Catch Them Critters!

Attention! Attention! Read all about it! Zappos is being invaded by robots!

Okay, well maybe we’re not being invaded but we still have them, which is cool nonetheless. If you haven’t heard, Zappos.com is now running the new KIVA system. We are one of the first few companies in the United States to have them in our facility. For those who don’t know what KIVA is exactly, they are multiple robot units that actually bring storage shelves to a team member’s station to be filled with product. They also bring the shelves to a team member who needs to pick a product to be shipped to a customer. Based on the information you enter into the computer about the sizes and type of product you need to put away or pick, the robots bring you the appropriate shelves. Right now there are only a few employees working with them in order to make sure everything runs properly and smoothly. After about a week or so of working with the KIVA system, this is what a couple employees had to say about it:

“Our first day in KIVA was really exciting. We learned what does and doesn’t belong in the pods and which pods to use for specific items. The pods have certain areas for small and large purses/wallets, small shoes, and even designated spots for watches and hats. It makes everything so much more organized and easier to not only put away but also to pick.” – -Suzanne B.

KIVA definitely makes my job easier. It gets really hot in the warehouse and after a full day of walking back and forth between floors and pushing a cart, you’re ready to fall over. I love the KIVA robots because they do all the work. It not only helps me keep my energy, it lets me keep my same fast pace throughout the whole night.” – Beth W.

Based on the feedback from the employees and the progress of the KIVA system itself, it is believed that our receiving and shipping processes have broke new grounds in getting new products and pleasing the customers. Looks like we even deliver WOW to ourselves. This is just a glimpse of what the future will hold for us at Zappos.com. Keep checking back for more updates about the KIVA system and all the little critters.

All ready to go!

Our very own Chris M. checking out the Picking process.

The beautiful overlook of the robot village.

Aimed Exercise: Arms and Back

Exercises for your arms and back will become easier if you also focus on your shoulders, building strength and flexibility.

Without strong shoulder muscles, it can be difficult to properly execute even normal, everyday movements, let alone sports or other athletic activities. When your shoulders are flexible and strong, you’ll have an easier time with things like lifting, pushing and pulling.

Shoulder exercises should involve all of the muscles associated with your shoulders, including the anterior deltoids, the lateral deltoids, the posterior deltoids and the supraspinatus (rotary cuff). These muscles work in unison to provide your shoulders with maximum elasticity.

One of the most popular shoulder exercises is the shoulder press, which can be executed either with dumbbells or with a barbell. Hold the bar(s) so that your hands are slightly shoulder-width apart in an overhand grip. Starting with the bar(s) at chest level, push up until your arms are nearly straight overhead, then lower them slowly again to chest height.

In a variation of the shoulder press exercise, hold a barbell behind your neck, then raise the bar slowly until your arms are nearly straight, lowering again. This focuses more on the anterior deltoids and should not be attempted without a spotter.

If you’d like to focus on the lateral deltoids, you might try the upright row in your regimen of shoulder exercises. With this movement, grasp a barbell or two dumbbells in an overhand grip, with your hands approximately shoulder-width apart. Then lift your hands until they are tucked just underneath your chin, and lower slowly back to waist-height. Your wrists will flex into a “puppy dog” position on the upswing of this movement.

And finally, for your rotary cuff, this shoulder exercise can be done either lying down or standing up, using one dumbbell at a time. When lying on your side, rest your head on your bottom hand, elbow extended above your head, and separate your legs so that the top ankle is about one foot behind the bottom ankle. Hold a dumbbell even with your hip, then slowly raise it until your hand is above your head. Lower slowly. For best results, concentrate on bringing your hand slightly behind your head on the upswing.

These shoulder exercises should make your more limber and supple in other exercises, and will increase both strength and flexibility.

Kid's Fitness: Obstacle Course!

Most children love to jump, climb, run, and crawl. Combining them all together can make for a fun experience, especially when adding even more physical challenges. What I am I talking about? I’m discussing building obstacle courses for kids.

Most children love to jump, climb, run and crawl. Combining them all together can make for a fun experience, especially when adding even more physical challenges. What am I talking about? I’m discussing building obstacle courses for kids. Many obstacle courses are fairly easy to make and can provide a great deal of entertainment and exercise.

Getting some children to exercise can be a chore for parents and physical education teachers, but it doesn’t have to be. Combining exercise with fun is the best way to get those kids in shape. Who says exercise has to feel like a chore? In fact, any good exercise routine is one that is enjoyable. Enjoyment brings the likelihood of repeating the exercise often.

Designing and building obstacle courses may sound hard, but it really isn’t (unless you’re talking about large gym equipment, which isn’t always necessary). Instead, gathering a few fun items and combining them to make a fun obstacle course is a more practical way of doing this. This physical activity can be done at home or at school. A little bonus to this activity is that the parent or teacher who sets up the activity will get a small workout in doing so. Let the kids help and they get even more physical movement added to their day.

Some things I would suggest for building obstacle courses for kids are tires (without the rims), cones, hula hoop stations, jump rope stations, a basketball hoop, hopscotch and maybe some hurdles. The items can vary, depending on ages and fitness level, but the basic idea is to create a variety of activities that the children have to perform in a row in order to complete the obstacle course.

Smaller kids could simply run back and forth through cones. The next age group could do the cones, as well as the tires, and perhaps the hula hoops or jump ropes. Basically, as the age group grows, so should the intensity of the obstacle courses you are building. Make sure to keep in mind not only the age group, but the physical fitness levels of the kids.

As with any physical activity, it is important to follow safety rules when utilizing these obstacle courses. Other than that, the only warning I would give is to parents and teachers: be careful, because kids might request this one often.

Best Hiking: Shenandoah National Park

This trail is great even if you have no interest in seeing President Hoover’s summer house.

We loved a couple of hikes in Shenandoah National Park in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. The entire area is spectacular. One hike was once called Camp Hoover Trail. It is now known as Rapidan Camp Trail.

There are three trails: Rapiden Camp via Mill and Laurel Prongs (The Appalachian Trail) which is a 7.4-mile, somewhat difficult loop with streams and cascades; Rapiden Camp via Rapiden Fire Road, which is 12 miles round trip on a dusty road that is closed to public vehicles, and the third: Rapiden Camp via Mill Prong Trail. (Trail maps are available once you arrive.)

The trail we took is four miles round trip. It isn’t a loop, but an in and out. There are markers on the road. Rapiden Camp is at mile marker 53, where you’ll find the trail head. Note that the sign says Rapiden Camp-Laurel Prong-Hazeltop Loop. You’ll park at the Milan Gap parking lot.

Our guidebook called our hike and the 7.4 hike “strenuous.” Another paper calls this hike “moderate.” This one really depends on your ability and experience. It was steep in places, moderate in others, woodsy in much of the area and, because it was raining when we were there, the narrow trail was muddy.

Shenandoah National Park, like many others, has bears. They are black (or brown) and usually don’t attack unless provoked or if you come between a mom and her cubs. Although we didn’t see any, one guy told us he did as he made his way down. We saw bear droppings and were told by the ranger who lives on the property that the creatures do roam about. In fact he showed us another giveaway: tree bark chewed by a bear looking for bugs. Oh Dear.

You’ll pass a catch-and-release pond and two stream crossings. You’ll see some small but pretty cascades along the way. Since it had been and still was raining, this was a bit of a challenge. We got there just by chance for a 2 p.m. tour and talk. The Prime Minister’s Cabin is open to the public, but Rapiden Camp was the summer retreat of President Hoover. His house is called the Brown House; you will not be able to enter without a ranger. It’s worth it!

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Vacations Spots for Skaters: Philly!!!

Learn all about skateparks, events and shops to visit while touring the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia.

Philadelphia is known for its history, its sports and now its X-sports. If you are a skateboarder and are looking for a destination vacation, then consider Philadelphia. After seeing the normal tourist attractions that this city has to offer, you can grind some concrete at one of the many city skateparks or take part in one of the many annual events.

Skateparks in Philadelphia

When you travel to Philadelphia don’t forget to bring your skateboard and gear . This city has several great parks including an X-Game park located in the Franklin Mall. In addition to the X Games Skate Park, you will also find the United Skate Park of Philadelphia at the Franklin Mall, located at 1455 Franklin Mills Circle, Suite 100. Your other Skatepark options include the Title 10 Skatepark, located at 901 N. Delaware Avenue; the Whitehall Skatepark, located at 5000 Tulip Street; and the Woodward Skatepark, located at 1943 Franklin Mills Circle.

Philadelphia Skate Events

Philadelphia has been slated as one of the best skateboarder vacation destinations since the turn of the century when the city hosted the X-Games. Now the city is home to several annual skateboard-friendly events. For example, to kick off the summer you can participate in the Go Skateboarding Day events. If you are looking for the best time of year to visit Philadelphia then think about the fall. November in particular is a great month for Philadelphia skateboard events. During this month you can participate in events like the Boom Boom Huck Jam or the Philadelphia International Championship Down Hill Race

Philadelphia Skate Shops

If shopping is your thing then Philadelphia will not disappoint. You will find the best selection of board shops around the city’s skatepark. Some of your options include:

▪ Elite Sports, Inc., 611 South Street, Philadelphia, PA
▪ Subzero, 520 S. 5th Street, Philadelphia, PA
▪ Bainbridge Skateboard Shop, 700 S. 6th Street, Philadelphia, PA
▪ Nocturnal Skate Shop, 610 S. 3rd Street, Philadelphia, PA
▪ Slave Skateboard Shop, 3601 Lancaster Avenue, Philadelphia, PA
▪ Exit Skate Shop, 440 E. Grand Avenue, Philadelphia, PA
▪ Spectrum Board Shop, 24 W. Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore, PA

Most Popular Distance Runs: Peachtree 10k

Billed as the largest 10k race in the world, the 39th annual Atlanta Journal-Constitution Peachtree 10k Race will be run on July 4th this year in Atlanta, Georgia. Like every year, around 55,000 people are expected to show up to run the 10k and, with a new finish line, it should be an interesting race. Every year, the Peachtree 10k has to turn away almost 20,000 race applicants as the popular race can only handle 55,000 people.

The Peachtree is a 6.2 mile (10,000 meter) race, which starts on Peachtree Street and, this year, finishes at the intersection of Juniper and Ponce de Leon. The race has always finished in Piedmont Park but because of Georgia’s drought situation, the city has banned large gatherings of people in the park as they say it’s too damaging to the grass and would take too much water to fix the problem after the event.

Within the race, the Peachtree 10k race also hosts the USA Men’s 10k Championship and names America’s fastest 10k runner that day. The race also includes a wheelchair division with more than 100 participants running in a wheelchair. The fastest wheelchair runner, Saul Mendoza, completed the race in just over 19 minutes, an amazing time for someone in a wheelchair. On the same day, there will also be a satellite race in Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait with about 3,000 people (mainly soldiers) running in these three countries.

The fastest runners ever to run the race in both the men’s and women’s divisions are both from Kenya and it’s likely this will be the case again this year. The race t-shirts are very popular every year as only a limited amount are printed and they’re only given out to people who finish the race. In past years, the designs have been beautiful, and they’re an added motivator for people to finish the race as it gives them a status symbol only available to a limited number of people every year.

Entrance fee is $28, but as all the 55,000 race numbers have already been distributed, if you don’t have yours already this year, you’ll have to wait to sign up until next year’s race. But head down to Atlanta, Georgia and watch the race. More than 150,000 spectators show up every year to cheer on the runners and create an Independence Day party atmosphere of their own.

Britney's Encore VMA Performance, Paris Hilton Keeps Her Promise, Nicole Ritchie's Cookbook and Cameron Engagement Rumors

Could Britney Spears be getting ready to perform at this year’s MTV Video Music Awards despite her disastrous performance last year? It’s sure looking that way. Rumor has it that producers from MTV are saying that they would definitely give Britney a chance to redeem herself. Of course this is after Britney’s songs are getting considerable radio play (not to mention the fact that her VMA performance brought in over seven million viewers for MTV last time). I know I’d definitely watch if she gave it another go.

Madonna and Guy Ritchie may indeed be heading towards divorce, but that doesn’t mean that they’re totally against reconciliation. The Sun is reporting that Guy is willing to do whatever it takes to save his marriage and keep his children’s family intact. Of course there are rumors that the whole reason for the split, besides the requisite “we grew apart” thing is that Guy didn’t want anything to do with the Madonna’s trendy religion, Kaballah, anymore.

And it looks like Paris Hilton finally made good on her promise to be a better person after completing her highly-publicized prison sentence last year. Paris donated a “very generous” but undisclosed sum of money to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Paris’ donation will be geared towards the construction of a brand new Center for Cancer and Blood Diseases. Way to go, Paris!

Speaking of Paris Hilton, guess which celeb supposedly has expressed a desire to pen her own cookbook? Why none other than Paris’ BFF, Nicole Richie! It seems that since settling down with her rumored fiancé, Joel Madden, and daughter, Harlow, Nicole has developed her domestic side and wants to share her recipes with the world. All this from a girl who didn’t eat at all for almost a year.

Cameron Diaz was seen sporting a very large and glittery ring on her ring finger after leaving popular hot-spot Nobu last week. Could it be that her relationship with model Paul Sculfor is more than a passing fling and that they could really be getting serious? Now we’ll have to watch and see who makes it down the aisle first – Justin Timberlake or Cameron Diaz.