Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Home is Whenever I'm with You

I recently found a new great song.  It is "Home" by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.  I found it through a viral video of a guy who documented his journey walking across the USA.  Just when you think the end has come for good music, a song like this comes along and restores hope.  Goosebumps.


Master Chef: How many cooking shows do we need?

I watched the premiere of Gordon Ramsay's new show Master Chef last night.  I wasn't looking forward to it, but it was on after Hell's Kitchen which I watch, so I decided to check it out.  I'm surprised at how many cooking shows there are on tv.  I mean this is at least the 4 different Gordon Ramsay cooking show that has aired in the last few years, and there are a lot of other cooking shows out there.  Is America really that into cooking shows?

Anyway, so I watched it.  It was pretty good.  They have regular people trying out to be the next great chef as decided by Gordon and a couple other judges.  About the judges, one guy has bright white glasses and he seems like a pretty nice guy.  The other judge seems like a jerk.  He thinks he is hot stuff but no one knows who he is.  I'm not a big fan of his personality, but it will make for good tv.  I'll probably watch it next week unless something better is on.   If you like Gorden Ramsay and competition shows, you will probably like Master Chef.

Update: So years have past and Master Chef is still on the air, and actually it is one of my favorite shows!  Also there is now a spin off version, Master Chef Jr which is also entertaining and just as much fun to watch!

Update 6-12-17: They still keep making more Gorden Ramsey TV shows. I sometime watch Master Chef and occasionally some of the other ones. I actually miss Graham and Joe, the original judges from Master Chef. 

Moe's Southwest Grill Review

I recently tried a new restaurant called Moe's Southwest Grill.  I found it randomly through the internet while doing research.  After studying up on it, it seemed to be very similar to Chipotle which is one of my favorite places to eat.  There was a Moe's location not to far away, so I decided to give it a try.

I went there around 5:00 pm on a week day.  I was expecting it to be somewhat busy, but when I got there, the place was empty.  There might have been maybe 2 customers in the whole place.  Anyway, I knew what I was going to get ahead of time so I went right to the counter.  The process was very much like Chipotle.  I got a burrito and customized it how I wanted it.  I believe it was suppose to come with free chips and salsa.  I got the chips, but they didn't give me salsa.

Some things didn't happen that I thought would happen.  I heard they are suppose to say "welcome to Moe's" when you walk in, but they didn't.  I heard they play music from only musicians who have passed away.  I don't recall hearing any music while I was there.

So how was the food?  Overall pretty good.  The burrito was similar to Chipotle.  The most noticeable difference is the rice.  At Chipotle it is bright white, but at Moe's it is more brown like fried rice.  They offer a lot of options for things to put in the burritos and tacos which is nice.  They also offer different sizes of burritos which is a nice option.  Overall I was satisfied with the food.

Would I go back?  Probably, but it's not something I would go out of my way for.  If you like Chipotle, you will probably like Moe's because it is almost the same thing.  Basically, when you get tired of Chipotle, but you still like burritos and tacos, go to Moe's Southwest Grill.

Upon further visits I learned that there is actually a salsa bar where you can go and pick out the salsas that you want for your chips.  Also, sign up for the Moe's email and get a free burrito on your birthday!

Update 2
Sadly the Moe's in the area have closed down.  I'm not sure why they did not make it because I thought it was a good restaurant.  I do think the menu was a bit confusing with all the strange names for everything.  That is the one thing I would change, but other than that, I think it was a hit!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Money, Greed, and Business - How Money Causes Problems

Is money the root of all evil? I don't know if that is true, but what I do know is that money causes people to do bad things.  People are willing to be dishonest, deceitful, and immoral in order to get financial gain.  I see this with individuals and with companies all the time.  Examples:

An online company I used to work with recently changed up their business model and in turn took away money that myself and fellow employees were promised.  It was money that was supposed to be paid to us over time for work done in the past.  But instead, the company decided not to honor the former agreement so now the employees are out of luck and the money that was suppose to go to us, is now going to the company.

A credit card I signed up for about a year ago promised 3% cash back on spending.  While this was great for a while, recently they changed their policy and now they only give 1% cash back.  Companies like this get customers with an attractive deal, making you think it will always be like that.  Then once you are signed up and committed to them, they switch it up and all of a sudden, the deal is not that great.

Banks do this all the time.  I have gone through several different banks and accounts.  They start by offering a competitive interest rate to get people to sign up.  Then slowly over time the interest rate drops and you can't do anything about it.  Banks, pick a rate and stick with it!  Stop sucking people in with a nice rate only to drop it a few months later.

It is like this with mortgage rates too in the opposite way.  You see ads in the paper for low rates on mortgages.  You contact them thinking you will get the rate you see in the paper. Guess what?  You  won't.  They will have all these restrictions and stipulations and before you know it, they end up offering you a rate that is not nearly as good as the one advertised in the paper.

I recently had some work done in my house.  I was under the impression that it would be about $150 to do the job.  The worker ended up using extra time by going back and forth to his van, and going to the hardware store to pick up parts.  Meanwhile he is still charging me the high hourly rate.  I ended up paying $230.  Plus I found out later he over charged me a bit for the parts and took with him some of the parts that should have been mine.

In another example, I used to own an online company and had a group of people who worked with me.  I did most of the work, but there was a small community that were part of it.  When I decided to close down the business, I kept the left over profits.  It was not a lot by any means, and given the fact that it was my company and I did most of the work, I felt it belonged to me.  Those who contributed to the company over the years got their promised share of the revenue for their contributions.  What was left, I considered to be my share considering I was never paid over the years the business was run.  In the end though, several of the other members felt I was wrong by taking the money for myself.  Everything was ironed out, but still, money caused problems.

So is money the root of all evil?  I don't think it is the root of all evil, but it certainly is the root of a lot of evil.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Liberty Mutual Insurance Claim Review

I recently had some water damage to my property due to a leak from my upstairs neighbor.  According to the coverage on my homeowners insurance plan, the damage should have been covered.  First, I sent them an email to make sure it was covered.  A couple days later, they reply and tell me I have to file a claim to get this information.  Ok, so I file a claim.  A few days later I get a call to discuss the damage.  I am instructed to take pictures of the damage and send it in.  I do this.  A couple days later they call me up and tell me it will not be covered because they think it is long term damage based on the pictures.  I explained that it just happened recently and how it was from a cause covered in the contract.  They would not change their mind.  I really tried to make my case, but they would not have it.  So basically, they refused to cover anything even though I believe it should have been covered based on what the plan covers.

I ended up repairing the damage myself at my own expense.  Overall I am not very please with Liberty Mutual after this experience.  I'm not very pleased with insurance in general.  These companies do not exist to help people in need.  They exist to make money. And because of this, the consumer will never come out ahead or even.  The consumer will always lose money.  This is frustrating because insurance is required on things like cars and homes with a mortgage.

There is an option to file a complaint to the Department of Insurance.  I seriously was considering this, but given the fact that my deductible is $500 and the cost to fix the damage probably wouldn't be much more than that, it didn't seem worth the effort.  Still I am not very pleased with my experience and I would not recommend this insurance company.

UPDATE: 7-28-12
So each year my renewal statement comes along, the premium inevitability goes up.  I decided to call them up to get an explanation and try to get it back down to where it was.  After being on hold for about 10 minutes I finally get to talk to someone. They guy was nice and answered my questions, but he wasn't able to lower my premium without making significant drops in coverage amounts so I ended up keeping it as is.  Still I am not happy with this company.  I plan on shopping around today to get some quotes from other companies.

Update 8-5-13
Once again they raised my rates on my insurance for the new year.  This time I decided to get some quotes from other companies.  I ended up getting a better rate from State Farm for similar coverage.  I thought if I mentioned that I was canceling my insurance the Liberty Mutual might try to match the quote. They did review the policy but could not match it so I ended up canceling and switching to get the better rate.  

Thursday, July 8, 2010

What Sounds Good Right Now: Our Lady Peace and M.I.A.

I just listened to this song I remembered from back in the 90's when there was all that good alternative rock. The song is Clumsy by Our Lady Peace. From the beautiful intro, to the pre-chorus that is good enough to be a chorus, to the powerful chorus itself, this song is just right.

This one is fairly new. It's by M.I.A. the one who brought you Paper Planes. This song is called XXXO and it is pretty catchy. I like the subtle imperfections of the song mixed with the catchy hooky. This version has Jay Z on it to switch it up a bit.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Wipeout Review

Wipeout is a fun light-hearted show about everyday people going through crazy physical obstacles trying to avoid "wiping out". The winner at the end get $50,000. Now that I think of it, that seems like a lot for a show like this. Anyway, it's fun to watch for a short amount of time, but after about 30 minutes, the wipeouts become repetitive. I find that the beginning is actually the best part because that is when they have all the contestants that really should be there and they wipe out the best. As it goes along, the better contestants are left and they don't wipe out as much.

Highlights of the show include John Anderson and John Henson commentating and making jokes along the way. I like how they personalize each contestant and kind of go with a running theme for each one. Also on the team is Jill Wagner who does reporting on the scene. She is great, but I just get the feeling, she doesn't really want to be there, or that she knows she should be doing something better. Still it is nice to have her on the show.

Overall it is a pretty entertaining show. I would like to see them mix it up a little bit here and there. Some people mentioned the possibility of Celebrity Wipeout. I think that would be a hit for sure!