PH Tester and Tests

ph-testerI recently bought a Xpertomatic PH tester to test some of the drinks I consume. I followed the directions on the instructions to calibrate it first.

For those of you unfamiliar with PH, it’s a test of acidity. On a scale of 0 to 14, seven is considered Neutral. Zero is very acidic and 14 would be very base or alkaline. The scale changes by a factor of ten for each number. Six is ten times more acidic than seven and five would be one hundred times more acidic than seven.

 

 

 

 

Here are my results.

  • Beer – Schlafly Pale Ale – 5.36
  • Coffee Costco – 4.6
  • Coffee with cream – 5.2
  • Coffee – Folgers – Med. Dark – 5.17
  • Coffee – Folgers – Classic Medium Roast – Costco – 4.72
  • Coffee Puroast – 5.75
  • Coffee – Trader Joe’s cold brew – 5.24
  • Tea from tap water – 6.9
  • Water distilled – Essentials ShopnSave – 6.0
  • Water distilled Blue Mountain – 6.78
  • Water tap – 9.04. , 9.68
  • Water – tap – filtered – 6.5
  • Water bottled – 6.35
  • Fruit compote – 3.8
  • Kefir – 3.8

phfig1-revised

 

Cleaning the Outside Air Conditioner

AC-clogged-outside-01

I decided to take a look at my two outside air conditioner units and see if they need cleaning. As you can see from the picture, they are totally clogged. I’m surprised that I’m getting any cooling at all. The fins are covered on the outside by a panel which makes it very hard to see what is going on inside.

AC-clogged-outside-02

While I initially took a shop vac to the fins, with a little testing I learned that a good stream of water will release the dirt. You could also spray it with a cleaner, but that may not even be necessary.

Taking apart the top of my unit is fairly easy. After turning off the electricity, I unscrewed the top. Unfortunately the unit is still held in by electrical wires. What I did was to use some garden pads to rest the top on and used the hose on the fins. If you don’t take off the sides, you can still clean the outside, but it’s not as easy. It’s hard to put the pieces back together, so just taking the top off is the easy option.

One option that I am going to try is put a screen around the outside of the unit. They have one available on Amazon, but some reviewers said that this is basically just a window screen, so that’s what I’m going to try.

 

Lactobacillus gasseri for Weight Loss

RESULTS – gained two pounds.

I tried the probiotic below for a month and gained two pounds. Don’t waste your time if you want to lose weight.

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While this is not definitive, I’m going to try Lactobacillus gasseri for thirty days and see what happens. Below are the links which seem to indicate this bacteria might help in weight maintenance.
Note – I gained two pounds in the last year taking some probiotics which were recommended.

Jan 8, 2016 – started taking two pills per day – 3 billion CFU per pill.
Weight at start is 183.

The video below talks about the role of bacteria in weight control.

HooplaDigital.com – movies-music-books – FREE

hoopoladigital-01The St. Louis County Library has added another streaming media service for all it’s patrons. Yeah!!!!

All you have to do is go to Hoopladigital.com and Signup.

You choose the St.Louis County Library and setup your account.

It has ebooks, movies, comic books, audiobooks, and television (older shows). I’m listening to music as I write this, so that’s a nice feature.

To return any emedia, you have to look for a return near the bottom of the page.

While I’m using this program in St. Louis, Missouri, it is also available in other cities and states.

The library allows you to borrow 15 titles each month. On the first of each month, those borrows renew. They’ll be automatically returned when your lending period is over.

Note also that there are apps for this program which seem to work well with my Android phone. You can download books to your e-device.

hoopoladigital-02

How to Keep Your Basement Dry

Here’s a speech I did for Toastmasters on tips to keep your basement dry and how to be prepared if there is a problem. Gutter Guards are another topic I didn’t have time to go into, but I use them also.

I didn’t have time to cover sewer backups, but Ask This Old House did a great segment on this.

 

 

Nutrition Rating for Foods

I’ve recently come across a concept called Yale University’s Overall Nutritional Quality Index (ONQI) . It apparently has also been monetized into the NuVal.com website. The idea is that foods are rated on a scale of 1 to 100, with one hundred being the best and one being the worst.  The idea is that consumers want to get the most nutrition in the least amount of calories. NuVal won’t post their list for some reason, but they do give ratings on Facebook. I’ve put together a list of both the ONQI from Wikipedia and the NuVal information that is posted on Facebook. Mostly they both agree, but in some cases they are different.

Here is their list.

Broccoli 100
Blueberries 100
Strawberries 100
Greek yogurt non fat 100
Okra 100
Orange 100
Green beans 100
Sweet Potato 100
Spinach 100
Kale 100
Celery 100
Cherries 100
Pineapple 99
Radish 99
Summer squash 98
Watermelon 98
Apple 96
Green cabbage 96
Tomato 96
Clementine 94
Watermelon 94
Mango 93
Red onions 93
Fresh figs 91
Grapes 91
Banana 91
Milk (skimmed) 91
Avocado 89
Oatmeal 88
Raisins 88
Atlantic salmon fillet 87
Walnuts 84
Almonds 84
Atlantic halibut fillet 82
Catfish fillet 82
Cod fillet 82
Tilapia fillet 82
Oysters 81
Swordfish steak 81
Prawns 75
Shrimp 75
Clams 71
Pecans 69
Monkfish fillet 64
Peanuts 60
Milk (whole) 52
Scallops 51
Turbot fillet 51
Pasta 50
Turkey breast (skinless) 48 – NuVal gives it a 73
Tinned peas 49
Prunes 45
Chicken breast (boneless) 39 NuVal gives this a 57
Orange juice 39
Lobster 36
Pork tenderloin 35
Flank steak (Beef) 34
Turkey breast 31
Veal chop 31
Veal leg cutlet 31
Beef tenderloin 30
Chicken drumstick 30
Pork chop (boneless centre cut) 28
Chicken wings 28
Lamb chops (loin) 28
Leg of lamb 28
Ham (whole) 27
Raisins 26
Cheese 25
Green olives 24
Bagel 23
Peanut butter 23
Condensed cream of broccoli soup 21
Salted, dry-roasted peanuts 21
Fried egg 18
Swiss cheese 17
Diet fizzy drinks 15
Non-streaky bacon 13
Pretzel sticks 11
Dark chocolate 10
White bread 9
Salami 7
Hot dog 5
Cheese puffs 4
Milk chocolate 3
Apple pie 2
Crackers 2
Fizzy drinks 1
Popsicle 1

Lynda.com Free for St. Louis County Library Users

lynda-slcl

I’ve been a big proponent of Lynda.com for many years and now I just noticed that it is Free for St. Louis County Library Users.

Lynda.com is a video resource and training company with a LARGE list of programs and skills which all of us need to learn and refresh.

You will need to setup what they call a Profile at Lynda – just your name and email address.

Note – normally this would cost $25/month.

Here’s the link to setup an account.
https://www.lynda.com/portal/sip?org=iii.slcl.org

Esther Gokhale Back Posture Method

Since I’m always looking for ways to minimize my back pain, I ran across this woman and her approach to better posture.

Esther-Gokhale-bookHere is her book available on Amazon or your local library.

I took a few notes from one of the programs she did.

  • If you are sitting, get up and move ever fifteen minutes. She suggests rolling your shoulders in a circular motion.
  • She says that your back and hips should be in a “J ” shape. Buttocks out – not tucked in.
  • Don’t arch your back
  • You want your knees angled down.
  • She suggests having a wedge in your chair so that you are angled down.

Videos are below

Air Filter and Box Fan

air-filter-box-fan

Since the mold, pollen and air seems to be so bad this year, I was theorizing that if I used a very good air filter and attached it to a box fan, my air quality would get better. I used the Filtrete  Healthy Living Elite Allergen Reduction Filter, MPR 2200. These cost about $15 on Amazon.

As you can see from the picture, this simple setup is doing an excellent job at filtering our the small particles in the air.

While you could use this in your furnace, I’ve found that it reduces the air flow quite a bit.  I ended up putting one of these filter fans upstairs and one downstairs.

It’s interesting that my wife’s allergy symptoms have abated since using this filter setup.

 

Does Chlorinated Water Kill Your Microbiome?

I was reading the latest book from Dr. David Perlmutter, Grain Maker, where he makes the statement, “Chemicals, such as chlorine, that are added to many sources of water, to kill bad bacteria will also kill good bacteria, probiotic bacteria.”

Since I’ve been drinking chlorinated water my entire life, as most Americans have, I was disturbed by this statement so I thought I’d do some research.

First off, Dr. Perlmutter doesn’t offer any scientific research for this statement. I wish he had sited some sources.

On the other hand, it does seem to make some sense. I’ve learned from practical experience that putting gold fish in a bowl filled with tap water will kill them fairly quickly. My logic is, if it will kill a gold fish, wouldn’t tap water also kill bacteria in your gut?

In 1998, the magazine, Scientific American, asked the question, “How does chlorine added to drinking water kill bacteria and other harmful organisms? Why doesn’t it harm us?” Their answer back then was, “Food in our stomachs and the materials normally present in the intestinal tract quickly neutralize the chlorine. So chlorine concentrations along cell membranes in the gastrointestinal tract are probably too low to cause injury.”

I did find some interesting research as to how tap water affects garden plants and lawn. Their main conclusion was, “Researchers have found that chlorinated drinking water may kill a number of microorganisms in soil or a compost pile. However, their reproduction rate is so rapid that populations rebound in a short time.”

In the St. Louis area, they add ammonia to the chlorine to keep it more stable – they call this chloramination.

The EPA has lots of informaion on chloramines. It has been used for decades in some communities. Here is the link. Chloramines in Drinking Water.

Josh Harkinson did an article for Mother Jones which includes this quote, “Chlorination has done tremendous good, so the default is to continue as is,” Martin Blaser, the director of the Human Microbiome Project, told me, “but whether or not there are subtler effects needs to be studied.”

A friend of mine in the field told me, “Specifically about chloramine, it seems that many water districts have switched from chlorine to chloramine because (1) it has a longer-lasting disinfection effect which keeps down bacterial growth in holding tanks and pipes, and (2) it has fewer toxic disinfection byproducts than chlorine. Chloramine is considered safe (at <4 mg/L) by the EPA. I doubt that chloramine would kill off bacteria in your body and/or probiotics at the low levels present in drinking water – it can be broken down (metabolized) by your saliva and leave your body in your urine. But I haven’t seen any specific scientific studies on this.”

Thanks to J for pointing me to the SFWater.org site which has a lot of information on chloramines.

http://www.sfwater.org/index.aspx?page=430

http://www.sfwater.org/index.aspx?page=357

http://www.sfwater.org/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?documentID=6920

http://www.sfwater.org/modules/showdocument.aspx?documentid=4130

To summarize the SFWater.org information – Water with chloramines is safe to drink.

If you still decide to remove the chloramines, then for an investment of $23 plus the filter cost, a Brita pitcher filter is an easy way to remove the chloramines..

Here are some other resources.

 

 

Honey Water to Prevent Browning

I got this from America’s Test Kitchen

2 Tab of honey in one cup of water – mix it up.

Put in your cut fruit/vegetables for a minute or two and it will keep them from browning for up to 24 hours.

Microbiome Notes

It seems like one of the new frontiers in human biology is the role of the 100 trillion microbial cells that we all have in and on us. Microbes outnumber our human cells ten to one. How do they affect us and our biology?

Below is a good basic video which explains the concepts.

More Links and Resources

More Videos

Dr. Mercola recommends:

  • NO sugar or artificial sweetner
  • Stay away from commercial yogurt and kefir.
  • Un-pasteurized Sauerkraut, olives, pickles,
  • Don’t drink chlorinated water !
  • Don’t use anti-bacterial soap.
  •  Buy organic food.
  • Take probiotics – Take them on an empty stomach – 20 minutes before a meal – don’t get enteric coated pills –

I don’t know if the below video has any validity, but it should be an interesting theory.

Low FODMAP Diet

Low FODMAPS – Started – Feb. 23, 2015

Oil – Olive oil or butter
Fruits – banana, blueberry, cantaloupe, grape, orange, strawberry.
Vegetables – Bell Pepper – Carrot – Chives – Cucumber – Green Beans – Kale – Lettuce – Olives – Potato – Radish – Spinach – Squash – Tomato – Zucchini
Cheese – Brie, Camembert, Cheddar, Feta. Mozzarella, Parmesan, Swiss, Hard Cheeses
Yogurt – Greek or lactose free
Milk – half and half, almond milk, Sherbert, whipping cream.
Grains – Arrowroot, Gluten Free Oats, Gluten Free Pasta, Polenta, Psyllium, Quinoa, Rice, popcorn
Protein – Chicken, Beef,  Eggs, Fish, Lamb, Pork
Alcohol – Beer, Gin, Vodka, Whisky, Wine
Nuts/Seeds – use in limited quantities – Pecans, Pine Nuts, Pumpkin Seeds, Sesame Seeds, Walnuts.
Snacks – mozzarella cheese stick – rice cakes with peanut butter – banana almonds/nuts, lactose-free yogurt – Udi’s white bread  BLT –
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Moderate Fodmaps – below – use limited amounts
3 cherries – ¼ avocado, ¼ cup artichoke hearts, 3 asparagus spears, ½ cup broccoli, ½ cup brussels sprouts, ¼ cup butternut pumpkin, 1 cup cabbage (savoy), 1 celery stick, ½ cup green peas, 10 pods snow peas, ½ corn cob, ½ cup sweet potato, 10 almonds
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Most sources also encourage a low lactose diet.

Sue Shepherd in her book Low-Fodmap Diet gives these figures below. She also says that most people can have up to 4 grams of lactose at one sitting.

Hard Cheese 1 oz .1
Butter 1 Tab .1
Cream 1 Tab .4
Cream Cheese 1 Tab 1
Cake small slice 1
Ice Cream 2 scoops 4
Low fat yogurt 6 oz 6

 

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Fodmap means – “fermentable oligo-, di-, and monosaccharides and polyols”

Cleveland Clinic

Washington Post

NIH – 1 – 2

Stanford Low FODMAP

Role of FODMAPs in Patients With Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Review.

 http://livinghappywithibs.com/2013/05/24/my-favorite-low-fodmap-items/

http://www.jwatch.org/na33303/2014/01/28/are-dietary-fodmaps-cause-irritable-bowel-syndrome

Monash.edu

Central Clinical School, Monash University

 

Freezing Your Credit

If you’re part of the Anthem 80 million people who had their personal information stolen, you may want to do a Credit Freeze. Steve Gibson talked about this in his Security Now Podcast #495.

Here is a good article on Freezing Your Credit.”

http://www.clarkhoward.com/news/clark-howard/personal-finance-credit/credit-freeze-and-thaw-guide/nFbL/

You have to do this with the three individual agencies and it does cost some money.

Here’s another good article from Consumers Union – part of Consumer Reports.

Article #2 from Consumers Union
http://consumersunion.org/research/consumers-unions-guide-to-security-freeze-protection/

Missouri Information
http://consumersunion.org/pdf/security/securityMO.pdf

In Missouri – it seems like the best $15 anyone could invest.

Kinesio Tape for Back Problems

I’ve tried almost everything in the book for back pain and so I thought I’d give Kinesio Tape a try. I have a meeting that I go to every week and I have to sit for almost two hours. It’s tough on my back, so I’m going to try the tape. There seem to be different ways to apply the tape and where to apply it. I’m starting with the video below.

Video #1 – tried this procedure and it did not help over a two hour meeting.

Video #2

Video #3

More Links

 

Tsa pre – Notes

My wife and I just signed up for TSA pre and I thought I’d share some notes on the experience.

  • You signup online at http://www.tsa.gov/tsa-precheck
  • Make sure you do the Pre-Enroll process – it will save you time when you go to Lambert airport. For some reason, I couldn’t do this initially. I made the appointment and then had to go back in do the pre-enroll. My wife however had no problem.
  • Also make an appointment – just in case. It turns out that we didn’t need it as there was literally no one there when we arrived.
  • In the St. Louis airport, it’s on the main floor close to the metro station – they have good signage.
  • The cost is $85 – non-refundable. It’s good for 5 years.
  • You will need to use a credit card – no cash or checks accepted.
  • You also need to bring a passport or birth certificate.
  • The only problem with the whole process is that it was hard for them to get a good scan of my fingerprints. Wash your hands well before you arrive. My wife had the same problem.
  • It will take up to 21 days for them to approve you.
  • You don’t get a card, only a number.
  • When you get your number, go to all the airlines you use and change your profile to include the Known Traveler Number.

NOTE – while I got my number withing three weeks, my wife took two months to get her number because they had trouble getting good finger prints from her.

TIP – make sure your TSA name and your airline information match. If you use a middle name with TSA, make sure that your airline reservations have that middle name also.

Avocado Benefits

avocado

There are a number of doctors and programs which suggest adding avocados to you diet. Here are some reports of their benefits. The avocados which are pre-processed and available any time are a nice alternative when your avocados are not quite ripe. The latest reports suggest that avocados help lower bad cholesterol and help in weight management.

 

January 1st Chores

I have some regular chores that I check-off at the beginning of the year.

  • Throw away old clothes. Look for clothes which haven’t been worn all year and give them to a charity. I take this tip from Oprah who suggested turning all your hangers to face the back at the beginning of the year. If they haven’t been turned around by the end of the year, then you know you haven’t worn them all year.
  • Backup your computer. Hopefully, you do this on a regular basis, but just in case you haven’t, now is a good time.
  • Copy your wallet. Take out everything from your wallet and scan it and make a physical copy just in case you lose a credit card or your whole wallet. Also copy your passport if you haven’t already.
  • Adjust your budget. At the beginning of each year I look at my budget and see what items need to be adjusted. There’s a good chance your cable bill and phone bill have gone up. What are ways you can reduce your bills?
  • Go though your emergency supplies. See what needs to be added/updated/thrown-out.
  • Goals for the coming year? Think about new goals for the year and what you need to do to reach them.

If you have any other beginning of the year tips, please share them.

How to Open Impossible Jars

open-a-jar

I was close to having a hernia trying to get this jar opened and remembered that my wife Gerry had a easy way to do it.

Just slip a bottle opener under the lid, pointed in first, and pry it just a bit. That will release the vacuum seal and make it very easy to open.

Are Plastic Containers Safe for the Microwave?

The answer is a firm Maybe.

According to both Harvard, WebMD and the FDA you MUST only use plastic containers that have a “Microwave Safe” label on them. These containers have been tested and approved by the FDA.

microwave-safe-plastic-containers

Just be careful about what you buy and you should be safe.

Here are more links on the subject.