Photo Credit: Daniel Milstein for Sotheby’s International Realty Property Highlights: Location: Greenwich, Connecticut Sold For: $138.83 million Features: 13,519-square-foot main house with eight bedrooms and eight bathrooms. Added Appeal: 75-foot heated pool and spa and pool house, grass tennis court, three-bedroom gatehouse, two-bedroom carriage house, two greenhouses, two private beaches and walled gardens with century-old… The post A Glimpse Into Grandeur appeared first on RISMedia......»»
An empty station, a burning countryside, soot raining from the sky: This is what it"s like to ride Laos" gleaming new $6 billion railway in April
I rode a train on the Lao-China Railway for $12 and it showed why the country was so smoggy: forest fires have left acres of land burned. Slash and burn in the Laotian countryside.Marielle Descalsota/Insider I traveled to Laos to experience its new China-made railway. The one-hour trip revealed a countryside that's burned from farming. The air was so toxic that soot and ash were falling from the sky. Laos is one of the few remaining communist countries in the world. Some two-thirds of Laotians still live in rural communities. But a shiny new railway funded by China now cuts through the countryside.The train's driver's cab.Marielle Descalsota/InsiderThe Laos-China Railway is the biggest infrastructure project in the history of Laos. It's a massive 1,000-kilometer, or 621-mile train network that aims to connect Laos with Thailand and Kunming in southern China. The railway is controversial. It's been criticized for evicting more than 4,400 Laotian families from their homes in the countryside. Despite being one of the poorest countries in Southeast Asia, Laos took on a $1.8 billion loan from China to build the railway. China paid for the remaining $4.2 billion. I flew to Laos from Singapore in early April to experience first-hand how the historic railway is developing. It was my first time traveling on a cross-country train since my trip from Chiang Mai to Bangkok on a sleeper train in Thailand. When I visited Laos, the entire line had not yet been completed. It was only the Laotian portion, that runs from the capital city of Vientiane to the border town of Boten, that I was able to experience. The line opened for cross-border service on April 13.My journey started in Vientiane, the largest city in Laos where most of the urban population lives.An aerial shot of Vientiane, Laos.Marielle Descalsota/InsiderLaos is popular among backpackers for its natural landscape of waterfalls, mountains, and rivers. It's the only landlocked country in Southeast Asia. On TikTok, travelers share clips of its gorgeous scenery of clear skies and thick jungle. But when I first arrived at Wattay International Airport, I noticed that a thick haze was obscuring views of the dirt roads and clusters of homes made with tin roofs.On that day in Vientiane, the PSI — or Pollutant Standards Index, which indicates air quality — hovered around 230. The National Environment Agency in Singapore categorizes any reading higher than 200 as "very unhealthy." It turned out that I had visited at the wrong time — there were several active fires during the week that I was in Laos. Vientiane is at the border with the northeastern province of Nong Khai in Thailand, right across the Mekong River. But on that day the border town was hidden behind the haze.The smell of smog was deeply embedded in nearly everything — from the towels and bedsheets in my hotel room to my clothes and hair. There was no way to escape it, but hundreds of locals were out in the open–air markets, most of whom didn't wear masks. Vang Vieng, around 80 miles north of Vientiane, was set to be my final destination. I was hoping that there, I would find countryside air that might be cleaner than it was in the city.A first-class train ticket to Vang Vieng was 200,000 Laotian kip, or around $12.Vientiane Railway Station.Marielle Descalsota/InsiderWhile a first-class ticket costs just $12, I ended up paying around $7 more as I booked online through 12Go, a Thailand-based travel agency. I overpaid a bit for my convenience, but if you do have time, it's worth heading to the ticket station to buy tickets in person — although it's best if you do it in advance as the seats are often sold out.The railway is an expensive project – it cost $6 billion to construct. The hefty price tag could be seen in the grandeur of Vientiane Railway Station.Inside Vientiane Railway Station.Marielle Descalsota/InsiderVientiane's railway station looked to be one of the most modern structures in the entire city, which was reminiscent of an airport terminal. The rail line's ownership is split between three Chinese state-owned companies and the Laotian government. While most of the travelers were locals, the Chinese influence was ubiquitous as the signs around the station were in Chinese and Lao, and announcements were said in both languages. Some announcements were made in English too — but there were times it was broken and mistranslated."We love the train line," one local, who only wanted to be known as Sang, told me. "Last time it took six hours before I could go to Luang Prabang, now it's only two," he said, referring to the city north of Vientiane.The train to Vang Vieng was punctual. Passengers rushed to line up and board, but it was orderly — no one skipped the lines.There appeared to be very few tourists taking the train that day, save for a handful of backpackers. Most of the passengers were locals traveling between cities — some of them didn't even have much with them, save for a backpack.The train was impressive. It looked shiny and new, and there was staff dressed in Lao-inspired uniforms flanking each door.The entrance to the train's cabins.Marielle Descalsota/InsiderThe CR200J, which is constructed by state-owned rolling stock manufacturer CCRC, can travel up to 100 miles per hour. It's nicknamed "the Hulk" for its green-colored design, similar to the Marvel superhero. Inside the cars, dozens of staff greeted passengers, reminiscent of flight attendants on board an aircraft. I made my way to the first-class cabin in the train's first car. It wasn't luxurious per se, but it was spacious and clean.The first-class car in the train.Marielle Descalsota/InsiderIn July last year, I rode on one of Thailand's longest train rides. My first-class cabin wasn't particularly comfortable, considering I had to travel for 13 hours. But here in Laos, I was more comfortable than ever, thanks to the roomy plush seats — which made the short-haul trip a breeze.The seats in first-class were much wider than in second-class. The latter was more private too, as there were limited seats available in the first car. Apart from that, my seat was basic: it could recline, had a footrest, and foldable a tray table for meals — but for the price, I couldn't complain. According to online photos of the CR200J cabins in China, some configurations also have sleeper cars, with private cabins and beds.Each car was replete with a washbasin and bathroom.The bathroom in the train.Marielle Descalsota/InsiderWhile the toilet was cleaner than the one in Thailand, it still had an unpleasant stench. The bathroom isn't designed with a shower, but for short-haul trips, it worked fine.As the train began to depart the station, the view revealed trash, dirt, and bald trees.The view right outside the train station.Marielle Descalsota/InsiderThe view was a stark contrast to the glitzy train station, including dark-colored water in the canals and half-dead foliage. The construction of the railway has led to the pollution of local waterways, making it difficult for residents to fish and bathe in the water, according to a 2020 report by Radio Free Asia. As the train traveled deeper in the Laotian countryside, acres of crop fields could be seen, against the backdrop of smog covering the jungle and sky.The countryside in Laos.Marielle Descalsota/InsiderThere wasn't anyone — or anything — out in the field of burned crops, save for a lorry driving through.Some 63% of Laos' population of 7.5 million people live in rural areas, many of whom work in agriculture. The industry made up around 17.2% of the country's gross domestic product last year, per the Vientiane Times.Some of the things cultivated in Laos include rice, coffee, and, at one point in time, opium — which was only outlawed in 2006. The countryside showed how the majority of Laotians live – in houses surrounded by jungle.What houses look like in the Laotion countryside.Marielle Descalsota/InsiderLaos is far from densely populated, so many people live in remote villages, which comprise dozens of families who are often from the same ethnic group. In Vientiane, however, many locals live in apartments, like in other capital cities in the region."In the countryside, a very limited number of locals speak English, but they will always make efforts to share something with you: food, beverage, smiles or just time," Mathieu Thaeron, a Frenchman who has lived in Vang Vieng since 2012, told me. According to a 2015 report by Laotian architect Xayaphone Vongvilay, houses in Laos are influenced by French colonial architecture. A typical home is often made up of a multi-purpose area on the lower level, and a veranda and bedrooms on the upper floor. These homes are often elevated from the ground, although there are exceptions, like the one photographed above. I had a glimpse of the gorgeous landscapes of Laos, with the edge of the jungle curving into Nam Lik, a river and reservoir.A highway across a river in Laos.Marielle Descalsota/InsiderLike its railway, many of Laos' highways are constructed and funded mostly by China. These highways plan to stretch from Vientiane to Boten — which mirrors the train route — and are expected to cost $7.1 billion. The Vientiane-Vang Vieng Expressway (pictured above) is owned by state-owned Yunnan Construction Engineering Group, save for a 5% stake by the Laos government. While thousands of cars are expected to use the massive expressway in the future, I only saw a single car on the road that day. As the train crept closer to Vang Vieng, the darker side began to emerge — and revealed the cause of the country's thick smog.Slash and burn in the Laotian countryside.Marielle Descalsota/InsiderAs the train began to approach Vang Vieng, the PSI was over 320, with active fires just 5 miles away, the reading on the Swiss tech company IQAir's app showed.Many farmers in Southeast Asia resort to slash-and-burn farming to cultivate their crops — and Laos is no exception. Amidst acres of thick jungle were mounds of burnt ground (pictured above), remnants of forest fires that have been suffocating residents for years. In late March alone, some 9,600 hotspots, which indicated forest fires, were recorded in Laos, according to Nikkei Asia, citing Thailand's Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency.In the aftermath of the forest fire, black-gray soot remained. I spotted a handful of farmers on the burned land, observing their surroundings.Slash and burn in the Laotian countryside.Marielle Descalsota/Insider"It's been smoggy because the farmers are burning their fields and rice paddies. When they burn the fields, the fire spreads to other places," an official of the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry told Radio Free Asia.After being burned and cultivated, the land can no longer be used for crops. The Laos government hasn't released official numbers on how many people have been affected by the smog. But in neighboring Thailand, where slash-and-burn is also commonplace, over 1.7 million people said they experienced issues like respiratory problems and burning eyes, per Nikkei Asia's report. After around an hour, the train arrived in Vang Vieng. But what I saw was reminiscent of a post-apocalyptic film, with pale-white ash covering everything, from the buildings to the trees.Vang Vieng covered in ashes.Marielle Descalsota/InsiderThe town's gorgeous cliffs were also obscured by the dense smog. It was 104 Fahrenheit, which made the thick haze even more suffocating. The heat was immense, unbearable even, and visibility was extremely low. Black soot fell from the sky.I had left Vientiane to escape the smog, but instead had just gotten closer to it — the tracker on IQAir's app showed there was an active fire just 3.7 miles away."What happened this year was truly exceptional; I've never experienced such bad conditions," Thaeron said. I came to Laos expecting picture-perfect scenery of valleys and limestone cliffs, like the ones I saw in dozens of TikToks. But the tropical landscape looked more like a desert.Haze in Vang Vieng, where an active fire was just 6 kilometres away.Marielle Descalsota/InsiderHaving grown up in Singapore, I've had to live with varying degrees of haze almost every year. But this was unlike anything I had ever seen before. Many residents I saw seemed unfazed though, several of whom were still outdoors, without masks or protection from the smog. Despite the dire weather conditions, many Laotians stayed resilient, still peddling their tuk-tuks, working out in the sun, and serving guests at the hotels. The smog has become so much a part of their lives that they appear to carry on with their daily life unfazed.But as the region continues to swelter in record-breaking heat waves, I wondered if it's only a matter of time before the smog becomes too much for even the most hardened of locals.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»
I visited Williams Sonoma and got a glimpse at why business is booming, from its free perks to high-end kitchen tools
A first-time shopper at Williams Sonoma found a wide selection of kitchen tools and home furnishings. Kitchen tools at Williams Sonoma.Talia Lakritz/Business InsiderI shopped at Williams Sonoma for the first time, visiting the Columbus Circle location in New York.I was impressed by the wide range of kitchen tools, helpful resources, and free perks.I'll definitely be back to take a cooking class, get some interior-design advice, or shop for gifts.With over half of its business conducted online, kitchen and home furnishings company Williams Sonoma is one of the largest e-commerce retailers in the US, Business Wire reported.That's partly why I'd never been inside one of its stores before.I've purchased Williams Sonoma cookware from friends' online wedding registries many times, but I had never actually set foot inside one of its brick-and-mortar locations. I buy most of my kitchen items from big-box stores like Walmart and Target, or online on Amazon, so I'd never ventured to a specialty cookware store.With William Sonoma's share price rising 67% over the last year, Zacks Equity Research reported in January, I decided to see what the hype was about by visiting one of its New York City stores. Zacks Equity Research attributes the recent success of Williams Sonoma to its expanding line of products and collaborations with brands like Netflix, its bolstered e-commerce platform, and its business-to-business strategy.I went in not knowing much about the chain but came out already planning my next shopping trip.I visited a two-story Williams Sonoma store located inside The Shops at Columbus Circle in New York City.Williams Sonoma at Columbus Circle.Talia Lakritz/Business InsiderThere are 152 Williams Sonoma stores in the US, according to its official website. California has the most locations with 29, followed by Florida with 11 and Texas with nine.At The Shops at Columbus Circle, the Williams Sonoma store was hard to miss. Located at the main entrance, it looked like the centerpiece of the luxury shopping complex.Outside the entrance to the store, posters advertised cooking classes with celebrity chefs and cookbook authors.An event advertised at Williams Sonoma.Talia Lakritz/Business InsiderBake from Scratch magazine editor in chief and cookbook author Brian Hart Hoffman was scheduled to demonstrate how to bake chocolate brioche at the store.Walking into Williams Sonoma for the first time, I was greeted with colorful tablescapes and kitchen tool displays.The entrance to Williams Sonoma.Talia Lakritz/Business InsiderThe display table was set for an Easter dinner featuring floral dishes and linens.With tasteful floral displays and artfully stacked dishes, it seemed much higher-end than the big-box stores I typically shop at.The first section I walked past featured a beloved kitchen classic and wedding-registry staple: the KitchenAid stand mixer.KitchenAid mixers at Williams Sonoma.Talia Lakritz/Business InsiderThe stand mixers retailed for $449.95, with some on sale at 15% off for $379.95.I also encountered a GE Profile Smart Mixer, an advanced piece of technology I'd never seen before.Williams Sonoma.Talia Lakritz/Business InsiderThe $799.95 mixer featured a built-in scale, WiFi connectivity, voice-control capabilities, and Auto Sense technology that can detect when a batter or dough is at the right consistency.I couldn't believe how many different knives there were for a variety of tasks and foods.Knives at Williams Sonoma.Talia Lakritz/Business InsiderThere were chef's knives, bread knives, carving knives, paring knives, cheese knives, and larger tools like cleavers.There were also lots of colors of Le Creuset cast-iron cookware to choose from.Cast-iron pots at Williams Sonoma.Talia Lakritz/Business InsiderLe Creuset cookware has become known as a "quiet luxury" item that lasts for years and never goes out of style. Williams Sonoma sells an exclusive cream color of Le Creuset cookware called "brioche."The prices ranged from $22 for a miniature round cocotte to $750 for a 15.5-quart dutch oven that can serve 15 people.I was impressed by the wide range of colorful kitchen tools.Spatulas at Williams Sonoma.Talia Lakritz/Business InsiderThe monogrammed spatulas, which cost $19.95, would make perfect housewarming presents or birthday gifts for baking enthusiasts.Williams Sonoma stocked some licensed merchandise like Mickey Mouse-shaped spoons and Star Wars ice-cube molds.Disney kitchen items at Williams Sonoma.Talia Lakritz/Business InsiderThe Mickey Mouse olivewood spoons cost $34.95, and the Darth Vader ice cube molds were priced at $24.95.I hadn't expected to see Disney characters and Star Wars paraphernalia at the upscale store, but the Zacks reports concluded that Williams Sonoma's partnerships are part of its recent success since they appeal to people in various life stages.I was also delighted to find an assortment of teas and cookies themed around the Netflix series "Bridgerton."Bridgerton tea and treats at Williams Sonoma.Talia Lakritz/Business InsiderThe $39.95 set of teas, cookies, jams, and other treats would be excellent additions to a "Bridgerton" watch party when season three premieres on May 16.The espresso machines were some of the most expensive kitchen items I came across in the store.Espresso machines at Williams Sonoma.Talia Lakritz/Business InsiderThey ranged from $219.95 for a Nespresso machine to $2,799.95 for a Breville Oracle Touch espresso machine.The lofty price tags of fancier appliances were balanced out by more affordable items, like monogrammed mugs.Mugs at Williams Sonoma.Talia Lakritz/Business InsiderThe mugs cost $14.95 each.Another kitchen tool I'd never heard of was a smoking box used to give cocktails a more complex flavor.A smoking machine at Williams Sonoma.Talia Lakritz/Business InsiderThe smoking box, manufactured by Crafthouse by Fortessa, was priced at $299.95.The highlight of the store was the enormous open kitchen where employees and guest chefs teach and offer demonstrations.A kitchen for demonstrations at Williams Sonoma.Talia Lakritz/Business InsiderAll Williams Sonoma stores offer free cooking classes teaching how to use some of the kitchen tools they sell, according to the retailer's website. In February, the classes focused on learning how to use features of KitchenAid stand mixers to make homemade pasta or grind meat, while March classes will explore uses of Le Creuset cast-iron cookware.The kitchen even included a free treat: chilled water with orange slices.Water with orange slices at Williams Sonoma.Talia Lakritz/Business InsiderThe unexpected refreshment elevated my shopping experience, even as I perused shelves of expensive items that were outside my budget.The upper level of the store housed furniture, rugs, linens, and other furnishings.Furniture at Williams Sonoma.Talia Lakritz/Business InsiderI was surprised to learn that Williams Sonoma offers free interior design consultations that can be held virtually, in-store, or in-home.With its wide range of kitchen tools, helpful resources, and free perks, I'd definitely shop at Williams Sonoma again.Sampling the water at Williams Sonoma.Talia Lakritz/Business InsiderAt Williams Sonoma, I encountered a balanced mix of affordable kitchen tools alongside high-end items like espresso machines and Le Creuset cookware, which made shopping at the luxury retailer feel attainable. With items like Disney spatulas and Bridgerton tea, I can see how the brand is branching out to appeal to a broad range of customers as part of its business strategy. I also found that the elevated shopping experience, including aesthetic displays and orange-infused water, made me want to return since I found simply browsing the store so enjoyable.Until my first trip to Williams Sonoma, I mostly thought of it as a place where people go to create wedding registries. Now that I know I can take cooking classes, pick up cute gifts, and try out unique kitchen tools, I'll probably visit the store a lot more often.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»
There"s a hidden farm-to-table dining experience on Oahu, and as a local, I"m tempted to keep it a secret
Tourists visiting Hawaii probably miss one of my favorite things to do on Oahu. Kahuku Farms has an amazing farm-to-table café everyone should visit. I live on Oahu in Hawaii, and I love visiting Kahuku Farms.Sarah EtinasI was born and raised in Oahu, and Kahuku Farms offers a unique farm-to-table experience.Visitors can explore the farm's public grounds or pay to take a behind-the-scenes tour.The Farm Café serves fresh meals, and you can even buy farm-grown products.As a born-and-raised Oahu local, I've spent a lot of time getting to know the ins and outs of the beautiful Hawaiian island.Beyond the golden shores of Waikiki Beach and the bustling shops of Kalakaua Avenue that visitors usually flock to, there's so much more to add to the agenda — including a visit to Kahuku Farms.Located on the North Shore of Oahu, Kahuku Farms is a four-generation working farm with a lovely farm-to-table café.Here's a glimpse of what it's like to visit.Start your trip at The Farm CaféAs you drive along Kamehameha Highway on Oahu's North Shore, you'll eventually come across a pale-yellow building off to the side of the road — that's Kahuku Farms' Farm Café.Pull into the dirt parking lot and take a peek at the tasty menu of fresh smoothies, entrées, and desserts.The farm pizza is a great entrée at the café. Sarah EtinasMy go-tos are the farm pizza (ciabatta with mozzarella, tomatoes, eggplant, and a basil-macadamia pesto), the acai bowl (made with locally grown berries), and a box of liliko'i (passion fruit) mochi. But you really can't go wrong with anything on the menu.As you wait for your food to be freshly made, snag a picnic table or lay out a blanket on the grassy lawn for a meal under the Hawaii sunshine.Make sure to walk the publicly accessible groundsYou can see beautiful, flowering plants across the grounds. Sarah EtinasOnce your belly is full and your taste buds are satisfied, take a walk around the grounds.There are all sorts of plants (most with labeled signs nearby) in the publicly accessible area — from kale and mint to acai and dragonfruit.You might even get a glimpse of a few of Hawaii's stray chickens wandering through the rows with you.If you have time, take the behind-the-scenes tourFor an even more in-depth look at Kahuku Farms, there's a one-hour behind-the-scenes tour on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 1 p.m. It costs $50 a person, and I think it's quite a treat.You get to explore the public grounds alongside a knowledgeable tour guide and sneak a peek at the farms' commercial lands.I recommend the special tour for anyone who wants a closer look at Kahuku Farms. Sarah EtinasInstead of one tree of each variety here and there, the commercial property boasts acres of crops. Kahuku Farm's main sellers are Laie gold papaya, Japanese eggplant, Brazilian dwarf apple bananas, and kalo (taro).Along the way, you get to sample loads of fruits straight off the tree, like star apples and cacao fresh out of the pod, and try delicious creations like milk chocolate, dark chocolate, and cacao nibs.I always grab some farm-fresh goodies on the way outBy the end of a visit to the farm, I inevitably want to buy some fresh goodies.Back at the café, you'll find a few shelves filled with Kahuku Farms grown and made products.Snag some tropical fruits along with packaged products like passion-fruit butter, fresh chocolate, and honey-mango body butter.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»
InvestorPlace - Stock Market News, Stock Advice & Trading Tips In almost every situation, investors should stay away from penny stocks. They’re extremely speculative and they tend to facilitate delusions of grandeur. To be sure, there’s nothing wrong with hope. But hope shouldn’t be a substitute for sound research and due diligence. Still, it’s also possible – in some limited sense – that you miss… The post 3 Top Penny Stocks for 5,000% Upside in 2024 and Beyond appeared first on InvestorPlace. More From InvestorPlace ChatGPT IPO Could Shock the World, Make This Move Before the Announcement Musk’s “Project Omega” May Be Set to Mint New Millionaires. Here’s How to Get In. It doesn’t matter if you have $500 or $5 million. Do this now......»»
The oil crisis of 1973 led to a sharp increase in oil prices and a shortage of fuel which influenced the automotive market in the 1970s. This crisis highlighted the vulnerabilities of the American auto industry’s reliance on larger, gas-guzzling cars, as consumers shifted their preferences towards smaller, more fuel-efficient models. More stringent environmental regulations, […] The post 30 Coolest Cars Released in the 1970s appeared first on 24/7 Wall St.. The oil crisis of 1973 led to a sharp increase in oil prices and a shortage of fuel which influenced the automotive market in the 1970s. This crisis highlighted the vulnerabilities of the American auto industry’s reliance on larger, gas-guzzling cars, as consumers shifted their preferences towards smaller, more fuel-efficient models. More stringent environmental regulations, covered under the Clean Air Act, along with the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), compelled the industry to invest in cleaner technologies, resulting in the development of catalytic converters and unleaded gasoline. The rise of reliable, fuel-efficient Japanese imports posed competition, as well. In response to these changing market dynamics, automakers refined their models. Join the 24/7 Wall St. gang as we take a trip down memory lane revisiting the 30 coolest cars released in the 1970s. 1970 Chevy Vega The 1970 Chevy Vega represents Chevrolet’s response to the growing demand for smaller and more fuel-efficient cars during a time of rising concerns about fuel consumption. Launched as a subcompact car, the Vega was available in various body styles, including a two-door coupe and a wagon. One of its notable features was the innovative aluminum-block engine, an attempt to reduce weight and enhance fuel efficiency. Despite its initial popularity and being recognized as the Motor Trend Car of the Year in 1971, the Vega faced issues with durability and reliability, challenges that ultimately affected the car’s reputation and long-term success. The Vega was retired in 1977. 1970 De Tomaso Pantera The 1970 De Tomaso Pantera, is an iconic Italian-American sports car that seamlessly blended sleek Italian design with American power. Featuring a mid-engine layout, the Pantera boasted a Ford 5.8-liter Cleveland V8 engine, providing it with a top speed of 222 mph! The collaboration between De Tomaso and Ford allowed for a broader market appeal, combining Italian styling with the reliability and accessibility of American mechanical components. Despite its initial success, challenges arose around quality control and the economic downturn of the 1970s. The Pantera was discontinued in 1992. 1970 Toyota Celica The Toyota Celica marked the debut of a trendsetting Japanese sports car that would go on to become an automotive icon. As one of the earliest Japanese cars to cater specifically to the American market, the Celica embodied a blend of stylish design and practicality. Under the hood, a four-cylinder engine delivered a balance of performance and fuel efficiency. The Celica’s affordability and reliability were an immediate hit with consumers, contributing to Toyota’s reputation for producing affordable dependable vehicles that persists. 1971 Stutz Blackhawk The Stutz Blackhawk is the very essence of automotive extravagance and bespoke craftsmanship. Produced by the luxury car manufacturer Stutz Motor Car of America, the Blackhawk was a limited-production, hand-built masterpiece. Featuring a sleek, elongated body adorned with ornate details, the Blackhawk presented an air of exclusivity. The interior was all about leather and wood. Under the hood, the Blackhawk boasted a powerful V8 engine, a perfect marriage of performance and aesthetic. Marketed to a select clientele, including celebrities and dignitaries, the Stutz Blackhawk was the pinnacle of personalized automotive opulence. Approximately 600 Blackhawk units were produced between 1971 and 1987. 1971 Monica The Monica, a French luxury car, was built by Automobiles Monica to challenge established luxury brands like Rolls-Royce and Bentley. The Monica was powered by a Chrysler V8 engine, while the interior was a work of the finest materials and craftsmanship. Despite its promising start, financial troubles and the global oil crisis of the 1970s led to the demise of the Monica after the production of only 40 units between 1971 and 1975. 1971 Holden HQ The Holden HQ, produced by the Australian automaker Holden from 1971 to 1974, is a third-generation Kingswood. The HQ’s revamped design with its bold lines and a more substantial body, attracted a diverse market, offering coupes, sedans, and wagons. The HQ was well-received for its durability and reliability, becoming a popular choice for Australia’s families. 1972 Honda Civic A model doesn’t last for 50 years unless it’s cool, and the Honda Civic is 52. The Civic, a pioneering, fuel-efficient compact car paved the way to establishing Honda as a reliable and innovative carmaker. Introduced amid the global oil crisis, the Civic addressed the growing demand for fuel-efficient vehicles. Its compact design, efficient use of interior space, and lightweight construction made it exceptionally economical and practical. The Civic’s success in the U.S. market was significant, challenging traditional perceptions and influencing the shift towards smaller, more efficient American-made cars. 1972 Panther J72 The 1972 Panther J72 is a classic British sports car crafted by Panther Westwinds, a niche automaker specializing in hand-built luxury cars. The J72 was a meticulous homage to the iconic Jaguar SS100 from the 1930s. The Panther J72, an open-air roadster featured a long hood and flowing fenders. The J72 was powered by a Jaguar XK-series engine, contributing to its performance and delivering an exceptional driving experience. With under 400 produced between 1972 and 1986, the Panther J72 is a sought-after collector’s item for its blend of classic aesthetics and modern performance. 1972 Volkswagen SP2 The Volkswagen SP2, introduced in 1972, was a unique and stylish sports car manufactured by Volkswagen of Brazil. The SP2 was designed amid the growing demand for sportier and more performance-oriented vehicles. The SP2’s distinctive fastback design and sleek lines set it apart from other Volkswagen models of the time. Under the hood, it housed an efficient, air-cooled 1.7-liter flat-four engine. The SP2 was popular for its avant-garde design and comfortable interior. The Volkswagen SP2 remains a beloved and collectible classic in Brazil, where it is celebrated for its blend of style and practicality. 1973 Enfield 8000 With a quirky design and a fiberglass body, the Enfield 8000, was an innovative electric two-seater microcar manufactured by the Enfield Automotive company on the Greek Island of Syros. Its electric powertrain offered a modest range (40 miles/charge) and performance (37 mph/top speed), which reflect the technological limitations of the time. Despite its lack of commercial success and limited production (120 units), the 8000 laid the groundwork for future advances in electric mobility. 1973 Matra Simca Bagheera The Matra Simca Bagheera, introduced in 1973, was a distinctive sports car that captured the essence of French design and engineering. Produced in a collaboration between Matra and Simca, the Bagheera was a compact, three-door, mid-engine coupe, featuring a unique triangular layout with a central driving position flanked by two passenger seats. Its unconventional design, combined with the reliability associated with Simca and Matra engineering, made the Bagheera an immediate success in the sports car market. While production ceased in 1980, the Matra Simca Bagheera remains a cult classic appreciated for its distinctive styling and innovative approach to design. Fun Fact: The car was named after the panther, Bagheera, in Rudyard Kipling’s classic The Jungle Book. 1973 Reliant Robin Of the 30 coolest cars released in the 1970s, the Robin is one of the funkier ones. The Reliant Robin, an eccentric three-wheeled car produced by the British manufacturer Reliant from 1973 to 2002, is iconic for its quirky design. With a single wheel at the front and two at the rear, the Robin featured a lightweight fiberglass body and a compact size. Its unconventional layout allowed it to be driven with a motorcycle license in the U.K. Despite its unorthodox appearance and reputation for tipping over, the Reliant Robin gained a cult following for its affordability and fuel efficiency. The Reliant Robin’s charm has led to a niche following and its enduring popularity. 1974 Panther De Ville The second of three Panther Westwinds cars to make our list, The Panther De Ville was built on a Jaguar platform and featured a design that paid homage to the grandeur of classic luxury cars. The Panther De Ville’s striking exterior with its elongated lines, distinctive grille, and lavish detailing was a first-class eye-turner. The interior was equally striking and well-appointed. Powered by a Jaguar engine, the De Ville offered a blend of performance and elegance. Its timeless design coupled with its limited production (60 units) has rendered the Panther de Ville a highly sought-after collectible. Disambiguation: Not to be confused with the Cadillac de Ville. 1974 Sebring-Vanguard Citicar Marked by rising environmental awareness and oil shortages, the 1970s saw an increase in the production of electric car models like the Sebring-Vanguard Citicar. A compact, lightweight vehicle, the Citicar was simply designed with a small body and large windows. It was marketed as an in-town car, with a range of 40 miles and a top speed of 38 mph. Before the Nissan Leaf and Tesla entered the market, the Citicar held the record for most electric produced, at 4500, securing its place in history as one of the successful e-cars. 1974 VW Scirocco Introduced in 1974, the Volkswagen Scirocco, featured a distinctive wedge shape, sharp lines, and a sleek profile that reflected the 70s emphasis on aerodynamics and efficiency. Over the years, the Scirocco underwent various updates and redesigns, maintaining its reputation as a practical yet sporty hatchback. With its sporty design and reliable performance, the Scirocco has maintained a dedicated fan base since the model was retired in 2017. 1975 AMC Pacer The AMC Pacer, introduced in 1975, was unmistakably, exceptionally un-cool, which is what makes it so retroactively cool. Marketed by American Motors Corporation (AMC) as the first wide small car, the Pacer featured a unique rounded shape and large windows, resulting in its idiosyncratic appearance. Its distinctive design, combined with features like a wider passenger side door for easy access to the rear seats, contributed to its appeal. Today, the Pacer is celebrated as a cult classic, admired for its retro charm and unapologetically bold aesthetic. 1975 Chrysler Cordoba The Chrysler Cordoba was a mid-size sedan that gained prominence for its elegance and luxury. Produced during a time when American automakers were transitioning to smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles, the Cordoba stood out with its upscale styling and distinctive front end featuring a bold rectangular grille. The Cordoba’s success was further boosted by a memorable advertising campaign featuring actor Ricardo Montalbán, who touted the car’s rich Corinthian leather interior. Though there is no distinct category of leather known as Corinthian leather, the marketing campaign was successful, and Corinthian leather became a pop culture reference. 1975 Gurgel Itaipu E150 The Gurgel Itaipu E150, manufactured by the Brazilian automaker Gurgel, was an innovative and noteworthy example of electric vehicle technology. Named after the Itaipu hydroelectric dam, a symbol of Brazil’s commitment to renewable energy, the E150 featured a compact, practical design with a fiberglass body and a small, efficient electric motor. Gurgel’s focus was on environmental sustainability and a reduction of dependence on fossil fuels. While its production numbers were exceptionally limited, the E150 is regarded as a trailblazer. Later models, like the BR 800, pictured above, solidified Gurgel’s place in the e-car world. 1976 Ford Falcon XC While facing increasing competition from smaller, more fuel-efficient cars, the Ford Falcon XC appealed to consumers who were still invested in a snazzy, suped-up ride. Produced in Australia, the XC is the third generation of the Falcon. A significant departure from its predecessors, the XC featured a bold and distinctive design, while maintaining the spirit of the original and the scoop hood. Available as sedans, wagons, and utes, the XC was produced between 1976 and 1979. 1976 Honda Accord The 1976 Honda Accord introduced a compact and fuel-efficient car that would shape the perception of Japanese cars in the American market. As one of Honda’s earliest entries into the U.S. market, the Accord set new standards for reliability, fuel efficiency, and innovation. U.S. consumers responded to its compact design and practicality. The Accord’s success was driven by its exceptional fuel efficiency during a period of rising gasoline prices. This model laid the foundation for the Accord’s continued success in subsequent generations, becoming one of the best-selling cars globally and solidifying Honda’s position as a key player in the automotive marketplace. 1976 Panther Lima The third and possibly coolest Panther Westwinds model to make our list is the 1976 Panther Lima. The Lima, built on a Panther platform, featured an eye-catching long hood and a convertible top. Embodying classic British roadster aesthetics with a touch of modern flair, the interior of leather and polished wood added to the Lima’s splendor. With fewer than 1000 units manufactured between 1976 and 1982, the Panther Lima is a collectible appreciated for its combination of classic styling and contemporary luxury. 1977 Monteverdi Sierra The Monteverdi Sierra, made by Swiss manufacturer Monteverdi, was a luxury sedan recognized for its elegant design and exceptional performance. The Sierra featured a spacious interior adorned with leather and polished wood. Under the hood roared a powerful V8 engine, providing a smooth driving experience. As Monteverdi’s flagship model, the Sierra was a testament to the company’s commitment to craftsmanship and exclusivity. With limited production numbers, the Monteverdi Sierra remains a sought-after collector’s item, cherished for its unique blend of Swiss precision, luxurious appointments, and refined driving performance. 1977 Sears XDH-1 Of the 30 coolest cars released in the 1970s, the Sears XDH-1 has the most interesting backstory. To commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Die Hard battery, a small, three-wheeled electric vehicle was designed by the battery manufacturer Globe Union. The XDH-1 reflected the experimentation and interest in alternative transportation during that era. Designed as an economical and environmentally friendly solution for short-distance commuting the XDH-1 was powered by a 48-volt electric motor connected to 20 Die Hard batteries. Built around the chassis of a Fiat 128, the XDH had a top speed of 70 mph and a range of up to 90 miles at 50 mph; incredible performance for the time. Now nothing more than a rare artifact from a bygone time, the singularly produced XDH-1 can be viewed at the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in Talladega, Alabama. 1977 Fiat Fiorino The Fiat Fiorino, introduced in 1977, is a compact commercial vehicle that has evolved over the years to become a staple in the Fiat lineup. Known for its efficient use of space, practical design, and fuel economy, the Fiorino caters to businesses requiring an efficient, economical solution for transporting products. Since 1977, the Fiorino has continued to be a popular choice for urban deliveries, offering a blend of functionality, compactness, and reliability that appeals to a wide range of commercial users. 1978 BMW M1 Introduced in 1978, the BMW M1, was an iconic sports car that holds the distinction of being BMW’s first and only mid-engine production car. A result of BMW’s collaboration with Lamborghini, the M1 featured a sleek, aerodynamic design, emphasizing performance and style. Powered by a 3.5-liter inline-six engine, the M1 delivered an exhilarating driving experience with impressive speed and handling. Initially intended for the racing arena, the M1 is a symbol of BMW’s commitment to high-performance engineering. With only 456 units produced, the M1 is a rare collector’s item, indeed. 1978 Toyota Supra Initially part of the Celica lineup and known as the Celica XX in Japan, the original Toyota Supra was marketed as a more sophisticated and performance-oriented model. However, as it gained popularity, especially in the United States, it eventually evolved into a distinct model separate from the Celica. The first-generation Supra, officially known as the A40/A50 series, was a sleek fastback that offered a choice of inline-six engines, emphasizing a balance of sportiness and refinement. Over its early iterations, the Supra established itself as a capable GT car, earning a reputation for reliability and performance. Retired in 2002, the Supra retuned to Toyota’s lineup in 2019. 1978 Chrysler Valiant CM The Chrysler Valiant CM marked the final chapter of the Valiant series in Australia. Introduced in 1978, the CM model represented a culmination of the iconic Valiant lineage, touted for its powerful performance. The CM featured a revised design, with updated front and rear styling while continuing to offer a range of body styles, including sedans, wagons, and utilities. While the Valiant CM retained its reputation for durability and reliability, it faced increasing competition from smaller, more fuel-efficient cars, reflecting the changing automotive landscape, and was retired in 1981. 1979 Aston Martin Bulldog The Aston Martin Bulldog was a concept car that captured the imagination with its avant-garde design and ambitious engineering. Commissioned to surpass the 200 mph speed barrier, the Bulldog featured a striking, low-slung wedge shape and gull-wing doors, very similar to the DeLorean DMC-12, pictured above. Underneath the hood, the Bulldog boasted a potent twin-turbocharged V8 engine, capable of delivering remarkable performance. Despite its groundbreaking design and engineering prowess, the Bulldog’s production was limited to a single prototype due to financial constraints and changing priorities at Aston Martin. P.S. After cruising down a long and storied road that includes a Saudi Prince and 7000+ hours of restoration work, including a new engine, the Bulldog finally breached the 200-mph barrier in 2023. 1979 H-M-Vehicles Free-Way Manufactured in Burnsville, Minnesota, the H-M-Vehicles Free-Way was designed as an efficient urban commuter. With its unique and distinctive three-wheel platform, the High-Mileage-Vehicle’s one-seater Free-Way was part motorcycle, part automobile. Powered by small engines, often sourced from motorcycles, the Free-Way offered fuel efficiency and maneuverability, making it suitable for navigating crowded city streets. Produced between 1979 and 1982, the Free-Way was an innovative attempt to address the challenges of urban mobility in the late 20th century. 1979 Volkswagen Jetta The inaugural Volkswagen Jetta, introduced in 1979, marked a significant expansion of Volkswagen’s product lineup. The Jetta shared the same platform and many components as the VW Golf but featured a conventional trunk, giving it a more traditional sedan appearance. The first-generation Jetta emphasized practicality, fuel efficiency, and a comfortable interior. Its design was relatively straightforward, reflecting the boxy aesthetics that were characteristic of the era. The Jetta quickly gained popularity, establishing itself as a reliable and versatile sedan in the Volkswagen lineup. Presently in its seventh iteration, he Jetta has evolved to become one of Volkswagen’s most enduring and successful models.. Sponsored: Want to Retire Early? 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"Avatar: The Last Airbender" diverges from the original cartoon at points, but has plenty of references to it. Here are some of the biggest. "Avatar: The Last Airbender" recreates some shots from the original cartoon series.Robert Falconer/NetflixNetflix's live-action "Avatar: The Last Airbender" adapts the original cartoon, and has plenty of easter eggs.They include recreations of shots from the cartoon and references to the "Avatar" comics and books.Here are 23 details you may have missed — spoilers for the live-action, cartoon, comics, and books ahead.Are you a freak like me? If so, the most exciting part of Netflix live-action "Avatar: The Last Airbender" for you was probably the litany of references and lore drops that tied the adaptation back to the original cartoon and its spin-off material.The live-action series follows the major strokes of Nickelodeon's "Avatar: The Last Airbender": Aang, a young airbender, wakes up after being frozen in a block of ice for 100 years to the news that all of his people are dead. As the Avatar, the only person in the world able to master all four elements, he's responsible for restoring balance.There are, of course, differences in the live action, but also tons of easter eggs for longtime fans. If you haven't watched the 2005 animated series in a while — or haven't had the time to check out spin-off comics like "The Search" or YA novels like "The Shadow of Kyoshi" — don't worry, we've got you covered.Here are 23 details you might have missed in the "Avatar: The Last Airbender" live-action adaptation.Warning: Major spoilers ahead for Netflix's "Avatar: The Last Airbender," the original "Avatar: The Last Airbender," and select spin-off comics and novels.The show regularly uses musical cues from the cartoon. You'll recognize the Fire Nation theme in "Avatar: The Last Airbender" from the original cartoon.Robert Falconer/NetflixWhile the live-action series isn't scored by Jeremy Zuckerman, the composer for the original show, it references some of the cartoon's most iconic musical themes.You can hear the four-note Fire Nation musical cue seconds into the first episode. The show also references the opening and ending themes from the original cartoon, and other themes like Azula's.The live-action’s introduction sequence mirrors a shot from the original. Aang holds a similar pose in both the live-action and animated "Avatar: The Last Airbender."Netflix; NickelodeonThe final shot of the opening sequence shows Aang standing with his staff, overlooking mountains and a valley. In the iconic original opening from the cartoon, Aang is seen in a similar pose, holding his staff at an angle behind his back.The statue of Avatar Yangchen actually appears in the Eastern Air Temple in the Avatar Universe.Aang and Gyatso speak in front of a statue of Avatar Yangchen in the Southern Air Temple — but in the animated "Avatar: The Last Airbender" and "The Legend of Korra," the statue is in the Eastern Air Temple.Netflix; NickelodeonIn episode one, Gyatso breaks the Avatar news to Aang in front of a statue of Avatar Yangchen, the most recent Air Nomad in the Avatar cycle.However, there isn't a large statue of Yangchen at Aang's home, the Southern Air Temple, in the original series — rather, it's a hall of statues of past Avatars. But in "Avatar" and "The Legend of Korra," the statue of Yangchen lies in the Eastern Air Temple — you can see it in the season two "Avatar" episode "The Guru," and again in the season two "The Legend of Korra" episode "The Guide."Ironically, while passing statues in the Northern Air Temple in "The Dawn of Yangchen," written by F.C. Yee, Yangchen says that she hopes that her statue — a necessity of Avatar tradition — will be small."I don't need everyone staring at my giant head for eternity," she says.Gran Gran delivers the iconic opening monologue from the cartoon. Gran Gran, seen center, delivers the iconic "Avatar: The Last Airbender" opening monologue from the cartoon.Robert Falconer/NetflixAfter Aang wakes up in episode one, he explains that he just came from the Southern Air Temple, where they were celebrating the Great Comet Festival.Katara and Sokka's Gran Gran responds by immediately launching into the "everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked" monologue from the original cartoon. In that opening sequence, Katara's the one who delivers it, explaining the Fire Nation's attack and how she and Sokka came across Aang.Aang runs into a statue on Kyoshi Island in a recreation of a shot from the cartoon.The live-action "Avatar: The Last Airbender" recreates a shot of Aang running into a statue on an air scooter from the original cartoon.Netflix; NickelodeonIn the opening sequence for the cartoon, Aang runs into a statue on an air scooter. While playing with some children on Kyoshi Island, he does the same thing."There are certain scenes, or moments, or even just images that felt iconic to all of us," showrunner Albert Kim told Business Insider. "In the second episode, we did Aang on his air scooter bumping into the statue, that's something every fan knows because it's in every episode in the title sequence. And so I felt like, 'Let's do it again.'"Sokka appears to be training with melons on Kyoshi island, echoing a sequence from the cartoon.Sokka uses melons for target practice, referencing a moment in the original "Avatar" cartoon.Netflix; NickelodeonSokka runs into Suki while training with his boomerang, using fruit that appear to be melons as targets.It could be a callback to a training sequence from the original cartoon in which Team Avatar practices taking down Fire Lord Ozai. During the exercise, they create a fake Ozai with a melon head and clothes drafted on sticks, and enlist earthbender Toph (who has yet to appear in the live-action) to represent him in combat."I am not Toph, I am Melon Lord!" she cries out.Later, in episode eight of the live-action, Sokka drops another casual reference, saying that Aang has a "melon head."Katara repeats one of Kyoshi’s bits of wisdom while studying the previous Avatar.The "Avatar: The Last Airbender" live-action series quotes one of Avatar Kyoshi's lines from the original series.Netflix; NickelodeonOn Kyoshi Island, Aang and Katara study Avatar Kyoshi's past. The pair look at a painting that appears to depict Kyoshi defeating her adversary Chin the Conqueror, and Katara reads the inscription: "Only justice will bring peace."When Aang consults his past lives in the original cartoon for advice on how to defeat the Fire Lord, Kyoshi tells him the same.Incidentally, the live-action also incorporates some of Kyoshi's backstory as a servant girl from the "Avatar" novel "The Rise of Kyoshi," written by F.C. Yee.Iroh picks up a white lotus Pai Sho tile in a spot of foreshadowing. Iroh holds a white lotus title in "Avatar: The Last Airbender."NetflixIn Omashu, Iroh picks up a white lotus tile. Later, Zuko finds it while tracking his uncle and a group of Earth Kingdom soldiers. Iroh is an avid player of the in-universe strategy game Pai Sho — but the tile signifies something greater.In the cartoon, Iroh is a member of a group called the White Lotus, which is unaffiliated with any one nation and works behind the scenes to influence the course of history. Iroh, and others Aang and his friends encounter over the course of the series, are part of the group.Aang airbends a set of plates in a familiar fighting style during his fight with Zuko. Aang uses airbending to throw plates at Zuko in a style reminiscent of pro-bending.Netflix; NickelodeonIn Omashu, Aang and Zuko spar in a market in one of the show's most fun fight sequences. In one moment, Aang uses his airbending to sling a set of plates towards Zuko.While it might be pure coincidence, Aang's move is reminiscent of another fighting style in the "Avatar" universe: pro-bending. In "The Legend of Korra," bending has become a spectator sport, with teams of three formed of a waterbender, firebender, and earthbender duking it out. Earthbenders use earthen disks, bending them like projectiles in matches.Bumi mentions Kangaroo Island while dining with Aang, referencing a location from the original show. Bumi in "Avatar: The Last Airbender."Robert Falconer/NetflixIn episode four, Bumi offers Aang short ribs from Kangaroo Island at dinner, quipping that "they practically jump into your mouth!"In the original cartoon, Aang, Katara, and Sokka lie their way into Omashu without Jet's help, since he appears in a completely different episode. Aang, posing as an old man, says that he's from Kangaroo Island, which is coincidentally a real island in Australia.There’s a statue of Bumi’s pet from the cartoon in his dining hall. There's a statue of Flopsie the gorilla goat in "Avatar: The Last Airbender."Netflix; NickelodeonWhen Bumi presents Aang with a feast, there's a statue of a goat gorilla behind him.In the original cartoon, Bumi has a pet goat gorilla named Flopsie that he tasks Aang with catching as part of a trial.Bumi challenges Aang with crystals similar to ones he uses to trap Katara and Sokka in the original. The live-action "Avatar" references jennamite, also known as creeping crystal.Netflix; NickelodeonBumi momentarily traps Aang in a rock candy trap during their visit in Ba Sing Se.The stone's name is jennamite, or creeping crystal, and in the original cartoon, it's Katara and Sokka that he traps. The crystals' slow growth along their bodies serves as a timer for Aang to complete Bumi's trials.Katara says she didn't know that seal jerky was edible, referencing a moment from the original cartoon.Katara and Sokka in the tunnels near Omashu in "Avatar: The Last Airbender."NetflixIn the tunnels near Omashu in episode four, Katara and Sokka reminisce about their home in the Southern Water Tribe. Sokka says that he misses their grandmother's seal jerky. As they walk away, Katara remarks, "Seal jerky, never knew you could eat that stuff."In episode three of the original series, Sokka finds his pouch of seal jerky empty as he, Katara, and Aang fly through the air on Appa. Aang says that he didn't know it was food, and used it as kindling for their campfire the night before.During the memorial service for Iroh’s son, a song from the cartoon plays in the background. Iroh at the memorial for his son Lu Ten in "Avatar: The Last Airbender."NetflixIn episode four, there's a flashback to the memorial service for Iroh's son Lu Ten, who died during the siege of Ba Sing Se. During the sequence, as Zuko gives Iroh a medal Lu Ten had passed on to him, a familiar musical theme plays: "Leaves From The Vine." The song plays again later in the episode during a flashback, when Iroh tells Zuko that he'll join him on his banishment.In the original cartoon, Iroh sings the song in the season two episode "Tales of Ba Sing Se," when he celebrates his son's birthday, creating a memorial for him near a tree in Ba Sing Se. The sequence also honors Mako Iwamatsu, the voice actor who played Iroh in the first two seasons of "Avatar" and died in 2006 of esophageal cancer.The lyrics from the song are: "Leaves from the vine / Falling so slow / Like fragile tiny shells / Drifting in the foam / Little soldier boy / Come marching home / Brave soldier boy / Comes marching home."Sokka quotes a haiku he recites in an episode from the cartoon. Sokka speaks to a young girl in a burned forest in "Avatar: The Last Airbender."NetflixIn episode five, Sokka comforts a young girl that he, Katara, and Aang meet in the forest. He tells her that his name is "Sokka, rhymes with Okka, and wakka wakka." When he learns that the girl's doll doesn't have a name, he suggests that it could be called "Pippinpaddle Oppsokopolis the Third."These are two separate references from the cartoon: In the episode "Tales of Ba Sing Se," Sokka attempts to woo a haiku club full of women by freestyling haikus for them. "That's right, I'm Sokka / It's pronounced with an 'Okka' / Young ladies, I rocked ya," he recites — but the last line has too many syllables, and the bouncer kicks him out."Pippinpaddle Oppsokopolis the Third," on the other hand, is a derivative of a fake name that Aang gives to get into Omashu in the season one episode "The King of Omashu." The full name that Aang gives is "Bonzoo Pippenpadlopsicopolis the Third."A villager references some of Team Avatar’s escapades from the cartoon. A group of men at a pub give Zuko and Iroh information about the Avatar.NetflixAs Zuko and Iroh search for Team Avatar — the Gaang, if you will — in episode five, we get a brief update on what they've been up to.A shopkeeper tells Zuko that he heard the Avatar was traveling with a few waterbenders, questioning another patron about the specifics."What, the Avatar? That's what those pirates said," the man, Muki, replies."No, it wasn't the pirates. It was that canyon guide," another says. "He said the Avatar fought off some canyon crawlers with the help of a couple of waterbenders. Was he the one who told us about how they stopped the volcano from erupting?""Right after they fought the mad King of Omashu," Muki replies.This is a reference to four different episodes from season one of the cartoon: "The Waterbending Scroll," in which Katara steals a scroll from a group of pirates; "The Great Divide," in which Aang mediates a dispute between two refugee tribes as they cross a large canyon; "The Fortuneteller," in which the Gaang helps a village placated by a fortune teller survive a volcanic eruption; and of course, "The King of Omashu."There’s a glimpse of Azula’s blue fire.Azula uses blue fire in "Avatar: The Last Airbender."NetflixIn episode five, Azula spars with a man in the Fire Nation. She doesn't back off even when he tells her to stop, pinning him to the ground and hodling a flaming fist above his face. Before her friend Mai cuts her off, her fire briefly flashes blue. Later, in episode seven, we finally get to see her bend lightning — a high level technique.In the original cartoon, Azula's blue fire is a mark of her extraordinary talent and skill. We don't frequently see her wielding red fire, except as a child — so in the live-action, we're witnessing the birth of a prodigy.The spirit world incorporates spirits from across the “Avatar” series. Wan Shi Tong, the steward of the Spirit Library, appears much earlier in the live-action "Avatar" than he does in the cartoon.NetflixDuring Aang, Sokka, and Katara's journey into the spirit world we encounter a number of spirits that don't appear until later in the series. That includes Wan Shi Tong, the owl spirit of knowledge who presides over the spirit library, Koh, the face-stealer, and the Fog of Lost Souls, which Avatars Korra and Yangchen encountered in "The Legend of Korra" and "The Dawn of Yangchen, respectively.The Mother of Faces plays a crucial role in the “Avatar” comics. A statue of the Mother of Faces in "Avatar: The Last Airbender."NetflixAang must return a relic of the Mother of Faces that Roku stole from Koh, the face-stealing spirit, in order to save Katara and Sokka in episode six.The Mother of Faces doesn't appear at all in the cartoon — so if you don't want major spoilers for the spin-off comics, keep scrolling.The Gaang, Zuko included, meets the Mother of Faces in "The Search" graphic novels, which focus on Zuko's search for his mother Ursa. The Mother of Faces is responsible for creating faces and identity — and she's Koh's mother. At one point, she gave Ursa a new face and erased her memories of her prior life, including those of her children Zuko and Azula. However, the spirit later restores Ursa's previous identity.Some of the shots and moments from episode 6 directly reference the original cartoon. Episode six of the live-action "Avatar: The Last Airbender" recreates some shots from the original.Nickelodeon; NetflixParts of episode six, "Masks," correspond to episode 13 of the original cartoon, titled "The Blue Spirit." In both episodes, Zuko disguises himself with a blue mask to break into Pohuai stronghold, where Aang is being held captive by Admiral Zhao. In order to further conceal his identity, he only wields dual swords as the Blue Spirit, and doesn't firebend. The original episode is stunning — and the live-action episode recreates some of its original bits in detail. You'll probably recognize familiar shots, pieces of choreography, or bits of dialogue that correspond to the original (unfortunately, given that the setup has changed, we don't get the line, "My friends need to suck on those frogs!"). But you should recognize action pieces like Aang and Zuko using ladders as stilts to cross between the multiple walls of the stronghold, or Zuko crossing his swords over Aang's throat to allow them to escape. Katara enjoys sea prune soup, which she has in a memorable meal in the cartoon. Katara enjoys stewed sea prunes in both the live-action and cartoon "Avatar."Netflix; NickelodeonWhen the Gaang reaches Agna Qel'a, the capital of the Northern Water Tribe, Katara eats a bowl of stewed sea prunes, part of traditional Water Tribe cuisine. She remarks to Aang that it tastes like "home."In the first season of the cartoon, the Gaang runs into Bato, a warrior from the Southern Water Tribe. He makes them a pot of stewed sea prunes, much to Katara's excitement.Kuruk’s history is drawn from the spin-off novels. Avatar Kuruk in "Avatar: The Last Airbender."Robert Falconer/NetflixIn episode seven, Aang communes with Avatar Kuruk, who explains to him that he can't take over Aang's body in the physical world like Kyoshi did because of the spiritual corruption he sustained as the Avatar.In the main cartoon, we don't get this part of Kuruk's backstory — rather, he's framed as more of a lackadaisical, hedonistic Avatar. But we learn more about his history in "The Rise of Kyoshi" and "The Shadow Kyoshi." While he appeared to be a slacker, he was actually battling dark spirits in secret, coping with the resulting spiritual corruption through alcohol and other vices. He eventually died at age 33, having greatly neglected matters of the physical world during his tenure as Avatar.Bumi's wearing metal boots when the Fire Nation takes him prisoner.Bumi's wearing metal restraints in "Avatar: The Last Airbender."NetflixTowards the end of episode eight, we learn that the Fire Nation attack on Agna Qel'a was merely a diversion — the true target was Omashu. King Bumi was captured by the Fire Nation forces led by Azula, and is restrained with chains and metal boots on his feet. That's likely because, at this point in the "Avatar" continuity, earthbenders haven't yet invented metalbending (Toph, we're looking at you in season two!). For a powerful bender like Bumi, cutting off his access to the earth through his feet is a strong measure of restraint. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»
45 years ago, NASA"s Voyager spacecraft flew past Jupiter. See how the iconic video compares to photos of the planet today.
Voyager 1 captured Jupiter as nobody had ever seen it before. Now, 45 years later, NASA's Juno spacecraft is capturing even more stunning photos. Jupiter as seen by Voyager 1 (left) is far less detailed than this enhanced imaged of Jupiter captured by Juno.NASA / JPL; NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Rita Najm © (CC BY)NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft flew past Jupiter 45 years ago, capturing iconic footage.The Voyager probe's movie of Jupiter made history, revealing the planet like never before.See how those images compare to Jupiter pictures from NASA's Juno mission today.Voyager was one of NASA's most ambitious missions, and Jupiter is arguably our solar system's most beautiful planet. So when the two met for the first time, it was history — and art — in the making.NASA launched its twin Voyager spacecrafts in the summer of 1977. Voyager 1 was first to approach Jupiter, entering the gas giant's orbit in March 1979.As the probe approached our solar system's largest and swirliest planet that spring, it captured the iconic video below. It's a time-lapse movie made of 66 images.Voyager 1 recorded its Jupiter approach over 60 Jupiter days in 1979.NASA/JPL"Jupiter is far more complex in its atmospheric motions than we had ever imagined," Bradford Smith, who was leading the imaging team, said in a press briefing that February, even before Voyager had gotten close enough to make this video, according to Astronomy.com.Even as early as January 1979, when Voyager was still 34 million miles away, the probe was showing Jupiter like nobody had seen it.NASA/JPLHe added that his team was "happily bewildered."The spacecraft made its closest approach to Jupiter on March 5, 1979.The footage was monumental. To put it in perspective, prior to Voyager, the best close-up images of Jupiter were from the Pioneer 10 spacecraft. They looked like this:Snapshots NASA's Pioneer 10 spacecraft took as it approached and flew away from Jupiter.NASAVoyager was a major upgrade.The first probe photographed Jupiter for 4 months, capturing 19,000 pictures. Voyager 2 entered Jupiter's orbit as Voyager 1 was on its way out and took an additional 14,000 photos before completing its Jupiter encounter in August 1979.That was 45 years ago. Today we have a wealth of stunningly detailed, colorful snapshots of Jupiter and its moons, thanks to NASA's more modern Juno spacecraft, which has been orbiting the gas giant since 2016.Colorful swirling cloud belts span Jupiter's surface, as captured by Juno.NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Tanya Oleksuik (CC BY NC SA 3.0)Compared to Voyager's first glimpse of Jupiter, Juno's portraits capture its intricate features in finer detail. With the help of modern image processing, Jupiter's colors, patterns, and violent weather are on full display.Jupiter as seen by Voyager 1 (left) is far less detailed than this enhanced imaged of Jupiter captured by Juno.NASA / JPL; NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Rita Najm © (CC BY)The planet's iconic Great Red Spot is an anticyclone large enough to swallow Earth. Juno data has revealed that it extends up to 310 miles below the visible surface of the Jovian atmosphere.That's greater than the distance between you and the International Space Station when it's overhead.Juno captured this close-up of Jupiter's Great Red Spot (right) in sharper detail than Voyager 1 did (left).NASA/JPL; NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Gerald Eichstädt /Seán DoranJuno even spots Jupiter's moons up close sometimes — such as Io, which Voyager discovered to have active volcanoes spewing lava into space.Jupiter and its volcanically active moon Io captured together by the Juno spacecraft.NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Alain Mirón Velázquez © (CC BY)Juno has even spotted Io's shadow gliding over Jupiter's turbulent surface.Io casts its shadow on Jupiter.NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Kevin M. Gill (CC-BY)The Voyager spacecrafts are now in interstellar space, the only human-made objects to ever leave our solar system. They are both slowly losing their power supply.Juno should still be circling Jupiter, and sending back gorgeous images like this, until at least September 2025.Jupiter's reddish-orange South Temperate Belt, with the Great Red Spot, the most dominant atmospheric feature in the planet's southern hemisphere.NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Navaneeth Krishnan (S CC BY)That's when Juno's current mission ends, but if it's still functional NASA might keep it going for more years to come.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»
All the A-list stars are staying in the Fontainebleau Las Vegas" luxury suites, which start at $5,000 a night. Take a look inside.
The Fontainebleau has become one of the hottest Las Vegas hotels, attracting everyone from Beyoncé and Jay-Z to Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Brady. Inside the exclusive Fleur de Lis suites at the Fontainebleau Las Vegas. Connie ZhouThe Fontainebleau has become one of the hottest Las Vegas hotels since it opened in December. Beyoncé, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Tom Brady were all at the hotel during Super Bowl weekend. We got a tour of the exclusive Fleur de Lis suites, where all the VIPs stay. Even in a city packed with flashy competition, the new Fontainebleau Las Vegas managed to attract the biggest stars during Super Bowl weekend.Beyoncé and Jay-Z dined at Mother Wolf — one of the resort's 36 restaurants — while Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Brady partied at Poodle Room, its exclusive members-only club. Mark Wahlberg was playing bartender over at Komodo, while Lana Del Rey made it to Papi Steak after celebrating the Kansas City Chiefs' win with Taylor Swift.I spent two nights at Fontainebleau Las Vegas during the Big Game weekend and was given an exclusive tour of Fleur de Lis — the luxury suites where all the VIPs stay in Sin City.Let's take a look inside, shall we?The Fleur de Lis suites span the top five floors of the Fontainebleau, which is the tallest occupiable building in Las Vegas. The Fontainebleau Las Vegas opened in December. PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty ImagesGuests staying in the Fleur de Lis suites have their own private entrance and elevators on the main floor, marked by two metallic golden doors that shimmer under one of the resort's many chandeliers.The suites range from 1,000 square feet to the 10,000-square-foot penthouse, and prices start at $5,000 per night.Guests are greeted with a welcome cocktail, the "Fleur de Spritz," before their in-suite check-in begins. The entry way to the Fleur de Lis suite that I toured. Anneta Konstantinides/Business InsiderThere are subtle changes to differentiate the Fleur de Lis suites from the standard rooms below.The halls are designed in a color palette of sunset orange and pink, rather than the soothing blues I saw on the floor of my room, and a signature (delicious-smelling) scent is pumped through the vents — instantly distinguishing the luxury suite experience.I toured the second-biggest suite, which features a large living room and dining area. The living room and dining area of a Fleur de Lis suite. Anneta Konstantinides/Business InsiderAs we opened the door, I immediately caught a glimpse of the Vegas skyline from the floor-to-ceiling windows, which take up nearly an entire wall in the spacious sitting and dining area.I loved the water-ripple glass panels at the suite's entrance, which I learned are a tribute to the original Fontainebleau Miami. The subtle bow ties on the parquet wood floor also pay homage to the late architect Morris Lapidus, who incorporated his signature accessory in the original Fontainebleau. His iconic bow tie is now the symbol of the Fontainebleau Las Vegas and can be found throughout the resort (including its 60-foot-tall centerpiece chandelier).The living room features plush royal-blue couches that match the modern carpet underneath. I loved the chic and modern couches in the living room. Anneta Konstantinides/Business InsiderEach suite features floral arrangements designed by Kardashian-beloved florist Jeff Leatham, as well as personalized welcome chocolates from Fontainebleau's executive pastry chef Patrice Caillot.The new Las Vegas Sphere winked back at me as I looked across the sunny Nevada landscape from the floor-to-ceiling windows. The view from the Fleur de Lis suite. Anneta Konstantinides/Business InsiderThe best view of the mountains surrounding Vegas is from the Fleur de Lis penthouse suite, which has four bedrooms plus an in-suite gym, sauna, and wellness room.One of my favorite parts of the entire suite was the gorgeous private bar. The private bar in the Fleur de Lis suite. Anneta Konstantinides/Business InsiderThe bar perfectly illustrates how different patterns and textures have been designed to dance together within the Fleur de Lis suites, infusing every room with depth and intrigue.The checkerboard wallpaper and navy leather stools add a dash of modernity to the bar, while the polished marble countertops and gold chandeliers retain that outspoken element of Las Vegas luxury.The bedrooms are also decorated with rich blue and red accents. One of the bedrooms in the Fleur de Lis suite. Anneta Konstantinides/Business InsiderI loved how the plush and textured navy wall added some dramatic flair to this bedroom, especially when paired with the scarlet couch by the window.The colors and textures used throughout the Fleur de Lis suites felt chic and cohesive, tying every room together.Each Fleur de Lis suite comes with a dedicated butler. The bedrooms are decorated in different shades of blue, gold, and red. Anneta Konstantinides/Business InsiderThe butler's evening service includes a pillow menu and tea program so guests can customize their pre-sleep experience.Fleur de Lis also offers accommodations for children, including balloon bouquets upon arrival, petite-sized robes, playpens, board games, and PlayStation 5.A sleek and subtle panel allows guests to control each room's lights and automatic drapes to their preference. Some of the rooms feature an extensive panel to select the lights and shades. Anneta Konstantinides/Business InsiderThere are also buttons to instantly call for towels or housekeeping service, as well as a privacy option.Personal concierge services are included in the Fleur de Lis package, and they can arrange any tickets or reservations a guest may need from the comfort of their own suite. Guests also have access to a personal valet and a private fleet of Rolls-Royces.The soaking tub was my favorite feature of the sparkling marble bathroom … The bath tub in this suite was beautiful. Anneta Konstantinides/Business InsiderThe butler can draw up a bath selected from the Fleur de Lis menu, which features everything from a milk bath to Epsom salt soaks.… as was the sunbed overlooking the Las Vegas skyline. This sunbed offers the perfect place to relax after a big night in Sin City. Anneta Konstantinides/Business InsiderThere's plenty of room in the spacious bathroom for guests to enjoy in-suite services from Fontainebleau's spa. You can even have an IV drip delivered to your room after a big night of partying.And who doesn't love a private sauna? The sauna in a Fleur de Lis suite. Anneta Konstantinides/Business InsiderThe sauna, which in this suite was subtly tucked between the tub and sinks, can comfortably fit two people.The showers were also huge, and offered stunning views. The marble shower glowed in the sunlight. Anneta Konstantinides/Business InsiderIn addition to Fontainebleau's custom shampoo, conditioner, and body wash, the suites also offer luxury Knesko face masks and Dyson hair tools.The Fleur de Lis suites illustrate how the Fontainebleau is ushering in a new era of luxury in Sin City. The centerpiece chandelier in the Fontainebleau Las Vegas casino. Connie ZhouWhether it's the big bets or wild clubs, Las Vegas has always been over the top. And, for many decades, that's often gone hand in hand with places that feel cheesy or gaudy.But the Fontainebleau clearly wants to provide something different to the Strip. There's a chicness and elegance to its design that's evident no matter which suite you stay in. The rich textures, refined fabrics, and tasteful colors reveal how real luxury is often subtle.No wonder it's become the hot spot for Hollywood's biggest stars.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»
Combat artists are illustrating moments of Marines in Nordic Response 24, preserving details of the exercise through coal, ink, graphite, and wax. US Marines Corps Maj. Michael Reynolds, a combat artist with the Marine Corps Combat Art Program, illustrates Marines during cold weather training in preparation for the NATO exercise Nordic Response 2024 in Setermoen, Norway.US Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Joshua KumakawCombat artists captured Marines braving the cold as they practiced defending NATO's northern flank.Over 20,000 troops are participating in a military exercise in Norway known as Nordic Response 24.The exercise is part of NATO's Steadfast Defender 2024, the alliance's largest wargame since the Cold War.Combat artists in Norway captured Marines braving frigid temperatures and snow during military exercises known as Nordic Response 24.The NATO-led exercise, which will run from mid-February to mid-March, brings together thousands of Norwegian and allied troops from more than a dozen nations to practice defending NATO's northern flank.Nordic Response is part of NATO's Steadfast Defender 2024, the alliance's largest military exercise since the Cold War.Though Russia was not mentioned by name in public remarks, the wargames also serve as a show of strength to deter the Kremlin two years after its unprovoked full-scale invasion of Ukraine.Nordic Response 24Richard Johnson, a combat artist, illustrates Marines during cold weather training behind a row of skis and equipment.US Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Joshua KumakawOver 20,000 service members from more than a dozen different nations are participating in the exercise, which is taking place throughout northern Norway, Sweden, and Finland. Troops are conducting training on land, sea, and in the air.Over 50 submarines, frigates, corvettes, aircraft carriers, and various amphibious vessels will participate in Nordic Response.More than 100 fighter jets, transport aircraft, and maritime surveillance aircraft — including the CH-53 Super Stallion, Merlin, Cobra, and Osprey — are also participating.On land, troops will conduct exercises in tanks, tracked vehicles, and other vehicles and work with various artillery systems.What is a combat artist?Richard Johnson, a combat artist with the Marine Corps Combat Art Program, finishes a drawing from his barracks room in Bardufoss, Norway.Photo by Master Sgt. Jon HolmesCombat art dates back centuries, offering a glimpse into significant moments of warfare throughout history.Artists have documented the Marine experience since the service branch was established in 1775, but armed forces in the US didn't have an official program until World War II.Marine Corps Combat Art ProgramUS Marines Corps Maj. Michael Reynolds, a combat artist with the Marine Corps Combat Art Program, illustrates Marines during cold weather training.US Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Joshua KumakawIn 1941, the US Navy established the Combat Artist Corps, and the Marine Corps followed suit in 1942 through its Department of Public Relations.According to a call for Marines to serve in MCCAP, artists are tasked to "use creative thinking, design, and drawing skills to visually document Marine Corps personnel and activities across the globe," including training exercises and overseas operations.Combat art created in the program is featured in the Art Collection of the National Museum of the Marine Corps "to preserve for posterity the actions and events that made history."Officers and enlisted Marines of any rank with artistic abilities are eligible for the program. Participants also could be asked to "serve on temporary additional duty and work in challenging environments in order to realize the vision and mission of MCCAP," like enduring the hard conditions of Nordic Defender.'Go to war, do art'US Marines Corps Maj. Michael Reynolds, a combat artist with the Marine Corps Combat Art Program illustrates Marines during cold weather training in preparation for the NATO exercise Nordic Response 2024 in Setermoen, Norway.US Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Joshua KumakawParticipants in the MCCAC program were "Marines first, and artists, or anything else, second," Brig. Gen. Robert L. Denig, then serving as the Marine Corps' first director of public information, wrote in 1943.Because combat artists are "Marines first," they draw on their own understanding of the realities of the service to accurately capture the experience of a Marine.Denig wrote in 1943 that Marine combat artists were tasked to "record with the artist's eye the great and simple doings of men at war, to picture its action, its settings, its tragedy, its humor."Denig's simple guidance to combat artists was "go to war, do art."Capturing emotion, spirit, and storiesUS Marine Corps Maj. Michael Reynolds and a combat artist finish a drawing from his barracks room in Bardufoss, Norway.Photo by Master Sgt. Jon HolmesUS Marine Corps Maj. Michael Reynolds is one such Marine. He's been tasked with capturing experiences during Nordic Response through coal, ink, graphite, and wax."What we do captures emotion, spirit, and stories of individual people," Reynolds said. "So I think that's part of what it takes to be a combat artist. It's someone who observes their environment around them in a way that not everybody does."Documenting the Marine experienceUS Marines Corps Maj. Michael Reynolds, a combat artist with the Marine Corps Combat Art Program illustrates Marines during cold weather training in preparation for the NATO exercise Nordic Response 2024 in Setermoen, Norway.US Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Joshua KumakawBy accompanying the Marines and allied troops in the exercises through heaps of snow, rugged terrain, and frigid temperatures, the combat artists channel their observations into their art, conveying more nuanced details than what a camera lens can capture."A camera is a very mechanical way of observing the environment," Reynolds said. "It's fantastic for evidentiary processing, but it doesn't always convey the same emotion that the human camera can, as an artist does."A mechanical lens versus a human lensRichard Johnson, a combat artist with the Marine Corps Combat Art Program, illustrates Marines in a sketchbook during cold weather training.US Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Joshua KumakawRichard Johnson, another combat artist also illustrating Nordic Response, echoed the differences in the two mediums while commending the work that both photographers and artists alike do to give people an inside look at warfighters at work."I've known photographers who are unbelievably brave individuals who have captured unbelievable images," Johnson said, recalling his time documenting the Marines in the lead-up to Operation Iraqi Freedom."It's a mechanical lens versus a human lens," Johnson continued. "A camera has that lens distortion that is not likely to really keep what you look like. An artist can give that real view of the world."Illustrating troops far from homeRichard Johnson, a combat artist with the Marine Corps Combat Art Program illustrates Marines during cold weather training in preparation for the NATO exercise Nordic Response 2024 in Setermoen, Norway.US Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Joshua KumakawA longtime member of the Marine Corps Combat Art Program, Johnson said the difference between photos and art that strikes him the most is that "you really connect with people on a visceral level, perhaps differently than photographs do.""When I first returned from Iraq, I arrived to a stack of mail on my desk," Johnson said. "In the newspaper world, when someone writes a letter, you've really pissed someone off, so when I got back, I thought, 'Wow, I really pissed someone off.'""But a lot of the mail was positive, and a lot of them really attached themselves to the art and the story of soldiers far from home," he said. "It was such a shock to get that kind of response, and it's continued, especially with the portraits," Johnson explained. "There is something about human nature and the construction of the material that relates to humanity, and it translates to other people as well, so the viewers also get some of that same emotion coming through the art."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»
Jeff Koon's "Moon Phases" was launched into space with NASA's historic moon return on February 15. The sculpture is a far cry from his earlier works. Jeff Koons with "Rabbit."Steve Parsons/PA Images via Getty ImagesArtist Jeff Koons has been hailed for putting the first "authorized" artwork on the moon. "Moon Phases" comprises 125 small metal spheres dedicated to important historical figures.It's a long way from the playful, mirror-shiny balloon sculptures he's best known for.A sculpture by Jeff Koons has become the first "authorized" artwork on the moon.The work, titled "Moon Phases," was blasted into space on February 15 as part of the NASA and Lunar Machines uncrewed mission. It represents NASA's first moon mission in 50 years, and the first commercial craft to land on the lunar surface.The sculpture is a far cry from the artworks Koons is best known for, which include the mirror-polished stainless steel "Balloon Dog" series and the kitschily pornographic photographs of the "Made in Heaven" series.Instead, the 69-year-old artist created a compact box of 125 small moon-like spheres, each of them honoring a famous individual. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Jeff Koons (@jeffkoons) The spheres are named for notable people throughout history, including David Bowie, Sojourner Truth, Galileo, and Helen Keller.These are people who, as Koons put it, "made significant changes and have given us a glimpse into how we can transcend.""I wanted to bring meaning to the dialog," he said. "I wanted to communicate with people globally how we're able to transform our lives through art."As well as the sculpture that's ended up on the moon's surface, "Moon Phases" comprises an NFT and another set of larger polished spheres destined to remain on Earth.Each of those spheres is decorated with a precious gemstone that marks the landing site of the corresponding lunar sculpture.Jeff Koons with one of his iconic Balloon Dog sculpturesReutersThe artwork is cautiously being named as the first "authorized" artwork on the moon.This is because of a fabled earlier project involving artists including Andy Warhol and Claes Oldenburg in 1969.According to PBS, several artists contributed sketches that were then reduced to minuscule size on a tiny ceramic chip, known as the "Moon Museum."An engineer from the Apollo 12 lunar mission, who has only ever been identified as "John. F" reportedly agreed to clandestinely attach the chip to the moon lander — but, as Wired reported, whether he actually did so has never been confirmed.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»
Will Resurgent Inflation Savage The Tech Trade By Simon White, Bloomberg Markets Live reporter and strategist Equity markets are facing mounting concentration risks as just a handful of stocks drive returns. Not only that, the mainly tech-related names dominating the move are highly exposed to inflation which is on the precipice of re-accelerating. Investors face potentially steep downside, but it is possible to build a portfolio of companies well placed to weather a resurgence in price growth. When one company’s earnings have the ability to influence the macro narrative and materially affect the $43 trillion S&P, it’s clear the threats from narrow breadth are elevated. Nvidia’s results, released on Wednesday evening, may have exceeded expectations and are on the cusp of taking the index to new highs, but that only underscores the reality the tech-heavy market leaves portfolios acutely exposed to inflation. This should be a clarion call that it’s time to act. What better time to fix the diversification roof than when the disinflation sun is still shining? Concentration risks are at 50-year highs. The top five stocks in the in the S&P 500 now account for over a quarter of its market cap, from only about an eighth a decade ago. You have to go back to the time of the Nifty Fifty in the late 1960s and early 70s to see leadership as narrow as it is today. Back then, it was the tech titans of the day — Xerox, IBM, Polaroid – that were among the few stocks disproportionately powering the advance. And in what could prove to be an omen for the current cycle, the Nifty Fifty’s fate was sealed by rising inflation, which triggered the most brutal bear market seen since the Great Depression. It’s even more of a problem today as tech companies have high duration, leaving them singularly vulnerable to a revival in price growth. A greater proportion of cash flows in the future leaves a stock’s total present value at risk from higher real rates. The benefits of avoiding high-duration stocks when inflation is elevated can be seen in the chart below. The blue line shows a rebalancing strategy that goes long low-duration stocks when US CPI is over its 10-year moving average, and high-duration stocks when inflation is under it (using the inverse of the dividend yield as an approximation for an equity’s duration). As we can see, the strategy cleanly outperforms the S&P in real terms. But we can do better than that. It’s possible to build a portfolio of stocks resilient to inflation that’s not just dependent on their duration. After all, it’s a pretty blunt instrument. Ideally we want to find stocks that should do well if inflation re-accelerates (as I expect it will – see below), but is not fully reliant on that outcome. Companies that are capital light and have strong pricing power should be well-placed to weather – if not prosper in – elevated inflation. The companies should also have demonstrated real growth over the long term. More specifically, screen for companies with: over $1 billion market cap real dividend growth and sales growth low fixed costs strong pricing power reasonable valuations That gives us a portfolio of about 15-20 names which is rebalanced monthly. The real return of the portfolio is shown in the chart below, along with the real returns of the S&P and the 60/40 equity-bond portfolio. The portfolio is designed to be forward looking — the coming years are unlikely to look like the previous decades given we are now in an inflationary regime — seeking stocks that are robust to price growth that is above its long-term average and prone to lurching higher. It is nevertheless reassuring to see that the portfolio does well on its backtest. It has outpaced the S&P in real terms over the last quarter century. It also outperformed in the rising inflation period during the pandemic. More generally, a strategy that went long the Inflation Portfolio when inflation was elevated, and long the market otherwise, fared better than the S&P over the last 25 years. The current portfolio contains 16 names. All are good quality companies with most having reasonable valuations, the average P/E ratio being equal to the market’s. Only two are tech companies. The most common grouping is industrials. Again, this is reassuring as in inflation regimes over the last five decades, the top performing sectors were steel, mining and chemicals. Through the life of the portfolio (2000-2023), industrials has had the largest average weight, followed by financials. Banks are generally not a good holding when inflation is high as they typically lend long and borrow short, and see the real value of their assets decline more than their real liabilities. But there are several non-bank financials, such as the CBOE (in the portfolio now) and MSCI, which are quality firms with strong pricing power who stand in good stead when price growth is elevated. None of this would be necessary if inflation was going the way Team Transitory think it already has. But there is a mounting body of forward-looking indicators that expect inflation should soon re-accelerate. We may have already got a glimpse of this with the most recent hotter-than-expected CPI and PPI reports. Still, with any portfolio screening strategy there are caveats. There are turnover and price-slippage costs that could materially affect the realized return. There is also, of course, no reason why the backtested past should look like the future. Nonetheless, the deep concentration of high-duration stocks leaves the market as exposed to inflation as it has been since the early 1970s. The potential downside justifies a different approach that tries to mitigate inflation risks without becoming overly dependent on them. After all, we may soon find that the Magnificent Seven’s name sounds just as ironic as the Nifty Fifty’s. Tyler Durden Thu, 02/22/2024 - 15:45.....»»
I had lunch at the oldest café in Venice. It dates back to the 1700s, has become a tourist hot spot — and wasn"t worth the high bill.
The author spent around $76 on a main, drink, and dessert at Caffe Florian and felt the experience didn't live up to expectations. The author had a pricey brunch at Florian Caffe in Venice.Marielle Descalsota/Business InsiderCaffe Florian claims to be the oldest café in Italy and the second-oldest in Europe.Once popular with some of history's most famous names, it's now a tourist hot spot.I spent around $76 on a main, drink, and dessert, and it wasn't worth the steep prices.Caffe Florian claims to be the oldest café in Italy, and the second-oldest in Europe. It's also the stuff of legend. The Venetian café was where some of history's most revered writers — including Goethe, Lord Byron, and Charles Dickens — hung out. And in more recent years, modern celebrities — from Elton John to Clint Eastwood — were spotted.The café, founded in 1720, has had a reputation for being where the bourgeoise socialized. So, as a tourist in Venice, walking up to the corroded, gilded entrance of the café felt intimidating.I spent three days exploring Venice in late February. Unlike during the summer when the streets are often crowded, there weren't many people around at the time. It was frigid cold outside, with a light fog drifting over San Marco Square. I was freezing, but after perusing the café's menu — where I caught a glimpse of the sky-high prices — I began to have second thoughts about heading inside.I could see why the café remained so popular, even 300 years later — its picturesque interior was perfect for photos.The interior of Florian Caffe.Marielle Descalsota/Business InsiderDespite my hesitation, a few seconds later, a waiter — dressed in the café's signature white coat and bow tie — invited me inside. The atmosphere was bustling, with staff rushing in and out of the kitchen.Near the entrance, dozens of tourists crowded the café's storefront, perusing the many trinkets on offer — from Florian-branded perfumes to brightly colored leather bags. There was also a selection of refreshments like sweets and a variety of coffee and tea on sale.The dining hall was adorned with intricate gold details and portraits of 10 famed Venetian figures — which include the artist Titian — flanking the walls. I sat at the corner of the café, at one of the dozen small, rickety tables. Set up next to a large glass window, I had a stunning view of San Marco Square, where I could see the plaza and the arched pillars and windowsills of the building across.Unlike the high society clientele it was known for in the 19th and 20th centuries, many people dining there that day appeared to be tourists like me from Asia. A waiter approached me after five minutes to promptly take my order before rushing over to a family of seven. While the service was speedy, it felt impersonal for the café's upscale reputation.I ordered the lasagna for 26 euros, or around $28. It turned out to be a letdown.Florian's lasagne al forno con ragu di carne.Marielle Descalsota/Business InsiderThe selection of mains was limited, save for a mixed shrimp salad for 24 euros, eggplant stuffed with mozzarella for 25 euros, and prosciutto with mozzarella for 26 euros.The lasagna, made with meat ragù and bechamel sauce, was served piping hot. It was topped with fresh basil leaves and a cherry tomato sliced in half — a classic rendition of the famed Italian dish.While it was a decent-sized portion, the overwhelming flavor of sour tomatoes from the ragù sauce made it difficult to finish. Overall, it wasn't anything special and didn't taste much different from the lasagnas I've had at fusion Italian restaurants in Singapore.The café specializes in desserts, so I got the pistachio and raspberry tart for 17 euros.Florian's crostata al pistacchio e lamponi.Marielle Descalsota/Business InsiderSeveral desserts were on the menu, including a tiny tiramisu cake for 17 euros and a set of five macarons for 18 euros. While these were tempting, I settled on the tart, dotted with green globs of pistachio mousse, six whole raspberries, and pieces of white chocolate.The tart's crumbly texture balanced well with the smooth pistachio cream. The dessert was delightfully balanced with the sharp acidity of the raspberries.While it was one of the most expensive desserts I had on my trip, it was worth it.Finally, I ended my meal with the ice caffe for a whopping 19 euros.Florian's ice caffe.Marielle Descalsota/Business InsiderThe café served a variety of ice cream and coffee-based drinks, all tagged with steep prices. The most expensive drink on the menu was a vanilla and chocolate ice cream concoction with coffee liqueur for 23 euros. A regular cappuccino — which costs less than two euros on average in Italy — was six times as expensive at the café, priced at 12 euros.I got the ice caffe, a thick, frappe-style coffee drink. While the ice-cold coffee was refreshing, the ice cream combined with the whipped cream was overkill and the drink tasted sickly sweet. The drink as a whole was too cloying. Overall, the lackluster quality of the dishes at the café, coupled with the steep prices, made it a disappointing experience. The café's rich history wasn't enough for me to justify my 70-euro bill.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»
A cache of leaked Chinese hacking documents just confirmed experts" warnings about how compromised the US could be
A cache of over 570 Chinese hacking documents was posted to GitHub last week. Cybersecurity experts say the files look authentic. A cache of over 570 Chinese hacking documents was posted to GitHub last week. Cybersecurity experts say the files, which reportedly belong to state-backed hackers, look authentic.boonchai wedmakawand via Getty Images; Didier Lebrun/Photonews via Getty ImagesOver 570 documents from a Chinese state-backed hacking group were uploaded to Github last week.The documents mentioned at least 20 hacking targets, including countries like the UK and India.The leaks come after multiple warnings by officials on the scales of China's hacking operations.A trove of leaked Chinese hacking documents might have given the world a glimpse of how widespread and effective China's hacking operations could be.Over 570 files and documents were posted to the developer platform GitHub last week, per The Washington Post. The documents, which track hacking activity across multiple countries, belong to ISoon, a private security contractor with ties to China's Ministry of Public Security, according to the Post's report on Wednesday."We have every reason to believe this is the authentic data of a contractor supporting global and domestic cyber espionage operations out of China," cybersecurity expert John Hultquitist told the Post.On Wednesday, the Associated Press reported that Chinese police are investigating the leak, citing two unnamed ISoon employees it spoke to. The employees told AP that the documents belonged to the group.The leaked files mentioned at least 20 hacking targets, including countries like the UK, India, South Korea, Thailand, and Malaysia, per the Post. Besides foreign governments, the files said data had also been extracted from foreign telecommunications firms.The hackers had exploited vulnerabilities present in software made by companies like Microsoft and Google, per the Post.The leaked files have inadvertently confirmed multiple warnings from security officials and experts on China's hacking operations.FBI chief Christopher Wray told "60 Minutes" in October that China, per his assessment, is running "the biggest hacking program in the world."China, Wray said, had "stolen more of our personal and corporate data than every nation, big or small, combined."And when it comes to tackling the threat posed by Chinese hackers, Wray said the FBI finds themselves outnumbered."If each one of the FBI's cyber agents and intelligence analysts focused exclusively on the China threat, China's hackers would still outnumber FBI cyber personnel by at least 50 to 1," Wray told lawmakers last month.Representatives for China's foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment from BI.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»
We spent $19,000 on a cruise to Antarctica. Crossing the Drake Passage was a nightmare, but the destination was worth it.
My husband and crossed the Drake Passage on a cruise to Antarctica. I was sick the whole time, but the beautiful views were worth it. My husband and I traveled to Antarctica via the infamous Drake Passage.Alex SchneeMy husband and I are seasoned travelers and have been on a mission to visit all seven continents.In order to get to Antarctica via cruise, we knew we'd have to cross the infamous Drake Passage.I was sick during the entire crossing, but the stunning views in Antarctica were worth it.My husband and I are seasoned travelers and have been on a mission to visit all seven continents. In early 2023, we still had one left to cross off our bucket lists: Antarctica.That's why we jumped at the opportunity to sail there on a Silver Wind expedition ship.Normally, a high-end sailing with this cruise line would have cost upwards of $16,000 per person. But we managed to find a deal for around half that — bringing the total to about $19,000 for both of us.In order to get to Antarctica by boat, however, we knew we'd have to cross the dreaded Drake Passage.I spent a lot of time on boats growing up and assumed I wouldn't be affected by the PassageThe Drake Passage, which stretches from the southern tip of South America to the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, is the stuff of sailor legend.As one of the most dangerous sea crossings in the world, many passengers have lost their lives — or, in modern times, their lunch — while making the journey.My husband, Daniel, and I did our research and watched plenty of viral videos of other travelers braving the Passage.I knew the crossing would be downright uncomfortable for a few days, but I was unprepared for just how much of a toll it would take on my body and mind.I spent a chunk of my childhood on boats and figured I wouldn’t be queasy since I'd never been seasick before. Based on previous boating experiences, we actually assumed Daniel would be the queasy one. The journey to Antarctica was difficultThe Drake Passage is notorious for being rough.Sergio Pitamitz/robertharding/Getty ImagesWith 272 other passengers on board, the boat was large enough to take on the Passage but small enough to get tossed around by waves.After barely making it to the dining hall without falling over sideways, I choked down a sampling of fruit to try to get something in my stomach.I peered around to see if other passengers were suffering like I was, but they seemed much steadier, sporting Scopolamine patches — used to prevent motion sickness — behind their ears.Daniel and I agreed that maybe it was best that I head back to our cabin. With one hand on the provided railings, I managed to inch my way back to our compact bathroom before promptly tossing up the combination of fruit and coffee I'd barely begun to digest.I continued to lounge on our bed like a recovering Victorian woman after a fainting episode while my husband was able to gallivant throughout the boat.He spent the days we rocked on the Passage attending lectures and attempting to feed me with food he brought from the dining hall.I wish I'd done more to try to prevent motion sickness while crossing the Drake PassageLooking back, there were several reasons I continued to suffer for the next day and a half (and then another day on the way back). Much of it was hubris — if I had made an effort to purchase some Dramamine or ask for a Scopolamine patch from the onboard doctor at the start of our voyage, I might have felt much better about what frequenters of the Drake Passage would say was a relatively mild crossing. The Silversea team also sent us a detailed information packet about avoiding sickness before our voyage, including which medications might be necessary. However, I glanced over it instead of giving it the attention it deserved.I felt much better once we arrived at our final destinationWhen we arrived in Antarctica, my husband and I enjoyed some kayaking.Alex SchneeOnce we reached the Antarctic Peninsula, the sickness passed as soon as it came.Feeling much more like myself, Daniel and I made landfall on our last continent, plunged into the ocean waters before warming up with a shot of whiskey, and cried at the beauty of such a transcendent place while kayaking among penguins.We were in awe at the beautiful wildlife in Antarctica. Alex SchneeWe spent most of our time on rubber Zodiac boats floating among icebergs almost as large as our vessel, dodging leopard seals on the prowl for their next meal.We also got a glimpse of leopard seals.Alex SchneeHumpback whales made friendly overtures by swimming up to our neighboring Zodiac and tapping it with a giant dorsal fin.These were moments of excitement in a world full of calm and silence — the only sounds were the cracking of the ice and the occasional spout from a whale coming up for air.I would make this trip again in a heartbeat, three awful days crossing the Passage included, just to have the memories we made once the crossing was over. Next time, though, I'm bringing Dramamine.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»
The Austin Transit Partnership offers a glimpse into its strategy to counteract legal action against a planned 10-mile light rail line through the city. The case could go to court later this spring. Included is a list of the city's leading construction firms......»»
In this article, we will look at the 30 best places to visit in the US in the spring. We have also discussed the popular travelling preferences of Americans. If you want to skip our detailed analysis, head straight to the 10 Best Places to Visit in the US in the Spring. According to a […] In this article, we will look at the 30 best places to visit in the US in the spring. We have also discussed the popular travelling preferences of Americans. If you want to skip our detailed analysis, head straight to the 10 Best Places to Visit in the US in the Spring. According to a survey by Forbes, in 2023, travel remained popular among American despite challenges, averaging 2.1 leisure trips, with 36% taking three or more. Although 92% intend to maintain or increase their travel in 2024, a slight drop is noted, with 40% planning more trips compared to 49% in 2023. Budgets reflect resilience, as 39% anticipate spending more on travel, down slightly from 45% last year. Concerns over inflation prompt adjustments in travel plans for 46% of respondents as 19% opt for fewer trips and 18% favor road trips over flying. The use of travel benefits on credit cards decreased to 57% from 66% in 2023, reflecting evolving financial strategies in changing economic shifts. Despite economic pressures, travel remains a priority across generations, especially among Gen Z and Millennials, with 56% and 49%, respectively, planning more trips. Popular travel choices for 2024 include visiting family and friends (46%), beach vacations (36%), and road trips (34%). While inflation prompts adjustments, 30% of respondents remain uncertain about altering travel plans, indicating a wait-and-see approach. This underscores the determination of travelers to prioritize experiences, even amid economic uncertainty, with potential strategies including leveraging loyalty points and seeking cost-saving measures. On the other hand, European tourism neared pre-pandemic levels in 2023, with arrivals 1.6% below 2019. Inflation spiked by 23%, affecting travel costs—international flights increased by 49%, hotels by 35%. Southern Europe saw strong recovery; Serbia (+15%), Portugal (+11%), Iceland (+12%). Greece is one of the best places to visit in Europe in spring. In contrast, Eastern Europe lags behind: Lithuania (-32%), Latvia (-29%). Chinese arrivals remain 67% below 2019, but North American markets recover largely. Despite pricing pressures, travel enthusiasm persists, with Europeans prioritizing safe and affordable destinations. European Travel Commission also anticipates continued rebound in 2024, with focus on sustainability between the industry transition. Speaking of sustainability, it is worth mentioning that United Airlines Holdings Inc (NASDAQ:UAL) has achieved a milestone by attracting new corporate partners to its Sustainable Flight Fund, now surpassing $200 million in investments. This unique initiative aims to reduce emissions and promote the production of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) by investing in startups. The partners include Aircastle, Air New Zealand, and Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG), and represent different sectors within the aviation supply chain, highlighting a collaborative effort to address environmental concerns. Additionally, United Airlines Holdings Inc (NASDAQ:UAL)’s customers have actively contributed, with over 115,000 individuals donating nearly $500,000 since February 2023, demonstrating widespread support for sustainable initiatives. The Sustainable Flight Fund has also achieved remarkable milestones since its inception with the addition of 22 corporate partners and the establishment of strategic investments exceeding $200 million. Notably, portfolio companies such as Cemvita and EH2 have made major progress in advancing SAF production and technology development. Moreover, United Airlines Holdings Inc (NASDAQ:UAL) has facilitated consumer engagement by integrating a contribution option into its booking process, empowering passengers to participate in combating climate change. United Airlines Holdings Inc (NASDAQ:UAL) recognizes the importance of SAF in decarbonizing air travel and acknowledges the necessity of developing a robust supply chain for alternative fuels. By fostering partnerships across industries and leveraging consumer participation, United Airlines Holdings Inc (NASDAQ:UAL) is pioneering innovative solutions to address environmental challenges. Another key player, the Southwest Airlines Co (NYSE:LUV) recently celebrated the completion of a $100 million project, expanding its maintenance hangar in Phoenix Sky Harbor. The project nearly doubles the hangar’s size to 90,000 square feet, adding three new aircraft bays, allowing simultaneous work on up to five aircraft. This expansion benefited nearly 500 Southwest Technical Operations Employees based at Sky Harbor and supports the carrier’s continuous fleet renewal efforts. Additionally, a larger facility for Provisioning and Ground Support Equipment Maintenance Teams was included, enhancing operational efficiency. Andrew Watterson, Southwest Airlines Co (NYSE:LUV)’s Chief Operating Officer put emphasis on the investment’s impact on safety and operational effectiveness. The expanded hangar also achieved LEED Silver certification, reflecting its sustainable design features. Last week, Southwest Airlines Co (NYSE:LUV) launched a Spring Break sale, offering flights as low as $49, valid through February 22, 2024, with blackout dates and restrictions. Additionally, a promotional Companion Pass is available for a limited time, extending till February 2025. The deal offers $10 more for the Wanna Get Away Plus class, providing a transferable flight credit and same-day changes, alongside 8x Rapid Rewards points for members. Despite government taxes and fees, typically $5.60 per one-way flight, this deal presents a major saving opportunity compared to other airlines. Arina P Habich/Shutterstock.com Our Methodology To list the best places to visit in the US in the spring time, we identified places with 3 main features. Firstly, we looked at places in the US with pleasant weather during spring. Then we identified places with natural beauty in the US that provide scenic views along with opportunities for outdoor recreation. Lastly, we looked at places in the US with floral blooms for which spring is generally loved by Americans. After we identified these locations, we utilized reddit to guage the opinion of Americans regarding these places and how frequently they were described as ideal for spring. Based on the consensus, we scored each place out of a total score of 100. The higher the score, the greater the consensus of the place being “best” for springs in the US. The list is presented in an ascending order. By the way, Insider Monkey is an investing website that uses a consensus approach to identify the best stock picks of more than 900 hedge funds investing in US stocks. The website tracks the movement of corporate insiders and hedge funds. Our top 10 consensus stock picks of hedge funds outperformed the S&P 500 stock index by more than 140 percentage points over the last 10 years (see the details here). So, if you are looking for the best stock picks to buy, you can benefit from the wisdom of hedge funds and corporate insiders. 30. Destin, Florida IM Score: 53 Destin, Florida, is a popular vacation destination located in the Florida Panhandle along the Gulf of Mexico. It is known for its pristine white sand beaches and emerald green waters. 29. Lake Tahoe, California IM Score: 55 Yosemite National Park in California was designated a World Heritage Site in 1984. It features granite cliffs, waterfalls, sequoia groves, lakes, and diverse wildlife and is bordered by Sierra and Stanislaus National Forests. 28. Kauai, Hawaii IM Score: 56 Kauaʻi, the Garden Isle, is the fourth-largest Hawaiian Island, spanning 562.3 square miles. Known for Waimea Canyon and the Na Pali Coast, it’s geologically the second-oldest island of the main Hawaiin islands. Situated 73 miles northwest of Oʻahu, it has stunning natural beauty. It is one of the best places to travel in spring 2024. To read more about islands, see the Best Caribbean Islands to Visit for Families. 27. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming IM Score: 57 Yellowstone National Park, sprawling across Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, is renowned for its geothermal wonders, diverse wildlife, and majestic landscapes in the western United States. It is one of the most popular national parks in the US. 26. Maui, Hawaii IM Score: 58 Maui, the second-largest Hawaiian island, spans 727.2 square miles. It’s the largest of Maui County’s four islands, including Molokaʻi, Lānaʻi, and Kahoʻolawe. Renowned for its diverse landscapes, from lush rainforests to stunning beaches, Maui offers ideal spring weather for outdoor activities. 25. Moab, Utah IM Score: 61 Moab draws numerous tourists yearly, primarily those visiting nearby Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. It serves as a hub for mountain bikers exploring the vast trail system, notably the iconic Slickrock Trail, and off-roaders attending the annual Moab Jeep Safari. With mild temperatures and blooming landscapes, Moab offers an ideal spring getaway. 24. Savannah, Georgia IM Score: 62 Savannah, the oldest city in Georgia, boasts a rich and vibrant history with captivating and stunning landscapes. Its manicured parks, horse-drawn carriages, and exquisite antebellum architecture contribute to its allure, making it a cherished destination in the Southern United States. It is one of the most visited places in the South. 23. Oahu, Hawaii IM Score: 64 Spring is an ideal time to visit Oahu due to several reasons. The weather during spring is comfortably warm with fewer rain showers, making it perfect for outdoor activities like hiking and beach outings. Additionally, spring falls within the island’s shoulder seasons, resulting in fewer crowds and more affordable accommodation rates compared to peak tourist seasons. 22. Asheville, North Carolina IM Score: 67 Asheville is a great place to visit in the spring if you’re looking for a beautiful and affordable getaway in North Carolina. You can explore the downtown area with its interesting shops, museums, and old buildings. Don’t miss the chance to try out some of the best breweries in town or take a scenic drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway. It is one of the best spring break destinations in the US for families. 21. Sanibel & Captiva Islands, Florida IM Score: 70 Sanibel and Captiva Islands, renowned for their stunning beaches, offer unparalleled seashell collecting. Sanibel’s tranquil atmosphere and quaint charm provide an ideal escape. 20. Bryce Canyon Country, Utah IM Score: 71 In beautiful Southern Utah, Bryce Canyon Country is a popular place to explore Bryce Canyon National Park. But there’s a lot more to do in the area! Besides Bryce Canyon, there are two other National Parks, three State Parks, two scenic byways, the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Glen Canyon National Recreation area, and lots of Dixie National Forest. To avoid crowds, it’s best to visit in spring. You can hike, have a picnic, or join ranger-led programs. 19. Yosemite National Park, California IM Score: 73 Spring offers an optimal window to explore Yosemite National Park. With roads reopening and trails accessible after winter closures, visitors can relish uncrowded paths and witness stunning waterfalls at their peak flow. Temperatures are pleasant, wildlife is abundant, and educational centers provide insights into the park’s rich natural and cultural heritage. It is one of the most beautiful places in the spring. 18. Phoenix, Arizona IM Score: 74 Spring is a great time to visit Phoenix. One can enjoy cultural attractions, historic sites, and outdoor activities. Popular things to do in Phoenix are hiking, biking, and visiting nearby cities like Sedona and Prescott. Moreover, there is a Camelback Mountain that offers beautiful views. It is one of the places people go for spring break in USA. 17. Hilton Head, South Carolina IM Score: 78 Hilton Head Island, also known as “The Golf Island,” is famous for its top-notch golf courses. It’s also a great family destination in spring, with stunning beaches and a charming small-town vibe. One can explore museums, quaint shops in Harbour Town, and savor delicious Southern dishes at local restaurants along the breathtaking coastline. 16. Palm Springs, California IM Score: 80 Palm Springs, a desert resort city in Riverside County, California, lies in the Coachella Valley’s Colorado Desert. Encompassing about 94 square miles, it’s the largest city in Riverside County by land area. Over 10% of its area consists of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians reservation land, serving as the administrative hub for California’s most populous reservation, with plots arranged in a checkerboard pattern. It is one of the places that has best spring season in the US. 15. Key Largo, Florida IM Score: 81 Key Largo provides a charming glimpse into old Florida, far removed from the relentless thumping beats of South Beach. As the largest island in the Florida Keys, it has the inviting Playa Largo Resort, the first full-service resort constructed in Key Largo in over two decades. To read more about resorts, see the Best Luxury Resorts in the Caribbean for Adults. 14. Cannon Beach, Oregon IM Score: 83 Spring is the prime whale-watching season in Cannon Beach, as gray whales migrate northward along the coastline, often spotted from elevated ocean viewpoints. April heralds the return of Tufted Puffins to nest on Haystack Rock, adding a charming spectacle to the coastal landscape. Additionally, spring brings a host of events like arts festivals and culinary celebrations in the city. It is one of the best cities to visit in the US in spring 2024. 13. Jackson Hole, Wyoming IM Score: 84 With its vast, unspoiled landscapes, the season offers a perfect blend of outdoor adventures and cultural experiences. From wildlife sightings to fly fishing and scenic hikes, there’s something for every nature enthusiast. It’s an opportune moment to explore Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks without the crowds. One of the best places to stay for couples is at The Lodge at Jackson Hole. It is one of the best spring vacation ideas for couples to explore this place. 12. Pella, Iowa IM Score: 86 The annual Tulip Time Festival in Pella celebrates its Dutch heritage with tulip gardens, performances, crafts, music, food, Dutch costumes, and daily parades. Held for three days in the first weekend of May, it features a queen and court representing Pella’s high schools. Notably, during the 2010 festival, a world record was set for the most people dancing in wooden shoes, with over 2,600 participants. 11. Shenandoah National Park, Virginia IM Score: 88 Shenandoah National Park is a top destination for several reasons. First, it features Skyline Drive, a 105-mile road offering breathtaking views. With over 500 miles of trails, including a part of the famous Appalachian Trail, there’s plenty of hiking and exploring to do. The park spans 196,000 acres and offers diverse accommodations, including campgrounds and lodges. Additionally, it’s home to various wildlife, including bears and trout. While it’s dog-friendly with most trails allowing leashed pets, there are exceptions on ten trails. It is also one of the best places to visit on the East Coast in spring. Virginia is known to be the prettiest state in spring. Click here to see the 10 Best Places to Visit in the US in the Spring. Suggested Articles: 25 Best US Cities for Solo Female Travelers 20 Most Dangerous Countries for LGBTQ+ American Travelers 30 Safest Cities in the World for Solo Female Travelers to Visit Disclosure: None. 30 Best Places to Visit in the US in the Spring is originally published on Insider Monkey......»»
I left the army because I wanted to go corporate. Battling the negative perceptions people have of veterans was the hardest part.
Jianhui Tan, 33, served in the Singapore Armed Forces for 10 years. He left the military to join the private sector in 2021. Jianhui Tan, 33, served in the Singapore Armed Forces for 10 years. He left the military to join the private sector in 2021.Jianhui TanJianhui Tan spent a decade with the Singapore Armed Forces before joining the private sector. Tan has been working as a sales manager since 2022. He said he had to battle the negative perceptions people have of military veterans who leave the force.This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Jianhui Tan. Tan served in the Singapore Armed Forces for a decade before leaving for the private sector in 2021. The following has been edited for length and clarity. Business Insider has verified his employment history.My parents were surprised when I told them I wanted to pursue a career with the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) after my mandatory national service.Honestly, nobody would have expected my teenage self to have made such a decision. Growing up, I was pretty naughty, which didn't seem to gel with the army's regimented culture.But my time in national service was a transformative experience. As a military officer, I trained new conscripts during their basic military training.I also found purpose and meaning in my role as military personnel and wanted to stay on.One of the things that kept me on the job was the camaraderie and friendships I forged with my superiors, peers, and subordinates. I felt that the strong bond between soldiers couldn't be found elsewhere.Making the difficult decision to leaveTan (rightmost) decided to pursue a career with the SAF because he enjoyed his national service.Jianhui TanThat said, one's priorities do change. After spending about 10 years with the SAF, I got a wake-up call when my aunt died.I realized that I hadn't been spending enough time with my family. I worked very long hours and stayed in the camps most of the time.Though my family supported my decision, they warned me that life in the corporate world would be very different from the military. My current and former bosses also discouraged me from leaving, citing the great career progression I could enjoy if I stayed.But I pressed on anyway.Switching careers was tough and stressfulTan (center) left the SAF in 2021. He spent about six months taking courses and job-hunting before landing a job with Euromonitor.Jianhui TanI left the SAF with no job offers on hand, and my career transition journey was stressful. I had no idea when I would find a job. It also meant that I would not draw any income while job-hunting.I relied on my savings while looking for work and spent around six months taking courses to get new certifications.My last role in the military had a lot to do with project management, so I took up courses to advance my skills in that area. I also dabbled in business intelligence courses because I enjoy working with numbers. The courses gave me a glimpse of what different industries were like.But trying to break into the private sector was daunting. I didn't know how to craft a résumé based on my work experience in the army. There were things I couldn't include because of security reasons.Getting noticed by recruiters was also a challenge. Even when I was fortunate to be called up, I had to battle the stereotypes some people held toward military personnel. Some hirers had the false preconception that former soldiers had no relevant experience or could be rigid in their ways.Eventually, I landed a job with the market research company Euromonitor as a business development account manager. I was fortunate to have met recruiters who believed that my past experiences were relevant and decided to take a chance on me.Getting used to the corporate worldOne of the biggest differences between the military and the private sector was the culture. In the army, there was brotherhood and camaraderie, and we were driven by a collective sense of purpose.That wasn't the case in the corporate world, where organizational bonding isn't as strong as it is in the military. It took me some time to get used to the new work culture.Entering a fresh industry meant that I had to navigate a steep learning curve. I had to learn a lot of new things in my first month on the job.And, of course, I had to start thinking of what I should wear to work since I wasn't donning my army uniform anymore.Though the transition was tough, I also tapped on what I learned in the military to address the new challenges I faced.One of the key things I picked up in the army was how to communicate with and persuade people efficiently.As an officer, I had to lead and influence some of my conscripts. I had to convince people to do things they didn't want to do. While conscripts had to obey orders because of military law, I thought it was important to win their trust, too.Being in the military also came with its own challenges, and it toughened me up and honed my resilience. That's why I don't shy away from new challenges that come my way.Looking back, I have no regrets about starting my career with the SAF. The time I spent as a soldier made me a stronger and better person.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»
Some US presidents, like Jimmy Carter, were raised on farms with no electricity or running water. Others, such as Donald Trump, grew up in mansions. Joe Biden visits his childhood home in Scranton, Pennsylvania, in 2020.ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images Some US presidents, like Jimmy Carter, grew up on farms with no electricity or running water. Others, such as Donald Trump, grew up in mansions. Many of their birthplaces and childhood homes are now museums or national landmarks. All US presidents live in the White House during their terms, but the homes where they were raised have ranged from farms to mansions.Here's a glimpse into the way that 33 presidents grew up.George Washington grew up on Ferry Farm in Fredericksburg, Virginia.George Washington's Ferry Farm in Fredericksburg, Virginia, in 1955.Lawrence Thornton/Archive Photos/Getty ImagesThe historic site features a replica of Washington's childhood home, where the family moved when he was 6 years old, according to Ferry Farm's official website.John Adams was born in 1735 in a rural cottage in Quincy, Massachusetts.Quincy, Massachusetts.Faina Gurevich/ShutterstockJoseph Penniman built the home now known as John Adams Birthplace in 1681, and John Adams' father purchased it in 1720, according to the National Park Service.Thomas Jefferson was born on a plantation named Shadwell, but spent most of his childhood at Tuckahoe Plantation in Virginia.Tuckahoe Plantation.Edith D. Tunis-Sale/National Park Service/Library of CongressJefferson moved to Tuckahoe Plantation with his family when he was 2 years old, according to the property's official website. His education began in a one-room schoolhouse on the property that still stands today.James Madison grew up in a plantation house called Mount Pleasant, later expanded and renamed Montpelier in Orange County, Virginia.Montpelier in Virginia.Andriy Blokhin/ShutterstockGrowing up as the oldest son in a wealthy family, Madison studied math, geography, and languages with a number of tutors, according to Montpelier's official website. Reverend Thomas Martin studied with Madison at Montpelier and helped prepare him to attend the College of New Jersey.James Monroe was born in Westmoreland County, Virginia, in 1758.James Monroe's childhood home.The James Monroe Memorial FoundationMonroe lived in a 1,600-square-foot house with his parents and four siblings, according to Virginia's Department of Historic Resources. The historic home no longer exists, but a replica of Monroe's childhood home operated by The James Monroe Memorial Foundation opened in 2021.William Henry Harrison was born at Berkeley Plantation in Charles City, Virginia.Historic Berkeley Plantation in Charles City, Virginia.OJUP/ShutterstockBerkeley Plantation was built in 1726 and is said to be the oldest three-story brick house in Virginia. William Henry Harrison's grandson Benjamin Harrison, who served as the 23rd US president, also lived on the plantation, according to its official website.The original log cabin where James K. Polk lived as a child no longer exists, but the President James K. Polk Historic Site recreates the homestead.The President James K. Polk Historic Site.North Carolina Historic SitesThe 11th president was born in 1795 on a 150-acre farm in Pineville, North Carolina. Polk lived there until he was 11 years old and his family moved to Tennessee, according to the North Carolina Division of State Historic Sites and Properties.Zachary Taylor's boyhood home is located in Louisville, Kentucky.Springfield.Kentucky Historical Society/Library of CongressKnown as Springfield, the two-and-a-half-story house dates back to 1790, according to the National Park Service.Millard Fillmore, the 13th president, grew up in a log cabin in New Hope, New York.Millard Fillmore's childhood home in New Hope, Cayuga County, New York.Hulton Archive/Getty ImagesThe cabin has been replaced with picnic tables and a plaque marking where it once stood.Franklin Pierce lived in a two-story home near Hillsborough, New Hampshire, until he married his wife, Jane, in 1834.Franklin Pierce's childhood home.Bettmann/Contributor/Getty ImagesPierce's father ran a popular tavern out of the house, according to the National Park Service. It also featured a ballroom on the second floor.Abraham Lincoln was born in a humble log cabin near Louisville, Kentucky.Abraham Lincoln's birthplace.Everett Historical/ShutterstockToday, a symbolic cabin similar to the one in which Lincoln was born is enclosed in a neoclassic memorial building on the site.Ulysses S. Grant's boyhood home is located in Georgetown, Ohio.Ulysses S. Grant's childhood home.ADC Bradley/ShutterstockGrant lived there from when he was 1 year old until he left for West Point in 1839, according to Ohio History Connection.Grover Cleveland was born in a two-story house in Caldwell, New Jersey.Grover Cleveland's birthplace.Kean Collection/Getty ImagesCleveland is the only US president to serve two non-consecutive terms. He was the 22nd and 24th president.William McKinley's original birthplace burned down in 1937, but it was recreated at the McKinley Birthplace Home and Research Center in Niles, Ohio.William McKinley's birthplace in Niles, Ohio, as it appeared in 1902.C.H. Graves/Library of Congress/Corbis/VCG via Getty ImagesThere's also a replica of his home where it once stood, one block south of the McKinley Memorial and Museum in Niles, according to the Niles Historical Society.Theodore Roosevelt grew up in a townhouse in New York City.Teddy Roosevelt Birthplace, New York City.Joan Slatkin/Universal Images Group via Getty ImagesThe townhouse is now a museum located at 28 East 20th Street in Manhattan. Roosevelt lived there until he was 14 years old, according to the National Park Service.William Howard Taft's birthplace is part of the William Howard Taft National Historic Site in Cincinnati, Ohio.The William Howard Taft National Historic Site.Tom Engberg/NPS PhotoTaft lived in this home from his birth in 1857 until he left for college in 1874, according to the National Park Service.Woodrow Wilson was born in Staunton, Virginia.Woodrow Wilson's birthplace.Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty ImagesThe house, located at 24 North Coalter Street in Staunton, was built in 1846, according to the National Park Service.Calvin Coolidge took the oath of office in the house where he was born and raised in Plymouth, Vermont.The Calvin Coolidge Homestead in Plymouth, Vermont.John Greim/LightRocket via Getty ImagesCoolidge became the 30th US president when Warren G. Harding died in 1923.Herbert Hoover was born in a two-room cottage in West Branch, Iowa, in 1874.Herbert Hoover's birthplace.IN Dancing Light/ShutterstockHoover lived in the cottage until he was 3 years old with his parents and two siblings, according to the National Park Service's official website.Franklin D. Roosevelt's estate, known as Springwood, is located in Hyde Park, New York.Franklin D. Roosevelt's birthplace and residence in Hyde Park, New York.John Greim/LightRocket via Getty ImagesRoosevelt was born on the estate in 1882 and is buried there, as well.Harry Truman was born in a 20-by-28-foot house in Lamar, Missouri, in 1884.The birthplace of Harry Truman.Alfred Eisenstaedt/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty ImagesTruman is the only president who was born in Missouri.Dwight D. Eisenhower was born in Denison, Texas, in 1890.Dwight D. Eisenhower's birthplace in Denison, Texas.RaksyBH/ShutterstockEisenhower was born in the bedroom of a two-story house in Denison — the first US president to be born in Texas, according to the Texas Historical Commission. His family then moved to Kansas when he was 18 months old. John F. Kennedy grew up in Brookline, Massachusetts.John F. Kennedy's birthplace and childhood home.Bettmann/Contributor/Getty ImagesKennedy was born in the master bedroom of 83 Beals Street in Brookline in 1917 and lived there for the first 10 years of his life, according to the National Park Service.Lyndon B. Johnson hired an architect to reconstruct his childhood home in Johnson City, Texas.Lyndon B. Johnson's childhood home.Cynthia Dorminey/NPSJohnson lived there from when he was 5 years old until he graduated high school in 1924. According to the National Park Service's official website, the home had no electricity or indoor plumbing.Richard Nixon's birthplace and childhood home is located in Yorba Linda, California.Richard Nixon's birthplace and childhood home.Pamela Brick/ShutterstockNixon's father built the one-and-a-half story house, where the future president was born in 1913. The Nixon family lived there until 1922, according to the National Park Service.Gerald Ford lived in this Grand Rapids, Michigan, home from ages 8 to 17.The boyhood home of President Gerald R. Ford.Morry Gash/APFord moved around a lot, but wrote in his memoir that he had the most vivid memories of 649 Union Street, according to Grand Valley State University.Jimmy Carter's family moved to a farm without indoor plumbing or electricity in Plains, Georgia, when he was 4 years old.The Jimmy Carter Boyhood Farm.Jeffrey M. Frank/ShutterstockCarter helped harvest and sell cotton, peanuts, sugar cane, and corn until 1941, when he left for college, according to the National Park Service.Ronald Reagan's boyhood home is located in Dixon, Illinois.The Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home in Dixon, Illinois.David Mercer/APReagan moved many times throughout his childhood, but lived in this Dixon home from 1920 to 1924, according to the National Park Service. Bill Clinton spent the first four years of his life in Hope, Arkansas, living with his mother and maternal grandparents.Bill Clinton's childhood home in Hope, Arkansas.Danny Johnston/APThe two-and-a-half story house dates back to 1917, according to the National Park Service.George W. Bush lived in this Midland, Texas, home from ages 5 to 9.George W. Bush's childhood home in Midland, Texas.Evan Vucci/APHis parents George H.W. and Barbara Bush, also a former president and first lady, bought the house in 1951, according to the National Park Service's official website.Barack Obama's childhood home in Honolulu, Hawaii, sold for $1.8 million in 2021.Barack Obama's childhood home.Google MapsObama lived in the 2,268-square-foot home from 1964 to 1967, according to the home's Zillow listing.Donald Trump grew up in Queens, New York, and moved to this brick house when he was 4 years old.Donald Trump's childhood home.Katie Warren/Business InsiderTrump lived in the 23-room house until he left for a military boarding school at 13 years old.Joe Biden grew up in a three-story home on North Washington Avenue in Scranton, Pennsylvania.Joe Biden's childhood home.ERIC BARADAT/AFP via Getty ImagesHe signed one of the walls in the home on Election Day, writing, "From this house to the White House with the grace of God. Joe Biden 11-3-2020," Politico reported.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»