Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Starbucks To Offer Booze

Some Starbucks cafes will soon offer alcoholic drinks, according to a new announcement from the coffee giant. Wine and beer will be available in select locations, as will a new variety of "premium food" like hot flatbreads and small plates. The company has already been testing the idea at a location in Seattle since 2010 where it offers $5 beers (including the delicious Rogue Dead Guy Ale) and $7-$9 glasses of wine (including an Oregon Pinot Noir and an Argentine Malbec).

Starbucks says the goal is to increase the level of "relaxation" in its shops and offering alcohol after 2 p.m. is a great way to do that. According to the company's senior vice president of U.S. operations:

"As our customers transition from work to home, many are looking for a warm and inviting place to unwind and connect with the people they care about."

The good news for worried parents and soccer moms: all beer and wine bottles will be kept behind the counters and not on the outside display cases. Experts say Starbucks is desperate to differentiate itself from up-and-coming competitors like McDonald's, Dunkin' Donuts, and Panera Bread. They are also planning on launching a new chain of speciality juice shops so we'll have to wait and see if vodka screwdrivers are on the menu at those locations.

We say: This is a fantastic idea. Now we don't have to bring flasks of bourbon in our laptop bags when we go to Starbucks to work on blog posts! :)

Learn some mo': Starbucks to add beer, wine to menu at select coffee shops

Monday, January 23, 2012

10 Minute Trainer Is Hot -- Reviews Needed!

Looking for a 10 minute workout that actually works? Well it appears millions of other people are too, especially in North America. In the past three weeks "10 Minute Trainer" has become a top search phrase in Google, even appearing on their Hot Trends page a few days ago. So what's the deal? Well, it turns out 10 Minute Trainer is another one of those incredibly well-produced and well-promoted Beachbody home workout programs (P90X or Insanity anyone?) that promises a fitness model's body within a matter of weeks.

Surprisingly, this is not a new product. In fact, going by the oldest reviews on, it was first released way back in early 2008. So why the explosion in popularity online? Probably because Beachbody has been seriously ramping up its TV and web marketing efforts in the past few weeks, most likely to take advantage of the surge in interest in fast weight loss and quick fitness solutions that appears every January.

What Is It?

10 Minute Trainer is basically an ultra-efficient, super fast workout system for busy people. It combines high-intensity cardio, ab exercises, and "total body toning" strength training exercises in one short workout. It of course includes a strict eating plan that is absolutely necessary for rapid fat loss results and the DVDs also come with special rubber resistance bands to help raise the intensity/efficiency of the exercises. The videos are hosted by Beachbody fitness guru Tony Horton and they promise to help you "tone and trim" your entire body in just 10 minutes per day by using the supposedly unique "Super Stacking Technique" system.

Sound super, doesn't it??

Reviews Needed

As is often the case with Beachbody's ultra-popular home exercise products, there's not a whole lot of real information online. Most of the customer "reviews" currently available on the web were created by people who make money selling the 10 Minute Training DVD program -- often promoting it directly on the very same website. The over 100 reviews currently on Amazon are generally positive although there are a handful of negative 1 and 2-star reviews as well. Unfortunately, many of the most positive 5-star reviews appear to be fakes. There's too much similar language, too many exclamation points!!!,  and few if any other reviews from the reviewers -- all signs of less-than-genuine reviews. So we need your help...

If you've used the 10 Minute Trainer workout system please leave your own reviews, ratings, or opinions in the comments section below. Thanks! :)

We say: Ten and 15 minute workouts are nothing new and many of the best are totally free. Although we're sure the 10 Minute Trainer system has some definite benefits, especially for newbies and people who need some visual motivation from their televisions, we're also fairly confident it's a little over-priced for what it is. For $90 you could buy a couple of high-quality kettlebells and a great jumprope, which all anyone needs to get an extremely effective fast workout anytime they want! (If you don't disagree tells us why in the comments section below!)

By the way, here's the Ten Minute Trainer commercial. If you live in the US you've probably already seen it a few hundred times...

Oh, and here are some reviews from the Beachbody site!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Las Vegas One of the Rudest, Most Stressful US Cities

Here's some more good news for Las Vegas tourism: it has just been voted as being among America's rudest and most stressful cities! A new study by identified Vegas as the country's second most stressful city, right behind Tampa, FL. They base their findings on the Vegas area's high crime, horrible economy, bad traffic, crazy unemployment rate, and still-going-down home values. The city has one of the highest divorce rates in the nation and is lucky enough to have a high per capita violent crime rate.

The only "happy" thing about Vegas? Sunshine. We have the fewest cloudy days of any city surveyed. Awesome.

All that stress must be making Vegas Valley people very rude, because Travel + Leisure magazine just rated us the 12th rudest population in the US. The magazine's editors say they took into account culture, quality of life, shopping, nightlife options, trip experiences, and overall "friendliness" in making their list. They say Vegas kicks butt in the nightlife category but that people here (locals and tourists alike) don't necessarily enjoy interacting with one another very much.

Kind of surprisingly, Vegas was among the worst cities for "athletically active" people. Aren't we supposed to be one of the best cities for outdoor sports enthusiasts?? Not surprising at all, the city ranks extremely low for intelligence of the population, city pride, museums, peace, and public parks.

We say: Of course we're stressed and pissed off in Sin City! There are no jobs. Everyone's losing their house. The economy absolutely sucks. And Vegas seems to attract some of the least friendly people not just from the US but from all over the world (we're looking at you Vietnamese blackjack dealers... learn how to smile once in awhile!). Thank God for the sun...

Learn some mo': Study ranks Las Vegas as nation’s second most stressful city and Las Vegas one of America’s rudest cities

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Las Vegas New Home Sales Hit 30-Year Low

Just a few short years ago Las Vegas had one of the hottest housing markets in the United States. In the world even! But in 2011 it's home-building industry was one of the coldest, falling to a 30-year low. New home sales topped out at just under 3,900 -- a fraction of the 2005 number of nearly 39,000.

According to Dennis Smith, president of Home Builders Research Inc:
“2011 was the most difficult year the [Las Vegas] home building industry has ever been through."
He said it was the worst he's seen since he started tracking the Vegas market in 1987. In fact, it only barely beat the 1982 new homes figure of 3600. Maybe the scariest thing is that the Las Vegas Valley now has about 4 times more people than it did in '82.

The Vegas economy continues to be mired in high unemployment and huge number of "underwater" mortgages/foreclosures. The only bright spot is that Las Vegas houses have become incredibly cheap to buy! Many economists expect the Vegas economy to pick up slight in 2012 and continue to gain momentum into 2013 but there will almost certainly be no rapid, dramatic recovery for Sin City!

We say: Vegas needs jobs. That's all there is to it. Until our "brilliant" local business leaders and politicians figure out a way to bring new industries and decent-paying jobs into this city not much is going to change.

Learn some mo': Las Vegas new home sales hit 30-year low in 2011

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Natural Antidepressant: Vitamin D?

Vitamin D may be one of the best natural antidepressants, according to a new study. Researchers from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center found that people with low levels of the "sunshine" vitamin were much more likely to experience symptoms of depression compared to those with high levels. Experts say it backs up past research showing that vitamin D is an ultra-important brain booster.

It's not clear how or why exactly vitamin D has such a strong effect on mood. Scientists do know however that the human brain is full of special vitamin D receptors, so it's obviously an important nutrient for brain and mental health. The Institute of Medicine has recently raised its recommendations for vitamin D to 600 IUs for people under 70 and 800 for people over.

According to Dr. E. Sherwood Brown, a top researcher in the Texas study:
“[These findings] add depression to the spectrum of medical illnesses associated with low vitamin D, and people with depression probably should consider a blood test to see if their vitamin D is low and whether supplements may be needed."
But he warns that vitamin D may not be a "cure" for depression. It certainly can't hurt to make sure your "D" levels are high enough!

Learn some mo': Low Levels of Vitamin D May Be Linked to Depression

Monday, January 9, 2012

Best Diets of 2012 Chosen by U.S. News & World Report

According to a new report from U.S. News & World Report the best weight loss diet for 2012 is the Weight Watchers diet. The next best is the "Biggest Loser" diet followed up by the Jenny Craig diet plan. According to the people who put the report together, data shows that Weight Watchers dieters have the most success with both short term weight loss and long term weight loss/weight maintenance. They also say that Weight Watchers is one of the easier diets to follow, making it more likely that a client will stick to the plan over time.

The Jenny Craig program, another top commercial diet plan, can be effective but, according to researchers, relies too much on pre-packaged meals and is significantly more expensive than other options. It's interesting to note that, not very long ago, research from the Journal of the American Medical Association as well as ratings from Consumer Reports magazine showed Jenny Craig to be the best weight loss diet on the market.

The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet was chosen has the best overall diet for 2012, for the 2nd time in two years. The Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) diet and the Mayo Clinic diet took the 2nd and 3rd spots in that category. The rankings were created by a panel of 22 diet, nutrition, obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and "food psychology" experts who voted on things like how easy a diet is to follow, nutritional completeness, safety, and a diet's ability to produce short-term and long-term weight loss results.

We say: US News & World Report has already shown their love for both Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig in the past. Could it be that they're being paid off by these billion-dollar diet companies? We'd give it 50/50 odds that that could be the case!

Learn some mo': Best Diets of 2012 -- New Rankings

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Las Vegas Constables Get Embarrassing

Most Las Vegas residents who have had to deal with local constables already know that these "half-cops" aren't the most professional people in the world. They foreclose homes, serve legal papers, and even pull drivers over on the road (even though they're not really supposed to!). But now a new video recently posted on Youtube shows the Vegas constables office is actually much worse than we thought:


Constable offices from surrounding cities -- including North Las Vegas, Henderson, and Boulder City -- are already doing their best to distance themselves from this fiasco. They've addressed their concerns to the Clark County Commission, with one Henderson constable even saying this:
 "For the past 12 years, we’ve cleaned up the professionalism of the office... That, I’ll be honest, has been destroyed in the last 12 months."  
Las Vegas Metro Police have their own, more serious, problems to deal with. The fact that the city constables are basically acting like jackasses embarasses the entire city of Las Vegas. Thanks guys, just what we need right now!

 Learn some mo': Constables say system ‘out of control’