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
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BzzAgent on twitter

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

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