One Diver’s Perspective.

Scuba, Photography and Scandal

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.

 

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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

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

iPad, Just Because


Well, a lot of people are blogging about the “magical” iPad, many seeming to have a deep-seated hate toward the product, possibly over-reacting to other people’s “irrational” love of something they’ve yet to experience.  So, I thought I would throw my two cents in, to help balance things out a bit.

Many people are critical of the device because it is “nothing more than an oversized iPod Touch.”  Well, that is not quite true, since it sports a speedier processor, for one thing.  And don’t we all pay for larger screen real estate, either in the size of our monitors or the size of our televisions?  It would seem to me that a “handheld” device that is somewhat larger than an iPod Touch would certainly seem to be worth a little extra money to some people, without labeling those poor souls as “zombies” or “fanboyz”

Indeed, many people who have experienced an iPod Touch think the device is magical.  It responds to the touch unlike any other device they have held, and it lets them so so many things they never thought of doing before, like playing games or watching a television program while waiting for an appointment at the DMV or the Doctor.  So, again, it seems perfectly logical to want a “bigger version” in order to improve the web-browsing experience, the game playing experience, and the e-book reading experience.

Could the device be improved? Absolutely. Is it “evil” because it forces  you to use a free “App” to play YouTube videos and may otherwise make “flash content” inaccessible? I suppose if there was flash content I wanted to see, and Apple was “censoring” it for no other reason than they do not want the iPad used to view porn, I might be upset.  But, then again, I would more likely simply not buy the product rather than crusade against it as so many people are apt to do.

I prefer to happily believe that the iPad will “deliver” and by that, I mean it will be an elegant way to get the news, read a book, surf the web and view and respond to e-mail, all from the comfort of my couch.  By elegant, I mean, an intuitive touch-screen interface that is pleasing to use, because it was designed to be used by fingers so the icons are not tiny, the keyboard usable, and the weight not too much to bear.

Is it “too much” to spend on such a device?  Clearly, that depends upon one’s disposable income.  Presumably, if the price were $19.99, people would not be complaining nearly so much.  But, starting at $499, well, gosh, that is a lot more money than someone may be willing to spend on an “accessory device” or “MCD” (mobile computing device), and if they are going to spend that much they want to get more.  The beauty of it is, they don’t have to buy — the strangeness of it is, they feel the need to criticize.  I cannot help but wonder if there is a bit if i-Envy going on.

Sure, we all like to feel superior and more intelligent than the rest of the world, and it is easy to criticize people who have enough money to spend $499 more on a product they have not seen, and which nobody they know has seen.  But, if it were $19.99 you can bet whatever you like that these same people would be lining up to buy the product.  So, really, what we are talking about here are a bunch of people who are too poor to buy what they really want to own, or people who just wish to be critical of other people and their ideas and find it easier to express negative views than to keep silent.

I appreciate that many of these people are “just trying to be helpful” in explaining all of the shortcomings of the product’s technical feature-set, I really do. I look forward to a product that has a video camera built in, so that it can be used for video-chat and video conference calls.  But, whether that is an “option” or a built-in feature, it will cost money, and presumably Apple wanted to create a product at a price point that did not allow such a feature at the prices.  Or, perhaps, Apple simply wanted to grab the attention, sell a few million units, and then “upgrade” in version 2, to include the most talked about features that are missing.

The point is, I do not care, nor take it personally, that Apple would choose to do its market research by selling a device that is “missing” features.  I’ll either buy an iPad or I won’t, based on whether I believe it will make me happy enough to part with my money.  I will not be “angry” at the Company for attempting to sell me something I think is inferior, nor will I feel the need to criticize others who are “happy” that the company is selling a giant iPad at a cost which is unduly high.  I am sympathetic to those that want the device but cannot afford it.  It is always frustrating to be unable to buy something that you want, and that you see others enjoying.  I am not sympathetic to those people who just feel the need to dump on the product or the people buying it, however, because such views are truly mean spirited.

Finally, I respect and appreciate all of the comedy and graphic design work that has gone into making fun of the iPad, and the comparisons between the iPad and a stone tablet.  But, that is humor. The reality, as we know, is that a stone tablet does not display photographs beautifully. A stone tablet does not let you listen to music, read a best-seller, order groceries and control your Sonos sound system, all from the comfort of your couch or bed.

Don’t Hate.

This is One Diver’s Perspective.

March 13, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | | 3 Comments

Getting Married


Well, I’ve decided to take the plunge!  This summer I am going to marry  Colleen — she is an incredibly good person, with a great sense of humor.  In many ways, she is exactly like myself.  In fact, we are often on the same word, not to mention page.  I used to think my sense of humor was unique, but she truly thinks just like me, which means she’ll never get tired of my sense of humor.  We share similar politics and a similar religion.

We both love to dive.  She has a natural love of sharks, which I find endearing, if not a little nutty, and of course, I won’t miss any dive simply because there are things in the water which terrify mere mortals.  She’s a dedicated and hard working school teacher, who has put up with way more than her fair share of bullshit from a moron principal who, I hope to goodness was fired from her last two jobs and winds up homeless, turning tricks for drug money.   But I digress…

I’m looking forward to living the rest of our lives together, meeting those challenges that come our way and making the best of a wonderful situation!

April 24, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Madoff Fraud in the Markets


Headlines this week refer to a 50 billion dollar fraud perpetrated by Bernard L. Madoff.  We’ve all been deadened somewhat to the meaning of a billion dollars ($1,000,000,000) because the numbers we’ve seen for bailouts, losses, etc., have been so staggeringly high.

I am left wondering whether those who once trusted their money to Hedge Funds (Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC was not a hedge fund, but several Hedge Funds have unwittingly invested in his ponzi scheme) will have second thoughts, and start investing in traditional investments such as ETFs, individual stocks and mutual funds.  And, if that is the wave of the future,  how will that impact the markets generally?

Back in April, I had my own funcamental crisis of confidence in the markets, based on nothing more than, “What do I really get for being a shareholder, and is it worth the risk that when the music stops, I will be holding shares that nobody is interested in buying?”   Sadly, the recent events do not inspire any confidence.  If Hedge Funds can be so easily defrauded, an other sophisticated investors so easily taken, what chance does the average Joe have to avoid being fleeced by the markets and those who participate in them?

Sure, the conventional wisdom says to invest in a diversified portfolio to minimize this risk, and had that conventional wisdom been followed here, many people would not have lost their shirts, pants and shoes.  But these days there do not seem to be any safe havens, and a diversified portfolio on seems to get you a large selection of stucks losing half their value overnight.  Hardly a ringing endorsement for trusting my hard earned money to the markets, even to diversified markets.

With all of that said, I remain heavily invested in stocks. I believe that there are many bad apples such as Mr Madoff, but more importantly, that there are many more letigimate comapnies out there making a legitimate profit, and that these profits will translate into higher share prices.   Sure, there will be losses. But eventually the gains will come roaring back, because they really have to.  There is just too much money out there, looking for a place to invest — though if I had $60 million, I am fairly certain that I’d stop the investing roulette game and simply live off the interest paid by Treasuries and municipalities.  However, the institutional investors who are managing our money for retirement, etc., MUST invest somewhere, and as a result, it is my hope that they will continue to pay more for my shares, than I paid someone else for buying them, and in that way turn a nice profit.

This is one diver’s perspective….

December 15, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Black Friday and the Death at Wal-Mart


This past Friday, Jdimytai Damour was trampled to death by Wal-Mart Shoppers.  My heart goes out to his family and friends.  I am at a loss for words how people can be so careless, selfish and dangerous.  I sincerely hope the video is able to identify those people who contributed to the death by consciously stepping on the man.  I expect a lot of people did not even see him until it was too late.  But, I am equally certain that there were people who simply kept on pushing and shoving knowing a man was down.

It is despicable that people could behave so badly.  A man died, and a shopper essentially says, “So what. Don’t close the store because of one death, I’ve been waiting in line all night.”  No human decency. Makes my stomach turn.

November 29, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Bailing out General Motors (GM), TARP, et cetera.


To say we have been bombarded with bad news about the economy is an understatement. To say we have been bamboozled into approving a $700 billion dollar “TARP” program is, perhaps, an overstatement. But for several days they swore up and down they needed the money to take the toxic debt off the balance sheets, and that the U.S. Government might even profit from the deal. Thousands of manhours were spent studying the auction process that was to be used to price the debt, and eventually they concluded that the money would not be used to buy any such debt, but woudl instead be used for something else.

I don’t even know if they had a hearing about using the money for “something else.” And weren’t there supposed to be dire consequences if it was not used to buy the troubled debt? To say there is a crisis of confidence in our government is, perhaps an understatement. Its a bunch of keystone cops taking our tax dollars and mortgaging our future, and it makes me sick.

Now we hear that the auto industry is about to collapse. Well, friends, the auto industry has been collapsing for some time now. As I understand it, a large portion of their problems comes from high costs associated with deals struck with the unions. I’d like to be loud and clear about this – I DO NOT WISH TO ACT AS GUARANTOR TO THE OBLIGATIONS OWED TO THE UNIONS. I did not make the promises, I should not be taxed to keep those promises. Maybe the Unions overreached and caused the the auto dealers to wind up on the verge of collapse. Maybe it wasn’t there fault at all. But one thing is absolutely certain – its not my fault, and I’m not happy about any proposal which uses my tax dollars to fix the problem.

Times are tough. Employees of the auto industry will have to suck it up like everybody else. Take pay cuts, take benefit cuts, suffer job losses. If GM has to file Chapter 11 and reject various contracts and suffer union strikes, so be it. If the unions want to force the company out of business, so be it. Their members can collect unemployment and find jobs behind cash registers, or in the mailrooms of Detroit.

Or, they could grow up, recognize they are part of the problem and can be part of the solution. But they should not be “bailed out.” A bailout is just another word for taking your money and giving it to someone else who has no real claim to your money, except that they perhaps supported politicians who have the ability to pick your pocket.

It is one thing to put money in place to keep the banking system running, so that I can use my ATM card and write my checks, without worrying about there being money on the other side to cover the transaction. Its an entirely different story when you are taking my money to benefit a select industry. I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it any more.

This is One Diver’s Perspective.

November 13, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 1 Comment

Credit Crunch, What Credit Crunch?


Well, the news has been out for a while now, but I haven’t noticed any real impact from the credit crisis, other than the deterioration of my stock portfolio.  Granted, I was not really in the market for credit, though I did qualify for, and receive, another credit card with a 0% offer two weeks ago.

What about yourselves? Have you had difficulty obtaining credit? More difficulty than you would have expected based on prior experience?

October 21, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment