Wednesday, June 15, 2022

State Farm Review - Some gripes on this insurance company

I have had State Farm insurance for my car as well as my home for several years. Overall it has been ok and I think the costs have been reasonable which is why I have stayed with them, but I do have some issues with them as well.  

One thing that bothers me is they change my policy limits without permission. Every time they send the renewal, they bump up the coverage limits. I have asked them about this in the past and they said they do it automatically from what I remember, to cover things like inflation. That is fine, but it should be an option, not automatic. I don't want my coverage changed so every year they change it and every year I have to tell them to put it back how it was. 

Coverage information is hard to find. I just looked all over the website and it seems there is no way to see the actual coverage details. They tell you your coverage amounts, but it seems if you want to know the details or declarations of what is actually covered you have to request that they send it to you by mail. I have a copy of this from when they first sent it, but I would like to be able to see it online or at least be able to download a digital copy. This should not be that hard. 

Also when viewing your coverage on the website, some of the basic information is missing for descriptions of things like “Loss Assessment”, “Damage of Property to Others”, “Medical Payments to Others”. When you click on them to learn more about what it means, it just says “Sorry a description has not been created for that.” These are just the basic items and there are not that many of them. Someone needs to get on this.

Lastly, and this is just nitpicking, but every year they send me a bunch of address stickers with my name and address on them. It was ok the first time, but they keep sending them. I don't need hundreds of stickers with my name and address on them. It's a nice gesture, but there should be an opt out for something like this as well.

I know some of these may be minor issues, but they are things that could be easily fixed and would greatly improve the customer experience. Hopefully they can address some of these issues soon.

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Kasa EC60 Camera Review - Testing the popular security camera by TP-Link

Recently I decided to look into getting an indoor security camera for my home. I wanted something that would be able to detect motion, have recording ability, and connect to wifi to view the live stream from your phone. I also wanted something simple and affordable. After doing a good amount of research I decided to get the Kasa EC60 Spot camera by TP-Link.

There is plenty of information out there about the specs so I will focus this review on my experience with the camera.

Set Up:
For set up, you first download the Kasa Smart app which allows you to connect the camera with your phone and access all the features. Then you plug in the camera and follow all the steps in the app such as making an account and connecting it to your wifi.

I noticed when plugging in the power adapter to the camera it did sound kind of “crunchy” which was not very assuring, but the camera powered up just fine. It did make some clicking noises while setting up which appear to be normal as I noticed it does this when switching to IR night vision mode. The setup process was ok and after a few minutes it was up and running.

Camera:
The camera quality is acceptable. It's 1080p HD and has the option to go with a lower resolution if you want to use less storage space and have faster transfer of data. When you first view the camera in the app the screen is small, but you can maximize it to full screen. I think it would be better if it just defaulted to the full screen right away as it is pretty small on the first screen.

You are able to view the live feed from your phone which is great for checking in on what is going on when you are away. It also has the option to record if you add a micro SD card. I purchased a 32gb micro SD card to use with it, but so far I have not felt the need to install it.

Features:
The app lets you take screen caps of the feed if you give it access to your pictures on your phone. It can also record audio and has a speaker you can use to talk through it if you give the app access to your microphone. I'm pretty cautious with security so I did not use any of these features but they are there if you want it.

One thing I like is it has the option to easily turn the camera on or off using your phone. I did notice however that the camera stays warm even when it is turned off which I found to be odd. I did some research and I don't think it records or live streams when it is off but it's hard to be 100% trusting of things like this so I would recommend covering the lens physically or facing it away when you don't want it recording just to be on the safe side.

The motion detection seems to work pretty good and you can have it send a notification to your phone when it detects movement which is a good security feature.

The infrared night vision also works very well. I turned off all the lights and tested it out and you can see everything pretty clearly. It's pretty amazing how it can do that.

There are plenty of other settings to play around with so you can really customize it to fit your needs.

Conclusion:
Overall I am satisfied with the camera and think it is a pretty good deal for $25. If you are looking for an affordable security camera that can record, stream, and detect motion, I would recommend the Kasa EC60 cam.

Sunday, June 5, 2022

Menards Rebate Experience - Claiming the 11% Rebate

Menards is known for their 11% off promotion where you can get 11% off your purchase in the form of a rebate. It seems like a good promotion at first, but it can be a bit deceptive and definitely takes some work to actually claim it. Here is my experience with this rebate promotion.

I usually don't make huge purchases at Menards, but I did save up a few receipts over the past few months so I figured I would try claiming the rebate. My receipts only totaled to about $5 credit but it is better than nothing so why not send it in.

On the receipts it does say you have to mail it in by a certain date. I had some that were older than the date mentioned but I decided to send them all in just in case.

To get the rebate form you have to go to the Menards website and enter in your information and then print out the form. Then you have to mail the form and your rebate receipts to the address they provide. It's not too hard but it does take some time and work, not to mention the cost of the envelope and postage.

So I mailed it in and then waited. After a few weeks I got the rebate in the mail. It looks like a postcard folded, and inside is has your rebate amount with a barcode. The credit can be used for purchases in store so it is not like a check that can be cashed. I was able to use the credit on my next purchase at Menards by handing it to the cashier at checkout.

Overall the experience was ok, but I still think the promotion is misleading. For example when they are running the 11% off promotion all the prices are shown as if you are getting 11% off. This is false. You are still paying the full price. If you save your rebates and mail them in, you can get a store credit on your next purchase. Overall I still like the store, but I think they should be more straightforward about this promotion.

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Pet Peeve - Chirping Smoke Detectors. Change the battery!

Most people are probably familiar with the annoyance of a smoke detector that is low on battery. The constant chirp every 30-45 seconds telling you it is time to change the battery. While it is annoying, I get that it serves a good purpose so we can give it a pass.

The problem is when people ignore it and just let it continue to chirp for days on end. As someone who lives in a building with many neighboring units, I hear this chirp often. Luckily it is usually only noticeable when you are nearby, but if you live next door or above or below, chances are you will be able to hear it from your own unit. 

I don't understand how people put up with that when their smoke detector is chirping for days. Just change the battery, or at least take the battery out until you can replace it so it stops beeping. Sometimes this may occur in a vacant unit which is just as annoying because there is no one even there to change the battery. 

I'm trying to think if there is any other better or less annoying way a smoke detector could notify you that it is low on battery. They could probably go with visual cue like a light, but it might not be noticed, so the chirp is still probably the best option. Looks like it is here to stay, so please if your smoke detector is chirping, change the battery or replace it asap!

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Suave Purify Body Wash Review

I recently went looking for a new body wash and since prices have been going up at most stores, I wanted to find one at Dollar Tree. I had been using the Arm and Hammer Ultra Max for a while but I was disappointed in my latest bottle which seemed like they changed the formula. 

At Dollar Tree I examined several different options. I noticed most of them were very watery which is something I was trying to avoid. I tested out scents of several that caught my attention, one of which was the Suave Purify body wash. 

I have had good luck with Suave products in the past and this one smelled pretty good so I figured it was worth a try. It is a 12oz bottle which is on the smaller side compared to most of the other options in the store, but the consistency is thicker so it is not watered down like a lot of the others.

At home I tried it and was very pleased with the scent. I would describe it as a bold masculine scent similar to what you might find in a fragrance spray. I also noticed the scent on skin seems to last into the day as opposed to getting washed of right away. 

As mentioned, it has a good consistency that feel good on skin and leaves you feeling clean. At $1.25 for the bottle, I would say it is a great value as it seems like the quality is in par with other body washes that are more expensive. Overall I am pleased with the product and would definitely recommend it.

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Making a Wallet out of a Bag of Cookies

Recently I discovered some really good cookies. They are the Favorite Day Butter Shortbread cookies available at Target. The cookies themselves are delicious but this article is actually about the bag. The cookies come in a sealed pouch and then they have the external bag which has foldable seal tabs at the top.

Every time I finished a bag of these cookies and then went to throw away the bag, I kept thinking it was too nice of a bag to toss out. It just seemed like the kind of bag that would actually be sold as is, even without the cookies. It is pretty durable and reusable since it never even comes in contact with the actual cookies.

So it can definitely be used as a bag, but I decided to get a little creative with it. I noticed it folded up nicely like a tri-fold wallet. So I thought maybe it could be turned into a wallet. I noticed if you just cut one of the sides of the bag, it pretty much becomes the same shape as a wallet. Then you just need to tape some of the flaps down with clear tape.

You can even cut a slit in the bottom portion of the bag to create a slot for credit cards. After applying the tape, it actually turned out pretty good. It has plenty of space for cash and also holds the cards as well. I like that it even has the foldable tabs to keep it closed. It is also pretty low profile which is nice because many tri-fold wallets tend to be a little bulky.

Now I don't know how long it would last with regular use since it is made of a bag after all, but it does seem fairly durable and it would last well beyond the next bag of cookies that's for sure! If you happen to purchase these cookies, now can make your own wallet or at least have a nice reusable bag! 

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Aldi Favorite Foods - Recommended Items from Aldi

With grocery prices rising on pretty much everything, I have recently started doing most of my shopping at Aldi since they tend to have the best prices. With this switch, I have been trying out a lot of their different items, most of which have been good, some have been ok, and some not so great. From this experience, I decided to make a list of my favorite Aldi items I have found so far.

1. Casa Mamita Bean and Cheese Burritos

 
If you are looking for a great deal to get a lot of food for your money, this is it. These frozen burritos come in an 8 pack and are only about $3! In most other stores a single wrapped burrito sells for about the same price. Now there is nothing fancy about them, in fact the flavor is pretty mild and the filling seems like mostly beans, but they are perfectly satisfactory for a good meal. Only downside is since they are all packaged together, it can be hard to get them apart sometimes when they are frozen.

2. Simply Nature Apple Banana Squeezable Fruit Blend Pouches

For a convenient serving of fruit, these squeezable packets are unbeatable. They come in a 4 pack for about $1.50 which is a lot less than I have seen for any other similar product at any store. They are very delicious and easy to take on the go. I have also tried the apple strawberry flavor, but this one is my favorite. My only complaint is that at only 3.2 oz, they are gone before you know it and leave you wanting more!

3. Breakfast Best French Toast Sticks Original

I have been a fan of french toast sticks for a while so I had to try out the Aldi brand when I saw they had them. I get the original flavor since they are already sweet and don't need extra cinnamon and sugar. These come in a 16oz box for about $2.65 which is a pretty good deal compared to other options out there. They are easy to make in the microwave and the taste is very good. They make a nice snack any time of the day.

4. Bremer Chicken Melts


I tried these out not really knowing what to expect, but overall I was pleasantly surprised with how good they are. They come as 6 individually wrapped flat bread pockets with cheese and a chicken patty for about $5. I found the chicken to be very juicy and flavorful. These are also easy to make in the microwave as well. The bread can get a little hard sometimes but overall these make a great little meal that is tasty and convenient.

5. Elevation Meal Replacement Chocolate Shake


I had been looking for a nutrition shake to try out from Aldi so I decided to try out their Elevation meal replacement shakes. They come in a 6 pack for about $6 which is ok. The price actually went up from $5 when I first tried them out. They are 11 oz each and give you a good blend of nutrition in an easy to drink shake. Overall the taste is good and I would recommend them if you are looking for a nutrition drink like this.

Have you tried any of these items or do you have any other favorite foods from Aldi? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

Saturday, March 19, 2022

Sometimes a Little Persistence Can Pay Off

Recently I had been looking for a new job and happened to find one that looked like it would be a great fit. So I filled out the application and waited for a call back. After a couple weeks I had not heard anything yet but I saw that their ad for the job was still posted.

I decided to go to their company website and see if there was any contact information. I found their contact and decided to send them an email to let them know I was very interested in the position and would be happy to answer any questions they might have.

I figured I would get a response saying that they receive a lot of applications and that I would be contacted if they were interested in setting up an interview. None the less, I figured it was worth a shot.

Then within about 30 minutes I get a call. I answer it and it is the guy in charge of the department that I was applying for. He said they were still looking for someone and that I could come over and meet with him to learn about the job. So I was able to set up a meeting right then and there.

The next day I met with him at the facility and he showed me everything about the job. They had only one other person interested in the position so I had a good chance to get it. Unfortunately the job turned out to be very different from what I was expecting. The job listing was not very accurate and it turns out they wanted someone to do a lot of other work that I was not interested in, so in the end I decided to turn it down.

Even though it did not work out, it was still a good lesson in how a little persistence can pay off. Had I not taken that little extra effort to follow up with them, I probably never would have even heard back from them. Because I took the initiative to contact them, I ended up with the opportunity to get the job.

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Unclogging a Bathroom Sink Drain - How To

Recently I noticed my bathroom sink was not draining well, as water started to back up into the sink while it was running. I decided to research solutions on how to fix it without having to call a plumber. There are many suggestions out there on ways to fix it. Using this information, I was able to clear the drain, so I thought I would share the experience here to help others who may have the same issue.

First I took an unfolded wire hanger and fished it down the drain to see if I could knock anything loose. It did get a lot of gunk on it so I could tell there was probably some build up around that area of the pipes.

Next, I looked underneath and found the drain pipe. It has a curved section known as a “p-trap” and this part can unscrew to take it off. I decided to try this to see if there clog was in this section.

First I put a bucket underneath and then started unscrewing the p-trap. It was a little hard to do, but I managed to unscrew it. As it came off, some water came out as expected, as well as a lot of gunk. Sure enough this is where there was a clog. Years of toothpaste and soap residue can really build up over time inside the pipes. It does smell pretty bad so be prepared for that.

I started cleaning out the pipe with the wire hanger and some paper towels. I cleaned the section attached to the sink as well as the pipe attached to the wall. I also cleaned out the p-trap pipe. Overall it was not too hard, just messy, so you will probably want to have rubber gloves and plenty of paper towels or rags.

I also ran the water a bit to clear out any loose material while the pipe was off so it would just go into the bucket instead of into the drain again.

Once clear, I put it back together and tested it out. The drain worked perfectly and the clog was clear! I think this is a project most people can do so if your bathroom sink is clogged, I recommend trying this method to clear it before calling for a plumber.

Monday, February 14, 2022

People Asking For Money at Gas Station - Scam Alert

Today I was at a gas station filling up my car when I hear the person on the other side of the pump asking a guy for a couple dollars for gas. The guy was reluctantly starting to help him and was going to use his credit card. In the middle of the transaction he must have changed his mind because then I heard the first guy say, “It's ok, I'll ask someone else.”

Me being the next closest person, I was thinking oh great, I'm next. Sure enough the guy comes over and asks for a couple dollars. He gives a story about how his card got declined and he was from out of town. He even said he would pay me back, which is ridiculous. I'm not sure why he even said that.

I was in the mood to help someone out and I figured if he is at the point where he is begging for a couple dollars at a gas station, he must be in pretty bad shape. So I gave him a few dollars. He went inside the store and I finished pumping the gas for my car.

I got in the car and stayed there for a few minutes just trying to process the situation and keep an eye on their car. A minute later they drive off and did not even fuel up the car! So at that moment, I figured I just got scammed. He probably just went in to buy something else or just faked it and drove off to run the same scam again.

My takeaway from this is that I probably will not be giving out money like this again because it is most likely a scam. It's unfortunate it happened, but for learning a lesson that only costed a few bucks, it's not that bad.

I wanted to share this story to let other people out there know about this potential scam so it does not happen to you.

Thursday, February 3, 2022

Online Reviews Cannot Be Trusted

One of the great things about the internet is the ability for people to connect with others and share their opinions. You can learn what other people think and you can share what you think about pretty much anything from products to businesses to politics.

While this is a great resource, it can also be very harmful when people post false or inaccurate information. When you read reviews online, you assume true and you hope they can be trusted, but unfortunately this is not the case.

This applies to both good reviews and bad reviews. For example a product may have a lot of good reviews, but it is possible the reviews are fake and have been written just to make a product look good. On the other hand, someone might have a bad experience that has nothing to do with the quality of a product and they leave a bad review for it which makes the product look bad for no reason.

The same goes for businesses, someone may have been upset about something and then they take it out on a business. You never know if what they are saying is true or if they are just trying to make a company look bad. I have seen examples of this first hand where people have written things about a business that are not true, just to try to make it look bad.

So what is the solution? Often review sites such as Google and Yelp will have a way to report a review if there is an issue. The problem is, there is no guarantee anything will be done about it. For example I have reported reviews from time to time for various reasons such as spam or false information and the reviews did not get removed.

This is a problem because when people post reviews that have false information, it can be damaging to a brand or company. When people read these reviews, they assume they are true and this affects their view of what they are reading about.

Review sites need to be more strict about content that is being posted. I know they probably can't moderate every review manually, but there should at least be a better way to report bad information so it can be removed.

We like to think that we can trust the reviews we read online, but unfortunately many of them cannot be trusted, so everyone has to keep this in mind whenever they are reading a review about anything. It may not be as good as the reviews make it out to be, and it may not be as bad as the reviews make it out to be either.

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Favorite Movies of All Time

Over the years I have seen a good amount of movies and so I decided to make a list of all my favorites. Then I reviewed the list and narrowed it down to my top 5 movies off all time. These are movies you can watch over and over and they are always good and hold up over time. Of course everyone's opinions are different but if I had to recommend the best movies to watch it would be these here:

1. Little Miss Sunshine
This is a movie about a dysfunctional family trying to drive across the country so that the young daughter can compete in a beauty pageant. The acting is great, as is the relationship between the characters. It's one of those movies that has a good mix of heart felt drama mixed with unexpected comedy. It's a feel good movie that I think everyone will enjoy!


2. Point Break (1991)
This one is about a couple law enforcement agents trying to track down a group of serial bank robbers who they believe to be part of a local surf gang. The main character goes undercover as a surfer and tries to infiltrate their group. The movie has a lot of action and suspense as they try to catch these guys who have gotten away with so many robberies. 


3. Back To The Future (1,2 and 3)
I would guess most people know of this movie series and have probably seen it, but if you haven't seen it, what are you waiting for? You have some amazing movies to see! For those who haven't seen it, its a time travel movie where a guy goes to different times and his actions may have a big effect on what happens in the present day timeline. It's a classic for good reason. 


4. Leon The Professional
This one does have some controversy due to some of the themes in the movie especially in the extended cut, but regardless, I would consider it one of the best movies. It is about a hitman who reluctantly takes in a young girl after she loses her family. The girl wants to work with him and train to be like him so she can get revenge on those who killed her brother. Its an exciting film with a lot of action and some very memorable acting. 



5. Dumb and Dumber
Rounding out the list is my favorite comedy of all time Dumb and Dumber. Its a funny movie that still holds up after all these years. You can watch it many times and keep finding new jokes you might have missed the first time. The premise is a couple of guys who are trying to return an important briefcase to a woman who left it at an airport. The movie follows everything that happens along the way as they try to return the case. 


Hopefully you will enjoy these movies as much as I have. Feel free to comment below about these movies or others that may be on your list.