Sunday, April 15, 2018

A Series of Unfortunate Events – Season 2 Review


The 2nd season of A Series of Unfortunate Events was released on Netflix recently and I just got a chance to complete the full season. I was pretty excited to watch it after having enjoyed the 1st season last year. Season 2 picks up where the last one left off and covers books 5-9 of the novel series by Lemony Snicket.

For those unfamiliar with the show, it is a fictional series that has a unique visual style and almost a world all its own. The 3 main characters, the Baudelarie siblings lose their parents and are bounced around from guardian to guardian as the notorious Count Olaf tries to figure out how to get their fortune they stand to inherit.

The series has a good amount of humor, creative characters, an adventurous story line, and is just overall fun to watch. I had not read the books prior to watching the show so it is all new to me, but as I understand, it follows the original material very well and fans of the books seem to enjoy it as well.

Violet and Klaus, the two older siblings do a great job as they strive to find decent living conditions and find out more about the organization their parents belonged to. Their baby sister Sunny is one of my favorites who is super cute and surprising helpful and talented when she is needed. Neil Patrick Harris plays Count Olaf with an over the top personality who is evil yet funny at the same time.

There are many new stand out characters such as Carmelita, the rude obnoxious girl who they meet at their boarding school. Also Esme Squalor who makes a great addition to Count Olaf's troupe as is the Librarian who joins forces to help the Baudelaries.

The 10 episodes cover the middle 5 books of the series and each one takes place in a different location so there is a good amount of variety throughout the season. It should come as no surprise given the title of the series, that it seems the Baudelarie orphans just cannot catch a break. They are resilient though and one can only hope one day some good fortune may come their way.

So should you watch this show? As the theme goes “Look away, look away.” But really you should watch it because it is a great show! If you are looking for a creative and imaginative family friendly series that is fun and has great characters and visual style, I highly recommend checking out A Series of Unfortunate Events!

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Fixing a zipper that keeps getting stuck and won't close

I have a jacket that I like but recently it started having trouble with the zipper. It would get stuck and sometimes it would zip up half way and sections of the zipper would not close together so there would be openings where it is supposed to be zipped. This became very inconvenient because I could not rely on the zipper to work properly, so I started looking for solutions to fix it.

First I tried putting some oil on the zipper to make it go more smoothly. This worked a little bit but after a few days it would start getting stuck again and had the same issues with the teeth not closing like they should. I also tried to use a small pliers to see if I could adjust the slider piece in case it was stretched out. Unfortunately I was not able to do much with this.

Finally I decided to look for a replacement zipper slider. They come in different sizes and styles so you have to to try to find one that is the same size and for the same materials, for example metal or plastic. They usually have a number on the back. Mine had a 5 and a 6. Also you can measure the width of the zipper when it is closed to get the millimeter measurement.

I went to a hobby store and found some replacement zippers for a couple dollars in size 5 which looked to be about the same so I picked them up.

The next part was kind of tricky because you have to figure out how to remove the original zipper slide. They usually have pieces at each end of the garment that prevent the zipper from coming off the top or the bottom. I tried to pry one of these pieces off but it was really stuck on there. Finally I just decided to cut off the piece at the top which would allow the zipper to slide off the top of the jacket. I never zip the jacket all the way to the top so I figured it would be ok.

Once the old zipper slide was off, I put on one of the new zipper slide. I tried it out and sure enough, it worked! I was able to zip the jacket and it did not get stuck or have any sections that were not connected. So it looks like it was in fact an issue with the original zipper slide. It is possible it may have worn out or stretched out over time.

If you are having a similar issue with a zipper, I recommend try replacing the zipper slide like this as it is an affordable option and is pretty easy to do. Also it is much better than having to buy a new jacket!

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Netflix Picks and Recommendations for 2018

Last year around this time, I did a recap of some of my favorite shows and specials on Netflix and since some time has gone by and new titles have been added, I figured I would make another list of recommendations to check out. Here are some of the tv series, comedy specials, and movies worth checking out now on Netflix:

Glow
Set in the 80's and based on a women's professional wrestling organization, Glow is one of my favorite new series available now. It features Alison Brie and Marc Maron as well as a large cast of characters as they try to put together a women's wrestling show from scratch. There is a good deal of drama, emotion, and even a great soundtrack! 

Haters Back Off
I reviewed the first season of Hater Back Off last year which I really enjoyed. Recently I got a chance to watch the 2nd and final season which was very good as well! It is about a girl who wants to make it big as a singer and entertainer but is oblivious to the fact that she really does not have that kind of talent. This show is not for everyone but if you like quirky off beat style shows, I recommend checking it out. 

Somebody Feed Phil
Phil Rosenthal, the creator of Everybody Loves Raymond has started making documentary style shows such as “I'll Have What Phil's Having” and his most recent series “Somebody Feed Phil”. In these shows, he travels around to different countries and tries out some of the best local food. If you like travel shows and shows about food mixed with a little bit of humor, this is the show for you. 

Ozark
Ozark is about a family man who gets mixed up with the wrong crowd and ends up laundering money and working with drug cartel leaders. If the description sounds similar to Breaking Bad, it is because it is very similar. While it may not be quite as good as that show, it is still very suspense filled and enjoyable to watch. If you like thriller type shows, I recommend checking out Ozark. 

Ryan Hamilton – Happy Face
If you have not heard of comedian Ryan Hamilton yet, now is a good time to check out his new comedy special. His routine is professional and well polished and covers many original topics in a funny way. His style and even his voice can be compared to Jerry Seinfeld, so if you like Jerry, chances are you will enjoy this special. 

Fred Armisen – Standup for Drummers
One of the most unique and interesting comedy sets I have seen recently belongs to Fred Armisen with his Standup for Drummers. It is a combination of stand up comedy mixed with musical drumming performance and really shows a wide range of talent in both areas. Even if you are not familiar with drumming, this special is very funny and educational as well! 

Dave Chappelle – Equanimity
No stranger to the stand up comedy world, Dave Chapelle has some new specials on Netflix now including this new set entitled Equanimity. Dave has confidence and stage presence and is not afraid to talk about controversial issues and tell it as it is while maintaining a sense of humor. 

Crisetla Alonzo – Lower Classy
Another funny special is this one by Cristela Alonzo where she talks about her life growing up and some of the events that shaped her life to what it is today. It a good mix of comedy, nostalgia, and even some emotional stories mixed in at the end. 

The Founder
Also streaming now is the movie The Founder which is the story about how McDonalds was started and how it grew into the biggest fast food restaurant in the world. It stars Michael Keaton as Ray Kroc, the man behind the success of the franchise. It is an interesting story and fascinating to see what can result from hard work and perseverance. 

If you have any favorite series, specials, or movies on Netflix now, feel free to recommend them in the comments below!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Tub Spout Dripping – How to fix with new cartridge and tub spout diverter

For a while I noticed the tub spout in my shower had a slow drip when it was turned off. While it wasn't losing that much water, it was more of an annoyance because it would not stop dripping. Also even when the diverter on the spout was pulled up to turn on the shower, water would still drip out the bottom. I did a little research to figure out what needed to be done to fix these problems.

For the the slow drip when turned off, the cartridge needed to be replaced. This is a cylinder piece that is behind the handle that lets you turn the water on and off and adjust the temperature to either hot or cold. This can be done on your own, but I did have some help to replace this part. The exact steps to replace can depend on the model of cartridge and faucet you have but mainly it involves taking off the handle and pulling out the old cartridge for replacement. Also make sure the water is turned off before taking out the old cartridge.

Once the cartridge was replaced, it became so much easier to turn the water on an off. If the knob or handle in your shower is hard to pull or turn, chances are it could use a new cartridge. Not only is it much easier to turn on and adjust but now it no longer has the slow constant drip when the water is turned off.

Next it was time to replace the tub spout with the diverter. I picked up a universal tub spout at the hardware store for about $15. There are a few different kinds of spouts and different ways they can be attached. Mine was a screw on kind but some have a little screw on the bottom that must be unscrewed to pull it off. For the screw on kind, you just twist the spout in a counter clockwise direction. It might be a little difficult if it is stuck on there so it may need a little effort.

Once it is off you will be able to see how to attach the new spout. If it is a universal spout, it will have directions on how to attach the new spout. Also it is recommended to use plumbers PTFE tape to put around the threaded parts to help seal the connections. I actually had to adjust it a couple times and re-tape it a couple times because it was dripping from the back when I first put it back on.

Also before putting on the new spout, I noticed there was some space around the pipe and the wall where you could see in. I decided to cover up this extra space with some clear tape to help prevent any water from leaking through and going behind the wall.

As I installed the new spout, my main concern was that it might not line up exactly right, but the way it threads on a little bit at a time and has the rubber washer inside, it gives it some ability to adjust more than you might expect. To get a good seal, I found it became pretty snug with the spout facing upward and then I just turned it an extra half turn to line it up with the bottom. This gave it a secure fit and seal so no water dripped out.

Once it is all done, test it out to make sure everything is working well and there are no leaks from any of the connections. If there are still leaks, you might have to try it again and add some more tape and try to tighten it a bit more. Hope this helps and good luck!

Monday, March 5, 2018

Amazon Locker Review – Trying out the self service delivery option

Recently I was making a purchase at Amazon and while I usually have it delivered to home as usual, I noticed they had an option called Amazon Locker where you can have it delivered to a secure location near by. This option is particularly useful for areas where it is difficult to have packages delivered safely. I never had a problem with the traditional delivery, but I was curious to try out this service so I decided to give it a go.

At checkout, it asks for your location to help find the nearest Amazon Lockers. I found one near by located in the Whole Foods a couple miles away so I set it as the delivery point. What's nice is there is no extra charge for this service so anyone can use it to have packages delivered without having to pay anything extra.

Before placing the order, I played around with the shipping options to try to compare the prices. Amazon seems to make this more difficult than it needs to be because it will not tell you the cost of shipping until you get to the end. I usually go with the free shipping but I was in a bit of a hurry so I tried out the 1 day shipping. Somehow it gave free shipping even with this option. I'm not sure how that happened, but usually it would charge for the 1 day shipping.

So the next day, I keep an eye on the tracking but it does not show up on time as expected. The tracking showed they tried to deliver it late at night after the store was closed so they were not able to get in to access the locker. A little inconvenient but it should be delivered first thing the next day right?

Another day goes by and still it does not get delivered. So I contact customer service to see if they can check on the status. They said it was supposed to be delivered on the first day or the 2nd day but for some reason it was not. They said they would send out a new order and the original order would return to them.

Again this was more of a delay than I expected, but the new package did show up in about 1 day. They emailed me an access code and barcode to take to the locker. I went to the Whole Foods and found the Amazon Locker up at the front.

With the barcode from the email pulled up on my phone I approached the screen and scanned the barcode to the scanner. Immediately a locker opened up and I was able to retrieve my package. It was surprisingly simple and fast once it actually got there. I figured there would be a bunch of screens to go through and it would be confusing, but it was about as simple as can be.

Later that day I get another email saying the original package has now been delivered. Somehow it must have gotten re-routed back to the locker. It said if it is not picked up within 3 days it will return automatically for a refund, so I let the 3 days pass and it was picked up to be returned back to Amazon.

Overall, even though there was a little bit of a delay and confusion on the shipping, I would use the Amazon Locker service again. I think it is a great way to have packages delivered securely especially if the item is valuable and you do not want it left outside unattended. I recommend giving it a try in case there is one near you.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Fetch Rewards Review – Trying out the receipt scanning rewards app

As someone who does a good amount of grocery shopping, it peaked my interest when I heard about apps that allow you to earn rewards by scanning receipts. In the past, I had looked up several of these apps, but none of them ever panned out or turned out to be worth the trouble.

Recently, someone recommend trying out Fetch Rewards. It is an app for iOS and Android that lets you earn rewards points for scanning your receipts, so I figured I would try it out. Downloading the app and setting it up was pretty easy. They don't ask for too much information other than the basics like name, email, and phone number.

You can start off with 2,000 points by using a referral code such as Q8RWJ. This is pretty good because 2,000 points is equal to $2 worth of rewards and you can start redeeming rewards at 3,000. I used a code and it applied the points to my account after I scanned my first receipt.

The rewards are e-gift cards to many popular retailers like Amazon, Target, Walmart etc. They start at $3 for 3,000 points and go up as more points are earned.

So how does the app work? Basically you just use the app to take pictures of your receipts. It gives you points for each receipt and gives bonus points if items on your receipt are from the participating brands. These are popular brands that you will recognize in most stores. As long as the pictures you take are clear, it usually processes the scan within a few seconds and awards the points.

In case there is an issue or the images were not clear, it may say “processing” an can take a little longer. I have found that even when they have to check it, the turn around time is usually pretty quick. Also make sure to double check that you get credit for all your items. Sometimes items do not get picked up in the scan depending on how a store lists them on the receipt.

For example say you buy Lays chips, but the way it was listed on the receipt did not get recognized by the app, you may have to put in a request for it to be reviewed so the proper points can be added. They are good about this and usually they review and give you the points within a few hours.

You are able to scan receipts from the past 14 days so if you have some older receipts, you may be able to scan them right away. They have a limit of 14 receipts per week. I had some saved up from the past 2 weeks so I scanned them in. I actually got to 3,000 points within about 1 day so I was ready to cash them out for a reward.

I decided to redeem them for a Target e-gift card. At first when I went to redeem, it said I did not have enough points even though I did. I sent them an email to see what was going on. Then I checked later in the day and it worked so maybe it needed some time to process before redeeming the points.

Redeeming the points was pretty easy. They send a confirmation text and then they send you the code for the gift card. I double checked the balance on Target just in case and sure enough it had $3 credit.

So I would say if you do a lot of grocery shopping it is worth trying out the app to scan your receipts. It can take a while to earn the points, but if you start with the 2,000 from the referral code, you can get to 3,000 points pretty fast.

I will probably stick with it since it is kind of fun and pretty easy to scan the receipts. If you would like to try it out, you can download it for free from App Store or Google Play.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Lightning Cables Review – Apple vs Five Below vs Anker

If you have an iPhone or any portable Apple device, chances are you are familiar with the Lightning USB cable used for charging and data transfer. I started out with the stock Lightning cable that came with it. It was good for a while but one day the phone dropped from about 2 feet up while the cable was plugged into the phone. It landed in a way that bent the tip of the cable and cracked the plastic casing.

Luckily the cable still worked, that was until months later when it dropped again in the same way and bent the cable even more. This time it must have damaged the cable enough because it did not work anymore. So I had to find a replacement cable.

I did have an extra cable on hand because I had previously purchased a Lightning cable to go with a car charger to use in the car. Lightning cables tend to be pretty expensive, for example the stock cable sells for about $20. You can find them cheaper made by other companies. I ended up finding one at the store Five Below for $5. This was about as cheap as I could find them.

The Lightning cable from Five Below is a couple inches shorter than the Apple cable. The one I got has a woven texture and it is thicker compared to the Apple cable which is more of a rubber like plastic and thin. They also have the traditional rubber plastic cable option. The ends of the cables are similar in construction and size. After using the Five Below cable only a few times, I noticed the casing on the ends started to separate. The cable still works and they are still in place, but I have to be careful unplugging it because the plastic can slide off. The cable was cheap so I guess you get what you pay for, but I would have expected it to be a bit more durable than that.

I still wanted a replacement for the stock Lightning cable to use as my main charging cable inside so I could keep the Five Below cable in the car. After doing some research, I decided to go with the Anker PowerLine Lightning cable. I had purchased a battery from Anker a while back and was pleased with it so I thought I would give the cable a try.

The Anker PowerLine cable was about $8 so it was a little more than the Five Below cable but less than it would cost to buy a replacement cable from Apple. It is about 6 inches shorter than the Apple cable which is not great but it is still usable. The PowerLine series is one of the better cables from Anker and you can tell by the build quality. The cable itself is thicker than the Apple cable and the end parts are more significant and have a sturdy feel. They make it easy to grasps the ends of the cable to make easy to handle and unplug.

So far I have only been using the Anker cable for a short time but it seems to be charging fine. I was worried the larger end parts of the cable would cause an issue when trying to plug it into the phone with a case, but it fit perfectly even with the case. I will update this article if there are any changes over long term use.

If you are looking for a cheap cable, the Five Below will work in a pinch, but don't expect it to be the most durable over time. The Anker seems to be have a good combination of quality and reasonable price so I would recommend checking it out in case you are in need of a replacement lightning cable.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Trying Some New Grains – Quinoa, Millet, and Amaranth Review

Recently I started looking into new grains to try out as alternatives to common grains such as wheat and rice. The first grain I tried out was Quinoa which seems to be growing in popularity and can be found pretty easily at most stores. It is pretty easy to make and has a similar taste and texture to rice but has more protein. It can be a little more expensive compared to rice, but I find it is a good option to add to the regular rotation as a staple grain.

Another grain I tried out was Millet. This grain looks like little round beads. It cooks very much like the other grains with a ratio of 1 cup grain to 2 cups water. It also has a good amount of protein like Quinoa. The end result is a fluffy grain that has a little bit of a corn tortilla taste. I was pleased with the outcome overall and liked it enough that I will probably add it to the regular rotation of grains. Not to mention, the price for Millet is pretty reasonable and I found it to be less expensive compared to some of the other grains.

The final grain I tried out was Amaranth. This one has very tiny grains almost like sand. The directions said to rinse the grain first, but I'm not sure how they expect you to rinse it considering the grains are so small. A strainer would probably not work unless it was super fine, and trying to rinse them in the pot does not work because some of them float and some of them sink and they kind of stick together. They also seems to be affected by static electricity so they can be kind of hard to work with.

Cooking the Amaranth was pretty straight forward like most of the grains. I did not like the cooking aroma very much. I'm not sure if it would be any better if I was able to rinse them ahead of time. After it wass done cooking, I found the grains to be about the same size and they held their shape well. They have an odd texture when eating them because they are so small that you can't really chew them, but they have enough substance where you feel like they should be chewable. Overall I did not notice much of a flavor from the Amaranth. Based on this first experience I would probably not rush back to buy it again.

If you are looking for some new grains to try, I would recommend Quinoa and Millet as both have a good amount of nutrition, are easy to cook, and have a pretty good taste when mixed with other ingredients and seasonings.

Are there any other grains you have tried that you would recommend? Feel free to leave a comment about them below.

Update 2-14-18:
I tried out one more grain called Bulgur. It is a wheat that has been parboiled, dried, and cracked into smaller pieces. The grains are similar in size and appearance to brown rice. I choose this grain because it has a quick cooking time at about 12 minutes. Overall the aroma while cooking was pretty good. The taste is mild as most of these grains tend to be. Texture is similar to brown rice but possibly a little more firm. This grain has a good amount of protein as well at 6g per serving. Overall I was pleased with this grain and would recommend it as an alternative option to rice.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

2018 Shop Play Win Monopoly Game - Rare Pieces

Each year for the past few years we have been keeping track of the rare pieces for the Shop, Play, Win Monopoly game. For 2018, the game is back and again we will be keeping track of the rare pieces needed to win. Feel free to comment below to discuss the game and post which game pieces you have and which ones you need.

Having followed this game over the past few years a few observations can be made. One is that it is very hard to win prizes. Each prize has at least 1 rare game piece which is needed to win. The bigger prizes have a rare and a semi-rare game piece that are needed which makes them even more difficult to win.

It is easy to find the common pieces over time as long as you shop on a regular basis. If someone finds a rare piece, they are likely to win that prize. Do not expect someone to give you a rare piece or trade a rare piece for any common pieces.

If you have found a semi-rare piece, you may be able to team up with someone who has found the rare piece for the same prize.

This game has many different participating stores such as Albertsons, Jewel-Osco, Safeway, Pavilions, CARRS, VONS, Randalls, Eagle, Pak ‘n Save, Tom Thumb, ACME Markets, Shaw’s / Star Market, United Supermarkets, Market Street, Amigos, United Express, and more.

Official rules and the odds of winning can be found on the Shop Play Win site.

The Collect and Win Game runs from February 7th to May 8th 2018. Good luck!

Rare Pieces List:

108AH
110BB, 116BH*
119CC
121DA
126EB
132FD
135GC
138HB
144JD
145KA
149LA
154MB
159NC
164OD
166PB
172QD
173RA
179SC
181TA*, 182TB
189VD*, 190VE
193WC, 194WD*
199XD, 200XE*
203YB, 206YE*
207ZA, 209ZC*
213AB
218BC
220CA
227DD
228EA
235FD
237GB
242HC


Numbers with * indicate a semi-rare piece.

Comments are moderated and will show up below once they are approved. Please be patient as it can take up to 12 hours for comments to be approved.

Claims of rare pieces must be able to show proof.

Be cautious of anyone trying to sell a rare piece. There are scammers out there who say they have a rare piece when they do not.

When there are a lot of comments, click "Load more" at the bottom to show more comments. Older comments will be deleted over time to keep things fresh.

Tip for searching comments: use keyboard shortcut ctrl+F on PC and command+F on Mac.

Monday, February 5, 2018

The Downfall of Youtube – Reasons and what the future may hold

Youtube has been one of the most popular websites for a long time and it is practically a household name when it comes to watching and sharing videos online. While it has gone through many changes over the years, some good, some bad, I have found lately that it has been on the decline.

I have many subscriptions and it used to be when I would log in each day, there would be a lot of new videos to watch. Recently though, it seems like there have been fewer and fewer new videos popping up in the feed which would mean that the creators are not making as many videos as they used to.

There can be many reasons for this, but from what I have gathered, it seems like many of the veteran Youtuber's are not happy with the way things have been going. Many have complained about changes which de-monetized their videos. As many of the big Youtuber's got into the habit of using Youtube as their main source of income, you can imagine if this was disrupted enough it would have a big effect on their desire to produce new content.

I know many have complained about traffic numbers declining on videos and how they are not getting as many views or subscribers as they had in the past. Many who have been producing high quality content are fading to the background while newer channels that many not be as good have been pushed to the forefront.

Many Youtuber's have expressed interest in moving to other platforms but as of yet there does not seem to be a suitable replacement. It seems some Youtuber's have cut back on the amount of videos they release while others have stopped making videos all together.

This is a shame because Youtube is a good platform and they have plenty of feedback from the creators to get it right. I am mostly a viewer when it comes to Youtube but I can certainly understand the frustrations of the creators and what they have been going through.

If the trend continues and more of the big Youtubers start pulling away from the platform, I can see a possible shift to other platforms for video entertainment such as Netflix, Amazon, and other streaming services. While these platforms are more for complete shows and movies, viewers may still be drawn to these platforms more if quality content is no longer available on Youtube.

What are your thoughts on this issue? Have you seen a decline in videos from your favorite Youtubers? Feel free to leave a comment below.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Anker PowerCore 10000 Power Bank Review

Recently I was looking for an external battery that could be used to recharge a mobile phone on the go or when there is no power outlet available. I was looking for this because I am often in the car and need to recharge the phone.

I started with a car charger that plugs into the car, but found it did not charge very fast and I did not want to draw any power from the car battery. Also, I wanted to have a back up charger for emergencies, for example if the power were to go out.

After doing some research, I decided on the Anker PowerCore 10000. I found this power bank had a good mix of small size and portability as well as a good amount of power storage to charge a phone about 3 times. I found it for about $26 on Amazon.

Upon receiving the battery and opening it up, I found it was packaged very nicely and comes with a padded carrying case. The power bank itself has a good quality feel to it and is smaller than I expected. I would say it is about the size of a deck of cards and not too heavy. It is something that can be carried in a pocket no problem.

It comes with a USB charging cable, but one thing to note, it does not come with an AC adapter plug so you will need one of these to charge it from an outlet. Many phones these days come with this piece included so there is a good chance you may have it already so you do not have to buy anything extra.

Charging it up to full capacity did take quite a bit of time but that is expected considering it holds about 3 full charges. The power bank has a little button on the side and some led lights to show the current power level.

So far I have been using the power bank as needed to recharge my phone on the go. It seems to work pretty well as all you have to do it plug the phone into it with a USB cable and it starts charging. I find it to be a great option to charge the phone while in the car or even on the go.

I will plan to update this article with a long term update after I have used it for an extended period of time.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

The Importance of Tipping, Especially for Repeat Business

The concept of tipping can be confusing as sometimes it is hard to know when to tip or how much to tip in any given situation. In many jobs, the majority of income is derived from tips so it can be very important for those in these types of businesses. For some other jobs it may not be as common and so if someone decides to give a tip, it is appreciated but not always expected.

As someone who has worked in a couple of different jobs that accept tips, I can say that tipping is important. Not only does it show appreciation for the work being done, but also it helps to ensure a high level of service for future interactions.

For example, I used to deliver pizzas which was a job that was heavily dependent on tips. In a job like this, you tend to get many repeat customers and because of this, it soon becomes clear which customers give good tips and which do not tip at all. Of course whenever an order came in for a customer who was known for giving good tips, everyone wanted it, while on the other hand, if an order came in for a customer who never gives a tip, no one wanted to take that order.

I speak for myself when I say, if the customer is known for giving a good tip, you can be sure I will do my best to make sure everything is perfect or as good as it can be. That's not to say other customers get bad service, but when a customer has a history of good tips, it is extra motivation to go above and beyond to make sure they have a good experience.

Tips become important for repeat business because employees remember who tips and who doesn't and often share their experiences with fellow employees. For customers who develop a reputation as a good tipper, they will be a preferred customer and are more likely to get better service compared to other customers who do not tip.

The amount which should be tipped can vary greatly depending on the situation so you may have to do a little research to figure out the recommended amount. When in doubt if you should tip or not, know that even in situations where tips are not common, they are always appreciated.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Caulk Cracking Around Window Trim – How To Fix

A few years back, I got new windows and while overall they have been pretty good, I noticed the caulking trim around the outside and corners would start to crack during the winter when it would get cold. These cracks were unsightly and allowed cold air to seep in.

The first solution I tried was a squeeze tube of caulk from the local hardware store. I just got one that was cheap for about $1 - $2. One thing to note is that is was an acrylic caulk which I found out later was not the best option. While this was ok for a short term solution, I found that before long, even as soon as a few weeks later, it would start cracking again.

I would try to add more caulk to seal up the new cracks and even tried painting over the caulk to give it an extra seal. Again it would be ok for a while but then as the temperature got cold, it would start to crack again. This was pretty annoying especially since the caulks said they had a multi-year guarantee.

So I did a little research and found it was recommended to use 100% silicone caulk. I looked at the ones I had been using and both were acrylic. One had a silicone blend but it was still acrylic. So I decided to look for the 100% silicone style.

At the hardware store, I found it and it was more expensive than the acrylic caulk, which is probably why I did not try it in the first place. I picked up a small squeeze tube of the 100% silicone caulk which was about $4.

At home, I started to scrape away the old caulk off the window trim. I used a few different tools such as different size flat head screwdrivers, small knife, and small scissors. They are probably not the most efficient tools for the job, but I did not want to buy a specialized tool just for this project.

After removing the old caulk and cleaning it up, I applied the 100% silicone sealant. I was surprised at how the texture was a lot more soft and fluid-like compared to the acrylic caulk which is more thick and has more of a chalky texture. The 100% silicone also seems to take longer to dry which can be helpful in case you make a mistake since it can be easily cleaned up.

So far it seems to be holding up well against the cold weather. I will plan to update this article with a long term review to see how well the 100% silicone holds up over time.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Which Clif Bar Flavors Are The Best?

I recently took up an interest in Clif Bar energy bars and started trying out some of the different flavors. I did a little research to get an idea of what some of the most popular flavors tend to be, but ultimately wanted to try them out first hand to decide which flavors were the best. So far, I have tried most of the flavors I have been able to find in store. There are still a few seasonal flavors and more rare flavors that I have not tried, but here is a recap of my favorites so far.

1. Cool Mint Chocolate
After trying many different flavors, my favorite has to be the Cool Mint Chocolate. It tastes like mint chocolate chip ice cream but in energy bar form. Sometimes when products try to add mint to their flavor, it ends up tasting artificial, but with the Clif Bar, they got it right and it has a refreshing taste that is also sweet and savory. I highly recommend this flavor if you are a fan of mint.

2. Chocolate Brownie
It's hard to go wrong with chocolate flavor and with the Chocolate Brownie Clif Bar, they did a good job getting the flavor to be quite tasty and still have a good level of nutritious qualities. If you like chocolate, this one should be near the top of your list of flavors to try.

3. Peanut Butter Banana With Dark Chocolate
This is a newer flavor and I would have to say it is one of my favorites, coming in at the number 3 spot. It has the banana flavor which makes it kind of unique and different compared to many of the other flavors and energy bars in general. It also has the savoriness of the peanut butter and chocolate which compliment it nicely.

4. Oatmeal Raisin Walnut
This one is another one of my favorites and tastes a lot like oatmeal raisin cookies so if you are a fan of oatmeal raisin, definitely give this one a try.

5. Chocolate Chip
The most classic flavor. Overall good taste and something you can eat often without getting too bored of it, but not as interesting as some of the other flavors.

6. Carrot Cake
The freshest Clif Bar I have tried so far. I liked the sweet frosting-like pieces and overall flavor, but found the carrot pieces to be a little hard to chew.

7. Blueberry Crisp
Another unique flavor and good taste, but this one I would only want to eat once in a while, not necessarily on a daily basis.

Other flavors I have tried which I thought were just ok include Crunchy Peanut Butter, and White Chocolate Macadamia Nut.

In store you can usually find Clif Bars sold individually and sometimes in 6 or 12 packs of individual flavors. It can be hard to find variety packs in store but they can be ordered online as a way to try out many different flavors.

I will update this article in case I try any of the other flavors soon. Which is your favorite Clif Bar flavor? Feel free to leave a comment below.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Xfinity Modem Rental Price Increase

Upon checking my internet bill from Comcast this month, I noticed the price was $1 higher than expected. I thought this was odd considering they advertise a flat rate for the entire year. With the promotion for the first year, it was supposed to be $29.99 per month but this month it was charging $30.99.

I looked into the details and it appears they have increased the price of the modem rental by $1 per month. I contacted support to ask why it went up. Apparently the price of equipment can change even if the monthly service fee stays the same. They offered a $1 credit but said it will probably keep charging the $11 per month for the rental.

In the terms, they do mention that equipment fees are subject to change, but I think if they are promoting a certain price per month for the year, they should honor that price. It seems kind of like false advertisement if they say “it will be $29.99 a month for a year... until we raise the price on the modem rental 6 months into your term.”

This is actually not the first billing discrepancy I have had with Comcast. I was overcharged $5 when the credit for Ecobill was not applied to my account for the first month. These are small charges, but it is more the principle that if they are going to promote a certain rate, it should be honored. $1 a month is not a lot for one person, but if they are charging every customer an extra $1 a month, that is a lot of money.

Overall the Xfinity internet service has been ok and they did give me a free upgrade in the speed this month which was nice, but still I think the pricing could be a bit more straight forward so you don't have situations like this where you are charged more than expected.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Alone Together – New Show with Esther Povitsky and Benji Aflalo off to a good start!

A while back, I discovered a comedian/actress named Esther Povitsky also known as “Little Esther”. After watching a bunch of her videos, I learned she was staring in a new show called Alone Together, beginning January 10th on Freeform. Today, they released the pilot episode for streaming on the Freeform website so I decided to check it out.

It is a half hour comedy that follows Esther and her friend Benji as reluctant friends who are trying to make it out in L.A. The show seems to be very autobiographical from what I can tell, which is a good thing and makes them very relatable as characters.

After watching the pilot episode, I really enjoyed it! It is very funny and the characters are likable. They even had some recognizable guest stars such as Chris D'Elia and Jim O'Heir in the first episode. I like the relationship that has been created between Esther and Benji as they don't really like each other (or at least won't admit it) but are just kind of stuck hanging out with each other by default.

I am looking forward to watching more episodes of this show this year. Interesting fact, upon looking up the credits of the show, it looks like Andy Samberg and The Lonely Island are involved with the show behind the scenes. If you are looking for a new comedy to watch, I recommend checking out Alone Together, officially airing on January 10th on the Freeform network.