Thursday, October 31, 2013

Why Do We Judge?

It seems judgment has become a huge part of our society. We judge others, we judge ourselves, we judge pretty much everything. While there is some value in making judgments, being over judgmental is a bad thing. It got me thinking, why is it that we judge? I did a little research and found a great article that helped explain the reasons for why we judge people.

The article made a great point and that is, when people make a judgment about you, it will only bother you if you judge yourself for that same reason. For example, say someone makes a negative comment about about your appearance. That comment would likely only bother you if you are insecure about that aspect of your appearance. If you are completely comfortable with how you look, people's judgments will not have the same effect on you.

One of the main reasons I find why people judge others is because they are envious or jealous of them. Have you ever known someone who just seems to have everything going well for them, you know, they are good looking, smart, funny, and everyone likes them? Do you ever find yourself thinking negatively about them and trying to find things they are not so good at? This is negative judgment. I find myself doing this from time to time, but try to stop myself and reflect why I am making these judgments.

Often people have a negative self image and try to bring themselves up by putting others down.  It is best not only to avoid doing this yourself but also not let it bother you when other people try to put you down. In most cases they are not unhappy with you, but in actuality they are unhappy with themselves.

According to the article the key is to observe characteristics of others but not to take an emotional stance on it, rather accept it for what it is. Try to be open minded and learn from others differences instead of trying to convince yourself that what they look like or how they are is wrong. It is not easy, but if you can be more accepting and understanding of others, they may be more willing to return the favor.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

HealthCare.gov Review and Errors

Like many Americans who are uninsured or looking for new health care coverage, I have been trying to go through the new health care market place system at HealthCare.gov.  This launched October 1st and is supposed to be the way to go to get the best and most affordable health care coverage.  According to news and reports many users are having trouble getting the website to work correctly.

I was able to sign up for an account and get all the way to the part where you apply for eligibility to get financial assistance.  It said my results were ready to view but every time I click the button to view them, it just brings up a blank page.  I tried all the solutions such as restarting, disabling pop up blockers and using different browsers.  Nothing worked and I am still getting the blank page.  I can't really move on in the process because you need to know your eligibility status before actually applying.

I contacted the support twice by chat and once by phone.  Neither method was able to provide a solution to fix the problem.  I even asked them on phone if they could tell me what my status was, but they were unable to do this. So now I think it is just a matter of waiting until they fix the bugs on the website.  News and reviews say they are working to make it better, so it may just be that we have to wait and try it again later.

UPDATE 12-13-13
They added the option to delete an application in progress and start over so I tried that and was able to get the results without an error this time.  Once you get the results it will tell you how much of a credit if any you can apply to your plan when you choose one.

It gives you several different companies to choose from as well as different level plans such as Bronze, Silver, and Gold.  I compared these plans to identical plans from the same companies directly from their website and they were the same cost. They give descriptions of the features of each but I still find it confusing and not clear exactly what the plans cover and what you will have to pay for your self.

I will probably sign up for one of the basic plans soon.  They say if you do not have health coverage in 2014 there is a fee of $95 per person that you have to pay.  That is not much compared to how much you will pay for the health insurance, but it is still better to have the insurance just in case. 

UPDATE 1-1-14
So I have been reviewing the plans available and none of them look very good.  For example, I'm looking for one that has a low premium and a higher deductible which is best for people who are healthy and don't expect many medical bills.  The cheapest plan is about $100 per month and that is after a discount.  This plan also has a $6000 deductible.  So that means with this plan, you have to pay about $7200 before it begins to even cover anything including a basic doctor visit.  That is just not worth it.  You would be better off just paying out of pocket.  As for now I am going to hold off on signing up until there are better options or lower costs.  

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Comcast DTA Transition vs Basic Antenna TV

Recently Comcast Xfinity started making changes to their service so you need a DTA or Digital Transport Adapter to get even the basic channels. We went along with is and installed the devices on our tvs. They get pretty much the same channels but there are a few downsides. 

First, you have to use their remote control which is very basic. You won't get all the options from your normal remote control unless you use it along with the Comcast remote. Even then some features such as deleting channels you don't want will not work. Second, there are tons of blank channels you have to navigate around. And finally, the picture quality is just not very good. Not only that but this basic service costs about $20 a month.

I decided to try out the basic digital antennas to see if the results would be better. I was able to pick up a couple antennas for less than $10 each. I hooked them up and did a rescan of the channels. At first some of the channels were a bit choppy, but after a little adjusting, I got pretty much all the same channels as Comcast except the picture quality was now much better. Not to mention, the antenna service is free. So of course we are going to stay with the antenna to get the better picture and avoid paying the extra $20 a month for basic channels from Comcast.

If you just want the basic network and local channels, the antenna is the way to go. If you live near a big city, you should be able to get by with a non-powered antenna. If you are further away from the broadcast towers, you might need to get a more expensive powered antenna. Even those are only about $40 for a good one.

Friday, October 4, 2013

New Shows Fall 2013 Review - What to Watch

I have been watching a bunch of the new premier episodes of new shows this season in hopes of finding some good shows to watch. In this blog I will recap those shows and tell you which ones to check out and which ones to pass on.

Hits
Brooklyn Nine Nine
This is a new comedy staring Andy Samberg. It is sort of a silly comedy in the setting of a police detective show. I was skeptical about this combination but so far the characters are likeable enough that I have stuck with it for the following episodes. I particularly like the relationship between the Charles and Rosa (2nd and 3rd from right in picture).

Lucky 7
This is a new drama about a group of everyday folks who get lucky and win the lottery as a group. Of course with more money comes more problems. The characters in this show are kind of cliche, but the acting is good and whenever there is a lot of money involved there is going to be a lot of drama. So far so good.

Update: Lucky 7 was canceled unfortunately.  Too bad, it was one of the better shows this season. 

Master Chef Jr.
This was another one I was skeptical about. It is basically the same as Master Chef only with kids instead of adults. I thought there were enough Chef Ramsay shows, but apparently not. This one follows the same format of the original series, but the kids bring a new life to it with their energy and spontaneous nature. I'm watching this one when I get a chance.

On The Fence
Super Fun Night
I'm a fan of Rebel Wilson so when I heard she was going to have her own show, I was pretty excited. I checked this one out and honestly I was a little disappointed. The main thing that threw me off was Rebel doing an American accent. I'm so used to her with the Australian accent that my brain couldn't compute her talking with an American accent. The first episode was just ok in my opinion. I might give it one more episode.

Update: still not the best show out there, but it is getting a little better as the season goes along.

Trophy Wife
I just happened to watch this by chance and it was not too bad. It reminds me a lot of Modern Family in the fact that it is a comedy revolving around a large unorthodox family. The little kid in the show is the star if you ask me. Might watch this one if there is nothing else on.

Update: Moving this show to the Hits. After seeing several episodes, it is one of the best comedies of the season!  

Misses
Michael J Fox Show
I'm a fan of Michael J Fox so of course I had to check out his new show. MJF plays a retired news anchor who decides to go back to work. After watching the first episode, it just didn't grab me. I probably will not stick with it unfortunately.

Hostages
There was a lot of promotion for this show and it did look pretty good. They have some big names in the cast and an ambitions story line about a family held hostage unless the mom kills the president. My problem with this is that the characters seem so cookie cutter. We've got the dad who is having an affair, a son who is doing drugs, a daughter who is pregnant... you get the picture. I didn't find the drama as compelling as it should be for a situation like this. Maybe because it is on network tv, they can't really push the boundaries.

Marvel's Agents of SHIELD
I grew up with Marvel comics so I thought this one might be good, but after watching the pilot, I was very disappointed.  It seems they are just using the "Marvel" name to try to draw people in, but the show itself does not have much going on with super heroes.  I didn't find the first episode to be very engaging so we will have to take a pass on this one. 

The Blacklist
This was another drama that had a lot of promotion behind it. I tuned in a bit for the first episode, but it did not grab my attention enough to stay with it or tune in for the next episode.

The Goldbergs
Finally we have another family comedy with The Goldbergs. This one follows a dysfunctional family and takes place in the 80s. I had high hopes for this one given the cast, but overall it did not impress. I might tune in for another episode if nothing else is on, but so far, it does not make the hit list.

What shows are you watching this fall? Leave your comments below.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Blocked from Retailmenot - Cannot submit coupon codes

If you have ever searched for a coupon code, you have probably found the website Retailmenot.  In theory they are supposed to let users submit coupon codes for others to use.  While this site was ok in the past, I have found now that they block or ban people from submitting coupon codes.

Every time I try to submit a valid coupon code or link, I get the message that whatever I have put in has been blocked.  And it is not just links.  They have even blocked regular words.  I'm not sure why I have been blocked because hundreds of other people are posting the exact same kind of promo codes and they are not being blocked. 

Have you been been blocked from posting on Retailmenot?  Let us know in the comments section.

Update: 4-6-15 I have noticed now that some coupon pages on Retailmenot are completely blocked off and they do not even accept submissions for coupon codes on these pages. It seems they are set up with affiliate companies and are using affiliate links to get commission though the promo codes and sales.  It is their site and they have the right to set it up as they please, but it would still be nice if they actually allowed people to submit coupon codes to the site.

Update: 7-11-15 I contacted Retailmenot to see if they could add a code manually since it is being blocked. They said that since the code was submitted before, it cannot be submitted again. That is fair enough, but I double checked the site and it looks like there a many new codes being submitted that are duplicates so I'm not sure why they are being published while others are not. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Talking on Cell Phone While Driving Ban 2014

I just read that starting on January 1st, 2014, it will now be illegal to talk on the phone while driving in the state of Illinois.  This will be the 12th state to enforce this law in the country.  Already there is a ban on texting and talking while in a school zone so this new law will extend to talking at any time while driving.  The only exception is if you are using a hands free device.  

While I agree that texting should be illegal, I don't think talking on a cell phone should be illegal and I'll explain why.  Texting requires you to take your eyes off the road to look at your phone to either type or read a message.  Anything can happen in a split second with your eyes off the road.  A car could jam on its brakes.  A kid could run out into the street.  When you are looking down at your phone, you have no way to know what is going on ahead of you.  Not only does texting take your eyes off the road, but it makes you change your focus from looking far ahead to close up.  This visual focus adjustment takes time itself.

So why should talking on the phone be legal?  Talking is a distraction, but so are a lot of other things in a car that are still legal.  Talking to other people in the car can be a distraction.  Playing with the radio or trying to eat something while driving can be a distraction.  Even though talking on the phone does take some of your focus away from the road, you can still see what is going on and react by steering with your free hand.  Yes, having 2 hands on the wheel gives you more control, but many people do not use 2 hands on the wheel even when they are not on the phone.  So what will be next, making it illegal to take a hand off the steering wheel?

They say you will be able to talk on the phone as long as you are using a hands free device.  I don't think the safety issue here is about if you are holding a phone or not.  The distraction of talking with someone is the same whether is it on a hands free device, or the phone itself. 

So starting in 2014 we will no longer be allowed to talk on the phone while driving or else risk getting a ticket.  I think some people will still do it because it is hard to ignore a call when your phone is ringing and no one is going to want to pull over and stop their car to answer or make a call. 

What are your thoughts on this issue?  Should people be able to talk on their phone while driving?