Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Wrist watches for the ordinary man - Bulova Marine Star

Wrist watches for the ordinary man - Bulova Marine Star 330 Ft. Chronograph Alarm

Bulova Watch Company makes a very fine time piece with a long history of creations since inception in 1875.  Just looking at the current line up of Bulova watch lines makes me stare in awe at how beautiful they are and how meticulously constructed the pieces are.  Bulova represents one of the venerable USA watch makers to ever become incredibly successful.

I purchased a Bulova Marine Star 330 Ft. chronograph back in 1996.  I spent about $330 for this time piece.  It became a daily wearer for a long time to come.  The watch is beautiful and dutifully suited for measuring time.  The watch is rugged yet stylish, dressy, and classic looking.  I was looking for something different back then but something I could wear in the Clinical Laboratory setting and not worry about getting wet, exposed to chemicals, and the dust contained in latex gloves.  I also wanted a time piece to keep elapsed time for me during lab operations.  Hence, I found this beauty in a jewelry store window.  I took it home and have been amazed by its function ever since.

This watch has been worn in laboratory settings, during skateboard runs, on bicycle treks, in ocean surf, swimming pools, and during home maintenance and auto repair procedures such as painting, lawn care, and oil changes, etc..  To this day the watch shows some wear but could easily pass for a time piece of a year or two old.  The gold finish is just as bright and polished as the day I purchased it.  The hard mineral crystal has one tiny ding but no large scratches to give away its 18 year age.  Due to cracks the original black rubber strap has been replaced with a rubber replacement that was easily obtained.  The current band contains a small compass.  This rubber strap band is also showing age so I have another strap waiting in the wings when the time comes.

I love this watch.  I love gadgets.  This watch has gadgets.  It does much more than keep time accurately with super quartz precision.  Stop watch function is converted from the sweep second hand with the touch of a register button.  Standing at the ready the second hand is at 12 waiting for start.  Stop watch time is recorded on three registers; 1/10th second, minute up to 60, and hours up to 12.  Stop and start can be repeated multiple times without resetting stop watch function.  Another push of a button returns the watch to sweep second hand movement.  If a count down timer is more of what you need this Marine Star has that as well.  With sweep second hand sweeping press and hold the button at 10 to move the indicator in the 1/10th sec. register to a desired amount of time from 1-49 minutes.  The register has dual indicator markings.  Press the button at 2 and the count down timer gets underway with three audible beeps.  An audible alert will sound at the end of the count down which is silenced with the press of any button.  The count down time indicator can also keep track of manual counting from 1-50 and beyond such as golf swings, laps, reps, etc.  Very handy!

There is also a rotating bezel with ratchet clicks marked with a gold dot at 60, 10,20,30,40,50 and alternating hash marks in gold.  If a real alarm is what you need the Marine Star has that as well.  Pull out the stem at 4, then the stem at 3.  The hands will then wildly rotate to an alarm time previously set on the watch.  Turn the stem clock or counter clock wise to advance the hands to a new alarm time on a 12 hour clock.  Rapidly turning the crown will put the watch into continuous motion.  When desired time is shown rotate the crown slowly to make final adjustment of alarm time.  With desired alarm time indicated push in the stem at 4 and leave the stem at 3 out.  The watch will now return to current time and the watch will alert at the desired set alarm time.  I have amazed many with the antics of this watch.  When I say I can make time go backwards I can amaze anyone who doubts that I can do that with just a pull of the stem at 4 to 1st position and a clockwise turn of the stem.  Add the stop watch function and the watch looks like it is going absolutely bonkers.


Does this watch indicate time?  Yes very accurately so with function and innovation of a fine Bulova quartz movement.  Although this watch does not have a screw down crown I have successfully worn this watch in swimming pools and ocean surf many times without harm to the watch.  It still keeps time reliably and functions beautifully.  Watch batteries last 1.5 to two years depending on usage and those can easily be obtained from various battery retailers.

Finding this exact watch for purchase on line can be tricky. I spotted another used beauty on EBay in June 2014 with a bid of $200.00  If you search you can find.  Although, the current line up of Bulova time pieces includes both quartz and automatic varieties.  Take your pick "Ordinary Man"...  New or used with Bulova Marine Star you will not be disappointed.

As time marches on make the most of your time.  Enjoy your watches for all occasions.

Scott R. Mayorga  A.A.S., BS MT(ASCP)H CLS

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Wrist Watches for the everyday man - UZI Protector UZI-001-R

Wrist watches for the ordinary man - UZI Protector UZI-001-R

Many tactical watches have striking looks, luminous hands, and rugged reliability.  The UZI Protector is no exception to that genre.  Quartz movement, rotating bezel, black with white graphics, date window, heavy rubber strap, and Tritium luminous markers.  All that said and done this is a rugged watch.  Add a screw down crown and this really is a rugged piece of tactical style machinery.

The Protector by UZI is a piece I have owned for 2 years.  It is well worn.  The condition of this two year old watch looks spectacular because of the materials it is made of - not because it sat in a drawer not seeing light of day.  Hard polymer case, stainless case back, hard rubber strap, and hardened mineral crystal all contribute to durability beyond what you would expect in an ordinary watch.  The only aspect about this time piece that is ordinary is price.  The UZI Protector can be purchased from various retailers or on-line including Campco.com for under $100.00.  That being said this is an inexpensive watch with expensive time-piece features.

The best part about the UZI brand is the Tactical Weapons that have show cased on television many times with police and global security forces sporting high power weapons spitting out lead at incredible rates of fire.  For UZI enthusiast there are companion UZI products that complement the watch.  I have easily acquired knives and a tactical pen to make an UZI collection of tools to get me through a harrowing day of activities.

The UZI Protector comes in various face colors of which I have black.  Face markings include 24 hr enumeration, date window, highly luminous tritium 12,3,6,9 hour markers and same markers on the hour and minute hands.  The 12 hour marker glows orange while the others glow green.  Emblazoned right under the 12 marker is the unmistakable UZI trademark of the Israeli Weapons Industries company.  The one way rotating bezel has 5-60 numbered markers that ratchet click loudly upon circling the face.  Hardly a stealthy sound during covert operations but none the less, the bezel also features the same strength and durability built into the rest of the time piece.  Water resistant to
200 M with a screw down crown I have been successfully confident wearing this watch to swimming pool depth and repeated showers and yard work.  The watch still looks great and functions like new.

The UZI Protector is wearing like it will be protecting my wrist for many years to come.

As time marches on make the most of your time.  Enjoy your watches for all occasions.

Scott R. Mayorga  A.A.S., BS MT(ASCP)H CLS

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Wrist Watches for the everyday man - Invicta Specialty #17259

Invicta Special Model 17259

The Invicta Specialty model 17259 is a manual wind movement time piece with a skeleton analog design.  This watch is special to me for a couple of reasons.  It was a 2014 Fathers Day gift from my Daughter Jessica, it is a manual wind time piece of 2014 technology, and it is a skeleton design of which this is the first in my collection.

The watch is blue faced accented with 12 luminous bars and 48 white minute marks.  Time is displayed with luminous minute and hours in needle like points with a stainless sweep second hand.  A non movable bezel with 10,20,30,40,50 and 60 minute marks alternating with Invicta trademarked crosses.  The case is 45 mm with a leather band of blue to match the dial.  A regular buckle clasp finishes this brushed stainless steel specimen.

The dial has a skeleton movement exposed via the Flame Fusion Crystal and also viewable with the backs observation window.  Documentation does not state how many jewels are contained in the movement derived from Chinese components but close inspection reveals at least 10 jewels.

This is a manual winder mechanical movement so 40 winds of the hefty crown are enough to power the watch for well over 24 hours.  Viewing the watch either through its face or observation back reveals 4 moving parts while in operation. During winding there are two cogs and a connecting pinion that spin.

This is a basic manual winding timepiece of 21st century manufacturing technology.  The specialty about this analog is the skeleton movement and sporty appearance in dazzling blue color complimented by brushed stainless steel.  This is not a heft of case virtuous of the usual Invicta kind.  I find that having a small wrist the usual Invicta brand is rather too big of a case for my dimensions.  I don't mind a thick case but mid forty diameter is about as big as I am comfortable with. 

This is a well observed watch either day or night with luminous markings.  Comfortable and not too heavy to sport around.  Best of all it's unstoppable manual wind movement will fare well in a electromagnetic storm.  At 50 meter rated water resistance it should withstand brief encounters with faucet water splashing on it.  I would not submerge this timepiece into any depth of liquid with any confidence.

One of the niceties about the Invicta brand is the hard shell plastic case that comes with the watch.  This is a durable all black double clasp case lined with foam and emblazoned with the Invicta Logo.

I enjoy wearing the watch day after day and could easily use this watch as my daily wearer.  Easy to read, stylish sportiness, the 17259 is a real nice piece which can be obtained in store, at various retailers, and on line for less than $100.

Thank you Jessica - I really enjoy this watch in my collection.

As time marches on make the most of your time.  Enjoy your watches for all occasions.

Scott R. Mayorga  A.A.S., BS MT(ASCP)H CLS

Wrist Watches for the everyday man

Why wear a watch if you don't enjoy it.  You don't need to spend thousands for a great watch that you can enjoy.

There are plenty of websites, blogs, and magazines that spotlight and review watches.  These are grand publications full of exploded diagrams of the latest versions of time piece technology as well as venerable classics; all of them though have one thing in common.  Price tags to acquire these wonderful pieces of chronological equipment vary from thousands to millions of dollars.  Not the lot that someone ordinary like me can afford.  Sure, we all can appreciate the grandest of product lines in each genre of luxury or necessity such as the best stoves to cook on, the biggest diamond rings, the best piano to tinkle, the best grill, or the classic Ferrari roadster.  There are plenty of sources to find information of the grandest of all the types of items.  But, not much on the everyday items that not only inspire us to appreciate the finer more technological far reaching specimens but also serve mankind on a daily basis.  This series of posts therefore can become the real mans resource for watches that serve as daily time keepers on the everyday mans wrist.

Brands such as Omega, Tissot, Bell & Ross to name a few maybe the pinnacle of a watch collectors dream but hardly are they affordable on any given day in the life of a hard working individual.  Brands such as Citizen, Timex, Casio, and Seiko do the same thing that high dollar brands do - They tell time, track minutes elapsed, display date, sound alarms at the appointed minute, and can even record and display atmospheric conditions like barometric pressure, temperature, and the inverse depth below surface all for hundreds of dollars to less than $1000.  Whether it is the latest from Rolex or the entry level Pulsar;  watches display time.  Beauty and appreciation of function are in the eye of the beholder.  I see people walking around with retro-LCD digital display watches from the eighties.  I too had a Seiko digital LCD watch that I wore for years and years.  To some folks the watch is just a piece of daily equipment which is part of an arsenal of devices that serve to get one through the day like a pen, car keys, glasses, cell phone, and a wallet.  Some folks don't own a watch at all.  Some folks like me love watches and have dozens of them much like someone would have shoes, ties, or belts.

The watch is a technological piece of wizardry with a long history of development.  Since the early 15th century the time piece was an important tool which kept ships and explorers on track and was part of an integral system of tools the navigator needed to accomplish the almost impossible; circumnavigation of the globe.  Today's, watches are also grand technological tools in that for minimal sums of money the time piece of today is accurate, fashionable, functional, and special to the beholder.  I like sporty chronograph type timepieces.  I also have some classic simple analog pieces which are decades old and others just a few years old.  Automatic pieces are my favorite but I do appreciate some quartz-battery models as well.  Of all my watches I enjoy them because they look great, they serve function to me in the Clinical Laboratory, and I marvel at the technological wizardry of there components.

The discussion of watches for the everyday man can be viewed by some as akin to a boring discussion of the virtues of the 1970's era Ford Pinto.  However, all watches have something special, something gravitating that appeals to its owner in ways similar to the facets of a diamond in the owners beholding.  Style and function basically sum up the basic attributes of a wrist watch.  Purchasing a wrist watch starts with answers to two questions.  What style and what function do you want your new watch to serve?  Manual wind and basic analog?  Chronograph with LCD quartz technology?  Automatic movement?  Moon phase? Tourbillon?  Whatever you decide to put on your wrist it will be special to you and bring enjoyment.  That is why there are hundreds of thousands of watches available from manufacturers all over the globe encompassing pieces that satisfy those two questions; Style and function.

So stay attached to this series for discussion of watches for the everyday man.  Lets celebrate the venerable utility of the wrist watch in all its glory with an affordable eye for the regular guy.  Yes - if we won the lottery a Fossil Watch probably would not be my next choice for a wrist watch.  So, we will not bash the glorious brands we cannot afford in a jealous fit of rage.  We can appreciate from afar their grand movements, dazzling features, and expensive components.  This is a discussion and review of the ordinary that is special.  The wrist watch for the everyday man...

As time marches on make the most of your time.  Enjoy your watches for all occasions.

Scott R. Mayorga  A.A.S., BS MT(ASCP)H CLS

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring Drive Experience - Simple Elegance with Steroid Induced Power

This 2014 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring beauty was supplied by STI - The Driving Experience Company for review; the opinions stated below are my own and I received no financial compensation.

Mazda America Corporation has presented an impressive line up of Cross-Over/SUV vehicles for a long time that satisfied the needs of car buyers looking for small, medium sized, to full sized SUV vehicles to fit into family needs, budgets, and driveways.  Well, the CX-9 is an exception in that lineup.  Big, bold, powerful, and comfortable are some adjectives thrown at this vehicle for good reason.  The CX-9 represents those vehicle traits very well.

All inclusive - I call this SUV "Simple Elegance"


Appointed with fine leather and suede trim, wood grain accents, a center console to die for, and a VVT 3.7 ltr. 273 Hp/270 LB FT Torque V6 Powerplant,  this vehicle is set up to get the job done with some economy.  The engine has a Dr. Jekyl/Mr. Hyde dual disposition.  High torque and great power give good fuel economy around town on leisurely drives.  However step on the accelerator and Mr. Hyde comes roaring through with quick sudden launches and agile accelerations all through the 6 speed automatic transmission.  A set of 20 inch wheels make this gentle giant a confident road warrior with plenty of grip when needed in controlled doses.  This is a beautiful and elegant vehicle, when equipped with all the safety gadgetry and other electronic niceties you have a simply elegant well rounded package.  I could drive this vehicle to the moon and back and not be tired, bored, or weary.  Comfort abounds in the cabin for all occupants including rear seat heat/AC controls for controlled climate at the "Back of the Bus".

Ergonomics That Will Not Control The Driver

Car manufacturers are in a battle of the marques to offer perspective buyers vehicles jam packed with features, electronic gadgetry, safety controls, and refined comfort. Sometimes manufacturers go way over the line with complications distracting the driver to the point of frustration in a battle to control gadgetry before it controls the driver forcing the driver to change driving habits to accommodate the virtues of the vehicle.  Another words - Control your vehicles gadgets before the gadgets control you.  I never felt a hint of vehicle control on me while sitting in the drivers seat in the CX-9.  Controls, ergonomics, and driving position are set up in the CX-9 for driver comfort, ease of use, and does it with style and elegance - there I used that word again!  Even the shifter commands  special attention for being simple in design, fully functional, comfortable to grab and manipulate, but also techy with a gated position indicator.  Slide the shifter over to the left while in Drive and you start to command the transmission to your every whim.  Downshift-upshift whatever shift you choose are always smooth and powerful with a strong delivery of torque to the wheels.  This SUV grew on me tugging at my heart strings which are especially joyous over technical innovation, gadgetry, indicators, controls, and ingenuity.  The Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring has technical ingenuity but it is not the "In your face I dare you to master me" type of ingenuity.  The controls are simple to operate, fully functional, efficient, and just right to complement a very comfortable stress free driving experience.

Understated Safety

Safety and reliability in this vehicle are bolstered by the latest safety innovations like Front-3 Row side-and knee positioned airbags, Anti-lock brakes, Stability control, Blind Spot Monitoring, Cross-Traffic warning system, Back-up camera, Tire Pressure Monitoring System, Side Impact Door Beams, and electronic parking assist.  What is not over-played about this vehicles safety feature is its weight.  At about 5800 lbs some might say this is a tank.  I call it a gentle unassuming giant.  There is safety in the shear weight of a vehicle and lack thereof in some of the tiniest/lightest 4 wheel offerings from car makers today.  The less a vehicle weighs under 2000 pounds the worse it will fare in a crash.  It is just shear weight and density of the roll cage that can save you.  What also is un-noticed about the CX-9 is its rigid roll-cage structure and suspension system that combine together in unison.  A strong cage, confident handling, super strong braking ability, and dynamic traction and stability control give the driver important tools needed to command the vehicle and the road.  It is big, it is powerful, it is torqy, and it is beautiful - It is CX-9.

I am impressed with Mazda ergonomics in this vehicle!  


This being the third Mazda vehicle I have reviewed I am pleasantly surprised to find a full complement of gauges aft of the steering wheel including engine temperature.  All other vital information is displayed  on either the panel display amid the console controls or above in a red lighted panel showing heat/AC functions, outside temperature, and fuel economy.  The CX-9 displays vehicle driver info such as speed, tachometer, fuel level, and engine temperature in separate round bezzeled gauges placed in easy view of the driver.  Controls for radio, blue-tooth, and info menus can be controlled from the steering wheel.  Everything ergonomic about the CX-9 was structured to be valuable, informative, easy to use and elegantly styled.  In a nut-shell; the cabin is not flashy or "Innovatively techy" - but then you won't exhaust yourself controlling the components either.

Leslie of Leslie Loves Veggies really likes the CX-9 and she is not a big fan of the SUV genre either.  She likes the simple controls and confident comfort of the driving position in the CX-9.  I agree with her whole-heartedly.

Here are some of the best traits of this SUV species:
  • V6 is Big and Powerful with good fuel economy
  • Understated elegance in every inch of interior
  • Capable of towing something of substance like a boat or trailer
  • Leather seating and accents was just beautiful
  • Excellent gauge set up with a clear reading full set of analog indicators
  • Bose Sound System was incredible with the true rich sound you expect from Bose
  • Huge cabin space for hauling large objects
  • Smooth quiet ride (see below for comparison to 2000 Celica GTS which is my daily driver)

Here is what is not so hot:
  • Keyless start is a knob on the column that is turned much like a key;  I wished for a start button...somewhere...anywhere
  • Crash Safety ratings are a tad low for a big heavy vehicle such as the CX9
  • Replacing 20 inch rubber is going to be expensive

The Mazda CX9 Grand Touring is a beautiful vehicle that has enough tech-gadgetry to satisfy this techno-geek while transporting occupants to new adventures in comfortable and classy ergonomics.  The CX9 can take you where you are going in style with power to spare.

Thanks again STI - The Driving Experience People for the opportunity to drive and review the Mazda CX9.

To learn more about the Mazda CX9...Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, Mazda USA
Scott R. Mayorga A.A.S., BS MT(ASCP)H CLS

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Cord Blood Registry & Banking Your Child's Cord Blood #CordBlood411

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Dad Central Consulting for the Cord Blood Registry. I received promotional item to thank me for my participation.

CBR - Cord Blood Registry

For expectant parents, click cordbankingbasics.com to visit the Cord Blood Registry.  Until February 24th, 2014 receive a $200 discount on New Born Umbilical Cord Blood Banking Services by completing an information request from CBR.  This discount has been extended until March 24th, 2014.

As a Clinical Laboratory Scientist I have seen trends in Medical Science come and go.  As with any industry there are advances in technology, methodologies, and most importantly a drive to overcome obstacles and bring innovative safe solutions concerning medical issues to mainstream health care.

What is Cord Blood Banking?

New treatment therapies are always in the making from the Clinical Trials Industry in which I have vast working experience.  Science and Technology go hand in hand with Research and Development to bring treatment alternatives to medical issues great and small like cancer, diabetes, hearing loss, psoriasis, brain injury, autism, and multitudes of other human disease states.  Cord Blood and its use in the treatment of various diseases is a current dynamic hot trend in the medical community that will not go away.  Many highly respected physicians as well as Clinical Research Scientists across the globe all agree that the use of Stem Cells derived from Cord Blood is the resource that will develop future disease therapies.  Therapies that are in early development now such as hearing loss and autism as well as others not even dreamed of will depend upon the basic unit of human life that is the Stem Cell.  Some will even go on record to say that the future eradication of all disease states in human biology will depend chiefly on the use of Stem Cells.

Stem Cell is a pluri-potential biological Unit of Life.  It is a very special type of living cell that inhabits our bodies from birth and is used in maintaining our bodies by replenishing needed types of cellular tissue.  Stem Cells are a sort of "cell blank" often referred to as a precursor cell.  Stem Cells can be changed as needed into various different types of cells in our bodies which then can be used by our bodies to make repair after injury, replenish necessary cellular tissue, and help our bodies to fight disease.  Stem Cells although present in each of us are relatively few in number compared to our circulating pool of blood cells and bone marrow stores.  Stem Cells can be measured numerically by Laboratory Methods such as cell harvest/Cell Sorting and enumeration employing Flow Cytometry techniques.  Although Stem Cells can be identified in blood or bone marrow samples, harvesting from theses two sources is difficult and costly.  This is where the technology of Cord Blood Stem Cell Banking holds promise for the present and future of disease eradication in the human race.  Currently, Cord Blood Stem Cells are used to treat 80 diseases and over 30,000 Stem Cell Transplants have been performed worldwide.

Cord Blood Banking - The Industry

Cord Blood Banking is an industry all to its own in the medical Sciences which is in full development.  As the storage of Cord Blood Stem Cells is established right now it will continue to flourish in years to come.  Storage facilities may become numerous across the globe in the near future. Stem Cell Banking is primarily a private commercial endeavor by companies with three main driving philosophies.
  • Advance human disease treatment strategies 
  • Manufacture organ tissue for transplant purposes
  • Financial - this is a developing industry with great promise in entrepreneurship for those who have the research training and abilities to successfully provide a necessary service to parents, consumers, and the medical research community.  That is a huge statement concerning money.

Strict Regulation of this flourishing industry will be developed to safeguard the storage, use, and future use of Stem Cells.  This is such an important milestone in the treatment of human disease that current Congressional regulation [HR 3673 - Family Cord Blood Banking Act] is in process to allow for individuals wishing to store their newborn children' Cord Blood be able to pay for such services with pre-tax earned dollars via HSA, HRA, and FSA accounts.  This important regulation has been brought to Congress by two representatives; Aaron Schock (R-IL) and Ron Kind (D-WI) with the intention that consumers should be able take advantage of Cord Blood Banking Services and pay for these services as qualified medical expenses.  If HR 3673 becomes law, it would help families financially and really swing their decision allowing for more new parents to take advantage of Cord Blood Banking. CBR is one of two Cord Blood Banking entities that have collaborated to fully endorse HR 3673 and praise the sponsoring Congressman.

 In my opinion, this is the hot bed of Scientific Research where by Stem Cells will provide the medium for which Human Genome Mapping will be employed to manipulate those stored Stem Cells into cellular components discreetly targeting disease states providing for the cure of cancers, tissue regeneration, organ transplant, and even organ manufacturing in-vitro for transplant purposes. The storage of Umbilical Cord Blood is the ultimate gift anyone could ever buy for their new born children.  The stored Cord Blood can potentially be used in the future to treat developed disease states from childhood into adulthood. 

CBR - Cord Blood Registry is one of several commercial entities offering Cord Blood Banking Services and is recognized as a global leader in Cord Blood Banking industry.  Employing the talents of many medical and research professionals along with cutting edge state of the art facilities, CBR is able to provide consumers with safe and practical means to store Umbilical Cord Blood for their children.  CBR is currently storing over 500,000 Cord Blood Units and Cord Tissue samples.  Such cord blood is available from the umbilical cord which is often discarded after the birth of children.  CBR is at the forefront of this emerging technological service which is now becoming mainstream and available to all expecting parents.  To learn more about CBR the corporation, the facility, and their endeavors to become the safest most reliable repository for cord blood click CBR.

So basically, why should parents be concerned with Cord Blood Storage?  It is believed by many in the medical community that Stem Cells hold the future promise of treatment therapies for the future.  We as a human society are afflicted with disease states that have no current treatment possibilities or these diseases are marginally managed by current therapy strategies.  Being able to store Umbilical Cord Blood for our newly arriving children gives children a viable resource for future medical treatments to be developed in the event a child develops or is born with serious medical conditions, disease, or issues.

As a new dad, my main concerns before the birth of my children were "are they healthy?"
Advancement of my own and my wife' career was of concern to both of us to be able to provide for the growth and development of our children.  Back in the mid 1980's, during the birth of my children Stem Cell or Cord Blood Banking was not developed yet.  The long term storage of blood products such as plasma and cryo-precipitate (Cryo)  was mainstream and available at my local hospitals.  In my employment as a Clinical Laboratory Scientist working in a hospital blood bank, I routinely issued units of frozen plasma and Cryo to patients needing transfusion of these products.  However, long term storage of whole blood for transfusion was not possible then either.  Whole blood products have a refrigeration shelf life of about 40 days.  The process of storing whole blood for a patients future use was extremely expensive and not practical back then.  If Cord Blood Storage was available I would certainly have taken advantage of this service to insure that any developed health conditions in the future would have a viable fighting chance for treatment with my own children.

Why Parents Should Consider Cord Blood Banking?

Becoming a parent is a stressful time.  We all wish for healthy children for ourselves, family, and acquaintances.  But with new life beginning there is much uncertainty.  The health of a child developing into an adult and beyond without medical catastrophe is our greatest fear as a parent.  My 1st child was ill for her first two years after she was born.  Fortunately, her symptoms went away as she grew older and developed.  In my own experience, observing my child with a medical issue and sitting helplessly unable to cure or even treat the child back to health was the ultimate greatest fear of mine.   Banking Cord Blood for new born children is the ultimate protection.  Cord Blood is a resource that can be tapped by future medical advances to medically treat our most precious resources, our children.

Which Cord Blood Bank Facility is Right for Your Family?

Evaluating a Cord Blood Storage facility for the storage of your child's Cord Blood is as important as deciding to partake in this service to begin with.  Factors such as stability, security, infrastructure, location, professional expertise are all factors you should learn about any facility before choosing a service to Bank Cord Blood.  Here are some important factors you should review in this important decision making process and how to get that information.  Not one factor is more important than another but collectively all factors reviewed together will give you the information you need to select a service.
  • Facility - Where is the facility located geographically.  A facility located in a flood plain, near rivers, earthquake zones, vulnerability to tornado and or hurricane damage would not be a good choice.
  • Security - Is the facility protected enough against fire and other destruction, power-outages, burglary, and theft.
  • Stability - Financial security of an organization is important to the future functioning of such businesses.  Has financial growth been healthy in the service considered?  Is there turn over in the management team?
  • Infrastructure - Is the facility well run?  What type of people are employed at the facility, their training, credentials, and licensing for these employees?  Are the facilities clean-state of the art design and what you would expect of an organization storing your child's living tissue for decades to come.  Are there continuous improvement programs ongoing within the organization?  What certifications does the organization hold?  What certifications are available in the industry and does the organization hold them all?

How does one research all this information to make an informed selection of a Cord Blood Banking facility?

  • Call the facility directly and ask the questions above.  Take notes during your phone call.
  • Check out any social media resources on the Internet put out by the facility such as Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, You tube, etc.
  • Go to the facilities website and look for corporate info, media releases, management biography's, and business modelling information and pictures.  A picture can speak many words.  Are the facilities posted pictures close cropped showing detail but not much substance or are there wide sweeping pictures and videos showing a real glimpse of the facility and work environment within.  Check out the Careers page to see what positions are offered and the required credentials for applying for such positions at that facility.  Pay particular attention to what positions require only a high school diploma and how high they go up into the ranks of employees.  I would think that a college degree in biology or some other relevant science would be the minimum requirement of any employee whose task it is to handle or process your child's cord blood.
  • Check regulatory resources such as AABB, FDA, and CLIA for information on Cord Blood Banking and the industry.
  • Google - Google the facility name of  your choice with directed searches for complaints, violations, and accolades within the Cord Blood Banking industry.
  • Request information from many facilities including the one(s) recommended by your Obstetrician. Evaluate the information carefully, Formulate questions and request clarification from the facility.  How quickly do they respond?  Is the respondent info what you asked for?  If via phone, did you get answers efficiently or was your call bounced around before getting appropriate answers.  Ask for a tour of the facility and go tour the facility. Even if you cannot make the trip to a distant facility, try to visit one that is closest to you.  This will give you valuable first hand knowledge about how these facilities operate and what to expect in a facility such as security, infrastructure, and stability.

Make an informed choice for this most important gift you can provide for your children.  Their life may depend on the choices you make now before they are born.  Talk to your pediatrician and obstetrician about your choice to bank or not bank stem cells.  If you do choose to bank make sure your doctor has the ability to collect the Umbilical Cord and be able to send the tissue to the Cord Blood Bank of your choosing.

Connect with CBR via Facebook, @cordblood, YouTube, Google+, Pinterest
Scott R. Mayorga A.A.S, BS MT(ASCP)H CLS

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

2014 Kia Soul ! Driving Experience - New, Improved, & Blown Out!

2014 KIA Soul! Driving Experience

This 2014 Inferno Red KIA Soul!(exclaim) was provided by STI - The Driving Experience company for review; the opinions stated below are my own and I received no financial compensation.

Seems like these days car company's are strident to upgrade, improve, and restyle models every year much like the cell phone and PC/laptop manufacturers.  Each year the same model undergoes  a face lift, technology improvements, added accessories and smarter optional electronics.  The KIA Soul is no exception.  The 2014 KIA Soul! is wonderfully tweaked and improved over its predecessor 2013 model year. How can a car company improve a vehicle that already has a relatively short but glorious history full of awards and accolades?  An astute design team with a young and fresh outlook on styling cues spreading all throughout the vehicle backed by an engineering team hell bent on improvement and correction - I say correction in reference to over-stated fuel mileage ratings which now are improved and most importantly the sticker mpg is accurate.  KIA experienced an issue, addressed it appropriately, took ownership for it, and is moving on.  Enough said; but, might I digress.  The 2014 Soul! is much improved, much redesigned, and oh so much fun.  I love this vehicle even more than the first time I reviewed the Soul back in July 2013.
See that - Those are rear heated seats

Let's talk safety.  Lets here it from the Heart and Soul.
Face it, the KIA Soul started out as a mock-toaster econo-box on wheels a few years back.  Well, pack the toaster with ABS and E brake force distribution, full airbags~front-side-curtain, traction control, rear-view camera, 3 point seat restraints for every seat, stability control with active stability management, side impact door beams, tire pressure monitoring, dual crumple zones, child safety locks, anchors and tethers for child seats,  and last but not least hill start assist, and hence you have a 5-Star NHTSA Crash Rating.  Not too shabby.  The toaster is sophisticated but not snobby.  The 2014 Soul! is cool but not sloppy like your next door neighbor.  Outfitted with LED lighting front and back and you can take the Soul anywhere any time of the year.  Just don't forget to tip your valet.  I took Leslie of Leslie Loves Veggies to dinner one night in December 2013.  Valet parked my car and sat for dinner.  Upon returning to the valet to retrieve my vehicle, a couple were waiting for their ride to be brought up.  Well, up rolls a brand new $100k+ Tesla vehicle.  Valet gets out and driver hands the guy a dollar?  A dollar!  The girl friend was wearing a fur coat.  That's just wrong.  Giving the valet a dollar in sub-freezing temperature is not cool and very sloppy unlike the 2014 KIA Soul.

The 2014 Soul! is fun to drive, spirited, and rather nimble in tight places.  Adjust your steering manner from Comfort, to Normal, to Sport and you get a totally different feel of the road from the drivers seat.  Controls are easy to reach, easy to interpret, and the gauge cluster is a full complement of indicators giving minute by minute info on the 2.0 ltr power plant with 6 speed automatic transmission.  The front heated seats were absolutely therapeutic melting driver and passenger into the seat.  The heated steering wheel was quick to warm (about 40 seconds) and hot to the touch before the auto-timer cooled it down.  Driving the vehicle the week of Winter Storm Leon in Atlanta, I got first hand experience driving this cruiser in the snow and ice.  Without an ice scraper I was able to clear the windows of snow and ice within 5 minutes just using the defroster and windshield wipers.  I never lost traction and I never felt uncomfortable during the 9 mile ride home
at the height of the winter storm.

The 2014 KIA Soul! is beautifully appointed with refreshed cabin components, controls, and electronics.  The central data center has a much larger screen and the Infinity Stereo system is more powerful with richer sound.  The radio tuning has a nice nostalgic sliding tuner display.  The center console is also the brain center of UVO eServices.  The steering wheel controls are ergonomically placed, very functional, and very easy to use while driving with the least amount of distraction.  Cabin lighting is accented with soft white LED units complemented by red lighting effects on all controls for easy viewing at night.  Full 8 way power driver seat makes this ride a comfortable cruiser.  Open the full glass canopy sun roof for oodles of open air fun.  Extra insulation in the 2014 Soul makes this vehicle a very, very quiet ride.  Outside noise is almost eliminated and road noise is almost non existent.  Check out my 35-40 mph sound analysis graph of the 2014 KIA Soul! compared to my raucously worked 2000 Toyota Celica.

Did I mention fun?  The KIA Soul! still has the disco lighting on the doors around the door mounted speakers.  A sub woofer delivers rich low end tones to completely balance a real nice sound system.
Full folding rear seats will allow stowage space for a multitude of entertainment devices such as cooler, back-packs, bikes, toys, or beach gear.  Whatever your heart desires for the day will fit in the back of the Soul.  A large rear square hatch lifting high overhead with a low sill makes loading and unloading cargo a snap.  Even the glove box is cooled for storing beverages or food items.
 Here are the specifications:
2.0 ltr engine, 164 hp 23 city/31 highway mpg
18" alloy wheels 235/45R 18
Full front, side, and curtain airbags
 5-Star NHTSA Crash Rating

What I did not like:
The horn is timid.  Had to use it once.  I could hear it but it was not a strong sounding alert like a horn should be.

The KIA Soul! is a serious contender in calculating the Fun to economical/practical ratio.  Serious safety, good fuel mileage, and comfort.  Electronic gadgetry abounds to complement driver ability.

KIA Soul! - Try a new Soul on for size

Thanks STI-The Driving Experience People for the opportunity to test the 2014 KIA Soul!

Find out more about KIA and the Soul!
KIA Soul! 
KIA Motors America on twitter
KIA Motors America on face book
KIA Motors America on Pinterest
Scott R. Mayorga A.A.S., BS MT(ASCP)H CLS

Fiber One Meal Bars - Great taste and excellent Nutrition

I received two varieties of Fiber One Meal Bars from BzzAgent.   My opinions are my own and I received no financial compensation.
Strawberry Greek Yogurt and Chocolate Peanut Butter Fiber One Meal Bars 

These meal bars are a great complement with your favorite beverage any time of day or night.  I especially enjoy them for breakfast at work at my desk.  I prepare myself a cup of coffee with my personal coffee maker and sit back for a couple of relaxing break minutes with my Fiber One Meal bar.

Strawberry Greek Yogurt is tangy, full of fresh strawberry flavor, whole almonds, and covered in great tasting Greek yogurt.  This is not a small bar either.  I can enjoy this bar for a long time but not with tiny little bites.

The Chocolate Peanut Butter bar is absolutely a chocolate lovers dream.  Roasted Almond with dark chocolate chips and dark chocolate coating.  Fresh peanut butter flavor balances the complement of dark chocolate.  An astounding mix of flavor and nutrition not too sweet and very lasting.

Fiber One meal bars are packed with nutrition; 9 grams fiber, 10 grams protein, and about 50% less sugar than comparable cereal bars.

Interact with FiberOne;
FiberOne on twitter
FiberOne on facebook
Interact with BzzAgent
BzzAgent on twitter

Scott R. Mayorga A.A.S.,BS MT(ASCP)H CLS
BzzAgent hematech

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Atlanta Shuts down with 3 Inches Snow - What a municipality Should Do Next Storm

Winter Storm Leon Causes Quite  a mess for Atlanta - January 28, 2014
by Scott R. Mayorga

Leon rolled into town on Tuesday January 28, 2014 approximately 12 Noon; Atlanta and the surrounding counties where caught off guard, ill prepared, and rather mis-informed for the snow event.  What Happened?  In a nut shell; thousands of motorists including school children on school buses were snagged in a web of confusion, hysteria, and anarchy for almost two days unable to travel on thousands of miles of roads while emergency vehicles were unable to get to those in critical situations.  Declaration of State of Emergency, activation of prevention measures, storm preparations were all too little and much too late.  Roadways clogged with traffic unable to move on pure ice paved roadways paralyzed the entire region.  There is plenty of blame post this weather event being thrown around and all of it is sticking rightly so to Atlanta and Georgia State Officials.  Winter Storm Leon was a conundrum of confusion exacerbated by lack of leadership, perpetuated by lack of control.

I will refrain from directly blaming anyone - that is counter productive.  I will lay out what I would do in the position of running "Storm Central" for the City of Atlanta and the north Georgia Region.
The Atlanta area receives significant snow accumulation every 2-4 years.  Significant is a relative term of measurement reflecting how bad the City was crippled.  On Jan. 28, 2014 with 3 inches of snow the entire Atlanta urban/suburban region was brought to its knees.  Three inches of snow in Buffalo NY would not be significant at all.  The North Georgia region might be able to muster up a hundred or so pieces of heavy equipment to fight the accumulations.  The City of New York probably has thousands of plows, sand spreaders, and emergency vehicles of some sort.  The City of NY bolts plows onto the front of garbage trucks and plows all day and all night.  In Atlanta, it is not feasible to acquire and maintain hundreds if not thousands of pieces of equipment just for a snow event every two to four years.  That being said, what is a major metro area to do to keep citizens safe.  I would think if you asked most people if they would rather have safety or anarchy- they will pick safety.  Here are my guidelines for those in the position of either acting and leading and also for those who sleep and go out to lunch doing nothing but delegating to others neither willing to do anything or are too inept to accomplish what needs to be done.  Might I digress...

Clearly and concisely asses the weather predictions. Make personal observations and decide on a plan of action at least 24 hours in advance.  The only thing that the weather man can be counted on is an accurate time of arrival of an event.  Whether 1 inch, 2 inch, or 6 inches of snow is predicted;  in the words of our fearless ex-Secretary of State Hillary "What difference Does It Make?"  Decide early what is the plan of action, get folks on the phone, mobilize what can be done well in advance.

Watch our Children. What is most important in our lives? Children right.  So for a significant event or an event that has potential to bring danger close the schools.  This was a tough storm.  The weather modeling computers had conflicts predicting this event even 5 hours before snow started falling.  Obviously, the computer models were ineffective.  Stick you head out the window.  Sniff the air.   Before a snow fall the air is thick, its cold, you can just feel it is going to snow like heck.  Look at the Radar maps.  If you say to yourself "Oh My God It's Coming Right For Us" then close the schools.

Declaration  of State of Emergency is important in many ways.  "Procedures may already be in place" but the declaration makes people take notice.  How many Atlanta workers were told to go home after the roadways were already jammed up at 12:45 PM?  A declaration early on even if premature would have given workers a heads up early and been given the chance to get rolling before icy conditions.  The declaration was not made until 3 PM or so which was some three hours after all the major arteries were dangerously clogged with vehicles that could not move.

Control flow of traffic - Trucks large and small were a major contributing factor to the mess that became of Leon.  Decades ago, I-285 "The Perimeter" was built so that trucks and other vehicles that had no business inside the perimeter could avoid the downtown areas by detouring onto the perimeter.  In a State of Emergency, I would have positioned GA State Patrol (GSP) on the roads to make sure all trucks either turn away from the city or detour onto the perimeter.  Any trucks that go inside the perimeter would be subject to stiff fine of $10,000 USD.  I know the GA States DOT Commissioner would cringe at that idea but that is how you control the situation.  Below is a map of the Atlanta major arteries.  The stars are where GSP would stage and direct trucks onto the perimeter.  Any trucks ignoring directions of troopers and the hundreds of overhead electronic interactive signage would be rounded up in the City and vehicles would be impounded.  Sounds harsh?  Too bad.  It is a State of Emergency.  It Doesn't mean go sell Girl Scout cookies in front of Walmart!

Map by Scott R Mayorga

Most importantly, open up HOT lanes and HOV lanes of traffic. Why restrict travel lanes during a State of Emergency.  That is just moronic.  Get the vehicles off the road as efficiently as possible, Period.

Mobilize the GSP and salt spreaders before the precipitation starts.  If a salt truck rolls by your brand new car and sprays your quarter panel with rock salt - Oh Well.  Get out of the way.  If that happens you are probably not paying attention, talking on the phone, or almost asleep at the wheel.  During the Leon event way into evening hours cars were paralyzed unable to move.  Opposite lanes-predominantly northbound were mostly devoid of vehicles.  GSP could set up those lanes of highways to allow vehicles to travel north in the empty southbound lanes.  Possibly, under escort of National Guard even?  What about that National Guard.  What are they good at? There expertise is moving people and equipment rapidly and efficiently.  How about some porta-toilets?  Hey what a great idea.  Mobilize the National Guard with porta-potties onto the roads in the event that things go bad.  There are plenty of privately owned salt/sand spreader trucks that could be mobilized by the city as a one day contract. I would use them.  A big problem was that salting was not done before the snow fell.  After accumulations snarled traffic to a stand-still the decision to mobilize salt spreaders was too late.  Is this not obvious? 

And now the big one - Weather Services and the fickle weatherman.  Stop relying on the computer models.  Get away from the screen and stick your head out the window.  Predict as you were trained to do.  Tuesday morning, the radio forecast for the weather that day was obviously turmoiled with confusion, uncertainty, and capped off with a fickle statement of "Stay Tuned for updated information".  Well that was just 3 hours before the snow started falling.  I saw the radar maps the night before and knew there was going to be some precipitation.  When I went outside that morning I could feel that "It's Going to Snow Feeling" in the air.  It is the weather.  Predictions are just that - Ones opinion about what the weather is going to bring.  Tuesday morning the term "Dusting" was used more than once in the weather reports at 8 AM EST.  That obviously told most people the event was not serious.  On top of School buses running children to school, and the lack of leadership and guidance from elected officials, a total lackadaisical state of wait and see prevailed.  Well wait and see went well beyond the first flakes and even further past jammed up roads.  How about some reminders reported with the weather report?  Reminders? What a novel idea!
If you must travel in the face of danger:
  • Pack extra clothing
  • Pack some food and water
  • Pack your medication
  • Pack a blanket
  • Make sure you have a cell phone charger and money in your wallet
  • How about some salt, kitty litter, or sand
  • A small shovel? Maybe.
  • A weapon of self protection - most definitely

Think before you embark.

The tragedy of the whole event that has become Winter Storm Leon was that people trapped on roadways in vehicles engines running until fuel tanks were empty had no food, no water, no medication, and no bathrooms.  Worse yet were the school children trapped inside school buses for 10-14 hours.  The children stuck at schools sleeping in the gym had fun.  I know my kids had plenty of sleep overs.  Thank goodness the teachers were able to handle the situation.  There were no tragedies at the schools so I can only imagine the kids and the teachers made the best of it and raided the cafeteria for snacks and drinks.  Probably the only leadership exhibited during the Storm and aftermath was by the teachers who cared for and supervised the children at the schools - Bravo!

Folks, have some common sense.  My work colleagues and family members all have stories about the storm and the mayhem that ensued.  Teleworkers had the best of the day or two.  Working from home was the best idea.  Then there were the workers who left too late in the afternoon.  Drivers stuck in the snarl for 8-10-16 hours.  A ride home from work only 10 miles distance took some half a day to complete.  Some never made it home that evening.  Some were stuck without necessary medication.

Inadequate warning, poor leadership, slow action, and complete lack of crucial action all came together to make Winter Storm Leon a catastrophe that will be remembered for decades to come.  Atlanta has become a the butt of numerous jokes not because of three inches of snow - because poor leadership made a situation so much worse than it had to be.  Lack of action allowed the severity of the impacts to elevate drastically to dangerous levels putting countless lives in jeopardy.

Next time we can do better.  If the city needs help next time the prediction is "Just a Dusting" just call me.

Scott R. Mayorga  A.A.S., BS MT(ASCP)H CLS

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Oh the fun of Cichlids! One hobbyists point of view from in front of the glass


A type of fish found in South American and African lakes.  Colorful, smart, humorous, feisty, and intelligent.  Cichlids are a wonderful fish to keep.  Watching their behavior, feeding them caring for them.  These are the joys of keeping a fish tank full of Cichlids.  Tropical fish of a special order they are.  It is a joy to care for these animals and have them respond to your presence.  They seem to acknowledge and respect their keeper(s).  They have watchful eyes that follow your movements.  They wave their fins in distinctive pattern when you talk to them and pay them attention.  They follow your finger as it streaks across the glass.  They are interactive more than you can imagine from my writing.  This behavior is just what makes me love them so much.  They seem to acknowledge you anytime you watch them.  Here I present to you Cichlidae Lagoon III...

Keeping a fish tank is not easy, requires work, and probably more so than keeping a dog or cat.  Conditions conducive to keeping healthy tropical fish consist of water condition, water chemistry, temperature management, eco-system filter management, nutrition, and environmental lighting and entertainment.  Water changes are required as well as maintenance of the mechanical filter system.
Cichlids like hard water of alkaline nature in the 25-30ºC/ 72-80ºF temperature.

My cichlids are such fun to watch and feed.  They are animated.  They have different personalities.  They are characters.  Much like your group of school friends or work buddies.  Each of them has traits and behaviors that make each of them distinctive and loveable.  

"Pancake" is somewhat reclusive but always has a grin on his face.  He is a beautiful sky blue color with yellow spots on his anal fin. Happy he is hiding in his plastic wood log decoration.  Peeking his head out to see if you are still watching him.  He moves his eyes to keep track of you.  He is my excavator.  He can move about a half pound of pebbles in one 10 hour shift.  He picks up the pebbles in his mouth and spits them out sometimes at the glass making a pinging noise. 

"Elvis" is the trouble maker.  Voted "Most likely to chase the others in 2013" he is trouble waiting to happen.  He hides then sneak attacks the other fish.  He will corner and badger his tank mates.  He will also eat young off-spring as well.  He is my bad boy in black with a bright blue stripes longitudinal along his body.

"Lilly" is my beautiful Mother fish.  She ferociously guarded her babies until they were large and safe enough to manage themselves.  She is albino pink with bright ruby eyes.  She is a wonderful and smart mother.  She had a great gaggle of babies which are all doing just swell.  She is kind and gentle allowing herself to be chased by the males.  But, get near her babies and she will kill-ya!

"Dexter" is the big boy.  He is a Bumble-Bee Cichlid but I think he looks more like a tiger.  Dexter can change his colors in a matter of seconds from almost all black to vivid yellow and black stripes.  He is about 7 inches long, always happy, and inquisitive.  He is my favorite because he seems most interested in me.  Leslie, of Leslie Loves Veggies has her favorite - which is Lilly. Dexter always comes alive when I am near the tank.  I have trained Dexter to eat his special veggie wafers out of a seashell on the bottom of the lagoon.

"Mickey" is one of our Convict Cichlids.  His markings are well like a convict; black and gray stripes all along his body.  He is sweet, shy, and mild mannered.  He gets excited at eating time but he never gets rowdy.  He is the father of the latest brood that came about with Minnie.

"Minnie" is my other female who is a Convict Cichlid who recently had offspring.  Child rearing darn near killed her.  She is looking rather rag-tag after her mouth brooding but she is shaping up nicely now.  She did not eat for over two weeks while she carried her babies in her mouth until she spit them out.  She is a gentle fish that can rapidly evade the advances of Elvis or a fish net like a football player carrying the ball.  Her appetite is back with a vengeance now and so is her regal charcoal color.

Then there is the school of baby fish from two offspring from Lilly and Minnie.  There are too many to count.  They started out at about ¼ inch and rapidly grow length and character.  They have a voracious appetite for little suckers.  Some are blue-gray striped and others are so young they are colorless.  Some are also gray-black but no stripes.

The Cichlids favorite food is Tetra Cichlid Crisps.  These little bi-color chips are full of protein and nutrients.  The fish go after them at every meal.  They also like Tetra Cichlid Sticks.  I toss a few of these half inch curls into the water; Dexter and Lilly can't resist them.  Elvis and Minnie go crazy for New Life Spectrum Cichlid Pellets.  Dexter goes wild for New Like Spectrum Veggie Wafers.  I break these dime size wafers in two, place them in a seashell at the bottom of the tank.  Dexter once bit the wafers out of the gripper tool while I was loading his food seashell bowl.  I can also drill a hole in the wafer, tie thread to it and dangle in the water.  Dexter will chew on the wafer while I hold the thread in-between my fingers.

Cichlids need there rest?  Yes they do.  I don't leave the tank light on all the time.  I turn one light on in the morning when I go to work and then both are on during evening hours.  At night when I go to bed so do the Cichlids.  The tank lights go out and the Cichlids rest.  I don't know if fish sleep but I know for sure they rest.  They each find a favorite spot and chill.  Some like to hang in a plant, some like the log cave, and others like the rock cave.  Dexter is too big to fit in either but he will rest on the bottom.  When they rest they don't move.  I can "wake" them if I tip-toe to the tank- otherwise they feel the vibration in the water from foot steps around the tank.  They will start to move there dorsal fins and start moving about.

Feeding Time Frenzy! When I put food in the tank they go wild.  They are hungry little beasts.
I can float food on the surface and Dexter will swim up to surface, grab food, flip his tail, and splash water out of the tank.  His tail is about two inches wide so he can really douse me with water.  I love the fish.  They are all special with their own behaviors.  They bring much joy and entertainment watching them swim and dart around the tank, excavating, eating, and chasing each other.  All the hard work is worth it for me.  

So what does it cost to keep tropical fish or Cichlids in a tank.
After the initial set up of the tank and all required equipment such as lighting, heater, filter, air pump, chemistry testing kits, the continued expenses are for maintenance and food.  A 5.3 oz canister of food pellets is about $8 dollars.  A massive 9 oz canister of flakes or crisps is about $20 dollars.  Each would last 2-3 months if that is what I fed solely but when diet is varied between flakes, crisps, pellets, sticks, and wafers the canisters can last almost a year.  Filter media can range from $5-8 dollars per month depending on the tank and filter size.  Upgrading is expensive.  I have upgraded tanks twice in the last two years.  I now have a 60 gallon tank on a beautiful wood stand.  The fish are so happy and content they are breeding like crazy.  I got the 60 gallon in October; in December the first school of fry were born.  By Jan. 10th the second school of fry was blessed on Leslie and I.  Its getting quite scary.  Healthy-Happy Cichlids can have offspring two to three times a year.  Each time more fry are born.

So who do I use for supplies?
Mostly PETCO.  I have a local store that really came through for me when I needed help.  As I have stated in a blog post in September 2013, my first fish tank "Cichlidae Lagoon I" started leaking badly.  Petco housed my fish for a little over a week while I acquired a replacement tank.  The Cichlids went to summer camp for the week where they camped with the Convict pair Mickey and Minnie in the stores display tank.  I brought Mickey and Minnie home and the rest is history.  Petco was so kind, so helpful, and also financially assisted me by taking back my leaking tank for full refund and let me keep all the supplies that came with it.  MarineLand (Parent company Unbited Pet Group) also came through financially for me.  They sent me a new air pump, filter supplies and Cichlid food that will last over a year as compensation toward the troubling experience of going through a leaking tank episode.  Both Petco and MarineLand (United Pet Group) were so kind and receptive.  They care about the fish and it shows.  I sometimes will go to Petsmart for an occasional item.  I have nothing against Petsmart.  They are great people.  It is just that my experiences with Petco have been all so good I have a special place in my heart for them.  I would like to send a shout out to Becky, Sean, Chris, and the rest of the staff at the Buford, GA Petco.  They really took care of me and the Cichlids - literally.  What great folks full of knowledge and expertise.  They will readily call a local expert on the phone to get answers to questions they are unsure of.  Incompetence is flubbing and fumbling through an answer or out-right lying through teeth.  Competence is having the knowledge and ability to source information when needed.  Thanks Petco Buford, GA.

I love my Cichlids.  My fish are just so cute.  The fry are adorable.  The Cichlids are so smart and alert; they do not take their eyes off of anyone sitting in front of the tank.  Go visit a local pet store and see the aquarium fish.  They make wonderful house mates and truly rewarding pets.
Watch my youtube video of Lilly, Dexter, and the allusive peeking Pancake all watching me shoot their video.

Scott R. Mayorga A.A.S., BSMT(ASCP)H CLS
Proud fish owner
To learn more about these special fascinating fish visit these websites:
American Cichlid Association


Friday, January 10, 2014

Mazda6 Driving Experience - Gadgetry and Sleek Styling

2014 Mazda Mazda6 Driving Experience

This 2014 Mazda6 I Grand Touring as provided by STI - The Driving Experience company for review; the opinions stated below are my own and I received no financial compensation.
Oh wow look at this baby!  I had the pleasure of driving and sharing this sleek vehicle with Leslie of Leslie Loves Veggies for review.  What fun we had.  This is the Mazda 2014 Mazda6 I Grand Touring with SkyActiv treatment.  I have driven Mazda vehicles before including the Mazda3 SkyActiv which Leslie and I reviewed in 2013 but this vehicle by far was so techno-geeky gadget filled I was mesmerized every time I got behind the wheel. 

This version of the Mazda6 is the sleekest, sexiest, and most brilliant piece of machinery ever for the Mazda6 blood line.  This really is a beautiful car plain and simply put.  The description of its high tech features and how they interact with the driver are nothing short of a rabble of adjectives such as miraculous, brilliant, incredible, astonishing...I could go on and on.  However, don't let this sleek sexy exterior hypnotize you.  There is also practical function, economy, and vast safety features making this vehicle a confident highly revered 4 cylinder.  I really liked this vehicle after driving a good number of miles.  At first, there were some aspects about this car that dissuaded me from going wild about it.  I have preconceived notions about Mazda vehicles in general as a previous owner of a Mazda MPV minivan which mechanically drained my resources of energy and money constantly needing minor repairs over and over again.  Let me tell you the 2014 Mazda6 is a beast of a different animal so far refined from the MPV I owned of more than 20 years ago.

Mazda was founded in 1920 but did not take on the Mazda Motors name for a number of years.  Mazda vehicles started entering US ports in 1970.   In 1971 Mazda Motors of America was established with those Wacky Wankel powered vehicles.  After several name changes, presidents, and company transitions, Mazda is now the only car maker that sells production vehicles with a rotary engine which in theory the Wankel engine has not changed much since its birth with Mazda in 1961.  Today's Mazda vehicles are sporty, functional, and very fun to drive.  Sophistication, which I feel Mazda has always strived to achieve amongst other automobile marks always came oh so close but ultimately short on earning that title.  The econo-boxes of yesteryear are gone from the Mazda lineup.  But, watch out other Japanese brands, Mazda is out for blood and darn sure earns that sophistication title with this Mazda6.  With an amenities including such goodies as leather heated full power memory seats for driver and passenger, leather wrapped steering wheel, auto dim mirror, back up camera,  on 6 inch screen, radio, full navigation, blue tooth, full fold down rear seats, adaptive headlights, and SkyActive engine technology providing 30+ MPG city driving this vehicle is a knockout.  Recent enhancements to body styling incorporated into the 2014 edition of Mazda6 make this vehicle a pure sophisticated dream.  Oh and I did not list the high tech advanced driver enhancements yet.  This is where I was absolutely mesmerized.  Take a look at treasure trove list of gadgetry.
Radar enhanced Cruise Control with auto braking
Automatic wiper control
Advanced Lane Departure Warning System
Blind Spot Monitoring and rear cross traffic alert
Traction control, hill launch assist, forward obstruction warning system
Capacitor I-ELOOP Regen Engine braking System - What the heck is that?
Sport shift with paddles mounted on tilt/telescoping steering wheel

Holy Cow as Phil Rizzuto would exclaim! This techno-geeky wiz-bang eco-mileage sexy beast all dressed up ready to go for under $30 Grand.  Holy Green Backs Batman!
View from the trunk with the back seats down

Ok how does this car drive?  The 2014 Mazda6 gives a smooth comfortable ride with competent
handling, smooth shifting 6 speed automatic transmission, excellent braking, and brisk acceleration.  Sounds like just about any car you can test drive for about $20,000 dollars right.  Well, yes as my dear Father-in Law used to say all cars have a 4 wheel conveyance system, nocturnal illuminators, 4-40 ventilation, and oscillating rain deflection system.  The Mazda6 has that stuff but its what other vehicles in the same class as Mazda6 don't have that expertly enhance the driver experience in this vehicle and bring a level of control and confidence felt in very few vehicles.  By far the most enjoyable and wizard like features of this vehicle was contained in the $2100 GT Technology Package with Lane Departure Warning and Radar Enhanced Cruise Control systems.  The Lane Departure System has an observation turret forward facing from the rear view mirror pod that sights the road markings and alerts when the vehicle drifts near the markings on the road.  There is a display screen on the gauge pod that visually alerts the driver as well as an audible tone throughout the cabin.   Yes, Leslie and I had much fun purposely letting the car drift just so we could be scolded by the lane departure warning.  Fortunately, we did not get pulled over by the Police; Oh what fun that would have been explaining the "drifting test" to Mr. Police Officer.  The Radar Cruise Control was just absolutely fascinating.  Instead of using a radar detector in your car to detect and warn when you are being clocked for speed measurement this vehicle uses radar to detect the vehicle traffic around you on the road and maintain or slow down your speed to desired setting automatically - No Braking Needed!  Like a missile, just set it and forget it.  The Radar cruise control which can be sensitivity adjusted while driving which keeps the vehicle at the set speed and at the set distance behind forward traffic and automatically applies braking when moving obstacles enter the detection zone in front of the Mazda6.  I was amazed at how competent, precise and reactive this system was at controlling the vehicle.

Economy and luxury rarely go hand in hand when you talk about a car.  The Mazda6 brings real economy to the table with its 2.5 ltr. 4-cylinder 184 hp SKYACTIV Drive train.  We drove the Mazda6 almost entirely around town in city like driving conditions for about 300 miles and achieved a solid 31MPG fuel economy.  Burning regular octane fuel is added economic bonus.  Highway driving is estimated at 40 MPG for this vehicle which is phenomenal.   What a drive - what a vehicle.  The Mazda6 is really cool, has sleek styling, excellent fuel economy, and enough high tech gadgetry to keep a fighter pilot amused for a little while at least.  Hey the car has RADAR alright already?

So what did I not like about this vehicle.
  • Interior lighting was non-existent for important knobs and controls such as power window, door lock, and side view mirror buttons.  I fumbled in the dark in pouring rain trying to un-lock the passenger door until frustrated I reached for the door handle from inside the vehicle.  Then I learned how to change the settings so the key fob could un-lock all doors with one button.
  • Navigation seemed a little un-sophisticated compared to systems in lower cost vehicles I have tested.  It was adequate and functional but just lacked pizzas that the vehicles other electronic features bestowed upon the driver.
  • The Mazda6 has no engine temperature gauge on the instrument cluster.  There are indicator lights that turn blue when cold and go away when the engine is hot but I like a gauge; a full set of gauges.
  • The Mazda6 Grand Touring was not as quiet as I expected inside the cabin when driven around town.  I heard road noise and the faint rumble of tire noise but also buzzy engine noise.  I thought that Mazda could have done a better job insulating the cabin inhabitants from such extraneous sources. Sound measurements taken inside the Mazda6 and my 2000 Toyota Celica (at 270,000 miles it is the Beast) at about the same speed show the Mazda6 only slightly quieter than the beast.

In all, I can say the Mazda6 I Grand Touring was a very smart vehicle full of wizardry that really enhances driver comfort and ability.  Like the I-ELOOP Regen system that creates electrical energy from vehicle deceleration, stores the energy in a capacitor, then bursts the energy out to the vehicles electrical components reducing the need for the engine to produce that energy.  This potentially saves fuel usage while driving.  There are various ingenious technologies that have evolved over the years which will ultimately bring the automobile to self-driving status.  These features include cruise control, auto on headlights, auto wipers with moisture detection, anti-lock brakes, GPS navigation systems, and parking assist.  The Mazda6 takes a giant leap forward toward almost self drive-ability with radar cruise control, blind spot monitoring, and lane departure detection.  Vehicles in the future will drive without human intervention.  This vehicle is oh-so close to that engineering fantasy.

Thanks STI - The Driving Experience People for the opportunity to drive the 2014 Mazda6 I Grand Touring!
To learn more about Mazda vehicles click here www.mazda.com
Contact with Mazda via facebook, twitter, and Pinterest.

Scott R. Mayorga A.A.S. BS MT(ASCP)H CLS

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