Archive for March, 2011

March 30, 2011

The frugal student’s safe haven: Groupon.com

Gone are the days when scuba diving adventures and luxurious spa visits were outside of the poor college student’s budget, thanks to a website called Groupon.com.

Monday through Friday, Groupon puts up a coupon available for purchase. This is not just any coupon, though: it is a very high value coupon, often discounting an activity by 50% or more.

Deals offered in the past have included deals on experiences such as $35 for a whale watching tour from Big Kahuna Tours, valued at $79; or $47 for a horseback trail ride at Hawaii Polo Club in Wailua, a $95 value. That leaves almost $50 to put into the bank and save, or perhaps, spend on another Groupon.

Activity deals are not the only coupons the website offers. Every once in a while, a services are discounted tremendously as well. For example, a $495 teeth whitening treatment was on sale for only $179 in December 2010.

Students on a super tight budget tired of dining primarily on ramen noodles and cans of spam especially have reason to rejoice. With the development of Groupon, they can break out of their monotonous and sodium-laden diets without breaking their budgets. Periodically, deals on restaurants are offered as well, like in December 2010. $25 worth of eats from The Fat Greek, an infamous college student restaurant pick with delicious Greek grub, was on sale for more than half off at a modest $12.

The Fat Greek: just one of the many businesses who has offered a special bargain through Groupon.

This is only part of the $25 order from The Fat Greek which, because of Groupon, was only $12.

Keeping your eyes peeled can certainly be rewarding. Signing up for the daily e-mail subscription is an easy way to stay in the loop and keep up with the deals, which change daily.

There is an old saying that pops into mind: sounds too good to be true. How are such discounts available without it being highway robbery to the businesses involved? Well, that’s where the name comes from – Groupon, group plus coupon. A business is promised a certain amount of buyers. If that certain required number is not hit, the daily deal is canceled with no charge to the buyers.

This very reason motivates those who do want a deal to spread the word about it. Share the deal through Facebook status update, a short tweet on Twitter, or simply by word-of-mouth to help meet the minimum quota of customers to secure a deal.

Using a personalized referral link to get friends to sign up for Groupon also provides a nice incentive. For every new buyer referred through your link who makes their first purchase, you are credited $10 to spend at Groupon.com.

Many college students think it is too large of a hassle to get down to the library, load up a print card, and print the Groupon. Fear not, printerless college friends! Coupons can easily be loaded up onto a mobile application for easy digital access on an iPhone, Android, or Blackberry, or by typing the address touch.groupon.com or m.groupon.com into any mobile web browser.

Honolulu is just one of many cities Groupon covers. Since the founding of Groupon in November 2008, it has expanded to include over 500 markets in 44 countries, according to the website.

Groupon was created on the idea that humans become naturally inclined to visit places and do things that they are familiar and comfortable with. Often times, it is easier to bypass any tough new decision making and just stick to what is already known to be good. Think about it: everyone knows at least one person who has not gone scuba diving or surfing even though we all reside on an island surrounded by miles and miles of ocean. Because of this mindset–sticking with the familiar–people rarely explore the full realm of unique experiences in their city.

“By focusing on one good or service each day, Groupon makes it simple,” states the website’s “About Us” page.
The deep discounts entice people to try new things and go places they perhaps wouldn’t have otherwise.
The many markets covered also makes Groupon a fantastic money-saving tool for the frugal traveler. A vacation planned about a month or so in advance leaves plenty of time to sign up for the e-mail subscription to a travel destination, and to discover activities, restaurants and even hotels on-the-cheap.

A nifty tool worth mentioning is the “buy it for a friend” button. Nobody wants to be known as selfish Sally, and experiences become unforgettable when shared with a friend. After purchase, redemption instructions are sent to the recipient via e-mail. Alternatively, gifting Groupon credit is a quick and easy option for those last-minute gift-givers.

The craze is getting bigger and bigger. One UH Manoa student who has joined the Groupon craze is Megan Oshiro, a journalism major.
She first learned about it through a referral e-mail from a friend.

Megan Oshiro, UH Manoa Student and Groupon Customer

“They had a Nordstrom’s promotion going on. You spend $25, you get $50 worth of store credit,” says Oshiro.
She immediately wrote it off as “too good to be true.”

A while later, her cousins mentioned that they got a great price on laser hair removal through Groupon, and told Oshiro that it was an 82% discount, a deal too good to pass up.

Sure enough, after reading the restrictions and limitations, Oshiro went for and bought one for herself.

“Groupon is a free membership. I mean all you have to do is sign up for the e-mail, so you can’t lose anything. It can only benefit you,” states Oshiro.

And although it was her first purchase from Groupon, Oshiro says she would definitely recommend it to others.

“I do think that they [the coupons] have a good variety. They are offered to a wide group of people with different interests.”

“I think the only catch is kind of sitting and waiting for your deal to come by,” laughs Oshiro.

If you have yet to join Groupon, click here to sign up for your own account.

March 7, 2011

Hula Grill Proves to be an Early Morning Gem

Paniolo Omelet: avocado, ham, tomato, poblano pepper, jack cheese with chipotle salsa

Early birds searching for their most important meal of the day may want to hit up the Hula Grill in Waikiki.

Strolling down the streets of Waikiki, it is easy to become distracted by the great people-watching and miss certain shops or restaurants. Hula Grill is easy to find, situated up a flight of stairs in the back of the Outrigger Waikiki, but also easy to pass right by when distracted by the diversity of tourists. Keep your eyes peeled for the sign though; a 91% recommendation rating on TripAdvisor proves this is a restaurant worth checking out.

Our party of three had no problem being seated in under five minutes; a nice and welcomed change from the 20 minute wait times of other popular, safe and familiar mainland restaurant chains. The waiter was very pleasant and energetic, especially for the time of day that we came in, just before 7 in the morning.

This restaurant really boasts a fantastic location. The ocean-front view was excellent: turquoise water surrounding surfers, colorful beach towels and big sun umbrellas lined up on the shining white sands, the sunbathers not yet overcooked by the sun’s rays.

Instead of the typical stale syrup smell that plagues most breakfast joints, the open-air dining room allowed fresh, salty morning air to flow through.

Unfortunately, food with a beautiful view is often accompanied by a not-so-beautiful price tag. Not true in the case of Hula Grill. The breakfast menu prices range from a modest $3.50 to $11.75.

The menu wasn’t extensive – just two pages – but a wide variety of choices means there will be something to please exceedingly picky taste buds. Carb-lover who just can’t fuel up without carbs in the morning? Try the traditional buttermilk pancakes or, to truly play up the Hawaiian atmosphere, banana and mac nut pancakes. Protein-fiend? A variety of omelets can satiate the most carnivorous of cravings.

Oatmeal topped with fresh mango.
Th
e oatmeal had a fantastic texture, unlike instant oatmeal that turns to mush in your mouth.

North Shore Veggie Omelet: tomato, spinach, mushroom, zucchini, Maui onion – Couldn’t wait to dig in, the omelet had already been sliced in half by the time I got around to taking a photo of it.

The coffee was hot and fresh, the omelets, accompanied by a choice of  homestyle potatoes or rice and toast, had the perfect amount of gooey melty cheese oozing out, and the veggies inside were grilled to perfection. Combined with the fast and chipper service, reasonable prices and ease of location, what more could be asked for in a breakfast?

The Hula Grill is open Monday through Saturday 6:30am  to 10:45am for Breakfast, Sunday 9am to 2pm for Brunch, and daily 4:45pm – 10pm for dinner. Reservations can be booked over the phone or on their website.


March 2, 2011

Sweet Demise

In Hawaiʻi alone, 28,000 people wake up each day and drink their morning coffee, unaware that today they could potentially be a killer’s next victim. The killer’s name is diabetes.

Of 113,000 diabetics in Hawaiʻi, at least 28,000 are undiagnosed, according to a fact sheet released by the American Diabetes Association (ADA) Hawaiʻi. With complications like heart disease, eye disease and blindness, amputations, kidney disease, coma, and even death, cases of undiagnosed diabetes are ticking time-bombs just waiting to blow.

November marks the beginning of American Diabetes Awareness month, a reminder from the ADA to take action against the disease.

On the other hand, if the pancreas produces insulin but it is not enough, or not working properly, it is classified as type 2 diabetes. In either case, a lack of insulin intervention allows the blood glucose levels to rise to excessive levels resulting in potentially deadly consequences.

While there are symptoms of diabetes, such as excessive thirst and urination, weight loss, and tingling in the extremities, a lot of times the symptoms are completely overlooked.

“Most people I talk to say you can’t really tell (when your blood glucose levels are high),” said Dr. Anne Shovic, a professor in the Food Science and Nutrition Department at UH Mānoa.

For diagnoses, the Fasting Blood Glucose test is most commonly administered… Click here to continue reading at the Ka Leo O Hawai’i news website!

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