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.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Making Sponges From Packaging Foam – Free alternative to store bought sponges

I was at a friend's house one day and they mentioned a frugal tip in regards to household sponges. While most people buy sponges at the store, but my friend had made her own sponges out of packaging foam. This light foam is sometimes used to cushion products when shipping in boxes. Instead of throwing the packaging foam away or recycling it, she cut it into sponge size shapes to use as sponges.

I was skeptical when I saw it because I thought the material would not be nearly as good as “real” sponges from the store, but she offered to give me some to try out so I figured it was worth a try.

At home, I tried them out and surprisingly, they work pretty well! The material is different that regular sponges but they perform in a similar way. They don't hold as much water, but they are a lot more durable than expected. I found they work very well at cleaning dishes with soap and water.

I'm still on my first batch of free sponges and I plan to make more of them whenever I have packaging foam material around. I you have any of this material around and are looking for a free alternative to buying sponges, I recommend giving this method a try.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

2019 Monopoly Shop Play Win Game – Rare Pieces

The Monopoly Collect and Win game is back for 2019 and like previous years we will be following the game here and keeping track of the rare game pieces needed to win. Feel free to use the comments section below to post which ones you have and which ones you need.

Like last year, each prize will have at least 1 rare piece needed to win and the larger prizes will have both a rare and a semi-rare piece needed to win.

Rare Pieces List:

301AA, 302BA, 303CA, 304DA
305AB, 306BB, 307CB, 308DB
309AC, 310BC, 311CC, 312DC
313AD, 314BD, 315CD, 316DD
317AE, 318BE, 319CE, 320DE
321AF, 322BF, 323CF, 324DF
325AG, 326BG, 327CG, 328DG
329AH, 330BH, 331CH, 332DH
333AI, 334BI, 335CI*, 336DI, 337EI, 338FI
339AJ, 340BJ, 341CJ, 342DJ, 343EJ*, 344FJ
345AK, 346BK, 347CK, 348DK
349AL, 350BL, 351CL, 352DL
353AM, 354BM, 355CM, 356DM
357AN, 358BN, 359CN, 360DN
361AO, 362BO, 363CO, 364DO
365AP, 366BP, 367CP, 368DP
369AQ, 370BQ, 371CQ, 372DQ
373AR, 374BR, 375CR, 376DR
377AS, 378BS, 379CS, 380DS
381AT, 382BT, 383CT, 384DT
385AU, 386BU, 387CU, 388DU
389AV, 390BV, 391CV, 392DV
393AW, 394BW*, 395CW, 396DW, 397EW
398AX, 399BX, 400CX, 401DX*, 402EX
403AY*, 404BY, 405CY, 406DY, 407EY
408AZ*, 409BZ, 410CZ, 411DZ, 412EZ
413A$, 414B$, 415C$, 416D$*, 417E$
418A#, 419B#*, 420C#, 421D#, 422E#

Bold = Rare
* = Semi-Rare

Stores participating this year include Albertsons, Safeway, Pavilions, CARRS, VONS, Randalls, Eagle, Pak n Save, Tom Thumb, Jewel Osco, ACME Markets, Shaw's / Star Market, United Supermarkets, Market Street, Amigos, United Express, and more.

For the official rules and odds of winning, check out the official Shop Play Win website.

Comments are moderated and will appear below once they are approved.

The 2019 Monopoly game runs from February 6th – May 7th 2019. The last day to claim prizes is May 28th 2019. Good luck!

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Ripple Pea Milk Review – Chocolate Flavor. How Does It Taste?

I had seen Ripple milk in stores for a while as a new alternative to regular milk but had been putting off trying it out. I am familiar with soy milk and almond milk but I had yet to try Ripple. Today I saw them available in single serve bottles so I decided to give them a try.

I had previously watched some reviews of Ripple milk on Youtube and I remember the reviews being just ok which is why I did not rush out to buy it. But since the single serve option was only a couple bucks, I figured I would try it out.

The main thing that makes Ripple different is that is uses pea protein. The other ingredients are common such as water, sugar, and sunflower oil. As far as nutrition, a 12oz bottle has 230 calories, 12g of protein, and 25 g of sugar.

So how does it taste? Surprisingly good! I would describe the taste as something similar to a low fat chocolate milk with a little bit of a malt flavor. It is very easy to drink and does not have any weird flavors or aftertaste. Usually I am not a big fan of peas, but this does not taste at all like peas so it is ok.

Overall I was pleased with the taste and the nutrition is pretty good too. I would buy it again if I can find it on sale. It is a little more expensive compared to similar alternatives so the higher price would be the only thing holding me back from purchasing it.

I will probably try out some of the other Ripple flavors as well to see if they are as good as the chocolate. If you are looking for a new milk alternative or just a new beverage to try out, I recommend checking out Ripple milk.

Update:

I tried the original flavor Ripple milk and it is ok but not as good as the chocolate flavor. This is to be expected since it does not have as much sugar or chocolate. I would say it compares most closely to a plain soy milk and works as a good alternative if you are looking for something new to try.

Update 2: 

I decided to try out the Unsweetened Vanilla to see how it compares to the others. I was worried it would not be very good since it does not have sugar, but to my surprise, it was actually quite good! I liked it better than the original flavor which does have sugar. This one has a nice vanilla flavor and is very easy to drink. Overall I would probably buy this flavor again. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Gas Station Brings Shoplifters to Justice with Youtube Channel



I recently discovered a channel on Youtube called Gas Station Encounters which is a channel run by a gas station employee who has taken a stand against people who try to steal from his store. The gas station has very good security cameras which they monitor closely in real time so they are able to catch shoplifters who try to pocket items without paying.

Once they are caught, the employee confronts them and makes them pay. Sometimes they charge them more for trying to steal. Sometimes they just confiscate everything they stole and kick them out of the store. Often they follow them out to get their license plate number in order to help the police identify them.

The best part is, since it is all recorded by the surveillance cameras, they have the whole thing on tape. They then take the footage and create a video with it including funny play by play commentary for the whole thing. Then they upload it to Youtube for everyone to see.

The videos are very well done and the creator is quite funny and talented. Sometimes he even makes original songs about what is happening in the video. They capture a surprising about of criminals trying to steal, but they also catch a lot of other stuff that happens around the store, for example store mishaps, people illegally dumping garbage, and pretty much anything interesting that happens to get caught on tape.

As someone who likes to see justice get served, Gas Station Encounters has quickly become one of my favorite Youtube channels. In a time where it can he hard to catch shoplifters and have them actually be arrested, this channel is actively doing something about it. They catch people in the act and are not afraid to confront them about it.

Usually the owner is able to get their license plate number, but even when they get away, they are still caught on camera and they end up going on Youtube for hundreds of thousands of people to see what they have done. If you like to see criminals getting caught red handed and confronted for their actions, and you like funny videos, I highly recommend checking out Gas Station Encounters!

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Ozark Season 2 Review

I just finished up season 2 of the show Ozark and overall it was very good! It's one of those shows where anything can happen and usually it is unexpected so it keeps you on the edge of your seat. I enjoyed season 1 and I found season 2 to be just as good as the first season.

This season Marty and Wendy try to set up a new casino as a way to launder money for the cartel who they have been in trouble with since things went awry in the first season. It turns out to be a lot harder than expected and there are all kinds of issues along the way. Their goal is to ultimately get out with their family intact and hopefully start a new life but it seems like they just keep getting deeper and deeper into trouble.

In terms of the writing, I find the show to be at times a little over the top, like they are making drastic things happen to shock the audience. It can seem a little unbelievable, but it certainly makes for an entertaining show. They tend to kill off characters pretty fast which can be risky but so far it seems to be working out ok.

The characters and actors are stars of the show. Jason Bateman and Laura Linney are fantastic as Marty and Wendy, as is Julia Garner as Ruth. They all have very intense and emotional scenes and they pull them off wonderfully. The kids and supporting actors all do a good job as well.

At the end of the season the future of what the Byrde family will do is uncertain, but Ozark has been renewed for a 3rd season so we have more excitement to look forward to! Overall I highly recommend Ozark if you like shows with suspense and drama. Seasons 1 and 2 are available now on Netflix.

Monday, January 21, 2019

A Series of Unfortunate Events Season 3 Review


I just finished up the 3rd and final season of A Series of Unfortunate Events and overall it was very enjoyable! This season wraps up the final books of the series with 7 episodes. If you liked the first 2 seasons, this season is very similar in style and tone as the Baudelaire orphans continue to try to escape Count Olaf and find peace and safety.

We continue to learn more about the VFD organization and meet new characters along the way. We also see the return of many characters from the first 2 seasons. One of the most noticeable differences is baby sister Sunny who is growing up and is now a toddler. She can now speak and help out her siblings even more than before. Some of my other favorite characters besides Sunny include Esme and Carmelita.

The visual stylings are one of the best parts about this show. They create a fictional world that looks different than what we are used to seeing in most shows. In this season events take place in a snow covered mountain, an underwater submarine, a fancy hotel, and a remote island.

For wrapping up the series, I felt the end of the second to last episode really could have been the finale. It just had the right feel and would have been a good place to wrap it up. There was one more episode after it that was still pretty good but somehow felt a little out of place or unnecessary.

I was still left with some questions at the end of the finale, but overall I was satisfied with the ending. Lemony constantly warned us that this was not a story with a happy ending, but without giving too much away, I think the Baudelaire orphan's situation ended up better than expected.

Overall I highly recommend watching A Series of Unfortunate Events. It is definitely one of my favorite shows available on Netflix.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Should you use shopping cart wipes to sanitize your cart at the store?

If you have been to a grocery store recently, chances are you have noticed a stand with sanitizing wipes located at the entrance near the carts. Stores put these here so customers can use them to wipe down the shopping carts in an effort to clean them in hopes of reducing the level of germs or bacteria. It sounds like a good idea, but is it effective and is it even worth it?

Like most public things that get touched a lot by people, shopping carts can accumulate bacteria. While the sanitary wipes can help reduce the amount of bacteria present on the cart, I would argue that they are kind of pointless when you look at the big picture.

In theory the wipes clean the shopping cart so when you touch the handle, you do not pick up the germs. That would be great if the shopping cart handle was the only thing you were going to touch when you are out and about. But the fact is, you will inevitably touch a lot more things other than the shopping cart handle while you are out shopping.

For example, think about the handles on all the doors to the refrigerated and frozen sections. Are you going to wipe those down too? What about the divider at checkout and the credit card swiper? What about all the grocery items that have been touched by other people during stocking and will be touched by more people at checkout and bagging. Then there are any door handles you may have to open on your way home, and don't forget things like your keys and phone that likely have bacteria on them as well.

When you realize how many different things you are going to touch while you are out and about, it makes just cleaning one item (the cart) kind of ineffective. Yes, maybe you will slightly reduce the bacteria on one thing, but unless you are going to go around sanitizing every single thing you touch, it is not really worth it. Since it is not practical to sanitize everything, a better solution would be to just make sure you wash your hands when you get home.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Squeaky Bed – How to Stop a Box Spring From Squeaking

My bed is about 10 years old and while it is still in good condition, I noticed it had begun to make a squeaking noise when getting in and out or even when just shifting positions. Squeaky noises tend to bother me so I decided to see what could be done to fix the problem.

At first I thought it was the metal frame on the bottom so I took everything off including the mattress and box spring. I took some oil and applied it to all the moving parts like the hinges and the wheels. Then I put it all back together. Unfortunately it was still squeaking even after oiling the frame.

I decided to try to narrow down where the squeak was coming from. I noticed the mattress was not making any noise but the box spring did make some squeaking noise when I was moving it around and putting pressure on it. There are a lot of metal pieces inside the box spring so I figured this is probably where the noise is coming from.

The problem with the box spring though, at least for mine, was that it was sealed on all sides. The bottom has a material over it that is stapled on. I figured it was still worth trying to fix so I ended up pulling the material away from the staples to open it up so the inside could be reached. Note: be careful when working around the staples because they can be sharp.

Once open, I noticed some of the wood planks were not connected together as well as they should have been. Staples were used to connect the wood and some of them were coming out. So I took a hammer and hammered them back into place so they were secure.

Then I took the oil and went around applying it to any place where the metal would be rubbing against other metal. There were quite a few places like this so it took a little while to get all of it. Once everything had been oiled, I put the fabric back in place. I tried re-stapling it, but the staples would not go in very well so I ended up just taping it back in place.

Next I put everything back in place and tested it out. Thankfully the squeaking noise was gone! There was still a little noise that could be heard from the inner workings of the box spring, but overall it was much better and no longer had the annoying squeaking.

If you have been experiencing a similar issue with your bed, I recommend trying the same solution by oiling the frame and box spring. It takes a little work but it is a lot cheaper than buying a whole new bed!

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Websites Publishing People's Personal Information – Lack of Privacy with Modern Technology

If you have Googled yourself recently, you my have been surprised how much of your personal information is online without your consent. While we have control over what we put on the internet such as pictures, videos, and our personal opinions, we do not have control over everything that is out there including public records.

There are many websites these days that specialize in gathering all your public information and publishing it online. This included things such as your current address, previous address, family members, age, phone number, email address, car you drive, and more. Even if you are careful about not putting your personal information out there, it can still be found and published on these sites.

If you find your information on one of these sites and you don't want it on there, sometimes they have an option to opt-out or submit a request to have it removed. However, this is usually not very easy and requires some effort to find. Often the websites will tease an option to have it removed and then bring you to a payment page where they say you have to pay them to have your information removed from their website. This tactic seems like blackmail, trying to get money from people who never wanted their privacy compromised in the first place.

These website say they get their information from public records that are available to everyone. This may be the case, but these website are digging up people's personal information and making it even more easily available online for their own profit. I believe there needs to be more regulations put in place to protect people against this sort of thing.

It can be a matter of personal safety. For example if someone knows your name and they have a general idea of where you are from, it is pretty easy for them to do a quick search and find exactly where you live. They can find out more of your personal information such as who is related to you and where they live.

As of now there does not seem to be much attention being given to this subject of privacy. In the age we are living in now with technology, there are certainly a lot of benefits, but we are also sacrificing our privacy as a result. The simple act of owning a smart phone means giving up a lot of privacy. By carrying around a phone pretty much everything is documented from where you are, to who you contact, to what you look up.

Some say in these times, we can no longer expect privacy and we just have to embrace it and put ourselves out there. Personally I still think privacy is important and we have to make sure it does not get compromised.

I recommend doing a search on yourself by name and location to see which websites are publishing your personal information. If you care about privacy, you may want to contact some of the websites that pop up and request that your personal information be removed.