Monday, September 21, 2020

The Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B Story

Back when I was in grade school we had music class and one of the things we did as a class was practice singing a song that would eventually be performed at the school concert. One year I remember the song we were assigned was The Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B. It's an oldies song that I barely remember but I do remember something that happened that year in music class.

As we were practicing our song in class one day, the teacher mentioned that we would need someone to play the part of the Bugle Boy at the concert. The person playing the part would have a bugle and would basically walk around and dance to the music and pretty much be the star of the song.

The teacher asked if anyone wanted to be the Bugle Boy, but no one volunteered. I guess we were at that age where no one really wanted that extra attention for fear of standing out or being judged. I know I didn't want to do it. I figured the part would probably go to one of the cool or popular boys in the class.

Then something interesting happened. One of the boys who I would consider kind of an average kid, not one of the cool or popular kids, spoke up and volunteered to be the Bugle Boy. Everyone was a little surprised as it was kind of unexpected. I remember at the time thinking that for some reason he was not right for the part, but you know what, he was the only one brave enough to volunteer so he got the part!

So when the concert day arrived, our class sang our song for the audience while this kid walked around and danced with the bugle at center stage. He did a great job and I'm sure it was a great boost of confidence for him. It's funny how little situations like this that happened many years ago can stick in your memory.

Looking back it's one of those motivational or teachable moments. When there is a situation or a goal that you think might be out of your reach, sometimes it just takes a little bravery to go for it and you never know, you just might get it!

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Why are so many green utility boxes broken or not have the cover on properly?

Have you ever seen those light green metal boxes seemly placed in random spots around neighborhoods and communities? You probably have seen them but might not have given them much thought. Recently I have been noticing that so many of these boxes do not have the covers on properly or they are just in bad condition overall.

These boxes contain wires inside. I'm not exactly sure what they are for other than they are for utilities like phone lines and such. It could be different depending on the box. Some of these boxes are small, some are larger, some are round, some are rectangular. In the case with these boxes, either they are not designed well enough to put the covers on easily or the people working on them just don't bother to put the covers back on the right way when they are done working on them.

I have started fixing these covers when I see them like this. Usually the cover is either just leaning against the box or it is on the ground next to it. They usually have little notches that hook onto a piece on the main box. Sometimes they twist on if they are the round kind. I have found they are pretty easy to put the cover back on if you give it a chance. Sometimes though the cover is hard to get on either because the wires are in the way or because it is just in bad condition.

A lot of times these boxes are at a diagonal like they have been knocked over. My guess is that this happens from lawnmowers that go by and knock into them sending them out of alignment.

If you start looking for these green utility boxes, you will notice how so many of them do not have the covers on properly or are knocked over. I find this strange considering there are probably important wires inside that should be protected from the elements.

The wires inside must be pretty durable considering how so many of these boxes are in bad shape and apparently they are still working because no one seems to bother to fix them or put the covers on the right way.

I think they need to come up with a better design for these utility boxes to make the covers easier to put on. They also should try to make them stronger so they do not get knocked over so easily.

Has anyone else noticed these utility boxes like this? If anyone out there works with these boxes or has any insight on them, please feel free to share your experience in the comments below.

Friday, July 24, 2020

The Stock Market is a Scam

If you are a new investor to the stock market, there is a good chance you have lost money already. Even those who have been in it for a while and have been studying it closely are likely to lose money. I am not an expert on stocks in fact, I would still consider myself to be pretty new and inexperienced with the stock market, but I have studied it over the past year and nothing is really convincing me that it is not a scam.

There is a ton of information to learn about stocks with all the different statistics and numbers, all the trends, charts, and recommendations. Even when you do your research and try to pick the best stocks, there is no guarantee that it is going to work out in your favor.

One common piece of advice is to buy low and sell high, and I think this is good advice but it is hard to follow because it goes against your natural instinct. For example if you see a stock that has been going down you would not want to invest in it because it looks like it will lose money. Same goes for when a stock is doing really well, it makes you think you should invest in it because it is going up.

Sometimes this works out but often it does not. That stock that was doing amazing and was at an all time high when you bought it is now tapering off and starting to go down. Those stocks that looked terrible before are now starting to go up. It's like you can't win.

In my experience it seems like the market is always against you. As soon as you buy a stock, it goes down. As soon as you sell a stock it goes up. I know it is hard to time the market and nearly impossible to buy at the low and sell at the high but it just seems like whatever you do ends up being the wrong decision.

I'm sure there are individuals who do know how to make the market work in their favor, for example professionals who trade stocks for a living or those who have been studying the market closely for many years. These people have the advantage and know how to play it so they make money. But for the average person who is not an insider, they are more likely to get taken advantage of and lose money.

One thing that should be very simple and straight forward but is not is what makes the price of a stock go up and down? People will say things like supply and demand, company earnings, and daily news will affect the price. But there really is no clear explanation. You just have to look at your screen and accept whatever number is shows you.

You would think that a stock's performance should be based on how well a company is doing. For example if they are earning a lot of money each year, the stock should go up, but this is not the case. A company can be making billions of dollars a year and their stock price does not change, while another company can be losing tons of money every year and their stock price can be going through the roof.

It seems stock price is more based upon what people think about a company or stock. I would explain it in this analogy:

A stock is like a membership to a company. If there is a company you like, you can buy a membership to be part of their club. If you really like it, you can buy several memberships to that club. There are only a limited amount of memberships available for each club.

If the club is popular and more people want to get in, the price of the membership goes up. If no one is interested in the club and the current members want to get rid of their membership, the price of the membership goes down. Again, I'm not an expert but if this analogy is correct, the stock market is more just a popularity contest among companies where individuals try to join the popular companies before everyone else.

Can you make money in the stock market? Of course. If you get lucky by not only buying but also selling a stock at the right time, you can make money. The problem is it is always a gamble and no one knows the future so there is just as much chance that you can end up losing money.

This is why I consider it a scam because it is basically just gambling and unless you are an insider with decades of experience, there is a good chance you are going to end up losing money in the stock market. Feel free to comment below on your thoughts about the stock market.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Reporting Potholes - There needs to be an easier way

If you are a driver, chances are you have encountered potholes in the road from time to time. These holes in the road are not only annoying but they can also cause damage to your vehicle. If you notice a pothole in the street, it is a good idea to make a note of where you saw it and contact the local division that is responsible for that road so it can be fixed.

There are divisions that are in charge of fixing and maintaining the streets, but the problem is it is hard to know which is responsible for each street. For example some streets are maintained by the local village. Some are maintained by the county. Others are maintained by the state and so on. It is not clear which streets are maintained by which organizations and this makes it difficult to report potholes.

This is why there needs to be a universal system available to make it easier to report road issues like this. It would be a website / app that is map based and allows you to pinpoint an area on the map to submit an issue such as a pothole.

The map and submission part of the website would be pretty easy to make, but the difficult part would be integrating it to all the different streets and public works organizations. Each village, county, and state tends to have their own system for reporting issues and many of them only have a phone number contact. So it would be a challenge to get all of these organizations on board with the program.

But if this could be done, it would make it so much easier to report potholes and issues on the road that need to be fixed. This would greatly improve the quality of the roads for everyone because these issues could be found and submitted as soon as they are noticed and that would help get them fixed as soon as possible.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Soylent vs Ensure Nutrition Drink Comparison Review

As someone who appreciates nutrition drinks for their ability to provide calories and nutrition in a quick and easy manner, I have tried many of these drinks over the years. My favorite go-to drink is the Ensure Plus, usually in chocolate or vanilla. It has a great taste and lots of calories per ounce but it is expensive so I do not buy it often. I have tried many of the store brand nutrition drinks which try to replicate Ensure but they are never as good when it comes to the actual taste.

I have had Soylent nutrition drinks on my radar for some time now and had been wanting to try them for a while but held off on it because of the high cost which seemed to be even more expensive than Ensure Plus. But recently I found a 4 pack of Soylent in the Cacao flavor on sale so I decided it was time to try it out to see how it compares.

Taste:
When it comes to taste, the folks at Ensure know what they are doing. The Ensure Plus drinks are rich and delicious. They have a thick consistency and are easy to drink. I found the Soylent taste to be just okay. It has more of a watery consistency and tastes similar to store brand nutrition drinks.

Nutrition:
The Soylent 4 pack has 11oz drinks while the Ensure 6 pack has 8oz drinks so I did some calculations to see how they compare per ounce on some of the main categories.

Soylent has 320 calories in 11oz which comes to 29.1 calories per ounce. Ensure Plus has 350 in 8 oz which comes to 43.75 calories per ounce. So Ensure has more calories per ounce.

For fat, Soylent has 17g (1.55g/oz). Ensure Plus has 11g  (1.38g/oz) so Soylent has a little more fat per ounce.

For sugar, Soylent has 7g (.64g per oz) vs 22g (2.75g/oz) in the Ensure Plus. So Ensure has a lot more sugar. Soylent uses some artificial sweeteners such as sucralose while Ensure uses sugar which explains the difference in these stats. 

For protein, Soylent has 16g (1.45/oz) while Ensure Plus has 13g (1.63g/oz) so Ensure has a little more protein per ounce.

Vitamins / Minerals:
Both drinks have good coverage for the vitamins and minerals. Soylent has 15% daily value for all of them while Ensure is at 25% for most of them with some being a little higher and some a little lower.

Cost:
The Soylent 4 pack with 11oz drinks is about $9 while the Ensure Plus 6 pack with 8oz drinks is about $10. This makes it seem like the Soylent is more expensive but when you consider the cost per ounce they are actually pretty close in price with Soylent being about $.20 per ounce while Ensure is about $.21 per ounce.

Other:
Both drinks contain a lot of similar ingredients. Once difference I noticed was Ensure Plus includes milk protein while Soylent does not so those following a vegan diet would have reason to choose the Soylent in this case. Ensure does offer a plant based nutrition drink as well but I have not tried that one yet. 

Verdict:
For me, when looking for the best tasting high calorie nutrition drink, the Ensure Plus is still my number 1 pick. It has a better taste and more calories per ounce. But, for those looking for a nutrition drink with less sugar and similar nutrition compared to Ensure, then Soylent would be a good option.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Pet Peeve – People who touch glass doors and windows with their hands

It would seem like common sense not to touch glass doors and windows with your hands because it can leave smudges, but apparently many people still do this. Lots of places have glass doors which are nice because you can see through and it lets light in, but at the same time they are hard to keep clean because people touch the glass with their hands and leave smudges.

There really is no excuse for this because there is always a handle or a bar or some kind of non-glass surface to use to pull or push the door open. Doors are designed so you do not have to touch the glass, but many people do anyway. This leaves smudges that someone else now has to clean.

While this happens often on glass doors, you see smudges on windows and mirrors as well. Again these are things that should not be touch with hands especially if your hands are not clean and dry. Leaving smudges on windows and mirrors makes the place look dirty and causes extra work for those who now have to clean it off.

I can understand if kids do this because they don't know any better but adults should be more mindful of not marking up the glass in situations like this. If you have not considered this issue before please keep it in mind next time you are going in or out of a place that has a glass door.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Pet Peeve – Squeaky doors and doors that slam too hard

One thing that I tend to notice a lot is issues with doors such as doors that have squeaky hinges or doors that slam too hard. Both of these things tend to bother me but it seems most people either don't notice them or don't care about them. Or maybe they have noticed it but figured there was nothing they could do about it. This is a shame because these issues are very easy to fix!

For squeaky doors, usually just putting a little oil on the hinges does the trick. For doors that close too hard, they usually have a door closer at the top that can be adjusted with a screw driver or a wrench. These adjustments determine how hard the door closes. Also if the door is closing right against the frame, you can add rubber adhesive bumpers to the door frame to dampen the sound when the door closes against it.

These things are very easy and quick to do and can get rid of the squeaking and the slamming. No one should have to put up with an annoying door like this when it can be fixed so easily.

Door maintenance like this may seem pretty minor or not as important as other maintenance and that is probably why there are so many doors in need of attention. Maintenance workers and homeowners may be focused on bigger issues so they never really get around to checking on the little details like if a door is closing properly.

As mentioned before, many people might not even notice these things or care about them, but some people like myself do. For example there is a restaurant I know that has a door that is extremely squeaky, so much so that I avoid going to that restaurant if possible.

Another restaurant I know has a door that slams so I make sure to close it softly by hand when going through. Still when there are issues like this it is a sign that things are not being properly maintained which does not give a good impression.

What are your thoughts on squeaky doors or doors that close too hard? Feel free to leave a comment below.