Sunday, December 26, 2010

Yahoo Answers Unfair Practice: Account Suspension

Yahoo Answers is one of the biggest question and answers communities out there which makes it a valuable resource, but unfortunately they seem to have some kind of bias when it comes to which users they allow to post certain content.

I use Yahoo Answers as a promotional tool for a product I help sell with affiliate links.  This may go against Yahoo's policy about posting links to external commercial websites, I won't deny that, however my answers are helpful and are relevant to the asker even if they contain commercial links.  Many times people ask about which product to buy online.  In cases like these, providing a link to an online store is helpful, yet Yahoo will still find your account in violation for something like this.

Ok, you may ask, if I admit that posting commercial links, why is it unfair that they banned my account?  For the simple fact that other users on Yahoo Answers have posted the exact same links repeatedly and have not had their accounts suspended.  I have reported similar posts to see what happens.  I have written emails to Yahoo asking why my account has been suspended while others are still active.  Yahoo ironically, has never given me an answer.  They just tell me to report answers that are in violation, which I have already done and it had no effect.

So how about it Yahoo?  Why do you favor some users over others?  You ban some people but you let others remain active who post the exact same kinds of answers with commercial links.

And you can register again after they suspend your account, it is just an annoyance.  Suspending accounts will not stop people from re-registering. 

Yahoo services continue to go downhill.  If you have had your account suspended in a similar fashion, leave a reply below.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Eden Wood - Cutie Patootie

I found this video of a beauty pageant girl named Eden Wood performing a rap song on the show The Talk.  Her lyrics are a bit hard to understand so the author of this video made some amusing subtitles for it.  This is viral material and it doesn't even have a lot of views yet.  The expressions on Sharon Osbourne and Leah Remini's faces are priceless.  The lyrics are hilarious and the song is catchy.  Hope there is a studio recording soon!  Enjoy!



Looks like the original video was made private.  Here is the studio version of the song

Friday, December 10, 2010

Good News About AT&T DSL Service

In previous entries I have expressed dissatisfaction about how AT&T charged me the full price up front for my new dsl service when it had advertised a promotional rate.  I was later informed that this is just how the system works and that I would be given credit for paying the full price in the following months, to bring it back down to the promotional price.

I was skeptical about this but I waited to see what happened.  Sure enough, I got my statement this month for $0, plus it shows a credit for the remaining balance that was over paid on the first month.  So it looks like they will be honoring the promotional price after all.  Thank you AT&T for making this right!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

People Who Listen to Music too Loud

If you are listening to a song with headphones and I can recognize what song it is from across the room, guess what?  Your music is too loud.  Why do people blast music so loud?  Its been proven that being exposed to loud noise for an extended period of time causes hearing loss.  Maybe these people don't know or they don't care.  For someone listening to music, you would think they wouldn't want to lose their hearing.

Have some respect.  If I'm driving in the car with my windows up and so are you and I can hear your music clearly, it's too loud.  There have been so many time where someone pulls up next to me at a light blasting some offensive music.  Are you serious?  There could be young kids around.  We don't want to hear that.  Have some common courtesy.
 
People should have the right to silence and not be forced to hear someone else's music that is too loud.

On a related topic, there is the issue of playing music in the background while doing some other activity or work.  Some people like to do this and even claim it helps them focus.  For me, when I listen to music, I listen to it.  What I mean is I focus on it and pay attention to it, listening to everything about it.  This may be a habit I developed from years of music production or just from listening to a lot of different music over the years.

Either way, I think music deserves respect enough to have the listener's full attention.  Someone put a lot of work into the song you are listening to.  I think it often goes unappreciated.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

TV Shows Update: Human Target

So I just added a new show to my weekly lineup.  It is called Human Target.  The show is in its 2nd season and airs Wednesdays on Fox.  It is an action drama about a guy and his team who take on missions to protect people who are being targeted for assassination.  It is based on a comic book character from DC and you can definitely noticed this in the writing and suspended belief, but in a good way.  Each episode is like a movie.  The characters are likable and the story lines are fast paced and action packed.  I compare this show to Prison Break in terms of style.  Check this one out when you get a chance.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

People Who Shake Hands Too Hard

What's up with people who squeeze your hand too hard when you shake their hand? You know how it goes, you meet someone for the first time, shake their hand as is customary, and they squeeze your hand like they are trying to break it. In some cases, I don't think they are doing it on purpose. They probably aren't aware how hard they are squeezing. Maybe they were told by someone that you should have a firm hand shake and they think this means they should squeeze hard when they meet someone. But in other situations, they might be squeezing too hard intentionally.

When this happens, I would like to set them straight and tell them, "Hey, take it easy there. You don't have to break my hand.", but you can't say something like that to someone you are meeting for the first time without it being offensive and starting out on the wrong foot. So you just have to smile and say, "Nice to meet you" while your hand is in pain.

Can we please do away with the custom of hand shakes entirely? I have never been a fan of shaking people's hands for a number of reasons. I think this custom needs to go away. Something like bowing or a respectful nod would be better. Even just a fist bump would be better than a shake.

Anyway, if you have had someone shake your hand too hard, you know what I'm talking about. If you yourself have a firm handshake, please do a little self reflection and consider if you might be shaking other people's hands too hard. It sets a bad first impression and people will avoid you if you squeeze too hard.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Song Parodies

I love song parodies especially when they are making fun of artists who need to be put in their place.  I'm talking about those artists who are topping the charts yet have no natural talent, but got there through looks, connections, and luck.  The song parodies below are some of my recent favorites.  The Key of Awesome makes fun of Kesha and Owl City, while Nice Peter does a cover of Like a G6.  Enjoy!

The Key of Awesome (Barely Political) - We R Who We R



Nice Peter - Like It's Quidditch



The Key of Awesome - Owl City Parody

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

AT&T DSL Problems, False Advertising, and Frustration

As mentioned on one of my previous blogs, I recently signed up for AT&T DSL service.  So far, I have encountered so many problems, mostly related to service and billing.  You may have noticed them advertising a promotional rate of $14.95 a month for DSL internet.  Sounds pretty good right?  So I get my first bill and guess what, it is $35.00.  So of course I am like what?  I give them a call and they tell me that you have to pay the full price for 2 to 3 billing cycles before they credit your account and start giving you the promotional rate.  They say it is in the terms of service.  I read it carefully and this is what it says:

"Customers purchasing new AT&T High Speed Internet Direct Basic, Express or Pro will pay $14.95 per month for 12 months after application of bill credit. Bill credits will be applied between the 2nd and 3rd bill cycles after initiation of service."

This is not clear and it is in the fine print.  I would consider this dishonest advertising especially when they are saying clearly that "you can get DSL service for $14.95 for 12 months". They don't say, "pay full price for a few months" and then they we will give you the promotional rate.

A quick search revealed that hundreds of other customers are upset by this exact issue.  Here are a few links:
http://www.dslreports.com/forum/r24834245-First-bill-doesnt-have-the-promotional-rate
http://m.slickdeals.net/forums/showthread.php?sduid=0&t=2157474&page=118
http://www.fatwallet.com/forums/hot-deals/1020394/?start=720

Now I did write an email to AT&T expressing my annoyance with this billing and they called me back.  They explained that this is just how the system works and that I should be getting credited eventually so that it will bring the overall cost down to what it would be if I were paying the $14.95 right from the beginning.  I'm not holding my breath on that one. Customer complaints have already expressed that they kept getting billed for the full price even ever 2 to 3 billing cycles.  Something tells me I may have to contact customer service again in a couple months.

And the billing is not even the tip of the iceberg with problems I have been having with AT&T.  I wanted to opt out of their privacy sharing policy.  I tried to do it several times.  Guess what, I got an error every time.

I tried to log into my account online.  The only way you can get access is to have them send you a code by email.  Ok, so I request a code.  Guess what, they don't send it.  I tell this to the customer service guy and he tells me the system is broken and I will have to request it again.

In my email to AT&T I had a lot to say about all the issues I have been having.  Surely nothing can go wrong with that right?  Wrong!  Their email system doesn't even allow you to write more that 1000 characters.  That is like a couple paragraphs.  Do I need to send 3 separate emails just to include everything I need to say? 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Cost of Medical Bills is Way too High!

What ever happened that made doctors and hospitals think they can charge outrageous amounts of money for services?  If you have had any medical expenses lately you know what I am talking about.  Now I know doctors should earn a lot for their experience and they have to cover the cost of equipment and employees, not to mention any legal costs that might occur, but still, these medical costs are getting out of hand. I'm talking everything from doctor visits to hospital visits to dentist visits to prescription drugs.

For those who are lucky enough to have insurance, that does help, especially for annual visits where you usually just have to pay a small co-pay.  However, if you need any other tests or work done, prepare to pay an arm and a leg.

Recently, I had a check up and the doctor heard a murmur in my chest and recommended that I have an echocardiogram done to check it out.  Ok, so of course I follow his advice and make the appointment.  The test was basically an ultrasound of the chest which took about 30 minutes to complete. Pretty easy.  They didn't tell me about costs or anything in advance or while I was there.  I just had to give them the form from my doctor.  I figured, I would probably have to pay a co-pay of $30 and the insurance would cover the rest of it.

 A couple weeks later I get the bill in the mail.  It is over $2,000!  What?  How is a 30 minute ultrasound test $2,000?  Luckily the insurance covered a lot of it, but in the end they are still charging me over $600.  I had to pay a deductible of $500 plus a percent of the remaining balance.  Who has that kind of money to just drop on a random test that you doctor says you should get? I don't make a lot of money, but I do manage the little I do have well so I have some saved up, but still, this will take a huge chunk out of my savings.

If I would have known the cost of this test, I might not have had it done, or at least talk to my doctor to make sure it was absolutely necessary.  By the way, the test results were fine, so it basically cost me over $600 for them to look at my heart and say it was fine. 

Why don't hospitals tell you the costs up front?  Even looking on their website, there is nothing about the costs of each procedure.  I did a search on the internet to get an idea of the costs and there was very little information out there on the entire internet.

I mean, you don't go into a car dealership, take a car, and then later get a bill for how much the dealership wants to charge you.  You know how much it is before you buy it, then you make your decision.  This is how most things work whether it is a product or a service.  The prices are advertised.  Why should health care be any different?  Oh yeah, so you don't know how much you have to pay until it it too late.  The medical field is really taking advantage of people in this way.  It's time for a change!

If you read this and have an opinion on the matter, leave a comment below.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Talented Lesser Known Female Singers

With ladies like Gaga and Katy Perry getting so much attention these days, I thought I would share a few songs by women who are excellent singers, but not that famous. 

The first one is Meredith Godreau under her band name Gregory and the Hawk.  Meredith has one of the most beautiful voices in the world in my opinion.  She has a new album coming out soon called Leche, and this is one of the songs from it called For the Best:



Next up is Khaela Maricich who makes music under the name The Blow.  She has not released a new album recently, but I hear she has some new songs and plans to have a new release next year.  Here is one called True Affection:



Not sure if I have shared this one before, but the last recommendation is a girl that goes by the name Soko.  It is kind of hard to follow her progress online in terms of new music, but here is the one that put her on the map.  It is an emotional song called I'll Kill her:

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

AT&T DSL and Customer Service

Recently I decided to switch from Comcast broadband internet to AT&T DSL internet because Comcast kept raising my rates.  All I wanted was the basic internet and the cheapest they will give it for is like $43 per month.  AT&T was offering a promotional rate of $14.95 per month for a year, so I thought I would try it out.

I had a very hard time signing up for it.  First, they did not have my address in the system.  They even have the name of my town misspelled in the system, and it is not even a small town or anything.  So I manage to sign up after having to call them up and cancel the 1st order which went through under a different address.

I set it up with my own DSL modem.  Set up was ok, but not without problems.  It took about an hour to get it working. Signing up online is not easy at all.  I still can't even access my bill online.  In fact I just got an order summary saying that my price is the regular price without the promotion.  I call up AT&T, go through all the annoying automated messages and wait on hold listening to even more annoying background noise.  When I get through the guy says that they bill the regular price and then give you credit a few months later.  What?  Why not just bill how much it is?

Oh yeah, and I have to have them send out a confirmation mail through regular mail just to sign up online to view my bill.  So far I am very disappointing with their customer service. 

As for the speed of the DSL, it is actually pretty good.  The download speed is faster than I was getting with Comcast.  The upload and ping time is a little slower, but not by much.  Overall there is not much difference and I have been able to use the internet and even stream videos without any problem.  A couple times it stopped working, but a restart and reboot fixed it.

Also, about the bill, online they said there is no commitment at the promo price, but over the phone they guy says that you need to keep it for a year if you want that price.  The AT&T reps don't seem to know what is going on.  Which reminds me of how at first, they couldn't find my address in the system and ultimately told me they did not service my location.  The only way I got it is when I called them up to cancel the order and they managed to look it up when I told them the reason.

Anyway, the internet works and as long as we get this billing situation figured out I will be satisfied.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Bad People

I am so tired of the bad people in this world.  What do I mean by bad people?  People who are disrespectful.  People who think they don't have to follow the rules.  People who ruin life for all the good people that have to be exposed to them on a daily basis.

I encounter these kinds of people everyday.  It usually happens at work, and since it is a school, it is usually the students.  It is amazing how many bad kids there are and how often they do things that are wrong or inappropriate.  I happen to work at a good high school so this is troubling when there are so many bad kids in a school that is supposed to be one of the good ones.  If this is true, I can imagine the kind of trouble that goes on in the not so good schools.  This is really disturbing especially when you realize that this is the future of our society.

A couple things I say sometimes are "I cry for society" and "Society makes me sad".   This is because the world is not as good as it could be because of the people who bring it down. 

Now of course there are still good people and those will hopefully keep society civilized and tolerable.  It's a shame that the good people have to suffer as a result of all the bad people.  Where is the justice?

One of my mottoes is "Good things happen to good people", and "Bad things happen to bad people".  Basically the idea of Karma.  I really hope this is true.  Good people should be rewarded and bad people should be punished.  Sometimes it doesn't seem like that happens, but hopefully in the end it will somehow either in this life or beyond.  

If I could be anything at all, I would be a superhero with unlimited power and abilities.  I would use my powers to bring justice to the world and make it a better place.

Imagine a world of Utopia where everything is perfect, everyone is happy, there is no stress, or pain, or things that go wrong.  How nice would that be?  It will never happen, but it is a nice idea.  Still the world can be better. The good must persevere and hopefully have an influence on others to become good as well.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Good Customer Service: Jewel Osco/Albertsons

I recently bought some floss at my local Jewel but when I opened it, the roll of floss was missing.  They had contact information on the back in case you are not satisfied with the product, so I sent them an email explaining the situation.  They responded quickly and sent me a coupon to cover the cost.  They also sent me 2 replacement flosses for my troubles.  This is a perfect example of good customer service.  They went above and beyond to correct the problem.  I will continue to be a loyal customer to Jewel for my weekly groceries!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Fall TV Shows Update

I just wanted to add a few more shows to the list from the previous post.  First is No Ordinary Family.  I am a fan of superheroes so when I heard about this show, I made sure to put it on my list of shows to check out.  Starting out, I did not like this show right from the beginning.  I didn't like the characters and I felt it was rushed.  Also, it seems like this idea has been done so many times.  If you are going to do a show about people with superpowers, it better be original.  The power are pretty common.  I was disappointed for example, by how the powers were discovered.  The dad tries to have his friend shoot him to test if he can stop bullets?  He tries to jump off a roof to see if he can fly?  Maybe they are gearing this show towards kids and families, yet there were some themes and language that were not G rated, so I'm not sure where they are going with this.  The one thing that was interesting was when we discovered there is another guy with powers, who was not with the family when they got theirs.  This opens up possibilities for more people with powers and that could make the show more interesting to watch. I'll check it out next week, but I hope it gets better.

The next show I'm watching is Rules of Engagement.  This is a half hour comedy with some familiar faces.  It is back for it's 2nd season.  I watched the 1st season casually and thought it was pretty good.  I have not yet made it required watching, but I will probably be watching it this season unless something else important is going on.

The 3rd show I have been watching is a new one called Raising Hope.  It's kind of a quirky comedy about a young kid who has to raise a baby while being surrounded by all kinds of interesting characters. I have not made a final decision on this one, but I think it has potential so I will be keeping an eye on it.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Fall TV Shows - 2010

Usually fall has a nice line up for tv programs.  I have been trying to stay on top of the new shows premiering and have managed to catch at least portions of the ones that have caught my interest.  So far, I have not been too impressed with the new shows.  Here is a little recap of the new shows I may be watching and the returning shows I will be watching this fall.

New Shows:
So far only 2 new shows have caught my interest after watching the pilots.  One is Mike and Molly.  This is a half hour comedy that airs Mondays on CBS.  It is nothing ground breaking, but the characters and writing seem to be pretty good, so I may watch this one.

Another show that has caught my interest is Outsourced which is another comedy that follows The Office on NBC.  What I like about this is the topic of the show is original.  It is not just another sitcom.  It is about a guy who has to manage a group of telemarketers in India.  I think it has potential so I will be keeping an eye on this one.

Returning Shows:
Some of my top returning shows this fall include The Big Bang Theory which is one of the funniest comedies on tv right now.

Smallville, this one is in it's 10th and final season.  In my opinion, it has gone downhill since season 6, but I am sticking with it til the end.

Hells Kitchen, didn't last season just end like a month ago?  Anyway, HK is always good so I'll be watching Gordon Ramsey this season.

The Office, I'm not a hard core fan of the show, but I usually watch it. Michael Scott is one of the best characters on tv.  This season looks to be pretty good.

The Apprentice, They are back to the regular format of the show without celebrities.  I'm not a fan of Donald Trump, but this show is usually entertaining so I will be watching it.

Undercover Boss, this one has not premiered yet, but I enjoyed last season, so I will definitely be checking out this season.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Bring Back the Delorean

I saw a Delorean car on the road the other day.  You know, the one from the Back to the Future movies.  It is a very rare car that hasn't been made since the 80's.  It got me thinking, what if they revived it and started manufacturing it again?  It would be updated of course to include modern technology, but the basic look and signature features such as the flip up door would be the same.  They could even make special options like the Flux Capacitor that was in the movies!  Anyone who liked the Back to the Future movies would at least be interested in the car.  If they could make it affordable, I think it would be a big hit!  What do you say major car companies?  Someone get on this project!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Blackberry Bold 9700 Review

One of my relatives upgraded their phone and gave me their Blackberry Bold 9700.  I have been using it for a few weeks and I thought I would post a review of the phone.  I will go over the hardware, features and usability of this phone in this review.

The phone itself is very nice looking.  It is black with chrome lining and has a leather texture on the back.  It is a nice size and it is fairy easy to hold.  The full keyboard is pretty easy to use and the screen is crisp and easy to read.  Call quality is as good if not better than most cell phones I have used in the past.  It has a camera with a flash that takes decent looking pictures.

The Blackberry Bold however has many annoyances I have found. One is navigation.  It seems like there is always an extra step involved that should be unnecessary.  For example, the home screen gives you a bottom row of icons to choose from.  You have to press the Blackberry button to get to your full screen of options.  The home screen should already have all these options or at least give you the option to customize it with as many icons as you want.

When I started with the phone, I wanted to clear all the contacts.  There is no easy way to do this.  You have to clear basically everything on the phone if you want to delete the contacts.  Adding new contacts is overly complicated.  The thing with Blackberry is they give you too many options you don't need and they overlook some of the basic things you do need.  When you add a contact, you want the name and number right?  On a Blackberry, they give you a list of about 30 things to fill in when you want to add a new contact.  Adding the actual number is far down on the list and even when you find it, you have to put it under "Work 1" as the primary number.  Maybe some people want a place to up address, birthday, and anniversary, but for me, I just want the name and number.

When I put my sim card into the phone, it automatically added a $25 data plan to my bill.  I was not pleased about this especially since there is a $15 data plan available.  I have since tried to downgrade to the $15 plan and it will not let me.  I rarely use the data options so paying $25 just to use the phone is not worth it.  I will probably end up switching to another phone without a data plan and then sell the Blackberry.  

Overall I think this phone is good for texting and keeping track of detailed information about contacts.  It is ok for web browsing, but not as good as touch screen phones in this area. 

Update 4-8-15: Wow hard to believe it has been almost 5 years and I still have the phone.  Most people seem to update phones every year or 2, but this one has been great and I still use it.  It is showing it's age in that it is not a touch screen and does not have all the iOS and Android apps, but I don't mind.  Nice to see Blackberry is still making phone even with all the competition.  

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Targus CVR200 Laptop Bag Review

I recently purchase a Targus CVR200 laptop case to use as a briefcase for papers, folders, notebooks, and general supplies.  It is meant to carry a laptop, but you can use it to carry anything.  I did some research online and checked out several different models in the stores. I decided on this model because it is a good size, not too big, not too small, it is stylish, and it is light.

The Targus CVR200 is made of neoprene which is light, has some stretching ability and stays relatively clean.  It has a main zipper opening with 2 sides.  It also has a buckle flap section with more room and holders for pencils and smaller items.  The case comes with an adjustable shoulder strap as well as the carrying handle.

I have been using the case for several weeks now and so far it is great.  There is only one problem I have encountered.  Recently I washed the case by putting it in the washing machine.  Bad idea.  The neoprene ripped in the washer.  It was just the top part near the seams, so it is still usable, but I had to sew it up and it doesn't look as good as before.

Over all this is a good case for carrying things, but if you are going to wash it, do so by hand.

Update: 4-8-15 I still have the bag and it has been pretty good in the long run.  Overall it has not worn down much even after using it pretty much every day.  I would recommend this bag if you are looking for a light and stylish laptop bag or carrying case.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

New Computer: HP G62 Laptop


I had been looking to get a new laptop for the past few months and finally I found one, the HP G62 234DX.  It is a mid-range laptop that I got for $499 at Best Buy. The story of how I got it is worth telling.  So a few months back I found this laptop advertised online, but it was out of stock.  I figured I would wait a few days until it got back in stock.  The next thing I know, the model is removed from the website and there is no trace of it.  I search for information in it online, but there is very little out there.  So I decide to hold off on getting a laptop because there are no other models that I wanted.

Then about a week ago, I check Best Buy online and the computer is back for the price of $499.  This is a great deal for the specs that it comes with.  I notice that it is not available to purchase online, but you can reserve it in stores.  Then I see that it is sold out in most of the local stores.  I manage to find availability at one of the stores not too far away so I add it to the cart and buy it.  It was ready for pick up the next morning.

A day after I go to check it out online again at the Best Buy website, and to my surprise, the price had jumped $200 to $699!  I am so glad I was able to get it at the $499 price. So far I have been pretty happy with the laptop.  You can check out my full detailed review of the laptop here: http://hubpages.com/hub/HP-G62-234DX-Laptop-Review

Update 4-8-15: It has been almost 5 years and I still use the HP G62 laptop daily.  I spend a lot of time working on the computer and it has held up well over the years.  Haven't had to many issues.  There have been a few hiccups along the way but nothing that could not be fixed relatively easy.  Overall I am satisfied with this laptop and would probably buy another HP again. 

Monday, August 9, 2010

Our Habit of Putting Ice in Beverages and Refilling Water

Why is it that whenever your go to a restaurant, they put ice in your beverage?  Is it to keep it cold?  The beverage is already refrigerated and cold ahead of time so why does it need ice?  The ice just dilutes the taste and makes it watery.  Do restaurants fill the glasses with ice so they don't have to give you so much of the beverage?  This doesn't seem to make sense either because ice itself has a cost either by making it or buying it.  Also most places will give you free refills on drinks so that cancels out that theory.  Do people really need their beverages to be ice cold?  I for one prefer beverages without ice and I think we need to start getting out of the habit of putting ice in everything when it is unnecessary.

On a related topic, when you are at restaurants and you have your standard glass of water, some places have servers going around with a pitcher of water constantly trying to refill your glass.  Were talking about glasses that have maybe 24 ounces, plenty of water for 1 meal, yet they have people going around trying to refill these, without asking mind you.  One glass of water is enough.  I don't need it to be full throughout the entire meal so that at the end of the meal I am left with a full glass of water.  If people need a refill on water, they can ask for it.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Contribution to Society

After having about 10 weeks off of work for summer vacation, it was time to get back to work.  The thought of going back to work was kind of depressing.  I thought about how nice it would be to never have to work and to just sit around and do whatever I want, whenever I want.  The only way this could happen is if you were rich and didn't need to work.  This got me thinking about something.  What would happen if everyone was rich?

At first you think, well everyone would be happy and they could buy whatever they want.  But then after a minute, you realize, if everyone was rich, no one would work, and if no one worked, nothing would get done.  No products would be manufactured, no services would be performed and quickly society would fall apart.  People would have money, but they wouldn't be able to buy things because there would be nothing left to buy.

So what about people who are rich?  Is it fair for them to not work and not contribute to society?  Many may have earned it, but other have inherited money and never really had to work for it. Either way, I think everyone should contribute in some way whether it is from work, service, or just giving back to to those less fortunate

When it comes to thinking about work, try to think of it not as something you HAVE to do to earn money, but something you SHOULD do in order to do your part and contribute to society.  This might improve morale overall if everyone looked at it this way.

The Youtube Comment Generation

If you are a frequent visitor to Youtube, no doubt you have noticed the comments posted below each video.  While many of them are nice, you can't help but notice how many mean spirited, inappropriate, and nasty comments there are.  It seems like this has become almost standard and expected.  It's like Youtube comments are a place for people to say whatever they want even if they know they shouldn't.  I think even people who are nice in real life and would never say bad things to someone in person, often get sucked into this state of mind of posting offensive comments on Youtube videos.

Should Youtube monitor the comments better and try to stop it?  I don't think they can because there are so many comments.  I think for now people have to expect that this is the culture on Youtube right now and if you are going to post videos, expect to get some not so nice comments.  Also I think people have to not take comments so seriously, because most the time the comments are made just to get a rise out of people and try to start a flame war with the other commenters. 

Update: With the changes Youtube has made over the years, it looks like they have tried to make comments less a part of the experience with focus on the actual videos, yet the comments sections remain and there are still many people who post inappropriate comments.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Bring back the Jamie Kennedy Experiment

The Jamie Kennedy Experiment was a hidden camera show that has 3 seasons during the early 2000's.  This was one of the funniest shows on tv.  I have all 3 seasons on DVD and they are great.  Apparently the network canceled it after 3 seasons which is a shame because it is one of the best prank shows out there!  Jamie, if you are listening, please make more JKX!  Just look at all the positive comments about it on Youtube.  Here are some of my favorite clips from the show:





Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Society's Image Portrayed by the Media

Is the media making us feel bad about ourselves?  Specifically the shows we see on tv.  Whether it is dramas, commercials, or reality shows, the people chosen to be on these shows are all beautiful.  Take the show "The Bachelor" for example.  You have one beautiful lady who goes out on dates with a bunch of good looking guys.  All these guys look the same with their chiseled features, perfect hair, and muscles.  I understand that they pick these guys on their looks so people will watch the show, but this is not reality.  Normal everyday people don't look like that.

This is something we know, but when you watch a lot of tv and you see that everyone is good looking, you begin to think that real life is like that.  Then you see yourself in the mirror and you don't look as good as the people on tv and it makes you feel bad.  We need to start getting some more real people in the media and on tv.  People that don't look perfect.  We need people on tv who are admired by what they do and who they are, not what they look like.

I think the media has caused us to be overly judgmental of people also.  There are so many competition shows where contestants are judged on who is the best. This makes us as viewer get into the same habit of always judging people.  While judging people is something most people do naturally, it is not always a good thing and many times judgments end up being wrong.

I say these things about how the media should change, but I still love watching tv.  I watch the reality shows and the competition shows and I enjoy them.  Would I still watch them if the people on there were not pretty?  I think so.  Sure it is nice to see good looking people, but they do not represent reality.  I think people would actually connect more with people who are more like every day people.  Overall the media needs to stop portraying in inaccurate image of reality and start showcasing real people doing real good.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Home is Whenever I'm with You

I recently found a new great song.  It is "Home" by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.  I found it through a viral video of a guy who documented his journey walking across the USA.  Just when you think the end has come for good music, a song like this comes along and restores hope.  Goosebumps.

 

Master Chef: How many cooking shows do we need?

I watched the premiere of Gordon Ramsay's new show Master Chef last night.  I wasn't looking forward to it, but it was on after Hell's Kitchen which I watch, so I decided to check it out.  I'm surprised at how many cooking shows there are on tv.  I mean this is at least the 4 different Gordon Ramsay cooking show that has aired in the last few years, and there are a lot of other cooking shows out there.  Is America really that into cooking shows?

Anyway, so I watched it.  It was pretty good.  They have regular people trying out to be the next great chef as decided by Gordon and a couple other judges.  About the judges, one guy has bright white glasses and he seems like a pretty nice guy.  The other judge seems like a jerk.  He thinks he is hot stuff but no one knows who he is.  I'm not a big fan of his personality, but it will make for good tv.  I'll probably watch it next week unless something better is on.   If you like Gorden Ramsay and competition shows, you will probably like Master Chef.

Update: So years have past and Master Chef is still on the air, and actually it is one of my favorite shows!  Also there is now a spin off version, Master Chef Jr which is also entertaining and just as much fun to watch!

Moe's Southwest Grill Review

I recently tried a new restaurant called Moe's Southwest Grill.  I found it randomly through the internet while doing research.  After studying up on it, it seemed to be very similar to Chipotle which is one of my favorite places to eat.  There was a Moe's location not to far away, so I decided to give it a try.

I went there around 5:00 pm on a week day.  I was expecting it to be somewhat busy, but when I got there, the place was empty.  There might have been maybe 2 customers in the whole place.  Anyway, I knew what I was going to get ahead of time so I went right to the counter.  The process was very much like Chipotle.  I got a burrito and customized it how I wanted it.  I believe it was suppose to come with free chips and salsa.  I got the chips, but they didn't give me salsa.

Some things didn't happen that I thought would happen.  I heard they are suppose to say "welcome to Moe's" when you walk in, but they didn't.  I heard they play music from only musicians who have passed away.  I don't recall hearing any music while I was there.

So how was the food?  Overall pretty good.  The burrito was similar to Chipotle.  The most noticeable difference is the rice.  At Chipotle it is bright white, but at Moe's it is more brown like fried rice.  They offer a lot of options for things to put in the burritos and tacos which is nice.  They also offer different sizes of burritos which is a nice option.  Overall I was satisfied with the food.

Would I go back?  Probably, but it's not something I would go out of my way for.  If you like Chipotle, you will probably like Moe's because it is almost the same thing.  Basically, when you get tired of Chipotle, but you still like burritos and tacos, go to Moe's Southwest Grill.

Update:
Upon further visits I learned that there is actually a salsa bar where you can go and pick out the salsas that you want for your chips.  Also, sign up for the Moe's email and get a free burrito on your birthday!

Update 2
Sadly the Moe's in the area have closed down.  I'm not sure why they did not make it because I thought it was a good restaurant.  I do think the menu was a bit confusing with all the strange names for everything.  That is the one thing I would change, but other than that, I think it was a hit!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Money, Greed, and Business - How Money Causes Problems

Is money the root of all evil? I don't know if that is true, but what I do know is that money causes people to do bad things.  People are willing to be dishonest, deceitful, and immoral in order to get financial gain.  I see this with individuals and with companies all the time.  Examples:

An online company I used to work with recently changed up their business model and in turn took away money that myself and fellow employees were promised.  It was money that was supposed to be paid to us over time for work done in the past.  But instead, the company decided not to honor the former agreement so now the employees are out of luck and the money that was suppose to go to us, is now going to the company.

A credit card I signed up for about a year ago promised 3% cash back on spending.  While this was great for a while, recently they changed their policy and now they only give 1% cash back.  Companies like this get customers with an attractive deal, making you think it will always be like that.  Then once you are signed up and committed to them, they switch it up and all of a sudden, the deal is not that great.

Banks do this all the time.  I have gone through several different banks and accounts.  They start by offering a competitive interest rate to get people to sign up.  Then slowly over time the interest rate drops and you can't do anything about it.  Banks, pick a rate and stick with it!  Stop sucking people in with a nice rate only to drop it a few months later.

It is like this with mortgage rates too in the opposite way.  You see ads in the paper for low rates on mortgages.  You contact them thinking you will get the rate you see in the paper. Guess what?  You  won't.  They will have all these restrictions and stipulations and before you know it, they end up offering you a rate that is not nearly as good as the one advertised in the paper.

I recently had some work done in my house.  I was under the impression that it would be about $150 to do the job.  The worker ended up using extra time by going back and forth to his van, and going to the hardware store to pick up parts.  Meanwhile he is still charging me the high hourly rate.  I ended up paying $230.  Plus I found out later he over charged me a bit for the parts and took with him some of the parts that should have been mine.

In another example, I used to own an online company and had a group of people who worked with me.  I did most of the work, but there was a small community that were part of it.  When I decided to close down the business, I kept the left over profits.  It was not a lot by any means, and given the fact that it was my company and I did most of the work, I felt it belonged to me.  Those who contributed to the company over the years got their promised share of the revenue for their contributions.  What was left, I considered to be my share considering I was never paid over the years the business was run.  In the end though, several of the other members felt I was wrong by taking the money for myself.  Everything was ironed out, but still, money caused problems.

So is money the root of all evil?  I don't think it is the root of all evil, but it certainly is the root of a lot of evil.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Liberty Mutual Insurance Claim Review

I recently had some water damage to my property due to a leak from my upstairs neighbor.  According to the coverage on my homeowners insurance plan, the damage should have been covered.  First, I sent them an email to make sure it was covered.  A couple days later, they reply and tell me I have to file a claim to get this information.  Ok, so I file a claim.  A few days later I get a call to discuss the damage.  I am instructed to take pictures of the damage and send it in.  I do this.  A couple days later they call me up and tell me it will not be covered because they think it is long term damage based on the pictures.  I explained that it just happened recently and how it was from a cause covered in the contract.  They would not change their mind.  I really tried to make my case, but they would not have it.  So basically, they refused to cover anything even though I believe it should have been covered based on what the plan covers.

I ended up repairing the damage myself at my own expense.  Overall I am not very please with Liberty Mutual after this experience.  I'm not very pleased with insurance in general.  These companies do not exist to help people in need.  They exist to make money. And because of this, the consumer will never come out ahead or even.  The consumer will always lose money.  This is frustrating because insurance is required on things like cars and homes with a mortgage.

There is an option to file a complaint to the Department of Insurance.  I seriously was considering this, but given the fact that my deductible is $500 and the cost to fix the damage probably wouldn't be much more than that, it didn't seem worth the effort.  Still I am not very pleased with my experience and I would not recommend this insurance company.

UPDATE: 7-28-12
So each year my renewal statement comes along, the premium inevitability goes up.  I decided to call them up to get an explanation and try to get it back down to where it was.  After being on hold for about 10 minutes I finally get to talk to someone. They guy was nice and answered my questions, but he wasn't able to lower my premium without making significant drops in coverage amounts so I ended up keeping it as is.  Still I am not happy with this company.  I plan on shopping around today to get some quotes from other companies.

Update 8-5-13
Once again they raised my rates on my insurance for the new year.  This time I decided to get some quotes from other companies.  I ended up getting a better rate from State Farm for similar coverage.  I thought if I mentioned that I was canceling my insurance the Liberty Mutual might try to match the quote. They did review the policy but could not match it so I ended up canceling and switching to get the better rate.  

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Best Online Dating Site: eHarmony or Match.com?

Thinking about joining one of those online dating sites but don't know which one?  Here is an in-depth article comparing these 2 leading dating sites: eHarmony vs. Match.com.  The article goes though each step from the sign up process to the features to actually communicating with matches.  See a side by side price comparison and learn how to get discounts on subscriptions such as 20% off.  You perfect match could be out there right now!  Check out this guide to see which online dating service is right for you.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Writing Website: Hub Pages

So I recently joined a new writing website called Hub Pages. You get to write articles on just about everything and have the chance to earn a percentage of any revenue that is generated from your pages or hubs as they call it. So far I am really enjoying it. I find the website to be very user friendly and it offers a lot of freedom to the writer when it comes to content. The community is lively and supportive. I have already written some new hubs on some topics I am familiar with.It's too early to tell how well the pages will perform, but I am optimistic!

Update: 1-23-14
So Hubpages was good for a while and the article were making decent money off the ad revenue.  However about a year or so ago, Google altered their search algorithm and the traffic and revenue took a big hit.  I no longer write new articles there but it is still a good website and I still have my articles published there.  

What Sounds Good Right Now: Our Lady Peace and M.I.A.

I just listened to this song I remembered from back in the 90's when there was all that good alternative rock. The song is Clumsy by Our Lady Peace. From the beautiful intro, to the pre-chorus that is good enough to be a chorus, to the powerful chorus itself, this song is just right.


This one is fairly new. It's by M.I.A. the one who brought you Paper Planes. This song is called XXXO and it is pretty catchy. I like the subtle imperfections of the song mixed with the catchy hooky. This version has Jay Z on it to switch it up a bit.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Wipeout Review

Wipeout is a fun light-hearted show about everyday people going through crazy physical obstacles trying to avoid "wiping out". The winner at the end get $50,000. Now that I think of it, that seems like a lot for a show like this. Anyway, it's fun to watch for a short amount of time, but after about 30 minutes, the wipeouts become repetitive. I find that the beginning is actually the best part because that is when they have all the contestants that really should be there and they wipe out the best. As it goes along, the better contestants are left and they don't wipe out as much.

Highlights of the show include John Anderson and John Henson commentating and making jokes along the way. I like how they personalize each contestant and kind of go with a running theme for each one. Also on the team is Jill Wagner who does reporting on the scene. She is great, but I just get the feeling, she doesn't really want to be there, or that she knows she should be doing something better. Still it is nice to have her on the show.

Overall it is a pretty entertaining show. I would like to see them mix it up a little bit here and there. Some people mentioned the possibility of Celebrity Wipeout. I think that would be a hit for sure!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Match.com 25% Discount on Subscription

Update: 9-1-16: You can now get 25% Off Match.com subscriptions.

Use this Match promo code link to save on any subscription plan so you can start contacting your matches today. If you haven't signed up yet, you can set up your profile for free and review your matches. Once you are ready to start emailing your favorites, use the link above to apply your discount and get the best rate on your Match subscription!

If you just want to try it out for free, here is a promotion for a 3 day trial offer that includes communication features so you can contact your matches.  

With all the advances of modern technology and the internet, it's no wonder more and more people are turning to the internet and online dating to find potential partners! 

Friday, June 25, 2010

Yahoo Stop Stealing My Searches!

I have my homepage set to Yahoo because it has a lot of general information on it and has some features use such as email. I like Gmail better but I still have a couple Yahoo accounts. Anyway, when I go to do a search, I don't use Yahoo. I use the Google bar up in the top right of Firefox. I just find Google results to be the most accurate.

Anyway, for some reason, when you click your cursor up in the Google search box, a split second later it jumps down to the Yahoo search box. This is incredibly annoying! You either have to wait a second after the page loads so Yahoo will not steal your cursor, or it will take your whole search or part of the word you are typing.

Not only that, sometimes when you manage to get the whole word typed in the Google search bar, Yahoo still manages to redirect you to a blank Yahoo page with a search bar! I am so close to switching my homepage away from Yahoo. I want to, but I'm just so used to it. One of these days I will switch it. This is not the first time I have been annoyed by Yahoo. It's things like this that contribute to the downfall of popular websites.

Update: I know have Google set for the home page so problem is solved!  I still go to Yahoo for some things like mail, news, and finance, but for most searches, I use Google. 

Friday, June 11, 2010

So You Think You Can Dance: Season 7 Review

Ok so we are a couple weeks into SYTYCD, so I thought I would weigh in on the new season. So far, it has been ok, but many of the new changes I do not like.

First off, there are only 10, make that 11 dancers that were chosen for the top group. The other 10 spots are taken by "all stars" which are former dancers from the show. I don't mind seeing the older dancers, but many of them I don't even know because they are from the earlier seasons that I didn't see. Also, the ones that I do know from the past few seasons, are not some of my favorites.

With only having 10 new dancers, that means there are 10 dancers that didn't get a chance with America. In past seasons, some of the top dancers actually started out in the bottom 20, some barely made it. And look what happened. They became stars. This is a missed opportunity this season.

Next there are some new judges that I don't like. One of the strengths of this show is the great personalities on the judges and the dancers. This season they have brought on some new guest judges that are not very likable.

Another difference this year is the judges going to the dancer's houses to let them know if they made the show or not. This is good for the ones that made it, but for the ones that didn't, it is heartbreaking. Why go to their house and bring a camera crew if you are just going to tell them they didn't make it?

As for the top 10 this year, my early favorites are Kent and Billy Bell. They have a ton of talent and are very likable. Things can change over the course of the season, so we will see what happens.

Monday, May 24, 2010

My Thoughts and Reaction to the Lost Series Finale

So one of my favorite shows "Lost" just had it's series finale last night. Overall I think the series is one of the best shows to air on television and I recommend that everyone watch it. In fact, if you haven't seen it, you are so lucky because you have 6 seasons of amazing television waiting for you. This is a review of the finale so don't read it if you have not seen it.

My first reaction once the show ended last night was... what? I was more confused than anything. This being the final episode in the series, I was expecting to finally get some solid answers. But of course this is Lost, and they are known for leaving the viewers with more questions than answers, so I guess I shouldn't have been surprised. Since there was not a straight forward ending, I was initially disappointed. However, the more I thought about the finale and analyzed it, the more I began to understand it and appreciate it.

What Lost did was end the series in a way that was not exactly clear and instead is open to many interpretations and theories. This is actually the best way to do it. If you give a definitive answer, only those who want that answer will be happy. Everyone else would be disappointed. But if you leave it open, everyone can think about it and decide what happened on their own.

So what is my theory? I think at the end, all the characters in the room are basically at the "gates of heaven" or the place right before you go to the after life. I think the good characters made it there and were able to go through, but the bad characters were not able to go through. This is a theory I haven't heard from others yet. For example, Ben Linus stayed outside the church. I don't think this was really his choice. I think he was not able to go in with them or pass through because he had been very bad over the years. Some other bad characters also were not present.

So were all the people in the room dead at that point? I'm not sure. It seems like some of them were, but maybe some were not. If they were all dead, then this had to take place some time further in the future. Yet some of these characters did not age, so that is kind of strange if this is the case.

Overall I thought the finale was good, but a few things I didn't like. I was wondering why Sayid ended up with Shannon. What happened to his long lost love Nadia? Shannon was just a short fling on the island. His whole purpose was to get back with Nadia, so the choice to put him with Shannon was a poor one in my opinion.

Another thing is some characters did not get enough fulfillment. For example Charles Widmore. He was an important character and we really never figured out what his angle was. I mean he finally gets back to the island and he is fighting against the man in black. Then he whispers something to the man in black and Ben shoots him. And that's it for him? We should have at least gotten a better understanding of him and his purpose.

One thing I am confused about is why the man in black turned into the smoke monster when he was thrown down the waterfall. I believe he was killed when he went down, but what turned him into the smoke monster? Desmond and Jack went down there too, but remained human.

I was worried when Desmond uncorked the energy of the island and all the powers were lost. It felt like the magic of the show disappeared in that time. I was glad to see it restored when Jack put the cork back in. However I don't like that he sacrificed himself to do it. I think he should have survived and been Jacobs replacement.

So we understand that Hurley took on the role of Jacob with Ben as his 2nd in command. They never really showed what happened on the island after that time. Who was left? Was there any negative energy or evil left on the island? If not, what is there to protect?

I was kind of hoping that Jack would take over as the next Jacob and someone else would take over as the next man in black. I'm thinking Sawyer would have made a great nemesis for Jack as they battled so much though out the season. I think it would have been a great way to end with those 2 sitting side by side, staring out into the ocean and Sawyer saying how he is going to kill Jack one day. The scene would be much like the one with Jacob and the man in black before.

So overall what happened? From what I can tell, the Lost crew was currently living in the side flash reality and they were slowly remembering their experience on the island. I think their different realities kind of merged together into the sideways reality. What is real, what is imaginary, who is dead, who is alive... these questions are still confusing and I'm not sure of the answer. I think the creators of Lost left it like this so we will continue to discuss it and come up with our own theories and interpretations of the story.

Overall I had a great time watching this show over the years. This is one of those shows where, after you see the whole thing, you need to go back and re-watch it with a new understanding and perspective. One day I hope to do this and re-watch the entire series. Will there ever be another show as good as Lost? We can only hope. Maybe a spin off or a continuation of the series later on. There is so much potential. I hope we see something more from the Lost mythology in the future.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Good Still Exists

Lately I have been not depressed, but feeling kind of down by all the bad people that are out there in the world. It seems like there are fewer and fewer truly good people out there. It makes me want to avoid people just so I don't have to interact with the bad ones.

Today however, my spirits were brightened. I was shopping at Kohls and I was waiting in line to check out at the register. A young girl was working the register and I noticed she was very friendly to the customer ahead of me. Usually in a job like this, the sales associate is not very happy; they are just doing their job, so when this girl was extra nice, it caught my attention.

Then it was my turn to check out. She was very friendly to me also. She had a nice personality, but not overpowering. She even gave me an extra 15% off with a coupon that they probably give out for customers to use on their next purchase.

This girl made me realize that there are still good people out there.

This situation is similar to one of the fundamental concepts of one of my favorite shows Lost, which has its series finale tonight. The concept is good vs. evil. In the show, there is a good guy and a bad guy. The good guy has to exist to prevent the bad guy from getting out and turning everyone else bad in a sense. The bad guy wants to kill him, but the good guy keeps bringing more people to the island to join him in an effort for good. As long as good exists, it will triumph over evil. I think this is true for real life. Which side are you on?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

How are these guys not topping the charts?

So I was watching this new show Jamie Oliver's Food Nation and they has this part where they sort of did a live dance/cooking performance on a college campus. They used this song and I thought it was pretty good. At 1st I thought it was Sean Paul, and I don't like Sean Paul, but this song was good.

So I go to look it up and find out it is by a group called The DNC and the song is called Jungle Flames. I look them up some more and they have 1 album out. I listened to their songs and they are all pretty good. They make the kind of music that is super popular right now, which makes me wonder why they are not supper popular? Apparently they have had songs featured in various tv shows and movies, yet I haven't heard them in the actual music scene until now. Anyway, check it out:

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Youtube, Stop Changing!

Why is it that Youtube feels the need to keep changing everything up once we finally learn how to use it? I liked Youtube's format way back in the day and every update seems to make it worse.

Why is it that every feature you want to use seems to be hidden behind a button? It's like you have to jump though hoops to get to features that should be right there.

Information that used to be in the sidebar is now hidden underneath the video. So this means all the millions of video that were posted before this change which referenced content in the side bar are now obsolete.

And by the way, what happened to time stamps on comments? Now you can't tell if a comment was posted 2 minutes ago or 2 months ago.

Youtube, go back to basics. Stop changing everything to make it less user friendly.

UPDATE: 7-14-11

Youtube continues to mess things up and make the site less user friendly. Now they have decided to hide the most basic buttons that everyone needs including the play and stop button. What other necessary features can you hide from us Youtube? Why not hide the actual video so we have to click on something just to display the video?

Monday, March 1, 2010

Taxes, Returns, Deductions...

So I just filed my 2009 income taxes. I did it myself online with one of the free services through the IRS. Overall it went pretty smooth but I didn't get back as much as I would have liked. I ended up owing the state a little which is annoying.

One of my main points to address in this article is how I think the tax system really needs to be changed. I understand income tax. But what I don't like is all these hundreds of tax deductions. It makes the system very complicated and leaves a lot of room for error. I don't understand why they have tax deductions in the 1st place.

There needs to be a better way to keep track of people's income and the taxes that are deducted from it. I don't see why they are leaving it up to individuals to report it. That is not good enough. I think it should be deducted and reported by the employer. But what about people that make their own money and have their own business? I guess they have to report their own.

Going through the filing process I just think there are way to many options and steps to consider when filing your taxes. It needs to be much more streamlined and accurate. It should just be, how much did you make and how much do you owe, simple as that. Maybe I don't know enough about the topic of taxes, but those are just some of my thoughts.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Reggae Style Music Recommendations

In this post I will recommend some songs that are not necessarily reggae style, but they all come from bands who have a little bit of reggae influence. And yes I meant to spell style with 2 e's in the title.

The 1st song is Fred Astaire by Lucky Boys Confusion. LBC is a band from Chicago that had moderate success but never really made it big. It's a shame because they really deserved it. They have tons of great songs and are probably one of y favorite bands. Today they still play shows occasionally, but each of the members is kind of doing their own thing with side projects. Check out this live performance of one of their hit songs:


Next up is a legendary band, another one of my all time favorites, Sublime. These guys were huge in the mid 90's and what is ironic is that most of their success came after the death of their lead singer. Brad Nowell died of a drug overdose before they released their self titled album which went on to sell millions. Here is a song I like from that album called April 29th 1992:


Last recommendation is a song called One Day by Matisyahu. It's hard to classify which genre it falls into, but it's just good. Good music and a good message. It's nice to see someone doing their own thing in the music business these days. We need more music like this. Have a listen:

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Youth Today

Have the youth changed over the past 10 years? I work at a high school and I am troubled by the student population I see everyday. Keep in mind, the school I work at is recognized as being one of the top schools in the state. You would think being one of the top schools means you have the top students. From my experience this is not the case.

As I walk through the halls, I see students with their pants sagging down below their butt, piercings through various part of there face, and hats turned sideways. These kinds of things are not encouraged, but there is not much enforcement of the dress code rules. Another thing that bothers me is the language these kids use. It's pretty much impossible to get through the halls without hearing several bad words coming out of the student's mouths.

It's also quite common to see a couple students making out in the hallway or outside the school. This is one that really bothers me. I and I'm sure other student's don't want to see people making out as we walk to our next class. Again, it's not allowed, yet the students do it anyway.

Another thing that makes me question the intelligence of these students is when they come to school dressed completely inappropriate for the weather. It will be negative 10 degrees outside and there will be tons of kids coming to school without coats. You might even see some kids going outside in just t-shirts. Then there are the kids who come out to the bus in this weather carrying their coat. I really don't understand the logic in that. Why not put your coat on? What is it for?

Now not all students I encounter are bad. There are lots of good students too, but overall I guess I'm just wondering if kids have always been like this or if it is just a change in the times. I was in high school not all that long ago and I don't think the kids were like this.

One thing that makes me wonder is this. I hear kids listening to mainstream rap, stuff that is not very good, and would be considered a bad influence. I look down upon this, but then I remember when I was their age or even older, I was listening to the same kind of music. Same thing goes for the baggy pants. I don't like when I see the kids wearing really baggy pants, but when I remember back, I had really baggy pants when I was their age.

Given these comparisons, I turned out alright. So then I wonder, should these kids be judged on these characteristics? Maybe I'm being to hard on them with my impressions. I mean, when you are in high school, you are just trying to fit in and survive basically. These kids are still young and they have a long way to go. So even though many of the things mentioned above bother me, maybe I need to be a little more understanding and less critical.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Music Recommendations, 90's Dance Pop

I've been into music since around the mid 90's. Sometimes it's nice to go back and listen to the hits of that era that have been forgotten. Some of those songs would be hits today and the kids might never have heard them. One such band from this time is Fun Factory. They are a group that made pop/dance music and became very popular on Chicago's B96 radio. They had several catchy feel good hits so I thought I would share one here.

By the way, I recently learned that the lead singer in the videos and pictures was not actually singing at all! They pulled a Milli Vanilli on us. The songs were sung by some other girl apparently and she was just a face for the music. It's amazing the new things we learn about the past with the help of the internet. I looked it up to see what the band is up to these days and it looks like the original members have all since left but there is a new band taking the same name Fun Factory. You can't market yourself as Fun Factory if you are a completely new band! That's like if 4 guys today got together and said they were the Beatles. Your not the Beatles! Anyway, I'm getting off topic. This post was going to have a couple other music recommendations, but I'll throw in another FF video and save the other songs for the next post. Enjoy. By the way, I know these are super cheesy by today's standards, but I don't care, I still like them.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Concerts Are Too Loud

Why is it that almost every concert you go to they have the music way too loud? I mean has anyone ever walked out of a concert saying, "Gee, that was good, but I wish it was louder." No of course not. But how many times have you walked out of a concert with your ears ringing and you think you are going deaf?

Somewhere along the line people running shows decided that louder is better. You know what? It's not. When the music is so loud, you can't even hear it because it just sounds like noise. I think there needs to be some better regulation on sound levels at concerts. It's a known fact that extended exposure to loud noise causes hearing loss. People should be able to go see their favorite bands play without having to worry about their hearing being damaged.

I for one would like to see a lot of my favorite artists play live, but the fact that I know it will be way too loud at the show is a big deterring factor. So this message goes out to all artists, concert venues and particularly the guys in charge of the volume levels at concerts. Turn down the volume! We are not deaf, and we don't want to become deaf! Thank you.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Illinois License Plate Renewal Fee

If you are a driver in Illinois, chances are you are familiar with the annual fee we have to pay to the state to renew our license plates. You know the one where you have send them $100 and in return they give you a little sticker to put on your license plate? I have never understood why this fee is so high. According to my recent statement, this year's renewal fee's have increased by $20, so the total is $99.

What I want to know is why we are paying so much for this? I remember emailing them last year around this time asking what the fee is for. Basically they gave me a generic answer just saying that is goes towards the cost of processing the information and what not. Really? It costs $100 to put my information in a computer and send me a sticker? I have a feeling someone at the top is making a lot of money off of all of this.

And what can we do? Not pay it? Then your license will expire and you will get fined for having an outdated license plate. There must be some way to stop these outrageous fees. I would like specific examples of exactly how this money is being used if they are taking it from us each year. Someone has to be accountable.

Not to mention they charge a convenience fee of $2.25 if you want to pay it by credit card instead of mailing it in. Funny how it is more convenient for them, yet they act as if they are accommodating us by allowing us to pay by credit card. Ok, so they say it is because they have to pay a fee if they accept credit card payments. Still it seems a bit high just to pay by credit card. 

Anyway, I'm just tired of paying fees that are unreasonable and/or unexplained. Hopefully some people out there will read this. Maybe we can make a change.

2014 Update:
The cost keeps going up.  It is now $101.  On the back of the card they send you, it says that the increased cost is going towards state parks.  Ok, but what does that have to do with license plates and motor vehicles?

Update: 4-6-14
A few months ago my dad sold a car and discarded the old license plates.  Apparently someone got their hands on the plates and put them on another car illegally.  Then a few weeks ago he gets sent a ticket because these plates were on someone's car and they were expired.  Now if we are paying over $100 a year to keep this information current and accurate in the system, why was there no record that the car had been sold months prior and that the plates were no longer valid.  They should have been able to see in the system that the plates were old and did not even match the car they were on.

So my dad has had to go to all these different departments and fill out a bunch of paperwork in order not to have to pay this fine that should never have even been put into place.  If the license plate system was keeping up to date as it should with this huge amount of money we are all paying every year into the system, this kind of thing should not happen.  Something just does not add up here. 

Update 3-7-15  A few months back I sold a car and made sure to follow all the instructions for selling a vehicle and transferring the title.  I made sure the new owner got new plates for the car.  Then just recently I have been getting emails to renew my license plates even though I sold the car months ago.  There is not even an option to reply explaining that the car has been sold.  I sent them an email asking about this and they said it is automatic so I should just ignore it.  Ok that is fine, but still it seems like if we are paying the fees each year for these plates, this system should be a lot more up to date with keeping track of the records.
 

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Funny Voice-Over/Overdub Videos

I'm a fan of voice over videos where someone records new content over the original video often resulting in hilariousness. I will post a few of my favorites here.

The 1st one is a scene from the movie 300. It is done by user RyGeor on Youtube. He has done a few voiceovers and some other great videos like trailer parodies. He has some serious talent. The voices of the different characters are great. Check it out:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8COv1_o1INU (embedding disabled so you will have to check it out on Youtube)

The next one is a parody of a movie about Hitler. I'm not even sure what movie it is, but this one scene has been overdubbed with subtitles over 50 times on different topics. This is one of my favorites where he learns about the death of Michael Jackson.


Last one is a classic. An older one, but one of my all time favorites. It's "The Juggernaut Bitch" by My Way Entertainment. In this one, the guys overdub one of my favorite childhood cartoons, "X-Men".

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Regina Spektor. "You are my sweetest downfall"

Regina Spector is a singer song writer who has been around for a while, but I just recently discovered her music. She has some really beautiful songs. The one featured here is called Samson. It is very powerful; one of the few songs that can trigger an emotional response within the first couple notes.

If you like this song, I recommend the songs "Us" and "Laughing With" by Regina Spektor. Also, if you are interested in learning more about her, check out some of her interviews on Youtube. She is adorable and it makes her music even that much better.