Monday, August 11, 2014

People who are not considerate of others - Loud Music

One of my pet peeves is when people are not considerate of others.  An example of this is people who live near others in an apartment or condo building and play music too loud.  This happens every once in a while where I live.  There will be a neighbor who is playing music that can be heard all the way on the other end of the building.  The bass will even be shaking the walls.

I don't understand how someone can be so inconsiderate of neighbors that they think it is ok to play music that loud which can obviously be heard by others.  Now some say, if you don't want to be bothered by noise by neighbors, you should not live in an apartment setting.  Everyday noise such as people going in and out of doors or maybe doing a little work around the house is ok, but blasting music is not ok.

One might say, well just go over and tell them to turn down the music.  You can do this but then all of a sudden you are creating a conflict with your neighbor.  Now you are going to be known as the neighbor who told you to turn your music down.

Situations like this do not only happen in residences, but also out on the road or anywhere cars can go.  How many times has someone pulled up next to you and their sub-woofer is blasting bass from their music.  People around you should not have to hear your music, especially when it is distributing loud bass.

One should not need to be counseled on something as common sense as this.  Either they are clueless about how their actions may effect others or they know but just don't care.  I find it hard to understand how either of these situations can be the case.  


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Helping the Homeless and Perspective on Charity

The other day I was standing in line getting ready to check out at a grocery store when I noticed there was a homeless person checking out behind me. Now I didn't know his circumstances, but by the way he was dressed and the fact that he was just buying a plain loaf of bread with cash, I just got the feeling he was down on his luck.

This same situation happened to me on another occasion with a homeless person checking out behind me. In the moment it was taking place, I was a little uncomfortable. You don't see homeless people too often in settings like this. In my mind I was thinking I should try to help them by paying for their items or giving them money, but on the other hand, I'm not sure if they would get offended by something like this. I'm sure they would appreciate it but at the same time, I would worry that they might take offense to it like I am assuming they can't pay for their own food.

So this second time it happened, the same thought process went through my mind. I wanted to help but because of the uncertainty of how they might react, I decided not to do anything. There were other people around too so I would not want to draw any extra attention in a situation like that.

It got me thinking about charity. I am not a rich person and I do not usually donate to charities too often. I live very frugally and pretty much only spend money on necessities like food and housing. It's odd because even though I don't give money to charities often, I wouldn't mind just giving a $20 bill to one of the homeless guys in a situation like this. And this is from someone who spent less than this on their entire shopping trip.

I think the difference is, if you give money to a charity for example, the Red Cross, you don't see what happens too it. You just assume it will be put to good use somehow. It probably will, but since you don't actually see the effect, it doesn't seem like you are actually helping. On the contrary, if you see someone in real life who obviously could use the money, helping them out makes an immediate difference you can see.

It really puts things into perspective when you see someone who is much less fortunate such as a homeless person. It is easy to get down on yourself and feel like you don't have a lot compared to other people, especially people you see on tv and in the media.

Often I feel like I don't have a lot of money to spend, for example at the store, most of my decisions on what to buy are based on price. There are a lot of things I would like to get, but don’t, just because they are more expensive. Then I see a guy who is less fortunate just buying a couple basic items and all of a sudden I feel guilty as though I have too much money because I can buy many things on a shopping trip.

Have you ever been in a situation like this? What would you do, give the person money, or just keep to yourself? It would be great to have a homeless person's perspective on a situation like this. If the situation presents itself again and it feels right, I hope to be able to help out someone in need if it happens again.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Summer TV Shows Recap - What to Watch

We are well into the Summer TV season so here are some recommendations of which network shows to check out right now.

Big Brother
There is no surprise Big Brother is back again for the 16th season. It is one of the long running staple reality shows out there.  If you like drama, competition, and just observing interesting people, Big Brother has got you covered.  It airs 3 days a week, Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday.  Each week 1 house guest is voted out until there is one left at the end to win the cash prize.  This season has added a few changes to make even more competition which adds to the drama.  Check it out on CBS or CBS.com.


Master Chef
Master Chef is back with regular home cooks competing against each other on one of Gordon Ramsey's cooking shows.  Compared to other shows like Hells Kitchen, this one is a bit more tame but in a good way. Also the cooks tend to be more likeable.  Each week they compete against each other to make the best dishes.  There is a lot of drama as the cooks are put through different challenges that test their ability to work under pressure in different situations and with different ingredients. Check out Master Chef Mondays on Fox.


American Ninja Warrior
The athletic skills competition show is underway with a new season of competitors battling the obstacle courses each week in order to become the next American Ninja Warrior.  This season has a lot of veterans as well as new athletes that have performed quite well.  This season may be known most for the women who have been doing better than ever before and have shown that they can compete with the men on the same courses.  Check out ANW Mondays on NBC.


NY Med
NY Med is part of a medical documentary style series that follows real doctors and nurses working in hospitals.  Each week different cases are shown as patients are brought in and treated for serious illnesses and injuries.  It is a feel good show as most of the patients are helped and turn out ok in the end.  It is interesting to watch both the doctors and the patients in these life or death situations.  You can see NY Med airing Thursdays on ABC. 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Lionbridge Review - Work From Home Job

Lionbridge is a company that has many work from home opportunities. I was able to work for them for about 6 months as an internet content judge. Basically, it was about reviewing content for search engines before it goes live to the public. So when you do an internet search, the results and information that show up are not automatic; people had to review all that to make sure it was accurate and the best results are shown.

So back to the beginning. I do not remember too much about the application process since it was a while ago, but I do know that I applied a few times for a few different positions and it was not until much later that they contacted me to ask if I was still interested in the position.

There was much training to learn how to use the programs and how to make proper judgments. Everything is done online and correspondence is done by email. After you have studied and practiced, you take the tests. If you do well enough, then you can start working on the real data.

They have set amounts of hours they require you to work each week but the hours are flexible and you can choose when you want to work and for how long. There is also a set pace you must work at and your results are checked for quality.

Overall the work itself was fairly easy but the guidelines were not clear and much of the judgments could really go either way. There just seemed to be a lot of gray area and contradicting guidelines for how to judge the content.

The work itself was a little boring and one thing that was noticeable was how the perception of time moved very slow when working. For example, if you worked 1 hour, it feels like you worked 2 hours. It can be a little stressful because it is timed and there is not any down time when you are working. You can log out whenever you want, but when you are working, it is one item after the next.

The software was also quite buggy. There would be errors and downtime with the program quite often. Also sometimes there would not be much work to do so they would put your account on hold until more work became available.

The pay was pretty good for a work from home type job and the payments were accurate and punctual. You keep track of your own time and it must match the records at the end of the month.

After about 6 months apparently there was no more need for the work in my program so the position was ended. Overall I would work for Lionbridge again if another position opened up. If you are looking for a work from home job and like working on the computer, this is a good option.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

I Wanna Marry Harry Review

"I Wanna Marry Harry" is a new reality show similar to the show "Joe Millionaire" that aired years ago. Basically, it is like the show "The Bachelor" but instead of a random guy, it is a guy that looks and sounds very much like Prince Harry.  In this show, his true identity is kept a mystery as the girls try to figure out who he is.

Despite the silly title of the show, so far it has been very entertaining!  The casting was well selected and the contestants are fun to watch.  Of course there is a lot of drama between the ladies as they get jealous when "Harry" goes on the dates with the other girls.

So far, he has not said who he is, but has been making the effort to pretend like he is the real prince Harry.  The production crew has done a good job of adding fake security and photo shopped pictures to enhance the illusion that he is someone important.   

Overall he is a likable guy and there are already a few girls to root for and root against.  As it is a few weeks into the show, already there are some strong feelings developing between "Harry" and the girls.  It will be very interesting to see what happens has the group is narrowed down and ultimately his true identity is revealed. 

In case you are not caught up, full episodes can be seen over at Fox.com.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Annoying Features on Websites

There are a lot of annoying things out there on the internet, specifically when it comes to features on websites.  Now of course there are ads, but we are not even going to count that.  You should have an ad blocker installed to take care of most of the ads out there.  This article is about all the other little things that websites have that bring down quality and just make them less user friendly.  If you have a website with the following characteristics below, please consider changing it.

1. Pop Ups
Have you ever found a link through Google, clicked to read the article but before you could even start reading, a full screen pop up shows up asking you to subscribe to the newsletter or like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter?  This is very annoying.  First off, if I just got to your website for the first time, why would I subscribe to these things?  No one would, so stop annoying everyone with the pop up.  If someone actually wants to sign up for something like this, they will seek it out.

2. Auto Play Video and Audio
Do you ever click to read an article and it automatically starts playing a video?  This is overly intrusive and can be very frustrating for someone who just wants to read about it.  You can have a video, but to not automatically start playing it.  If someone wants to play a video, they will click the play button.  This goes for any audio as well.

3. Too Much Junk/ Unrelated Material
Some websites just try to pump as much extra junk on the webpage as they can when the part you actually want to read takes up less than 25% of the page.  I will go to a simple weather website to check the weather, but for some reason there will be a bunch of videos all over the screen that have nothing to do with the weather.  Maybe they think weather is boring and they need to get people's attention with other videos.  I don't know about others, but if I go to the weather website, I am looking for the weather, not a viral video that may be slightly related to the elements.

4. Multiple Page Articles
You know these kind of articles.  Often they are lists that make you click through 10 pages when they could have easily put everything on that one page.  I know in my case and many others, when you see a website like this, you immediately click back and go to a different website. Stop wasting our time with all these extra clicks. 

5. Disabling the Back Button
Speaking of trying to go back to get to another website, some websites will make it so if you press back, you can't even go back as it just reloads the page or takes you to a home page.  There is no better way to lose the trust of a reader than by trying to force them to stay on your website like that.

6. Slides and Animations
Maybe this does not bother other people, but when I am trying to read an article, I do not want a slide show going on in the side bar.  Anything moving around is very distracting if you are not actually looking at it.  It is the worst when they do not even give the option to stop it from moving or playing.  Sometimes I will leave a website just because of moving slides or graphics like this.

7. Auto Load / Auto Scroll
More and more websites are making it so when you scroll to the bottom of a website, it automatically loads more content.  This is not good because most of the time it jumps and you lose your place and have to scroll back up to figure out where you left off.  This is related to the videos playing by themselves.  If readers want to seem more results, they can click next or show more. Do not keep adding more results just because we are getting near the bottom of a page. 

What other things do you find annoying on the internet?  Leave them in the comments below!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Food Recommendations - Best Foods on a Budget

In this blog I will recommend some of my favorite foods that are not too expensive.  These are foods that are easy to prepare, good tasting, and are relatively healthy. They can be found at a variety of stores including Jewel, Target, and Mariano's as well as other grocery stores.  Here are some of my favorite foods narrowed down by category:

Best Pasta: Racconto - Mezzi Rigatoni

One of my favorite things to cook is pasta and over the past few months I have been trying a different brand every week.  It is surprising how many different pasta brands there are yet the ingredients are usually very similar.  Some pastas were better than others but in the end, my favorite brand was Racconto and favorite pasta shape was the Mezzi Rigatoni.  Racconto pasta is about $1-$2 for a pack that makes about 4 servings.  The pasta has a great taste with a touch of sweetness to it.  The Mezzi Rigatoni is a perfect shape with bite sizes pieces and textured ridges.  This brand can be found at several different grocery store chains. 

Best Juice: Tree Top - Apple Grape

Like pasta, I am also really into juices.  I have been trying just about every brand of 100% juice out there.  While most are pretty good, I have found the best so far to be the Apple Grape juice from Tree Top.  It is very sweet and holds it's flavor well.  I find many other juices tend to lose the quality of flavor over time or are watered down.  This juice is very good at quenching thirst and goes well with meals.  You can find it in stores for about $2-$3 for a large bottle.  A few runners up in the 100% juice category include Langers, Ocean Spray, and Motts juice vegetable blend. 

Best Frozen Pizza - Culinary Circle - Roasted Vegetable and Goat Cheese Pizza

I have been trying many different frozen pizzas in the $5 range.  Most of them are just ok.  Today I tried the Culinary Circle brand for the first time because it was on sale for $4.  They had the vegetable pizza which is the type I like so I decided to give it a whirl.  The nutrition looked pretty good compared to most other frozen pizzas especially with the sodium content which was the lowest I have seen in a product like this.  Also the quantity of pizza is higher than most of the competitors which is a plus.  So how did it taste?  Very good!  I would have to say this is the best brand I have tried to far and I look forward to trying other varieties of their pizza in the near future. 

Best Peanut Butter - Jif Natural Crunchy

I buy a lot of peanut butter and lately I have been going for the natural kinds and the chunky variety.  I know that is very subjective, but for brands right now I recommend Jif.  I also like Skippy but they have been skimping on the amount of peanut butter per jar in the latest packaging so for the best bang for your buck, Jif is the way to go.  The peanut butter tastes good, it is natural, and it does not need to be stirred or refrigerated.  I recommend either the crunchy or smooth depending on your preference.  It can be found for about $3 per jar at most grocery stores.

Best Cereal - Wild Harvest Organic - Cherry Vanilla Granola

Now there are a lot of different kinds of cereals out there so it is hard to pick a best one, but for flavor and nutrition, I highly recommend the Cherry Vanilla Granola by Wild Harvest.  The problem is, it is very hard to find right now and may even be out of production.  They currently sell the Vanilla Almond granola, but the cherry has been gone for some time now.  It is a shame because it was very good!  If you can find it, I recommend picking up a box if you like granola style cereal.  If they do not have the Cherry, the Vanilla is a good second choice for about $3.

Best Soy Milk - Roundys Original Flavor

I have tried several varieties of plain soy milk and some are definitely better than others.  For the best flavor and value, I recommend the Roundys brand soy milk.  It has a great taste, good nutrition, and can be found for about $2.50 for a standard size carton. It also comes in different flavors if you prefer, but I recommend the plain original flavor to go with cereal or to drink on its own.


Best Nutrition Drink - Market Pantry Nutrition Shake Chocolate Plus

The foods on this list are not low in calories as you may have noticed.  These foods are good values for getting a lot of calories for your money while also being healthy.  One of my favorite ways to get easy calories, vitamins, and minerals is with nutrition drinks.  While the best is Ensure brand, they are very expensive so the best alternative is the Target brand Market Pantry.  They have nutrition drinks in regular and plus style which are much more affordable at about $7 for a 6 pack and they also taste pretty good.  If you are looking for a quick and convenient shake, I highly recommend the chocolate flavor by Market Pantry.

 If you have any favorite foods you would like to share, feel free to leave them in the comments below!