UO Gifts for Him (Under $50)

We often forget about the boys when it comes to fashion and accessories. The majority of the fashion industry focuses on what women should wear. Well, the holidays are approaching and it's time to show some appreciation to the forgotten fashion demographic. Urbanoutfitters.com should be your first stop. Their selection of men's shoes, fashion and accessories is never lacking. (And it never hurts for the girls to browse there for themselves. You might come across the perfect boyfriend blazer or cardigan.)

1. Musette Backpack $28.00 Bags should be classic, understated. And what's more classic than green surplus army canvas? This bag is best for boys on the go.
2. Ceramic Deli Coffee Cup $14.00 This sturdy ceramic cup is the perfect replacement to disposable coffee cups. It's kitschy and clever and mimics the iconic New York Deli cup. This gift is great for the eco-friendly boys in your life.
3. Marled Porkpie $28.00 This classic American porkpie hat in marled tweed is the perfect addition to any wardrobe. It's an interesting alternative to the baseball cap. And the feather adds subtle flair.
4. BDG School Colors Cardigan $49.00 This cardigan is available in several color combinations (Creme/Navy, Burgundy/Black, Black/White, Heather Gray/Black, Hunter Green/Creme, Red/White). You can pick your favorite color combinations or coordinate with actual school colors.
5. USB Fridge $32.00 This gift is for the tech saavy boys in your life. All you have to do is plug the miniature vintage-style icebox into your computer's USB port and within minutes your drink will be cold. The icebox fits a standard size can.


Sabathia the Great....I'll explain

Every year around this time, Major League Baseball (MLB) general managers and owners throw around enough cash to jump-start the Dow Jones. Lets be clear, I am not predicting a turn around from our recession right now, that is NOT what I am doing! I'm just going to play devils advocate and present a way the richer spending some of their hard earned time and money on well...... the rich, can help the not so rich.

Confused about that last sentence? We all are, but bear with me...

In an economic time that is being compared to the Great Depression of the 1930's; C.C. Sabathia, the strong left-handed pitcher is going to receive the largest contract any pitcher has ever seen in baseball. It seems to be a four-team race for this years hot-commodity on the free agent market; the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants and the Milwaukee Brewers are all in for C.C.

The poker match is being ran by the Yankees, who like always have the big stack at the table, and aren't afraid to use it. But the Dodgers and Giants have location on their side, C.C. likes the west coast, and nobody can forget the success Sabathia had in Milwaukee last season. The 260 lb. lefty dominated the National League (NL) with an 11-2 record and single handedly dragged his dead and lifeless team on his back into the playoffs.

He is one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball and he is going to get paid like it. The Yankees have already made a 6 year, $140 million offer to Sabathia and he will deserves every penny he gets.

Not because... get ready brace for this...

Not because he is such a dominant pitcher, but because it is star players like him, that allow baseball organizations and the communities around them to thrive so much. C.C. Sabathia is a pitcher capable of putting fans in the seats at any stadium around the country. Not only will he energize any fan base he is sent to, but he might energize their local economy as well.

Wait a second, What?

Yes, when fans are excited about a team, they buy apparel, tickets and concessions. All of these items need to be sold, and in order for them to be sold, someone has to sell them. Increased sales lead to the employment of vendors, salesman, parking attendants, security guards, advertisers and much more. All these jobs can greatly help stimulate a local economy, because when people are making money, there spending it too, and that's what this economy needs.

Increase Your Metabolism!

I knew it was possible to increase your metabolism, but after some more research I realized that you can actually increase it by a significant amount! I thought just eating smaller meals more often would speed it up by a small amount. However, there are more ways than just eating smaller amounts more often throughout the day to speed up your metabolism even more.

...and you don't have to understand any complicated diagrams to know how to relatively control your metabolism.

A slow metabolism means the food you are eating gets converted into calories slower, therefore forcing your body to store the food as fat instead of using for energy. Getting older is the main cause of a slowing metabolism, but there are many other factors: Skipping meals, extreme fasting, lack of physical exercise, excessive dieting, bad sleeping habits and eating too many foods with too many sugars.

Now for some ways to increase your metabolism! I was most surprised by the statistic below:
Increasing your lean muscle mass is the single most significant thing you can do for your metabolism. Muscle burns calories up to 90% faster than fat! That is an incredible difference.

Most people know that metabolic rates increase during exercise, however did you know that it stays up for several hours after the fact? Things like taking the stairs and parking further away in the parking lot are little ways to help keep yourself moving during your daily routine.

Eat more often, and never skip your meals. Your body will go into 'starvation mode' if you skip a meal and store the calories as fat. This takes less energy than keeping up your metabolic rate. This also happens because your body is trying to preserve itself and have food for later when it 'thinks' you are going to be starving still. In the above link, Tom Venuto talks about starvation mode in his blog.

Drinking lots of water encourages your body to burn instead of storing calories. So that your liver focuses on metabolism instead of water retention, make sure to stay hydrated. There are many different hypotheses about how much water intake you need per day. An article from CNN.com explains one way to figure out how much water you should be drinking and cautions about certain complications due to dehydration. Snopes.com is a site which addresses rumors, one of them being the "drink eight glasses of water per day." Drinking the appropriate amount of water can apparently also affect your chances of getting colon or breast cancer!

Eating certain kinds of foods can also increase your metabolic rate.

So for any weight and health conscious people out there, here is one more aspect of your health which you can learn to control...at least relatively!

If you are interested in the science of metabolism at all, Steve here can explain it in pretty simple terms:

ATP=ENERGY (some of that highschool AP Bio knowledge actually comes in handy!)


Black Friday bargains already??

The day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday, is probably the most popular shopping holiday of the entire year. The deals you can find on Black Friday are amazing, and people go crazy, waking up at 3 a.m. to get to the stores as early as possible to get the best deals on the hottest items of the season.

Because of the economic crisis currently affecting our country, this year retailers are beginning sales early in order to motivate shoppers with tight wallets. It seems as if technology and electronics will be hot items this year. I saw this in an article from Yahoo.com regarding sales currently happening at retailers across the country:

Wal Mart - Starting Nov. 8, the retail giant has been featuring in store specials starting at 8 a.m. These include specials on laptops, Walkmans, digital cameras and HDTVs.
Kmart - Kmart also has special deals happening right now, including sales on Wii fitness and HDTV's.
Circuit City - Because of this retailer's recent money losses and store closings, there might be even more deals here this year. Sales happening right now include marked down prices on BluRay players and more.

Before you head out on Black Friday, be sure to check out the deals first and find the store nearest you with the best sales. Check out Blackfriday.info, TheBlackFriday.com and BFads.net to find lists of special deals on specific items from stores such as Target, Best Buy, Toys R Us, Dicks, Macys, Kmart, Kohls and many more. Ads and deals are updated daily, so be sure to plan ahead before you head out on your deal-hunting Black Friday shopping spree.


This is Music News

Hello everyone and welcome to Monday. Another week has gone by, and a whole lot has gone down in the music world. Some of it was cool, and some of it was lame; but most of it was just weird. In other words, it was just like every other week in entertainment.
Well I'm even boring myself now. Let's get to it.

The biggest story in music this week was the news that a Paula Abdul superfan committed suicide right outside the pop singer's home. Paula Goodspeed, who auditioned for and was featured on American Idol in 2005, died of an apparent drug overdose. She had been accused of stalking Abdul in the past, changing her name to Paula to match the American Idol judge. Godspeed was heavily ridiculed during her audition, which aired on national television. The show is being criticized now for humiliating some psychologically unstable contestants.
I would make a joke about Paula Abdul not having any fans left, but that would be inappropriate.

In completely and totally unrelated news, a poll conducted by Rolling Stone magazine has named Aretha Franklin the greatest singer of all time. Ray Charles came in second, followed by Elvis Presley, Sam Cooke, and John Lennon.
I don't really want to get into this, folks, because I could go on forever, but BOB DYLAN RANKED IN AT 7!!!!!! That can't be right. Don't get me wrong, Dylan is the greatest individual songwriter in all of history, but singer? No. Bob Dylan is not a better singer than Freddie Mercury, Paul McCartney, Tom Waits, or countless others. Oh yeah, and how did Janis Joplin miss out on the top five? One could argue for Aretha, but Janis should be at least number 2. She didn't even make the top 25!
I'm done with it.

This might cheer you up. Ray Davies says the Kinks are writing new material for a possible reunion! You know I hate reunions, but it's tha Kinks. I'm trying to keep my hopes low for now, since Dave Davies still says he wants nothing to do with it. If he's on board, though, so am I. You'll hear more as I do.

Kanye West is still beating up paparazzi, this time in England. He did get arrested after this one, but was released without charge shortly after. I don't like Kanye or paparazzi, but I'll consider this one a win.

Now for the weekly obits. I'm warning you, the following sucks.
Mitch Mitchell, legendary drummer for the Jimi Hendrix Experience, was found dead Wednesday morning. He was 62. So far theyre chalking it up to natural causes.
Jimmy Carl Black, drummer for Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention, died Saturday of cancer.
I guess it was a bad week to be a great drummer.

Michael Jackson gave up his Neverland Ranch, blah blah blah. He gave the deed to a company he partly owns. What a giver. I couldn't once make the sacrifices he makes every day.
I'm sick of him, really. Unless he's becomes the first man on Mars or singlehandedly solves the world's econimic crisis, I don't want to hear about him anymore. Ever.

It looks like the Grateful Dead frontman Jerry Garcia is finally going to get his own biopic. The film doesn't have a cast listed yet, but I'm crossing my fingers for Leo.

Ladies and gentlemen, I've saved the very best for last. Paul McCartney is trying to drop a 14 minute long track the Beatles recorded in 1967 but never released. That's right, a new song from the '67 Beatles, and it's epic. All he needs is permission from Ringo, Yoko, and George Harrison's widow.
If this happens, I'll take back everything I ever said about Yoko. I promise.

Until next time, Barcelona!


Healthy Eating for the Holidays

Thanksgiving is just around the bend! The smell of turkey roasting, stuffing cooking, yams sizzling, grandma's apple pie sitting on the table, just begging to be eaten. Yes. This is what I have waited for all year...not to mention all 47 of my crazy cousins will be running around, the 14 aunts and uncles catching up and grandpa making the babies cry.

With such a big family, its only natural to have bountiful food during this holiday time. But even small families celebrate Thanksgiving with all kinds of delicious entrées. It's difficult to control yourself and not over eat! But the end of the year is a time to be especially watchful as to what and how much you are consuming. Halloween just ended and everyone is filled up with candy and here comes the feast!

Some tips for controlling yourself during the holiday season, are:
1. Use a smaller plate! If your dish is smaller, you can't get fit as much food. But don't resort to going up for thirds and fourths because of this! Research studies at Cornell University help to prove this actually works.
2. If you absolutely have to have more, allow yourself only seconds...and only seconds of your absolute favorites. Don't bother filling up on foods you don't even enjoy as much!
3. Eat slowly! For several reasons: You won't eat as much, you will be less stressed, have better digestion, among other proven facts.
4. Desserts don't have to be "off-limits." Eating healthy for the whole day, may actually mean a dessert is in your near future! And there are plenty of healthy Thanksgiving recipes out there.
5. Just don't hang out around the food all day! Go sit and talk to everyone in another room before and after the meal, away from the food and resist the temptation altogether.

Before we know it, Christmas will be here and it will be a feast all over again! Don't forget all these tips and follow through with them on Christmas Eve and Christmas, too!


Save big on spring break

The weather is getting colder, the fall semester is coming to a close and final papers and projects are starting to pile up. While you're not cracking the books, you may be thinking about an awesome spring break destination.
Although there's still a while until spring break, the earlier you plan your vacation getaway, the cheaper it will be. Sprink break is a peak travel season, so the best deals go fast. If you wait until the last minute to book your trip, there will be limited space available and inflated prices.
When thinking about where your destination will be, there are some things to consider.
The top Spring Break destinations include:
  • Cancun
  • Acapulco
  • Florida (Miami, Fort Lauderdale, etc.)
  • Ski resorts (such as Aspen, Whistler and Jackson Hole in Colorado)
  • Jamaica

Check out travel Web sites such as Travelocity, Hotwire, Expedia, Priceline and Orbitz to find the best deal for your destination. Many companies offer special discounts for college students, so be sure to keep an eye out when choosing a travel company. But beware of travel scams, if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
When searching these sites, be sure to look at all inclusive packages, which usually include airfare, hotel, food and sometimes even activities and other deals. Although these may look more expensive, in the long run you will save loads of money and won't have to deal with as many surprise expenses, as everything is planned and booked for you. If you decide to travel abroad, be sure to look at hostel options, these are cheap alternatives to hotels.

If you are a little strapped for cash this spring break, or are just looking for a fun alternative, consider these less expensive options:

  • Road Trip - Although gas prices are on the rise, this is still a cost effective alternative. If you get a car full of friends together, and split the cost of gas (and the driving) it will be cheaper in the long run. You can try and pile your whole crew in one or two inexpensive hotel or motel rooms along the way, or even stay with friends or family if you happen to be driving through their area. Be sure to plan ahead to see all the memorable roadside attractions.
  • Camping - Of course, this is only an option of you live somewhere that is warm all year long, or if you are willing to drive to some place that is. If you're the outdoors-y type, this is a great option. You and a group of friends can either all chip in to rent a cabin, or all split the cost of a campsite. Find some options here and here.
  • Staycation - If you're not up for a long road trip, you can always look to see what attractions are around your area. You might be surprised at what you find. Day trips are just as fun and less expensive than conventional road trips.
  • Volunteer - A growing trend is to relax over Spring Break and make a difference at the same time. Check out i-to-i for international volunteer activities. Check out Habitat for Humanity, The Red Cross, or Volunteer Match for other volunteer activities in your area.

Whatever destination you decide on, be sure to be smart with your money, find the best deals and have fun.


The NFL is Getting "Wild"

Since week 3 of the National Football League (NFL) season when the Miami Dolphins blew out the defending American Football Conference (AFC) champion New England Patriots; the "Wildcat" offense that was so successful for the Dolphins has spread to other teams all over the NFL. The Wildcat offense is now getting more calls than Young Jeezy's hit track "I Put On" at the introduction of NFL games. And if you don't get my analogy trust me, that's a lot of play.

In the past two weeks the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles have scored touchdowns and many other teams including the Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns have implemented plays from the formation into their playbook. None have had the success that Miami has had; the Dolphins have scored 12 touchdowns since they have started using the Wildcat, and have an 5-2 record after their 0-2 start.

The Wildcat formation is defined by having a position player other than the quarterback line up under center and take the snap. From there the possibilities are seemingly endless, we have quarterbacks catching touchdown passes, runningbacks throwing them, and receivers doing, well who knows? As Vince Lombardi would say in his oh-so-overused sound bite, "What the hell is going on out here!"
Well the Wildcat offense's roots come back from even before the days of the constantly annoyed former Green Bay Packers coach. When football first started being played back in the leatherhead days, (no offense George Clooney, but your performance in "Leatherheads" was comparable to Bernie Mac's in Mr. 3000) what is now called the Wildcat formation was the norm. The best athlete on the team took the ball directly from the center and was the primary playmaker.

In today's more sophisticated defenses, its only a matter of time until they figure out a way slow down this formation that is taking the league by storm. But don't tell the Ronnie Brown and the Miami Dolphins that, they scored two more touchdowns from that formation this week, and have won three straight games for the first time since 2003.


Wii Fitness

I personally never had a Nintendo, nor any other form of gaming system. As a child I felt pretty deprived...and when I came to college and had still yet to play a video game. It goes without saying that I got some laughs. But most people have grown up with said systems. And most people have heard their parents yell at them countless times to go outside and do something more productive and active. Well, perhaps now with the Wii parents will start telling us to calm down so we don't bust the TV screen!

While some people have lost weight due to the Wii hand held device, the newest model is promising even greater benefits.
The Wii Fit offers skiing, tennis, golf, yoga, soccer, and even hula hooping. Yes. Hula hooping--the next Olympic sport? I wouldn't be surprised.
All of this is possible through the Wii Fit balance board. You simply stand, or position yourself, on this platform and perform the moves dictated to you. It can't get any simpler! All of the exercises are based on four different fitness categories: Aerobic exercises, balance games, muscle conditioning and yoga poses.

At least with the Wii Fit we don't need to worry about breaking any TVs! And it provides the convenience of exercising inside during the coming colder months!

I can't imagine what they are going to come out with next.


Clip coupons, cut costs

So the other day I was walking through my local grocery store, and I couldn't believe how high the cost of food is. I don't live on campus, so I don't have the luxury of a meal plan or dining hall within walking distance. Besides bills and gas, each month a majority of my money goes toward groceries. Having a dining hall close by and not having to cook my own food are definately things I miss about living on campus. But I try to only buy things that are on sale or I try to go to a discount food store (like Aldi's). But sometimes it's difficult, not to mention time consuming, to find items that are on sale in the store.
And this is when I had an epiphany. My mom cuts coupons like its her job. Clipping coupons from the Sunday paper is the most exciting event of her week. But unfortunately, I don't have access to a Sunday newspaper, unless I buy it (which is just spending more money). Lo and behold, there are tons of coupon sites online, where you can go to print out coupons for major food brands and grocery stores. Some even feature coupons specifically for online shopping, and find the best deals on the web. Here are some of the better ones I've found:
  • Cool Savings -- This site is great. It has coupons for pretty much anything you're looking for, including grocery coupons, pet coupons, rebate opportunities, health and beauty offers, travel offers, and clothing and accessory sales. You can choose to print out the coupons, or you can use certain coupons and offers at online stores. The only downside? You have to register to see all the coupons and offers available.
  • CouponMom -- Features coupons for food and restaurants, as well as free samples and free offers. Users can print out or use coupons for online stores.
  • Coupons.com -- This site features coupons for groceries, entertainment, personal care, pet care and restaurants among other things. Coupons can either be printed out or used online. You can even enter your zip code to see special deals in your area. As you check the coupons you want to print, you can see the amount you are saving added up in the left hand corner. To print, you do have to install a special coupon printer on your computer, but the site ensures there is no third party, adware or spyware within this program.
Another great tool I found is GroceryGuide. All you do is enter your zip code, and then select up to two grocery stores in your area to compare prices and see sales at each. This really saves you the time of driving all around town to get the best deals. You can see all the best deals online for free.
Utilizing coupons, whether you cut them the traditional way, or use printable ones from online, is quick easy, and can save you tons of money in the long run.


Nusic Mews!

Well, people, the election is taking up all of the good news this week. Don't worry though, there's still a bit to report, and not all of it is bad!

More important than anything else this week was the news that The Beatles will finally have their own video game. Digital Beatles music has been extremely scarce since computers were invented, so it's nice to see their library expand. Even better is the news that Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko , and George's wife Olivia will all be personally involved with the game's vision. All the music will come from the original master recordings, and (original Beatles' producer) George Martin's son Giles will be producing it. I'm excited.

Legendary record producer Phil Spector is on trial again for the murder of actress Lana Clarkson. You may remember the first trial ended with a deadlocked jury. Hopefully this one will be more conclusive.

Speaking of crazy people on trial, Michael Jackson is busy denying his involvement in the upcoming Jackson 5 reunion. Jermaine went ahead and announced his brother would be on board anyways, and now Michael has to deal with those rumors. Poor, rich Michael Jackson.

Now that we're on the issue of unappealing reunion tours, Led Zeppelin plans on touring without Jimmy Page. They're looking at the lead singer of Altered Bridge right now, a.k.a. the guy who took over for Scott Stapp when he left Creed.
This is just bad. Really bad. Led Zepp without Jimmy Page is pointless. It would be like Queen touring without Freddie Mercury.
Oh wait...

Def Jam Records' executive Shakir Stewart was found dead on Saturday. Details are very scarce at the moment, but some cite suicide as the cause. I'll fill you in more as details emerge.

But that's not the saddest news of this week. No, not by a long shot. You see, dear readers, Bono was planning on building the tallest skyscraper in all of Ireland right in the middle of Dublin ad he was going to name it the U2 Tower. It was even going to have a recording studio at the top! The credit crisis ruined his plans though. Now he'll have wait in one of his mansions or on an island cruise for 12 months until the project is picked up again. We should all keep unfortunate Bono in our prayers this week.

Here's your funny. Have a nice week.