Saturday, April 6, 2024

New Show Recommendation - Building Outside the Lines

 I just finished watching the show "Building Outside the Lines" and it was so good I wanted to share it here as a recommendation. The show features a father/daughter duo who are asked to make a creative build for a client each episode. 

The dad Cappie has a great personality and a lot of enthusiasm. Alex the daughter compliments him very well and contributes a lot of ideas and creativity to the builds. 

The show takes place in South Dakota which makes for a beautiful setting. The show is shot and edited very nicely which makes it a pleasure to watch. 

Each show starts with a local client who has a basic idea of what they want, but they leave it up to Cappie, Alex, and their team to put their own spin on it and come up with a completed design. The building process is featured throughout the episode and at the end the finished project is presented to the client.

Overall it is a wonderful show and I highly recommend it. The first season had 8 episodes, but I really hope they decide to make more! You can watch it now on streaming networks such as Max Discovery Plus. 

Sunday, December 31, 2023

Music Picks - Best Artists and Songs for 2023 and Previous Years

From 2010 - 2018 each year I posted a list of my favorite songs of the year. Then I took a break from this series. Now after 5 years, I have a new list of artists and songs to recommend so I figured I would post them here on the blog to share. 

This list contains music released in 2023 as well as some from previous years. It is mostly songs that are not super popular, at least not yet at the time of this posting. Here are my picks for the best songs from 2023 and previous years:

1. CARR - Industry Kids

I just randomly discovered CARR after a quick search for new music on Spotify. I would describe her sound as similar to artists like Avril Lavigne, Jax, and Damone. Her music reminds me of the indie rock scene of the early 2000's. She has put out a few albums of the past few years. I listened to all of them and all the songs are good! What's interesting is it seems she has not blown up yet. I could see an artist like this easily having millions of views and followers but so far she seems to be flying under the radar. Other songs to check out also: Sick Bro, Spiral City.


2. Jax - Victoria's Secret

Jax is a singer songwriter that recently caught my attention with her anthem Victoria's Secret. She has distinctive singing voice and a knack for catchy tunes that stand out from the other pop songs. Power chords and a meaningful message make this song a hit. Also check out other songs from Jax including Cinderella Snapped and 90s Kids

3. Bo Burnham - From God's Perspective 
Bo is known for his comedy specials which include a number of original songs which are very good even on their own. My favorite would have to be From God's Perspective which is an equally funny yet deep song about God's thoughts on humanity. Wonderfully composed, written, and performed. Also check out songs: Straight White Man and Can't Handle This
4. Gary Portnoy - Temporary
Gary Portnoy is most known for making making one of the greatest theme songs of all time, the theme song to Cheers, but he also has released plenty of his own music such as this song called Temporary. It's an autobiographical song about his childhood friend which leads to a revelation about life itself. Also check out the songs Lee and Life on the Outside

5. Carly Rae Jepsen - Comeback
Carly has a lot of pop hits and one of my recent favorites is the song Comeback. In collaboration with producer Jack Antonoff from The Bleachers, they have made a wonderful song here with haunting synths and soundscapes. 

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

The cost of everything has gotten too expensive. Price of food and and inflation out of control.

As we near the end of 2023 the cost of living has skyrocketed. Ever since the pandemic the cost of everything has increased dramatically. Even the price of basic necessities like food and housing have gotten out of control. A little inflation each year is expected, but the increases we have seen over the past few years have been way too much. And the problem is that salaries and income from jobs have not increased to match it.

I don't know how many people are managing it these days. I am getting by but that is because I was in the habit of living a very frugal lifestyle even before all of this started happening. I saved up and continue to live even more frugally so I am ok, but for the average person living paycheck to paycheck without savings, they are pretty much screwed.

I'm not expert in economics but there does not really seem to be a reason for the dramatic increase in cost of living other than everyone just trying to get more money and stay ahead of the curve. The cost one thing will go up and then everything related to that goes up to try to make up the difference. Ultimately the consumer at the end is hit with a higher bill.

I can understand how the pandemic caused big issues with supply and demand and it had a huge effect on the workforce, but it is long over with and things have not changed back to how they were, they have only gotten worse.

I think there is a certain amount of greed involved with companies raising the cost of goods that people need and people keep buying them because they feel like they don't have a choice.

As far as I am concerned, I am not tolerating these price hikes. Certain grocery stores that I used to shop at on a regular basis, I no longer even step foot into. Certain food that I used to buy every week I no longer buy anymore because the price has nearly doubled in the past year or so. I changed my frugal buying habits into being even more frugal because I will not support these price increases. I think more people have to do the same to send a message that these prices have gotten out of control.

If things don't change, people will need to make more money and they will demand higher pay from their jobs. Then of course this will make companies raise prices on goods and the cycle just continues to get worse.

We just need to get some stability in the economy back. Maybe government needs to step in to put some regulation in place. Maybe more people have to stop putting up with these price increases. If people can no longer afford to pay for basic living expenses while working a full time job, this could lead to even more serious problems.

Monday, October 2, 2023

Gerber Armbar Drive Review - First impressions of the driver multi-tool

I have been a fan of multi-tools for a while now and up to this point I have mostly used Victorinox Swiss Army knives. Recently I was in the market for a new multi-tool that would have a good phillips head screw driver and a knife. After doing lots of research I decided to try out the Gerber Armbar Drive.

My first impression was that it was a bit smaller than expected but it is similar in size compared to Victorinox knives like the Super Tinker. The problem though is that the tools don't fill the shape well and because of this, it makes it hard to handle. For example when you open up the screw driver, that part leaves a big hollow space in the handle where it use to be so you don't have much to hold on to. 

I found the tools themselves to be hard to open. Maybe I got spoiled by Vicotorinox, but these tools on the Gerber are really stuck in there and when you open one, it tends to pull out some of the other tools next to it. 

The scissors I don't really like because of the design. When you open it, it is not ready to go, you have to flip one of the sides 180 degrees to get it into place. This extra step might not seem like a lot, but when you just want to get to a tool quick you don't want to have to worry about extra steps just to open it. 

The pry tool I found to be hard to open. They say it functions as a hammer too, but this thing is so light, I don't expect it would work too well at hammering. 

The knife is ok. I like that it is able to lock. In terms of size it is about as big as the handle itself which seems a little too big for the handle. 

Overall I wanted to like this multi-tool and was hoping to use it as my daily carry for screw driver and knife, but after trying it out, I am disappointed and I don't expect to use it much unfortunately.

Thursday, July 6, 2023

Cancel culture and the trend of trying to bring down good people - Colleen Ballinger, Jenna Marbles

Recently I discovered that a Youtuber I like, Colleen Ballinger from Miranda Sings, was in the news for apparently doing bad things. I was surprised to hear this because having followed her channels, watched her Netflix series, and read her book, I never had any reason to think anything bad about her.

I did a little searching to try to figure out what was going on. My search found a lot of news articles saying she may have done some things in the past that some might consider inappropriate. I also searched Reddit and found a lot of people intent on trying to bring her down. I read their reasons and honestly they were not that bad.

I could tell right away that this situation is exactly like what happened to Youtuber Jenna Marbles. It's where there is a good person who has a lot of success and then one day some negative press article comes out saying they did something wrong and then all of a sudden the mob pounces on them and tries to find every little thing they possibly did wrong in their entire life.

This kind of thing gets a lot of media attention so news sites and social media are all over it. Suddenly everyone has an opinion on it. Anyone who ever disliked them or was jealous of them in any way is chiming in on the action.

I'll admit I have not read into all the allegations thoroughly but when you follow someone on Youtube for years and have watched and read a lot of their content you get a pretty good idea of who they are. In my opinion she is a good person plain and simple.

Of course there are probably some things she has done that she would look back on and say “yeah I probably shouldn't have done that, or I would have done that differently”. Of course she probably made some mistakes in the past, but guess what, so has every single person in the world!

But because she is famous she gets attacked by everyone who dislikes her. When you are famous, even if you have millions of people who love you, there are still going to be a small percentage who don't like you. Then as soon as you make one little slip up, they are all over it and try to blow it out of proportion.

It can be contagious to jump on the bandwagon when someone you know has made a mistake. I'll admit there may have been times in the past where I have done the same thing, not to this extent, but something similar.

For example, how many times in your life have you known someone who you thought was ok. Maybe a co-worker who you didn't necessarily get along with but tolerated them just fine. Then maybe one day they leave under bad terms and people start gossiping negative things about them. Have you ever been tempted to join in and give your own take on what you didn't like about them?

This is the kind of thing that happens in these situations to celebrities but on a much larger scale. It is really unfair especially when you have thousands of people trying to dig up your life's history and find every little thing you did that could possibly be interpreted as being even slightly offensive or controversial.

If this was done to everyone, guess what? Pretty much everyone would be “Canceled”. Even the best people in the world make mistakes. I'm not saying we should condone celebrities when they do something that is truly horrible, but I think we really need to give them a break when small mistakes are made, especially when they are from many years ago and the person has since matured or changed.

People like Colleen and Jenna are good people who brought a lot of joy to millions of people. It is a shame when a small group of “haters” band together to try to bring them down and ruin their career.

Keep these points in mind when you see these attempts at canceling celebrities. They may be famous but deep down they are real people just like us who sometimes make mistakes and are not always perfect.

Music artists copying old songs and not giving credit to the original

How many times has this happened to you? You hear a song that you think is an original song only to find out many years later that it was actually a remake of a song that existed decades earlier. For me this happens quite often.

I always feel like I've been tricked or lied to by the artist of the new version of the song. Here we were presented a song as if it was new and we were not told that it was actually just a copy of a hit song from years ago.

Sure, if you do some digging and really search for the production details of the song, you might find some fine print mentioning that it samples another song or that is was based on other song, but rarely will this information be clearly published with the song title.

I think this is unfair to the original artist because they are not really getting the credit they deserve. Often new artists just take a hit song and remake it. Then of course the song is a hit because it has already been proven to be a hit in the past. They took something that was already likable and just reintroduced it again.

Although I don't really like when this is done especially when it is not clear that the song was based on another song that already exists, it is not all bad. The fact that the song is being remade shows that the artist likes it enough to be inspired to remake it which can be a compliment to the original artist.

Also as mentioned earlier, this process introduces a song to a new generation who probably never heard the original and may never have known about it had it not been redone.

Overall I think it is ok to be inspired by a song and then make your own version of it as long as the original artist is clearly given credit so people know where it came from.

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Lost Envelope Found - Story of what happened when I found a lost envelope

The other day I was getting home from work and as I was walking up to my building I saw a blue rectangle on the ground in the landscaped area. I always clean up garbage around the property so I walked over to it and picked it up.

It was an envelope with someone's name on the front and a return address sticker on the back. There was no stamp or postal marking so it looked like a card that was going to be handed over in person.

The card itself was sealed and it had some thickness to it. I shook it around and it appeared to have more than just a a single card in it.

I thought about what my options were. I didn't know who it was for but I did have the return address.

I decided to see if I could find some contact information for the name on the back. With a quick internet search I was able to find a phone number. I didn't know if the number would actually be right, but I figured I would give it a try.

Also in the mean time, I pulled up the security camera footage in front of our building to see if I could track down where it came from. After a little digging, I actually found it. It turns out someone pulled up to pick someone up and when they stepped out of the car, the envelope fell on the ground. I still didn't know who they were, but I decided to give them a call at the number I found.

So the next day I called the number and the person picked up. I confirmed their name and asked if they lost a card the other day. They said yes and confirmed where they lost it. I told them I would like to get it back to them. We arranged for her to come by later that day to pick it up.

When she came by, she was very relieved and thankful because the card was important. She said it was for a widow and it was going to be given to them at a funeral. She said that it had money inside so she was very thankful that I made the effort to return it to her. She gave be $20 cash as a thank you. I told her she didn't have to but she insisted so that was very nice of her.

Overall I am happy with my decision to get in contact with her to return the lost card. In situations like this, you have to put yourself in their shoes. If you lost an important card like that and someone found it, wouldn't you hope that they would try to get it back to you? If you ever find something like this, I recommend trying to return it to the owner. You will save the day and you might even be rewarded for your efforts!