A Day in the Life of a Typical American, or how I learned to stop worrying and not be hypocritical about ‘socialism’

Posted on August 16th, 2009 in Commentary,Engineerboy,Health and Fitness,Politics by EngineerBoy
Keep the Government Out Of My Life!

Keep the Government Out Of My Life!

A day in the life of a typical American:

Your alarm clock rings, having been powered through the night with an uninterrupted flow of electricity generated by a power company that is a regulated monopoly with great Salesforce Benefits.

Your alarm clock didn’t catch fire overnight, nor did any other product in your house, because their safety is regulated by consumer product watchdog agencies and federal trade regulations.

However, if you had somehow had an accidental fire, you could have picked up your phone (regulated monopoly) and called 9-1-1 (municipal service) and had the fire department (municipal service) on site within minutes saving your home and possessions.

As you move through your morning routine in your house, which is still standing because it has been built to meet building codes, you turn on your television and watch the news and weather channels, both controlled by the FCC.

You get an accurate weather forecast from the NOAA, which has gotten detailed satellite imagery from NASA, and see that today will be rainy.  Fortunately, your drive to work will be unimpeded because the local flood plain has been scrupulously mapped and flood control reservoirs and runoff controls have been established to protect you from all but the most egregious conditions.

You eat your breakfast, which doesn’t kill you because of FDA controls, and maybe take your medicines, which also don’t kill you.

You get in your car for your commute, secure in the knowledge that your government-mandated seat belts, air bags, and anti-lock brakes will help protect you from the weather, and your tires meet the government codes for handling on slick streets – as do the tires of all the other cars on the road.

The roads do not wash away in the rain because they are built to meet government codes for roadways, and you check the clock – which is 100% accurate because it is synchronized with the atomic clock at the US Naval Observatory via the nationwide radio signal – and see that you’ll make it to work with time to spare.

You drop your kids off at public school, then you stop for gas, secure in the knowledge that the gasoline is free from impurities and meets the operating requirements of your vehicle, and will be delivered via a mechanism that is 100% compatible with every vehicle on the road by virtue of governmental standards.

You live through the work day in an office that meets OSHA standards, and have your lunch in a cafeteria where the food is safe by virtue of regular inspections and staff training mandated by the government.  You get your paycheck, as guaranteed by law for the work you have performed, and head for home.

Your drive home is not interrupted by criminal activity or civil unrest, because the local police officers, sherrifs, constables, and guard forces ensure the peace and tranquility of society.  Also, when you arrive home, you find that

Raw Asparagus Health Shot Smoothie

Posted on April 12th, 2009 in Kefir Recipies by mynagirl

10 stalks of fresh asparagus, top 4″ cut off (two 2″ sections will blend better)

1/2 carrot
1/2 ripe banana
fresh orange juice (highly recommend Tropicana Valencia or Simply Orange — anything not from concentrate)
splash of raw kefir
2-3 frozen strawberries
Turbinado raw sugar to taste

Blend the hell out of it and drink it like a shot.

Ultimate Strawberry Kefir Health Smoothie

Posted on April 12th, 2009 in Kefir Recipies by mynagirl

Fresh raw kefir
Frozen strawberries
Fresh strawberries (if available)
1-2 tbsp Naturally More peanut butter with wheat germ and flaxseed
1/2 ripe banana (or frozen banana chips)
mini-handful of fresh oats (i.e., Quaker Oatmeal – not the instant kind – uncooked)
frozen miniature chocolate chips
Turbinado raw sugar to taste

Man this one is so good.  It’s my favorite so far

Advanced Strawberry Kefir Smoothie

Posted on April 12th, 2009 in Kefir Recipies by mynagirl

fresh raw kefir
frozen strawberries
1/2 banana (frozen slices or fresh) – just make sure it’s RIPE
1-2 tbsp of peanut butter
raw sugar to taste

Basic Strawberry Kefir Smoothie

Posted on April 12th, 2009 in Kefir Recipies by mynagirl

Fresh unsweetened kefir
5 – 10 frozen strawberries
2-3 fresh strawberries (optional)
1 tbsp or so of peanut butter
raw sugar (Turbinado) to taste

If you don’t like peanut butter (Engineerboy considers it food of the devil), orange juice is good in there instead.

Kefir, the wonder food

Posted on April 12th, 2009 in Kefir Recipies by mynagirl
Marie, Marie, How Do Your Kefir Grains Grow?

Marie, Marie, How Do Your Kefir Grains Grow?

For those of you who know me or even casually see my updates on Facebook, you know that I have become somewhat of a Kefir nut lately.

Kefir, for those of you who don’t know, is a dairy-based fermented concoction that’s created by a complex microbiotic culture when the culture is immersed in fresh milk.  More on Wikipedia, more on this guy’s Kefir site.  It can refer to the grains — the little colonies that do the fermenting — or the finished product, which is a bit like yogurt but with more live “stuff” in there and a thinner consistency.  So, you can — if you have access to a reasonably upscale grocery store or a mediterranean market – get Kefir in its final form, or you can ferment/grow it yourself with live kefir grains.

I’m certainly no expert on it yet, but I am a convert.  I used to make smoothies with it when we lived in Houston (and our local Kroger carried such things) but recently here in Brenham my yoga teacher gave me my own batch of live grains and now I’m a Kefir-making goddess!!  I “harvest” it every day or every other day — it’s easy to control by storing it in the fridge for a bit to slow down the fermentation or leaving it out on the counter to speed it up.  You can also vary how much milk you give it.  And the colony grows!  So now I have enough to share (and at least four people lined up to inherit some live grains from me).

I make smoothies at least twice a day and it’s an amazing food source.  I feel better, I have a lot of energy, and it’s really satisfying… I’m not hungry after a Kefir smoothie.

If you’re a health-foodie, definitely check it out if you haven’t already.  And try to get some grains of your own!!  The fresh stuff is for sure the best.

My Neti Pot Experience

Posted on October 12th, 2008 in Engineerboy,Health and Fitness by EngineerBoy

NOTE:  I am not a doctor and this post is simply me relating my personal experiences.  Consult with your doctor before making any health-related decisions or taking any health-related actions.

Update 10/12/2008 – It has now been TWO YEARS since I’ve had any type of cold, flu, sinus infection, or sore/scratchy throat.  Two years, clean as a whistle, and it’s due almost completely to using the neti pot whenever I feel a tickle/cough coming on, plus using it once a month regardless.  Original article is below, from 12/2/2007.

Neti PotStarting in my mid-20’s (I’m mid-40’s now) I began having recurring respiratory issues.  I considered them to be “colds”, as I was coughing and stuffy with a scratchy throat.  A few times it was bad enough for me to drag myself to the doctor.  Twice it developed into bronchitis.  But, in general, I’d do the Dayquil/Nyquil shuffle for 2-10 days and slog through it as productively as possible.  These events would occur anywhere from 2-6 times per year, with varying intensity.

About a year ago it happened again and I decided that I’d leave my “cold” untreated and see what happened, as I had grown tired of dosing myself with potions.  Predictably, it got worse and worse, and then one morning I woke up and found that all of my upper-teeth were aching and sore.  Some quick web research revealed that this was highly indicitave of a sinus infection (note that none of my previous doctor visits had ever included the diagnosis of a sinus infection, acute sinusitis, chronic sinusitis, etc).

I went to the doc and got some prescription meds that helped knock it out.  The silver lining, however, was that I finally understood that I was getting sinus infections and not “colds”.  Bad on me for not figuring it out sooner, but now my enemy had a name – “sinus infection”.

I’m a fairly logical and pragmatic fellow and I’m not usually easily fooled by hype or marketing or anecdotal evidence.  However, the more I read about the use of neti pots, the more it sounded logical and intriguing.  For those unfamiliar, a neti pot looks kind of like a small plastic or ceramic teapot.  You fill the pot with lukewarm water and salt, and then you stick the spout into one nostril, lean over, and pour the liquid into your sinus cavities, as it drains out the other nostril.  You then switch positions and pour from the other nostril back to the original one.  More info can be found here:


So I acquired a neti pot and salt/baking soda and gave it a try.  The bottom line is that I have not had a sinus infection (or cold/flu) in the past year.  I use the neti pot for nasal irrigation whenever I get a scratch/tickle/runny nose, and also use it once a month regardless.  Note that there are people who claim to use it daily, but that just seems overboard, to me.

Since my 20’s I had

EngineerBoy’s Review of the Litter-Robot

Posted on August 13th, 2008 in Commentary,Engineerboy,Health and Fitness,Product Reviews,Technology by EngineerBoy
Open the pod bay doors, Mittens

Open the pod bay door, Mittens

We are a pet-intensive household.  Currently we have three dogs and a cat, but we used to have two dogs and three cats.  Having three cats teaches you that maintaining a litter box is an endless, thankless, hopeless, gross, stinky, unhealthy, unending chore.  We used to use the LitterMaid, and went through three of them over the course of five years.  They worked…okay.  However, they had some significant engineering flaws, such as the fact that the rakes became caked with kitty poo, the receptacle filled up super quick when three cats were on the job, and they simply wore out after a year or so.

When we moved to our current house we decided to forego yet another LitterMaid and search for a newer, and hopefully better, solution.  The search led us to the Litter-Robot, pictured to the right.  It’s kind of space-age looking, and looks kind of big, and looks like it might freak out a cat or something, and maybe, just maybe, might refuse to open the pod bay doors.

The good news is that the Litter-Robot works, and it works extremely well.  It’s hard to describe the mechanics of it, but the large, round part on the top is simply sitting in place by virtue of gravity, it’s not attached or connected to the base in any way.  The orb has a couple of windows on the side (you can see one of them in the picture, it’s the black blotch on the side), and when in the normal position those windows are blocked by panels from the inside. 

The orb sits on the base, and the base beneath the orb is open to the drawer below.  Sensors in the unit determine when your cat has used the litter box, and seven minutes later little wheels (hidden from view underneath the orb) start turning and spin the orb counter-clockwise.  Inside the orb is a mesh grate and retaining pocket for the litter, and as the orb rotates the litter flows through the mesh grate and into the retaining pocket.  Anything a little bit bigger than a couple grains of litter can’t go through the mesh, so continue to roll along the inside of the orb as it rotates.

After the orb passes the rotation point where all the litter is contained in the pocket, the movement of the orb engages a lever that starts opening the panels that block the windows.  When the orb is fully rotated, the windows are completely unblocked allowing free access for any dropping droppings to fall into the drawer below.  After a short pause, the orb rotates back clockwise, the panels close the windows, and it eventually returns to the fully upright and locked position. 

Note that on this return turn, it over-rotates by about 15-20 degrees, then comes back to completely vertical.  This movement leaves the inside with perfectly

Vegetarian Recipe: Stir-Fried Chickpeas and Rice

Posted on March 1st, 2006 in Health and Fitness,Recipes by mynagirl


Portabella mushrooms, chopped
Red Onion, chopped
Montreal Chicken Seasoning (contains no chicken)
Canned chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
Cooked brown rice
butter (can substitute olive oil)
ginger sesame marinade (optional)


Pre-heat a cast-iron skillet, frying pan, or wok on medium heat.
When wok is hot, add butter, and portabellas and red onion. Add a dash of Montreal seasoning.
Stir-fry until onions are carmelized.
Then add chickpeas, drained, and more butter. Add another dash of seasoning.
Stir-fry until chickpeas are browned.
Then add more butter and the cooked brown rice (cold from the fridge is ok). Add another dash of seasoning.
Stir-fry for another 5 – 8 minutes (add a Tbsp or so of ginger marinade if desired) until everything is nice and sizzling hot.

Editor’s note: When I first posted this recipe, I commented that I usually pair this dish with cheese to get some protein. But my great friend Darla clued me in the wonder food that is chickpeas: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=58. Check out the amount of protein in these bad boys, not to mention iron and fiber. How cool is that?

Bikram Yoga College of India Houston vs. Hot Yoga Here

Posted on March 1st, 2006 in Health and Fitness,Mynagirl by mynagirl

Hot Yoga Here

1320 W. 34th at Golf St.

Houston, TX



Bikram’s Yoga College of India – Houston

2438 South Boulevard

Houston, TX



Note: Bikram’s Yoga College of India – Houston also has another Galleria location

Ok, so if you’ve perused some of the articles on this site, you already know I’m a yoga person. And you may have read my review about Hot Yoga Here, the yoga studio I go to here in Houston. And if you’ve read my review, you’ll know I love Hot Yoga Here so much that I have said that I couldn’t even bring myself to go to another studio, even for the purposes of comparison.

The “Other” Yoga Place

However… this past weekend Hot Yoga Here was closed for a planned event and I needed to get my yoga on, so I decided to give the “official” Bikram franchise here in town a try. I’m glad I went so I know what it’s like and know I can go there in a pinch, but I’ll never choose to go there over Darla’s studio at Hot Yoga Here. Below is what I found at Bikram Yoga College of India, Houston — feel free to discount my review because I’m such a die-hard “Hot Yoga Here” girl, but I call ’em like I experienced ’em.

The studio I went to (they have two locations) was in a nice section of West U, and in that regard it was very much what I expected — freestanding building, nicely labeled, good parking, with a decent-sized dressing room and showers. For a first-timer, I could see that it would be less intimidating than Hot Yoga Here, which rents space in a Krishna temple and until you get used to being at the temple for yoga, you do feel a bit out of place.

Is That a Gucci Sports Bra?

Even as a regular hot yoga devotee, however, I felt more out of place at Bikram Yoga College of India than at the Krishna temple: boy, you can tell that this type of yoga started in L.A. The desk in the lobby is under the photographic presence of Bikram Choudhury himself, in a huge poster print of him sitting in lotus position on a (I do not lie) dead tiger skin. Not a very good yoga environment for this vegetarian. Over the doorway to the yoga room another picture looms, of Bikram and (presumably) his wife, sitting at the edge of a beautiful pool — and she’s wearing a swimsuit emblazoned with the name of an Italian design house. That pretty much encapsulated the BYCIH experience for me — yoga’s cool, but especially if you’re gorgeous and in designer clothes.

The people were much different at BYCIH than at HYH. More West U, maybe, I don’t know. I don’t really have anything against West U or people who live there, but… it’s just a different vibe. Hot Yoga Here is this sort of collection of all

Next Page »