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15 beautiful images from the finalists of Smithsonian Magazine's annual photo contest


Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest

The judges of Smithsonian's photo contest have announced the finalists for 2015. The 13th annual contest had over 460,000 submissions from photographers in 168 different countries.

The categories include the American experience, natural world, travel, sustainable travel, people, mobile, and altered images. Finalists were selected by the photo teams at Smithsonian magazine and Smithsonian.com.

You can vote here for the Readers' Choice winner. The winners will be announced at the end of March.

Below are just some of the beautiful images from the finalists of the contest.

SEE ALSO: 17 of the most jaw-dropping images in the running for the world's largest photography contest

A woman looks out of a bus window in Bulgaria.

A yellow-headed male jawfish holds his babies in his mouth. The yellow-headed males, rather than the females, are responsible for carrying the babies.

A girl rides the train in India.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

These rainbow heart cookies are the prettiest sugar cookies we've ever seen

A famous IBM employee took her baby to an IBM conference and had to deal with a smart aleck


super inventor lisa seacat deluca

Lisa Seacat DeLuca is one of the most famous women who work for IBM.

She's a mobile software engineer and one of the company's most prolific master inventors. She has close to 400 patents and patent applications under her belt as part of IBM's massive patent-creation machine.

She's often on the speaker circuit, including a TED talk a few years back.

She's also a new mom.

So, on the last day of an IBM conference (IBM Connect Now), the ghost day when most people have cleared out, DeLuca married her two passions together. She loaded her 5-month-old daughter into a baby carrier and went to the conference.

While she was there, a man in his late 50s approached her to berate her for bringing her baby to a professional conference, she confirmed to Business Insider. He told her that having her baby there was a "security issue," reports fellow IBMer Anna Seacat, who was so annoyed about the incident, she wrote a LinkedIn post about it. (And both women reached out and shared the story with me, too.)

DeLuca did some sleuthing and discovered that the man was an IBM contract employee.

Lisa Seacat DeLucaYes, the man's comments were rude and out of line. And it was annoying that he somehow felt compelled (and entitled) to share his unasked-for opinion with a total stranger.

But what I liked about this story is this: DeLuca describes herself as #motherworking not a #workingmother.

"I'm a mom first, a technologist second, #motherworking not #workingmother #lifeisshort" she wrote on an Instagram post that featured a picture of her daughter.

But the question I have is, who says you have to rank the different parts of yourself like that? A cranky older man without the grace to keep his sarcasm to himself?

Whether you're a mother or a father, you can be a professional, a hard worker and lots of other things, a cook, a maker, a move lover, a student, a sibling, a spouse ...

Or to put it another way: if the world really has to choose between procreation and work — and work is supposed to win, then the human experience wouldn't be long for this world, would it?

So bring your kids to work sometimes, just like you bring your work home. And if someone feels the need to tell you you're wrong, smile and tell the person, "Life is short."

SEE ALSO: IBM lays off more workers and their severance has been cut to one month

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Here are the most elite boarding schools in America

The one product you should never put in your hair


Man washing hair

On the surface, 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner seems to make logical sense: Why buy both shampoo and conditioner separately when you can condense them into one easy step, saving both time and money in the process?

Well, the best reason is that 2-in-1 just doesn't work the way it's supposed to.

"2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner products simply do not work," Daniel Davies, manager at the Pall Mall Barbers, chain of barbershops in London, told Fashionbeans.com.

It all comes down to your cuticles, which are the "scale-like" outermost layers of your hair that manage the hair's water content. They are your hair's first line of defense and contribute the shine to healthy hair.

Shampoo's purpose is to clean by opening the cuticles to release any dirt trapped in the hair.

This also releases the natural hair oils, leaving the hair quite dry. A conditioner's purpose, then, is to remoisturize the hair and close those opened-up cuticles, giving hair a shiny and healthy look.

The problem with 2-in-1 is that "a single product cannot open and close the cuticle at the same time," Davies said.

The hair gets cleaned, but the "conditioner" part of the product only coats the hair with silicone, which doesn't "close" the hair's cuticles.

The result is an extremely frizzy head of hair that is hard to manage, and will need to be washed more often.

SEE ALSO: Here's exactly how long guys should go in between haircuts

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NOW WATCH: The most controversial men’s hairstyle of 2015

Step inside the 'Kim Kardashian of China's' insane, $31 million wedding


Twenty-six-year-old actress and singer Angela Yeung, known as Angelababy, as well as the "Kim Kardashian of China," had a lavish wedding in Shanghai that cost a reported $31 million.

To put this madness into perspective, the Kim Kardashian of America, aka Kim Kardashian, only spent a paltry $12 million on her wedding to Kanye West. And the Royal Wedding, between Prince William and Kate, cost $34 million. 

Story by Tony Manfred and editing by Carl Mueller

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This guy slacklined 3,000 feet above the fjords of Norway

Find out the ideal work style for your personality


Are you more productive in a crowded, collaborative open office where you can easily share ideas, or in a quiet corner cubicle where you can be alone with your thoughts? Perhaps you prefer a third option, and are better suited to a job with a two-second commute, working from your couch.

Personality preferences can offer clues to your ideal work style. Video conferencing provider Highfive and content marketing agency Column Five collaborated with Business Insider to create the following quiz that can help you figure out yours.


SEE ALSO: The best jobs for every personality type

DON'T MISS: 11 interview questions hiring managers ask to test your personality

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NOW WATCH: 10 habits you should break to be more productive in 2016

Inside the 'most toxic city in America' where the earth is poisoned by lead and zinc


Picher Oklahoma

The photographer who goes under the pseudonym Seph Lawless is back at it again.

This time he's toured Picher, Oklahoma — the most toxic city in America.

What was once a vibrant mining city has been turned into a toxic ghost town through improper care and disposal of the 14,000 abandoned mine shafts in the region.

What is left of the town is documented in Lawless' new photo book, "The Prelude: The Deadliest City in America."

SEE ALSO: The 13 scariest real haunted houses in America

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Even getting into Picher, Oklahoma, is not easy. Roadblocks have been erected on roads leading to the town since it was evacuated in 2006.

The problems in Picher date all the way back to the early half of the 20th century.

The land was found to be rich in lead and zinc ore, and between 1917 and 1947, $20 billion worth of the toxic material was mined out of the Picher region.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

New York City's most expensive condo now comes with 2 Rolls-Royce Phantoms, a Hamptons summer rental, and a $1 million yacht


atelier penthouse

As more and more luxury condo buildings compete for ultra-wealthy buyers in a softening market, New York City-based realtors have started adding some pretty out-of-this-world perks.

One of the best examples of this can be found at New York's most expensive apartment, the $85 million penthouse at the Atelier condo building.

The 10-bedroom, 13-bathroom condo, which takes up the entire 45th floor of the Midtown Manhattan building, has been on and off the market, but its most recent iteration takes the cake.

According to the listing, The purchase of the penthouse now includes: two Rolls-Royce Phantoms, a $1 million yacht (including docking fees for five years), dinner at two-Michelin-starred Daniel once a week for a year, courtside seats at Brooklyn Nets games for a year, a Hamptons vacation rental for the summer, a live-in butler for a year, and a private chef. The lucky buyer will also get a $2 million credit toward renovating the condo.

The building itself, which was completed in 2006 by the Moinian Group, has some pretty lavish perks of its own, including a 47th-floor ice-skating rink, a lap pool, sauna, valet services, daily free breakfast, basketball courts, and a driving range.

Let's take a look inside New York's most expensive condo.

SEE ALSO: We got a peek inside the starchitect-designed luxury apartments that are dramatically changing New York City's skyline

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Atelier's lobby is sleek and pristine.

The building is situated far west in Midtown Manhattan. You can see views of the Hudson River and New Jersey from the penthouse's kitchen.

The apartment is wide open, with white oak flooring, granite countertops, and Sub Zero appliances.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

A comprehensive and horrifying list of every document I submitted to buy my first home


paperwork organized

After five years of renting in Manhattan, I bought my first home.

It's a one-bedroom co-op apartment in a New York City suburb, about 30 minutes away from Penn Station by train.

In late October, I made an offer, and we closed the last week of February. Thank goodness that's over.

Going into the process, I had no real idea of what to expect, other than that it would be expensive (correct!). Along the way, I learned something else: Buying an apartment requires a veritable flood of paperwork.

Note that since I bought a co-op, I own shares in the building, complete with stock certificate. For that reason, I was vetted not just as a neighbor, but as a business partner. 

That means more paperwork.

If you're buying a house, or a condo, I imagine you can eliminate many of the documents from the list below. I didn't even get into what I needed to submit to the bank to secure a mortgage, because there was a lot of overlap with the papers required by the management company.

Now that I'm on the other side, I've realized there are a lot of stages of the home-buying process that no one ever warns you about. Here is your warning. If you're buying a co-op, expect to submit something similar to the following:

To the management company and the co-op board of directors 

Copied straight from the document the management company sent me, with some light editing for readability and privacy, and italicized commentary to emphasize how simple and not at all stressful this was:

1. A copy of the signed contract of sale

2. Personal reference letters per applicant (two) — friends or neighbors

3. Personal reference letters per applicant (two) — employer and current landlord or building manager. Months later, I found out that I should have interpreted from this instruction that the employer letter had to be on company letterhead, and "current landlord or building manager" actually meant "entity to which you pay your rent." I had to get new versions of each. Total: six recommendations.

4. Last two years' income tax returns plus last two years' W-2's per applicant. Sent these to the bank before they ever went to the management company in order to get a mortgage pre-approval. Got the approval, then sent them, plus the approval, to the management company.

5. A non-refundable check in the amount of $350.00 made payable to [the management company] for processing of your application and $100.00 per credit check / criminal check for each applicant. More on fees another time.

6. The completion of an application for proprietary lease

7. Statement of assets and liabilities and include two recent pay stubs

8. Mortgage commitment showing rate and monthly payment – if applicable

9. Most recent stock portfolio and bank statements for three months showing recent balances as back up to the statement of assets and liabilities

10. Execution of house rule affidavit. This proves I read and agree to abide by the rules, which forbid wholly modern transgressions such as playing your "phonograph" or "citizen's band radio" loudly at night or storing your "velocipede" in the hallway.

11. If financing is involved, the mortgage company and appraiser will require questionnaires to be completed by us. Yes, I did take out a mortgage, so I had to deal with this.

12. Upon receipt of them, $150.00 fee is payable to [the management company].

13. A credit inquiry letter authorizing a credit check. Saw my credit score go down for the first time ever after this process (by 10-15 points). Don't worry, it will recover.

After submitting this package, the management company realized it forgot to request:

Apartment Buildings14. "Tenant estimated income and expenses." A form that looks a lot like a budget for me to estimate what my monthly costs would be while living in the new apartment. I was grilled on this during the board interview because my estimates "didn't seem realistic" and my projected grocery costs were "too low."

And ultimately, I also had to send:

15. A signed affidavit from my parents showing that they gifted me some of the money for the down payment (and that they weren't about to take it back, I guess)

16. Employment verification letters / contact information for my current and most recent previous employer. These were requested last-minute, once the board interview had already been scheduled, and every other paper was in.

17. Because the process took four months — three months is considered a long time, usually, but that's what you get for trying to buy something over the holidays — I also had to re-submit bank account statements and pay stubs to show I still had money.

18. And lastly, on the advice of my real estate lawyer father, I sent along a few articles I've written that live on the internet and prove I'm gainfully employed and generally sane (pre-apartment purchase, anyway).

I might be missing some papers in this list — so much for "comprehensive" — but I can't bear to hunt down another one. I didn't even like getting them together the first time.

For the record, I'm convinced only one person read these forms in any detail (the grocery skeptic from the board interview). I came to that conclusion when I showed up at said interview on a frigid night in January and a co-op board member picked up my application, glanced at it, and observed, "Wow, this a lot of papers, isn't it?"

SEE ALSO: 4 mortgage secrets only your broker knows

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NOW WATCH: This couple ditched their 9 to 5 jobs to make a living traveling the world

Here's the salary you have to earn to buy a home in 19 major US cities


boston back bay

In the market for a home? Mortgage site HSH.com has updated its estimate of how much annual income a household would need to buy a home in major metropolitan areas in the US, according to fourth-quarter 2015 data.

Thanks to lower mortgage rates and home prices, houses were more affordable in nearly every metro area measured than they had been in the previous quarter. The National Association of Realtors told HSH.com that it doesn't expect this trend to continue. The site also calculated how it would change the salary needed to buy a home if a buyer were to put 10% down instead of the recommended 20%. No matter where you are, it's more expensive — you can visit HSH.com to see both numbers.

The site looked at median home prices from the National Association of Realtors. It took into account interest rates for common 30-year fixed-rate mortgages and property taxes and insurance costs to figure out how much money it would take to pay a median-priced home's mortgage, taxes, and insurance in each city, and how much you'd have to earn to afford it. Salaries listed are rounded to the nearest $500.

SEE ALSO: Here's how much you need to earn to live comfortably in 15 major US cities while still saving money

19. San Antonio

Population: 1,409,000

Median Home Price: $192,100

Monthly Mortgage Payment: $1,096

Salary Needed to Buy: $46,000

18. Orlando

Population: 255,483

Median Home Price: $205,000

Monthly Mortgage Payment: $1,115

Salary Needed to Buy: $48,000

17. Minneapolis

Population: 407,207

Median Home Price: $223,700

Monthly Mortgage Payment: $1,172

Salary Needed to Buy: $50,500

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Why your haircut doesn't always look exactly like you expected it to



You walk in, you greet your barber, and you sit down. The barber asks what you want done today.

You reach into your pocket to pull out a picture of a man with hair that looks nothing like yours. The barber groans, but, being a professional, he does the best he can with the instructions given.

Both of you leave unhappy. But this could have been avoided.

Unfortunately, finding a haircut online and showing it to your barber isn't the best way to ask for the cut you want, and if you do that, you're always going to end up with an approximation of what the barber can do with your hair. It's important to remember that the hair of the guy in the photograph and your hair could be different in any number of ways.

These differences can include:

  • Length: You may not be giving your barber a lot of room to work with if your hair is shorter than or around the same length as the man in the photo.
  • Texture: Thick or thin is one of the defining features of a person's hair, and you're never going to be able to get a thick person's hair if you have thin hair — and vice versa. 
  • Type: If you have straight hair, and the model in the photo has wavy hair, it'll just never look the same.
  • Hairline: Your hairline is due entirely to genetics, and it will have a huge impact on the way the front of your haircut looks. 
  • Color: This one's pretty obvious.

But there is a simple solution: instead of someone else's hair, bring a picture of yourself with a haircut you really liked.

Then, the barber will be able to replicate the haircut on you without concern to any differences in hair texture or type. And you'll both be happy.

SEE ALSO: It turns out that dressing well can actually make you more successful

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NOW WATCH: This haircut is making the internet very upset

We spent an afternoon with the man who keeps the power lunch running smoothly at one of New York's most prestigious restaurants


le cirque 2300

Tucked inside the Bloomberg Tower at 58th Street and Lexington Avenue is one of New York City's most famous restaurants, Le Cirque. The restaurant, established in 1974 by Sirio Maccioni, has been a staple of the New York dining scene since its inception.

Not only is Le Cirque known for inventing the crème brûlée and spaghetti primavera, but it's been the launching pad for multiple famous chefs, including Daniel Boulud, David Bouley, and Terrance Brennan. A mixture of style, wonderful food, and famous clientele have given Le Cirque its place in New York City's fine-dining history.

Le Cirque has been the setting for the "ladies who lunch" since the '70s. Judy Taubman, the widow of property tycoon Alfred Taubman, told Vanity Fair, "That was the place, where you used to see everyone you knew. And when there was somebody you didn't know, everybody wanted to know, Who is she?" 

Mario Wainer, who's been the maître d' and manager of Le Cirque for 25 years, has helped seat a list of famous guests that includes Beyonce and Jay Z, members of The Rolling Stones, former US presidents, and even the pope. His work is like a song and dance between the waitstaff and the guests — he greets regular diners like he would an old friend, and sees that everything is running smoothly.

We followed Wainer on a typical Tuesday during Le Cirque's lunch hours, and learned how the power lunch has changed in his time there.

SEE ALSO: We got a peek inside the starchitect-designed luxury apartments that are dramatically changing New York City's skyline

The restaurant sits inside the Bloomberg Tower in Midtown Manhattan. Many Bloomberg reporters, including food critic Peter Elliot, hop over to Le Cirque for lunch.

Le Cirque's front dining room seats about 120 people.

There's also the Le Cirque Cafe, which has full service at night, although some lunchtime regulars choose to eat their meals at the bar.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

These guys climbed Tasmania's incredibly difficult sea stacks

Herds of elk keep getting stuck in this Chinese canal

A sheep that got lost in the wilderness for five years grew the heaviest fleece of all time


Last fall, Australian authorities rescued a dangerously overgrown sheep that had been on its own for at least five years, according to experts. When it finally got a haircut, its fleece weighed a record-breaking 90 pounds.

Now, the historic wool is on display at the National Museum of Australia.

Story by Tony Manfred and editing by Carl Mueller

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There's a lake on top of the ocean

It’s easy to master this spring’s hottest trend — here are the 4 pieces you need to buy


military style

There's no doubt about it: military style is in.

Heavy wool great coats, fishtail parkas, thinner bomber jackets, and four-pocket fatigue coats are everywhere these days. It's even infiltrated color palettes, and we see a lot more muted navys, olives, and beiges on the runway. The trend is transcending seasons and even gender boundaries.

If you need proof, look no further than the US Department of Defense contractor Alpha Industries, who claims a 30% increase in revenue for 2015, according to Esquire. Alpha makes a large number of authentic military-inspired garments, including the now super-hot bomber jacket.

In the most recent men's fashion week, which highlighted styles for fall and winter of 2016, a number of designers — including Burberry, Balmain, and Dries Van Noten — showed off heavily military-inspired looks.

The best part about this trend? Military style is incredibly easy to wear and is already quite pervasive in popular wear. (For example, the modern peacoat is derived from a naval style that was used to keep sailors warm.)

Here's how to rock it:

SEE ALSO: 13 essentials every guy should have in his wardrobe for spring

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Field Jacket

The field jacket is a four-pocket jacket style that is the civilian equivalent to the fatigue jacket.

It usually comes in olive and navy, and it's a great casual alternative to the dressier trench coat. 

Slap it on over a chambray or Oxford shirt, and you've got a perfect Saturday outfit.

Pictured to the right is J. Crew's take on the field jacket in olive. ($198)

Bomber Jacket

We've already told you that the bomber jacket is the one you need for spring.

We love its silhouette and casual style. Put them on over a t-shirt or button-up shirt for a super-easy casual look.

Pictured to the right is Alpha Industries' authentic model, known as the MA-1 Flight Jacket in 'stratos' ($135).

Great Coat

The great coat is the overcoat's military-inspired cousin, and the two share a similar DNA.

The great coat is different, however, with its larger collar, button stance, and double-breasted style. It's also thicker, less fitted, and often comes in military-inspired colors like olive.

Look for them to take the world by storm next fall and winter, where they'll be a fine stand-in for many men's overcoats.

This model pictured was included in J. Crew’s Fall/Winter 2016 presentation, and will hit stores later this year. 

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

The 'Tiger Mom' was blasted for her parenting techniques, but her daughter says they made her a better person


Sophia Chua-Rubenfeld, 23, is a Harvard graduate, current Yale Law School student, and entrepreneur. She is also one of the two daughters of Amy Chua, who wrote "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother," a controversial memoir detailing her tough parenting techniques. 

While Chua came under a lot of fire, her oldest daughter told INSIDER that she is grateful for the tough love.

Story and editing by A.C. Fowler

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