Saturday, February 25, 2012

New Stars - Spandy Andy, Jenny Bede

Spandy Andy is a guy who wears bright spandex and dances to the music of his boombox out in public places.  I found him through a Reddit link of this video where he dances around a beach in a speedo.

It went from a few thousand views to over 3 million views in just a few days.  Now Spandy is not just a dancer, he is a great motivational person.  Check out some of his other videos and vlogs where he talks about his philosophies on life.  He loves to have fun and make people happy by performing for them.  It's nice to see people like this getting some recognition.

Jenny Bede is a writer/comedian/actor from London who has made several parody music videos on her Youtube channel.  They are very good and she wrote and performed them herself.  Her top videos have several hundred thousand views, but with her good looks and talent, it won't be long before her views are in the millions.  Here is one she did where she does impressions of 5 of the top singers in the UK who were nominated for an award.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Armrest Rant - Why do row seats have shared armrests?

Whenever I sit in a row of seats such as in an auditorium or a movie theater, I prefer to not sit in the middle of 2 people. This is because of the lack of armrest issue.

I'm sure you have noticed that there is usually only 1 armrest in between each seat. This means that only one person is going to be able to use that armrest. The other person is going to have to be squished in with their arms crossed or in their lap.

If you are lucky to have an end seat, at least you are guaranteed 1 armrest. In situations like this, I recommend favoring that side and giving up the other armrest to the person sitting next to you.

The worst is when you have 2 big people on each side who need that armrest space. Then you are surely going to be without a rest for the duration of the show.

I'm guessing the reason for only having one armrest in between is a matter of space, cost, and manufacturing. It's probably easier and cheaper to make them this way, but at the expense of the patron's comfort.

I think for now on, all row seats should be made with 2 armrests each. Sitting bunched up next to people is uncomfortable enough, the least they can do is give you some space for your arms. I know if given the choice between going to a theater with seats that has 2 arm rests and one that has shared armrests, I would definitely go to the one with 2.

Friday, February 17, 2012

A Lesson Learned About Selfishness

Sometimes you have to learn lessons the hard way. This is the story of how I learned not to be selfish.

I must have been about 10 or 11 at the time and the one thing I really wanted more than anything was my own tv. Before this, I had to watch tv in my parents room. I begged my parents to let me get my own for my room, but they always said no.

Then one day my grandpa came over and said that he needed to go shopping to pick out a tv for my cousins who were about my age. Now they lived across the country, so looking back on the situation now, I should have known something was up, but I was just a young kid at the time so I believed him.

He asked me to go with him to help pick out a tv for my cousins. Now he knew how bad I wanted a tv. I couldn't understand why he would get them a tv and not get one for me. As disappointed as I was, I agreed to go with him.

So we went to the local Walmart and went to the electronics section. We examined all the tvs they had. He asked my opinion on which ones I liked. Then we had it narrowed down to 2 tvs. He asked me which one I thought they would like more. At this point my selfishness kicked in. I was still bitter about the fact that they were getting a tv and I wasn't. There was one that I clearly liked better, but after thinking about it, I pointed to the other one and said, "I think they will like that one better."

I thought, why should they get this good tv and I don't get anything? My selfishness caused me to pick them out a tv that I didn't like as much.

So we bought the tv and brought it home to my house. He originally said he was going to mail the tv to my cousins, but at the last minute he said, "Well, maybe I will just leave this tv here." I was confused. Why would he leave it here? After a minute I slowly began to realize that the tv was actually for me.

At that moment, I had mixed emotions. On one hand, I finally got a tv that I wanted so much, but on the other hand, I had picked out a tv that I didn't like as much as the other. Of course I said thank you and was excited to have my own tv, but in the back of my mind, I wished I had picked out the other tv at the store. I would be stuck with this tv because of my own selfishness.

I learned that day not to be selfish. In the end, everything turned out ok. The tv was good and it still works great even today. Still, it is a lesson I will always remember.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

How to Fix a Turn Signal Without Replacing the Bulb

Everyone has a turn signal go out on their car once in a while. You probably notice it when your signal starts flashing really fast when you put it on. You get out and check it and either the front or back bulb is not flashing. But did you know that just because it is not working, doesn't mean the bulb is burnt out? There could just be corrosion around the bulb that is interfering with the connection.

To check this, take out the bulb from your car. Refer the owners manual for instructions on how to get the light out. Once the bulb is out look at the wire filaments inside. If they are broken, the light is probably burnt out, but if they are still connected, the bulb is still good.

If you have determined that the wires inside the bulb are ok, look at the metal connection pieces at the bottom of the bulb. Often times this area can get corroded or burnt. If you see and signs of this, try to scrape off the corrosion. You can use anything that is small such as a screw driver or a nail. Also check the socket where the bulb plugs into. If there is corrosion in there, try to get it out with a small screwdriver or tool.

Once it is clean, put the bulb back into the socket. Turn on the power in the car and test the turn signal. If it works, you are good to go. If it doesn't work, you can try cleaning it a little more. If it still doesn't work, you may need to replace it with a new bulb.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Frozen Meals Review - Lean Cuisine, Smart Ones, Marie Callender's, Healthy Choice

I like frozen meals because they are convenient and quick to prepare. I prefer to eat at home, but I don't like to spend a lot of time cooking, so for dinner, frozen meals are a good option. They might not taste as good a something made fresh, and they usually have a lot of sodium, but if you buy the right ones, and don't eat them all the time, frozen meals are a nutritious option for those who don't want to cook or go out.

I have tried several brands and varieties over the years and in this blog, I will share the best ones I recommend. Note, I am somewhat of a vegetarian so I almost never get the meals that have meat in them. I usually go for the pasta and rice dishes. Also, I usually buy moderately price meals, not the cheap ones, and not the expensive organic ones. Here are some of the brands and individual meals I recommend.
Lean Cuisine
Lean Cuisine is one of the big names in frozen foods. They have a ton of options and they are reasonably priced. I like the pasta and cheese dishes. I also like the Santa Fe rice and beans. On occasion I get the veggie egg roll and rice. My favorite is the cheese ravioli that comes with the mixed peppers but lately that one is kind of hard to find.
Smart Ones
Like Lean Cuisine, Smart Ones have a lot of choices and they are not too expensive. They have several different pasta and vegetable dishes that I like. They also have a rice and bean dish that is good.

Marie Callender's
There is only one meal that I get from this brand and that is the cheese tortellini. The reason being because that is pretty much the only non-meat dish they have. Also they tend to be more expensive than the other brands. I wish they would come out with more vegetarian dishes because the tortellini is one of my favorites.

Healthy Choice
I don't recommend this brand overall because some of their meals are just not very good. However I can recommend the cheese pasta dishes and vegetables.

Hopefully this gives you some guidance when it comes to picking out the best frozen meals. Do you have any favorites that are not mentioned here? Feel free to share them in the comments below.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Cascade Dishwashing Detergent Review - Powder and Capsules

The first detergent I bought to use with my dishwasher was Cascade Powder with Dawn. It's a common brand and its not too expensive. Overall I was not too happy with its cleaning ability. In the beginning it was ok, but after a few months I noticed the glasses were not getting clean. I tried different amounts and different cycles, but nothing was working. It should also be noted that I always rinse my dishes well before I even put them in the washer so there should be no excuse for them not to be clean.

Because of this issue, I asked advice from one of my co-workers. She recommended the individual packets, Cascade calls them ActionPacs. I went to the store and got the Cascade Complete ActionPacs. They were considerably more expensive than the basic powder, but they were on sale and I got the smallest size just to try them out.

At first I was hesitant because they come in a plastic and you are just suppose to put them in like that and they are suppose to dissolve. I took their words for it and as promised, it did dissolve. It also cleaned the dishes very well! The detergent also had a good smell to it.

After the dishes were cleaned, for the next cycle, I thought I would try out the powder. It seemed to work better this time, but still not as good as the packets. My plan now is to use both kinds of detergent and alternate between them. If you are having trouble getting your dishes clean, I recommend trying out the Cascade ActionPacs.

Monday, February 13, 2012

2012 Grammys Recap Review

I watched the Grammys last night and tried to be open minded and less judgmental than usual. Instead of just evaluating every performance and award choice, I made an effort to just watch and enjoy them.

As someone who takes music seriously and tends to follow artists who are not well known, the Grammy's and other popular music award shows usually just bother me because they seems like more of a popularity contest. Bon Iver said it best when he mentioned how a lot of great artists that deserve to be nominated are not there.

You can't really blame them though. There are only a few spots in each category and thousands of artists fighting for those positions. Not to mention the fact that people's interest in music varies so vastly. In the end, it's the ones that appeal to the greatest number of people who are then nominated and may go on to win the award.

Overall I enjoyed the show and think they did a nice job with it. It seemed like there were more performances than actual awards. I counted about 3 awards in the first hour and half. What I liked about this show was how they really had something for everyone. The represented many different genres of music and eras of music. I think a lot of times the older generation doesn't get into it because it's just the new hip music that the kids are listening to, but this year they had several performers from the older generation.

I could go into individual reviews of each performance and award choice, and believe me, I have opinions, but I think I stay away from that angle and just focus on the big picture. At the 2012 Grammys music was celebrated and there were no major mishaps or controversies. Artists were grateful and I think most people went home happy. It's not really about who wins or loses rather it's a show that features what was most notable in the past year of music.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Never Been So Reassured in My Life

At times I question the way I live and wonder if it is right. I compare it to the way other people live and see that it is different. It makes me wonder if I am doing the wrong things.

My typical Friday and Saturday nights are spent home alone on the computer and then watching some tv before bed which is usually around 10pm. I realize that a lot of people my age are out at parties or bars with their friends on these nights and they stay out late into the morning hours.

Yesterday, I went out with group of people my age to celebrate my sister's birthday. We went to a bar where they had a stand up comedy night. Then we went to a restaurant/bar after that. Both of these were down town in the busy city away from the suburbs that I am used to. We stayed out til about 12pm. At that point our smaller group decided to go home while the other part stayed out to go to yet another bar.

While I had a good time, in fact I seemed to be enjoying the evening more than most of the other people in the group, I still, given the choice would prefer to stay home by myself and just watch Youtube videos, or listen to radio shows and music.

Going out for me is a big deal. It involves a lot of uncertainty, compromised security, and a general feeling of being uncomfortable. I don't like being in unfamiliar situations surrounded by a lot of people I don't know, eating foods that I don't know if I will like, listening to music chosen by other people. That is my personality type. I realize that some people do like all of these things, and for them, going out every weekend and doing these things is what they want to do.

Tying back my title, after having gone out last night, I am very reassured that the way I am living and spending my time is right for me. Just because a lot of people want to go out and party on the weekends, doesn’t mean that what you are supposed to do. I am happy living the way I want to.

You can apply this to your life and your situation. Do what makes you happy even if it goes against the norm.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Writing Exercise - Vocabulary A-Z Creative Short Story

Sometimes at work I get bored and have some extra time on my hands. Having a computer and word processor at my disposal, I started coming up with activities that would develop my vocabulary and writing skills. Over time I developed a fun writing exercise that fills up time and helps you with creative writing.

You start by coming up with a list of words, A-Z, for example: alligator, balloon, capital... Then once you have your list, come up with an original sentence using each word. Try to make them interesting and lengthy. You will end up with 26 original sentences. This is a good start, but if you want to do the full exercise, you must relate all the sentences together so they actually make a story. At the end you will have an original short story using words that start with every letter of the alphabet.

Here is an example that I did. Note, it is missing a couple letters. After you have done a lot of these you start to realize that it's hard to keep coming up with new words for some letters like x and z. J, k, and q are challenging too after a while. Try to come up with a theme before you start writing your sentences so you have a little direction, but decide on the theme after you pick random words.


Words: Accent, border, carriage, deliver, estimate, fragile, gallop, horizon, indifferent, jam, knowledge, lentil, mysterious, notorious, origin, proprietary, quiver, ridiculous, stationary, tractor, unfortunate, valuable, waffles.

Theme: driving in a foreign country.

Coming from the US, he had always loved the accent of the native speakers of the UK.

As he crossed the border from England to Scotland, he had to be careful to drive on the correct side of the road.

If he became careless, he might run into a carriage, another vehicle, or a pedestrian.

He had to deliver a package to a client before the end of the day.

His estimate was that it would take about an hour to get to his destination.

The contents of the package were fragile, so he had to be extra careful when moving it.

Along side the road he saw a horse gallop through an open field.

It looked so graceful against the sunrise in the horizon.

The horse appeared indifferent in relation to its surroundings.

Just then he came up to a traffic jam!

All the knowledge in the world wouldn't get him out of this one.

The truck in front of him belonged to a soup company and had pictures of minestrone, chicken noodle, and lentil soup.

A mysterious looking fellow wearing sunglasses and a cap was behind him in a Volkswagen sedan.

This road he had heard was notorious for it's congested traffic patterns.

The origin of the jam was unknown to him because he couldn't see around the soup truck.

He hoped the proprietary owner of the package would not be upset if the delivery was late.

The thought of having to explain why the package was late made him quiver.

Then again, he had until the end of the day to get there so his thought was actually ridiculous.

After having remained stationary for about 3 minutes, the cars finally began to move.

Still, it was slow and a big tractor in the field on the left was moving faster than he was.

He was hungry, but it was unfortunate he could not open the package.

What was inside was valuable and could not be opened or disturbed until it arrived at its destination.

What was inside was none other than fresh gourmet Belgian waffles!

The End

And there you have it!  Give it a try.  You can even post your story below in the comments section.  Good luck!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Is ABC's The River the next LOST?

I watched the 2 hour premier of The River last night.  I had seen previews for it before and it looked pretty good.  It's about this group of people who go into unknown amazon wilderness searching for this famous travel guy who disappeared.  Before long they find something very deadly and frightening.  They also begin to notice supernatural phenomenons occurring around them.

The show reminds me very much of LOST which was one of my favorite shows.  You have the unknown location and the weird things happening, which describe both of these shows.  This one is a little bit different because it is playing up more of the scare factor.  Personally I don't like horror type shows so I don't care for that part of it.

There is already enough mystery and suspense to keep me wanting to know what is going to happen and what is really going on.  I hear they have 8 episodes total which is pretty short.  Maybe they will extend it if people like it.  I will tune in next week and see how the series progresses.  I hope it is as good as LOST, but that is a hard act to follow.

UPDATE 3-4-12
So it's about 5 episodes into the season and I'm still watching it, but barely. The show is just ok, but it has enough mystery to keep me watching it to figure out what happens.  From what I hear, the ratings are not too good and it will probably be canceled after the first season.  

Sunday, February 5, 2012

New Music - Parov Stelar, Soko, Meghan Tonjes

Here are a few new songs I recommend:
Parov Stelar - Booty Swing

If you have seen that commercial for the Cosmopolitan hotel in Las Vegas, you will probably recognize this song.  It has a classic swing sound with the vocals mixed with a modern beat.  I had never heard of Parov Stelar prior to this song.  He is a producer and dj from Austria and he has been making songs for a little over 10 years.  He has other songs similar to this, but Booty Swing is my favorite.

Soko - First Love Never Die

I first heard of Soko a few years back from her song I'll Kill Her.  She has been away from the music scene for a while, but she is finally back and is about to release her first full length album.  This song First Love Never Die is the first single off the album.  It is very nice and emotional.  Her distinctive vocal style is still their.  I like the tempo changes of the song which keep you on your toes.  Glad to see her back making music.

Meghan Tonjes - Caitlin Take Your Shirt Off

Meghan Tonjes just uploaded this video of her where she makes this improv song trying to convince her friend Caitlin to take off her shirt.  It turned out amazing and funny.  The melodies are great.  I really hope she records a studio version with some revised lyrics and structure.  It would be a hit for sure. 

If you like any of these songs, leave a comment below!