Thursday, March 31, 2011

Houseplants Increase Attention Span

Having houseplants near your workspace may make you smarter, or at least increase your attention span, according to a new study. Researchers used a "Reading Span Task" to test subjects' memorization, reading, and recall abilities, as well as their ability to switch between the three tasks.

People who were in a room with live houseplants performed the tasks significantly better than those in a room with no plants. Scientific research has already shown in the past that exposure to natural environments, such as a forest setting, greatly improves attention directing ability. But this is one of the first studies to definitively show that just having a few simple plants near your workspace can improve your cognitive skills.

The big question now is: why? Why do plants help humans think more clearly and stay more focused on their work? We'll just have to wait for answers to those questions. But the take away now is that, if you want to maximize your mental function while working, surround yourself with a crap-load of houseplants!

Learn some mo': Houseplants Make You Smarter

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Japan Radiation Reaches Las Vegas, Nevada

Here's even more great news for the struggling city of Las Vegas: small amounts of radiation from Japan have reached the city, according to a Nevada monitoring station. The city joins several other major West Coast population centers where radiation from Japan's blown up nuclear has reached.

Experts from the Desert Research Institute say that the minuscule amounts of isotopes cesium-137, xenon-133, and iodine-131 are too small to have any real effect on Las Vegas residents' health. They say the same thing is true even in Hawaii, the island state that is much closer to Japan. According to a radiation physicist for the Nevada State Health Division:

"Any material released must travel 10,000 miles across the Pacific Ocean, during which time it will be dispersed and diluted in the atmosphere to levels that might eventually be detectable, but which will not present a health hazard nor require any protective actions."

All Las Vegas and Southern Nevada residents (including us!) are obviously worried about any health risks from the Japanese radiation. But when you consider the fact that they used to explode nuclear bombs just a little to the north of Vegas we probably have bigger things to worry about.

Learn some mo': Tiny amounts of radiation from Japan reach Las Vegas

Friday, March 25, 2011

Kids Need More Vitamin D to Avoid Allergies & Asthma

Kids who have low levels of vitamin D tend to have more allergies, according to a new study from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University. They found that children with low or "deficient" vitamin D blood levels were a lot more sensitive to allergens than kids who had higher levels of the nutrient.

One example: children who had very little vitamin D in their bodies (less than 15 nanograms per milliliter of blood) were 240% more likely to have the dangerous peanut allergy that has become more common in recent years. Experts say that this confirms the findings of a 2007 Harvard study. That study showed more sunlight exposure reduces the risks of both allergies and asthma in children. The study also found that pregnant women with low vitamin D levels were much more likely to have babies with allergies and/or asthma than women with higher levels.

The bottom line: let your kids play outside in the sun more, give them more vitamin D-rich foods, and/or consider giving them vitamin D supplements. And do the same yourself if you're pregnant or nursing!

Learn some mo': Vitamin D deficiency may be a factor in development of allergies

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Las Vegas is America's 2nd Emptiest City!

Yes! We're so happy to announce that our city of Las Vegas, Nevada has made it to the top of yet another national list! Forbes magazine has ranked Vegas as the second "emptiest city" in America. Awesome.

With a home vacancy rate of 5 and a half percent and an apartment vacancy rate of 13 and a half percent Vegas, at last according to the statistics, really is kind of empty. According to Forbes it trails only Orlando, Florida which boasts an almost 24% apartment vacancy rate. But, with only a 4.3% home vacancy rate, Vegas actually beats Orlando in that category (although San Bernardino, Ca actually beats everyone with a 6.4% rate). Awesome.

Here's the good news according to Forbes: Las Vegas's home vacancy rate was 6.1% in the 2nd quarter of 2009. So at least there's been a slight improvement there. Good thing all those Canadians, Europeans, and rich Asians are buying up our dirt-cheap houses!

So here's the bottom line: Vegas is kinda empty right now and there are still a ton of freaking incredibly real estate deals out there. If you have some money to invest buy yourself a duplex or three before Sin City starts to come back to life! (Don't worry, you have plenty of time left.)

Learn some mo': Las Vegas No. 2 on list of country’s ‘emptiest’ cities

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Sahara Hotel Casino is Closing!

The legendary Sahara hotel on the Las Vegas Strip will be closing on May 16th, according to its owner. According to SBE Entertainment Group CEO Sam Nazarian:
"the continued operation of the aging Sahara was no longer economically viable..."
The Sahara is an iconic Vegas casino, opened in 1952, on the northern end of the Strip. It was a favorite of Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack in the 60's and was one of the most popular Las Vegas resorts for decades. But it hasn't had a major upgrade in years and the huge jump in Vegas hotel room count (currently 149,177, thanks to the CityCenter and Cosmopolitan openings) has really hurt it financially.

The bottom line is that the Sahara stopped really being a competitive property and even its super cheap room deals weren't enough to bring people in and turn a profit. Many gaming and tourism experts believe that more ageing Vegas properties will be closing within the next few years as the city struggles to recover from the local and global recession. Two neighbors of the Sahara -- the Stratosphere and the Riviera -- are probably the most likely to get closed down in the near future.

We think that the closing of a major Las Vegas Strip casino, with no concrete plans to renovate and/or re-open in the future, is extremely worrying to say the least. It could lead to several other closures, especially near the Strips' north end. Speaking of that, the city needs to figure out a way to revitalize pretty much the entire Strip area between Sahara Ave and Wyoming Ave. Making it safe for tourists and Vegas locals to walk around in would be a start!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Las Vegas: A Dangerous Spring Break Spot?

According to a new study, Las Vegas is one of the United States' most dangerous spring break destinations. claims that Vegas is the 3rd most dangerous spring break spot, behind only Daytona Beach and Orlando. They came to that conclusion by looking at city crime statistics which, as UNLV criminologist Dr. William Sousa points out, is a seriously flawed method.

He says that the list compares a few large cities to several small towns, which according to him is like comparing apples to oranges. So basically, larger cities like Las Vegas are going to have much more overall crime simply because they have larger populations. But he also says that if the study included the large number of tourists located in Vegas at any given time, the city's crime rate would actually drop significantly.

According to Dr. Sousa:
"In order to be on the list, you have to be a tourist destination, you have to be a spring break destination. So you’re really not looking at dangerous places, you’re looking at a very short list of place that are known for spring break. That means virtually nothing when it comes to looking at how dangerous a city would be."

And according to our always quotable Mayor Oscar Goodman:
"Whoever made up that story is nutty as a fruitcake and you can quote me on that."

Other cities on the web site's list include Park City, Santa Barbara, and Kihei, Hawaii.

What's most funny about the whole thing is that Las Vegas doesn't even market itself as a spring break destination. But apparently all the crazy casino hotel pool parties shown on TV shows in recent years has significantly increased Vegas's popularity as a spring break destination!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Las Vegas: Slowing Down, Shrinking, and Getting Cheaper

New people aren't coming to Las Vegas and thousands of people want to leave the popular gambling mecca, according to real estate experts and the 2010 census. The only thing keeping many residents here is the recession, low home values, underwater mortgages, and the lack of job opportunities elsewhere.

The growth of one of the fastest growing US cities in the 90's and most of the 2000's has come to a screeching halt, according to new census numbers. There's even a good possibility that Las Vegas's population will soon begin to decrease, especially as more and more people get out from under their mortgages.

According to UNLV's Robert Lang:
"The idea of a mass exodus is not true... People can't leave because they would have to bring a check to the closing, or declare bankruptcy."

Vegas has even recently made it into Bloomber's "10 Most Miserable Cities" list. Real unemployment is 15%+, more than 80% of Vegas properties are underwater, nearly 60% of current home sales are distressed properties, and in Clark county 15% of homes are sitting vacant.


About a third of Las Vegas residents would leave the city if they could, according to a recent poll from the Las Vegas Review-Journal. U-Hauls statistics show that a slow exodus may be going on in Sin City. Thousands of younger people want to leave, and will leave, as soon as they can.

The only bit of good news is that, as the world economy slowly improves, tourism and gambling -- Vegas's primary industries, by far -- are expected to grow. More and more Americans are expected to take care of the great cheap vacation deals currently being offered by Las Vegas casinos and hotels. And Vegas home prices are at the lowest levels in decades, meaning that LOTS of people from around the world should be looking to buy here.

We believe that Vegas, our home city, will be making yet another comeback within the next 2-3 years. Rumors of this city's death have come and gone several times over the past 70+ years. And the best part is that Vegas is CHEAP again and, in fact, offers some of the best travel values in the world.... and should continue to do so for quite awhile!

Learn some mo': People are leaving Las Vegas -- if they can