Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Potential for the next viral video trend – Fritz the Dog – The Fritz Challenge

I was browsing through Twitter recently and I found a video of a dog in slow motion trying to catch different food items tossed to him by his owner. It is a simple concept but what makes it funny is you think the dog is going to catch the food, but every time he misses it. The video also has encouraging background music that works perfectly with it and adds to the enjoyment.


It turns out, the dog is named Fritz and he and his owner Evan Ball have a Youtube channel with many videos like this. His first compilation video has had viral success with over 7 million views and the channel has a fair amount of subscribers.

As I watched a few more of his videos, I wondered if anyone else had made a parody of it or made their own version. It turns out there are a few, but not nearly as many as I would have expected. Here is an example of one by comedian Scout Durwood:



I soon realized the concept of the Fritz dog video would make for a great viral trending video challenge much like we have seen with the Harlem Shake and the Mannequin Challenge. It is a video that is easy to replicate, can be customized with unlimited possibilities, and has a catchy song that can be added to tie them all together.

Here are the proposed guidelines for this challenge:

1. Video is of an animal or person trying to catch different foods in their mouth.
2. The video is in slow motion.
3. The video uses the same background music (Fritz the Conqueror by Evan Ball)

The Fritz videos are a couple years old so they are not new, but I still think it has the potential to catch on again as a challenge video. What do you guys think? If you decide to make one, feel free to share the link in the comments below!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Pet Peeve – Squeaky Door Hinges

There is one thing that can be quite annoying yet it is something that can be easily fixed and that is squeaky door hinges. They can be on doors at home, in businesses, even car doors and things like cabinet doors. Pretty much anything with a moving hinge can start squeaking over time.

It seems most people don't pay any attention to this, but I tend to notice it a lot especially if it is a from a door that is used a lot. I find the squeaking to be pretty annoying so I always oil hinges whenever they start to squeak. Usually I use a spray type oil or sometimes a mineral oil or olive oil which tends to work as well.

Some recommend actually removing the hinge pin out of the door to oil it. This may be the most thorough solution, but I have found usually just oiling it from the outside is enough to fix the squeak. Also, if the door has other moving parts such as a door closer at the top, you may want to oil these at the same time to make sure everything is working smoothly. 

Fixing a squeaky door is very easy and only takes a few seconds yet it is something that many people and businesses overlook. If you have a door that is making a lot of noise, it is worth getting some oil and taking a minute to stop the squeak. For business owners, make sure to check the doors every once in a while as they may squeak from the constant opening and closing from customers.

Does anyone else find squeaking doors to be very annoying? Feel free to leave a comment below.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Car Repairs Are So Expensive

Owning a car is great because it gives you the freedom of transportation but that convenience comes at a cost. Cars are pretty expensive as it is, but it is the cost of repairs that really add up over the years. It's a cost that many people may not think about until there is something wrong with their car and they have to take it in.

Recently I took my car in for some repairs so this issue was on my mind. I took it to a new place that had many good reviews because I was not satisfied with the other place I usually take it. While this new place is fair, the costs for repairs are still very expensive. I have an older vehicle so I don't like putting a lot of money into it.

I live very frugally and don't spend a lot of money so when I get hit with a large bill for car repairs, it seems astronomical compared to what I am used to paying for daily living expenses. Although it can be expensive, I think it is something you just have to figure into your budget.

An alternative would be buying a new car that hopefully would have fewer repairs needed, but of course that would be a huge up front expense and it will still end up needing maintenance and repairs over the years.

Recently I started a new job where driving is a big part of it, so it is important to have a reliable vehicle. I figure the cost of the car repairs can be figured into tax deductions because the car is being used for business so a percentage of it will be a business expense.

Another thing to consider is resale value of your car. If you don't fix anything and it is falling apart by the time you go to sell it or trade it in, you will not get much for it. On the other hand, if you take care of your car and it is in good shape when you go to sell, it will have a higher value and be easier to sell.

Some people may opt for leasing a car so they have a newer vehicle and don't have to worry about repairs as much. Leasing may help avoid having to take it in for repairs over the years, but you may end up paying more per month and then once the lease is up, you are left with nothing while if you buy the car, at least you still have the car once it is paid off.

So what is the solution? I think the best advice would be to try to take care of your car with preventative maintenance to avoid more costly repairs down the line. Do research to find out which cars have a low “cost to own”. Vehicles that are more expensive are likely to have repairs that are also more costly.

When it comes to taking your car in for repairs, ask around to see if anyone has any shops they recommend. Do plenty of research to see what customers are saying about the repair shops. When you decide to try out a new shop, have them fix just one thing even if they recommend to fix a bunch of different things. You want to be sure they will do good work for a reasonable price before you authorize them to do a lot of work on your car.

If you know which parts your car will need, try to buy them on your own since most shops will mark up the prices on the same parts if they have to order them. Check for parts on Amazon, Ebay, and auto parts stores to find the best price.

If you take care of your car and find a reputable shop that has fair prices, you can help keep repair costs down for the life of the car.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

California Olive Ranch - Everyday Olive Oil Review

I add olive oil to many dishes to add flavor and healthy fats to my diet. In the past I would buy the cheapest extra virgin olive oils or the ones that were on sale. The last one I bought was a store brand and it went bad within a few weeks to the point where it was not even edible and I had not even use 1/4 of the bottle yet.

I decided it was time to try out some higher quality olive oils. I did some research and decided to try out California Olive Ranch extra virgin olive oil. They have many different types but I decided to go with the Everyday style first which is a versatile oil that can be used for many things. I noticed it was available in most stores but the prices varied by store. The best price I found was about $8.39 at Target for the 16.9 oz bottle.

Upon opening it up, the closure system is pretty interesting. The cap unscrews but underneath, there is a built in nozzle that pops up when you pull the cap off. This allows the oil to pour out slowly and keeps it neat so it does not make a mess. When you are done, the cap fits back into the nozzle and screws back onto the top.

For the taste, I found it to be very good. It did not have any bitterness and had a smooth and buttery flavor. I have been using it on bread, as well as dishes like pasta and rice. So far I am about 1/4 of the way through and it still tastes good. Hopefully it will hold the quality through the entire bottle.

The bottle itself is a square shape that makes it look bigger than some of the similar brands with a rounded shape, but if you compare the ounces, they are about the same.

If you are looking for a good extra virgin olive oil that is not too expensive, but don't mind spending a little more compared to the cheap varieties, I would recommend trying out California Olive Ranch olive oil.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

When you see a police officer, do you feel safe or nervous?

An interesting question is “When you see a police officer, do you feel safe or do you feel nervous?” Many people may say nervous or something similar because often we associate police officers with giving tickets.

For example if you are driving and you see a patrol car on the side of the road or driving behind you, you may instinctively press the brake and check your speed as to make sure you do not get a speeding ticket. In my experience, the most interaction I have had with police officers has been traffic related, whether it is getting pulled over for a traffic violation or having to call them to file a report for an accident.

It is a shame because there is so much more to police officers than just writing traffic tickets. They are here to enforce the law and keep everyone safe. They play an important role in keeping a peaceful and civilized society. Even though I am a bit wary of police officers when I see them on the streets, I must say I have a lot of respect for them and what they do.

Police officers have chosen a profession that can potentially put them in harms way on a daily basis. They are expected to deal with situations and people that may be unpleasant or dangerous and are expected to enforce laws that others are breaking. This takes a lot of bravery especially when working in high crime rate areas.

So a question is, why does it seem like most of the focus is on traffic tickets when there are much more series crimes being committed? Maybe it is because in some locations that are more suburban or rural, there is not a lot of crime so the only thing left to enforce is minor things like traffic violations.

Because of this, I think it gives people a bad impression of the police. For example, you may get pulled over for going 10 mph over the speed limit or for not coming to a complete stop at a stop sign. These are pretty minor things and are not really a problem in most situations, but you may end up getting a ticket and have to pay a lot of money.

Of course if you are driving recklessly or unreasonably fast, then yes it should be addressed and would warrant a ticket but for the minor things, they could be more lenient. I think if more focus was put serious crimes, people would have a better impression of police and would not always get a bad feeling when they see them in the rear view mirror.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Goldfish - Honey Mustard and Pretzel Mix Review

Goldfish crackers have been around for a long time and chances are you have tasted some of the common varieties. I had only tried some of the basic flavors until I got a sample of the Honey Mustard + Pretzel flavor. They are surprisingly good! On my next trip to the store I decided to pick up a pack in this flavor.

They come in a purple package and retail for about $2. Be careful to read it carefully because they also have a cheddar flavor mix that is in a purple package that looks almost the same. I have not tried the cheddar mix flavor yet, but I may try that one next.

The flavor of the honey mustard Goldfish reminds me a lot of Gardettos snack mix with a little more of a honey mustard flavor. They have the standard Goldfish and Pretzel Goldfish mixed together and both have a honey mustard flavor but I find the pretzel to have a stronger flavor.

Nutrition wise, they are not too bad. In terms of fat and sodium they are about on par with other similar snacks. If you like Goldfish or honey mustard flavor, I highly recommend trying the Goldfish Honey Mustard + Pretzel mix.

Have you tried any of the other new Goldfish flavors? Which one is your favorite?

Friday, October 13, 2017

Instacart Review – Working as a Full Service Shopper

A few months back I was browsing job listings and found one for a company called Instacart. I had not heard of it before, but it turns out Instacart is a grocery shopping and delivery service that is available nationwide. It allows customers to order groceries from many of their local stores through the Instacart app or through the website. I enjoy grocery shopping and have some experience with delivery, so I decided to apply.

Applying and Getting Started
The online application was incredibly quick. As I remember, it did not even ask for much other than basic information. A couple weeks later I was invited to schedule an “in person” session. At this session, I was able to ask questions, do a practice shop, and get set up with an Instacart credit card. After this, I was able to start picking hours. From what I understand now, they have tried to phase out the in person session so you will be able to get your card by mail.

Before getting started, I did the tutorials, read all the information in the help center, and tried to learn as much as possible on sites like Youtube where other shoppers have posted about their experience. While Instacart provides you with the basics you need to know, there is a lot more information out there to learn. I eventually found a Facebook group that is active and has a lot of tips and advice from other shoppers.

First Impressions and First Day
On my first day, I was scheduled to work a shift from 8-10am. They send you a message 30 minutes before your shift starts that tells you they are looking for an order for you, or that there is an order ready for you that will start at a certain time and location. Since it was my first day, I did not really know where I was supposed to be so I went to the Whole Foods where I had the in store session. I kept an eye on the app and waited for an order.

Turns out, that day and time it was slow so I ended up not getting any orders. I soon learned that you do not have to head out to a store until they actually assign you an order. If you live within your zone, you can actually stay home until they have an order ready for you.

Shopping and Using the App
The next day I started getting orders. I was a little nervous at first, but overall the job is pretty easy. You are given a list of items to find in the store. Most of them will have pictures and details to help find them. Once you find the item, you use the camera on the phone to scan the barcode. This will tell you if you found the right item.

If you can't find something, or something is out of stock, you have the option to find a replacement or to refund the item. You can also message the customer during the shop to get feedback, for example if something they wanted was out of stock and there are a few other options available.

Once you are done, you go to checkout and use your Instacart card to pay for the order. Usually this goes pretty smoothly. So far there was only one time where I had an issue where the card got declined but customer support was able to fix it fairly quickly.

After you pay for the order, you pack up the groceries and navigate to the customer address given in the app. Once you get to the customer's house, you give them the groceries, mark the order as“Delivered” and you are all set!

Overall Impression
I have been working as a Full Service shopper for a few months now and I really enjoy it! I like the independence and flexibility of the schedule. Also the money is pretty good considering the job is not very difficult and does not require much in terms of qualifications or advanced training.

As a Full Service Shopper, you do the shopping and delivering. For some markets, they do have positions where you can do shop only or deliver only. I enjoy the diversity of doing both as it keeps you moving and makes it so it does not become boring.

How much you will like this job can also depend on your location and zone. Some zones are more busy than others. Also the pay rate can vary quite a bit depending on which market you are working in. My zone is somewhat newer so it is not very busy but they do offer an hourly guarantee so you will be guaranteed to make a certain amount per hour, even if you don't get that many orders during your shift.

As I got into the social media groups, I noticed that many people out there working for Instacart are not happy with the company and some of the changes they have made recently. Apparently it used to pay better and because of a change that was made, it caused the tips to go down which people were not happy about.

Personally I don't have a problem with the company and I think the pay is pretty good at least in the zone where I am working. When I worked at previous jobs I used to dread going to work each day. With Instacart I actually look forward to working each day. If you like grocery shopping and driving and it sounds like something you might be interested in, I recommend checking out Instacart to become a Full Service Shopper.