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 10 years ago or so 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 doubt it. 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.

Oh yeah, 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. I'm pretty sure the fee is not $2.25 just to accept a credit card payment.

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 by 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 accuracte 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. 
 

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".

Monday, January 4, 2010

Deals on Comcast Internet

I don't know if I wrote on here about my experiences signing up for Comcast internet, but I thought my experience might be helpful to others looking to get Comcast services. I did a lot of shopping around trying to find the best deal on high speed internet. I looked at different providers and plans. Ultimately I settled on Comcast with their 6 month promotion at $19.99. I only wanted the internet, but they bundled it with the cable because for some reason it is cheaper that way. Get this, they actually charge you extra if you don't get the cable with it!

Anyway, the process to get it set up was not easy at all, at least over the phone. Finally I got in contact with a local Comcast representative who explained all the details to me and didn't try to rip me off. I was told over the phone that I would have to pay an installation fee of about $150, but the local rep gave it to me for free as long as I set up the hardware and software myself. I recommend trying to find a local comcast rep to work with instead of trying to set something up over the phone.

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.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Sentry Earbuds, Not Good. Apple Earbuds, Good.

So I have been using the Apple iPod earbuds that came with my iPod I purchased about 5 years ago as my main listening device. I have been very happy with them. They are comfortable and they sound great. Unfortunately, the wire is starting to separate and it looks like they may break soon. So I decided to look for replacements. I would love to get the exact same kind, but they have been discontinued. Apple has new ones that they sell for about $30. I considered getting those.

I had a gift card to Bed bath and Beyond and it happens they have a pair of earbuds there. Now I'm not a fan of Bed Bath and Beyond. Their prices are inflated and their store is crowded. Yes of course I have tons of those 20% off coupons, but even with the coupon, you are still paying more than you would for the same item at say Target or Walmart.

Anyway, I have the credit and I need the earbuds so I give them a try. I take them home and try them out. First impression, the packaging is very hard to open. I take this to mean they probably want you to destroy the packaging trying to open it so you can't return it when you realize how much they suck. I finally get them out and try them on. They don't fit in my ears at all. 0 for 2. Ok, well lets see how they sound. Luckily I have my old half broken Apple earbuds to compare them with. I listen to a few songs with the new earbuds and they sound awful. Pretty much unlistenable unless you are listening to AM talk radio or something.

What really bothers me is that this kind of junk is being sold and unsuspecting consumers are buying it. I mean people out there are going to buy these and use them and think this is what music sounds like. Unless they are lucky enough to have something to compare them with and realize they sound like crap. Products like this are ruining people's impression of music.

So I'm going to try to return those. I decided to go with the original Apple earbuds, but I didn't order from Apple. I found them on EBay for about 1/3 of the price. They are from a good seller so hopefully everything turns out alright. Stay tuned.

Update:
Just got the Apple iPod earbuds in the mail today. I tried them out real quick and compared them to my old iPod earbuds. The material and shape is different. They are a bit smaller and more rubbery. As for the sound, they don't sound as good as my old iPod earbuds; they have more treble and the sound is more harsh. But, I am not going to pass a judgement on them yet. It's possible they just have to burn in before the sound EQ levels out like the old ones. We'll see how it goes.