instructions: To build a bonfire, dig a shallow hole, put the Duraflame log in the center and cover it with firewood, light it, and lay your barbecue grate on top. 

After that's done — or after you've simply turned a nob on your stove at home — fill the pot with the wine, 1 stick butter, 4 whole garlic cloves, shallot wheels, and salt and pepper to taste. If cooking on the beach, drop a beach stone into the bottom of the pot first. It'll help retain the heat inside the pot.

Add all of your seafood and vegetables into the pot and cook until the clams and mussels open. At that point you can remove the pot from the heat and take out the lobster and veg, which won't be fully cooked yet.   

STEP 4: Finish the lobster, potatoes and corn over the grill grate (or on your backyard grill if you're at home) and melt some butter for dipping. 

lobster

Cut the lobster in half from nose to tail and section off a portion of the grill grate with no open flame. Lay the lobster shell side down and add the potatoes and corn as well. While that's cooking throw the extra stick of butter in the small pot with some salt and pepper — this will be your dipping sauce. If cooking at home, just fire up your grill to finish the lobster and veg. 

STEP 5: FEAST! 

clambake

Scoop the broth and shellfish into a bowl and top with vegetables and lobster. And dip everything in melted butter. Ferguson also recommends a glass of Breezette rosé, the house blush wine at Navy Beach.  

SEE ALSO: Here's how to eat a lobster from nose to tail — nasty bits and all

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There's a single, secret ingredient that will make your burgers incredible

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burger bbq grill

Make no mistake, the once humble hamburger has moved on. The formerly quite basic meat sandwich has been deconstructed, parsed, analyzed, and, in the minds of some culinary experts, perfected.

This is all well and good, even fascinating, but it has certainly created some pressure for anyone making burgers at home. Am I doing it right? Have I thought enough about my burger?

I have a reputation for making a delicious burger. Which has always baffled me, because my burger is so basic that it almost defies belief.

It wasn't always this way. I spent plenty of time fooling around with meat mixtures and added elements. Somehow, I thought that a great burger was somehow more complex that really necessary.

But then I realized the error of my ways. 

My magical burger is an exercise in simplicity. It all hinges on a single, secret ingredient.

Worcestershire sauce.

Yep, good old Lea & Perrins. Beyond that, my burger is almost indifferently prepared.

I start with a mix of 80% lean to 20% fat. This is the kind of standard-issue ground beef that you can find at any grocery store.

I allow the beef to come to room temperature. Cooking cold meat is a bad idea — but trying for form cold ground beef into hamburger patties is also no fun.

Then I add a generous amount of salt and about half an ounce of Worcestershire sauce per pound of ground beef in a mixing bowl. That's it.

Worcestershire sauceI form the beef into soft patties that still have a bit of texture to them (don't "overwork" the patties). I try to make sure they are of uniform thickness, about an inch, with each patty about 5 inches across. Roughly 6-8 ounces, max.

Then I grill 'em, over a gas or charcoal flame, until they are medium rare. I start with a high flame and finish up on a cooler section of the grill. (You can use a cast-iron skillet, too, and a stove.)

The burgers go onto grilled buns, the kind you can get in the grocery store for a few bucks for a half dozen.

If I'm feeling energetic, I'll make some homemade ketchup out of tomato paste and vinegar, plus salt and pepper. I hit the burgers with some freshly ground black pepper, and that's it. I don't care if people go for lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, whatever, but I prefer to go only burger-bun-ketchup-on-the-side-for-dipping. Just add a nice glass of Malbec.

For whatever reason, these burgers usually taste great. Leave out the Worcestershire sauce, however, and they aren't as tasty.

Worcestershire sauce is effectively an ancient fish sauce (it contains fermented anchovies), so it adds a sort of interesting depth of flavor that enhances the basic beefy taste of what is after all an absurdly basic burger. Ultimately, the flavor is sort of mysterious. But it's there.

I didn't really plan this out, by the way. I just added some Worcestershire sauce to my burger mix one day and listened to the praise roll in. Previously, my burgers were unremarkable. But with a few shakes of Lea & Perrins, I was suddenly a genius.

And now I'm giving up my secret.

(If you don't want to use Lea & Perrins, there are plenty of alternatives. Just go to Whole Foods or a gourmet food shop and ask.)

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6 rules for eating like an Italian

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Did you know that burping at dinner in India is a sign of appreciation? Or that slurping your soup in Japan is totally appropriate?

Knowing the ins and outs of table manners in other countries is a pretty handy thing.

In her new cookbook, Love is Eating, which focuses on simple, healthy Italian recipes, Paola Lovisetti Scamihorn shares some useful and informative rules of etiquette when it comes to an Italian table. “After all," she says, “it’s important to remember that when in Rome, do as the Romans do.” 

1. Don’t spread risotto on the sides of your dish in an attempt to cool it. RisottoThis is considered playing with your food.

2. Don’t eat bread with your first course or use it to clean your plate (fare la scarpetta or “to make the shoe”).

dipping breadIt’s considered polite to leave a small amount of food on your plate, showing you have dignity and don’t need charity.

3. Don’t use a fork to eat cheese, pate or mousse—only a knife will do.

cheeseThis is just etiquette. You place or spread these things on little bites of bread, which should be torn into bite-size pieces with your hands and never bitten off with your mouth or cut with a knife at the table.

4. Don’t cut your eggs or frittata with a knife. 

frittataIn Italy, a heavily Catholic country, many view the egg as a holy symbol—and religious tradition dictates that it not be divided with a knife.

5. Don’t drink coffee with your meal.

coffee with mealItalians drink their espresso after the meal, which helpswith digestion.

6. Don’t order cappuccino after your meal.

cappucinoSince it’s made with whole milk, it’s overkill to have it after a meal. Italians only drink cappuccino for breakfast.

More from Food & Wine: 

SEE ALSO: The right way to eat sushi

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Shanghai just unveiled the world's first ramen vending machine

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ramen vending machine

And you thought instant noodles couldn’t get any more “instant.”

This week a group of inventors in Shanghai unveiled what is believed to be the first ramen vending machine. Just tap the screen to select and pay, and a robotic arm combines the noodles, toppings, and soup inside. In two minutes flat, your bowl comes out piping hot. Leave it to the Chinese—the original inventors of noodles—to develop an even lazier way to make the world’s laziest food.

The inventors promise that the next generation of the machine will allow users to customize their condiments—hewing curiously close to a recent gag video for the “Ramenia 21,” a household “ramen purifier” (think Keurig) offering laser-cut chopsticks and drone delivery. Ramenia 21 was, alas, totally fake. And yet—who could have predicted we’d live in a world where noodle soup could be dispensed in the same manner as Dr. Pepper? The future is now.

 

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10 terrifying stories about riding trains in Japan

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Japanese Maglev Train

We’ve all heard stories about Japanese trains, such as about the white-gloved attendants who push passengers into crowded rush-hour trains in Tokyo, tales of lost property returned, or even the occasional gripe about women who put on their make-up or men who use electric shavers while riding to work. Or maybe you’ve heard about how often Japanese people sleep on trains.

Well, today we probe a bit further and uncover some stories of truly horrible things that have happened while riding Japanese trains as told to us by foreigners who witnessed them firsthand. From perverts and nuns to near-death experiences, this will be the most entertaining article you’ll read all week! These stories will have you either rolling on the floor laughing, or more likely, crying.

Join us for some true tales of horror after the jump.

Two train otaku once pointed out to me that while the bullet train, including the new Evangelion shinkansen, should be a highlight of every person’s trip to Japan, it’s by riding the regional trains that you get to experience the local color. You’re much more likely to get up close and personal with the Japanese people on a commuter train or a country railway that winds through country towns. So, let’s start with a story that takes place on a local line in the mountains of Hokkaido.

As a matter of fact, let’s kick off with some near-death experiences…

“This happened when I was a 6th or 7th grader (in the ’60s) at the Hokkaido International School, living in a hostel during the week and returning to my family in Asahikawa on the weekends. It was the old Japan National Railway. I was riding the train back towards Sapporo on Sunday night, when the train made an unscheduled stop to disengage one of the cars because the car had started smoking for some reason. After leaving the problem car behind on a side track, the train continued on its way. But then I noticed the train passed right through a station it usually stopped at. It passed through the next station too, and soon the passengers were all buzzing. The car continued passing through all the remaining stations without any explanation. Finally, at the end of the line at Sapporo, the train stopped and we all disembarked. The following morning at school, in Japanese language class, my teacher handed out the Monday morning newspaper for us to pick out articles to read and explain to the rest of the class. There on the front page was an article about the train I had been on. The unmanned car that had been disengaged from the rest of the train had gotten loose and began rolling down the tracks right behind our train. A railway employee managed to jump onto the car to engage the emergency brake before it reached the end of the line at Sapporo.”

But not all passengers are so lucky…

“A couple of years ago, I was in Kyoto boarding an 8 a.m.-ish train to Nara. The train was empty except for a girl who was dressed in a short, frilly ‘Lolita’-style getup. She had her legs tucked under her, seiza style, but was sprawled out face down on the long bench seat, and appeared to be sleeping. People started to fill the train, and the conductor saw her as he walked by. After several minutes of trying to wake her to no avail, the conductor left and came back with another employee, and they proceeded to carry her off the train. When they picked her up, there was a large wet spot that covered the entire area where she was sprawled out. I imagined she was so out of it, that she had peed herself and I wondered if the girl had overdosed on some drugs. This experience haunted me for weeks.”

Of course, the salarymen take the cake when it comes to being drunk on the train…

Talk about missing your train!

It’s certainly not unusual for drunk men to hurl vomit onto the tracks while waiting for the train. and we’ve all heard of the unfortunate drunk who has staggered along the platform and fallen off, only to be hit by a train pulling in. And these are just things that happen outside of the train, so you can imagine what happens when the drunks make it inside.

sleep on flight

“I got on late the Chuo line one night in Kichijoji heading for Shinjuku. The train car was almost empty except for a salaryman and a woman sitting across from each other. The salaryman had too much to drink and slowly slid onto the floor on his knees, turned to face the seat. Then he stood up, unzipped his pants, and urinated on the seat. The woman sitting across from him squeaked and bolted for another car.”

But you don’t have to be a salaryman to do horrible things on the train when you’re drunk…

Turns out that the Chuo line is ripe for local color.

“I was on the last train on the Chuo line from Shinjuku to Tachikawa. A young man was extremely drunk. His friends stripped him completely naked. The train stopped at Mitaka and his friends threw him out of the train onto the platform without his clothes. The doors closed and he was just standing there in his birthday suit. In February.”

As a matter of fact, even foreigners do horrible things on the train when they’re drunk…

“I fell asleep on the train back from the Okayama Kirin Beer Festival back in the days when the festival served free beer. I woke up at 2 a.m. in a pitch-black train on a siding in Fukuyama station where the train had been retired for the night. I had drool down my shirt and no way to get home. I somehow made it to teach my 8:40 a.m. class the next morning, but doubtless reeked of beer.”

And then there are the perverts…

That didn’t really just happen to me, did it?

SurpriseJapan is known to have problems with groping on crowded trains and perverts. I hadn’t been in Japan six months yet when I had my first experience with a chikan(pervert/groper). I was on a country train, studying Japanese, and looked up and realized that the man sitting on the opposite seat had his eyes fixed on me and was freely masturbating. Horrified, I screamed “Chikan!” and ran to another car. That night, in search of some sympathy, I called my mother in the U.S. but she was indifferent, saying, “Oh, we had perverts all the time on the trains in New York City.” But I wonder what my mother would have said if I’d had this next story to tell:

“Someone came on the back of my skirt on the train. Yes, came. Yuck. I had to go home and change. Try explaining that to your boss when you’re late for a meeting.”

Putting on make-up while on the train is just so prosaic these days…

“When I first came here in the late ’90s, talking on the phone, putting on make-up, and eating were still taboo or at least discouraged. I remember people getting up and leaving an empty seat on a crowded morning train because a guy was eating an onigiri rice ball. In the early 2000s, I was on the Chuo line and a young woman pulled a battery-powered curling iron out of her bag and continued her transformation process.”

 Well, at least it wasn’t a hair dryer.

Hair

 

Then there are the more dangerous passengers…

There aren’t many stabbings on Japan’s trains but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a decapitation or a body halved every now and then, as this poor passenger found out.

“I used to ride the train between two cities where I taught years ago. In those days the local trains had overhead revolving fans that circulated the air on hot days. We also had to open the windows. One hot summer night as I was headed home after a long hot day of teaching, I sat down in the middle of the car, kicked off my shoes and put my feet up on the opposite seat getting as comfy as possible for my ride home. Suddenly I heard this tremendous buzzing noise and looked up to see this flying battleship size bee which had just entered the car via the window. And it was coming straight for me! I flailed and in its confusion and disorientation the poor thing flew straight into the overhead fan above me which sent bee body parts flying. Two of them dropped between my legs on the seat and the attached appendages were still twitching. I tell you I became religious that night and bought some new underwear the next day!”

And those passengers just looking for a free ride…

“It was summer and I was heading home from work, the train was about half full as it was past rush hour. A small group of high school girls were totally staring at me. I wondered if there was some sort of wardrobe malfunction or something, and suddenly their eyes got wider. I was creeped out and shuddered, and just then a massive locust that must have been nesting on my head flew off and in the direction of the girls! They shrieked and ducked, as the locust few away. I told those girls, ‘Next time, SAY SOMETHING!'”

Um, excuse me sir, but did you know there’s a bird on your tongue?

freedom birds geese letting go flying free china

So a nun walks into a train…

The thing about the train is that it’s the only time of day you’re going to sit down with a complete stranger and be stuck with them for minutes, even hours, on end. It’s no wonder people give each other a good gander before committing to an empty seat, especially on those four-seaters where two people sit across from two other people. And since no humorous article would be complete without a nun story, we end with this pithy anecdote.

“I woke from a train nap and saw the gentleman diagonally across from me reading the sports pages with the nude girl photos in them. Our other seat-mate in this tight compartment–next to me and in front of him–was a nun. She was seemingly unconcerned by the image of a naked woman just inches from her nose.”

But of course, she must have been horrified.

What’s the worst thing that has ever happened to you on a Japanese train? Do tell!

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