Friday, August 26, 2011

Video: Hurricane Irene from Space

Hurricane Irene is set to do some major damage to the east coast of the United States in the next couple of days. Astronauts sitting on the International Space Station got an interesting view of the monster storm barreling up the Atlantic ocean. Here's a great video of what they're seeing 220 miles above the Earth's surface:

We say: DANG that's a scary-looking storm! Glad we live in Nevada. Good luck New Jersey!

Learn some mo': Hurricane Irene 'Big, Scary Storm,' Astronaut Says

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Fewer Debit Card Rewards Programs, More Fees Coming from US Banks

Paying for things with a debit card has become extremely common in the United States, but that may soon change. US banks are getting rid of popular debit card rewards programs and, in some cases, charging monthly fees to customers who use them.

Debit card rewards programs usually offer special "points" awarded every time a card is used to make a purchase. Sometimes points are also rewarded for making minimum monthly deposits or for carrying a high checking or savings account balance. Customers can redeem the points for gift cards, popular electronics, or even cash in many cases.

Wells Fargo, one of the country's biggest banks, has just announced that they will end their debit card rewards program for both existing and new customers in October. Several other banks will probably me taking similar steps in the near future.

Why is this happening? Because of new federal regulations that limit "swipe" fees banks charge retailers for processing debit card transactions. Banks claim the new laws force them to make up for lost "interchange-fee income", which is why they're ending debit card rewards programs and, in some cases, adding new fees to checking/debit card accounts. Banks claim that the new fees will not apply to ATM transactions.

We say: We already pay WAY more than enough for our Wells Fargo and Bank of America accounts here in Nevada, which just so happens to be one of the "test" states for the new Wells Fargo debit card fees. Looks like it's time to start paying for everything with cash... which sucks!! They better at least keep the new fees low... :P

Learn some mo': Banks Test Monthly Fees for Debit Cards

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

$99 HP TouchPads Sell Off -- Are Cheaper Tablets on the Way?

Hewlett-Packard is offering their new TouchPad tablet computers for as cheap as $99 after announcing that the company is getting out of the tablet PC and smartphone business. The devices, which are normally priced at $399 - $499, are absolutely flying off of retail store shelves. Big online sellers like Amazon have already sold out of the powerful gadgets.

Americans and Canadians have jumped at the inventory-clearing sale. The devices cost about $300 each to produce so it's definitely an incredible deal... one that HP will lose a lot of money on. The company's actions have left experts wondering if any other big electronics maker will really be able to compete with Apple and their amazing iPad tablets.

The big problem seems to be price: how to create a really good tablet and sell it at a profit for less than the iPad 2. According to Noah Elkin, a mobile computing expert:
"One of the most revolutionary things about the iPad is its price... $499 is still a lot of money, of course, but it's cheap for a device that good and that polished. It's the single biggest challenge for Apple's competitors."
Over 90% of the tablet computer market is currently controlled by Apple. That's mainly because the best competitors -- such as Samsung's Galaxy Tab device -- usually have higher prices. Even when competing devices are priced equally, consumers tend to choose Apple products because of the "brand" advantage.

Experts say that Apple is able to sell a super high-end device at a reasonable price and still make big profits because they have huge advantages in the electronic components supply chain. It also has it's own direct retail channel (Apple Stores have exploded in popularity).

It's probable that stripped-down, lower-end tablets -- that still do the things most users want -- will soon be available. According to consumer surveys, $250 may the "magic" number to achieve big sales numbers. So while we might not see more 100 dollar deals like the current TouchPad offer in the near future, we might soon have a whole slew of under-$300 tablet to choose from!

Learn some mo': $99 HP TouchPads Magic Tablet Price Point

Monday, August 22, 2011

Lowest Mortgage Rates in Decades Hit US

Home mortgage rates in the United States have hit their lowest levels since 1971, according to new reports. The average rate on 30-year fixed mortgages is down to 4.15% according to Freddie Mac. The last time long-term home loan rates were lower than they are right now was in the 1950's!

15-year fixed mortgages, which are very popular home refinancing options, also fell to record lows -- 3.36 percent this week. So the good news is that, if you can get approved, at least you may be able to refinance your home and lower your mortgage payments.

The National Association of Realtors reported that significantly fewer Americans are buying previously occupied houses. In fact, home sales fell three and a half percent in July. Most experts don't expect the ultra-low mortgage rates to boost home sales any time soon. The consensus is that "unhealthy" housing prices and poor sales will continue to hold back the overall US economy for some time.

Many people who would like to buy homes can't even take advantage of cheap loans because they don't have the money. Many don't even have jobs right now! The ones who do are more focused on lowering their personal debt levels and increasing savings than in taking on new debt in the form of a big home loan.

To make matters worse, most lenders are only willing to provide mortgages to people with very high credit scores and/or big down payments, especially for first time buyers. Banks simply aren't willing to accept any amount of risk that a loan won't be paid back. The few borrowers who can qualify for new loans are often choosing to refinance in order to lower monthly payments. But refinancing provides much less benefit to the overall economy than home buying does.

We say: We are 90% sure that mortgage rates will drop even MORE. If you've got the cash or the credit scores now is a great time to buy cheap houses in troubled markets (like Las Vegas!).

Learn some mo': Mortgage Rates Hit 4.15 Percent, Lowest In Decades

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Resveratrol-Based Drugs Might Protect Obese & Fight Aging

Here's some good news for obese and overweight people. A new drug that mimics resveratrol (the "red wine" antioxidant) appears to protect obese mice from common obesity-relate diseases and allow them to live up to 44% longer than untreated obese mice. The drug, called SRT-1720, seems to reduce the amount of fat build-up in the liver while increasing insulin sensitivity -- two very good things if you're very fat!

According to Dr. Rafael de Cabo, a gerontologist at the National Institute on Aging:
"[the findings] demonstrate for the first time the feasibility of designing novel molecules that are safe and effective in promoting longevity and preventing multiple age-related diseases in mammals..."
Some experts worry that a drug that removes many of the health risks of being obese is dangerous. But, in practical terms, it could greatly improve the quality of life of overweight people and extend the life of everyone who takes it.

Sirtris, the small pharmaceutical company that created the drug, designed it to mimic the natural grape/fruit compound resveratrol. They're also developing several other drugs based on resveratrol's incredible health-protecting powers. Their research is based on evidence that consuming large amounts of resveratrol and resveratrol-like compounds can provide benefits similar to very-low-calorie diets... especially longer life.

SRT-1720 appears to be able to increase levels of a powerful protein substance called sirtuins in the body. And it takes much less SRT-1720 than natural resveratrol to get the same amount of sirtuin boost. Most importantly, it appears to have no signs of toxicity! Another drug in development -- called SRT-2104 -- may be even more powerful and, according to one researcher, more suitable for human consumption.

We say: There's little doubt that resveratrol is a powerful chemical with lots of health-boosting, anti-aging benefits. If these new resveratrol-based drugs really work with no dangerous side-effects that will be GREAT news for millions of overweight Americans and aging baby-boomers. But until then we'll stick with our red wine, red grapes, cheap resveratrol supplements, and healthy diet!

Learn some mo': Longer Lives for Obese Mice, With Hope for Humans of All Sizes

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Tracy Anderson Method Reviews: Does This HOT Weight Loss Method Work?

The Tracy Anderson Method has become one of the hottest "celebrity" weight loss/fitness programs in the US. Her "30-Day Weight loss Kick-Start" book is one of the best-selling quick weight loss programs on Amazon. Tracy's method involves things like muscle confusion and strict diet for losing weight and "shrinking" your body in just 30 days.

Many big actresses, musicians, and celebrities have used the Tracy Anderson Method to shed pounds and get into fantastic shape. Gwyneth Paltrow likes her stuff so much that she's become a business partner. According to Tracy Anderson, here method is based on scientific research and many years of experience. She says her workout and diet plan reshapes the body, tones the muscles, and "defies genetics" to drop weight rapidly.

The most unique thing about the Anderson Method is that it focuses on working the small stabilizer or "accessory" muscles, instead of the big major muscle groups (like the quadriceps and bicep muscles). According to Anderson doing this create a longer, leaner, more balanced look and not the bulked-up look woman apparently want to avoid.

The problem with that is that it's kind of BS. It's very easy for women to avoid getting big "bulky"-looking muscles. You don't have to focus on small stabilizer muscles. Compound, multi-joint exercises that work major muscle groups -- like squats, lunges, pull-ups, and push-ups -- are proven to burn fat, build sexy lean muscle mass, and give you faster results than single-joint exercises (like bicep curls).

Many reviews of the Tracy Anderson Method are not so great. Some claim it leaves you starving and nearly "blacking out" from hunger! Several fitness expert reviews are more negative than positive. Still though, millions of people -- including dozens of A-list celebs -- love Tracy's weight loss method... so it can't be all bad!

We way: What's wrong with a girl have some real muscle and definition?? We LOVE all those fit, buff, sexy fitness models. The Tracy Anderson Method might be OK if you want the "soft dancer" look but we hope most ladies stick to free weights and Crossfit workouts! :)

Do you have a review of this unique exercise and diet program? Please leave it below!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Ways to Make Money Without Having a Job (According to Zaarly)

Zaarly is a pretty cool new site that makes it easier to buy and sell goods and services with people who live really close to you. So, apparently, it's like Craigslist without all the driving. They've come up with a neat infographic that outlines ways to earn money without actually having a "job". We've been doing exactly that for several years now and we can honestly say it kicks lots and lots of butt (jobs sucks!).

Over the years we've tried several of the things on the list below. Blogging and writing/selling ebooks is a LOT easier than street performing and selling valuable bodily fluids, promise! Unfortunately most people can't write worth a dang, but starting an online store or selling stuff on Ebay can be done by just about anyone who's willing to make some serious effort.

Here's the infographic:

Walking dogs and collecting aluminum cans, bottles, and scrap metal might be good options of last resort if you're really desperate. But they have pretty low barriers to entry and something tells me we'll be seeing HUGE increases in the number of local dog walkers in the near future. Here in Las Vegas we already have thousands of hombres roaming the streets in beat-up pickup trucks pulling every bit of scrap metal out of the dumpsters.

Hopefully President Obama can start creating some more jobs before America's cities are overrun with dog walkers, scrap metal scroungers, and starving "focus group participants!"

Learn some mo': 10 Ways to Make Money Without a Job

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Best Place to Buy a House in the US: Las Vegas!

Las Vegas, Nevada is now the best place in the United States to buy a house, according to real estate website Vegas home prices are the lowest they've been in 20 years and there are cheap home deals from Summerlin to Henderson. Right now it makes much more sense to buy instead of rent according to the experts who put together Trulia's Summer 2011 Rent vs. Buy Index, which compares the costs of buying and renting a 2-bedroom townhouse, condo, or apartment.

The other best places to buy a home, according to the list, are Detroit, MI; Mesa, AZ; Arlington, TX; and Fresno, CA. All have seen big drops in home prices during the US economic downturn. Vegas's price-to-rent ratio is "6", which is based on a median home list price of $58,000, divided by $9700 for 12 months or rent, or a little over $800 per month -- the best ratio in the country.

Experts say that the huge foreclosure rate, combined with Las Vegas's high unemployment rate, are what makes Vegas homes such good deals. Locals are losing their houses left and right and there aren't enough people with jobs/income to pick up the slack... which, unfortunately, is really good news for investors and people looking for cheap condos.

About 50% of Vegas home sales are cash-only transactions, currently. Many of them involve foreign investors from places like Canada and China. Some of the deals coming on the market are pretty incredible. In some cases you can buy a small single-family home for less than $400 per month (mortgage payment) with a VA-backed lone.

According to Las Vegas realtor Tim Kelly Kiernan of ReMax Extreme:
"If you can qualify for a mortgage, it makes sense to buy if you can... You can get an FHA with 3½ percent down; you buy a condo for $40,000, $50,000, $60,000, your payment would be ridiculously low. The whole thing is the creditworthiness of buyers."
Some investors are buying homes cheap, renting them out, and getting returns on investment of 10 or 11 percent. So basically, if you have the cash you can get some amazing home bargains and even make some good money renting to families and blackjack dealers! :)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

15 Minutes of Exercise Per Day = Longer Life

If you exercise for just 15 minutes per day you could live significantly longer, according to new research from Taiwan. Although most experts suggest that 30 minutes per day, 5 or 6 days per week, is the best option, it appears that 15 minutes of moderate exercise is almost as good -- extending life by an average of 3 years.

Researchers from Taiwan's National Health Research Institutes found that a relatively small dose of moderate exercise like brisk walking can provide big benefits. They say that it benefits men, women, old people, young people, smokers, drinkers, healthy, and unhealthy people equally. According to one research, it's a "one size fits all" healthy boosting solution.

In the study people who performed daily exercise had less cancer mortality. This supports previous research showing the cancer-fighting power of regular exercise.

We say: This is good news for lazy people. If you can't get up off the couch and do at least 15 minutes or brisk exercise every day you have a big problem. Besides helping you live a longer life, regular exercise also improves your overall quality of life dramatically!

Learn some mo': 15 minutes of fitness a day can add 3 years to your life

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Spices Boost Metabolism, Protect You After Fatty Meals

Natural antioxidant-rich spices can reduce the negative effects of high-fat meals and boost the metabolism, according to a new study from Penn State. Researchers found that adding spices like turmeric, cinnamon, black pepper, rosemary, oregano, garlic powder, and paprika to your meals can significantly improve post-meal insulin and triglyceride levels.

According to researcher Sheila West:
""Normally, when you eat a high-fat meal, you end up with high levels of triglycerides, a type of fat, in your blood... If this happens too frequently, or if triglyceride levels are raised too much, your risk of heart disease is increased. We found that adding spices to a high-fat meal reduced triglyceride response by about 30 percent, compared to a similar meal with no spices added... Antioxidants like spices may be important in reducing oxidative stress and thus reducing the risk of chronic disease."
Experts say that this is further evidence that dietary antioxidants can moderate oxidative stress in humans and possibly prevent some diseases like heart disease, arthritis and diabetes. Apparently the amount of spices used in the study provided the same amount of antioxidants as 5 ounces of red wine or one and a half ounces of dark chocolate (high cacao content).

We say: We love every spice listed in this report. Plus we drink LOTS of red wine and consume lots of dark chocolate. Of course, we also eat tons of red meat and fried fish so things probably even out... :)

Learn some mo': Antioxidant spices reduce negative effects of high-fat meal

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Best Place to Retire: Las Vegas's Sun City Anthem Community

A popular high-end retirement community in southern Las Vegas -- Sun City Anthem -- has been ranked as one of the best places to retire by Vegas has several nice retirement communities but Sun City Anthem is the most luxurious in the United States, according to the website.

Ageing baby boomers are hitting their retirement years and many choose to relocate to a warm, sunny, and fun place... making Southern Nevada and Las Vegas a popular destination. Sun City Anthem was able to beat out other popular "warm weather" communities in California, Arizona, and Florida.

According to the editors of, Sun City Anthem -- with over 7000 homes currently -- is "amenity rich" with 3 clubhouses and an incredible 36-hole golf course. It also features a nice variety of local dining and entertainment options for residents in the Henderson, Nevada area. And of course there are almost endless entertainment and eating options on the Las Vegas Strip, in the Downtown Vegas casinos, and in the dozens of off-Strip casinos and hotels around the city.

We say: If you're over 55 and retiring, get your but to Las Vegas. Our casinos, hotels, and businesses need your hard-earned life savings to stay afloat! :)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Very Low Interest Rates / Cheap Loans Until 2013 Boosts Stock Market

The US Federal Reserve announced today that Americans can enjoy at least 2 more years of low interest rates -- and, most likely, the cheap loans that come from them. Fed representatives said it would keep interest rates close to zero until at least mid-2013, guaranteed.

The move was an unprecedented one, designed to stop the crazy drops in stock values seen over the past 2 weeks. And it worked: Wall Street rallied within hours of the announcement and the Dow finished up nearly 430 points for the day, landing at 11,240 at the closing bell.

Most believe that promising to keep rates low shows that the Fed expects the US (and probably world) economy to remain weak for much longer than previously thought. Fundamental problems in Europe and the US have demonstrated very clearly that the Great Recession may not have totally ended at all.

We say: This is good news if you're trying to get a home loan, car loan, or pretty much any other loan. Credit will remain cheap for awhile, despite the recent downgrading of US debt. Now the trick is to find a job and/or other way to earn money so you can actually buy big-ticket items again... something that is much easier said than done right now!

Learn some mo': Stocks Soar After Fed Pledges Low Rates Into '13

Friday, August 5, 2011

Another Worldwide Recession May Be Starting

The US stock market took a huge dip on Thursday -- with the biggest 1-day drop since the 2008 crash -- and now the rest of the world's markets are following closely behind. Stock markets in London, Germany, France, Japan, China, and Hong Kong are all taking huge percentage hits.

The crazy thing is that almost every type of investment is dropping, even so-called "safe harbor" stuff like precious metals. Many experts believe that the US -- and probably the entire world -- is entering into a new recession in 2011. Some even claim that the US has already been in a recession since May!

The big question now is what will happen to European and US markets in the next few days. If the sell offs continue many financial experts say governments may have to take some type of emergency response to keep the global economy from diving headfirst into a depression.

Here's the good news: oil prices are dropping like a rock. Looks like it may be time to take your savings out of the bank, head to Vegas (please!), and let it all ride on the roulette table!

Learn some mo': World stock prices plunge amid 'general fear' of a new US recession, European debts

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Best Diet for Long Life? Try Mediterranean!

For years health experts have argued over which diet is really the best diet for living a longer health. A new long-term study from the Netherlands may have shown us the answer. According to researchers there, the Mediterranean Diet is the best for fighting off the effects of aging and living a long life. In fact, when combined with other healthy lifestyle habits, eating this ancient diet can add up to 15 years to your lifespan!

The study showed that men and women who exercise at least 30 minutes per day, avoid becoming obese, don't smoke, and who eat a Mediterranean style diet live significantly longer than those who don't do any of those things. Experts have long suspected that the Mediterranean diet protects people from disease and greatly improves health over the long term (especially heart health!).

So the bottom line is that if you eat a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, fish, whole grains, legumes, and olive oil -- and drink a little red wine with meals -- you could live a lot longer. More importantly, this nutrient-rich diet will improve your overall quality of life dramatically, make you feel great, and allow you to enjoy all those extra years!

Learn some mo': Lifestyle has large impact on premature mortality

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Google Buys Local Deals Aggregator "The Dealmap"

Google has made another big move in the fast-growing local deals space by purchasing The Dealmap. Company insiders say they were impressed with the things Dealmap has accomplished in a little over a year since being launched. The acquisition should enhance Google's other local deals offerings, such as the recently-launched Google Offers product.

The local daily deals business is exploding, with over 400 different online companies vying for market share. The industry is expected to generate over $6 billion in yearly gross revenue by 2015. Groupon and LivingSocial are still the biggest players but Google, Facebook, and other deep-pocketed web companies are getting into the game at a rapid pace.

The Dealmap is basically an aggregator service that pulls together current local deal offerings from several different websites. It currently has over 2 million users and its mobile app has been downloaded over a million times. It will be interesting to see how Google integrates Dealmap's platform into their own local deals offerings.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Fish Oil/DHA Supplements During Pregnancy = Stronger Baby Immune Systems

Taking fish oil supplements -- or possibly any type of DHA supplement -- during pregnancy may make your baby's immune system stronger. A new study shows that the babies of women taking fish oil/DHA supplements got sick less often and for shorter periods of time than babies of women who didn't take the healthy fat supplements.

DHA -- or docosahexaenoic acid -- is one of the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil, krill oil, and other marine supplements. Many health experts have long said that DHA supplements (and other omega 3 fat supplements) can significantly improve the health of both a baby and its mother. There is a strong connection between omega 3 fat intake and immune system boosting in humans. There is also some evidence that high omega 3 intake during and after pregnancy leads to smarter children.

Some experts believe that it's extremely important for women to eat large amounts of cold water fish and omega 3-rich seafood during pregnancy. But many doctors often urge against it because of the high levels of mercury and other toxins that are now found in most marine animals. A good fish oil or high-quality krill oil supplement may allow a women to enjoy the baby health-boosting benefits of DHA without the risks!

Learn some mo': Fish oil in pregnancy may ward off babies' colds