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The latest news from Business Insider

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    astronaut anne mcclain portrait nasa

    • NASA astronaut Anne McClain launched to the International Space Station on Monday and arrived at at 12:33 p.m. EST.
    • Before rocketing into orbit, McClain brought her son along to a NASA portrait session.
    • Her son hammed it up for the camera, leading to some adorable official photos of McClain.
    • The astronaut tweeted the photos in March in support of moms who struggle to find a work-life balance.

    Before NASA's talented astronauts launch into space, they pose for an official photo shoot.

    Most astronauts play it safe: They crawl inside a custom-fit spacesuit, smile for the camera, then get back to their rigorous training. Some, however, choose to bring family, friends, and even pets along for the fun.

    During a portrait session by NASA in August 2017, Anne C. McClain— a member of the 21st astronaut class, a decorated US Army Major, an attack helicopter pilot, an aerospace engineer, and a mother — brought her preschool-age son.

    "The hardest part about training for space is the 4 yr old I have to leave behind every time I walk out the door," McClain tweeted in March 2018.

    McClain arrived at the International Space Station (ISS) on Monday at 12:33 p.m. EST aboard a Russian spacecraft called Soyuz.  But at the time of her tweet, McClain was responding to Abby Wambach, a professional soccer player and fellow mom who was seeking support in maintaining a work-life balance.

    "I try to remember he will grow up and know what it looks like, behind the scenes, to pursue a dream. He is my 'why,'" McClain said.

    The successful mission that McClain just participated in was vital in restoring access to the space station, since NASA has no spaceship and the previous Soyuz mission in October failed in mid-flight. (An automatic emergency escape system carried the crew to safety.)

    McClain will now stay on the ISS until June 2019. 

    In her Twitter thread, McClain posted photos of herself in a spacesuit next to her young son. A representative at NASA's Johnson Space Center told Business Insider that the pictures were taken by photographer Bill Stafford.

    Here are the heartwarming images McClain shared, and what her son thinks it's like to have a mom who's an astronaut.

    This story has been updated. It was originally published on March 13, 2018.

    SEE ALSO: Here's how much US astronauts can earn working for NASA

    DON'T MISS: Apollo astronaut: 'You go to heaven when you are born'

    "[S]ometimes, I bring him to work with me. Not sure who enjoys it more!" McClain said in March when she shared this image.

    Source: Twitter

    When a Twitter user asked McClain what's more difficult — staying or going — she responded: "No easy answer there."

    Source: Twitter

    "One provides immediate comfort, the other achieves not only lifelong goals but also teaches lifelong lessons. Gotta play the long game here," she said. "But it doesn’t make missing out on waffles with the kiddo in the morning any easier. Most parents can relate."

    Source: Twitter

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Bill and Melinda Gates

    • In a recent blog post, Bill Gates said he and his wife, Melinda, enjoy meditating together.
    • Gates was inspired to meditate after reading the work of Andy Puddicombe, the co-founder of the popular meditation app Headspace.
    • While Gates once dismissed the practice, he now sees it as an important tool for improving his focus.

    Bill Gates once gave up all TV and music in an attempt to improve his focus. Now he meditates instead.

    In a recent blog post discussing his favorite books of the year, Gates said that both he and his wife Melinda enjoy sitting down to meditate — but on comfortable chairs instead of floor mats. 

    "There's no way I could do the lotus position," he said.

    Read more:5 successful business leaders that have used meditation to improve productivity, creativity, and business acumen

    The Microsoft founder was first inspired to meditate after discovering Headspace, an app that offers guided practices, animations, articles, and videos.

    The app's co-founder, Andy Puddicombe, recently authored one of Gates' favorite new titles: The Headspace Guide to Meditation and Mindfulness.

    Puddicombe is an ordained Buddhist monk, who left the monastic life to become a circus clown in London. While there, he taught meditation exercises to people with severe anxiety. His experience prompted him to co-found an app that would bring meditation to the entire world — including Gates. 

    bill gates family

    After years of dismissing meditation as "a woo-woo thing tied somehow to reincarnation," Gates began to recognize the legitimacy of the practice. 

    He called up Puddicombe and asked him to spend a day and a half at the Gates household, where Bill, Melinda, and their children learned many of the same exercises found on the Headspace app.

    These days, Gates meditates two or three times a week, with each session lasting about ten minutes. 

    "For me, it has nothing to do with faith or mysticism," he wrote. "It's about taking a few minutes out of my day, learning how to pay attention to the thoughts in my head, and gaining a little bit of distance from them."

    There's research to back this up. Numerous studies have suggested that meditation can lower stress and improve focus. The practice has also been linked to sharper memories, decreased blood pressure, and higher relationship satisfaction

    Though Gates isn't sure it would have changed his early days at Microsoft, he said meditation is much-needed now that he has three children and a vast scope of professional and personal endeavors.

    "I now see that meditation is simply exercise for the mind, similar to the way we exercise our muscles when we play sports," he wrote."I like what I'm getting from my ten minutes every few days."

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: This 13-year-old scientist invented a safer way to treat pancreatic cancer, and he hasn't even started high school yet

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    Nicole Wegman Ring concierge

    • Nicole Wegman started Ring Concierge, a fine jewelry business specializing in bespoke engagement rings, in 2013 by posting and selling diamonds on Instagram.
    • The biggest misconception Wegman sees when people buy diamonds is understanding the four C's: cut, clarity, color, and carat weight. She said most people want a colorless diamond without inclusions.
    • Wegman likes to suggest prioritizing carat weight in the budget over color and clarity.

    There's a lot to consider when buying an engagement ring. That's part of the reason Nicole Wegman started Ring Concierge on Instagram in 2013 — to create bespoke engagement rings for women, by women. 

    Now, Wegman and her NYC-based team of six sell hundreds of engagement rings a year. The fin-jewelry business specializes in custom engagement rings that start at $10,000 and can go into the six figures. For comparison, the average cost of an engagement ring in the US is $6,000, Wegman told Business Insider. 

    Wegman said the biggest decision behind each ring is, unsurprisingly, the diamond itself — but that people come in with certain misconceptions, too.

    "The biggest misconception is, people will come in and say, 'I did research online and I read about the four C's and I think I need to have a colorless diamond with barely any inclusion,'" Wegman said.

    Read more:Millennial attitudes are forcing a massive change in the diamond industry

    The four C's refer to a diamond's cut, clarity, color, and carat weight. Diamond clarity reflects a lack of blemishes or inclusions, which many stones naturally have. The GIA International Diamond Grading System assigns grades that range from flawless to obvious inclusions, which affects the stone's value.

    "In reality, I always suggest dropping lower in color and clarity and allocating a bit more of the budget toward carat weight," she continued.  

    Good vibes only 💎👁

    A post shared by #Diamonds #Jewelry (@ringconcierge) on Aug 19, 2018 at 6:15pm PDT on

    Part of the Ring Concierge experience is a one-on-one meeting with Wegman and her team, whether that is in person or remotely. Wegman sees clients that come in and request a specific grade of diamond with a set budget. But when they try on the diamond they think they want, she said they are often times underwhelmed.

    "They say 'this isn't as big as I thought it was going to be.' And I'm like, 'you know what, for the same price you can get a three-carat diamond if you're just a little more flexible with color and clarity,'" Wegman said. 

    Creating a ring that suits the client's tastes — and their lifestyle

    Once a diamond is chosen, Wegman works with clients to understand how the ring will be worn to create a setting that is fashionable, durable, and timeless — but also lifestyle-appropriate.

    "Let's say they want the thinnest possible ring covered in diamonds ... but they have three kids, they go to the gym every day, and they never take their ring off. That's probably not the best decision," Wegman said. "That's too delicate a ring for your lifestyle. So, we'll think of ways to get them that look they want, but cater towards the way they are going to be wearing it."

    Wegman added: "We like to get clients the most bang for their buck without sacrificing the look of the ring. So, we like to find ways to drop down on the paperwork a little bit, not have it impact the diamond visually, and then just get them a large carat weight — which, ultimately, the women want."

    SEE ALSO: Meet the Clear Cut, a couple who's selling thousands of dollars worth of diamonds through their Instagram DMs

    DON'T MISS: There are over a quadrillion tons of diamonds lurking 100 miles below the Earth's surface, according to scientists

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: How to tell if a diamond is real or fake

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    Victoria's Secret

    • Viewership numbers dropped substantially for this year's Victoria's Secret Fashion Show
    • According to data from ABC, which broadcast the show, 3.3 million people tuned in to watch on Sunday evening. That was down from five million viewers in 2017 and 6.7 million in 2016, when the show aired on CBS.
    • The lower viewership comes after an executive from Victoria's Secret's parent company, L Brands, came under fire for making controversial comments about transgender and plus-size models in an interview with Vogue. 

    This year's Victoria's Secret Fashion Show didn't get quite the fanfare it had gotten in the past, at least when it comes to viewership.

    According to data sent to Business Insider from ABC, the network that ran the show, 3.3 million people tuned in to watch the fashion show on Sunday evening. This was a substantial drop from 5 million viewers in 2017 and 6.7 million in 2016, when it previously aired on CBS.

    These lower viewership numbers come after an executive from Victoria's Secret's parent company, L Brands, came under fire for making controversial comments about the show and the possibility of using transgender and plus-size models. 

    Ed Razek, chief marketing officer of L Brands, said in an interview with Vogue that he didn't think the company's annual fashion show should feature "transsexuals" because "the show is a fantasy."

    "It's a 42-minute entertainment special. That's what it is," he said in the interview.

    "It is the only one of its kind in the world, and any other fashion brand in the world would take it in a minute, including the competitors that are carping at us."

    Razek's comments sparked an outcry online, which later led to Razek issuing a formal apology.

    Competitors also weighed in on the debate. ThirdLove cofounder and CEO Heidi Zak, who has been openly critical of Victoria's Secret in the past, ran a full-page ad in The New York Times slamming Razek's comments.

    Read more: 'Your show may be a "fantasy" but we live in reality': Lingerie startup ThirdLove slams Victoria's Secret exec in full-page New York Times ad

    "I was appalled when I saw the demeaning comments about women your Chief Marketing Officer, Ed Razek, made to Vogue last week," Zak wrote in the ad.

    She continued: "I've read and re-read the interview at least 20 times, and each time I read it I'm even angrier. How in 2018 can the CMO of any public company — let alone one that claims to be for women — make such shocking, derogatory statements?"

    Singer Halsey, who performed on the show, also criticized Razek's comments in an Instagram post on Sunday evening, saying that she "simply cannot ignore" what was said.

    "As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I have no tolerance for a lack of inclusivity. Especially not one motivated by stereotype," she wrote in the post.

    Victoria's Secret has struggled in recent years as sales have slipped, and it has been accused of alienating core customers with oversexualized ads in stores. Same-store sales numbers at its brick-and-mortar stores are down 5% so far in 2018 and flat overall.

    Once the kingpin of the US lingerie market, Victoria's Secret has increasingly lost market share to more body-positive brands such as American Eagle's Aerie, which has seen explosive growth in recent years.

    In November, Victoria's Secret Lingerie CEO Jan Singer stepped down from the company. She is being replaced by John Mehas, who is currently president of Tory Burch.

    SEE ALSO: Teens are abandoning Victoria’s Secret

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Target has a few sneaky ways it gets customers to spend more money

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    IGNITION is Business Insider's flagship conference featuring the biggest names in business, tech, and media, and it's happening right now. Tune in below!

    <iframe width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe>

    The agenda and who to expect for Monday, December 3 from 2:00 pm to 5:30 pm:

    INTERVIEW: Mandy Ginsberg, CEO, Match Group, speaks with Julie Bort, chief tech correspondent, Business Insider

    CONVERSATION: Rachel Holt, head of new modalities, Uber, Ryan Rzepecki, CEO, founder, Jump Bikes, speak with Cadie Thompson, transportation and retail editor, Business Insider

    INTERVIEW: Danica Patrick, entrepreneur, GoDaddy spokeswoman, speaks with Julie Bort

    PRESENTATION: Mary Lou Jepsen, CEO, founder, Openwater

    DEMO: Stem Cell Avatars with Susan Solomon, CEO, cofounder, New York Stem Cell Foundation

    PRESENTATION: Keller Rinaudo, CEO, cofounder, Zipline

    INTERVIEW: Alexis Ohanian, cofounder, Reddit, Initialized Capital, speaks with Alyson Shontell

    CONVERSATION: Mark Cuban, entrepreneur, Mark Cuban Cos., Felicity Conrad and Kristen Sonday, cofounders, Paladin, speak with Nicholas Carlson

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Mark Cuban's advice for his 20-year-old self — and millennials now

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    Tim Cook

    • Apple won't release a so-called "5G" iPhone until 2020 or later, according to a new report.
    • A look at the only 5G phone that has been announced makes it clear why Apple is sitting this cycle out. 
    • 5G technology simply isn't ready for phones. 

    One of the most anticipated next-generation features for smartphones is "5G" wireless connectivity. 

    Once the next-generation wireless networks become available, "5G" service will blow away the LTE and 4G networks most phones currently work with, at least according to the carriers.

    "5G mobility service will provide massive bandwidth, greater opportunities for connectivity and improved network reliability,"Verizon crowed on Monday in a press release. "When fully implemented, it will offer capacity and download speed many times faster than today’s 4G LTE network."

    Sounds great! But at least one tech giant will sit out the rush to release a 5G phone next year: Apple. 

    Apple's not planning to release a 5G iPhone until 2020 or later, Bloomberg reported on Monday, citing sources familiar with the plans. 

    "As with 3G and 4G, the two previous generations of mobile technology, Apple will wait as long as a year after the initial deployment of the new networks before its main product gets the capability to access them, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing the company’s plans," Bloomberg reported

    This comes as Wall Street analysts have started saying that 5G is the most likely feature that could spur a big cycle of iPhone upgrades for Apple. 

    But if you look at the current state of 5G, it's obvious why Apple is sitting this round out: The technology simply isn't ready for it. 

    One photo shows it all.

    Check out the Moto Z3 

    Moto Z3: The First 5G Phone

    The chunky phone above is the Motorola Z3, which was launched to much fanfare in August, claiming the title of "first 5G phone."

    But as you can see from the photos, the first ever "5G" phone is a little chunky. Once the 5G modem attachment is affixed to the Android phone, it becomes distinctly clunky and large. Part of the attachment is a battery, but that only underscores how experimental and power-hungry these new 5G electronics can be. 

    And although the device was revealed in August, according to people who got to try the device, it was only a prototype, and journalists weren't allowed to photograph the working device. The 5G mod isn't ready yet — it will go on sale in "early 2019," when Verizon launches its 5G network in Los Angeles, Houston, Indianapolis and Sacramento. 

    Moto 5G phone

    Plus, if you don't live in those specific areas, you won't be able to use 5G connectivity.

    Even a Motorola representative seems skeptical that 5G will be built into phones anytime soon. 

    "If we did put [5G] in the cell phone, it wouldn't be early 2019, it would be much later," a Motorola director told CNET. "The four antenna modules use up a lot of space...and if you put them all in the phone, you'd wind up with a thicker phone with a much smaller screen."

    Apple doesn't make chunky phones — think of the company's obsession with thinness and weight — and it builds devices for a global audience. It simply wouldn't make sense for Apple to launch a 5G iPhone if it could only work in a few cities in the United States and other developed nations, like Korea. 

    It's really hard to imagine Apple ever releasing a phone that looks like the Moto Z3 with 5G.

    Even Verizon is calling 5G developments scheduled for next year a "proof of concept" in an announcement on Monday — and it's the company building the network. 


    A different kind of cellular connection 

    Apple Innovation ZoneThat's not to say that Apple isn't deeply curious about 5G.

    It's been working on the technology, Business Insider has previously reported. In 2017, Apple received approval to test "millimeter wave" connectivity, one of the key technologies underpinning 5G. Earlier this year, it deleted a job listing for a "millimeter-wave IC design engineer," strongly suggesting that it planned to develop its own 5G chips.

    Apple has also received permission to conduct new radio frequency tests inside "innovation zones" at both its Apple Park headquarters and 1 Infinite Loop campus. Apple has also joined an industry group for 5G technology. 

    But it's still unclear whether 5G technology is something that will ultimately end up in a phone, or whether the tech will instead exist as a wireless industry infrastructure or a "last mile" connection to homes or offices. 

    As Business Insider previously reported, 5G may end up being a "middle mile" technology that connects so-called "small cells" to the broader network, which then connects to a phone over a standard like Wi-Fi. That means your first 5G device might not be a phone — it might be a router, instead. 

    However, there are drawbacks to millimeter wave technology on a handset as well. One issue is a "propagation" problem, which means that its waves can't travel very far before they start losing information. Another problem with millimeter waves is often it requires a clear line-of-sight between the device and the transmitter — so a 5G phone might lose signal when you go behind a wall. 

    Apple's experiments may end up being more closely related to it severing relationships with Qualcomm and Intel, which make wireless modem chips and are expected to make their own 5G chips. 

    Experts have said that millimeter wave is only one technology that will make up the 5G standard, which is still being finalized. The biggest advantage to millimeter wave is that it can achieve very high data rates, with much more bandwidth than current cellular networks.

    There's a huge push from carriers, chipmakers, and others to commercialize 5G soon, though. "I'll call it the classic 'More G.' In cellular, you're going to have more capacity, more data rates, lower latency. From an operator's point of view, it really helps them grow the capability and the network," Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf told Business Insider in 2017. 

    SEE ALSO: I spent a day in Crystal City, Virginia — and it's easy to see why Amazon picked it for its new HQ2 headquarters

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: A running coach explains how to get through the NYC marathon this weekend

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    roger stone

    • President Donald Trump on Monday was accused of violating a law against witness tampering after a controversial tweet about his former campaign chairman, Roger Stone.
    • Stone over the weekend said he would "never" testify against the president as part of Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian election interference and the Trump campaign's alleged collusion.
    • Trump applauded Stone for his statements in a tweet and said it's "nice to know that some people still have 'guts!'" 
    • George Conway, a conservative attorney and husband to one of Trump's top advisers, suggested Trump's tweet violated a statute against witness tampering. 

    President Donald Trump on Monday was accused of violating a law against witness tampering after a controversial tweet about his former campaign chairman, Roger Stone.

    Stone over the weekend said he would "never" testify against the president as part of Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian election interference and the Trump campaign's alleged collusion.

    Speaking with ABC's George Stephanopoulos, Stone said, "Generally speaking in politics you avoid hypothetical questions. That said, there’s no circumstance under which I would testify against the president because I’d have to bear false witness against him. I’d have to make things up, and I’m not going to do that." 

    Trump in a Monday tweet applauded Stone for not willing to be "forced by a rogue and out of control prosecutor" to "make up lies and stories" about the president. He added that it was "nice to know that some people still have 'guts!'" 

    The president was seemingly suggesting people who cooperate with the Mueller investigation, which is spearheaded by the Department of Justice, lack fortitude and loyalty. 

    George Conway, a conservative attorney who also happens to be the husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, retweeted Trump and said, "File under '18 U.S.C. §§ 1503, 1512.'"

    Conway was referencing a law against any corrupt or forceful attempts to "influence, intimidate, or impede any grand or petit juror, or officer in or of any court of the United States, or officer who may be serving at any examination or other proceeding before any United States magistrate judge or other committing magistrate, in the discharge of his duty." Simply put, this is a statute against obstruction of justice. 

    He also referenced a statute against witness tampering, which makes it illegal to attempt to intimidate or persuade witnesses, informants, or victims in order to prevent or influence their testimony in an official proceeding. 

    Read more: Trump says he wants Michael Cohen to receive a 'full and complete sentence' and goes on raging tweetstorm about Mueller

    Neal Katyal, the former acting solicitor general of the US under the Obama administration, appeared to agree with Conway's assessment. 

    "George is right. This is genuinely looking like witness tampering,"Katyal tweeted on Monday

    Katyal said the Department of Justice "prosecutes cases like these all the time."

    "The fact it's done out in the open is no defense," Katyal added. "Trump is genuinely melting down, and no good lawyer can represent him under these [circumstances]."

    The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from INSIDER.

    SEE ALSO: Michael Cohen's lawyers dropped a slew of intriguing bombshells about Trump in a new court filing

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Trump once won a lawsuit against the NFL — but the result was an embarrassment

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    The Insider Picks team writes about stuff we think you'll like. Business Insider has affiliate partnerships, so we get a share of the revenue from your purchase.

    Scotch Porter

    Holiday shopping for men — whether it be your dad, sibling, or significant other — can sometimes feel futile. His list is short, and so is your patience when it comes to gift hunting.

    Instead of buying him another tie or a pair of socks that he doesn't need, we recommend going with a quality grooming gift instead.

    Since every man does some form of grooming on a regular basis, these are gifts he'll get to appreciate year-round. Shaving kits, razors, body washes, facial cleansers, and colognes are just some of the many products guys use to stay looking, feeling, and smelling their best — and these are the best ones to gift this holiday season.

    Still shopping for more gifts? Check out all of Insider Picks' holiday gift guides for 2018 here.

    A high-end electric shaver

    Braun Series 7 Electric Shaver and Trimmer, $169.94 (Originally $289.99) [You save $120.05]

    The Braun Series 7 uses Sonic and AutoSense Technology to read their beard's thickness and adjust the power of the shaver's motor to deliver a close shave with just one stroke. By figuring out the optimal shave settings on its own, they'll never experience another bad shave again. In addition to being a highly effective and precise shaver, it's self-cleaning and lubricating.

    Check out my full review of the Braun Series 7 Shaver here.

    A durable Dopp kit from Patagonia

    Patagonia Black Hole Small Cube, $29, available in eight colors

    Although it can be used to store a number of small items, the Patagonia Black Hole Cube is the ideal size for a traveling Dopp Kit — and it's super durable. 

    An electric toothbrush

    Goby Brush Kit, $50, available at Goby

    Most people don't swap out their toothbrush as often as they should simply because they forget to do so. With the Goby Brush Kit, they'll never have to worry about using an old toothbrush. For just $50, the kit includes a state-of-the-art of the art oscillating toothbrush, a hygienic stand, USB charger and a monthly subscription for brush heads. 

    Read our full review of the Goby toothbrush here.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    The Knickerbocker Hotel

    • The Knickerbocker Hotel was built in 1906 by John Jacob Astor IV in 1906, who died in the sinking of the Titanic in 1912. It sits on the corner of 42nd street and Broadway.
    • After closing its doors in 1921, the hotel reopened in 2015 and began hosting luxury New Year's Eve rooftop parties, just 150 feet from the ball drop in Times Square. 
    • You can enjoy the exclusive party with three experiences ranging from $4,335 to $125,000. 
    • Each package includes two tickets, a minimum two-night stay at the hotel, access to a buffet and top-shelf open bar, and live entertainment, among other perks.

    An estimated one million people crowd into sectioned-off quarters of Times Square every year to see the famous countdown and ball drop on New Year's Eve.

    But that's not the only way to enjoy the celebratory night in person. You can experience an exclusive party at The Knickerbocker Hotel's St. Cloud rooftop, just 150 feet from the ball drop — if you're willing to pay at least $4,335.

    The hotel sits on the corner of 42nd street and Broadway, giving guests the Times Square experience without the crowded streets. The site was built in 1906 by Jacob Astor IV, whose family line is also responsible for several other properties in New York City, including the St. Regis Hotel

    The Knickerbocker Hotel claims several historical moments happened within its walls, including the creation of the first-ever martini and the debut of the red velvet rope to help control dinner crowds.

    But one of its most luxurious creations is an exclusive rooftop experience to ring in the new year. Check out what up to $125,000 could buy you on New Year's Eve at the historic hotel. 

    SEE ALSO: 30 highly successful people share their New Year's resolutions for 2018

    DON'T MISS: The 27 best under-the-radar places to spend New Year's Eve, according to the world's leading travel experts

    You can enjoy New Year's Eve 150 feet away from the iconic ball drop atop The Knickerbocker Hotel with a choice of three experiences: Gold, Platinum, or VIP box seats.

    Instagram Embed:
    Width: 540px


    Source: The Knickerbocker Hotel

    Each package includes two tickets, a minimum two-night stay at the hotel, access to the St. Cloud rooftop, hors d'oeuvres, buffet, top-shelf open bar, live entertainment, party favors (including hand warmers) and a champagne toast at midnight.

    Instagram Embed:
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    Source: The Knickerbocker Hotel

    Here's what it looked like last year...

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    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    magic mushrooms

    • The possession of magic mushrooms, which contain psilocybin, is a felony in the US.
    • In recent years, many Americans have changed their attitudes about psychedelics and other illegal drugs.
    • Oregon could become the first state to legalize magic mushrooms if an initiative makes it onto the ballot for the 2020 general election. 
    • Scientists have recently published several findings saying magic mushrooms could help treat anxiety and depression.

    Oregon is one step closer to becoming the first state to legalize magic mushrooms.

    In November, Oregon's secretary of state approved language for a possible ballot initiative that would make magic mushrooms legal. To make it on the ballot for the 2020 general election, the initiative will need 117,578 signatures, CNN reported

    A successful ballot initiative in Oregon would decriminalize magic mushrooms and let them be manufactured under a license. The possession of psychedelic mushrooms, which contain the active compound psilocybin, is currently a felony nationwide.

    "The intent of the 2020 Psilocybin Service Initiative of Oregon is to advance a breakthrough therapeutic model currently being perfected in research settings at top universities around the world," Tom and Sheri Eckert, who are leading the petition, wrote on the campaign's website

    Many Americans have shifted their opinions on marijuana and other illegal drugs in recent years, and scientists are also reassessing the effects of psychedelics. 

    A growing number of recent studies have shown that magic mushrooms could be beneficial to certain people. Scientists say psilocybin could help reduce anxiety in people with cancer and be used as a treatment for anxiety, depression, and alcoholism.

    Earlier this year, researchers at Johns Hopkins University said psilocybin should not be classified as a Schedule I drug, a category for substances with no known medical benefit. In an article from the October issue of the medical journal Neuropharmacology, the researchers wrote that psilocybin should instead be labeled a Schedule IV drug, a category that includes prescription sleeping pills. 

    It could take at least five years for the Food and Drug Administration to reclassify psilocybin, the researchers wrote, because the drug would need to undergo a series of tests.

    According to The New York Times, the Johns Hopkins researchers said the use of psilocybin should still be strictly controlled, since people with psychotic disorders and those who take high doses of magic mushrooms are at risk.

    In addition to Oregon, residents of Denver, Colorado could also soon vote on the decriminalization of magic mushrooms.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Beautiful time-lapse videos show how much China has changed over the years

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    Craig fuller

    • Craig Fuller is the CEO and founder of FreightWaves— a data and news provider on the logistics industry. 
    • Fuller discussed FreightWaves' strategy during Business Insider's flagship technology and media conference, IGNITION
    • It's key that FreightWaves is based in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Fuller said. 

    FreightWaves was founded only two years ago, and it's already the top logistics news site in the world by page views and unique visitors.

    Craig Fuller, the founder and CEO of FreightWaves, credited part of the site's quick success to the fact that the trucking scene is becoming rife with startups. For new entrants to logistics, information on the $1.45 trillion industry is scarce. 

    The logistics industry is made up of tens of thousands of trucking companies, more than 20,000 of which annually pull in $5 million in revenue. The fragmented nature of trucking makes it challenging for new or small trucking firms to find the information they need to succeed.

    "[The startups] were trying to provide better transparency on freight market systems, knowing that we can track pizza, we can track Amazon goods, but it's very difficult to track trucks," Fuller said on December 3 at IGNITION, Business Insider's flagship technology and media conference.

    "They kept on focusing on transparency," Fuller said. "The idea that they were going to build up these digital marketplaces and disseminate a very old industry was core to their business model."

    That led Fuller to the idea of creating a Bloomberg- or Reuters-esque service for the freight market. FreightWaves has since aggregated about $260 billion of freight transactions and provides editorial commentary along with analytics to bolster that. 

    And as for getting access to that elusive information, Fuller credits FreightWaves' base in Chattanooga.

    Read more: The CEO of Dropbox explains the one thing that's worse than having your startup fail: becoming a 'zombie startup'

    "For us, it's access to what I call tribal knowledge," Fuller said. "You have this really deep organic knowledge base of how the industry really works." 

    Chattanooga is a hub for trucking companies. Massive trucking firms like U.S. Xpress, which Fuller's father founded, are based there, as well as startups like WorkHound, a driver retention firm.  

    Other trucking startups have set up in more typical entrepreneurial hubs. Convoy, another freight brokerage app, is based in Seattle. Silicon Valley, meanwhile, is home to Trucker Path, Peloton Technology, Terminal 49, and Otto.

    And Transfix, an app for truck drivers to connect with shippers, is based in New York City. CEO Drew McElroy previously told Business Insider that he and his co-founder thought it would be easier to attract logistics folks to Manhattan, instead of having to lure techies to the Midwest. 

    But for Fuller, it's all about operating in a logistics nerve center. 

    "We are able to provide tribal knowledge that's authentic and backed up with data," Fuller said. 

    SEE ALSO: A fiasco of tariffs, the holiday season, and a truck-driver shortage may make December the most expensive month ever for moving freight

    FOLLOW US: On Facebook for more car and transportation content!

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    bii importance of smartphone cameraThis is a preview of a research report from BI Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service. To learn more about BI Intelligence, click here.

    The smartphone is getting smarter as tech and internet companies inject increasingly sophisticated computer vision and object recognition functions into their hardware and software. The ability to “understand” what the user is pointing their mobile camera at and “read” the image has opened the door for visual search.

    Foreseeing the potential for mobile visual search to create new revenue opportunities, brands are attempting to harness the smartphone camera’s increasing sophistication to engage with consumers and drive sales.

    In this report, BI Intelligence analyzes the developing technologies behind mobile visual search and its value to businesses and brands. The report also assesses risks and opportunities inherent in developing a visual search strategy, provides a list of companies that are working in the space, and discusses what they've accomplished so far.

    Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:

    • There is strong evidence that mobile visual search technology will take off in the near future, including growing access to technology, strong usage rates of camera-related apps, and early indication of potential revenue growth. 
    • In some instances, visual search is faster and more accurate than text or voice, as it cuts through consumer-introduced ambiguities. 
    • The mobile visual search ecosystem is growing, with a slew of enabling platforms, native apps, and internet companies all broadening their expertise in the field.  
    • Leading internet search companies, including Google and Baidu, are in a race to capture the mobile visual search market as it begins to eat into traditional forms of search.   
    • The smartphone is the perfect launchpad for visual search technology, but new form factors, like smartglasses, hold great potential.

     In full, the report:

    • Provides an argument for the potential uptake of mobile visual search technology by tech companies, brands, and consumers. 
    • Outlines the current mobile visual search landscape.
    • Explains how startups and tech companies with mobile visual search products are evolving their business strategies. 
    • Provides an outlook for the future of the mobile visual search industry. 

    Interested in getting the full report? Here are two ways to access it:

    1. Subscribe to an All-Access pass to BI Intelligence and gain immediate access to this report and over 100 other expertly researched reports. As an added bonus, you'll also gain access to all future reports and daily newsletters to ensure you stay ahead of the curve and benefit personally and professionally. >>Learn More Now
    2. Purchase & download the full report from our research store. >> Purchase & Download Now

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    joey levin

    • IAC is a $15 billion media juggernaut that includes properties like Angi Homeservices, Match Group, and Dotdash.
    • The company's stock has performed well in recent years because of the company's ability to play with "lots of different businesses, lots of different brands," said CEO Joey Levin.
    • With Angie's List, IAC kept such close tabs on the company through competitor Home Advisor that eventually the two companies combined into Angi Homeservices.

    Facebook and Google continue to dominate digital media, but IAC InterActive seems to have found a way to stand out.

    The $15 billion internet conglomerate founded by media mogul Barry Diller operates dozens of digital brands like Angi Homeservices, Match Group, and Dotdash. In September, Jefferies analyst Brent Thill called IAC"the unsung hero of the internet."

    Joey Levin, CEO of IAC, said IAC's strategy is all about investing in a sprawling amount of companies that is constantly changing. He spoke during a talk at Business Insider's Ignition conference Monday with Nicholas Carlson, global editor-in-chief of Business Insider and chief content officer at Insider Inc.

    "We don't have our scorecard in one simple stock chart or one simple company," he said. "It doesn't always have to be in one neat little file. We can mix things up a little bit."

    The strategy appears to be working, at least for Wall Street. From December 2016 to October of this year, IAC's stock has over-performed by 185%, according to a slide that Levin shared during the talk.


    Levin said that for the past decade or so, IAC has focused on consumer-focused internet companies that are smaller than the massive platforms.

    Occasionally IAC will spin-off or sell one of its assets but the firm's assumption is that it will operate the asset forever, which, said Levin, "means at some point the cash flow is going to be our problem."

    IAC isn't afraid to dig into competitors' business to win deals

    Take Angi Homeservices. The unit is made up of Angie's List and Home Advisor.

    When IAC first looked into acquiring Angie's List, a deal fell through but then came together again because IAC was keeping close tabs on the company.

    Home Advisor started taking a page from Angie's List's playbook, like opening a sales center in Indianapolis where Angie's List was headquartered.

    "We were very focused on winning — we were, I think, tough competitors, but at the same time, when we went to do a deal — and this is really a credit to Tom Evans— we said, 'We have a vision for this, we think we can do some amazing things with this company, with this brand,'" Levin said.

    That process comes down to IAC's ability to compartmentalize its business, he said.

    "We can be suing somebody on one side and partnering with them on another side — it's the reality," Levin said.

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    • On Monday morning, Netflix's show page for "Friends" said the sitcom would be available to stream only until January 1, 2019.
    • But that may have been a glitch, according to several reporters who cover the media space.
    • Netflix removed the date from the show page on Monday afternoon.

    Netflix gave the internet a collective heart attack when it wrote on its show page for "Friends" that the 1990s sitcom would be available to stream only until January 1, 2019. The show has been available on Netflix for four years.

    But that could be have been a glitch.

    Here's how the page appeared on Monday morning:


    But on Monday, NBC editor Claire Atkinson tweeted that she had asked Netflix's content boss, Ted Sarandos, about "Friends" while attending the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference. Sarandos indicated that "Friends" would not be leaving Netflix in January, according to Atkinson.

    Wall Street Journal reporter Joe Flint also tweeted that the inclusion of the January 1 date on Netflix's show page "appears to have been a mistake and [the] show is not leaving."

    Netflix did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider, but it removed the date from the "Friends" page on Monday.

    The is how the same page appeared Monday afternoon:

    friends 2

    This apparent glitch on Netflix's site comes at a time when many are wondering about the fate of shows Netflix has licensed in the past.

    "Friends" is a Warner Bros. Television series. That would make it a logical fit for AT&T's upcoming streaming service, which is expected to launch in 2019. AT&T bought Time Warner (which includes Warner Bros.) earlier this year.

    AT&T's upcoming service will also include HBO, which AT&T now owns and is pushing to be more like Netflix in terms of output. HBO has always focused on a small but acclaimed collection of TV shows that makes up its Sunday-night lineup, but under AT&T quantity will be important in addition to quality.

    Read more: AT&T will jump into the streaming bloodbath by launching a Netflix competitor next year

    That's not the only new competition Netflix will face in securing licensing rights.

    Disney is launching its own streaming service late next year called Disney+, and the effects of that are already being felt on Netflix as well. Netflix has canceled three of its five Marvel shows in the last two months, the most recent cancellation was "Daredevil" last week (Disney owns Marvel).

    While data showed that interest in the Marvel shows had been lacking, the cancellations also reflect the bitter battle over content as more players enter the streaming war. "Sons of Anarchy" also left Netflix this month (it can still be watched on Hulu). The FX series might have been a casualty of the Disney-Fox merger, and its removal from Netflix could signal that other Disney- and Fox-owned shows could be in danger once the merger is complete.

    Netflix spent an estimated $8 billion on content this year in an effort to have 1,000 original shows and movies on the service.

    SEE ALSO: Data predicted Netflix would cancel 'Daredevil,' and its remaining Marvel shows are probably next

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    NOW WATCH: Everything you need to know about 'Red Dead Redemption 2' — 2018's most anticipated video game

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    Tom Rutledge, Charter Communications

    • Charter CEO Tom Rutledge said the company would buy more cable assets if they were available.
    • He pointed to a current lack of cable assets available for acquisition as a reason why the company has been buying its own stock back.
    • Speaking at the UBS Media conference, he said he is bullish on cable M&A because of the competitive advantage he sees over telecom.

    Charter Communications chief executive Tom Rutledge will look to buy more cable assets if they become available.

    "From an M&A perspective, I think cable is a great business. If there were assets for sale that we could do more of, we would do that," Rutledge said at the UBS Global Media & Communications Conference.

    "We've been buying a lot of our own stock back. Why? Because we think the cable business is a great business and we haven't been able to buy other cable assets."

    Charter, the second largest cable company behind Comcast, and third largest pay-TV company behind AT&T, is bullish on cable M&A because of the competitive advantage Rutledge says he sees over telecom.

    "The historic cable industry has a superior infrastructure, and that infrastructure is easy to upgrade from a cost perspective," he said.

    At the event, Rutledge pointed to the ways Charter has responded to competition from rivals like AT&T, increasing  baseline broadband speeds to 200 Mbps, which he said has led to increased sales for Charter.

    He also took a swing at Verizon's burgeoning 5G Home offering, which directly competes against Charter for home broadband customers.

    "I saw that Verizon had some passings that they could do 800 Mbps in," Rutledge said. "We have 51 million passings that we can do 1 Gig in and we can go to 10 Gig relatively inexpensively and I think we will because I think the world will go to 10 Gig."

    Verizon began offering its 5G Home service in October, promising initial speeds of 300 Mbps which the company said will increase over time. Analysts at Signals Research Group said in initial tests they found Verizon 5G Home could offer speeds up to 800 Mbps, RCR Wireless reported.

    5G is the threat the entire broadband industry seems to be watching, as it has the ability to disrupt the cable industry. "We see 5G fixed wireless broadband as the largest existential threat to broadband providers, by far,"analysts at Cowen wrote in a research note this year.

    At a sell-side analyst event at Verizon's New York City office, Verizon management shared initial results of 5G and indicated that about half of the customers who signed up for the offering were not previous customers to Verizon. Verizon did not share underlying details about what type of companies they were stealing share from, whether that be cable companies or telcos that offer service in the area. Verizon declined further specifics about the service when contacted by Business Insider.

    But Rutledge wasn't overly concerned about this threat, stating it will take significant money and time to achieve what cable offers customers.

    SEE ALSO: We're already getting an indication that Verizon 5G is stealing customers from its competitors

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    NASA astronaut Ann McCain

    An Army helicopter pilot and astronaut will strap into a Soyuz rocket on Monday for the trip from Kazakhstan to the International Space Station, according to a release from Army Space and Missile Defense Command.

    Lt. Col. Ann McClain and her team will spend six months at the ISS as part of a crew with a slate of 250 research projects, the release said.

    "The Army astronauts have a very proud legacy in the astronaut program.” McClain said. “I can tell you that just like everywhere else in the Army, the biggest attributes that we can bring to the table are leadership and team skills, and those traits that I learned in the Army as both a follower and as a leader working in austere environments with small groups in high gain tasks where lives are at risk, those traits have absolutely transferred over into my time at NASA, and I think that is the best thing that we can bring to NASA.”

    McClain flew more than 800 combat hours in Iraq before becoming an astronaut candidate in 2013, according to her NASA bio.

    While aboard the ISS, she’ll be part of a new experiment called “Tissues on Chips,” using miniature models of human organs to replicate their functions. The hope is that these mini-organs can be used in drug trials, to predict whether they’ll harm a person’s organs systems.

    SEE ALSO: The Air Force's 'rods from god' could hit with the force of a nuclear weapon — with no fallout

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    Tetris Effect

    • Of all the blockbuster spectacles and indie darlings I played in 2018, one unexpected game was the best by far: "Tetris Effect."
    • More than just a modern reimagining of a classic game, "Tetris Effect" is a breath of fresh air for the "Tetris" franchise.
    • Despite the age of the source of material, "Tetris Effect" is the best game I played in 2018 — a year that featured blockbusters like "God of War,""Spider-Man," and "Red Dead Redemption 2."

    Sorry, "Call of Duty!" So long, "Red Dead Redemption 2!" I can't stop playing "Tetris Effect," and thinking about it, and evangelizing it.

    There's a simple reason for that: "Tetris Effect" is the best game I played in 2018.

    Better than the excellent "God of War" reboot, and the excellent "Spider-Man" reboot, and the incredibly impressive "Red Dead Redemption 2"? Yes! Better than all those games that I also really liked!

    "Tetris Effect" takes a foundational game ("Tetris"), executes it perfectly, and crucially evolves the concept of what a "Tetris" game can be. It's one of the only games I played in 2018 that I'll continue playing into 2019 (and likely beyond). 

    Here's what makes it so incredibly good:

    SEE ALSO: The 18 best video games of 2018, from 'Red Dead Redemption 2' to 'God of War'

    "Tetris" is timeless.

    I first played "Tetris" on the Nintendo Game Boy around 1989. I still have the Game Boy and the cartridge (I've been a dork going on three decades now), largely due to how formative the game was on my childhood. It's my all-time favorite game.

    Admittedly, in case it weren't already clear enough, I did not need to be "sold" on the idea of a new "Tetris" game. But even I wondered what would make such an old game feel new again — over 30 years after Alexey Pajitnov coded the game in the Soviet Union. 

    It turns out that, in 2018, "Tetris" is still as creative and brilliant as it was on the original Game Boy.

    The foundation of "Tetris Effect" is still focused on creating/clearing lines from the play field while new blocks are randomly generated from the top. There is no major shift or evolution in this respect — "Tetris Effect" is, at its core, a "Tetris" game. 

    "Tetris Effect" is "Tetris" at its finest.

    Playing "Tetris Effect" with the PlayStation 4 controller is intuitive, and controls are precise. The game feels sharp and fast, like it should. 

    That might sound basic, but it's absolutely crucial for any great "Tetris" game to nail control. 

    One of the biggest issues with "Tetris" in the modern era is the clash between its mainstream appeal and its relative unplayability on touch-based devices (like smartphones). Simply put: "Tetris" requires butttons, but most people play games on smartphones (which don't have buttons).

    To that end, the PlayStation 4 is a more than capable machine for "Tetris Effect." The d-pad on the DualShock 4 gamepad is excellent at incremental, precise movement. If you fail, there's no confusion over who's at fault — it certainly wasn't the controls.

    The game runs at a steady clip, and never slowed down nor skipped a beat even at its most hectic — and "Tetris Effect" gets real hectic.

    The "Tetris" effect is real.

    The game's title sounds like a psychological phenomenon — and it is, in fact, exactly that, where players start "seeing" the patterns of "Tetris" in the world or in their mind as they drift off to sleep. "Tetris Effect," the game, takes that and twists it back on itself. 

    During gameplay, a synaesthetic journey takes place in the background. With each twist of the "Tetris" block ("tetronimo") and lateral movement, the game's music responds in turn. While this auditory collaboration occurs, the game's background visuals take players on a journey through space, or the oceans, or across a vast desert.

    It's surreal, and beautiful, and intense — and it's much more than a parlor trick.

    Beyond offering an additional audio/visual component, these synaesthetic effects serve to further imprint the game's seemingly simplistic gameplay into consciousness. It deepens an already flow-like experience. 

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos

    • Amazon briefly surpassed Apple as the world's most-valuable publicly traded company.
    • It passed Apple on Monday with a market value of about $865 billion.
    • WatchAmazon and Apple trade live.

    Amazon on Monday briefly surpassed Apple as the world's most valuable-publicly traded company, days after Microsoft dethroned the long-time leader Apple.

    Amazon rose as much as 4.7%, giving it a market capitalization of $865 billion ahead of Apple's $864.8 billion valuation. Apple reclaimed its crown with a market value $846.4 billion — after Amazon's market cap dropped to $827.1 billion as of 3:00 p.m. ET.

    Microsoft, whose market capitalization last Monday surpassed Apple's for the first time in eight years, had a market value of $844.9 billion. 

    In August, Apple became the first US company with a $1 trillion valuation, and in September Amazon became the second US company join the club.

    But things changed in October, when the stock market witnessed one of its worst months since the financial crisis and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite shed more than 12%.  

    Apple's stock has been under pressure recently, down more than 20% from its October peak, amid signs of waning iPhone demand. The smartphone giant on November 1 reported underwhelming iPhone sales and said its holiday sales would be disappointing. Additionally, several suppliers have cut their forecasts, citing a drop in smartphone demand.  

    Meanwhile, Amazon tanked as tumbled nearly 16% after the retail giant on October 25 cdisappointing sales for the fourth quarter. The stock since recovered more than half of its losses

    Now read:

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    cole haan zerogrand hiker boot

    • For all your comfortable and stylish shoe needs, look no further than Cole Haan
    • Its ZERØGRAND All-Terrain Waterproof Hiker Boot ($199.95-$270) is what I plan to wear when the worst of winter arrives. 
    • Rugged yet fashionable, it can handle all types of outdoor conditions and looks good doing so, all the while supporting your feet with its cushioned ZERØGRAND construction. 

    From running sneakers to dress shoes and dressy booties, we've confirmed time and again that Cole Haan is the master of mixing comfort and style. Now, I can confidently add hiker boots to this unofficial hall of fame.

    New York's endless winter last year taught this wide-eyed LA native that sturdy snow boots (and an ultra-warm jacket) are a necessity, not a friendly suggestion. With Cole Haan's ZERØGRAND All-Terrain Waterproof Hiker Boot in my possession, I actually feel adequately prepared — even, dare I say, excited — for all the whims of winter weather this year. 

    cole haan hiker boot

    Read more: Everlane's cashmere sweater is the backbone of my winter wardrobe — and it's only $100

    On the style front, they're sleek yet cozy, pairing a cool crocodile-embossed leather and gold hardware with soft wool detailing and ice skate-style lacing. Other varieties of this boot feature nubuck uppers, silver hardware, and herringbone or plaid wool. 

    What brings the fashionable boot to the next level, however, are features both visible and invisible to the naked eye. The exterior, save for the wool detailing, is waterproof, and the base of the shoe is wrapped in a stiff patent panel that invites you not to dip tentatively, but jump fully into puddles and snowbanks. Even though it's white, a shoe color I usually don't wear since it's hard to keep clean, it's really easy to wipe down once I get indoors. 

    The grooves of the outsole let you navigate concrete and cobblestone streets just as securely as dirt and rocky terrains. This rubber outsole also contains Cole Haan's signature Grand.ØS tech, a flexible and cushioned energy foam that supports foot movements and gives you an extra bounce in each step. Thanks to this thick, supportive, and textured foundation, I know I won't risk slipping and falling like I did during winter days past. 

    On the inside, there's a slightly padded sock lining that stays put throughout the day. You're better off wearing regular socks since this lining molds closely to your foot and keeps it warm, so if you like wearing thick socks in the winter, I would recommend sizing up. To help your foot slide in and in case you need to adjust the fit, there are convenient pull tabs at the heel of the boot. 

    cole haan hiker boot 2

    The versatile boot comes in three styles:

    The one I own is the Limited Edition version, so unfortunately not many sizes are available anymore. If you're interested in this pair, it's better to act quickly. But the other styles are also cute and have the same comfort and fit highlights that I mentioned above. 

    I've worn these boots during a few nasty storms now, and I can't wait to put them through their paces for the remainder of the season. Though they're pricey, you'd be hard-pressed to find a more stylish iteration of a classic hiker boot. 

    Shop the ZERØGRAND All-Terrain Waterproof Hiker Boot for $199.95-$270 at Cole Haan

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    If you want to buy one, use our link. It won't cost you extra, and we'll make some money to support our videos:

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