Thursday, May 16, 2019

Puzzlebug 500 Piece Puzzle Review – Are Dollar Store Puzzles Any Good?

In my last blog entry, I wrote about how I got inspired to look into activities that did not revolve around technology, and one of the activities that came to mind was puzzles. I had not done jigsaw puzzles in a long time, so I decided to do a little research to see what was available today.

There are a wide range of puzzles available but I just wanted to find something cheap, so first I checked the local Dollar Tree store. Surprisingly, they had a very good selection of puzzles to choose from. They had simple puzzles for kids, up through 1000 piece puzzles for adults. I decided to pick up one that had 500 pieces.

Dollar store items can be hit or miss as sometimes the item can be a great bargain while other times, the item may turn out to be junk. So the question is, are the puzzles from the dollar store any good? The quick answer is yes! 

The 500 piece puzzles come in a sealed box that must be cut open. I cut 3 edges of the box which allowed it to flip open and stay connected. Inside are the loose puzzle pieces. I dumped them out onto a flat surface. There was some “puzzle dust” as many new puzzle have so I moved the pieces around to try to separate them from the dust.

The pieces themselves are fairly thin and pretty small in size. The full puzzle comes out to dimensions of 11 x 18.25 inches. They fit together as expected, but they do not have a very secure interlock, so if you bump it while you are working, they can come apart. It is ok, you just have to be careful when working on it.

The puzzle took me about a week to complete, working on it a little bit each day. Overall it was fun and relaxing to do. It was challenging at time as sometimes you can put a piece in and it looks like it should fit, but then later you figure out it is actually in the wrong place. I was very satisfied with the finished product.

Overall I really enjoyed the puzzle and would recommend them to anyone who is looking for a cheap puzzle. I will probably pick up another one next time I am at the dollar store. These puzzle provide hours of entertainment for just $1, which is pretty much unbeatable. Not only that, once you are done with the puzzle you can take it apart and give it to other people to enjoy!

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

What would life be like without internet, computer, tv, phone, and modern technology?

It's easy to take for granted all the modern conveniences and technology we have today such as computers, phones, and tv. I started thinking, what would it be like to live even one day without these things? I pictured what it would be like if my computer, tv, and phone disappeared and thought about what it would be like.

My first reaction was that it would be so boring and there would be nothing to do. It made me realize how dependent I am on things like the computer and internet as well phone and tv. These things open up the world to us and provide us with unlimited information, entertainment, and the ability to communicate with others. Without these things, our lives would be dramatically different.

I started to think, what would I actually do instead of these things? Some of the things I came up with include, reading books, doing artwork, writing, doing puzzles, going for a walk etc. One thing I noticed is that without all the information and entertainment being brought in by technology, it would force us to actually go out more and socialize with people.

I think that while technology is great for getting information, it has also caused us to be more distant from one another. I wouldn't be surprised if there is a trend over the past few decades with people being less social in real life and instead doing their socializing or lack there of through computers and phones. I also wouldn't be surprised if this affects people's ability to socialize and interact with people in the real world.

Most people still go out and interact with people each day for things like work or school so they should still have the opportunity to interact with others but even these things may be phasing more towards technology with people taking online classes and working remotely on the computer.

I think it is important to realize our dependency on technology and not get too sucked into it that we forget how to function without it. This exercise actually inspired me to do more activities that are not technology based. I got a book from the library, picked up a puzzle from the dollar store, and went for a walk outside. I enjoyed each activity and it reminded me that there is still plenty to do even in a world without modern technology.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Daily Questions – 3 Questions to Ask Yourself Each Day

Sometimes you may feel like you are in a rut or like you haven't done anything productive in a day, but if you think about it, usually more things happen than we realize. By asking yourself questions at the end of the day, it can help you review your day and reflect on what happened. There are many questions you can ask yourself depending on what is important to you or what you are working on, but I have narrowed it down to 3 questions which can apply to everyone.

1. What did you enjoy doing today?

Think about what you liked about the day. What is something good that happened? Maybe you watched a show or played a game. Maybe you ate some good food or visited a new place. Maybe you got to spend some time with family or friends. Maybe you got to do one of your hobbies in your free time. Thinking about this can remind you of the good things that happened today.

2. What did you learn today?

We learn things everyday even if we don't necessarily realize it. You don't have to be in school or actively studying something in order to learn. Just by living and experiencing life, we are learning new things all the time. It could be a new fact you heard. It could be how something works. It could be some information you learned by talking with someone, watching a video, or by reading something online. By thinking about this question, it makes us realize that we are learning new things everyday.

3. How did you contribute today?

Contribution is an important part of life. You might contribute through your work by providing a service or information. You might help someone out or care for someone that is in need. You might do something as little as holding a door open for someone, or writing a nice comment to someone online. Contributing to the world helps give our lives meaning. It is a reminder that we are making a difference and have the power to make a positive impact on those around us and the world in general.

There are many more questions you can ask yourself to help reflect but these 3 questions here are a good start. You can ask yourself these questions at the end of the day to help put the day in perspective in terms of what you enjoyed, what you learned, and how you contributed.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

X-Men the Animated Series Review


One of my favorite cartoons to watch on Saturday mornings as a kid was X-Men the Animated Series. It aired on TV from 1992-1997. At the time I was really into collecting Marvel superhero cards and the X-Men were some of the most popular so when they decided to make a show about them, I was pretty excited!

I remember seeing the first 2 seasons and then it seemed like they started showing re-runs. Somehow I must have missed the later seasons but just recently I get a chance to re-watch seasons 1-3 on DVD. So the question is, do they still hold up after all these years?

The animation itself is a little dated compared to what we are used to these days with computer generated graphics, but they are still pretty good. What stands out to me as one of the best parts of the series is the voice acting. For many people, this was the first time hearing what these characters actually sound like and for many, it provided the true voice of the character.

Some of my favorite characters from the series include Wolverine, Rogue, Beast, Gambit, and Jubilee. Wolverine has that grit and never give up attitude even when it seems like the odds are stacked against him. Rogue's southern belle charm and powerful abilities are a joy to watch. Beast and his intellect and quotes always give some balance when things are getting out of control. Gambit is just plain cool with his Cajun accent and charged playing cards, and Jubilee's youth and playfulness also add a nice contrast to the other members of the team.

My favorite episodes are the ones where the X-Men meet other mutants and other teams of mutants and they all get to show off their powers. For me, this is one of the best parts of the show and one of the things that takes still frame comics to the next level with animation. I also like the episodes where there is a lot of emotion involved, usually when it comes to relationships between the characters.

About half of the episodes are very good while the other half are just ok. I enjoyed the time travel episodes with Bishop and Cable. I also liked the ones featuring Sabretooth, Juggernaut, Nightcrawler, and Iceman. Some of the episodes I didn't like as much were the space related / Phoenix episodes, and the Savage Land episodes. After watching the first 3 seasons I would say overall I enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone who watched it back in the day or anyone who is interested in superheroes and hasn't seen it yet.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Walking a Labyrinth

Something that peaked my interest lately was the idea of labyrinths. A labyrinth is like a maze you can walk on. It has a squiggly pattern and usually loops around to fill the space provided. These kind of walking labyrinths are not very common but if you do a search, you may be able to find one near you. After having it on my list of things to do, I finally got a chance to try one out.

I was in the area where I knew one was located so I decided to stop by and check it out. It was a free outdoor labyrinth located behind a church. It was a nice day so I figured it would be a good time to try it. The labyrinth was fairly big and circular in shape. There was no one there but there were buildings and residential areas surrounding it so it did not feel secluded.

I went to the beginning and started walking the path. I started looping around following the path back and forth. I soon realized that it would take longer than expected to walk the whole thing. After a few minutes honestly I became a little bored of it so I decided not to walk the entire path.

The thing is, I enjoy walking but I realized when I walk I like to cover ground and see new things. With the labyrinth you are pretty much just staying in one area walking around in circles. This would be good if you wanted to walk and you were confined to a small space like a back yard, but if you have the freedom to walk anywhere, I think it is more enjoyable to walk on a regular path or trail.

Walking a labyrinth would be good if the weather is nice and you don't have anything to do. If you are busy or have other things to do, it can seem kind of like a waste of time to walk around in the same spot. I still find them interesting and worth checking out just because they are something different to see that you don't find very often.

If you have some free time and feel like doing a little walking, or maybe you have some kids that might enjoy it, I recommend visiting a labyrinth if you have one nearby.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

When should you use a turn signal while driving? Is it always necessary?

When people are asked about pet peeves or things that bother them, often one of the top things mentioned is when people don't use their turn signal. Personally, this doesn't bother me much, but I found it interesting that it seems to bother a lot of other drivers.

I agree that turn signals should definitely be used in some cases, but in other cases, I think it is ok not to use them. According to the law, you should always use a turn signal when making a turn as well as in many other instances, but is it really necessary to use a signal in every situation? Here I will go over some examples on when you should use a turn signal and when you really don't have to in my opinion.

The purpose of the turn signal is to notify other drivers and pedestrians around you of what you are about to do such as making a turn or changing lanes. So it is important to use the signal when your action will have an affect on those around you because they need to be prepared.

For example, if you are driving in the right hand lane and you are going to be making a right turn into a driveway and there is someone behind you, you need to put in your right signal to let them know you are about to slow down and make a turn. Without the signal, they will not expect it. They will only see your brake lights and then wonder why you are slowing down in the middle of the road for no reason. It's easy to see why not using a signal would be bothersome to the person behind in this situation.

Another example of when a signal is needed would be at a 4 way stop when there are cars pulling up at the same time from different directions. This can be a confusing situation so it is important to put on your signal to let the other drivers know which way you are planning to turn.

Putting on your signal when changing lanes around other cars or merging in traffic is also important as it makes it safer by letting the other drivers around you know what you are about to do. Trying to merge or change lanes without a turn signal can catch people off guard and can make for unsafe driving conditions.

So there are many situations when using a turn signal is necessary, but what about situations where you do not need to use your signal?

As mentioned before, the purpose of the turn signal is to notify those around you of your actions. Because of this, I would argue that you really only need to use a signal when there are actually other drivers or pedestrians around you. This means if you pull up to a street to make a turn and there is no one in sight, there really is no reason to put on the signal because there is no one to notify about your turn.

This would apply in other situations as well such as changing lanes. If there is no one around you either in front, to the side, or behind you for some distance, there really is no purpose of putting on the turn signal because there is no one to inform that you will be changing lanes.

I might go as far as to say even if you are in a left turn lane with a red arrow, you really don't need the signal on the whole time because just being in the left turn lane itself lets people know you are going to be turning left. It's a good idea to have the signal on just to be safe, but in a situation like this where there is only one direction to go and there is no confusion as to which direction you are turning, I would argue that it is not 100% necessary to have the signal on in a situation like this.

Some people might disagree and say you always have to use your turn signal no matter what because it is the law, but personally I go by the purpose of the signal which is to inform those around you of your actions. If there are drivers around that need to know you are turning or changing lanes, then of course it is necessary, but in other situations such as when there is no one around to notify, there is just no reason to use the signal. Feel free to comment below if you have an opinion on the use of turn signals.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Should Concerts Have a Limit on Volume Level? - Music That is Too Loud

If you have ever been to a live concert, especially one in a big venue you know the music can sometimes be very loud. It is not uncommon for the volume levels to be over what would be considered safe in order to avoid hearing damage. In fact many experts recommend always wearing earplugs if you are attending a concert.

So why is it that concerts are so overly loud in the first place? Some people say they like loud music and maybe they think it makes for a better experience, but it should never be so loud that it becomes dangerous to your well being. Being exposed to a duration of loud noise such as a concert has been known to cause damage to hearing. So why does this trend of loud music continue?

For those who have learned the hard way, they know now to bring earplugs if they are going to be attending a show. The problem is, many people, especially young people who might be attending their first concert do not know to do this. They are just excited to have the chance to see a band they like perform live. It's not until after the show when their ears might be ringing and they can't hear as well that they realize the effect of loud music on their ears.

I remember one of the concerts I went to in college where my favorite band was playing and I got to be pretty close to the front. The show was very loud and I did not have earplugs. The show was fun but I remember the next day my ears were ringing constantly and I could not even concentrate on my classes. Luckily after a day or so, it went away, but some people are not so lucky.

The ringing in the ears is called tinnitus and some people who have been exposed to a lot of loud noise have this condition all the time which can be very bothersome. Hearing loss can even occur from being exposed to volume levels that are too loud. Usually if you are attending a concert or listening to music it means you enjoy music so the last thing you would want to do is cause damage to your hearing.

This is why I think there should be regulations in place when it comes to venues and live concerts. There should be a certain decibel level that the show must remain under in order to provide a safe listening experience for the attendees and everyone involved. If there was a limit on how loud the music could be, it would help prevent people from being exposed to unsafe volume levels that could damage their hearing.

This is something that might be hard to regulate and some people might not follow it anyway, but I think it is something that should be put into place, not just for concerts but for any kind of loud noise that the public may be exposed to. If someone wants to listen to loud music on headphones, that is their choice, but if the music is being played out loud and it is effecting other people, then it becomes a concern.

For now, it is up to us to protect our ears from exposure to loud noise. If you are going to a concert, make sure to bring earplugs. The volume level might be ok, but in case it is too loud, you have to be prepared. It is better to be safe than sorry.