Sunday, September 8, 2019

Buying a Suit – Men's Warehouse vs Kohl's – My Experience

I'm getting to the age where I'm starting to have to attend more weddings and funerals and since these are formal events, I decided it was time to look into getting a new suit. I started doing some research to see what the options were. Locally, I knew of Men's Warehouse because I had to rent a suit there for a wedding a while back. I also knew of department stores such as Kohl's that have suits as well.

When I rented the suit from Men's Warehouse is was pretty expensive at over $200, especially considering you only have it for a few days. Still I decided to give them another visit to see what the options were when it comes to buying a suit.

I saw some sales advertised online for about $199 so that was about what I was looking to spend. When I got to the store, I asked the first sales person about it and they immediately said they don't have anything for around that price. I was then assigned to another sales person to show me some other options.

First thing he shows me, he says is $699! Way more than I was looking to spend. I let him know I just was something basic because I don't plan to wear the suit very often. He shows me their cheapest suits which are still about $300. I had actually gone in with intention of buying but so far the experience was not going well.

The sales person was very much the stereotypical fast talking commission hungry associate you don't want. When I let him know I didn't need the suit until a wedding next year, he pretty much ushered me out the door and said come back when you are ready to buy. That's strange, I thought I was ready to buy, but apparently not.

So I decided to look at the other options available such as Kohl's department store. I like Kohl's but in the past I have found it difficult to find the right sizes especially when it comes to formal wear such as suits. Since I knew my size would be hard to find in store, I decided to look online.

They had a good selection to choose from and the prices were much more affordable. I found several to choose from in the $100-$200 range. I ended up ordering one that came to about $135 and it came with $20 Kohl's cash so I was able to get a nice dress shirt to go along with it for free!

When the suit arrived I was pleased with the look and the quality. I tried it on and the fit was ok, but it would need some tailoring to get a perfect fit. This is actually a common procedure with suits. It is rare to just try on a suit in store and have it fit correctly. I did some measuring and decided to have the pants and sleeves shortened to the correct length.

I found a local cleaners/tailor that was able to do the alterations. The cost to shorten the jacket sleeves and the pants came to about $50. I picked it up a few days later, tried it on and the fit was exactly how I wanted.

So all together I ended up with a nice fitting suit and dress shirt for about $185. Not too bad considering the cost to rent a suit from Men's Warehouse was over $200.

If you are looking to get a new suit, I recommend first getting measured so you know your size. Then once you have your size you can order online. Once it arrives you can try it on and if you like it, you can have it tailored to get the right fit.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Pet Peeves of a Professional Grocery Shopper

As someone who works full time shopping for groceries, I end up spending a lot of time in grocery stores. Like any job there are good things about it as well as things that can be annoying or frustrating. While these are from a perspective of someone who does this for a living, anyone who does their own grocery shopping can relate. Here are some of my biggest pet peeves as a grocery shopper:

Stores that fill in the space of “out of stock” items with other items that do not belong there.
You will be looking for a certain product in the section where it is supposed to be but you cannot find it. All the shelf space is filled in so it must be there right? After not seeing it, you looking carefully at all the tags on the shelves. You find the right tag, look up and see some other product or variety that is not supposed to be there.

I'm pretty sure stores do this purposely when something is out of stock because they don't want it to look like something is out of stock. Instead of leaving it empty they will fill it in with more of the product next to it. As a shopper, I don't mind if a shelf is empty because something is out of stock, it happens. What I do mind is when I waste my time looking for something because the shelf space where it is supposed to be is filled in with something else.

Carts that are in poor condition.
Having a bad shopping cart can really ruin the shopping experience. Some stores are a lot better than others when it comes to shopping carts. The best carts are the plastic kind because they are light, tend to roll smoothly, and are easy to maneuver. The worst are old metal carts that are shaky, have wobbly wheels, don't roll straight, and are just in bad condition overall.

Sometimes I will try out 3 or 4 carts upon entering the store just to try to find one that isn't terrible. There have been times where I have been doing my own shopping and have actually cut my shopping trip short because I could not put up with pushing a noisy cart around the store anymore.

Repetitive music playlist.
This might not bother other people as much, but for me, I really get tired of hearing the same songs played in the store every time I go in there. For the occasional shopper, they will not notice this, but for someone who is in the store several times a day, it is very noticeable. I pretty much have every song they play memorized at this point. I can't imagine how the employees who are in there all day put up with it. Honestly is is one of the main reasons why I would not want to work in a grocery store or any place that has a repetitive music playlist.

Garbage left in the carts.
Almost every time I enter a store and go to the carts, I will find at least one that has garbage left in it from a previous shopper. It might be a sample cup or wrapper, a store advertisement, a shopping list, a plastic bag, a coffee cup etc.

Litter is one of my biggest pet peeves in life and litter in shopping carts is no different. One of my hobbies is cleaning up litter outside and this continues to store parking lots as well as in store such as in the shopping carts. This means when I go to get a cart, I specifically look for the one that has the garbage in it. I take that cart, remove the garbage and place it in the nearest garbage can. If the customers and the store employees won't do it, somebody's gotta do it.

People who hold up the checkout process.
Everyone would like to be able to checkout quickly but that does not always happen does it? You go to the shortest line thinking it is going to be fast but then something unexpected happens. Maybe someone is trying to use a coupon on a product that it does not qualify for. Maybe they need a price check on something. Maybe there is alcohol and they have to wait until someone who is over 21 comes over to approve it. Maybe they are try to pay with a check. All these things end up holding up the line and make the checkout process long than it has to be.

Poor bagging at checkout.
Bagging is a pretty simple job but there is a lot more to it than just putting items in a bag and placing them in the cart. Baggers are supposed to be trained on the proper way to bag items, but apparently some of them did not pay attention to the training, or they just don't care.

I will place my items on the belt in a specific order to help ensure they are bagged properly. Ex: cold items together so they end up in the same bags, heavy items together, boxy items together, produce together, and light/fragile items last so they end up on top and don't get squished.

Despite this organization there will be times when I get to the car and realize everything has to be re-bagged. There will be cold items with non-cold items, fragile stuff in the same bags with heavy stuff, raw meats in the same bags as ready to eat food etc. Once I realize someone does not know how to bag, I will avoid going to their line if at all possible on future shopping trips.

I could go on and on with more pet peeves about grocery shopping but overall it is actually not that bad. For the most part I enjoy grocery shopping and as a job it can actually be fun.

What are some of your pet peeves when it comes to grocery shopping? Feel free to comment below.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

My/Mo Mochi Ice Cream Review

Recently I got inspired to try out some new foods and one that caught my interest was mochi ice cream. Mochi has a dough like consistency and is made with rice flour and sugar. With mochi ice cream, you have the traditional ice cream in the middle wrapped in the mochi.

In store I found the brand My/Mo which makes mochi ice cream in several different flavors. I decided to go with the strawberry to try it out. The price is pretty expensive. At a regular price of over $6 it comes out to over $1 per piece since there are 6 pieces in the box. I was able to get them on sale for a little over $4. For the nutrition, each piece has 110 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, and 12 grams of sugar.

Upon opening the box, the mochi's are in a tray separated and the top is sealed with plastic. They are coated in what looks like a powdered sugar but the powder is not sweet so it must be a flour or a corn starch. I found the powder a bit off-putting since it doesn't really help the flavor. In fact, for the rest of the pieces, I rinsed them off with water before eating them. I'm guessing they cover it in powder to keep it from sticking to things like the packaging.

The mochi material itself is soft and has a chewy gelatinous consistency. It is also sweet and kind of fun to eat. Inside, the strawberry ice cream is creamy and tastes very much like other strawberry ice creams I have tried in the past.

Overall the mochi ice cream is pretty good and makes for a nice snack or dessert. Although they are tasty, based on the price, I probably would not rush to buy them again. But if you are looking for something different to try out and you can find them in store, I would say they are worth a try especially if you can find them on sale.

Friday, August 16, 2019

The Disaster Artist Book Review – The Story Behind Tommy Wiseau and The Room

After having seen “The Disaster Artist” movie as well as the movie “The Room”, I decided to pick up the book “The Disaster Artist” which was the source material for which “The Disaster Artist” movie was based on.

For those who are unfamiliar, “The Room” is a movie commonly known as the greatest bad movie of all time. It was written and produced by Tommy Wiseau who is also the lead actor in the movie.

Tommy is a mysterious person and probably one of the most fascinating people out there. He immigrated to the US when he was young with the dream of becoming a movie star. He pretty much started with nothing and worked hard to earn a living with his businesses.

He tried to get into Hollywood but no one would accept him or give him a chance. This led him to ultimately make the decision to make his own movie and do everything himself. The end result was a movie that was meant to be serious but because of how it turned out, it comes off as more of a comedy.

When Tommy was studying acting, he met another struggling actor named Greg Sestero. The two are very different people but somehow they become good friends and decided to make the movie “The Room”. The Disaster Artist book is written by Greg Sestero and is about the whole experience from the time he first met Tommy to the night of the actually movie premiere.

I really enjoyed reading the book. It goes into all the details and behind the scenes of how it all started and what happened along the way as they were making the movie. It goes deep into the relationship between Greg and Tommy which is a roller coaster ride of ups and downs.

The best part is learning more about Tommy. He has so many quirks and a personality unlike anyone else. If you like what you have seen from Tommy from watching the movies or interviews, the book is even more of this. I laughed out loud several times while reading the book at the stories and things Tommy does and says.

Also the book explains a lot about Tommy's background such as his origin and how he made his money. (The movie cost $6 million to make which Tommy financed himself). I won't spoil the details but his story is pretty impressive considering he came to the country with nothing but a dream and ended up making a real feature length film.

Overall the book is entertaining, funny, and inspirational. If you liked the movies, you will like the book. If you find Tommy to be an interesting character and want to learn more about him, this book is for you. If you haven't seen the movies, they are great also and I recommend watching them first and then reading the book.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Burger King Impossible Whopper Review – Is it good and how does it compare?

I had heard about the “Impossible Burger” for some time and had been looking to try it out but it was always hard to find, that was until now that Burger King announced they are selling the Impossible Whopper.

Basically it is a Whopper but instead of the regular beef patty, it has the Impossible patty which is plant based so it does not contain meat. This is good news for people who don't eat meat since it gives them more options to choose from at places like Burger King.

The main ingredients of the burger are water, soy protein concentrate, coconut oil, sunflower oil, and natural flavors. Something to note, the Impossible Whopper is not supposed to be more healthy compared to the regular Whopper in fact, the nutrition stats are pretty similar, it is just supposed to be an alternative to meat while replicating the flavor.

So how does it stack up? Upon appearance, to me it looked more like a Boca Burger than a regular burger. For the taste, it was ok. Comparing it to frozen plant based burgers like Boca and Morning Star, I would say it is better than those, but not as good as a traditional beef burger. I was able to eat the whole thing and I was satisfied, but it is not something I would necessarily rush back to order again.

Since the nutrition and cost are similar, given the option I would probably go with the regular Whopper based on the taste. But if you are trying to avoid eating meat and you happen to find yourself at a Burger King restaurant, the Impossible Whopper is a good option.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Whitening adidas Boost with Sharpie Oil Based Paint Marker

If you have a pair of adidas Boost shoes such as the Ultra Boost, NMD, Pure Boost or many others, you know they are very comfortable, but you also probably know how hard it is to keep Boost material clean. It picks up dirt quickly and even if you try to clean it, it is nearly impossible to get it back to looking like new again.

After having tried countless cleaning solutions, my Boost shoes were starting to look pretty dirty around the soles after having worn them for a few years. I started to look for other options to clean them up when I read some reviews of people using a white Sharpie oil based paint pen. The results looked pretty good so I decided to give it a try.

I found the oil based paint markers at a local Hobby Lobby arts and crafts store for about $6 (for the bold tip marker). They also have medium and fine tip markers, but I went with the bold to make sure it had enough paint. (Having tried it, the medium tip would probably work just as well.) They are also available online at places like Amazon.

Getting Started:
First, I recommend doing a quick wipe down of the shoes to get off any surface dirt that may be on there before you start painting. I also recommend putting some newspaper down to cover the surface you will be working on. I taped the newspaper in place to help keep it from moving around.

Next, you will want to tape up the shoes to cover the upper material so it does not get paint on it. I used clear packaging tape because it is what I had around the house. Taping up the shoes was actually the most difficult and time consuming part of the process because it takes a lot of carefully placed tape pieces to get it just right along the edges.

Taped up. Starting to apply some paint at heel and forefoot. 
Preparing the Paint Marker:
The marker comes sealed in plastic so you have to cut it open to get started. Next, the instructions on the marker tell you to press the tip down, re-cap and shake. Then press it down on a surface to get the paint into the tip.

I did this but the tip was still dry and I thought it wasn't working. But the thing is you have to be a little patient. Keep the pen pointing down and keep pressing down a few times and slowly the paint should start flowing through.


Applying the Marker:
Once the paint reaches the tip you are ready to start applying it to the Boost. I started by applying it to one of the dirtier sections on the inner side. I actually didn't like how it looked at first because I felt like it changed the look of the Boost too much. I was starting to think maybe it wasn't a good idea. After a few minutes I tried to see if it would wipe off with cloth and water but it was on there pretty good. I figured it was better than the dirt so I decided to keep going.

Comparing how it looks as paint is being applied.
 At first I was using the flat side of the marker and applying the paint slowly and thoroughly, but I found that using more of the corner of the tip and kind of using more of a scribble method tended to work better especially for blending in. I went around the sides of both shoes until they were all covered.

You may want to apply a few coats depending on how dirty the shoes are. Once you are done, the paint should dry pretty quickly. I tested it out and it was dry in less than 10 minutes. Once it is dry you can remove the tape from the shoes and admire your finished product.

Results:
Interestingly, the marker was a lot neater than I expected. I thought I would be getting paint everywhere, but it turned out I did not get any paint on my hands or even on the newspaper. It's probably because the paint dries quickly and it is not liquidy enough to drip so it is easy to use without making a mess.

I was also worried that it might have a strong smell but surprisingly, the smell of the marker is very mild. The smell is almost nonexistent after it has dried.

I found one marker was plenty to paint all the Boost around the shoes. I'm not sure how much paint is left in the marker, but I will save it for later to do touch ups over time. 

The finished product!
Overall I am very pleased with the result. Up close you can tell it is painted, but from a distance, it just looks like a clean pair of shoes. If your Boost shoes are at the point where cleaning just isn't working anymore, I recommend this method to get them looking like new again.

I will update this article at a later time with the results of how well the paint hold up over time.

Update 8-14-19: 
It has been about 5 days of wear and the Boost is getting dirty again similar to how it was before the painting. Also the paint is wearing off in the high wear areas such as the heel and toe. It does not seem to be any easier to clean compared to before. Overall it still looks better than before, but it seems the paint is not a miracle solution.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Good Youtubers Who Stopped Making Videos

1. Laina
Laina is best known for her “Overly Attached Girlfriend” character which became a popular meme many years ago. Since then she has created many funny videos on her Youtube channel. Coincidentally, she just posted her final “Breaking Up with Youtube” video as an explanation for where she has been the past 2 years. In the video she explains why she decided to stop making Youtube videos.

2. Joe Goes
Joe from the Joe Goes channel is know for his series where he travels to different countries and events and interviews people in a comedic style. His videos are funny and you get to meet a lot of interesting people and see what they have to say. A couple years ago he posted a “Hiatus” video explaining that he would be not be posting videos on a regular basis and has not posted a new video since. 

3. Robbie Sherrard
Robbie Sherrard makes comedic talk to the camera style videos. The style is of someone who is just being themself but unintentionally happens to be funny. His last video was posted about 8 months ago and is actually a trailer for a series he decided to post on Vimeo. No word yet if he will get back to making videos on Youtube.

4. Whatever
Brian from the Whatever channel is known for pranks and social experiment videos. His last video was posted about 2 years ago. In one of his last videos he explains what happened to the channel and why he stopped making videos. 

5 The Wine Kone
Tony from The Wine Kone channel makes funny videos that are often random and obscure. He has been pretty inactive for a while and actually posted a video parodying this exact subject of Youtubers disappearing. No word yet on if he will get back into making videos, but don't count him out yet! 

So what are the reasons some of the best Youtubers stop making videos? Many of them move on to bigger things such as tv and film. Many of them outgrew the platform and decided it was time to move on. The changes in the way Youtube compensates creators also caused many Youtubers to stop making videos or switch to other video hosting services. Whatever their reason, we as viewers have to respect their decision when they decide it is time to hang it up.

What are some of your favorite Youtuber's who left Youtube or stopped making videos? Feel free to post them in the comments below.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Bumble App Review – Is it any good and how does it compare to other dating sites?

After having tried some of the online dating sites over the years, I figured I would give one of the dating apps a try. After doing some research I decided to try out Bumble. One of the unique features of Bumble is that women have to make the first move by sending a message if they are interested. So how did it work out and how does it compare to other dating sites?

I tried it for a couple weeks and I should note, I am male so I was only able to “like” profiles but not send messages. Signing up was fairly simple. It asks you to upload some pictures, answer some questions and fill out a little bit about yourself.

One thing I noticed was it does not really let you write much about yourself. In the “About Me” section, I was literally only able to write 3 sentences before it cut off with a character limit. The questions it gives are not the best. For example, one that seems to show up a lot in the profiles was “Do you like the beach or the mountains?” This does not really tell you much about the person.

The app lets you set a couple filters for free to help narrow down your search. You have to pay if you want to add more filters. You can also pay to get premium features such as a boost for more attention, and the ability to see who has liked you even if you have not liked them.

Once you have your profile and settings filled out you begin looking through profiles one by one. I never tried Tinder but I'm familiar with the swipe right and swipe left feature which is how it works in Bumble to either like or dislike a profile.

Since Bumble doesn't really let you add much information about yourself and the questions are pretty bland, it pretty much just comes down to a pictures app. Because of this, I can see most people just looking quickly at the pictures and swiping right or left without even reading anything in the profile. This works if you are an attractive person, but for most people on the app, this will not be beneficial.

I tended to be selective when going through the profiles and only swiping right if I really had interest and saw potential after having looked through the whole profile. My filters were also strong enough that I was able to go through all potential profiles within a few days. Each day new ones show up though.

After a couple weeks of using the app, it resulted in 0 matches. So this means none of the profiles I liked, liked back. I guess I am not too surprised by it, but it would have been nice to actually get a match. I will probably delete the app soon.

For me, I am more interested in dating sites that allow people to really show who they are. For example on OKCupid there is a lot more opportunity to write about yourself and answer questions to see how you match up with other people.

I see Bumble as more of a pictures dating app that will work for people who are very photogenic. Because of this, I do not see it working out too well for most people. Overall if the swipe right, swipe left dating app style appeals to you, it might be worth a try, but if you are looking for something more meaningful, there are better options out there.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Life Expectancy – Changes for Each Generation

Life expectancy has increased with each generation as people have learned to live healthier lives and the medical field has improved to prevent and treat illnesses. The issues our parents and grandparents had to deal with are often no longer a problem due to advances in medicine or new findings in related to health.

Now is a great time to be alive but there are always things to improve upon. While each generation learns from previous generations on how to be healthier and live longer, we are also exposed to new things which might actually be harmful in the long run.

For example new foods are being introduced into our diets each year. A lot of these foods are processed and artificial. While they may be considered safe to eat, the long term effects on health are still unknown.

Not only has food changed, but other things such as technology and the environment have changed significantly in recent years. We are exposed to a lot of new technology such as cellular and wifi signals. These things may be safe for now, but there is no long term research on these things because they are so new. It could be that in 50 years they find out that some of this technology is the cause of a new illness due to long term exposure.

Cars and factories and people in general continue to pollute the air and water that we all depend on. We might think the air and water is ok now, but again, there could be long term health concerns that we don't know about yet and won't know until it is too late.

Each generation improves by learning from previous generations, but at the same time they are faced with new issues that the previous generations did not have to deal with. Since no one knows what the future holds, we just have to use the information we have now to try to live long healthy lives.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Insecurity – Everything is ok, or is it?

Recently I found some posts on Reddit asking questions such as “Girls, what are some things guys should not be insecure about?” and “Guys, what are some things girls should not be insecure about?” They are quite interesting to read because you can discover the things most people are insecure about and see how it relates to yourself.

For context, here are some of the most common things guys and girls are insecure about, in which the opposite sex assures they should not be, based on the comments in the threads:

Guys:
Intelligence (not knowing something)
Hair (baldness)
Facial hair (not able to grow beard)
Penis size (not big enough)
Liking feminine things or appearing feminine
Showing feelings or emotions / crying
Weight (too fat or too skinny)
Height (too short)

Girls:
Making the first move
Intelligence (appearing too smart)
Body hair
Breast size or shape
Periods
Hair style / appearance
Weight (too fat or too skinny)
Height (too tall)
Being seen without makeup / nails done
Age (getting older)

After reading over the posts, one of the main takeaways was that people should not be insecure about all these things because other people really don't care as much as we think they do. Another finding was that many of the things you might feel insecure about are actually liked or valued by others.

We tend to be our own worst critic and we see every small detail about ourselves and it's easy to get into a negative mindset about any little flaw or imperfection. Then we might think that the whole world sees us in this way when in fact they probably don't even notice at all or if they do, it not a big deal to them.

Based on the number of times these kinds of questions have been asked, it is clear that many people struggle with insecurity. Feeling this way can really bring you down and hurt your self esteem. So how can one overcome these thoughts and feel better about themself?

I think the answer is simply that you have to learn to be happy with yourself and be accepting of who you are. This is easier said than done. You really have to believe that you are ok with who you are in order to overcome the things that are causing you to feel insecure.

A viewpoint that gets brought up is that while others might not care about the thing that is making a person insecure, that person still feels insecure about it themselves. People can tell you there is no reason to feel bad about whatever is bothering you, but until you believe it yourself, it will continue to be something you struggle with.

So the question is, if all these things we are insecure about are actually not a big deal, why are we insecure about them? I think the reason is a combination of conditioning by society as well as human nature which causes us to be judgmental. We see other people in the world and we make judgments about them just based on how they look.

In terms of society and media, we have shows like The Bachelor and The Bachelorette which create unrealistic expectations about what potential suitors are supposed to look like. They go through thousands of applications and select what they think are the most attractive and desirable people to be on the show.

Of course the people they select are very good looking and this conveys a message that you have to look like these people in order for people to like you. Then you take a look in the mirror and realize you don't look like the people on the show and it makes you feel bad. This is an example of how we are influenced by the media, but I believe we as humans have a natural tendency to make judgments based on what we see.

One might say it is bad to judge people based on their appearance without getting to know them. I agree, in an ideal world, you should not “judge a book by its cover” but in the real world, we don't have the time or opportunity to get to know every single person we see. Just going out into the world, you may be around hundreds of people in a day. It's not possible to sit down and have an in-depth conversation with every person, so you have to use the knowledge you have to make quick judgments based on what you see.

An example of this would be when looking for a potential boyfriend/girlfriend. When out in the world, you might unconsciously scan everyone you pass or interact with and make quick judgments about if there would be any potential for a relationship based on what you see. You might look for things like age, attractiveness, style, signs of availability, and demeanor.

These things then act as a filter for if there is potential for a relationship with that person. If they pass the quick filter test, you may be more open to interacting with them vs if they do not pass the filter, you may have no interest to get to know them.

I think because of this and the desire to be liked and accepted by other people is the reason we fear judgment and in turn end up becoming insecure about what we believe are things about ourselves that are not good enough.

So which mindset is correct? On one hand, we live in a judgmental society that puts a lot of value on the way we look. On the other hand, people are saying that these things are not really a big deal and that we shouldn't worry about them. I think you have to keep both viewpoints in mind and realize that yes, you may be judged on things, but at the same time, you should not allow these things to bring you down or make you feel bad about yourself.

Also keep in mind that you are not defined by one thing. Everyone has things they wish they could change or could be different. The truth is there are so many things that make us who we are. Even if there are a few things you might be unhappy with, there are plenty of other things about you that are likable. Also everyone has different opinions on what they like and dislike. Something you don't like about yourself may in fact be a thing that someone actually does like.

Overall, I think the best advice when it comes to insecurity is to learn to be happy and accepting of who you are. Once you have achieved this, it can be freeing and can translate into self confidence which itself is an attractive quality.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Connected Isolation Blog 10 Year Anniversary – Most Popular Posts

Back in 2009 I decided to start this blog just as something to do. I didn't have any long term goal for it, but figured it would be a good way to write articles for people who might be interested in reading them. Since then, ten years have passed and surprisingly I have stuck with it. Some of the stats during this time include:

- Over 500 articles published



- About 2.5 million page views



- Over 1000 comments

For the 10 year anniversary, I have decided to recap the most popular posts from the blog during this time. Here are the articles that were most popular:

The most popular articles came as a bit of a surprise and they happened to be the ones I wrote each year covering the Monopoly Collect and Win games. These are yearly promotions done by grocery stores where you collect game tickets to try to win prizes. In my articles, I help track the rare pieces needed to win and because of this, the articles became very popular with people playing the game.

Apparently I was not the only one who was wondering what happened to Discovery Zone. A lot of other people were searching for it too and happened to find this article. It ended up getting a lot of comments from people sharing their experiences about going to Discovery Zone when they were a kid.

Years ago I was in a situation where I was exposed to a loud noise which hurt my ear and had a lasting effect over many months. I could not find much advice or help on the internet so I wrote about my own experience in hopes that it would help others. It turns out many other people had also experienced a similar situation and came to get advice and share what happened to them.

Years ago I spotted evidence that their might be mice getting into my kitchen. In this article I go over how I found where they were getting in and how I solved the problem.

I had been getting a lot of spam phone calls coming from phone numbers that looked similar to my own so I decided to look into it and write about what I found. Based on the popularity of the post, it seems this has been an issue that has affected many other people so they came to this article looking for answers.

My toilet had been making an annoying whistling sound every time it flushed so I learned how to fix it and then shared my experience in this article to help others who might have the same issue. Turns out many other people did have this issue so they came to this article for help on how to solve it.

What can we learn from the results? 

Looking over the trends, what all of these articles have in common is a topic where people were looking for more information and wanted to learn more about. I'm glad to have been able to provide helpful articles for people looking for information in these cases.

This can be good advice for anyone out there looking to write articles or share information on the internet. Writing about what you know or what you have experienced in life can be very helpful to others out there. We are all trying to learn more as we go through life and the more advice we can share with each other, the better off we will be!

Friday, June 14, 2019

Arm & Hammer Ultra Max 3 in 1 Body Wash Review Fresh Scent

I was at the local Dollar Tree dollar store the other day and decided to take at look at the different shampoos and body washes. One that caught my eye was the Arm & Hammer Ultra Max 3 in 1. It had a good scent and I have been pleased with Arm & Hammer products in the past so I decided to give it a try.

It's a 12 oz size for a dollar which is pretty good considering the cheap shampoos and washes at most stores usually start around $2 or $3. The scent is pretty good. I would describe it as a clean refreshing soap-like scent.

The consistency is a little on the watery side and the color is clear. It does not create too much of a lather so you may find it takes a little more to get the job done compared so some other washes. It rinses off easily and leaves the skin a bit dry feeling. It seems it does not have too much moisturizing properties.

It is a 3 in 1 so it can be used as a shampoo, conditioner, and body wash, but personally I would probably use it mostly as a body wash. Overall I am pleased with the product. It might not be quite as good as the expensive stuff, but for $1 it is a pretty good deal!

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Get Ready for the Women's World Cup! Let's Go USWNT!

 
The 2019 Women's World Cup for soccer begins this Friday and the US Women's National Team will be playing their first game on Tuesday June 11th. They are currently ranked number 1 in the world so it should be a great tournament!

I have been following the US women's team since 2015 when they won the last World Cup and since then, they have become my favorite sports team. I'm not even sure how I got so into it, but I love this team! I didn't even play soccer growing up, but I just love watching these games.

The team consists of 23 players, some of which were on the last World Cup team, but there are also a lot of new players who will be making their first World Cup appearance. All the women are talented players and have great personalities which makes the team even more likable.

This year's roster includes: Alex Morgan, Tobin Heath, Carli Lloyd, Christen Press, Jessica McDonald, Mallory Pugh, Megan Rapinoe, Rose Lavelle, Morgan Brian, Julie Ertz, Lindsey Horan, Allie Long, Samantha Mewis, Tierna Davidson, Abby Dahlkemper, Crystal Dunn, Ali Krieger, Kelley O’Hara, Becky Sauerbrunn, Emily Sonnett, Alyssa Naeher, Adrianna Franch, and Ashlyn Harris.

In case you are new to the team, here is a series called 23 Stories which features each of the players talking about something that is important to them.

The games will be airing on FOX so it should be easy for everyone to watch. Tune in this summer and show your support. Let's go USWNT!

Friday, May 24, 2019

Walmart Photo Puzzle Review – Ordering a custom jigsaw puzzle

Recently I was looking for a unique gift idea and remembered about custom photo puzzles. This is where you upload a photo to a site and they create a jigsaw puzzle for you with the picture provided. I had wanted to try this out for a while so I started researching different options. I found that Walmart offered this service and it was for a reasonable price so I decided to try it out.

They have different size options such as 8x10, 10x14, and 11x14, with 110 – 252 pieces depending on the size. Prices range from about $12-20. I decided to go with the 8x10 which comes with a box.

Uploading the picture to the site was pretty easy. They give you some simple editing options to adjust the photo and preview it to make sure it looks good. Next you can place your order for in store pickup or delivery. I scheduled it for a pickup which would be ready in about 1 week.

When the delivery time arrived, I was supposed to get an email notifying me that it was ready but they never contacted me. I checked the tracking which said it arrived at the store, but on the site for some reason it said it was delayed. I waited another week or so and decided to go to the store to see if it was ready.

At the store I checked with customer service, pickup, and the photo department but they were unable to find it. Somehow it must have gotten lost or misplaced after it arrived. Since it was not paid for yet, they recommended re-ordering the puzzle. This was kind of a bummer, but luckily I was not in a hurry so I decided to try it out once more.

This time I scheduled it to be delivered to a different Walmart and prepaid for it online. After about a week, they gave me a call to tell me it was ready for pickup. Technically they were supposed to notify by email, but they notified me by phone which is ok. I went to the store and went to the photo department. This time it was there so I was able to pick it up.

So how is the puzzle? It comes in a nice box with the picture on the front. The sticker label with the picture has Walmart branding and other text around it which doesn't look as nice as it would if it just had the picture alone.

Inside, the pieces are loose and the box was not sealed so I was a little worried about that. Usually puzzle boxes are at least taped closed to prevent pieces from getting lost.

The puzzle pieces themselves are good quality. They have a decent thickness to the cardboard and they have a glossy finish for the photo side. They fit together cleanly and the puzzle piece shapes are interesting as they have variation and are not all the same cutout style.

I was able to put the 8x10 puzzle together in about 30 minutes. Thankfully it had all the pieces. Overall I was very pleased with the puzzle. It was challenging enough for adults but easy enough that it can be completed in one sitting. If you are looking for a unique gift idea, I would recommend a custom photo puzzle like this.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Puzzlebug 500 Piece Puzzle Review – Are Dollar Store Puzzles Any Good?

In my last blog entry, I wrote about how I got inspired to look into activities that did not revolve around technology, and one of the activities that came to mind was puzzles. I had not done jigsaw puzzles in a long time, so I decided to do a little research to see what was available today.

There are a wide range of puzzles available but I just wanted to find something cheap, so first I checked the local Dollar Tree store. Surprisingly, they had a very good selection of puzzles to choose from. They had simple puzzles for kids, up through 1000 piece puzzles for adults. I decided to pick up one that had 500 pieces.

Dollar store items can be hit or miss as sometimes the item can be a great bargain while other times, the item may turn out to be junk. So the question is, are the puzzles from the dollar store any good? The quick answer is yes! 

The 500 piece puzzles come in a sealed box that must be cut open. I cut 3 edges of the box which allowed it to flip open and stay connected. Inside are the loose puzzle pieces. I dumped them out onto a flat surface. There was some “puzzle dust” as many new puzzle have so I moved the pieces around to try to separate them from the dust.

The pieces themselves are fairly thin and pretty small in size. The full puzzle comes out to dimensions of 11 x 18.25 inches. They fit together as expected, but they do not have a very secure interlock, so if you bump it while you are working, they can come apart. It is ok, you just have to be careful when working on it.

The puzzle took me about a week to complete, working on it a little bit each day. Overall it was fun and relaxing to do. It was challenging at time as sometimes you can put a piece in and it looks like it should fit, but then later you figure out it is actually in the wrong place. I was very satisfied with the finished product.

Overall I really enjoyed the puzzle and would recommend them to anyone who is looking for a cheap puzzle. I will probably pick up another one next time I am at the dollar store. These puzzle provide hours of entertainment for just $1, which is pretty much unbeatable. Not only that, once you are done with the puzzle you can take it apart and give it to other people to enjoy!

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

What would life be like without internet, computer, tv, phone, and modern technology?

It's easy to take for granted all the modern conveniences and technology we have today such as computers, phones, and tv. I started thinking, what would it be like to live even one day without these things? I pictured what it would be like if my computer, tv, and phone disappeared and thought about what it would be like.

My first reaction was that it would be so boring and there would be nothing to do. It made me realize how dependent I am on things like the computer and internet as well phone and tv. These things open up the world to us and provide us with unlimited information, entertainment, and the ability to communicate with others. Without these things, our lives would be dramatically different.

I started to think, what would I actually do instead of these things? Some of the things I came up with include, reading books, doing artwork, writing, doing puzzles, going for a walk etc. One thing I noticed is that without all the information and entertainment being brought in by technology, it would force us to actually go out more and socialize with people.

I think that while technology is great for getting information, it has also caused us to be more distant from one another. I wouldn't be surprised if there is a trend over the past few decades with people being less social in real life and instead doing their socializing or lack there of through computers and phones. I also wouldn't be surprised if this affects people's ability to socialize and interact with people in the real world.

Most people still go out and interact with people each day for things like work or school so they should still have the opportunity to interact with others but even these things may be phasing more towards technology with people taking online classes and working remotely on the computer.

I think it is important to realize our dependency on technology and not get too sucked into it that we forget how to function without it. This exercise actually inspired me to do more activities that are not technology based. I got a book from the library, picked up a puzzle from the dollar store, and went for a walk outside. I enjoyed each activity and it reminded me that there is still plenty to do even in a world without modern technology.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Daily Questions – 3 Questions to Ask Yourself Each Day

Sometimes you may feel like you are in a rut or like you haven't done anything productive in a day, but if you think about it, usually more things happen than we realize. By asking yourself questions at the end of the day, it can help you review your day and reflect on what happened. There are many questions you can ask yourself depending on what is important to you or what you are working on, but I have narrowed it down to 3 questions which can apply to everyone.

1. What did you enjoy doing today?

Think about what you liked about the day. What is something good that happened? Maybe you watched a show or played a game. Maybe you ate some good food or visited a new place. Maybe you got to spend some time with family or friends. Maybe you got to do one of your hobbies in your free time. Thinking about this can remind you of the good things that happened today.

2. What did you learn today?

We learn things everyday even if we don't necessarily realize it. You don't have to be in school or actively studying something in order to learn. Just by living and experiencing life, we are learning new things all the time. It could be a new fact you heard. It could be how something works. It could be some information you learned by talking with someone, watching a video, or by reading something online. By thinking about this question, it makes us realize that we are learning new things everyday.

3. How did you contribute today?

Contribution is an important part of life. You might contribute through your work by providing a service or information. You might help someone out or care for someone that is in need. You might do something as little as holding a door open for someone, or writing a nice comment to someone online. Contributing to the world helps give our lives meaning. It is a reminder that we are making a difference and have the power to make a positive impact on those around us and the world in general.

There are many more questions you can ask yourself to help reflect but these 3 questions here are a good start. You can ask yourself these questions at the end of the day to help put the day in perspective in terms of what you enjoyed, what you learned, and how you contributed.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

X-Men the Animated Series Review


One of my favorite cartoons to watch on Saturday mornings as a kid was X-Men the Animated Series. It aired on TV from 1992-1997. At the time I was really into collecting Marvel superhero cards and the X-Men were some of the most popular so when they decided to make a show about them, I was pretty excited!

I remember seeing the first 2 seasons and then it seemed like they started showing re-runs. Somehow I must have missed the later seasons but just recently I get a chance to re-watch seasons 1-3 on DVD. So the question is, do they still hold up after all these years?

The animation itself is a little dated compared to what we are used to these days with computer generated graphics, but they are still pretty good. What stands out to me as one of the best parts of the series is the voice acting. For many people, this was the first time hearing what these characters actually sound like and for many, it provided the true voice of the character.

Some of my favorite characters from the series include Wolverine, Rogue, Beast, Gambit, and Jubilee. Wolverine has that grit and never give up attitude even when it seems like the odds are stacked against him. Rogue's southern belle charm and powerful abilities are a joy to watch. Beast and his intellect and quotes always give some balance when things are getting out of control. Gambit is just plain cool with his Cajun accent and charged playing cards, and Jubilee's youth and playfulness also add a nice contrast to the other members of the team.

My favorite episodes are the ones where the X-Men meet other mutants and other teams of mutants and they all get to show off their powers. For me, this is one of the best parts of the show and one of the things that takes still frame comics to the next level with animation. I also like the episodes where there is a lot of emotion involved, usually when it comes to relationships between the characters.

About half of the episodes are very good while the other half are just ok. I enjoyed the time travel episodes with Bishop and Cable. I also liked the ones featuring Sabretooth, Juggernaut, Nightcrawler, and Iceman. Some of the episodes I didn't like as much were the space related / Phoenix episodes, and the Savage Land episodes. After watching the first 3 seasons I would say overall I enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone who watched it back in the day or anyone who is interested in superheroes and hasn't seen it yet.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Walking a Labyrinth

Something that peaked my interest lately was the idea of labyrinths. A labyrinth is like a maze you can walk on. It has a squiggly pattern and usually loops around to fill the space provided. These kind of walking labyrinths are not very common but if you do a search, you may be able to find one near you. After having it on my list of things to do, I finally got a chance to try one out.

I was in the area where I knew one was located so I decided to stop by and check it out. It was a free outdoor labyrinth located behind a church. It was a nice day so I figured it would be a good time to try it. The labyrinth was fairly big and circular in shape. There was no one there but there were buildings and residential areas surrounding it so it did not feel secluded.

I went to the beginning and started walking the path. I started looping around following the path back and forth. I soon realized that it would take longer than expected to walk the whole thing. After a few minutes honestly I became a little bored of it so I decided not to walk the entire path.

The thing is, I enjoy walking but I realized when I walk I like to cover ground and see new things. With the labyrinth you are pretty much just staying in one area walking around in circles. This would be good if you wanted to walk and you were confined to a small space like a back yard, but if you have the freedom to walk anywhere, I think it is more enjoyable to walk on a regular path or trail.

Walking a labyrinth would be good if the weather is nice and you don't have anything to do. If you are busy or have other things to do, it can seem kind of like a waste of time to walk around in the same spot. I still find them interesting and worth checking out just because they are something different to see that you don't find very often.

If you have some free time and feel like doing a little walking, or maybe you have some kids that might enjoy it, I recommend visiting a labyrinth if you have one nearby.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

When should you use a turn signal while driving? Is it always necessary?

When people are asked about pet peeves or things that bother them, often one of the top things mentioned is when people don't use their turn signal. Personally, this doesn't bother me much, but I found it interesting that it seems to bother a lot of other drivers.

I agree that turn signals should definitely be used in some cases, but in other cases, I think it is ok not to use them. According to the law, you should always use a turn signal when making a turn as well as in many other instances, but is it really necessary to use a signal in every situation? Here I will go over some examples on when you should use a turn signal and when you really don't have to in my opinion.

The purpose of the turn signal is to notify other drivers and pedestrians around you of what you are about to do such as making a turn or changing lanes. So it is important to use the signal when your action will have an affect on those around you because they need to be prepared.

For example, if you are driving in the right hand lane and you are going to be making a right turn into a driveway and there is someone behind you, you need to put in your right signal to let them know you are about to slow down and make a turn. Without the signal, they will not expect it. They will only see your brake lights and then wonder why you are slowing down in the middle of the road for no reason. It's easy to see why not using a signal would be bothersome to the person behind in this situation.

Another example of when a signal is needed would be at a 4 way stop when there are cars pulling up at the same time from different directions. This can be a confusing situation so it is important to put on your signal to let the other drivers know which way you are planning to turn.

Putting on your signal when changing lanes around other cars or merging in traffic is also important as it makes it safer by letting the other drivers around you know what you are about to do. Trying to merge or change lanes without a turn signal can catch people off guard and can make for unsafe driving conditions.

So there are many situations when using a turn signal is necessary, but what about situations where you do not need to use your signal?

As mentioned before, the purpose of the turn signal is to notify those around you of your actions. Because of this, I would argue that you really only need to use a signal when there are actually other drivers or pedestrians around you. This means if you pull up to a street to make a turn and there is no one in sight, there really is no reason to put on the signal because there is no one to notify about your turn.

This would apply in other situations as well such as changing lanes. If there is no one around you either in front, to the side, or behind you for some distance, there really is no purpose of putting on the turn signal because there is no one to inform that you will be changing lanes.

I might go as far as to say even if you are in a left turn lane with a red arrow, you really don't need the signal on the whole time because just being in the left turn lane itself lets people know you are going to be turning left. It's a good idea to have the signal on just to be safe, but in a situation like this where there is only one direction to go and there is no confusion as to which direction you are turning, I would argue that it is not 100% necessary to have the signal on in a situation like this.

Some people might disagree and say you always have to use your turn signal no matter what because it is the law, but personally I go by the purpose of the signal which is to inform those around you of your actions. If there are drivers around that need to know you are turning or changing lanes, then of course it is necessary, but in other situations such as when there is no one around to notify, there is just no reason to use the signal. Feel free to comment below if you have an opinion on the use of turn signals.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Should Concerts Have a Limit on Volume Level? - Music That is Too Loud

If you have ever been to a live concert, especially one in a big venue you know the music can sometimes be very loud. It is not uncommon for the volume levels to be over what would be considered safe in order to avoid hearing damage. In fact many experts recommend always wearing earplugs if you are attending a concert.

So why is it that concerts are so overly loud in the first place? Some people say they like loud music and maybe they think it makes for a better experience, but it should never be so loud that it becomes dangerous to your well being. Being exposed to a duration of loud noise such as a concert has been known to cause damage to hearing. So why does this trend of loud music continue?

For those who have learned the hard way, they know now to bring earplugs if they are going to be attending a show. The problem is, many people, especially young people who might be attending their first concert do not know to do this. They are just excited to have the chance to see a band they like perform live. It's not until after the show when their ears might be ringing and they can't hear as well that they realize the effect of loud music on their ears.

I remember one of the concerts I went to in college where my favorite band was playing and I got to be pretty close to the front. The show was very loud and I did not have earplugs. The show was fun but I remember the next day my ears were ringing constantly and I could not even concentrate on my classes. Luckily after a day or so, it went away, but some people are not so lucky.

The ringing in the ears is called tinnitus and some people who have been exposed to a lot of loud noise have this condition all the time which can be very bothersome. Hearing loss can even occur from being exposed to volume levels that are too loud. Usually if you are attending a concert or listening to music it means you enjoy music so the last thing you would want to do is cause damage to your hearing.

This is why I think there should be regulations in place when it comes to venues and live concerts. There should be a certain decibel level that the show must remain under in order to provide a safe listening experience for the attendees and everyone involved. If there was a limit on how loud the music could be, it would help prevent people from being exposed to unsafe volume levels that could damage their hearing.

This is something that might be hard to regulate and some people might not follow it anyway, but I think it is something that should be put into place, not just for concerts but for any kind of loud noise that the public may be exposed to. If someone wants to listen to loud music on headphones, that is their choice, but if the music is being played out loud and it is effecting other people, then it becomes a concern.

For now, it is up to us to protect our ears from exposure to loud noise. If you are going to a concert, make sure to bring earplugs. The volume level might be ok, but in case it is too loud, you have to be prepared. It is better to be safe than sorry.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Showing Appreciation for Hard Work

In the building where I live, we have a guy who does most of the cleaning around the building each day. He does the vacuuming, mopping, windows, garbage etc. He also clean up the parking lot outside which is something I really appreciate as I like to live in an environment that is clean. Over the years I have gotten to know him and he is a good guy. I let him know whenever there are any issues and he always takes care of them.

The building we live in is very large so maintaining it is a full time job. I started to notice each day after work he would walk out to his car dressed in another work uniform. I realized he must have a 2nd job that he goes to after this one. I thought to myself, that is a lot of work! He is doing a full day of hard work here and then going right to another job for who knows how long.

He has a daughter around college age so I figured he is probably working a 2nd job to help cover college expenses. I decided I wanted to do something nice for him to show my appreciation for everything he does around the building. We have a grocery store across the street so I planned to get him a $20 gift card for the store.

Now I don't earn much money myself and I live very frugally so the idea of just spending $20 on a gift card for someone else is not something I normally do. I remember the first time I went into the store and stood in front of the gift cards, I actually didn't get it because I felt like I was not really in position to spend money like that. But the next time I went in, I decided to do it so I bought the card.

On the card, I wrote a little note about how I appreciate all his hard work and everything he does around the building. The next time I saw a good opportunity I gave him the card. It was not a holiday time or anything so he probably was not expecting something like this. When I gave it to him, he even said I didn't have to do it because he enjoys his work, but I insisted that he keep it. He said thank you and was very appreciative.

It feels good to do something nice for someone especially when it is out of the blue and unexpected. He works a job where he probably does not get a lot of recognition. A gesture like this lets him know he is doing a good job and people are thankful for the work he does.

If there is someone in your life like this that you appreciate, make sure to let them know. Even just going out of your way to say thank you can mean a lot to someone.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Every Man Jack Body Wash Review – Sandalwood Scent

I was in the market for a new body wash so I started doing a little research online to help narrow down the options. One kind that caught my interest was this one called Every Man Jack. At about $6 for a 16.9 oz bottle, it was more expensive than what I am used to paying for a similar size body wash but I decided to splurge and check it out.

I went to the store and compared it with some of the other body washes. It has an interesting design for the bottle with which is a flask shape and has a wood grain pattern label. I liked the scent of the Sandalwood so I decided to go with that scent.

The appearance of the body wash itself is clear and has a gel like consistency. I found it was able to lather up pretty well with about a quarter size amount. It washes off easily and does not leave any residue. The scent while using is pleasant and I would describe it as a cologne-like scent. It is not too overpowering but enough to stay with you even after you are out of the shower.

Overall I am pleased with the body wash and would recommend it if you want a good smelling body wash at this price point. 

For more reviews on shampoos, body washes, and  face washes, check out this article here.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Make Things Better, Not Worse

These days it seems like there is so much negativity in the world. We see it in the news and the media every day. We see it online and even in real life.

When you think about it, it really comes down to people and how they choose to behave. People have the ability to be positive or negative. They have the ability to do good things or bad things.

I think most people would agree that good is better than bad. We want to live in a world where good things happen and life is good. So why do people continue to perpetuate negativity?

There can be a lot of reasons behind it. One is that negativity, like positivity is contagious. For example if someone is having a bad day and they are in a bad mood, they are more likely to spread that mood to others. For example they might put somebody down or say a mean comment, not because they would normally do that, but because they are just in a bad mood.

On the contrary, if someone is having a good day and they are in a good mood, they are more likely to spread this feeling to others.

While it can be hard to be positive been you are feeling down, we need to keep this thought in mind and remember that we have the ability to control what we do and say. It is inevitable that bad things will happen every once in a while, but we have the choice to perpetuate that feeling or stop it in its tracks and choose to be positive despite feeling bad.

A little quote I came up with is “Make things better, not worse”. This means try to make the world a better place, not a worse place. It refers to everything we do or say no matter how little it may be. We as humans have so much influence on the world around us. We can choose to be positive and make things better, or we can choose to be negative and make things worse. If we want to live in a world that is good, it is easy to decide which one to choose.

There are a lot of other reasons why people may decide to be negative. For example maybe they are unhappy with themselves and because of this, they are always in a bad mood which affects their everyday life. Another reason could be jealousy. For example maybe someone sees another person and they are jealous of who they are or what they have and because of this, they feel the need to bring them down.

Some people have the misfortune of being raised in a poor environment. Someone who is raised in a bad neighborhood with crime may be influenced by this type of behavior. Someone who grows up without responsible parental or guardian figures may not learn the basics of how to be a decent human being.

In situations like this, it is not their fault. There is no easy solution to fix situations like this especially when there are hundreds of thousands if not millions of people in these situations.

Guidance and education at an early age can help but people have to continue to make the effort to be positive and stay away from negativity. If more people make the conscious decision to make things better and not worse, the world should slowly shift in that direction. The message is simple and if we can stick to it, we can make the world a better place.