Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Best Songs of 2017

1. Dear Evan Hansen – Waving Through A Window
The pick for best song of 2017 this year goes to “Waving Through A Window” from the Dear Evan Hansen musical. I haven't seen the musical itself, but I loved this song from the first time I heard it. Ben Platt gives an incredible vocal performance in this emotional song that is as powerful as it is beautiful.

2. Julia Michaels – Issues
One of the breakout stars this year was Julia Michaels, a singer songwriter who stepped into the spotlight with her single “Issues”. Her unique vocal style shines through the minimalist music and all comes together to make a perfect combination. Also recommend is another Julia Michaels song released this year, “Uh Huh”.

3. Lucky Boys Confusion – Name In Lights
Rock band Luck Boys Confusion reunited this year to record their album “Stormchasers”. After taking a long break, the band is back and continuing their streak of releasing great music. “Name In Lights” is my favorite off the album, but the whole album is solid and definitely worth checking out.

4. Lizzo – Truth Hurts
Lizzo is back on the best songs list for the 2nd year in a row with her song “Truth Hurts”. She has an original style and always seems to come up with catchy hits. This one reminds me of the song Black Beatles by Rae Sremmurd.

5. Avicii – Lonely Together ft. Rita Ora
At the number 5 spot is a collaboration between producer Avicii and singer Rita Ora with their song “Lonely Together”. Avicii really knows how to make dance pop hits and Rita matches the song perfectly with her smooth vocal style resulting in a fantastic song.


My Brothers and I – Dream
I had to add one more song as a bonus because it flew under the radar in 2015. I randomly discovered this band in 2017 and so far it looks like they are still under the radar. The song "Dream" by My Brothers and I is radio friendly Pop at its finest. It's the kind of song that would get millions of listens if it got a little exposure. Right now it is under 30k so we'll see if it catches on soon. Also check out their song “In the Stars (AdamHinden Remix)”.

If you liked these songs, or have other favorites for 2017, feel free to leave a comment below.

Also check out the Best Songs of 2016. And Best Songs for 2018

Monday, December 18, 2017

Best TV Shows of 2017

This year was kind of interesting in terms of which shows were picked to be in the best tv shows of 2017. In this years list, there were 4 major network shows and 1 cable show. Three of the shows were brand new this year and 2 of them actual had 2 seasons each within the year. After considering all the shows watched this year, here are Connected Isolation's picks for the best tv shows of 2017:

1. The Mick
The Mick is a new comedy that debuted this year featuring Kaitlin Olsen as an R-rated aunt who reluctantly falls into custody of her niece and nephews and has to look after them in the mansion owned by their parents who are put in jail. The show is very funny and stands out over other half hour comedies as it pushes the boundaries of what is appropriate for network tv. 

2. The Toy Box
The Toy Box is another show that debuted this year and like The Mick, had 2 full seasons in 2017. The Toy Box is kind of like Shark Tank for kids in that toy inventors pitch their ideas to a panel of kids who then play with the toys and review them as they ultimately decide which toy will be produced and sold at Toys R Us. Eric Stonestreet does a great job as host and the kids are always entertaining and honest with their critiques. 

3. Nathan For You
In its 4th season, Nathan For You is back with Nathan Fielder doing his thing as he helps struggling businesses succeed by using out-of-the-box ideas and elaborate methods to achieve a goal. If you have seen any of the previous seasons, you know what to expect. If you haven't seen them, definitely check them out as this is a fantastic series that is quite unique and will have you in wonder as you watch some of the craziest ideas come to life. 

4. Hunted
The Hunted is another new show that made its debut this year. It is a reality competition style show where pairs of “fugitives” are set off on the run while real detectives and investigators try to track them down by any means necessary. If the contestants make it to the end without being caught, they win a large sum of money. This show was very exciting and fun to watch as we get to see both sides of the chase from the detectives and the fugitives. 

5. American Ninja Warrior
Rounding out the top shows of 2017 is a returning favorite, American Ninja Warrior. The 9th season was a good one especially for the women ninjas as more than any previous year made it to the later stages of the competition. We also saw many veterans and new contestants compete on some of the toughest courses we have seen in the history of the show. ANW has a good mix of athletics as well as emotion as they feature the backstories of the ninjas revealing what motivates them to succeed. 

What were some of your favorite tv shows of 2017? Feel free to comment below.

Also check out the Best TV Shows of 2016 and the Best Shows of 2018.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Emergency Evacuation List – What to Save if You Have to Leave Fast

It is always a good idea to prepare for the worst case scenario such as if there is a fire, disaster or some kind of emergency that requires you to evacuate your home quickly. If a case like this were to arise and you had to grab the most important things to save, what you save? This is a question you should think about and prepare for ahead of time so you are ready if a situation like this were to ever occur.

So what are the important things you should save? One thing to note is that this list will be different for everyone. Yes, many of the things will be the same, but everyone will have different things that are most important to them depending on what they value. In this list we will recommend what to save as an individual.

Most Important:
- Wallet/Purse (drivers license, social security card, credit cards, insurance cards, cash, checks, medical cards etc)
- Keys (house keys, car keys)
- Mobile Phone, Charger
- Glasses, contacts, medications, or any other medical devices.
- Laptop, Charger, Hard drive or USB drive backup of important files.
- Important Documents (Titles, Taxes, Birth Certificate, House related, Retirement, Insurance, Medical, Will)

A tip for what is considered most important: Think about the things that are valuable to you and cannot be replaced.

More Things to Bring: (for more long term situations)
- Clothes, shoes
- Food, water, water bottle
- Flashlight
- Toiletries
- Multi-tool
- Notepad, pen, pencil
- Lighter, Matches

Another thing to do ahead of time is to go around and take pictures of the inventory of your home. This will help document your personal belongings and things of value. In case they are to be destroyed in a disaster, it may help to have pictures to show when it comes to dealing with insurance.

No one expects fires or disasters to happen to them, but these kinds of events can happen at any time and to anyone so it is important to be well prepared for them. Feel free to use the list above to help create your own emergency list. In case you have any comments or suggestions on other items that should be saved in an emergency, post them in the comments below.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Baby Names – Tips on How to Choose a Name for a Baby

Names are very important because they are what we will be referred to as for our entire life, assuming we do not get a legal name change. A name gives you identity and can shape who you are. It can affect what people think of you and what opportunities you are given. It can affect one's self esteem and can ultimately effect who they turn out to be. Because of these things, it is important to choose a good name when having a baby.

In my opinion, one of the most important things to consider when picking a name is originality. A name should be unique and original so the child has a sense of personal identity that is not the same as anyone else. It can be strange when you run into someone with the same first name as you, let alone same first and last name. It makes you think, “How can they have that name? That's my name.”

Giving a child a common name may be safe, but it is sure to make them blend into the crowd. In a list of names, a common name will be glazed over while a unique name will be focused on. Common names are easy to forget while an original name may help people remember who you are.

Another thing to consider when choosing a name is how the name will work not only as a baby, but as child as well as an adult. A lot of names sound cute for a baby, but may sound a bit immature for an adult. Same with names that sound distinguished and professional for an adult, but may not work as well for a teen. Try to find a name that will work well through all ages of life.

When choosing a name, it is also a good idea to pick something that is easy to read, say, and spell. It can be annoying if you have a name that no one can pronounce or one that people are always saying incorrectly. Names should be easy to read so most people will not be confused on what the name is and how it is pronounced.

Another thing that may be more obvious is to consider how well the name works in relation to the last name. There are many great first names out there, but they do not always go well with the last name. Try to find one that has a good ring to it and flows easily while saying the full name. Middle names can be added as well, but first and last names will be used most often so make sure they work well together.

It is also wise to make sure the name you choose is unlikely to be made fun of. As kids grow up, they are often teased about their name. Make sure the name you choose does not rhyme with any objectionable words. Also make sure the name is not one that might be considered too nerdy or old fashioned.

For inspiration on ideas, think about some of your favorite characters or celebrities from tv, movies, books etc. It can give you some ideas for names you might have liked in the past. You may want to name a child after someone you really admire. This can work well but keep in mind to try to make sure the name is still original and not too common.

For more tips on coming up with a unique name, I recommend avoiding the “top baby names” lists because these are the names everyone is picking. Look for more obscure names or everyday words that might not have been considered names in the past, but can actually work as a name.

Choosing a name is a big decision so do not rush into it. Something you like today may not sound as good 9 months from now, so make sure to take your time and come up with the best name. Hope this helps and feel free to leave a comment below if you have any tips or advice on choosing a name for a baby.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Overfilled Coolant Antifreeze – How to Fix This Problem Easily

The other day I was checking the fluid levels on my car and noticed the coolant level was very low. It was supposed to be filled up to a certain line about half way, but it was all the way at the bottom. So I got the recommended coolant to proceeded to fill it back up.

On some cars like mine, it can be hard to see the fluid level from the side and I ended up putting too much coolant in which brought the level to about 1 inch over what is was supposed to be. After doing some research, it looked like it would not be a huge problem, but I still wanted to get it back down to the recommended level.

I started thinking of possible solutions to fix this problem. The first thought was to use something like a turkey baster to put in and draw out the excess fluid. Only problem is I did not have a turkey baster available.

Next I thought about using a straw by dipping the end of it into the coolant, closing the top of the straw and pulling out the liquid little by little. This method might work but would probably take a while. Also, in my case, I did not have any straws available at the time.

I figured I might have to go to the store to get one of the above items, but just in case, I kept looking around the house for any tools that might get the job done. Then I found it! A spray bottle such as glass cleaner would do the trick!

Here is how to use the top of a spray bottle to remove excess coolant from the car in case it has been overfilled:

First, unscrew the spray part of the bottle and put the bottle aside. Next, spray out the extra liquid in case the straw still has some left over from the original bottle. I also recommend putting the end in water and spraying it a few times to make sure it is cleaned out. Once it is empty and dry, take the spray part and an empty bottle to the car.

Make sure the car is off and the engine is cold. Slowly unscrew the cap for the coolant reservoir and set it aside. Next, take the spray and dip the end of the straw down into the coolant. Take the empty bottle and position it so you will be able to spray the coolant into the bottle. Then start spraying!

It can go pretty quick, but it may take many sprays to get it to the level you want it. I found it took about 60 sprays to drop the level down about 1 inch. Check it every so often so you will be ready to stop when it reaches the correct level. Once it is at the right level, take the hose out and screw the cap back on.

You can save the extra coolant for later in case it gets low again at a later time. I hope this helps!

Disclaimer: I am not a mechanic, but I found this to be a good solution to the overfilled coolant problem by using household items most people may have around the house.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

GE LED Light Bulb Review – Compare to CFL Bulbs

Recently I went shopping for new light bulbs and at first I was looking for the squiggly CFL type bulbs which I had been using that are supposed to be good for energy saving. I was surprised when I visited 2 different stores and found the availability of these bulbs to be almost non-existent. It seemed the stores now only had LED bulbs or the old fashioned incandescent bulbs.

So I went home to do a little research before investing in one of the new bulbs. It seems LED bulbs are quickly taking the place of CFL bulbs because they are more responsive, better for the environment, and are becoming more affordable among other reasons. So I decided it was time to try out the LED bulbs.

In store I found the GE brand and store brands available. GE has a few different variations on the standard LED bulb such as Reveal, Refresh, and Relax each of which are designed for specific rooms in the house. They also have a standard LED Soft White bulb which is for general purpose. I found them on sale for a good deal so I decided to try them out. I got the 60w 800 lumens rated 4 pack. It seems most of these bulbs have good sales and promotions going on whether it is buy one get one free, or a steep discount on a multi-pack.

The box says they last 13 years, but the warranty says it is only covered for 5 years so I'm not sure how that works out. The bulbs have a similar shape and size to traditional light bulbs. I noticed the material seems to be made of a plastic vs glass found on the old incandescent bulbs.

Upon installing the new LED bulb, I found the light to be a little brighter compared to the CFL bulbs of the same wattage rating. Also they light up faster than the CFL bulbs which tend to take a little while to get to full brightness. I found the color of the Soft White LED bulbs to be very nice with a good mix of warmth and clarity without looking too yellow.

So far I have only been using them for a short time but so far they have been working out well. I did look up some reviews online and was surprised that they had a lot of negative reviews saying the bulbs went out much sooner than the package advertises. Just in case I will hold on to the receipt in case there are any issues with the bulbs since they are guaranteed for 5 years.

I will update this article with long term updates with results on how the bulbs perform over time.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Why I Don't Like Holidays and Annual Events

When we think of holidays in the US, things like Christmas, Thanksgiving, and the Forth of July may come to mind. While there are many good things about holidays such as time off from work and spending time with family, there are many things that are not so great.

As someone who like routine and predictability, holidays really disrupt this lifestyle. When a holiday comes around, people are off work and doing things they would not normally do and going places they would not normally go. Stores and establishments that are usually open are closed. People go around buying things they would not normally buy. All of this causes disruption in comparison to a normal day.

I find holidays to be more of an inconvenience and an added stress that is not necessary. For me, I am often expected to attend parties or get-togethers with people I don't know very well. It involves meeting people I don't really want to meet and making small talk with people I do not really want to talk to. Maybe some people like this kind of thing, but I would personally rather stay home and go about business as usual.

Even annual events such as birthdays, I am not too fond of. To me a birthday is just like any other day. I don't think we need to use it as an excuse to celebrate or throw a party. These kinds of things can be done any day. It does not have to be in correlation with a certain date.

I guess holidays do give a bit of structure to our year. We know what to expect and when to expect it, so in that sense I guess it does give us a little routine and predictability when you look at the big picture. Sometimes it is ok to break away from the routine and do something out of the oridinary which can actually help give a different perspective on our everyday lives.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Potential for the next viral video trend – Fritz the Dog – The Fritz Challenge

I was browsing through Twitter recently and I found a video of a dog in slow motion trying to catch different food items tossed to him by his owner. It is a simple concept but what makes it funny is you think the dog is going to catch the food, but every time he misses it. The video also has encouraging background music that works perfectly with it and adds to the enjoyment.

It turns out, the dog is named Fritz and he and his owner Evan Ball have a Youtube channel with many videos like this. His first compilation video has had viral success with over 7 million views and the channel has a fair amount of subscribers.

As I watched a few more of his videos, I wondered if anyone else had made a parody of it or made their own version. It turns out there are a few, but not nearly as many as I would have expected. Here is an example of one by comedian Scout Durwood:

I soon realized the concept of the Fritz dog video would make for a great viral trending video challenge much like we have seen with the Harlem Shake and the Mannequin Challenge. It is a video that is easy to replicate, can be customized with unlimited possibilities, and has a catchy song that can be added to tie them all together.

Here are the proposed guidelines for this challenge:

1. Video is of an animal or person trying to catch different foods in their mouth.
2. The video is in slow motion.
3. The video uses the same background music (Fritz the Conqueror by Evan Ball)

The Fritz videos are a couple years old so they are not new, but I still think it has the potential to catch on again as a challenge video. What do you guys think? If you decide to make one, feel free to share the link in the comments below!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Pet Peeve – Squeaky Door Hinges

There is one thing that can be quite annoying yet it is something that can be easily fixed and that is squeaky door hinges. They can be on doors at home, in businesses, even car doors and things like cabinet doors. Pretty much anything with a moving hinge can start squeaking over time.

It seems most people don't pay any attention to this, but I tend to notice it a lot especially if it is a from a door that is used a lot. I find the squeaking to be pretty annoying so I always oil hinges whenever they start to squeak. Usually I use a spray type oil or sometimes a mineral oil or olive oil which tends to work as well.

Some recommend actually removing the hinge pin out of the door to oil it. This may be the most thorough solution, but I have found usually just oiling it from the outside is enough to fix the squeak. Also, if the door has other moving parts such as a door closer at the top, you may want to oil these at the same time to make sure everything is working smoothly. 

Fixing a squeaky door is very easy and only takes a few seconds yet it is something that many people and businesses overlook. If you have a door that is making a lot of noise, it is worth getting some oil and taking a minute to stop the squeak. For business owners, make sure to check the doors every once in a while as they may squeak from the constant opening and closing from customers.

Does anyone else find squeaking doors to be very annoying? Feel free to leave a comment below.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Car Repairs Are So Expensive

Owning a car is great because it gives you the freedom of transportation but that convenience comes at a cost. Cars are pretty expensive as it is, but it is the cost of repairs that really add up over the years. It's a cost that many people may not think about until there is something wrong with their car and they have to take it in.

Recently I took my car in for some repairs so this issue was on my mind. I took it to a new place that had many good reviews because I was not satisfied with the other place I usually take it. While this new place is fair, the costs for repairs are still very expensive. I have an older vehicle so I don't like putting a lot of money into it.

I live very frugally and don't spend a lot of money so when I get hit with a large bill for car repairs, it seems astronomical compared to what I am used to paying for daily living expenses. Although it can be expensive, I think it is something you just have to figure into your budget.

An alternative would be buying a new car that hopefully would have fewer repairs needed, but of course that would be a huge up front expense and it will still end up needing maintenance and repairs over the years.

Recently I started a new job where driving is a big part of it, so it is important to have a reliable vehicle. I figure the cost of the car repairs can be figured into tax deductions because the car is being used for business so a percentage of it will be a business expense.

Another thing to consider is resale value of your car. If you don't fix anything and it is falling apart by the time you go to sell it or trade it in, you will not get much for it. On the other hand, if you take care of your car and it is in good shape when you go to sell, it will have a higher value and be easier to sell.

Some people may opt for leasing a car so they have a newer vehicle and don't have to worry about repairs as much. Leasing may help avoid having to take it in for repairs over the years, but you may end up paying more per month and then once the lease is up, you are left with nothing while if you buy the car, at least you still have the car once it is paid off.

So what is the solution? I think the best advice would be to try to take care of your car with preventative maintenance to avoid more costly repairs down the line. Do research to find out which cars have a low “cost to own”. Vehicles that are more expensive are likely to have repairs that are also more costly.

When it comes to taking your car in for repairs, ask around to see if anyone has any shops they recommend. Do plenty of research to see what customers are saying about the repair shops. When you decide to try out a new shop, have them fix just one thing even if they recommend to fix a bunch of different things. You want to be sure they will do good work for a reasonable price before you authorize them to do a lot of work on your car.

If you know which parts your car will need, try to buy them on your own since most shops will mark up the prices on the same parts if they have to order them. Check for parts on Amazon, Ebay, and auto parts stores to find the best price.

If you take care of your car and find a reputable shop that has fair prices, you can help keep repair costs down for the life of the car.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

California Olive Ranch - Everyday Olive Oil Review

I add olive oil to many dishes to add flavor and healthy fats to my diet. In the past I would buy the cheapest extra virgin olive oils or the ones that were on sale. The last one I bought was a store brand and it went bad within a few weeks to the point where it was not even edible and I had not even use 1/4 of the bottle yet.

I decided it was time to try out some higher quality olive oils. I did some research and decided to try out California Olive Ranch extra virgin olive oil. They have many different types but I decided to go with the Everyday style first which is a versatile oil that can be used for many things. I noticed it was available in most stores but the prices varied by store. The best price I found was about $8.39 at Target for the 16.9 oz bottle.

Upon opening it up, the closure system is pretty interesting. The cap unscrews but underneath, there is a built in nozzle that pops up when you pull the cap off. This allows the oil to pour out slowly and keeps it neat so it does not make a mess. When you are done, the cap fits back into the nozzle and screws back onto the top.

For the taste, I found it to be very good. It did not have any bitterness and had a smooth and buttery flavor. I have been using it on bread, as well as dishes like pasta and rice. So far I am about 1/4 of the way through and it still tastes good. Hopefully it will hold the quality through the entire bottle.

The bottle itself is a square shape that makes it look bigger than some of the similar brands with a rounded shape, but if you compare the ounces, they are about the same.

If you are looking for a good extra virgin olive oil that is not too expensive, but don't mind spending a little more compared to the cheap varieties, I would recommend trying out California Olive Ranch olive oil.

Update 1-5-18: 
I am nearly at the end of the bottle and so far it still has a good taste so it looks to be holding up well 2 months after opening. 

Update 1-15-18:  
Interesting note, upon opening the 2nd bottle, I noticed it had a different kind of spout inside. The bottle size was the same and it was purchased from the same retailer, but the inside part was different. Maybe they changed it or have more then one spout that they use. 

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

When you see a police officer, do you feel safe or nervous?

An interesting question is “When you see a police officer, do you feel safe or do you feel nervous?” Many people may say nervous or something similar because often we associate police officers with giving tickets.

For example if you are driving and you see a patrol car on the side of the road or driving behind you, you may instinctively press the brake and check your speed as to make sure you do not get a speeding ticket. In my experience, the most interaction I have had with police officers has been traffic related, whether it is getting pulled over for a traffic violation or having to call them to file a report for an accident.

It is a shame because there is so much more to police officers than just writing traffic tickets. They are here to enforce the law and keep everyone safe. They play an important role in keeping a peaceful and civilized society. Even though I am a bit wary of police officers when I see them on the streets, I must say I have a lot of respect for them and what they do.

Police officers have chosen a profession that can potentially put them in harms way on a daily basis. They are expected to deal with situations and people that may be unpleasant or dangerous and are expected to enforce laws that others are breaking. This takes a lot of bravery especially when working in high crime rate areas.

So a question is, why does it seem like most of the focus is on traffic tickets when there are much more series crimes being committed? Maybe it is because in some locations that are more suburban or rural, there is not a lot of crime so the only thing left to enforce is minor things like traffic violations.

Because of this, I think it gives people a bad impression of the police. For example, you may get pulled over for going 10 mph over the speed limit or for not coming to a complete stop at a stop sign. These are pretty minor things and are not really a problem in most situations, but you may end up getting a ticket and have to pay a lot of money.

Of course if you are driving recklessly or unreasonably fast, then yes it should be addressed and would warrant a ticket but for the minor things, they could be more lenient. I think if more focus was put serious crimes, people would have a better impression of police and would not always get a bad feeling when they see them in the rear view mirror.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Goldfish - Honey Mustard and Pretzel Mix Review

Goldfish crackers have been around for a long time and chances are you have tasted some of the common varieties. I had only tried some of the basic flavors until I got a sample of the Honey Mustard + Pretzel flavor. They are surprisingly good! On my next trip to the store I decided to pick up a pack in this flavor.

They come in a purple package and retail for about $2. Be careful to read it carefully because they also have a cheddar flavor mix that is in a purple package that looks almost the same. I have not tried the cheddar mix flavor yet, but I may try that one next.

The flavor of the honey mustard Goldfish reminds me a lot of Gardettos snack mix with a little more of a honey mustard flavor. They have the standard Goldfish and Pretzel Goldfish mixed together and both have a honey mustard flavor but I find the pretzel to have a stronger flavor.

Nutrition wise, they are not too bad. In terms of fat and sodium they are about on par with other similar snacks. If you like Goldfish or honey mustard flavor, I highly recommend trying the Goldfish Honey Mustard + Pretzel mix.

Have you tried any of the other new Goldfish flavors? Which one is your favorite?

Friday, October 13, 2017

Instacart Review – Working as a Full Service Shopper

A few months back I was browsing job listings and found one for a company called Instacart. I had not heard of it before, but it turns out Instacart is a grocery shopping and delivery service that is available nationwide. It allows customers to order groceries from many of their local stores through the Instacart app or through the website. I enjoy grocery shopping and have some experience with delivery, so I decided to apply.

Applying and Getting Started
The online application was incredibly quick. As I remember, it did not even ask for much other than basic information. A couple weeks later I was invited to schedule an “in person” session. At this session, I was able to ask questions, do a practice shop, and get set up with an Instacart credit card. After this, I was able to start picking hours. From what I understand now, they have tried to phase out the in person session so you will be able to get your card by mail.

Before getting started, I did the tutorials, read all the information in the help center, and tried to learn as much as possible on sites like Youtube where other shoppers have posted about their experience. While Instacart provides you with the basics you need to know, there is a lot more information out there to learn. I eventually found a Facebook group that is active and has a lot of tips and advice from other shoppers.

First Impressions and First Day
On my first day, I was scheduled to work a shift from 8-10am. They send you a message 30 minutes before your shift starts that tells you they are looking for an order for you, or that there is an order ready for you that will start at a certain time and location. Since it was my first day, I did not really know where I was supposed to be so I went to the Whole Foods where I had the in store session. I kept an eye on the app and waited for an order.

Turns out, that day and time it was slow so I ended up not getting any orders. I soon learned that you do not have to head out to a store until they actually assign you an order. If you live within your zone, you can actually stay home until they have an order ready for you.

Shopping and Using the App
The next day I started getting orders. I was a little nervous at first, but overall the job is pretty easy. You are given a list of items to find in the store. Most of them will have pictures and details to help find them. Once you find the item, you use the camera on the phone to scan the barcode. This will tell you if you found the right item.

If you can't find something, or something is out of stock, you have the option to find a replacement or to refund the item. You can also message the customer during the shop to get feedback, for example if something they wanted was out of stock and there are a few other options available.

Once you are done, you go to checkout and use your Instacart card to pay for the order. Usually this goes pretty smoothly. So far there was only one time where I had an issue where the card got declined but customer support was able to fix it fairly quickly.

After you pay for the order, you pack up the groceries and navigate to the customer address given in the app. Once you get to the customer's house, you give them the groceries, mark the order as “Delivered” and you are all set!

Overall Impression
I have been working as a Full Service shopper for a few months now and I really enjoy it! I like the independence and flexibility of the schedule. Also the money is pretty good considering the job is not very difficult and does not require much in terms of qualifications or advanced training.

I got a lanyard case for my phone which is very helpful so you can keep your hands free while shopping and pushing the cart. I also recommend getting a car charger and even a battery power bank which can re-charge your phone on longer shifts. 

As a Full Service Shopper, you do the shopping and delivering. For some markets, they do have positions where you can do shop only or deliver only. I enjoy the diversity of doing both as it keeps you moving and makes it so it does not become boring.

How much you will like this job can also depend on your location and zone. Some zones are more busy than others. Also the pay rate can vary quite a bit depending on which market you are working in. My zone is somewhat newer so it is not very busy but they do offer an hourly guarantee so you will be guaranteed to make a certain amount per hour, even if you don't get that many orders during your shift.

When I worked at previous jobs I used to dread going to work each day. With Instacart I actually look forward to working each day. If you like grocery shopping and driving and it sounds like something you might be interested in, I recommend checking out Instacart to become a Full Service Shopper.

Update 4-25-18: 
I have been working for Instacart for about a year and overall it is still pretty good. They did eventually do away with he hourly guarantee which is to be expected. I believe they still offer this guarantee for new shoppers when they first start. Also the base rates per order did drop a bit in most of the markets but I have found they are still pretty good depending on which market you are working in. For now I am sticking with it, but I am also checking out other companies such as Shipt which is a similar grocery shopping and delivery service.

Update 11-21-18: 
Instacart recently changed their earnings structure from a fixed rate system to a variable rate system. They used to pay a base rate plus a per item commission, plus an occasional bump for large or far away orders. Under the new system they basically pay whatever they want to. Instacart said that the new system was designed to keep average earnings the same, but unfortunately with the new system we have found earnings to be much less.

Personally I have noticed and average decrease in pay of about 30% from what orders used to go for. This is very disappointing especially for veteran shoppers who have years of experience and are now being subjected to a large pay cut.

Many shoppers are upset by this change and have taken to social media groups to share their frustration. Since Instacart is not paying shoppers fairly, orders are going unclaimed and customer orders are being delayed if they even get picked up at all.

Personally I am only accepting orders that are paying at least close to what they were in the previous system. I feel it is the best way to make our voices heard. If enough shoppers stand up to Instacart and refuse to take orders that are underpaid, Instacart will have to make a change and start paying shoppers fairly.

Update 4-12-19:
The pay continues to go downhill. Instacart is now paying about 40-50% less than they were 6 months ago. This is a huge pay cut and as you can imagine, shoppers are not happy about it. It seems Instacart's plan now is to just keep hiring new people who don't know any better. Once these shoppers figure out the pay is too low, they will leave and Instacart will just keep hiring more new shoppers.

I understand they are a business and their primary goal is to make money, but it is not a good move to cut the pay of your best shoppers by 50% after they have provided years of service. In most companies, you get a raise with more experience, but with Instacart, we are seeing the exact opposite. With this current model, Instacart can expect to get what it pays for and unfortunately this will ultimately affect the customer experience.

Update 9-21-19:
Things seems to have stabilized a bit at least in my zone. The pay itself is inconsistent as some orders pay ridiculously low while others actually pay pretty good. You have to be selective and only take the orders that are worth your time.

They have now started incorporating the On Demand model which lets you log in and accept available orders even if you did not sign up for hours ahead of time. They continue to hire more workers which they probably need since they keep trying to get people to accept offers that do not pay as much as they should. Overall I am sticking with it but they still have room for improvement.

Update 1-14-20:
Instacart continues to go downhill. They keep hiring more people while dropping the pay to an all time low. It seems their business plan now is quantity over quality. They would rather hire a new person who has no idea what they are doing and pay them $7 to complete an order rather than pay an appropriate amount to someone who has been working with them for years.

My acceptance rate is at about 10% right now, which means if they offer me 10 orders, I only accept 1 of them because the other orders are simply not worth it. It is quite ridiculous some of the orders they try to send out. Were talking orders that would be about 30 miles of driving and would take about 1.5 hours to complete and they will try to pay you $7 for that. And that is not including gas or car expenses! So when you factor in those expenses, you would pretty much LOSE money by completing those orders!

At this point the only orders worth taking are ones that are at the store closest to your house or ones that have a large tip from the customer. And that is another thing. When the customer adds a good tip, Instacart uses that as a excuse to pay even less! So they are basically using the customer's money to pay the shoppers instead of paying the amount they normally would.

These examples show how Instacart only cares about making money for the company and does not care at all about the people who work for them.

So if it is so bad, why do I still work for them?

I still like the flexibility of the job being able to work when I want to. Every once in a while a decent paying order will come in so I still get some income during the week. This works for me because I have plenty of savings and few expenses so I'm not dependent on the income from Instacart, but for most people who have bills to pay and families to support, this job probably would not work out.

I hope that it will get better and Instacart shoppers are always fighting to improve conditions, but having worked for this company for years and seen how they are, unfortunately I don't see it getting better any time soon.

Update 2-18-20
As of today Instacart has gone all On Demand which means you can no longer schedule hours to work. Instead you pretty much just have to constantly check the app to see if there are any available orders. Every once in a while they may send you a notification if there is an order available but if it has a value that actually makes it worth taking, it will be gone before you even get a chance to see it.

So far today the only batches I have had a chance of getting are paying about $7-10 for a medium size order which is not worth it. It appears the only way to get a decent order is to constantly check your phone which is unrealistic and a waste of time.

If it stays this way, it looks like this may be the final straw that broke the camel's back as they say. I have stuck with this company for years but under this model it does not look like it is going to work out anymore.

Update 7-21-20
I have not accepted an order for Instacart for a few months now. The pay is awful. Orders that used to pay $20 now pay $7. It is still On Demand so you have to check the phone constantly to see if there are any orders. I have switched over to Grubhub which is much better. The pay is better and it is so much easier than Instacart.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Youtube Channels To Check Out for 2017

Each year we come up with a list of the best Youtube channels, for example last year with the Best Youtube Channels of 2016. This year, instead of waiting until the end of the year to share some of the best new channels, I figured we could give a sneak peak of some of the new channels to check out for 2017. This list features channels that have not been covered in any years prior. Here are some of the best Youtube channels for 2017 so far:

1. FLEB (Puzzles)
Fleb is a puzzle enthusiast and designer who makes videos about different kinds of puzzles. In each video, he tells us a little bit about the puzzle and then goes over the process of how to solve it. In case you do not know much about puzzles, you may be surprised at how many different types of puzzles are out there and how much creativity goes into making them.
In this video, Fleb goes over how to solve the X Box mechanical puzzle.

2. See Jane Drill (Do It Yourself / Home Improvement)
Leah from See Jane Drill makes some of the best and most easy to understand do-it-yourself type videos. I found her channel when searching for tips on one of my own home improvement projects. She is very skilled and knowledgeable in this area and she makes videos that are very helpful when fixing things or doing new projects around the house.
In this video, she goes over how to unlock a bathroom door if someone accidentally gets locked inside.

3. Katie Ryan (Funny Characters / Vlogs)
Ava from the Katie Ryan channel is a young girl with a big personality. She is known for her characters which are basically exaggerated impressions of adults. She is the star but sometimes her mom and dad make an appearance. The channel is relatively new but she has already developed a following on other social media channels. Don't be surprised if you see her with her own TV show some day.
Here is a compilation video of one of her most popular characters "Charlene".

4. Pump Chasers (Workout and Lifestyle Tips)
Chris Jones from Pump Chasers is a trainer known for his work out videos, but he is much more than just a trainer. His videos are vlog style and cover everything from workout and nutrition to business and lifestyle. He has a charismatic personality which makes the videos fun to watch even if you are not into working out.
In this video, he goes over the true meaning of one of his more controversial phases.

5. Vlog Creations (Funny Vlogs / Pranks / Stunts)
Ross from Vlog Creations is most well known from his main channel "Ross Creations" where he does stunts and pranks. He started the Vlog Creations channel to film more of his everyday antics and daily life. While it does not have the same wow factor of some of the things from his main channel, it is still very entertaining and even better than a lot of the other prank style channels out there.
In this video, he tells the story of what happened the time he decided to do a flip off of a cop car.

6. Robert DIY (Auto Repair and General Repair)
Robert Spinner from Robert DIY makes videos about car repairs and Do It Yourself type projects. He explains his work in a way that is easy to understand and gives great tips on how to maintain your vehicle. In this video he goes over tips on what you can do to make sure your car runs well even if it is older or has high mileage.

Also check out the Best Youtube Channels of 2018.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Ben & Jerry's vs Halo Top Ice Cream Taste Test – Mint Chocolate Cookie vs Mint Chip

Recently I was doing some grocery shopping and saw the Halo Top brand of ice cream which had some flavors that looked interesting. I did a little research on it and it seemed to be getting pretty good reviews. I also read that it had become the top selling pint ice cream brand in the US. This is pretty impressive considering it is a relatively new company, so I decided to try it out to see how it compares to another well known ice cream brand, Ben & Jerry's.

I don't eat as much ice cream as I used to, but my favorite flavor of all time is Ben & Jerry's Mint Chocolate Cookie. I saw it was on sale recently so I decided to pick up a pint of the Mint Chocolate Cookie as well as the Halo Top Mint Chip so see how they compare. The prices for the pint were pretty similar with Halo Top being a little more expensive.

Comparing the nutrition facts, Ben and Jerry's has a lot more calories and fat per ½ cup serving. It is also more dense, for example a serving of Ben and Jerry's is 106g while a serving of Halo Top is 64g. So in terms of calories, you are getting more for your money with Ben and Jerry's but if you are looking for something lower in calories and fat, Halo Top would be the way to go.

Upon scooping them out, the Halo Top has a more icy consistency compared to the Ben & Jerry's which has more of a smooth, squishy texture. In fact the first scoop of the Halo Top went flying out of the pint while the scoop of Ben & Jerry's sticks to the spoon. I found it interesting the Halo Top packaging has a light green color often associated with mint chip, but the ice cream inside is actually more of an off white color. The Ben & Jerry's has more of a pure white with the cookie speckles mixed in.

So how do they taste? The Halo Top tasted ok. The mint ice cream seemed to dissolve fast in mouth. The mint flavor was ok but not great. The chocolate chips tasted pretty standard compared to chocolate chips in other ice creams. After eating a few spoonfuls, I was a little unimpressed with the flavor. Maybe I went in with expectations too high. But considering how it is so low in calories, fat, and sugar, it is actually not too bad.
In comparison to the Halo Top, the Ben & Jerry's just has a much better taste as can be expected since it has more fat and sugar. It is more creamy, savory, and sweet and is something you want to eat more of where as with the Halo Top, after a few bites, I didn't really want to eat any more. For me, with this comparison, the Ben & Jerry's still comes out well ahead in terms of taste and flavor.

I can see the appeal of the Halo Top though. If you are someone who really likes ice cream, but you do not want the high calories, fat, and sugar, Halo Top is a good alternative. It gives an ok experience and you don't have to worry about the nutrition. For me, I don't mind the extra calories, in fact, I have been trying to eat more calories so the Ben & Jerry's takes the win in this case. It would be nice if it was lower in fat, but in small servings, it is ok to have as a treat once in a while.

What are your thoughts on these ice cream brands? Do you have another favorite brand besides Ben & Jerry's or Halo Top?

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Pogo 18oz Water Bottle Review

I have been using the Bobble water bottle for some time now and while it is great for home use, I find it to be a little too big to take on the go so I started looking for some smaller options. After doing some research, I found the Pogo water bottle in an 18oz size which looked to be perfect! It was about $6 which was quite reasonable compared to some of the other brands so I decided to pick one up.

The Pogo water bottle has a flip up top which protects and seals the drinking spout. They call it a "chug lid" which allows you to drink the water quickly without restriction. This bottle does not have a built in filter like the Bobble, but I have been using it in combination with my  Pur water filter to fill it with fresh water from the tap.

I got the grey color bottle but it is also available in other colors like blue, pink, and purple. Upon trying it out, the size works out pretty well. It is able to fit in the cup holder in my car and fits well into a reusable lunch bag.

The top unscrews to fill it up and allows for easy cleaning. The flip up top snaps down to seal the opening to prevent it from leaking. I found it did a good job at keeping it water tight and it does not leak when turned upside down. The cap also has a rubber loop in case you want to hook it on to something to make it easy to carry.

So far it has been working out well. I especially like the cap design which covers and seals the drinking part. It is also dishwasher safe which make it easy to clean as well. I will update this article with a long term update once I have used it for several months. 

Update 5-9-20:
It has been about 2 1/2 years an I am still using the Pogo water bottle daily for my water. It has held up well over the years. The plastic is still in good condition and the rubber seals are still strong so it does not leak. I am very satisfied with the water bottle and its durability considering the affordable price. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a reusable water bottle. 

Monday, August 28, 2017

Don't stick a key or metal in 12v car outlet - Blown cigarette lighter fuse

The other day I was cleaning my car and I noticed it was dirty inside the cigarette lighter 12v electricity port. Without thinking I took my car key and started scraping the inside to try to clean it up a bit. Immediately there were sparks! I didn't even think about the fact that even though the car was off, there is still power supplied to this port and the metal key managed to trigger an electrical flow.

Luckily the key I was holding had a plastic rubber base so I did not get electrocuted but it still surprised me! I was hoping I did not damage anything serious. The car started up fine and other power features such as the power windows were working fine.

Then the next day I went to plug in my car charger for the phone and it did not work. So apparently the sparks did cause a problem. I did a little research and found out it was most likely a blown fuse. A fuse is a little thing that will break if it is overloaded with electricity which is what happened when I put the key in the outlet.

I looked them up and they are pretty cheap, only a few dollars. Also, it looked like it was easy to replace them which was nice. So I headed over to the auto parts store. I popped the hood to find the fuse box and the blown fuse. Sure enough, the fuse was clearly broken right in the middle.

I was thinking I would have to buy a new one but right in the lid of the fuse box, there were a bunch of spare fuses! The one I needed was there so I was able to swap it out right away without even having to buy a new fuse. I'm not sure if all cars have spare fuses like this, but in case you are going to change a fuse, check the lid in case there are any extras provided with the car.

So I put in the new fuse, plugged in the car charger and it was good as new! It was nice to have an easy car repair that did not cost any money for a change. Lesson learned, don't stick a key or anything metal in the cigarette lighter / 12v port even if the car is off.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Spectrum Walnut Oil Review

I try to incorporate healthy oils into my diet on a daily basis in order to get calories from healthy fats. Not surprisingly, my go-to oil is olive oil which is very common and fairly affordable as well. I usually get extra virgin olive oil in the bold or robust variety for the best flavor.

While olive oil is great and can be added to many dishes, I started to become a bit tired of it so I started to look for some alternatives. There are several olive oil alternatives out there such as peanut oil, canola oil, and safflower oil. I was looking for something that would have a good taste so when I saw there was an option for walnut oil, I decided to give it a try.

I found Spectrum Walnut Oil at Target. It is also available at other retailers. It was about $7 for a 16 oz bottle which is not exactly cheap especially compared to olive oil, but I decided it was worth a try.

Upon trying it out, I found the taste to be quite good! It definitely has a subtle taste of walnut. The oil itself is light in texture and light in color. I found it went very well with things like bread or dishes such as rice or pasta.

The nutrition facts are very similar in comparison to olive oil and it also has omega 3s so I would consider it a good alternative to olive oil. I would probably get it again, but I might try out some of the other oils as well to see how they compare. If you are looking for a good alternative to olive oil, I recommend trying out walnut oil.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Google Maps vs Apple Maps vs Waze – Which is the Best Navigation App?

Recently I started a new job that requires a lot of driving to different locations so I have been trying to find the best navigation app to use. So far I have tried Google Maps, Apple Maps, and Waze. Here I will recap the positives and negatives of each of these navigators to help determine which is the best one to use.

Google Maps
If you have ever looked up directions on the computer, you have probably used Google maps, so it will be a natural transition to use it for navigation. Google Maps is very detailed especially when it comes down to building and structures. It has visual representations of businesses and residences and has most of the stores labeled so you can see exactly what they are.

Google Maps has the power of Google search behind it so it is very good at looking up addresses. In terms of options, I would say it is in the middle of Apple Maps which is more simple and Waze which has a lot of customization and extra features. The map is pretty easy to use but takes a little while to learn what everything does.

Navigation tends to be pretty good for the most part but I did notice some issues, for example in several cases where you would want to make a left to turn into the destination, it will tell you to go up to the next intersection and make a U-turn. It could definitely use some improvement in this area.

Overall it is a solid choice for navigation but could still use a little improvement in some areas.

Apple Maps
If you have an iPhone, Apple Maps comes pre-installed and ready to go. I found it to have the most pleasing look of the 3 options. Also it is the most simplified and easy to use. The buttons are big and there are not a lot of distractions. This can be good if you just want something easy, but for those looking for more options and customization, you may like Google Maps or Waze better.

Although the map is very easy to read, it is not as detailed as Google Maps. For example it does not have the structures of businesses and residences on the map. Navigation is clear and I like that the audio navigation is loud so you can hear it when you are driving without having to turn up the volume. I noticed on Google Maps and Waze, even on the loud setting they can barely be heard in the car.

For accuracy, I found it to be similar to Google Maps in that sometimes it takes you a bit out of the way or tells you to make a U-turn when there is no reason to do so. I did have one issue where a destination was actually not in the right place on the map so I was not able to find it when I got there. I had to open Google Maps to find the correct location in this case.

Overall if you are looking for an occasional navigation and something that is the most simple and easy to use without all the bells and whistles, Apple Maps is the way to go.

Waze takes a bit of a different approach by making the experience more interactive and social. It allows drivers to contribute a lot of information such as where there are police, road hazards, or construction. Waze has a lot of customization settings but because if this, it can seem a little busy with too much going on.

One thing I didn't really like was it has a lot of extra stuff on the map that you don't really need. For example it has icons for restaurants and even advertisements for products. I'm guessing they are getting money for those which helps keep the app free, but personally I don't want ads on my map when I am just trying to get from point A to point B.

One other thing I don't really like is that you have to set the app to use your location “Always” even when you are not using the app. There is a sleep mode you can put it in, but again, you should not have to manually put it in sleep mode when you are not using it.

As for navigation, I actually found it to be a little more accurate than Google Maps and Apple Maps. It took me to the right locations and did not tell me to go out of the way or take unnecessary U-turns. On the other hand, I found it was a little more difficult to get the app to find an address with a search as it would pull up many results and you are not sure which one to pick.

Overall, it has a lot of potential and is a good option if you like the user contribution aspect and are looking for a navigation that is more engaging than just simple directions.

After trying out all 3, really there is no clear winner. There are some things I like for each of them, but at the same time, they each have their flaws as well. I like the look and simplicity of Apple Maps. I like the detailed map and search ability of Google Maps. I like the accuracy and user contribution of Waze.

Which one am I going to use? Right now I will probably use Google Maps because it is very detailed and is pretty reliable at finding an address with a search. I do wish it was a bit easier to use like Apple Maps. Also I wish the voice navigation was louder by default without having to manually increase the volume of the phone just to hear it while driving.

These seem to be the big 3 when it comes to navigation apps, but I may continue to look for other options in case there are any other navigation apps that are better. Do you have a favorite navigation app of these 3 or another not mentioned here? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Trying to Gain Weight When Nothing Else Seems to Work

In a world where it seems most people are trying to lose weight or stick to a diet to prevent themselves from gaining weight, it may be odd when someone says they are actually trying to gain weight. But for many people like myself who have always been very skinny, it can be very hard to gain or even maintain weight.

Right now I weigh 105 lbs at a height of 5'7''. For a man in his mid 30's, this puts my BMI (body mass index) at 16.4 which is very under weight. My goal is to get to about 120 which will bring it into the "Normal" range.

To accomplish this goal, many people will say, “Just eat more food!”, but to someone like myself, this is easier said than done. I eat 3 meals a day and always look to eat foods that are high in calories yet healthy at the same time. I try to add extra things to each meal not for taste, but to just to get more calories. I rarely feel hungry because I usually eat before I even get to that point.

The trouble is I tend to get full very easily. 500 calories of food in a meal will fill me up to where I do not want to eat anymore. In order to gain weight, I have to get up to about 750 calories or more per meal. To some people this may seem like a piece of cake, but trying to force yourself to eat more than you want to at every meal is not fun. It really becomes work.

I find, by eating too much, it ends up making me feel physically uncomfortable and sometimes even sick to the point where the food may have trouble getting digested and absorbed properly. Also I find that if I eat more in one meal, I am less hungry on the next meal, so it ends up just evening out.

Exercise in combination with eating more is also recommended to help gain weight. Years ago I was very active with cardio exercise but these days, I just walk, lift free weights, and do calisthenics like pull ups, push ups, squats, and sit ups. I try to do these exercises daily but never really do enough where I am sore the next day.

It seems like it has been about 10 years since I have been wanting to gain weight yet I never made any progress. In fact, I am probably at my lowest weight I have been at in a long time. Every once in a while I would try to keep track of calories for a few days, but never really stuck with it.

Starting now, I have decided to take a more dedicated approach to this issue. I have signed up on a calorie tracking website that makes it easy to keep track of your calorie intake each day. I have done the calculations so I know how much is needed to gain 1 pound per week. If I can stick to the program, I should be able to reach my goal of 120 lbs in about 4 months.

Doing the calculations really puts it into perspective that it is going to be no easy task. It will take hard work, discipline, and planning to achieve this goal, but I am going to try to make it work.

I also took some “before” pictures as extra motivation to compare with the final results that should hopefully show a difference in a few months time. I am also posting about the journey here on the blog and will try to post updates about the progress and final results.

Are you someone who is now or has struggled with gaining weight in the past? Feel free to comment below on your experience or any tips you may have that can help others in the same situation.

2 Week Update:  
I have been keeping track of my food with a calorie tracker aiming for about 2200 calories a day which is supposed to add about 1 pound per week. It is hard to get an exact calculation on most of the food so I have been estimating and for most of the days I have been getting pretty close to the target amount.

At this point I ideally I should be up 2 pounds but I just weighed myself and I am almost the same weight as when I started 2 weeks ago. This is pretty disappointing considering how much work it is to document everything you eat and try to eat more food than you might like just to reach a calorie goal.

It is possible I was over estimating some of the amounts of food or maybe I actually need to eat more like 2400 calories a day in order to start gaining weight. I guess I will try to increase my calorie amount a little more to see if any improvement can be made. It will be tough because I feel like I am already eating a lot as it is. We'll see how it goes.

4 Week Update:
The past 2 weeks I did not keep track of calories but just tried to do a good job of eating enough at each meal. I'm up about 1 pound since the last update which is not bad considering I have not been keeping track of the calories.

Update 12-7-17:  
I had stopped keeping track for several weeks and I started getting too low in weight again so I decided I better keep track of the calories again to make sure I am getting enough. My goal is 2400 a day. Hoping to make some progress if I can stick with it.

Update: 1-6-18: I have managed to keep track of calories for about a month. I think I did ok for most days but was usually a bit under the 2400 goal each day. Weight is about the same which is pretty disappointing considering I have been keeping track of calories every day to make sure I am getting enough food. Not really sure what to do at this point other than to try to keep eating more.

Update: 1-29-18: I have been keeping track of calories for about 60 days with a goal of 2400 calories a day. Based on the calculations, I should be gaining about 1 lb a week and should be up about 8 lbs by now. Unfortunately after weighing myself recently, I am basically at the same weight if not a little less than when I started.

Again this is very discouraging considering I have been making the effort to document everything I have eaten for the past 2 months. I will say that most of the days I did not quite get to the 2400 calorie goal, but I think I have been doing well enough where I should have at least gained a few pounds by now. I will probably bring it up next time I go to the doctor to see in case they have any other ideas or reasons why I am not gaining weight.

Update: 5-3-18: 
I'm still keeping track of calories and by looking at the average totals of my history, I found I was averaging around 2000 per day and pretty much stayed at the same weight. This is interesting because when I put in my metrics and goal weight, it estimated that I needed a few hundred less than this to maintain weight. This means that my body tends to burn more calories per day than the estimate.

This is good information to know and it is something everyone should know when they are trying to gain or lose weight. You cannot just go by what the computer estimates for you. You have to actually track it yourself to get the correct information to learn how much calories you need per day to maintain weight.

I will continue to keep track of calories and still try to exceed this amount each day in order to gain weight slowly over time.

Update 8-31-19:  
It's been 2 years since I started this goal of gaining weight. Unfortunately I still have not made any progress, in fact I am pretty much the same weight if not a little less than I was 2 years ago. I am still in the habit of keeping track of all my calories each day and I am averaging around 2,000 calories a day.

From these results, I can see I still need to eat more each day if I expect to gain any weight. I want to, but for some reason it just seems very hard to get more calories. I already eat more than I want to each day. I try to stick to high calorie foods and try to fit in extra snacks when possible. I think it is just a combination of lack of appetite combined with a high rate of calories burned per day that is making it so difficult to gain weight.

Despite the lack of progress over the past 2 years, I will stick with this goal of trying to gain weight.

Update 4-24-20: 
So it's been about 3 years and I am about the exact same weight as when I started. After years of keeping track of calories, I finally got tired of it so now I do not keep track of them anymore. At this point I have a pretty good understanding of how many calories I am getting each day without having to document them.

However without keeping track, it is easy to fall behind because naturally I do not eat as many calories as I would need in order to make any change, so I have to be mindful of this and make sure I am eating enough each day. At this point I don't really see any changes happening any time soon, but I will continue to monitor my weight. 

Update 12-10-21:
It's been about 4 1/2 years having the same goal of trying to gain weight and as of now I am actually a few pounds lower than where I started. This goal has proven to be a lot harder than expected. I specifically try to eat high calorie foods and eat more food than I want and it still does not work. I think it may be a combination of still not eating enough food and a metabolism that uses up energy fast.

I mean I will weigh myself on the scale and be disappointed because the weight is low. So I will then eat a snack to try to gain a little weight. Then I get on the scale again and my weight will be even lower than before I ate a snack! Its like my body burns calories faster than it can consume them. 

I am still sticking with it. My plan now is to be very calculated about when I eat food. I am going to try to eat 4 meals a day as evenly spaced out as possible throughout the day.I'm aiming for about 600 calories per meal which should end up being 2400 per day. It is hard because it seems like I am still full when it is time to eat another meal. I will do my best and see if any progress is made.