Saturday, December 1, 2012

10 Best Songs of 2012

It is time to recap the best songs of 2012.  For this list, there are only a few rules including: No super popular songs that everyone has heard, no artist repeats, and although most of the songs are from this year, some may have been released in a previous year.  Here are Connected Isolation's top 10 songs of 2012:

1. Ricki Lee - Raining Diamonds

The number 1 song this year is Raining Diamonds by Australian singer songwriter Ricki Lee.  It boggles my mind as to why this song did not get extremely popular.  It has all the ingredients of a perfect pop song.  Also check out the live version she did of this song on X-Factor. 

2. Reggie Watts - Fuck Shit Stack

Reggie Watts may be one of the most talented and innovative acts in the music scene today.  He makes songs on the fly using his voice, looping machines, and synthesizers.  His live performances are hilarious and will leave you in awe.  Here is one of his more popular songs called Fuck Shit Stack.  I'm posting the live version to emphasize his music skills and stage presence.
  
3. G-Eazy - Lost in Translation

G-Eazy has a knack for picking some of the best samples to use in his songs and this one is no exception as he samples the song PonPonPon by Japanese pop star Kyary Pamyu Pamyu.  The chorus is fun and catchy and the beat and lyrics are excellent as what we have come to expect from G-Eazy.  If you like this, check out his recent mixtapes available for free download.

4. Die Antwoord - Baby's On Fire

They may be number 4 on this list, but Die Antwoord is the artist of the year.  No other act is as interesting, different, and genre redefining as these guys.  Every song and video they put out will captivate your interest whether you like it or not.  To learn more about them and hear more of their songs, check out the profile feature here.

5. Flight of the Conchords - Feel Inside

It's been a while since FOTC have put out some new music, but this year they released a special song for charity called Feel Inside.  They actually got the lyrics by interviewing a bunch of kids to help get suggestions for the song. Then with collaboration of a bunch of artists, the final product was created and it turned out remarkably well.  It's funny, heartwarming, and powerful all rolled into one. Here is the extended version to show how they came up with the song (song starts at 5:05).

6. Icona Pop - I Love It

Here is a catchy synth pop song by the Swedish lady duo of Icona Pop.  This one will be stuck in your head before one listen.  The lyrics are fun to sing along with and the music is great for dance parties.

7. Gregory and the Hawk - Blind and Unwise

Slowing down a bit for this next one from GATH.  Meridith aka Gregory and the Hawk has one of the most beautiful voices around and she shows it here in the song Blind and Unwise from her latest album. 

8. The Naked and Famous - Young Blood (White Sea Remix)

This New Zealand band has gained some attention with their hit song Young Blood.  This remix starts off with some angelic singing and slowly builds into a grungy yet delicate electo pop song.  White Sea, who is a female, which is rare in the business of remixing and music production, does a fantastic job with the vocal editing and arrangement.

9. Adrian Lux - Fire (R3hab Remix)

If there is an epic dance song on the list, this is it.  This remix of Adrian Lux's Fire has some of the most intense sounds I have heard.  The chorus synths just crash with force you can feel.  Coupled with some nice vocals make this a great song for the clubs or anywhere for that matter. 

10. Twin Atlantic - Make a Beast of Myself

Wrapping up the 10 best songs of the year is Twin Atlantic with the song Make a Beast of Myself.  With electronic pop dominating the list, this rock song brings some needed diversity.  This Scottish band has hit with this passionate song.  The video is great too as it tells a story in slow motion.

Did you find a new song you like here?  What was your favorite song of 2012?  Leave it in the comments below.

To see last year's list of the 10 best songs of 2011 go here

Also check out the 10 Best Songs of 2013

Thursday, November 22, 2012

10 Best TV Shows of 2012

It's time to recap the best tv shows of the year with the annual top 10 list.  These are my favorite shows that aired this year.  Note, these are all major network shows so if your favorite cable show is not on here, that may be one of the reasons.  Here are the 10 shows from 2012 you should watch:

1. Big Brother
The number one spot this year goes to the reality show Big Brother.  This show has the drama, excitement, and suspense to keep you tuned in for 3 new episodes every week.  This year had a coaches theme where former house guests returned to help out the new house guests.  There were tons of great moments including this one where there was almost a fight between Willie and Joe.


2. Master Chef
I'm not really into cooking shows all that much, but Master Chef really hooked me in this year.  It stars Chef Ramsey and a group of unknown contestants who want to prove themselves as the next great chef.   Each week they compete in challenges and one person goes home.  This season was made by some great participants such as Monte and Christine who despite being blind, holds her own in the kitchen.


3. Undercover Boss
Undercover Boss is a show that puts CEO's in the shoes of their employees to really get a feel for how the business is going and what the morale of the workers is like.  They go in disguise and work alongside their employees to see how they can make the company better.  At the end, they revel themselves and reward the exceptional employees who are doing a great job.  It is always heartwarming and emotional. 

4. NY Med
NY Med is part of a series of documentary style shows that take the viewers inside hospitals and introduces us to the nurses and doctors and what they deal with on a daily basis.  There is plenty of drama and excitement that goes on each episode.  It also makes you appreciate good health after seeing the situations of some of the patients on the show.


5. Secret Millionaire
Another feel good show to check out is Secret Millionaire.  Much like Undercover Boss, the show takes a real life millionaire and sends them to a poor area to get involved with organizations in need.  Their true identity is hidden as they interact with people who are working to make a positive impact on less fortunate communities.  At they end, they reveal who they are and donate money to those who need it most.


6. American Ninja Warrior
This is a physical competition show that has been around for a while in countries like Japan, but is relatively new to the US.  Athletes compete on obstacle and skill courses to get the best time.  People from all over the country can try out, but only one will make it to the end and be named American Ninja Warrior.


7. Rules of Engagement
Even though it is not one of the most talked about shows out there, Rules of Engagement continues to be one of my favorite comedies on tv.  This year it has gone into syndication so you may be able to catch the re-runs along with the new episodes when the next season starts.


8. Parks and Recreation
Another one of the best comedies still going strong is Parks and Recreation.  The show continues to be funny even as settings and characters change.  The cast is great and the writing is very good.  They even got vice president Joe Biden to guest star on the show this season.


9. Shark Tank
Here is a show that I didn't really watch the first couple seasons it was on, but now I am really into it.  You have 5 wealthy "sharks" who are looking to invest money into ideas they think show promise and will be profitable.  Regular people pitch them their products and companies in hopes of getting some financial support.  The show is very entertaining and it's fun to see these new companies and products come to life.


10. Last Resort
This is one of the few dramas that caught my interest this year.  And while it is only half way through the season and will in fact only have 1 season as it stands now, it is still worth checking out.  The show is about a crew on a US submarine that gets attacked by it's own country, or so it seems.  There is lots of action and drama along with some powerful characters and an interesting storyline. 


What was your favorite show of 2012?  Leave a comment below.

Also check out the Best Shows of 2013 and last year's list of the best tv shows of 2011.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Changing a Light Switch Tips and Precautions

I had a light switch that would flicker sometimes when I turned it on.  I determined the connection inside the light switch was not good and probably worn out from regular use.  Since light switches are cheap, I figured I would replace it and see if that would fix the problem.  I found an identical switch for about 50 cents at the hardware store.

At home I made sure to turn off the electricity that goes to that switch.  This is very important as I would find out later.  I unscrewed the plate and pulled out the switch.  I disconnected the 2 wires and made sure to document how they were connected.

Next I connected the new switch.  I decided to test it out before screwing it back into the wall.  This was not a good idea.  I turn the power back on and then test the light.  It worked.  So then I decided to put the switch back into the wall.  I must have touched the hot wire to the metal casing in the wall because the next thing I knew, there were tons of sparks and the fuse went out cutting off the electricity. 

I was shocked, not physically luckily, but emotionally.  I use a flashlight to see what happened.  The switch and surrounding area was burnt.  Even my fingers were black form the sparks and smoke.  Thankfully I was not burned.  I examined the metal on the casing and part of it was actually melted. 

So with the power off, I cleaned up the area and debated on weather I should try it again or call an electrician.  I was brave and decided to try it one more time.  This time I did not turn the power on until everything was connected and put back in place.  Once everything was screwed back in, I tested it out and in worked!

So if you have a light switch that is not working as well as it should, go ahead and replace it, but make sure the power is turned off from the fuse box the entire time. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Voting System in the US is a Mess

Much like the tax system, the voting system in the US needs to be reformed.  One of the main things that needs to change is getting rid of the electoral college system and instead go by the popular vote so every vote counts.  The fact that a candidate who receives less votes can actually win makes absolutely no sense.  Many people do not even know what the electoral college is or how it works.  Who is actually arguing to keep this ridiculous system? 

Another thing that needs to change is that it needs to be easier for people to know who they are voting for.  You shouldn't have to go seek it out by researching different sites on the internet to try to learn about the people who are running.  All the information should be in one place.  Voters should have it ahead of time and they should also have that information at the voting location.  At least a summary with main points on each candidate should be available with the voting ballot.

Voting online should also be an option.  With modern technology and convenience, why do we still have to go out to a location to vote or mail it in?  People might argue that voting online is not secure and people might take advantage of it.  If people can bank online and transfer money online, it is secure enough to cast a vote.  All they need to do is set it up so the site is secure and the individual would have to put in several forms of identification to prove their identity.

If these changes were made, the voting system would be more representative of the people's choice, it would be easier, and people would be more informed about who they are voting for so they can make the best possible decision when they go to vote

Monday, November 5, 2012

How to Fix a Stuck Disposal

I have a GE disposal for my sink that would make a humming noise when I turned on the switch, but it would not spin.  I did some research and found out that this means it is stuck or something is preventing it from spinning.  In my case, it was probably rust or residue build up from having not used it for months.  See I never put solid foods down the drain so I figured I didn't need to use it, but now I know that you should still run the disposal every once in a while so it does not freeze up.

So how did I fix it?  First I took out the splash guard which is the rubber thing in the drain.  It just pulls out.  Next use a flashlight to look inside.  You will see the disposal wheel and anything that might be in there.  First I took a screwdriver and tried to scrape away any rust or debris that had accumulated on the inside.

Next I took a golf club handle and put it down into the drain, found a notch to catch it and slowly tried to rotate the wheel.  You can use any type of stick to do this.  It was very stuck and I didn't think it would work, but after a few minutes of pushing at it, it slowly began to break free and rotate.  I turned it back and forth manually for about a minute.

Finally I turned on the switch and low and behold it worked!  So if you have a sink disposal that makes a noise when you turn it on, but does not spin or grind, use the steps mentioned above.  Also see if you can find your owners manual either at home or online for tips on how to fix your exact model.  Good luck! 

Update 8-3-16:
I was not able to use my kitchen sink for several months and it ended up rusting stuck again. I tried to move it with a golf club handle but this time it would not budge. I looked around and found a large set of pliers. With the handle side down, I managed to lock it in place against the impellers of the fly wheel. Then I used the golf club to slowly crank the pliers in a clockwise direction. Slowly it began to break free and soon enough, it was spinning again!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

X-Factor Live Review 2012

Let me start off by saying I was very disappointed with last night's X-Factor live performance show.  X-Factor is the only singing show I watch right now and while it is not perfect, I do enjoy it.  There were many things that ruined it for me last night.

One was the audio mixing.  Either the crowd was way too loud or they just recorded the noise from the crowd too much because last night the constant screams from the audience were unbearable.  And they were at inappropriate times.  Some cheering for your favorite singer when they are introduced and when they finish their song is ok, but last night, judges would be in the middle of saying something and people would be screaming at the top of their lungs for no reason. The audio was mixed poorly as you could tell when pyrotechnics over shadowed the singers when they engaged.

Next we have the hosts, yes that is plural.  Why they thought they needed 2 people to be a host is beyond me.  There is absolutely no need for it. Khloe was awful right from the start.  Mario is ok but bland.  I would even take that Steve guy from last year over these 2 and I did not like that guy at all.  And you would think the host would introduce the singers right?  No, they introduce the judge who then introduces their singer.  Again, this does not make sense.

Then we have the judges.  LA and Simon are good.  Britney is annoying and always looks like she is in pain and not enjoying the show, not even when her own singers are performing.  Demi gives possibly the worst advice ever and is in no position to be mentoring people older than she is.  It seems like every bit of advice she gives to one of her singers brings them down and makes them worse.  For example last night she totally changed the looks for contestants such as Jennel, Paige, and Cece.  These girls were beautiful and had their own styles that worked for them.  Last night it's like Demi had them dress up for a bad Halloween party.

I found myself muting much of the show last night.  Every time the audience starts screaming, mute.  Every time Britney and Demi are giving critiques, mute.  

The show wasn't all bad.  Highlights in my opinion were Lyric Da Queen from Lyric 145 as well as Emblem3.  These 2 already seem like stars compared to the others who still seem like armatures.  I will tune in tonight to see how they handle the eliminations, but if these trends continue, I won't be watching this season much longer.   

UPDATE: I just tuned in to watch the results show and the producers did not learn from their mistakes in the first live show. The audience is still screaming throughout the entire show which makes it unwatchable.  Sorry Fox, but I'm not going to listen to people scream for 2 hours. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Reds All Natural Burrito Review

I like burritos from restaurants like Chipotle and Moe's Southwest grill.  I also like frozen meals that are easy to make at home.  So when I saw a new frozen burrito product available at Target, I thought I would give it a try.  I went with the Red's All Natural Bean and Rice burrito.  It was on sale for about $2.50, regular price, $3.50.  The burrito is big, comparable to those at the restaurants I mentioned.  A look at the nutrition facts reveals that it is pretty healthy with not too much saturated fat or sodium, especially for a 510 calorie meal.  The ingredients are healthy and natural too.

So I took it home and tried it.  It took about 4 minutes to cook in my microwave.  They recommend 3 minutes on each side.  It was kind of watery when I took it out and cut it open.  Then for the taste test.  To my surprise it was very spicy, much too spicy for my tastes.  After a few bites my mouth was already on fire.  The packaging didn't mention anything about it being very spicy.  I couldn't really taste anything besides the heat which was disappointing.  I ended up just eating the outside tortilla and some of the black beans, but I had to toss the rest because it was too hot. 

Overall I think this product has potential if they cut down on the spice.  I looked at the ingredients and it has chili pepper, cayenne pepper, and white pepper, so that is probably what is contributing to the taste.  If you like spicy foods, give this one a try. 

The only other product I have tried which is similar to this is Amy's frozen burritos.  The have a bean and cheddar burrito which is smaller, but pretty good.  They usually sell for around $2.50.  I buy these sometimes when they are on sale.

Red's has several other varieties of burritos such as steak, chicken, pork, and turkey but unfortunately I will not be trying them after being let down by the bean and rice burrito. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Loud Noise Effects On The Ear - Pain and Hearing Loss

Be careful with your hearing by avoiding loud noises. This is pretty common knowledge, yet some people don't take it seriously until it's too late. Research shows that exposure to just one very loud sound or long term exposure to loud noise can result in permanent hearing damage. I am very careful about this, but sometimes you are caught by surprise by a loud sound and there is nothing you can do about it.

Last week something like this happened. I was at work and someone slammed a locker very hard while I was standing near it. You wouldn't think that a locker is that loud but slamming it hard enough does make a loud enough noise to hurt your ear. At first I was startled by the noise and right after my ear began to feel uncomfortable. In the following days my ear began to feel full like there was wax in it, but there was not. It was not very painful, and I still had my hearing luckily, but it just didn't feel right.

After about I week I got it checked out by a nurse. She looked inside and confirmed that there was indeed inflammation inside which was most likely causing the full feeling. Even thought it didn't hurt, having this kind of feeling in your ear is very bothersome and can pretty much ruin your day and not make you want to do anything. This was frustrating especially because it happened from something that was not my fault and I had no chance of avoiding it.

Now it is about 8 days since the incident and my ear is feeling a little better, but still had a swollen feel to it. The nurse said it should go away by itself and I hope she is right. This is the first time I can remember a loud sound hurting my ears like this so maybe it was just a freak accident of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Never the less, it is a good reminder to protect your ears and avoid loud noises whenever possible. Once your hearing is gone, it's not easy to get it back.

UPDATE: 10-16-12
So it's been about 3 weeks since the incident.  My ear is getting better on its own but it is still not 100%.  I actually went to an ear doctor a few days ago to get it checked out.  They gave me a hearing test and my hearing is still good which was a relief.  They didn't exactly have a good answer as to why my ear feels full or swollen inside besides the obvious that it was caused by a loud noise.  They said it will either heal on it's own or it may just be like that for who knows how long.  I have done a lot of research on this issue and have not found too many similar cases or treatments.  Hopefully this article will help people who experience a similar ear problem.

UPDATE 11-16-12
It's now been about 7 weeks since my ear started bothering me and still I have the feeling of aural fullness.  Some days it is more noticeable than others.  In some situations it is more noticeable such as if I am brushing my teeth or eating.  I have been trying to avoid loud noises and limit my use of headphones.  Covering my ear with my arm or a pillow seems to make it feel better for the time being, but does not get rid of the fullness afterward.  This is pretty discouraging that this problem has lasted this long.  It's not painful, but annoying.  I have already been to an ear doctor so now I don't know what to do.  I'll report back if it gets any better.

UPDATE 12-1-12
9 weeks and my ear is starting to feel better or at least it is not as noticeable as before.  It seems like when I wear earbuds to listen to audio for extended periods of time, even when the volume is very low, it seems to make the fullness feeling come back, so I have tried to limit this activity.  Overall it is a relief that it is getting better.

UPDATE 1-27-13
My ear seems to be pretty much back to normal.  I may have had some kind of fluid build up that was causing the full feeling because after a while I was able to get that popping sensation back, the kind you get from yawning or pressure changes.  I'm not sure what caused it to start or why it took so long to clear up but I'm glad it is not bothering me like before.

UPDATE 2-27-16
It has been a few years and overall my ear is better but from time to time it still gets a minor full feeling. It seems to be triggered by loud noise such as a noisy environment, or by listening to headphones for too long. I now try to avoid loud noise in order to prevent the full feeling from coming back.

In case you will be in a situation where you know it is going to be loud, I recommend bringing ear plugs with. I have been using Hearos Ear Plugs for a while which are comfortable and help reduce the noise level in loud environments. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Changing Jobs - Perspective and Exposure Concept

I recently changed job locations and while a move like this would normally make me stressed out and nervous, this time it didn't.  I think it has a lot to do with perspective.  See previously I was working at a big school with a good reputation and now I am working at a little school without a reputation.  I compare it to someone who lived in New York city who then moves out to a small town in the country.  It's as they say, "If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere." 

So this new position has been pretty easy.  The teachers are not intimidating, nor are the students.  Everything is just a big step down from what I was used to and that makes it seem easy.  I remember feeling the opposite way when I moved from a small school to the big school.  Just pulling into the parking lot and seeing how many cars were there was enough to increase your heart rate.

I think this concept applies to all parts of life.  Someone called it exposure therapy.  Basically you expose yourself to a stressful environment until you become used to it and it no longer becomes stressful.  Once you overcome that obstacle, everything else seems much easier. 

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Year Book Reflection, Friendship, and Keeping in Touch with People


I was going through some old stuff the other day and found my Jr. High School year books. It was so long ago, I didn't even remember I had year books for Jr. High. So of course I look through them and see all these familiar faces of people I had forgotten about. That's what is great about yearbooks. They are like a time capsule that can bring memories of the past. Most of the people I probably wouldn't even recognize today, but in the book, they stay as you remembered them.

This got me reflecting on the people I knew back then and how I haven't kept in touch with any of them. I was never really part if the "in crowd" at school. I was good at sports so that made me a cool kid, but as I got older, I found my own group of "regular" friends. I had a small group in Jr. High and another group in High School. I also was on the cross country team, so I made friends there too.

Out of school I would occasionally hang out with friends, but I was never one to initiate an activity. I was not very social back then. I'm not social now, but back then it was even worse. Still I had friends. I remember not wanting to ask people to do something like go see a movie because I didn't want to be responsible if they had a bad time. Like if I asked them to go see a movie and they didn't like the movie, I would feel bad, so I never really organized activities for us to do.

I was kind of clueless to the fact that friendships have to work 2 ways. One time my friend called me out on it. He showed me new cell phone he got and was implying that you use it to call people to do stuff. I was just kinda like "Cool phone.", completely missing the point. I didn't make enough effort with my friendships and over time that's how I lost them.

Into college, I had a group of friends that I met in the dorms there but after I left, I lost touch with them. During summers I would occasionally meet up with my old friends from high school. After a couple years those friendships faded. I will take responsibility for that, and I kind of think I distanced myself from them on purpose. Not that they were bad, but they were not all good. At times I felt like they took advantage of me. Also I didn't like the fact that they expected me to participate in activities that I didn't want to do. Nothing illegal or anything, just things I didn't want to do.

So after college, I pretty much lost touch with everyone. I sort of made new relationships online at that time with people from all over who had similar interests such as music. When social media like Facebook came around and made it easy for people to reconnect with old friends, I stayed away from it. Still to this day, I don't use Facebook. One of the main reasons is I don't want people I used to know to find me. People grow up and change. I don't want to be compared to others my age. This has been a big issue with me, so much that I tend to avoid people my age in social and work situations. I feel more comfortable around older people who I cannot be directly compared to.

Maybe I am not satisfied with my life and feel like I should have accomplished more or turned out better. I think I have done ok, but I know others have gone on to greater things and I don't want to be compared to that. So now I don't have much of a social life, but I think that is intentional. I know it is good to have friends, but it is also nice to be independent and not have to be there to support other people. I wonder if I will ever try to reconnect with old friends. It's a possibility, but people change and move on to other things and make new friends. Maybe one day if I become more comfortable and satisfied with how I have turned out I might reconnect.

UPDATE 8-4-12
I just paged through my high school year book and read the messages from my friends. I was surprised at how much they seemed to like me and it makes me wonder why I haven't kept in touch with them. Your school years are some of the best times in your life to meet people and make friends. You are around the same group of people who are exactly your age and are growing up in the same environment, so immediately you have a lot in common. Once you have developed these relationships, you should hold on to them, if they are good friends of course. I'm sure there are others in my place who have grown up and lost touch with the people they knew from childhood.

This reminds me of a senior student I knew this past year. It was time to get year books and he didn't really care to pick one up. I thought that was odd and tried to tell him he should get it because in the future he will want to look back at it and remember people. A yearbook is a fantastic resource for this. Maybe it's because we have things like Facebook now that kind of does the same thing, but still there is no replacement for a yearbook. If you are in high school now or will soon be, make sure to get your year book and have all your friends write a message in it for you. Trust me, this kind of thing is special and worth a lot more than it seems at the time.

UPDATE 2-22-14
I have been thinking more about the topic of keeping in touch with people and about old friends in general.  I recently came to the realization that all those people you knew growing up who you no longer know are still out there living their lives.  I know this is obvious, but it is interesting if you really think about it.  All the people you grew up with are still out there doing their own thing.  If you do a little searching you will probably find information on some of your old friends you have not thought about for years.  Often you can see what they are doing such as what career field they are in or if they have gotten married or started a family.

Looking back, there are some people who were good friends, that I should have made the effort to stay friends with.  At the time, I didn't think much of it, they were just people that I knew, but some of them were really great friends now that I look back and reflect on everything.  I'm not necessarily motivated to try to get back in touch with them, I'm just saying that I might have done things a little differently if I had the perspective I have now as an adult. 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Anything Is Possible

It's really amazing to think how far mankind has progressed over the years. Just think about all the stuff we have now that did not exist 100 years ago. If you would have told people in the 1800's about the kind of stuff we have today from cars to computers to cell phones, they never would have believed you. Even today if you really think about, it's incredible that humans have been able to develop these types of technology.

When you realize this, it makes it seem like literally anything is possible and it is just a matter of time before something gets invented or discovered. Innovations are built on previous innovations and it continues on like that. New products are made and then products are made from those new products. With the invention of the internet and sharing of information, it allows people to learn about anything whenever they want. This is a huge advantage over previous generations and should make development of new technologies move even faster.

Who knows what will be available in the next hundred years? What will be the next big thing? Have we run out of new innovations or will there ever be a peak? Only time will tell, but I'm guessing it will continue to progress beyond our wildest imaginations.

2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony - Reflection and Diversity

I watched the opening ceremony for the Olympics last night in London.  Overall I thought the show was just ok.  I liked how they had a lot of transitions and went through the history of London, but overall I just was not too impressed by it.  I feel like it was too geared towards Great Britain when they could have made it have more of a global appeal. 

The one thing I liked and this is something they have at each ceremony is the part where all the teams walk in and go around the stadium.  It is very interesting to see all these people from all these countries around the world come together in one place.  A lot of these small countries you never even heard of.  In our country we tend to only get exposed to people around us and maybe see some diversity on tv once in a while, but rarely of these small countries.

It's amazing how different people look.  We are all humans yet there are so many differences from one country to the next.  Currently, the make up of the people of each country is somewhat consistent, but you can tell the populations of countries are beginning to mix in terms of race and ethnicity.  The big countries have the most diversity because a lot of different people move there from all over, while the small countries are still pretty uniform in their population. 

It's interesting how way back when people from a country were probably very much alike but now with the ease of transportation from one country to another, everything is becoming mixed.  I think it's safe to say this trend will continue and over many years specific race and ethnicity will begin to fade as people become more and more mixed and blended. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Breaking Bad is on the Downswing

I watched the season 5 premier of Breaking Bad and after watching it, I have concluded that the show has seen better days.  I loved the first couple seasons. Season 3 was pretty good too.  I didn't like season 4 as much.  Don't get me wrong, I still like the show, I'm just saying it's probably a good thing this is the last season.  I get the impression that they didn't expect the show to last this long and maybe that's why it is starting to trail off towards the end.

Season 5 Episode 1 Review (Spoilers Ahead)

The Episode starts off with Walt at a diner with a full head of hair and a beard.  He meets a guy undercover and gets a car with a large gun in the trunk.  They didn't really explain much, but we can conclude after watching the rest of the episode that this is a scene from the future that will happen later in the season.

So back to the present time, Walt is relaxing at home when he remembers there is video footage of them from the lab.  This drove the episode plot.  I like how they  had to go destroy the evidence from the laptop, but I don't really like how they went about it.  First off, Mike comes back and is pissed that Walt killed Gus.  Really, I think he is overreacting.  Why does he even care that much?  Mike should be retired by now anyway. Next Jesse is back working with Walt.  If I'm not mistaken, I thought they were on bad terms last time we left off.  Oh well, we'll go with it.

So they get the electromagnet from the junk yard.  Already they are tipping these guys off that they are using it to destroy evidence at the police station.  The junk yard guys are now witnesses.  Sloppy work guys.  Then they are going to use it to try to destroy the laptop on the other side of the wall.  I know they don't have many options, but this is going to destroy a lot of other evidence at the same time.  That is not ethical, but I suppose at this point they don't care.

Next we find Ted is basically on life support in the hospital.  I didn't even recocognize him and actually had to Google him to remember what actually happened to him.  Apparently it was when he tripped and hit his head.  So now he is in the hospital and looks like he's almost dead?  I don't think so.

Overall they are trying to make Walt out to be like the new bad guy to replace Gus.  I don't like this direction the show is taking.  Walt is a good guy and the only reason he started all this was to help his family.  He needs to secure the money and get out of this mess he has created.

If it were up to me, I would have it go like this:  Hank discovers Walt is involved and finds out everything that has been going on.  He decides to cover for for him so he doesn't go to jail.  Then Walt and his family live happily ever after.  Then at the end, maybe he goes back to do a guest speak or a substitute teach at his old school.  The kids start acting up and give him a hard time or whatever.  Old Walt might have just taken it and felt defeated, but now new Walt does not put up with that, and puts them in their place.  How awesome would that be?

So yeah overall I don't really like the direction the show is going, which is a shame considering their ratings are higher than ever.  None the less, I will continue to watch the rest of the series.  If you have any comments on the show or this season, feel free to leave a comment below.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Rugged Wear Work Gloves Review

I was in the market for a pair of new weight lifting gloves after my old ones were starting to fall apart after about 10 years.  At first I searched online, the usual Amazon search and read some reviews.  I found some that looked good, but they were kind of expensive, plus gloves are something you really need to try on before you buy.  So then I thought about buying them in a local store.  I looked at Target and they had a small selection, but nothing jumped out at me.  Then I thought about going to Dick's sporting goods store.  I looked online first and they had a big selection, but again, the prices were high.  Finally I went to the Menards hardware store because i knew they had work gloves.

At Menards they had a big selection, a whole isle with different kinds of gloves in fact.  Not only that, but the prices were good too.  I found a pair I liked that were by the brand "Rugged Wear" or RW for short.  The model is X-Treme Work Gloves.  These looked like weight lifting gloves so I tried them out.  They seemed pretty good and not only that, they were on sale for only $5!  Regular price was $15 I believe.  So I got them.  I went with the XL size because I like the gloves to be roomy and breathable.

So at home I decided to do some modifications to them.  They were kind of bulky so I decided to cut off the wrist strap that has velcro.  This made them more comfortable and easier to get on and off.  They are still full finger which I was looking for.  I'm debating on whether or not to cut off the finger tips like most weight gloves, but for now I like them full finger.

After a few uses, I am pretty happy with these gloves.  They look nice and make it easy to hold the weights.  I did some research and there is practically nothing online about them.  I don't even think the company has a website.  They are a Menards brand so that is probably why they don't have a site.  Anyway, if you are looking for gloves, I highly recommend going to Menards and trying these out.

UPDATE 8-6-12
So I have been using the gloves for a few weeks and I have noticed the the inside lining is starting to peel.  Not a huge deal, but not great either.  I'm not surprised considering the low cost of the gloves, but it is something to consider.

Update 4-6-15 Hard to believe it has been almost 3 years, but the gloves are still going strong. I use them for weightlifting pretty much every day and they are still in good shape!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

TV Review: Master Chef, SYTYCD, and New Shows This Week

One show that I am really enjoying this season is Master Chef.  Gordon Ramsay has a lot of shows and while I liked Hell's Kitchen and Kitchen Nightmares, Master Chef was always on the back burner, pun intended.  Actually I started getting into it last season because someone I went to school with was on the show.  This season I like it because they have a lot of good characters or should I say chefs.  My favorites right now are Monti, Felix, and Christine.  They are all still in the competition.  I find myself drawn to this show even when other shows I like are on at the same time.

So You Think You Can Dance has selected the top 20 dancers and so far this looks to be a pretty good season.  My favorites right now are Alexa Anderson, Amelia Lowe, and Janelle Issis.  The show was not on last week due to the 4th of July holiday, but it will be back in full swing this Wednesday.  It will be interesting to see how they deal with voting and eliminations with only one show per week.

There are 4 shows premiering this week, 2 new and 2 returning that I will be checking out this week. First is Trust Us With Your Life.  I don't even know much about this show other than it is improvisational and similar to Whose Line is it Anyway, but I like those 2 things, so I'm hoping this show will be good.  Catch the first episode this Tuesday on ABC.

Another show premiering right after that is NY Med.  If I'm not mistaken, ABC has done 2 of these kinds of doctor documentary shows over the past couple years.  They had different titles, based on the hospitals they were filmed at.  I think this is the same series, just with a different name.  I hope so because I really liked those previous shows.  They followed doctors and the process of treating patients and working in a hospital on a human level.  

A show that is returning this Thursday on CBS is Big Brother.  This is one of my favorite summer shows.  I already previewed the cast and it looks like a good one.

And finally, a show that is coming back for it's 5th and final season this Sunday is Breaking Bad.  This has been one of my favorite shows of the past few years and while I thought the earlier seasons were better, I am still looking forward to seeing what happens in the final season.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Shampoo and Face Wash Review

With so many self cleaning products on the market, it's hard to know which ones to pick. In my experience, even going with a product that has good reviews doesn't mean it will work for you. I have tried several shampoos, body washes, and face wash cleansers over the years and I thought I would share my thoughts and recommendations on them here.

Shampoo:
Suave - 2 in 1 Plus Shampoo and Conditioner
I have been a fan of Suave for a long time, mainly because their products are reasonably priced. I was using Suave Daily Clarifying shampoo for a long time, but eventually decided to upgrade to the premium 2 in 1 professionals brand. Overall I have been very pleased with this product. It has a nice scent and texture and you can get it just about anywhere for about $2-3 depending on the size. I have used Suave 2 in 1 for head to toe wash including hair, face and body. Overall it works pretty well.

My face gets very oily throughout the day and I do have trouble with blemishes and clogged pores. I wash my face daily and blot it to get the oil off throughout the day. Still, my skin tends to get peely after I wash it. Because of this I thought I would try Suave - Humectant Moisture.

Suave - Humectant Moisture Shampoo for Dry Hair
I thought this would help my skin be less dry, but it doesn't seem to make that big of a difference. I know this is shampoo and not face wash, but I thought I would try it anyway. It is cheap like most Suave products which I like. The negative about this one is that the smell is not good. I would describe it as a cough medicine type smell which is not pleasant. I probably would not buy it again because of this.

Face Wash:
As I mentioned before I have oily skin so I have a lot of trouble keeping it clean and nice looking. I have done research on many face wash products and have tried a couple including Cetaphil and St, Ives.

Cetaphil - Gentle Skin Cleanser
I tried this after reading a lot of good reviews about it. Although this one is not specifically for oily skin, many people said it was better than the one for oily skin, so I thought I would try it. In the store it is very expensive compared to what I am used to. I paid about $8 for the small bottle of Cetaphil cleanser. So I tried it for a few days and so far I don't really like it. It does not lather and makes you face very grippy when you put it on, so it's hard to actually spread it on your face. After you rinse it off, your face still feels oily again which is odd. The scent is ok, kind of bland. I think is has helped my skin be less dry compared to the Suave shampoo, but considering the high cost, I probably wouldn't buy it again.

St. Ives - Naturally Clear Apricot Scrub
This facial cleanser by St. Ives is supposed to help with blemishes and blackheads. It got good reviews so I gave it a try. Immediately you will notice the texture which feels like lotion mixed with sand. Maybe the roughness is supposed to help exfoliate your skin, but personally I don't like washing my face with sand. It gets all over you and it is hard to get off. The smell of the product is ok, kind of fruity. As far as cleaning the face, again just ok, nothing special. My main problem with this product as mentioned before is the grainy texture. I would not recommend it.

If you have any recommendations for other shampoos or face wash products, leave a comment below.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Selling Stuff on Craigslist and eBay

This summer I have been selling a lot of things using Craigslist and eBay. When I tell people this, they usually have a lot of questions about how it all works, so in this blog entry, I thought I would go over these 2 websites and my experience using them to sell various items.

Craigslist
Craigslist is a great resource for selling things locally, especially if they are large items that would be difficult or expensive to ship. There is a Craigslist for most major cities so all you have to do is find your city and that's where you will look to buy and sell items. To sell something, it helps if you take a picture of it first. Next you go on the website and find the category it fits into. Once there you will start writing up your ad. You will give a title, price, location, and description. You can put your contact information in the ad, or have Craigslist annonymize your email so the communication will go through their system and you will get an email from potential buyers. Note: you do not need to sign up for an account to post something, but you will need to confirm your email address when you post an item for sale. 

Once someone contacts you to say they are interested, you can have them come pick up the item, or you can arrange to meet somewhere in the middle to make the exchange. Usually a public place near an intersection is good. That's about all there is too it. The posting of ads is free which is great. Before you would have to pay for an ad to put in the newspaper, but on Craigslist, it is free. So how do they make their money? Certain postings do cost money for example if you are a company posting job listings, there is a charge for that, but most other ads are free of charge.

Like anything online you have to be careful. If something seems off or suspicious, don't go through with it. For example, if someone wants you to send them money online for a product, it could be a scam. Also be safe when meeting someone. Make sure it is in a public place and make sure someone knows where you are going.

eBay
eBay is a good resource if you have smaller, more expensive items that you can ship anywhere across the country or even the world if you choose. eBay is a huge community that has pretty much anything you search for. It's easier to sell things on eBay because there are more potential buyers compared to Craigslist which is local. The downside to eBay is the fees. They charge you to list an item, then if it sells, you pay a percentage of the sale price. Then if you get paid with PayPal which is most common, PayPal takes a fee as well. After all that, you have to consider the cost of shipping. These charges add up and you have to calculate if something is even worth shipping. Generally, it is best to sell higher valued items on eBay so you can still make a decent profit after all the fees.

So the process on eBay goes like this. First you will need to sign up for an account. Next you will want to research your item to see how much it is selling for on the website. Once you see how much it is worth, choose a competitive selling price. Next you are ready to create an ad. If you are a selling a common item, they usually have a template written up with all the specs and details. You can add more information specific to your products such as the condition. Then you list the item for sale. You will get an email when someone buys it. Once you see that the funds have been sent to you, you ship the item to the buyer. You can do this through services such as USPS or UPS.

Important Note: you will want to sign up for a PayPal account so you can receive payments from people securely. After the deal is done, you will rate the buyer and they will rate you. The ratings system helps you know who is a good seller. They should have a rating of 95-100%. If it's lower than that, it means they have had problems with previous transactions. There are a lot of options on eBay that may seem overwhelming, but take your time and read over it carefully.  In time you will learn how to use it efficiently. 

So if you have some extra things lying around that you don't need anymore, selling them on Craigslist and eBay is a great option. It can take some effort and patience, but you can make good money on things that otherwise would just be taking up space in your house. If you have any questions about buying and selling on these sites, leave a comment below.

Friday, June 29, 2012

AT&T U-Verse Problems with Billing and Support

I am so frustrated with AT&T.  In the past couple years I must have called customer support at least 30 times.  That is unacceptable if you ask me.  I use AT&T for internet, and while the actual service has been fine, the billing and support is a nightmare.  I swear, the bills they send me are more often wrong then they are right.  The other day I got the most outrageous bill so far.

I had recently switched over from DSL to U-Verse in hopes of saving some money with the yearly promotion.  It's suppose to be $19.95 per month, so it would be nice if the bill showed up and it was actually that price, but no, I get the bill and it is for $284!  Are you kidding me?  Is this some kind of joke?  It's so ridiculous it's not even funny. 

So I log into my account to get an explanation.  First off, they charge you for 2 months right off the bat, even though you have had the service for only 1 month.  Then they charge $100 for the modem.  I knew about this charge, and you are suppose to get a $100 rebate in the form of a visa card, but so far I have not been able to get that.  I log into the rewards section and it does not say that I am qualified for this.  They say I need to have the service for at least a month for this promotion, but I know I'm going to have to fight tooth and nail to actually get it.

Then there is another charge for $149 for installation.  I did the self install which is suppose to be free.  There were some connection problems on the back end so they had to send out workers to fix it.  I told them I did not want to be charged any fees for this. The person on the phone said I would not.  When the guys came out to fix it, I told them again I do not want to do it if it is going to cost money.  They went ahead and fixed the connection and said it was not my fault so I would not be responsible for any charges.  But of course the bill shows up and there is a charge for $149.

I call up customer service to try to get this straightened out.  After talking to the guy, the best they could do was put the $149 charge as pending until a supervisor looks over the case.  This is another problem with AT&T support.  You go through all the prompts to get to the right department, and then once you finally get there, the person can't even do anything to help you.  It's like they have these call centers set up to deal with customers calls, but not actually provide concrete solutions. The only time I actually got through to someone who had the power to make changes was when I called to cancel my service.

I know I'm not the only person having trouble with AT&T.  I can imagine every other customer is either putting up with the same billing discrepancies, or they just look at the bill and say "whatever" and just pay it.  Well I'm not getting ripped off.  AT&T if you promise one thing and one price, honor it, don't just pass it on to someone else to deal with.  That is exactly what it seems like is happening at AT&T.  They are drawing people in with these deals and then not honoring them.  Then you call up to try to get what you were promised and you just get passed around and no one actually fixes the problem.  It's so frustrating.

I almost want to go back to Comcast, but their prices are even higher than AT&T.  At least I didn't have so many problems with Comcast.  We really need more internet providers to compete with these 2, because they are not getting the job done.

The best thing would be a national service that provides wireless internet for a standard affordable fee.  No scams, no 6 month specials, no changes in billing, just a straight forward plan that would provide reliable internet at a reasonable cost.  Is that so much to ask?

UPDATE: 7-9-12
I got the paper bill in the mail today for $284 so I was about to call AT&T but just in case, I checked my balance online.  To my surprise, they actually took off the installation charge for $149.  I didn't think they would follow through, but they did.

Then about the $100 credit I couldn't apply for.  I got another letter in the mail with a url for how to apply for the credit.  It was not easy, but after a few tries, I was able to apply for it.  The only way I got it was because I happened to have AT&T for wireless also.  If I didn't have that, I would not have been able to get the credit.

Then there was still my old DSL bill that they somehow were trying to charge me $43 for.  The full month was supposed to be only $35 to begin with and I transferred over to DSL in the middle so it should have been prorated.  I was told not to pay the bill and wait for a final bill that would be up to date.  Well today I got a letter from them telling me the $43 was over due and if I didn't pay it, they would refer me to a collection agency.  So I get ready to call up customer service like always, but again, before I do, I check my account online just in case.  When i logged in, the balance showed that I owed only $15.  This was about right, maybe a little more that I should owe, but hey with all the billing problems I have had with these guys, $15 to close the account is not bad.

So for now, things are ok with my account.  Lets pray we can go a full year without any more problems.

Mariano's Monopoly Game - Rare Pieces

Mariano's is having a collect and win Monopoly game much like Jewel had had last year. Other regional grocery stores are participating in the same Monopoly game including Pick'nSave, Rainbow, Copps, and Metro Market. While the chances to win a big prize are slim, it's still fun to play these games.

You can collect all the pieces and glue them to your board, but to make it easier, it's best to know which pieces are the rare ones. For each prize there is one game piece that is hard to get. For the big prizes, there are actually 2 game pieces that are hard to get. I did a little research and thanks to Patty over at GreenBayConsumer.com, here is a list of the rare game markers:

A 606
B 603
C 599
D 593
E 588
F 584
G 582
H 577
I. 575
J 570
K 567
L 560
M 557
N 555
P 550, 551
Q 543, 544
R 538, 540
S 532, 534
T 527, 530
U 522, 524
V 518, 519
W 514, 515
X 508, 511
Y 501, 505

The Monopoly game runs through August 29th so there is still a lot of time to shop and collect tickets. For a list of the odds of winning for each prize check out gsngrocers.com.

You can use the comments below to share which pieces you have or which ones you need. Good luck!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Die Antwoord - Artist Profile

"Who are these guys?" and "What did I just watch?" are common question people ask when they first discover the zef rap group Die Antwoord.  At first it's hard to understand what they are because they are so different from what we are accustomed to, at least in the US.  I have listened to their music, watched their videos, and researched their background to provide some insight on this group whose name translates into "The Answer."

Die Antwoord consists of the tough gangsta rap type guy by the name of Ninja, the cute yet hardcore girl named Yolandi, and their mysterious DJ, DJ Hi Tek.  They are from South Africa and have exploded onto the music scene with their shocking videos and unique style of music.  Their lyrics are mostly understood by English speakers, but they also use a lot of words and dialect native to South Africa.

I first heard about them a couple years back when they released the video for the song Enter the Ninja.  I thought it was pretty cool, but didn't really look much into it at the time.  Later they made a video for "I Fink U Freeky" which is a creepy video but none the less entertaining.  Again I dismissed it without much thought.  Finally they caught my attention with their latest video, "Baby's On Fire."  The video features a blond Ninja and Yolandi as brother and sister in their parent's house.  Yolandi keeps trying to sneek boys in the house while Ninja chases them out.  The video is very interesting to watch and the song is good too.

Die Antwoord - Enter the Ninja (Music video)


So who are these guys?  Is it an act?  Is this real?  From what I can tell, the group Die Antwoord is a bit of a performance act, but it is closely based on the real persona's of Ninja and Yolandi.  They have done other music projects in the past which were different than this so they have some range as far as characters go.  The ghetto/rich style of Die Antwoord seems to be a bit of a parody of the stereotypical rap image, yet they put their own spin on it.  They promote the idea of not caring what others think and just doing your own thing.  This is shown by their unconventional look and attitude during interviews and on stage performances.

An interview with Ninja about how they got their first break. 


Is their music the greatest thing ever? Not necessarily, but it is decent and with Die Antwoord, there is so much more to appreciate than just the music.  The image, the video, and the way of life can all be appreciated when you experience their work.  With so many people copying and doing the same stuff over and over in the music industry, it's refreshing to see an act that comes along and really is outside the box and doing their own thing.  This group is driven and they have earned the attention and support of many fans around the world.  I know I will be keeping an eye on them and highly anticipating whatever song or video they put out next.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

ABC's The Glass House Review

A new reality show called The Glass House premiered on ABC last night.  I didn't know what to expect because the previews did not show any real clips, but I heard it would be a reality show where viewers get to decide what happens, so I decided to check it out.  My first impression is that it is a lot like the show Big Brother.  You have a group of random people stuck in a house competing against each other to be the last one standing to win the prize money.  

I like the show big brother, so chances are I will like this show and after the first episode, I am definitely going to continue watching it.  So far there is a lot of drama already, mainly from one guy named Alex.  He is an over-the-top personality who seems desperate to try to get as much camera time as possible by causing problems with everyone in the house.  He has managed to get the whole house against him, but it's up to the viewers to decide on if he will stay or go.

On one hand he is good for entertainment, but on the other hand, he takes it too far to the point of just being downright mean and disrespectful to others just for the sake of it.  I have a feeling he is trying to make a name for himself to catapult himself into stardom.  Unfortunately he is going about it the wrong way.

Besides him, the rest of the cast is a mixed bag.  You have a lot of young pretty people, a couple of older people, and the traditional stereotyped characters you see on many of these reality shows.  It will be interesting to see how it plays out with the viewer participation.  I have not logged into vote on anything yet, but I like the idea of being involved in the show.  Big Brother has started to to a little of this and people seem to like it.

Overall I think this show will be a success.  If Big Brother is a hit, there is no reason this show will not be since it is almost the same thing. 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Old Norton Door Closer Adjustment

I had a door that was slamming harder than I would like so I decided to look into how to stop it from closing so fast.  After doing some research, I found that most door closers have a few ways to adjust them including a Swing (How fast the main swing is), and a Latch (how fast it closes at the end).  Some also have a way to adjust the Back Swing.  Basically you turn the screw to the right to slow it down, and turn it to the left to let it close faster.

I saw that my door closer said Norton on the bottom so I knew that was the brand.  I looked it up but couldn't find the exact model, probably because it is old and out of production.  Anyway, on the right side there was one place that looked like you could adjust it.  You can see in the picture, it is the hole to the right of the big X.  I used a small hexagon wrench, about 1/8th inch and turned it clockwise just a little bit to see if it would do anything.  To my surprise, it worked perfectly!  Just the little turn slowed down the latch speed so it closes much more softly. 

So if you have a door that is slamming and it has a door closer, just look for the little wrench holes or screws and turn them a little to the right and it should help slow it down. 

Another tip to lessen the noise is to get a little rubber adhesive stopper/bumper and put it on the door jamb inside where the door closes against it.  This should help prevent the door from hitting directly against the frame.

If this guide was helpful, or you have any questions or tips, leave a comment below.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Problems with Computer Updates

So I'm on the computer and as is common, Windows asks me to perform an update. Being a responsible tech person, I stay on top of these things and oblige the update followed by a restart. Next Adobe pops up and asks for the same favor for its Flash player. Again I accept the request and go through with the Flash update. So far, it's a bit of an annoyance, but not a big deal.

A bit later I'm watching videos on Youtube and I notice I can't adjust the volume using my keyboard buttons. It just freezes. If I click off the window I can adjust it, but somehow the newest Flash update (11.3.300.257) did something to disable my ability to adjust the volume. This was incredibly frustrating as I use audio a lot for video and music. A test of Flash music players online yielded the same error.

So I weigh my options and figure I'll try a system restore and that should undo the latest changes. I go into Windows settings and select the restore point. It goes to restart but before it can load up again, I get an error (LogonUI.exe) saying that an important file (crypt32.dll) is missing. I can't do anything but force quit and restart. Still it won't let me even start up Windows. WTF! At this point I get worried thinking I am going to lose everything. Luckily I do back up my files, but I only had like 95% backed up and even the 5% would be very hard to replace.

Again luckily I had a spare laptop to hook up and browse the internet for solutions. The best fix was to put in the system repair disc which I had made months back. After another restart, I managed to get the cd into the drive and boot from disc. From there I tried the Start Up repair option as that was the problem, but it did not work. Further discouraged, I opted to try undoing the system restore. This went through but at the end said it was unable to make the changes. Crap!

To my relief, even though it said it didn't work, I was able to start up windows and it seemed to be ok. I tested out the flash player volume issue and it was still freezing up. Very annoying, so I figure it must be a problem with the latest Flash player update.

I decide to uninstall the latest update. It uninstalls Flash completely. No big deal. I go to Adobe's site and manage to find an archive of older Flash versions. I get the one before the last and download it. The file is big because it comes with versions for all operating systems. When that was done I found the right version and installed it. I go to test out the volume adjustment and success! It worked!

My overall take on this is that all these components and programs such as Windows, FireFox, Flash, Java... need to stop updating so much. They are all interconnected and dependent on each other but they don't collaborate well when they all keep changing. I know they have to stay current and progress technology, but it seems like more often then not, updates cause problems rather than solutions.

Morals to be learned include: Back up your files now and don't put it off. Also make sure you have repair and recover discs available for your operating system. Then after all that, be cautious of new updates. If it ain't broke don't fix it!

UPDATE 10-0-12
I tried installing the newest version of Flash 11.4... to see if they have fixed the volume freeze issue, but it still doesn't work.  I managed to submit a bug to Adobe about it.  I say managed because just the sign up process to log in, yes you have to log in, was very difficult.  I had to try like 5 different user names and a couple emails before it let me in.  Seriously how many people are actually registered on Adobe?  Anyway, we'll see if they take a look at it and hopefully are able to fix it for a future version.  Otherwise I'm sticking with version 11.2 because it works. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

10 Best Youtube Channels of 2012

Here are the top 10 new Youtube channels you should check out for 2012.  The rules for this list include:
1. The channel must not have been featured previously on any of my 10 Best lists such as here and here.
2. The channel is funny or humorous in nature. 

So here are my favorite new Youtube channels of 2012:

1. Jaime Alyse
I randomly found funny girl Jaime Alyse through Vimeo and that led me to her Youtube channel.  Jaime along with friends Cate Duffy and Ross Brunetti make sketch comedy videos with a variety of funny characters.  I absolutely love them and can watch them over and over.  This channel is still new and relatively unknown at this time which makes it even more special.
Here is one of my favorites where they play 2 old ladies sitting on a bench in a park when one of their grandsons brings his girlfriend to meet them.


2. Jack Vale (JackValeFilms)
Jack Vale is a prankster who is known for his hidden camera videos where he goes around in public with a device he invented called the Pooter which makes fart sounds.  Those videos while juvenile, are pretty funny when you see people's reactions.  Thankfully Jack has started broadening his horizons and has branched out into other funny video ideas.
In this series called Hearing Things, Jack goes around and softly says "sir" or "ma'am" behind people, but then goes about his business like he didn't say anything.  The reactions are great.
    
3. Nathan Barnatt (NathanJBarnatt)
Nathan marches to the beat of his own drummer.  He is a character actor/dancer/stuntman/comedian and all around entertainer.  Many of his dancing videos have gone viral.  He embodies 80's culture and retro video games. 
Here is a music video he made about how he likes Teenage Muntant Ninja Turtles more than his girlfriend.  Note, the whole main sequence was filmed in 1 take!


4.  Moving Mind Studio (MovingMindStudio)
This trio of fellows have been slowly gaining a following with their comedy sketch videos on Youtube.  They have done parodies of popular culture such as superheros as well as original concepts.
In this one, the boss's son who comes to visit has a habit of laughing out loud while his is in the middle of a drink.


5. Jenny Bede (Bedey100)
Jenny Bede is a talented girl from the UK who makes music video parodies.  She has covered popular artists such as Lana Del Ray, Jay Z, and Run DMC.
In this one she covers a Tinie Tempah song and makes it about Pippa Middleton and how she is getting attention from being the sister of Kate. 


6. Robbie Sherrard (RobbieSherrard)
Robbie is a comedian who just started gaining popularity this year.  He makes interview style videos where he addresses a variety of topics in a realistic and thoughtful way while blending humor into the mix.
Here is his most popular one where he talks about 3 types of girlfriends based on how they use the bathroom.


7. Kyle
 A Youtuber simply known as Kyle makes hilarious videos, most famously where he goes to events and interviews people in the most awkward way possible.  He also has a set of characters he plays and even has been known to do stand up comedy from time to time.
In this video he interviews people attending the Xtreme Nitro Circus.


8. Tom Mabe (MabeInAmerica)
Tom Mabe is another guy who makes hidden camera style videos where he creatively sets up funny situations and films what happens.  He also does interviews with people, but of course there is always a catch to them.
In this one, Tom gets a call from some woman's husband who apparently he has been having an affair with.  They get into an argument and he tells the guy to come meet him.  He then gives his description, only it is the description of innocent bystanders who have overheard his conversation. 


9. Ed Bassmaster (EdBassmaster)
Ed Bassmaster is a professional prankster with a handful of funny characters he plays as he goes around in public and talks to people. 
Here is one of his recent videos where he plays a cocky arrogent guy named Ron Johnson as he attends an event called Playlist Live.


10. LAHWF
Andrew Hales burst on the scene this year with his channel where he post pranks and social experiments.  He creates awkward situations with people and secretly films their reactions.  Here is a 2012 highlight video showing some of the funniest moments from his videos this year:


If you enjoyed these videos or have any recommendations for other channels, leave a comment below. 

Also check out the 10 Best Youtube Channels of 2013.

Monday, June 11, 2012

New Shows Review - Hells Kitchen, Love in the Wild, Secret Millionaire, The Choice

The new season of Hell's Kitchen has begun and while I have enjoyed previous seasons, it has just now occurred to me how much bleeping of swear words goes on in every episode.  If you pay attention to it, it seems like almost every line uttered on the show has some part of it bleeped out.  It's almost as if they purposely are using only lines and sound bite where people are cursing.  A little bit of bleeping here and there is ok, especially for Ramsey, but really it is getting out of hand on this show.  I'll be watching this one with less than average enthusiasm this year.

The 2nd season of Love in the Wild is on now.  This one falls into that category of guilty pleasures.  Basically it's a bunch of hot guys and a bunch of hot girls matched up and they compete in challenges.  Each week a coupke gets eliminated until there is only one left at the end.  There is a lot of drama and the setting is exotic and beautiful, so it's fun to watch.  This year Jenny McCarthy is the host which is an upgrade from last year, I don't even remember who it was.  She is as funny and good looking as always.

One of my favorite feel good shows Secret Millionaire is back.  Following the same format, millionaires go undercover and find less fortunate people in need.  At the end they reveal who they are and donate money to the individuals they have met.  I like the show, but I have one gripe about it and that is that sometimes it looks like the producers of the show preselected who they are going to help, yet on the show they make it out to appear as though the millionaires just happen to stumble upon these people and groups in need by accident.  Either way, it still good and always emotional.

One of my favorite ladies Cat Deeley is hosting a new show called The Choice.  It's a blatant copy of the show The Voice, except the celebs pick dates, not singers.  I don't know how they got away with the name and chair spin thing, unless it is from the same producers.  Anyway, I checked out the show and it was pretty bad. D list celebrities deciding if they want to go on a date with random people based on what they say in a few sentences.  I won't be watching, even with Cat.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Reggie Watts - Comedian, Musical Artist, Improvisational Genius

Years ago I remember discovering a guy named Reggie Watts from a music video on College Humor.  The video was funny and I remember going to look him up at the time and there was not much out there at the time, so I kind of forgot about it.  Every now and then a new video would surface of him making an original song with his looping machine which were always great.  Then I saw him in the intro theme to Penelope Princess of Pets which is an excellent web series staring Kristen Schaal.     

Recently I started looking him up again and there are so many new videos of him performing live at shows and conferences.  He has definitely grown in popularity over the past few years and he keeps getting better each year.  After watching a bunch of his videos I can safely say that Reggie Watts is a musical and improvisational comedy genius.  He is the closest to the definition of the word "artist" as you can get with his creativity, boundary stretching, and cross categorical talent.  It is a treat to watch him perform even if it is just through video.  I thought I would share a few of my favorite video finds below.  Enjoy!

Reggie Performs Fuck Shit Stack Live at Just For Laughs


Reggie Live Performance at a Ted Talk 2011


Reggie Acting in an episode of Rumspringa Girls