One Diver’s Perspective.

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Mixing Baby Formula


First of all, let me start by saying that breastfeeding is the best way to feed your baby.  It allows the father to sleep more and also allows the father to avoid cleaning bottles, which is a huge pain.  But for those without milk-filled breasts, a decision must be made — do you buy ready to drink formula or do you buy a powder formula (or, liquid concentrate that requires addition of water, but not the hassle of powders).

For one reason or another, I wound up choosing my formula based on the ingredient list and, unfortunately, the brand did not come in a ready to feed version, so I was required to do the mixing.  If you are new to this stuff, read the directions on the can, but generally you add 1 scoop of powder to 2 ounces of water.  And if you are anal, you use kitchen scale to make sure you are giving the right amount of powder because a “scoop” can vary pretty widely depending upon how compact the formula is when you scoop it.

Now, the “problem” with powdered formula is that it doesn’t dissolve all that easily, and usually requires a bit of shaking. Shaking introduces air to the formula and air can lead to gaseous babies, which can lead to discomfort, spitting up, etc. Also, if you want to shake up enough formula for the day, for some reason, it is particularly difficult when making 16 ounces of formula, to get all of the powder to dissolve.  It takes a lot of shaking.

So, here is what I do:

1) Take a wide mouthed quart sized mason jar and add 16 ounces of purified water.  Feel free to boil it if you like. Home filters don’t necessarily get the potential pathogens out. However, I use tap water that has been run through a “zerowater” pitcher filter.  I suggest measuring using a measuring cup rather than the markings on your jar, just to make sure the markings are accurate.

2) Put the jar on a kitchen scale and zero out the weight so it reads “zero”

3) Add the formula until it reads the appropriate number of grams (the can will tell you what a “scoop” weighs, like any other serving size listed on the label).

4) Take your immersion stick blender and stick it in the jar. Blend until smooth.

That’s the trick.  The stick blender is PERFECT for mixing up a smooth batch of formula.  There are no bubbles and the formula is perfectly blended.  Takes under 10 seconds of blending.  

Then you can just pour the formula into the bottles as needed. Refrigerate and you can use it over the next 24 hours.  The formula doesn’t even appear to need shaking any more as there is nothing that settles on the bottom.

You can rinse the blender under running water and stick it in another jar with some soapy water if you want to give it a good cleaning. And of course, you should give it a good cleaning since you don’t want bacteria to grow on your blender and then be introduced to your formula.

 

September 5, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Daily Green Smoothies


I have to say that I am very impressed with Colleen and myself.  We have been drinking a green smoothie just about every day for over a month now.  We have eaten more Kale than would otherwise be possible, and have eaten an enormous amount of other produce.  Where we used to throw out a lot of food, now we are actually consuming a lot of produce.

Cherry tomatoes left over from a recipe? No problem, I throw them in the blender with my fruits and greens and drink them.

Left over cauliflower that we aren’t going to get around to cooking or eating raw? No problem, throw in four florets and blend them with m y fruits and greens and drink them up.

Unfortunately, we still can’t get our two-and-one-half year old to drink with us, but he is a very very picky eater and drinker. In fact, he drinks nothing besides water, milk and chocolate milk, so it isn’t terribly surprising that he won’t drink the green smoothies, though he did take two sips once at the very beginning.

I have read a lot of claims being made about the benefits of eating/drinking right, and I have to say that the most annoying aspect of reading what people have to say about smoothies are the never-ending barrage of pitches for this blender or that blander.  I saw my first vitamix at bed bath and beyond yesterday and thought, “HOLY CHRIST! THAT THING IS HUGE!”  I know they make a smaller version, but they didn’t have one on display.  It didn’t even look like a home appliance.  Lots of people complain that it doesn’t fit under their counter, but I am surprised people don’t complain about being unable to reach the damned thing as I felt like I was in “honey I shrunk the kids” when looking at it.

Okay, that’s an exaggeration.  But I am glad I didn’t order it sight unseen and am very glad I went with the BlendTech just because it fits better in the kitchen and because I am certain it cleans up easier and safer.  Still, if you are looking for industrial blenders, and you don’t mind the size or fact that the vitamix uses a sharp blade (or prefer sharp blades for some reason), the you won’t be disappointed buying a Vitamix.  It REALLY looks like you get what you paid for, whereas buying the BlendTech looks like a normal blender and maybe like you overpaid for it.

Looks aren’t everything, of course.  And I am just giving my random thoughts, having never used the Vitamix.

Back to my smoothies — after drinking a green smoothie daily, I can say that I don’t feel any different, or at least, I don’t feel different enough to notice anything.  I am glad to be getting so many fruits and veggies first thing in the morning. I am happy to be adding oatmeal to my smoothies and hopefully lowering my cholesterol as a result.  But, I don’t “feel” like I have more energy. I don’t “feel” any healthier.  That is disappointing, but not surprising, since I rarely feel any different when I eat poorly, have never noticed a caffeine buzz or sugar high, or sugar crash that I am aware of.   The fiber does help things move along though.

I don’t see myself stopping the smoothie train though.  I know that just because I don’t feel any different is no reason to think I am not doing great things for my body. Plus, they taste yummy (almost always) and I never tire of watching everything blend up!

July 1, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

My Blendtec Blender


So, I have been spending a bit of time trying to decide whether to buy a juicer (Super Angel 5500 vs. Omega 8004 or 8006) or a blender.  Sure, they do very different things, and I will probably wind up with both at the end of the day … but as of today I have pulled the trigger on a Blendtec blender (available at Costco.com for a pretty good price, with two jars for a “limited time”) and then I went ahead (before taking delivery) and ordered the “Twister” jar, which is supposed to be great for making nut butters (on sale at Blendtec.com if you use the promotion code, in all caps, TWISTER) to save $30.

I should be receiving both this week. My wife will probably kill me when she sees that this damned thing comes with 3 “jars” — what the hell do I need 3 freaking jars for!?  I can hear it now.

The truth is, I have no idea. I just felt like buying something to make healthy food and a blender seemed like it was easier to use than a masticating juicer, both in terms of use and cleanup.  There are downsides, of course. And for me, one downside is going to be the noise. I hate loud appliances, and will probably spend another $100 on a noise shield if I use the “wildside” or “fourside” jars a lot (the Twister jar requires access to the top so you can “twist” the lid while blending, so it won’t work with a noise shield). 

I may use one jar for grinding grains… I really like the idea of buying brown rice, turning it into flour and then making pancakes with it.  I also like the idea of making some baby foods as well as green smoothies and strawberry banana sorbets.  The practice may be completely different. We shall see. 

I chose Blendtec over Vitamix, for several reasons, some of which may not be valid.

First, to my ear listening to them on You-Tube, the Vitamix sounded louder. Reviews say otherwise. Maybe it is pitch instead of volume, but to my ear the Vitamix sounded louder.  Indeed, I looked into buying “The Quiet One” which is the Vitamix brand in use at Starbucks.  But I am pretty sure I need a special electrical outlet to use the commercial product, plus the warranty is not as good for consumer use, so I didn’t want to spend so much more on a blender with a less favorable warranty, even if it would be very quiet (in comparison).

Second, if I don’t need a sharp blade at the bottom of my blender, I prefer not to have one. If I ever cut myself by doing something stupid while cleaning out peanut butter, I would be kicking myself to no end, saying “why didn’t I get the Blendtec with its dull blade!”

Third, even though the presets may not be all that great, I like the idea of a “smoothie” button, a “sauce” button and a “soup button”.  I understand some vitamix models have the presets as well, but they were not being sold by Costco.com, and quite honestly, I am not spending this much on a blender without having complete comfort that I can return it whenever I want.  If I don’t like the thing, or find that I don’t use it, it is going back to Costco.   I’ll wind up with a “twister jar” that I spent $100, which I will sell on E-bay if necessary. 

I don’t care so much which product works “better” than the other, or which product is “better for me” — at least I don’t care enough to buy both even with Costco’s generous return policy. The Blendtec was less expensive, looks better and seems more idiot proof. Plus, i have some old Apple products that I may want to blend.  (That’s a joke).

I have not been diving in a long time … and so maybe, just maybe,  this blog will change direction….again.

May 6, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | | 1 Comment

SCIDS (Severe Combined Immune Deficiency Syndrome – bubble boy syndrome)


We are new parents as of a few weeks ago. A few weeks before that, New York State began screening newborns for a very rare and very serious condition known as SCIDS, a condition which if left untreated leads to the death of most people within the first year of life, but if treated in the first few months, can be cured and lead to survival rate of 95% though bone marrow or cord blood treatment.

We knew nothing about this before Tuesday afternoon. On Monday afternoon, we visited the pediatrician and were told he wanted to see if our baby could gain more weight by Wednesday, so we went home with a mission. Wake, change, feed, wake and supplement. Growing a baby is tiring. So on Tuesday, we napped for 90 minutes, and woke up to find a message on the machine… “Hello, this is Lauren from your pediatrician’s office, the doctor has been trying to reach you for over two hours, please call.”

Now this was odd, since we saw the doctor the previous day and were going see the doctor the following morning. When I returned the call at 4:13, the office told me again that they were trying to reach for over two hours, and I asked what the problem was. They told me that one of our son’s tests came back positive, and because they could not reach us they made an appointment for us to see a specialist the following day at 2pm. She gave me the new doctor’s contact information and address, so I called her and wound up in voicemail. I looked her up to see she specialized in allergies and immunology.

I also looked at the phone log and saw that the pediatrician’s office had called at 3:12, 3:17, 3:21, 3:26, 3:42, 3:51, 3:58, and the message was left at 4:05. WOW! I do not believe I ever tried to reach anybody so desperately. What was so important?

I called my pediatrician’s office back and told them it has been 30 minutes but I did not get a return call from the specialist, so I wanted go confirm we had the appointment even if I did not hear back. She said yes, and I asked what this was all about. She told me that our boy’s test results came back positive for Severe Combined Immune Deficiency, or SCIDS. She also told us that our pediatrician was not in today but that he would be told first thing in the morning before we were to see him for our 9:30 appointment with him.

After hanging up, I hit Google and learned enough to know we were in a lot of trouble. I read that SCIDS was considered a pediatric emergency and this was consistent with being called 8 times and having an appointment scheduled for us all in the course of an hour.

It turns out that our baby does not have SCIDS. New York recently (less then two months ago) started screening for SCIDS, and this simply means that babies would be tested for certain traits and if they tested positively they would need follow up testing. In other words, there are going to be a lot of false positive test results. Our baby does have a very low T-cell count and therefore has a very compromised immune system that requires monitoring but which may also fix itself over the coming weeks. However, he has more T-cells than a SCIDS baby would have, so we are not facing the worst immune deficiency disorder and he may very well out grow this over time.

Needless to say, we are quite relieved and quite annoyed. Our pediatrician’s office really messed up badly. The news should not have been conveyed by a non doctor and the doctor should have known about the test results when we arrived the following day. He did not. And he let us go to the hospital to have the sonogram done where we sat in a waiting room for over an hour. I should have known better and canceled the sonogram so we were not around potentially contagious people. He should have taken this more seriously then he did. And his staff should not have panicked us by telling us he had a condition he did not. When we went to the immunologist, before we had our insurance card copied, a nurse swept in and took us to a private room so we would not be around sick people. My pediatrician took no such precaution either because he was thoughtless or because he was never told about the screening result. Either way, not cool.

We will know more when he is retested and when other test results come back over the next couple of weeks. In the interim, we will be looking for a new pediatrician. Hopefully, other new parents will be spared this anxiety. And hopefully other pediatricians will not make the same mistake and implement more appropriate communication procedures.

This is one diver’s perspective.

December 3, 2010 Posted by | Life | , | Leave a comment

Apple (AAPL) Stock, Worthless?


Apple stock is more worthless than the stock of nearly every other company. This is not a criticism of the company, or its products, but of the stock market in general.

Unlike many stocks, Apple does not pay its shareholders a dividend. Therefore, its shareholders receive nothing by virtue of owning the company and must rely on the possibility of there being another person who is willing to pay more for the stock than the shareholders did, in order to realize any benefit from ownership.

Now, it is true, as a shareholder one has the right to vote, but such a right is hardly worth the cost of ownership, and offers no tangible benefit. Theoretically, any non-dividend paying stock offers the same drawbacks, but Apple is somewhat unique. With virtually every other company, there remains the possibility that another company or investor will take the accompany “private” or otherwise acquire it, and pay the shareholders for their ownership interests. However, Apple is a large company, representing 20% of the NASDAQ 100, in addition to which it has tens of billions of dollars in cash, making it an impossible takeover candidate at today’s prices.

Which brings me back to my original thesis, that the stock is worth nothing except what someone else might be willing pay for it. If the stock paid a dividend, it would be worth the present value of all future dividend payments, regardless of whether anybody was willing to purchase the stock from its current shareholders.

I have realized tens of thousands of dollars in gains, buying and selling Apple stock, and I expect others have done even better. But, the more I think about it, the more I realize it is a foolish company to invest in. All the more so because so much of the company’s perceived fortunes (and therefore, its stock price) is dependent upon the health and wellbeing of Steve Jobs, who, despite what some may think, is a mortal man, subject to certainty of death, which will nearly certainly cause the stock price to plummet, at least temporarily.

I for one wold prefer to own a solid company paying a solid dividend, and hope that it will be taken over one day, with a premium paid to existing shareholders. That is just not something that is remotely possible with Apple, precisely because it has become so successful and so large. One day like Microsoft did, perhaps it will declare a dividend. Until that time, I will strongly consider selling my position, or reducing it substantially.

July 21, 2010 Posted by | Life | , | 2 Comments

Safe Internet Porn, brought to you by the iPad


Last night I had the brilliant idea of capturing the domain names, iPorn and iPadPorn, in the hopes that some sleazy publisher would have to beg me to buy my clever domain name for an outrageous sum of money (thinking of the sex.com website auction).

This morning, I found that both names were taken. And I also was surprised to see just how clearly and beautiful the video rendered. I was equally surprised to see that pinching and zooming actually works on the video, making it like one is directing the film.

Apple has come down hard on Flash, associating it with Porn, and Mr. Jobs has said his device was porn free.  The truth is, Apple has created a locked down device that ensures that visiting poronographic sites will be safe.  No threat of viruses, no downloaded malware.  Just pure, unadulterated porn.  The iPad is, in essence, the ideal tool for viewing pornography.

Parents, beware. The device is a tool, and not simply the tool of angels and fairies. It can be used to view anything and everything, for better or for worse.

June 23, 2010 Posted by | Apple, iPad | 4 Comments

Wall Street Journal, iPad Edition


I was surprised to learn that the iPad edition of the Wall Street Journal, a paid subscription based product, is missing at least two critical items.  One feature, and one section. Both missing items are quite ironic given the nature of the product.

The missing feature is a “search” function.  One should be able to search the entire paper for a word or phrase.  In the paper version, you have a “Names in the News” and “Companies in the News” section so you can find where items of interest appear in the paper. However, on the electronic version, you are required to read through the entire paper to find if your company or person is in the paper.  Why on earth would an electronic paper not include an option to search?

Perhaps they want to make sure you hit the advertisements. But if that were the case, then they should link the advertising pop-up to the search feature. It would be annoying, but at least I could search and they can ensure the ads are viewed.

The other missing item is the Technology Section of the paper. One would think that for the iPad, the paper would include the technology section.  Perhaps a decision was made to force techno-inclined readers to buy the paper version if they wanted to read about technology.  Frankly, I think both decisions were very poorly thought out.

I have received two telemarketing calls since I have subscribed to the iPad edition of the WSJ – and both callers sought to sell me the paper version of the WSJ. Neither would take no for an answer, and neither seemed to think I should be satisfied with the electronic version.  One went so far as to say I could donate my paper.  I had to hang up on the second telemarketer because I simply did not wan to repeat the bizarre conversation.

I did not see a search feature in the Financial Times either. Nor the USA Today, nor the New York Times.  Am I missing it, or is it something that no newspaper wants to provide? It cannot be that it is overly difficult to provide this expected and very basic functionality…. can it?

June 21, 2010 Posted by | Apple, iPad | 1 Comment

iPad, Apple, AT&T and a New Twist on the Bait and Switch


The classic “bait and switch” occurs when one company advertises a product at one price, and when the consumer goes to the store to purchase it, the store claims that they are out of the advertised product, but are selling a “similar” product which is either inferior in quality, or more expensive than the advertised product.  In either case, you are offered something you did not want, and that was not advertised.

Apple advertised the iPad 3g with a “groundbreaking” data plan option, which allowed owners to choose between a 200 megabyte plan and an unlimited plan, without a contract, which allowed users to switch from month to month depending upon whether they were going to have a data intensive month.  Everybody knows that “options” have value, and the option NOT to pay $30 a month for unlimited data use was one of the things that made the iPad attractive. Hence, it was advertised with that option and people paid an extra $130 for their device just to have the option. (The $130 also bought the option of connecting over the 3g network, not just the option to switch between data plans. And, of course, some people would not have bought the device at all if it did not offer unlimited 3g access).

In a new twist on an old fraud, the bait and switch occurred AFTER the purchase, and by a different company.  Apple baited its customers with the AT&T plan it supposedly negotiated, consumers bought the product, and then AT&T pulled the switch. To soften the impact of the bait and switch, AT&T has offered current iPad 3g owners the option of keeping the unlimited plan for so long as users auto-renew the unlimited plan. In other words, what was once an option has now become a lifelong commitment if one wants unlimited data.

AT&T and Apple will eventually fix this, whether because of a class action law suit, or because Attorneys General throughout the country bring consumer fraud actions. Hopefully, this gets fixed sooner rather than later.

What really gets me, however, is that AT&T is crying about “data hogs” but is willing to force people to subscribe to the unlimited plan with the auto-renew requirement and thereby encourage data hogging, instead of leaving us with the option of forgoing the all you can eat buffet until such time as we may feel the need to use it.  In other words, it seems there is a bit of disingenuousness about AT&T’s behavior. If they were really concerned about the usage, they would allow the grandfathered folks the option of going on and off the all you can eat buffet. This seems to confirm that they were more interested in locking people into the higher payment plan, in other words, removing the option which was so valuable to us.

As for who to blame, my money goes on Apple.  Steve Jobs should never have said he struck a ground breaking deal. He should have said that AT&T is “currently offering” unlimited 3g access, but we have no idea if that will last.  Of course, if he had some kind of commitment from AT&T then it could be enforced. We’ll have to see whether Apple had such a commitment, or whether, as it seems from its silence, Apple simply oversold its product with misleading and deceptive statements.

This Is One Diver’s Perspective.

June 5, 2010 Posted by | Apple, AT&T, iPad | 1 Comment

Typing on my iPad


While the last thing the world needs is another blog entry about a recently purchased iPad, I wanted to practice typing. My initial reaction to the keyboard was that I would never use my iPad for typing, but that has certainly changed. Now I am able to type reasonably fast without even looking at the keyboard. In fact it it is faster if I just trust my fingers and the autocorrect than it is to either hunt and peck or to look at the keyboard. Don’t get me wrong, I still look at the screen (and as a result i see that although autocorrect and auto caps are enabled, it does not capitalize the letter I when it should).

I have enjoyed having the WSJ to read on the commute into work, the scrabble game (iPhone version) to play, as well as various other games. Surprisingly, I have even been creating on my iPad, using dropbox and iAnnotate to put PDF files on my iPad so that i can annotate them and have them with me wherever I have my iPad with me, which means i need to get a better case to carry it around with me.

I am also using it to read books while commuting. However, I do not get as much book reading in as I did when I was using my Kindle. This is due to the fact that i do not have a good case for it and am not comfortable whipping out my iPad either on the subway platform or while standing in the train. That will probably not change, but one never knows.

I will be shocked if the iPad is not a staple electronic item for students. Having text books in pdf format, and being able to carry around all of one’s books on a small tablet will save the backs of many a poor student. Unfortunately, as with all technology, it is not affordable for everybody and it will separate the haves from the have nots even more. Some kids will have their books and the internet wherever they go, and others will not. Assuming the iPad kids use their devices for good and do not get distracted with the games, text messaging, etc., they will no doubt be learning more than their iPadless brethren.

I also can see the iPad generation being babysat by the device, with parents giving their children an electronic book like Toy Story, which can read aloud and turn pages automatically. It is better than the television for sure, but no doubt it is better to read in person than have a professional narrator do it for you.

May 23, 2010 Posted by | iPad, Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Touch Typing on the iPad


I touch type over 100 words per minute when I really get going, but typically type at 80 words per minute.  I was therefore assuming that I could never really type adequately on my iPad, and was frustrated enough at trying, that I nearly decided that I would resort to hunt and peck typing.

When typing on the iPad in landscape mode, I found myself struggling due to the fact that the “home” keys are not standard.  On a standard keyboard, your right pinky rests on the semicolon, whereas on the iPad screen, your pinky would rest on the “return” key, as they moved the semicolon off of the main screen.

What this means to the touch typists among us is that you have to make sure that when you are hovering over the keyboard, the “GH” keys are visible between your index fingers, and not to place your pinky over the “L” as that key is typed with the ring finger. I knew something was wrong because I could only see the letter F whenever I tried to place my hands in the “home” position.

Once I figured this out, and made sure that the “GH” keys were visible (i.e., you don’t rest your index finger on those keys on a regular keyboard so you should not have them hovering over the virtual keys either), “touch typing” became a possibility.  I still can’t really “touch type” without looking at the keypad, but I can type a lot faster than I could before, and faster than the hunt and peck method.  Much faster.

When your fingers start to stray just make sure you position them so that the GH are clearly visible between your index fingers and start belting away!

May 21, 2010 Posted by | iPad, Life | Leave a comment

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