Saturday, July 28, 2012

Anything Is Possible

It's really amazing to think how far mankind has progressed over the years. Just think about all the stuff we have now that did not exist 100 years ago. If you would have told people in the 1800's about the kind of stuff we have today from cars to computers to cell phones, they never would have believed you. Even today if you really think about, it's incredible that humans have been able to develop these types of technology.

When you realize this, it makes it seem like literally anything is possible and it is just a matter of time before something gets invented or discovered. Innovations are built on previous innovations and it continues on like that. New products are made and then products are made from those new products. With the invention of the internet and sharing of information, it allows people to learn about anything whenever they want. This is a huge advantage over previous generations and should make development of new technologies move even faster.

Who knows what will be available in the next hundred years? What will be the next big thing? Have we run out of new innovations or will there ever be a peak? Only time will tell, but I'm guessing it will continue to progress beyond our wildest imaginations.

2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony - Reflection and Diversity

I watched the opening ceremony for the Olympics last night in London.  Overall I thought the show was just ok.  I liked how they had a lot of transitions and went through the history of London, but overall I just was not too impressed by it.  I feel like it was too geared towards Great Britain when they could have made it have more of a global appeal. 

The one thing I liked and this is something they have at each ceremony is the part where all the teams walk in and go around the stadium.  It is very interesting to see all these people from all these countries around the world come together in one place.  A lot of these small countries you never even heard of.  In our country we tend to only get exposed to people around us and maybe see some diversity on tv once in a while, but rarely of these small countries.

It's amazing how different people look.  We are all humans yet there are so many differences from one country to the next.  Currently, the make up of the people of each country is somewhat consistent, but you can tell the populations of countries are beginning to mix in terms of race and ethnicity.  The big countries have the most diversity because a lot of different people move there from all over, while the small countries are still pretty uniform in their population. 

It's interesting how way back when people from a country were probably very much alike but now with the ease of transportation from one country to another, everything is becoming mixed.  I think it's safe to say this trend will continue and over many years specific race and ethnicity will begin to fade as people become more and more mixed and blended. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Breaking Bad is on the Downswing

I watched the season 5 premier of Breaking Bad and after watching it, I have concluded that the show has seen better days.  I loved the first couple seasons. Season 3 was pretty good too.  I didn't like season 4 as much.  Don't get me wrong, I still like the show, I'm just saying it's probably a good thing this is the last season.  I get the impression that they didn't expect the show to last this long and maybe that's why it is starting to trail off towards the end.

Season 5 Episode 1 Review (Spoilers Ahead)

The Episode starts off with Walt at a diner with a full head of hair and a beard.  He meets a guy undercover and gets a car with a large gun in the trunk.  They didn't really explain much, but we can conclude after watching the rest of the episode that this is a scene from the future that will happen later in the season.

So back to the present time, Walt is relaxing at home when he remembers there is video footage of them from the lab.  This drove the episode plot.  I like how they  had to go destroy the evidence from the laptop, but I don't really like how they went about it.  First off, Mike comes back and is pissed that Walt killed Gus.  Really, I think he is overreacting.  Why does he even care that much?  Mike should be retired by now anyway. Next Jesse is back working with Walt.  If I'm not mistaken, I thought they were on bad terms last time we left off.  Oh well, we'll go with it.

So they get the electromagnet from the junk yard.  Already they are tipping these guys off that they are using it to destroy evidence at the police station.  The junk yard guys are now witnesses.  Sloppy work guys.  Then they are going to use it to try to destroy the laptop on the other side of the wall.  I know they don't have many options, but this is going to destroy a lot of other evidence at the same time.  That is not ethical, but I suppose at this point they don't care.

Next we find Ted is basically on life support in the hospital.  I didn't even recocognize him and actually had to Google him to remember what actually happened to him.  Apparently it was when he tripped and hit his head.  So now he is in the hospital and looks like he's almost dead?  I don't think so.

Overall they are trying to make Walt out to be like the new bad guy to replace Gus.  I don't like this direction the show is taking.  Walt is a good guy and the only reason he started all this was to help his family.  He needs to secure the money and get out of this mess he has created.

If it were up to me, I would have it go like this:  Hank discovers Walt is involved and finds out everything that has been going on.  He decides to cover for for him so he doesn't go to jail.  Then Walt and his family live happily ever after.  Then at the end, maybe he goes back to do a guest speak or a substitute teach at his old school.  The kids start acting up and give him a hard time or whatever.  Old Walt might have just taken it and felt defeated, but now new Walt does not put up with that, and puts them in their place.  How awesome would that be?

So yeah overall I don't really like the direction the show is going, which is a shame considering their ratings are higher than ever.  None the less, I will continue to watch the rest of the series.  If you have any comments on the show or this season, feel free to leave a comment below.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Rugged Wear Work Gloves Review

I was in the market for a pair of new weight lifting gloves after my old ones were starting to fall apart after about 10 years.  At first I searched online, the usual Amazon search and read some reviews.  I found some that looked good, but they were kind of expensive, plus gloves are something you really need to try on before you buy.  So then I thought about buying them in a local store.  I looked at Target and they had a small selection, but nothing jumped out at me.  Then I thought about going to Dick's sporting goods store.  I looked online first and they had a big selection, but again, the prices were high.  Finally I went to the Menards hardware store because i knew they had work gloves.

At Menards they had a big selection, a whole isle with different kinds of gloves in fact.  Not only that, but the prices were good too.  I found a pair I liked that were by the brand "Rugged Wear" or RW for short.  The model is X-Treme Work Gloves.  These looked like weight lifting gloves so I tried them out.  They seemed pretty good and not only that, they were on sale for only $5!  Regular price was $15 I believe.  So I got them.  I went with the XL size because I like the gloves to be roomy and breathable.

So at home I decided to do some modifications to them.  They were kind of bulky so I decided to cut off the wrist strap that has velcro.  This made them more comfortable and easier to get on and off.  They are still full finger which I was looking for.  I'm debating on whether or not to cut off the finger tips like most weight gloves, but for now I like them full finger.

After a few uses, I am pretty happy with these gloves.  They look nice and make it easy to hold the weights.  I did some research and there is practically nothing online about them.  I don't even think the company has a website.  They are a Menards brand so that is probably why they don't have a site.  Anyway, if you are looking for gloves, I highly recommend going to Menards and trying these out.

UPDATE 8-6-12
So I have been using the gloves for a few weeks and I have noticed the the inside lining is starting to peel.  Not a huge deal, but not great either.  I'm not surprised considering the low cost of the gloves, but it is something to consider.

Update 4-6-15 Hard to believe it has been almost 3 years, but the gloves are still going strong. I use them for weightlifting pretty much every day and they are still in good shape!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

TV Review: Master Chef, SYTYCD, and New Shows This Week

One show that I am really enjoying this season is Master Chef.  Gordon Ramsay has a lot of shows and while I liked Hell's Kitchen and Kitchen Nightmares, Master Chef was always on the back burner, pun intended.  Actually I started getting into it last season because someone I went to school with was on the show.  This season I like it because they have a lot of good characters or should I say chefs.  My favorites right now are Monti, Felix, and Christine.  They are all still in the competition.  I find myself drawn to this show even when other shows I like are on at the same time.

So You Think You Can Dance has selected the top 20 dancers and so far this looks to be a pretty good season.  My favorites right now are Alexa Anderson, Amelia Lowe, and Janelle Issis.  The show was not on last week due to the 4th of July holiday, but it will be back in full swing this Wednesday.  It will be interesting to see how they deal with voting and eliminations with only one show per week.

There are 4 shows premiering this week, 2 new and 2 returning that I will be checking out this week. First is Trust Us With Your Life.  I don't even know much about this show other than it is improvisational and similar to Whose Line is it Anyway, but I like those 2 things, so I'm hoping this show will be good.  Catch the first episode this Tuesday on ABC.

Another show premiering right after that is NY Med.  If I'm not mistaken, ABC has done 2 of these kinds of doctor documentary shows over the past couple years.  They had different titles, based on the hospitals they were filmed at.  I think this is the same series, just with a different name.  I hope so because I really liked those previous shows.  They followed doctors and the process of treating patients and working in a hospital on a human level.  

A show that is returning this Thursday on CBS is Big Brother.  This is one of my favorite summer shows.  I already previewed the cast and it looks like a good one.

And finally, a show that is coming back for it's 5th and final season this Sunday is Breaking Bad.  This has been one of my favorite shows of the past few years and while I thought the earlier seasons were better, I am still looking forward to seeing what happens in the final season.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Shampoo and Face Wash Review - Suave, Cetaphil, St Ives

With so many self cleaning products on the market, it's hard to know which ones to pick. In my experience, even going with a product that has good reviews doesn't mean it will work for you. I have tried several shampoos, body washes, and face wash cleansers over the years and I thought I would share my thoughts and recommendations on them here.

I have been a fan of Suave for a long time, mainly because their products are reasonably priced. I was using Suave Daily Clarifying shampoo for a long time, but eventually decided to upgrade to the premium 2 in 1 professionals brand. Overall I have been very pleased with this product. It has a nice scent and texture and you can get it just about anywhere for about $2-3 depending on the size. I have used Suave 2 in 1 for head to toe wash including hair, face and body. Overall it works pretty well.

My face gets very oily throughout the day and I do have trouble with blemishes and clogged pores. I wash my face daily and blot it to get the oil off throughout the day. Still, my skin tends to get peely after I wash it. Because of this I thought I would try Suave - Humectant Moisture.

Suave - Humectant Moisture Shampoo for Dry Hair
I thought this would help my skin be less dry, but it doesn't seem to make that big of a difference. I know this is shampoo and not face wash, but I thought I would try it anyway. It is cheap like most Suave products which I like. The negative about this one is that the smell is not good. I would describe it as a cough medicine type smell which is not pleasant. I probably would not buy it again because of this.

Face Wash:
As I mentioned before I have oily skin so I have a lot of trouble keeping it clean and nice looking. I have done research on many face wash products and have tried a couple including Cetaphil and St, Ives.

I tried this after reading a lot of good reviews about it. Although this one is not specifically for oily skin, many people said it was better than the one for oily skin, so I thought I would try it. In the store it is very expensive compared to what I am used to. I paid about $8 for the small bottle of Cetaphil cleanser. So I tried it for a few days and so far I don't really like it. It does not lather and makes your face very grippy when you put it on, so it's hard to actually spread it on your face. After you rinse it off, your face still feels oily again which is odd. The scent is ok, kind of bland. I think is has helped my skin be less dry compared to the Suave shampoo, but considering the high cost, I probably wouldn't buy it again.

St. Ives - Naturally Clear Apricot Scrub
This facial cleanser by St. Ives is supposed to help with blemishes and blackheads. It got good reviews so I gave it a try. Immediately you will notice the texture which feels like lotion mixed with sand. Maybe the roughness is supposed to help exfoliate your skin, but personally I don't like washing my face with sand. It gets all over you and it is hard to get off. The smell of the product is ok, kind of fruity. As far as cleaning the face, again just ok, nothing special. My main problem with this product as mentioned before is the grainy texture. I would not recommend it.

If you have any recommendations for other shampoos or face wash products, leave a comment below.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Selling Stuff on Craigslist and eBay

This summer I have been selling a lot of things using Craigslist and eBay. When I tell people this, they usually have a lot of questions about how it all works, so in this blog entry, I thought I would go over these 2 websites and my experience using them to sell various items.

Craigslist is a great resource for selling things locally, especially if they are large items that would be difficult or expensive to ship. There is a Craigslist for most major cities so all you have to do is find your city and that's where you will look to buy and sell items. To sell something, it helps if you take a picture of it first. Next you go on the website and find the category it fits into. Once there you will start writing up your ad. You will give a title, price, location, and description. You can put your contact information in the ad, or have Craigslist annonymize your email so the communication will go through their system and you will get an email from potential buyers. Note: you do not need to sign up for an account to post something, but you will need to confirm your email address when you post an item for sale. 

Once someone contacts you to say they are interested, you can have them come pick up the item, or you can arrange to meet somewhere in the middle to make the exchange. Usually a public place near an intersection is good. That's about all there is too it. The posting of ads is free which is great. Before you would have to pay for an ad to put in the newspaper, but on Craigslist, it is free. So how do they make their money? Certain postings do cost money for example if you are a company posting job listings, there is a charge for that, but most other ads are free of charge.

Like anything online you have to be careful. If something seems off or suspicious, don't go through with it. For example, if someone wants you to send them money online for a product, it could be a scam. Also be safe when meeting someone. Make sure it is in a public place and make sure someone knows where you are going.

eBay is a good resource if you have smaller, more expensive items that you can ship anywhere across the country or even the world if you choose. eBay is a huge community that has pretty much anything you search for. It's easier to sell things on eBay because there are more potential buyers compared to Craigslist which is local. The downside to eBay is the fees. They charge you to list an item, then if it sells, you pay a percentage of the sale price. Then if you get paid with PayPal which is most common, PayPal takes a fee as well. After all that, you have to consider the cost of shipping. These charges add up and you have to calculate if something is even worth shipping. Generally, it is best to sell higher valued items on eBay so you can still make a decent profit after all the fees.

So the process on eBay goes like this. First you will need to sign up for an account. Next you will want to research your item to see how much it is selling for on the website. Once you see how much it is worth, choose a competitive selling price. Next you are ready to create an ad. If you are a selling a common item, they usually have a template written up with all the specs and details. You can add more information specific to your products such as the condition. Then you list the item for sale. You will get an email when someone buys it. Once you see that the funds have been sent to you, you ship the item to the buyer. You can do this through services such as USPS or UPS.

Important Note: you will want to sign up for a PayPal account so you can receive payments from people securely. After the deal is done, you will rate the buyer and they will rate you. The ratings system helps you know who is a good seller. They should have a rating of 95-100%. If it's lower than that, it means they have had problems with previous transactions. There are a lot of options on eBay that may seem overwhelming, but take your time and read over it carefully.  In time you will learn how to use it efficiently. 

So if you have some extra things lying around that you don't need anymore, selling them on Craigslist and eBay is a great option. It can take some effort and patience, but you can make good money on things that otherwise would just be taking up space in your house. If you have any questions about buying and selling on these sites, leave a comment below.