Thursday, December 18, 2014

Best Songs of 2014

It is time once again for the annual Best Songs of the Year!  This year, was different because I did not closely follow music as I have done in previous years, in fact I tried to avoid music for the most part.  Despite this, I still managed to find some good songs to share throughout the year.  Enjoy!

1. Bad Lip Reading - Carl Poppa
Bad Lip Reading is a Youtube channel known for voice dubbing over popular music videos, tv shows, movies, and sports. They are also incredibly talented at making original music as heard in this video where they make an original song to some clips from the show Walking Dead.  BLR knows how to make a catchy hit song that could easily top the pop charts.  They have many other great songs as well including this other song released for the Hunger Games movie.

2. Violent Soho - Saramona Said
Here is a band out of Australia that has sort of that 90's alternative rock sound.  They had a few big hits this year with the songs Covered in Chrome and this one here Saramona Said. It also has a great video featuring the "one continuous shot" style.  If you like bands like Weezer, Nirvana, or Pixies, definitely check this one out!

3. Duck Sauce - NRG
A high energy electronic pop song comes in at number 3 this year with NRG by Duck Sauce.  It has kind of a timeless pop likeability similar to Junior Senior's Move Your Feet.  The original song is great and there is also a good remix of the song here in collaboration with Skrillex, Kill the Noise, and Milo & Otis.  This video features Phil Villeneuve as he dances through the streets listening to the song. 

 4. 311 - Five of Everything
311 has been around for a long time and was one of my original favorite bands.  This year they came out with a new album "Stereolithic" which has been positively received my many of the the long time fans.  This single off the album captures the classic 311 sound many have been missing for so long.

5. Gregory and the Hawk - Heart Attack
Meredith from Gregory and the Hawk is a singer/songwriter/musician who has been making beautiful songs for many years.  This year she released and album "A Selection of Demos".  They might be demos, but this song "Heart Attack" was good enough to make it onto the best songs of the year list! 

6. Meghan Tonjes - Don't Call Me Love
Meghan Tonjes is a Youtuber who is also a great singer/songwriter.  Here is an original acoustic song called Don't Call Me Love.  She has a lot of other great original songs as well as cover songs here on here Youtube channel.

7. Dave and Ethan - Youtube Comment Song
Here is a song from the funny Youtube duo of Dave and Ethan.  It is a song they made inspired by the comments they received on their videos. The topic and lyrics are silly but the song is actually very catchy and they are pretty good at singing too! 

Hope you enjoyed the best songs of 2014!  Feel free to leave a comment below if you found a good song here or if you had another favorite song from 2014.

Also check out the Best Songs of 2013

Friday, December 12, 2014

Peapod Review - Online Grocery Delivery and Pick Up

Peapod is a service that lets you pick out groceries online and then have them delivered to your door. They also have an option where they do the shopping for you and you just have to pick up your order to save time. Peapod has been around for some time now and is available in many states. I don't mind going to the store but one of my family members recommended them and gave me a promo code to use so I thought I would try it out. Here is a recap of my experience using Peapod:

You start by going to the website and entering in your location to make sure the service is available in your area. From their you can start shopping right away. You don't even need to log in to try it out. You can search by item, brand, or category which makes finding things very easy. They have most of the name brands and even a Peapod store brand. You can click on an item to see it up close and get more information about it such as the nutrition facts. You can even sort by unit price which is very helpful when comparing prices. When you find an item you want, you can add it to the cart on the right where it keeps track of your order. Overall I found the website very easy to navigate.

As you might expect, you will pay a bit more per item vs if you were to buy the same item in the store. The convenience of having someone else take the time to gather all the items and deliver them does come at a price. There are some items on sale each week which tend to bring them down to about store price. Also they do have many store brand items which are a good deal. I like to save money so I went with a lot of the store brand items. You have to have a minimum order of $60 to place the order. Also there is a charge for delivery and a smaller charge if you opt for pick up. They do run promotions so you may be able to get these fees waived if you have a promo code.

In checkout, you can select delivery or pickup. I went with the pickup because it was less and there was a pickup place close by. I was able to schedule pickup for the next morning which was nice so you do not have to give them a lot of advanced warning. One thing I noticed is they do not let you enter in a promo code until the last screen, even after you have entered in all your billing information. It would have been nice to be able to apply the code early on to see those savings at the beginning.

Pick Up:
For pick up, you just have to drive up to one of the Peapod locations and tell them your name. Then they load up your car with the order and give you the receipt. Overall the service was quick and friendly.

The groceries came in many bags. They probably could have been consolidated better. Also I found the frozen items could have been colder. They keep them in coolers with ice and actually use dry ice cubes to keep them cold. When I was unloading the groceries, there was one of the dry ice blocks in one of the bags. I'm not sure if this was supposed to come with but it was kind of strange because it had lots of warning on the bag like "Do Not Touch Without Gloves". Other than that I was pleased with the groceries themselves.

I would recommend Peapod for someone who is busy or does not like to go grocery shopping. It is good for someone who does not mind paying a bit more for the convenience of having groceries delivered. It is also great for older people who may have a hard time getting around or carrying heavy groceries. Personally I do not mind going to the store and I would prefer to get the cheapest prices for the same items, so I probably would not use the service on a regular basis unless there were some good promo codes that evened out the prices.

If it sounds like a service you would like to try, here are some promotions you can use:

$15 Off Home Orders

$20 Off Business Orders

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Best TV Shows of 2014

Here is the annual 10 best TV shows of the year featuring the best major network shows as chosen by Connected Isolation.  This year there were many returning favorites, a few new shows, and for the first time, a morning show is featured in the mix along with all the other prime time shows.  Here are the best shows of 2014:

1. I Wanna Marry Harry
You might think it is a joke that his show is number 1 this year, but it is in fact the best show this year.  Many critics did not like this show and many probably wrote it off as a bad show based on the title or premise alone.  This show did not even get to air the whole season on Fox as it was canceled in the middle and the rest of the episodes were shown online, but this really was a good show this year.  The casting was excellent and overall it was edited and constructed into an ideal reality show with lots of drama, emotion, and a great ending!

2. The Quest
Another new show debuted this year and comes in at number 2.  The Quest was a fantasy/reality competition show putting contestants into a magical medieval setting and having them compete in various tasks and tests of skill in order to be come the one true hero to save the day.  This show was great because it was different by combining two different genres into one.  The casting was good both in terms of staff as well as the contestants. The setting was realistic and the storyline was a lot of fun to follow.  Hope this one comes back for a new season!

3 Live With Kelly and Michael
For the first time a daytime show has been featured here on the best shows of the year.  While "Live" has been around for quite some time, and even Kelly and Michael have been hosting for a while, this show is just wonderful and a great way to start off your morning.  Kelly an Michael are both a pleasure to watch and it is nice to see the contests and different guests they have on the show each day.

4. Master Chef / Master Chef Jr
A couple of returning shows to the 10 best list again this year are Gordon Ramsey's Master Chef and Jr edition.  With many cooking shows out there, this one stands out as having great judges, a good format, exciting competitions, and eclectic home cook contestants.  The main show is great to see the high level of cooking and drama while the Junior version is just as entertaining with the kids as they are so animated and you never know what they are going to say.

5. Big Brother
It's no surprise Big Brother is on the list again this year.  One of the long running reality competition shows out there, this one is always a summer staple.  They tried to mix it up with some new twists this year. Some worked better than others.  It was not a perfect season, but still good enough to make it one of the best this year.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Nursing Homes and Getting Old

My grandmother's health has been deteriorating lately which has caused her to go into an assisted living facility. I recently went to visit her there and got a glimpse of what life is like for many older people who are not able to care for themselves.

Overall the place was nice, but it was kind of depressing seeing all these old people in a hospital like setting. They are not able to do much and it seems there are not to many visitors for them. It made me realize that this is what life is like when you get very old.

It seems like when you are at the end of your life it should be good, like you made it to the end and you should be rewarded, but upon this visit it looks like the end is not so great. Most of these people have health issues and cannot take care of themselves. They must rely on other people to help them with everyday things such as eating or going to the bathroom. It made me think, we all may end up like this and it is not really something to look forward to.

I always tried to live a safe and healthy lifestyle in order to have a long life. I always looked down upon the "live fast die young" lifestyle. I figured it was better to "live slow and die old" but if living in a nursing home is what you are rewarded with for living a safe and healthy life, is it really worth it? It makes me wonder that maybe those who live the risky lifestyle and participate in activities that may be more fun but more dangerous might be doing it right after all.

It does not make me want to change my lifestyle though. I would still rather live a long life and be able to experience more over a long period of time. With this lifestyle, you can have a good life for a long time but the end is inevitable. It is kind of depressing but it is part of life I guess. So what have I learned from this experience and reflection? I guess it is just a realization of the reality of what it is like for people when they are near the end. Life goes faster than we realize so make the most of it!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Job Interview Tips and Perspective - Candidate vs Interviewer

Recently I moved up in position at my job to where I have begun to interview potential new employees who have applied to work for the company. Up until now, I have always been on the other end of this situation as the person going into the interview, but now I have a perspective of the other side as the one doing the interview. It is interesting how different the state of mind is between both sides of a job interview. In this article I will compare these perspectives and share what I have learned from being in both positions.

For most people, going in for a job interview is usually very stressful. You have to prepare a lot for the questions that will be asked and you have to go in knowing as much as possible about the company you are trying to work for. The interview is something that you may have on your mind weeks in advance and something you are entirely focused on. Getting a new job is a big deal and can really change your life depending on if you get it or not so there is a lot at stake.

On the other side of things, the interviewer often has many potential candidates interviewing for the same position. Often they have a lot going on and are just trying to get through the interviews and keep everything organized. For them, each individual interview is not a big deal. Of course they want to find the best person, but they are not stressing over each interview. They are just going though their routine that they do with each potential candidate. This is the biggest difference I found when comparing both sides is that there is so much more pressure and stress on the one being interviewed vs the one doing the interview.

After you have conducted interviews with people trying to get a job, it gives you a perspective of what makes a good impression and will help get you hired vs what qualities are not so great and not likely to get you hired. Here are a few tips I have learned that will help get you the job:

- Show interest. It seems obvious, but those who really show interest in the position are more likely to be hired vs someone who does not really show that they want the job. Make sure you let them know how much you want THIS job, not just any job.

- Ask questions. This is a good way to show that you are in fact interested. I found, I like when they ask questions because then you can tell them more about the job and it shows they are interested in learning more. When they do not have questions, it seems like they don't really care and would rather just end the interview and move on.

- See what they are looking for. Figure out what are the best qualities they are looking for and show that you have these qualities. They need to know you have the ability to do great in whatever skills are needed for this position.

- Get involved. Try to make contact with those you will be interviewing with and anyone else who you may potentially be working with. This can be through emails or even phone calls. The more connected you are ahead of time, the more you will stand out as someone who is already in or at least more in than other candidates who have not bothered to get involved.

- Follow up. Submitting a thank you note is a nice touch after you have gone in for an interview. It shows extra effort and makes you stand out just a little more than those who do not. It is also good to follow up with the interviewers to make sure they do not forget about you. Often there are a lot of people that have been interviewed and it is very easy to get lost in the mix even by mistake. Make sure they know you are still interested if you have not heard anything back.

- Be fun and positive. Often the people who are interviewing you will also be working with you if you get hired. They want to hire someone who is well qualified but also someone who has a good personality and would be fun to work with. You don't have to go in telling jokes, but try to be up beat and show enthusiasm during the interview to show that you would be someone they would like to work with.

Use these tips to help do well in your next job interview so you can succeed in getting that new job! Feel free to comment below if you have any tips or comments on either side of the job interview perspective.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Best Youtube Channels of 2014

Here again is one of our favorite annual posts, the Best Youtube Channels of the year.  This year, all Youtube channels were eligible for the list even if they have been featured in previous year's 10 Best list.  Most of the channels on this list are funny so you may also consider this list the Funniest Youtube Channels of 2014.  Here are Connected Isolation's picks for 10 Best Youtube Channels of 2014:

1. BFvsGF
Jesse and Jeana from BFvsGF may be best known for their prank channel Prank vs Prank, but their BFvsGF channel here is just as good and they post new videos every day.  It follows their everyday life and the fun things they do each day.  You might think that sounds kind of boring, but these guys are a lot of fun to watch and they do a lot of interesting things like go on trips and play little pranks on each other.  In this video they do a challenge that involves duct taping each other to a chair and trying to get out.  Needless to say, with these two,  things do not go as planned.

2. Mediocre Films
Greg Benson from Mediocre films is one of the pioneers in making funny videos.  He does everything from interviewing people at conventions to social experiments to original pranks.  In this video, he and fellow prankster Jack Vale come up with one of the silliest but surprisingly funny ideas of stealing dog poop from strangers.

3. Bad Lip Reading
Bad Lip Reading is a channel that does funny voice overs for different things like tv shows, sports clips, and music videos.  They also make original songs based on the voice overs.  The videos are very funny and the music is as good as anything you will hear on the radio today.  In this one they do lip reading for the show The Walking Dead and finish it up with an original song.

4. Melissa Villasenor
Melissa Villasenor is known for her impressions, stand up comedy, singing, and original sketch comedy videos.  She puts her skills to good use here in a new series of her own show, the Melissa Villasenor Show.  In this episode she talks with "Zooey Deschanel" while "Iggy Izalea" closes the show with a performance.

5. Badge of Shame
Joe from Badge of Shame is best known for interviewing people at various events and countries.  The interviews generally involve jokes and making people feel awkward which is very fun to watch.  In this one he interviews a girl at a convention as part of his Joe Dates series. 

6. Jack Vale
Another veteran Youtube prankster, Jack Vale is still up there with the best of them.  He has a lot of original prank series and funny videos on his channel.  In this one he walks around a store pretending to be on the phone and makes people paranoid as he mentions things about them as they pass by.

7. Ed Bassmaster
Multi-talented Ed Bassmaster is known for his characters and public pranks.  He is another veteran Youtuber with tons of great videos over the years.  In this one, he visits a game convention as one of his characters named "Skippy" to interview people about games.

8. Whatever
Whatever is another social experiment channel where they create funny situations and see how people react in public.  Usually the videos feature Brian or Andrea, both of whom are great but in this one, they get the help of a kid to see how smokers react when a kid asks them for a cigarette light.

9. Flula
Flula is another multi-talented Youtuber who is known for his song covers, random funny videos, and commentary on English phrases.  He is from Germany so his take on everything in the US is always a little different.  In this one, he an fellow Youtuber Miranda Sings do a live cover of the song "Good Vibrations".

10. Whitney Rice
Whitney Rice is known for her characters, sketch comedy videos, recaps of pop culture, and even stand up comedy.  She is definitely one of the up and coming Youtubers to keep an eye on this year.  In this video from her Pajama Talks series she gives us her take on some of the news in pop culture while trying not to expose the camera to anything inappropriate.

If you liked this year's 10 Best videos, check out the 10 Best from 2013.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Fixing a Whistling Toilet

For a few weeks I noticed my toilet had begun to make a whistling noise while flushing.  I figured something was not right so I looked it up online.  Based on the information, it looked like it was the fill valve that was making the noise while refilling the tank.  These are pretty cheap so they recommend replacing it if it is making a whistling noise.

I had installed this fill valve about 4 years back and I still had the original box. It was a Fluidmaster complete kit and I noticed there was a 5 year warranty on it.  Since it was within this time, I figured I would contact them to see if I could get a replacement part.  I found the email contact online and explained the issue.

I expected to get a reply about how I would have to mail in the original receipt and the defective part.  You know, a difficult process that would make it not even worth the hassle, but to my surprise, almost immediately, I received a response from Fluidmaster saying they would send one out, all they needed was my address. Great!  So I provided them with the info and within a few days a new replacement part showed up!  That is what I call great service!

So I go to install the new part.  I figured it would be pretty easy based on the instructions.  I turned off the water supply and drained the tank.  I used a sponge to get all the extra water out and cleaned out the tank in the process.

Next I started to unscrew the old fill valve.  At first it was going ok, but then it got stuck.  I found out later that you have to unscrew the water supply part first, then unscrew the fill valve from the tank.  I did it in the reverse order so they ended up getting stuck together.  I could not budge them one way or the other. Luckily there was a handyman in my building who had some specific tools to help get them unstuck. He came by to help remove the old fill valve and install the new one.

So now it is good as new and does not make a whistling noise.  So if your toilet is whistling, chances are it is the fill valve.  If you are going to install a new one, check the warranty on the old one. Also make sure to unscrew the water supply part first before unscrewing the fill valve from the tank.