Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Keisler Engineering Introduces New Hydraulic Clutch Actuator

A smoother shifting, leak proof hydraulic clutch actuator is now available from Keisler Engineering. Keisler Engineering, the innovator and originator of PerfectFitTM Overdrive Transmission Systems for muscle cars, street rods and trucks provides a complete custom hydraulic system with master cylinder, smooth long life hydraulic bearing, and all of the quality installation parts you need to replace the antiquated mechanical linkage, fork and throw out bearing. The Keisler Hydraulic Clutch system is engineered to use the factory clutch pedal, but can work with aftermarket pedals having integrated master cylinders.

The Keisler Hydraulic Clutch Kit replaces aftermarket models which suffer from frequent bleed down due to inadequate piston and fluid line seal design. Aftermarket models also lack a preload spring, which contribute to poor clutch release and bearing noise. The new Keisler Hydraulic Clutch Kit features a proprietary OEM design hydraulic release bearing rated for 7000rpm, 1 million cycles durability, single high pressure stainless flexible line high with integrated bleeder, forged aluminum housing, silicon dust boot, piston wiper seals and blow-out stop protection. Keisler has also redesigned the master cylinder portion of the Hydraulic Clutch Kit, which now includes a WilwoodTM pressure die cast master cylinder and Keisler vehicle-specific clutch pedal installation mounting kit.

How it Works: The Keisler combination bearing is called the concentric slave cylinder or CSC. The CSC is designed to be in constant contact with the pressure plate fingers. The CSC is compressed at rest by the pressure plate fingers, but when the clutch is depressed the master cylinder forces fluid into the CSC, causing it to expand and depress the pressure plate fingers, thereby releasing the clutch.

Keisler: Engineering Better Performance Every Day
For further information, please contact:

Keisler Engineering
2250 Stock Creek Blvd
Rockford, TN 37853-3043


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Childhood Memories of Asheville Vacations

Driving down the Blue Ridge Parkway with my family has always been one of my fondest memoirs of my summer vacations in Asheville. The mountains of western North Carolina have had a special place in my heart ever since my first time to the majestic area.

However, If had to pick the one memory that stands out the most I’d have to say if was the time I went camping with my family at Sam’s Knob. We had been staying in a quite bed and breakfast in a beautiful suburb of Asheville. The place we were staying was an old Victorian style house with a couple smaller cottages on the property and flower gardens everywhere. Normally we would stay at in one place and go out and adventure before we would come back to where ever we were staying. This time however we only stayed for a couple of days. For us kids we were silently wondering if we had done something wrong and we were being punished and had to go back home sooner then our normal vacation. As we all piled into the over loaded mini van with our supplies for every event packed into the hard shelf storage rack we set off. It wasn’t too long until we were on the Parkway and a peaceful calm came over me. As we ascended the gently slop of the mountain side road I realized we weren’t driving north but instead we were heading south. Motoring down the road we drove through the occasional tunnel and by scenic overlooks. At one point we stopped to stretch our legs and check out the view. As I looked into the distance I could see what seemed to be five or maybe six mountain ridges each with little cabins and houses nestled into little flat land areas.

After about 20 minuets of sightseeing we loaded back into the mini van and set off again.
Moments down the road my mom turned around from the passenger seat and told us, “Okay, now the real mountain vacation begins.” Turning back around she chuckled a little and we kids began to look at each other with inquisitive eyes and a bit of excitement.

It was probably about thirty minutes later when we pulled onto a gravel road. We were at our destination. There were a few other cars in what was serving as a parking lot but I didn’t see any people around. We unpacked our gear from the depths of our roof top storage unit. And know I knew why my folks had packed all the camping gear.

We took our camping supplies about five minuets into the woods and made camp. Once we were set up, off into the woods we went. I hiked with my family for a couple hours then we made our way back to the camp site and made dinner over a camp fire. Of course we ate hot dogs and s’mores but it was so awesome to be in the middle of the forest with my family camping and having a fun evening telling each other stories. Soon night was upon us and we settled in for the evening.

It was pretty early we I had my dad rustling around the camp fire area, probably making his morning coffee. I decided to get up and join him even though it much earlier then I would normally be up. As I exited my tent I experienced one the most powerful sights and feelings I had ever experienced at that young age. The sun was just rising above the mountain tops and through the morning drew the whole of the forest seemed to light up with bright rich orangeish sunbeams. I stood at the entrance to my tent with my mouth open and my mind in wonderment breathing in the moment. Finally I broke from my trance and began to walk toward the fire pit. As I walked the sun beams appeared to follow me. I thought I was dreaming until my dad broke the trance, “good morning, isn’t it something else” he said to me. I looked at him and shook my head to agree.

That is one weekend get-away that I will remember for the rest of my life. I loved my childhood vacations in Asheville. Even though I live here now I still love to visit all those magical places my parents used to take me.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Running Shoes and an Olympic Dream

After watching the games on television, you find you have been having dreams of becoming an Olympic runner. So you set out to the mall to find yourself a pair of running shoes that will surely make you as fast as the wind itself. Upon arriving at the shoe department you confronted with walls of shoes. An overwhelming sensation hits you, with so many athletic shoes to choose from, every shape and color to pick from, what one is right for you? Which of these shoes will lead you to Olympic glory in 2012? Not all running footwear is the same. Different quality materials and varied designs will all have an effect on your running. The right shoe will give you proper support for your knees, back and joints as well as actually give you an edge helping to make you a faster runner. With all this in mind, selecting the right running shoe will make all the difference in your performance and overall comfort.

In the following paragraphs, I will describe a few easy steps that will help you to insure you pick the proper running shoe for your needs. With your new running shoes your aspirations for becoming an Olympic running will be one step closer.

The first step is to find a good shoe store that has an excellent running section. Of course, this can be done on-line and may even be more appropriate for your needs and time schedule. The benefit of going to a specialty store over a mega-mart or an online shoe store is that you will have access to a trained professional, which is always a valuable asset when you are making choices that will guide you along your way to Olympic glory. If you do not have access to a trained professional, talk to any of your friends that are into running or read some running magazine reviews to find out as much as you can about the type of running shoe that you’ll need.

The next step in finding shoes that will wisp you to the Olympics is to examine the soles of your old running shoes. Check to see if there are any worn spots sole of the shoe from wear from the road. These wear spots are indicators of were your foot meets with the ground each time you make contact. Continue inspecting your old shoe by placing your shoes side-by-side on a flat surface. If the shoes tilt in toward the middle, your new shoe probably needs more stability than your old shoe. If they tilt to the outside, you may have a high arch and your new shoes should have good shock absorption.

Next, look at the top of your shoe and if you can see an outline of your big or little toe, and you've noticed discomfort in those areas while running, you should try a larger or wider shoe. Any discomfort will lead to a slower run time.

Now if you are really going to follow through with your dreams of becoming an Olympic running you’ll need to consider the amount of running you will be doing. Because, If you are going to be a hobbyist runner then you can go ahead and save yourself a little cash and buy a basic model. But, if you are serious in your endeavor then your will need to fork out a bit more money for a top end running shoe. The more running you do the more money, you'll want to spend on the shoes because they will last longer and provide more comfort.

Finally try on the potential shoes. Any good store will let you try the shoes on and take a run up and down the street (or more likely in the store) to get a feel for the shoes. Try on several pairs, or as many shoes as it takes. It is important to make sure you like the feel and fit of the shoe.

Buy the best running shoes for your feet, and your level of activity. When you have found the right ones you are now ready to begin your real Olympic training. You have your shoes good luck, I hope to see you in 2012.

Visiting for the First Time

Are you just visiting Asheville, North Carolina for the first time? Well, if it is there are many sights that are a must see. And, depending on how long you plan to stay you need a way to see them all and you need to learn about the sights to see that aren’t in any of the tourist booklets. The best way to do that is to hang out with the people of the city or another really good way to learn the tucked away sweet spots is to take a ride on the local trolley.

The best to begin your sightseeing tour of the area is to take a ride down the Blue Ridge parkway. If you have come during the winter, your out of luck concerning this attraction because almost the whole winter long the parkway is closed due to ice and snow, however all the other seasons the parkway is open and looking beautiful. Probably, the most popular time of the year to go for a sightseeing cruise is the fall. The fall is also known as the changing of the leaves. The colors are rich with earthen tones, the reds, yellows and oranges are breath taking as ones drives down the curvy mountain ridge road.

Next, before making your way downtown, there are other wonderful places to check out that are just on the outskirts of the downtown area. Another sight that is well worth checking out is the Biltmore village and the Biltmore Estate. The Village is a collection of shops and restaurants that are housed in the original building. That is, the buildings are the same ones that were built during the same time the estate was being built. The houses were built for guests and people who worked at the Biltmore. The Biltmore Estate is basically a castle nestled in mountains. All year long the Biltmore is a sight to see.

After checking out the parkway and Biltmore then I’d suggest to go down to Asheville’s Art’s River district. If you don’t know the area all that well this would be a go time to catch the local trolley. The Asheville area does have a local bus system but it is not the best thing to use if you are trying to catch the sights. The city bus line goes from point A to point B and back again, no razzle dazzle. So, after you have jumped on the trolley head down to the river district and see all the wonderful art studios and galleries. Then while en route to downtown, the trolley driver provides a historical tour of the area, which is always educational.

Another good place to go check out for the first time visitor of Asheville is Pack Place. Located in the heart of downtown, Pack Place is the areas arts and science museum. There are several other wonderful things going on with pack place so it always has something new to see.

While on the city trolley tour the sightseer will get to visit the birth place of the famous local author Thomas Wolfe. As the trolley pulls into the Renaissance Hotel the old house can be seen. A few years back the historic home was burnt down. Thankfully there was enough of it left that restorators were able to completely restore the house to what appears to be its original glory.

For the first time visitor going to these places would give anyone a good feel for the natural wonder and beauty of the area. And a trip on the local trolley tour can really help the sightseer to take in Asheville at a whole other level.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Global eScools at Work

The Global eSchools and Communities Initiative (GeSCI) was established in 2004, a result of the work of the United Nations Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) Task Force. This organization believes that education is an area desperately in need of development. And, ICTs have the potential to create vast positive changes in the educational system. The UN ICT Task Force approved a proposal for a UN-affiliated organization to work in this field. Providing demand-driven assistance to communities in developing countries who are seeking to channel the potential of ICTs into improving the quality of education in primary and secondary academic institutions. GeSCI is headquartered in Dublin, with the support of the governments of Ireland, Sweden, Switzerland, Finland and Canada which was one of the founding partners.

To get a better grasp on this, let us get an idea of what some of these acronyms mean. By now we should all know the the UN is the United Nations, which is composed of 192 countries world wide. Next, we have ICTs which is Information and Communication Technologies a general term that refers to "any communication device or application, encompassing: radio, television, cellular phones, computer and network hardware and software, the Internet, satellite systems and so on, as well as the various services and applications associated with them, such as video conferencing and distance learning." ICTs are helpful in two ways: they help teachers and students be aware of the vast amount of information resources available to them via the Internet, “and by providing teachers with basic IT training to ensure that they have the appropriate skills to access, use and create new educational resources.”

GeSCI provides expert, strategic advice to the Ministries of Education in the communities of developing countries on the effective implementation of ICTs. Using a demand driven, supportive and comprehensive approach, GeSCI aims to improve the quality of teaching and learning through the appropriate and effective use of ICTs, thereby transforming education, empowering communities and promoting development. At its core, GeSCI's basic goal is to facilitate sustainable and quality education and community development, through the effective deployment of ICTs in schools.

At the local, national and regional level, GeSCI works to support the creation and effective implementation of ICT4E strategies, using a collaborative, comprehensive and demand-driven approach. Acting as guide, GeSCI fosters country ownership of ideas, strategies and implementation, allowing communities to maintain sustained development.

The ICT4E is:

- Learning with ICT to bring about a variety of instructional events surrounding the idea of learning and what that means, how it changes, how to implement it and so forth.

- Learning though the use of technologies such as computers, the Internet, and other digital platforms in and outside of schools.

- Having technology applications and digital learning need to be on the same page as the service objectives of the institutional and learning design.

- The technologies and application user interface, and multimedia selections must be aligned with the learner profiles and the learning process.

Placing a GeSCI ICT into community schools allows the system to begin teaching the people that there are ways to get information, how to question that information, how to develop the information and how to take ownership of the information. So, in the end result the individual and community become empowered to further perpetuate positive sustainable development.

Thanks to organizations like this and others around the world communities and countries in need of education are receiving help that will enable the people to pick up the touch of knowledge and pass it on.

Cremation Urns: And choices to Make

When the passing of a loved one is a present reality, there are some choices that have to be made. Hopefully the recently departed has already expressed their desire to be buried or cremated. Traditionally in our country burial has been the way to go for the past few generations. But as land prices are rising and land plots have become increasingly more expensive cremation becomes a sensible and financially reasonable option. Hopefully, this difficult task has been made easier with arrangements and decisions made ahead of time, perhaps in the will, so the wishes of the departed are known in advance, and can be carried out as the loved one would have wanted.

When looking for the right cremation urn it is important to bring the departed's character, hobbies, and other life aspects into consideration. You want to pick an urn the is suited for the individual. Nowadays there are several materials urns can be made out of, there are choices beyond earthenware or porcelain, such as hand crafted wooden urns, uniques blow glass urns and even sculpted metal urns. Along with all the “new” materials that urns are being made from there an almost infinite amount of customs designs that can be crafted to suite the personality or the individual. With this in mind, when picking a funeral urn for the departed the material and design can says a lot about the persons life. For instance, if the recently passed loved one was a carpenter who loved to do wood working then it would be fitting to choose a custom designed wooden urn. Or, if the departed was an admirer of the arts then perhaps a custom blown glass urn would be more suiting.

One of the many benefits of decorative cremation urns is the ability to travel with the remains from one location to the next. In today’s housing market people find themselves moving to new towns for one reason or another more and more often. And when this occurs, visiting a memorial can be quite difficult if you had to move a few hours away. With custom made art urns that is no longer a problem. The urns can be safely packed and moved from one town to the next. Another benefit of choosing to go with an urn instead of a burial is, if more then one person wants to have some of the remains it is now possible for the happen. The remains of the departed can be divided into smaller companion decorative urns the are designed top match the primary funeral urn.

Whatever decision you make, it’s going to be a hard one. But know there are wonderful ways to carry on the memories of the departed with a custom made urn. There are several options for cremation urns that are out there. With all these options come the ability to match up the urn with the character, the essence, of the departed. A custom made art urn can be created in a style and using materials that are personalized to reflect the person being memorialized. This is not an easy job but now it is available. Look on-line or use other resources to help you find companies or individual artists that specialize in memorial urns. May this help you to find the right urn for you loved one.

Fuel Efficiency and Classic Cars

Driving high performances cars can be quite the thrill, particularly if you have the right engine. The proper drivetrain will harness the power into an adrenaline rush worthy of reminiscing. Driving muscle cars down the strip on a Friday night can really be accented by the right engine however with gas prices as they are, the joy of driving can be affected greatly.

Fuel efficiency has become the hot button for drivers all over the country. So, if you want to continuing driving your old muscle car you have to take into consideration proper gears and an overdrive transmission are necessary additions to any outdated drivetrain.

In order to bring the cost of cursing in your favorite muscle car down, updating your old GM transmission, Ford transmission, or Mopar transmission is a good idea. There are factors to take into consideration when making this decision. When updating your muscle cars transmission there are several over the counter options today. A couple of decades have passed since the time when these cars first came out. And, a considerable amount of technology has gone into the design making them more sleek and sophisticated. Of course, along with sleekness and sophistication has come much bigger prices which needs to be taken into consideration when thinking about gas prices verses a new transmission and personal happiness.

The manual-transmission needs of today require a more modern overdrive transmission. So if you decide to go ahead and get a new transmission, you have to decide what the best option for you is. And, trying to fit your new transmission up with your car may be hard to find. Thankfully there are perfect fit kits out there that fit most classic cars.

If you’re into Mustangs a few good options for different years are :

1964-1973 Mustang PerfectFit™ 5-Speed Kit - TKO-500
1964-1973 Mustang PerfectFit™ 5-Speed Kit - TKO-600(.64)
1964-1973 Mustang PerfectFit™ 5-Speed Kit - TKO-600(.82)

Ford TKO-500 10-spline 5-Speed (500HP), UNMODIFIED Transmission
Ford TKO-500 26-spline 5-Speed (500HP), UNMODIFIED Transmission
Ford TKO-600(.64) 5-Speed (600HP), UNMODIFIED Transmission
Ford TKO-600(.82) 5-Speed (600HP), UNMODIFIED Transmission

1996-2004 T-45R Street 5-Speed
1996-2004 T-45S SFI Street/race 5-Speed
1994-2004 Tremec TKO-500 (.68 Overdrive) 5-Speed Transmission, 26- Spline
1994-2004 Tremec TKO-600 (.64 Overdrive) 5-Speed Transmission, 26- Spline
1994-2004 Tremec TKO-600 (.82 Overdrive) 5-speed Transmission, 26- Spline

Cursing in your 68’ Mustang doesn’t have to be a horrible strain of the wallet if you switch over your older inefficient transmission. Making the switch can really help out. Of course you don’t have to be that extreme with your choices. Now there are other others as well. For instance, making sure your engine is properly tuned up every six months will also tremendously help fuel economy. Another easy to do yet helpful gas saving tip, is to make sure your tires have the proper amount of air pressure. Low air and unbalanced tired create drag and will use more resources to get your desired effect.

When looking at the overall costs, a decision has to be made whether or not it is actually cost effective to change out your old transmission for a new fuel efficient one or whether a tune up and full air pressure will suite. But one thing is for sure, gas prices aren’t going down any time soon and I imagine they are just going to keep rising. What will this hold in-store for those of us who love to cruise the strip in our old muscle cars? Well, only time will tell but in the mean time there are options out there to big that joy back into the realm of affordability.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Asheville for Vacation

Long before I had ever moved to the area, I used to come vacation in Asheville almost every summer. Growing up, my parents really enjoyed the area and over the years I have come to like this special place so much that I eventually came to live here.

We lived in upstate New York and each year, sometime during the summer, and every so often in the fall, we’d pack the family into the car and drive down south. I’m not sure exactly what it was but I always got excited as we entered the mountains. Even as a younger person, I saw the beauty in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. My folks would take their time and drive down the blue ridge parkway at 45mph for hours, down the windy scenic filled roads. In the valleys down below us and in the some of the mountain tops there where houses and cabins tucked into the woods.

Some of my favorite trips to Asheville, NC we never even made it to town. On our way into to town, somewhere along the parkway we would stop and turn into one of the pull offs, where a few other cars had done the same. We would grab our gear and pack ourselves a few hundred yards into the woods. There we would set up camp for the evening. The next day we would go for a long hike, or go fishing or find ourselves doing some other wonderful outdoor adventure. Out here we didn’t have to have any thing to do, we were already doing it. There where so many great places to go see. We would hike to what seemed to be the highest mountain in the range. And, was a top the mountain the views we would behold were breath taking.

Other times, we would stay in a cottage at a bed and breakfast or we’d get a couple of rooms at a local hotel. When we stayed in town we were usually pretty close to everything. I didn’t always care for these places because my siblings and I had to be good. And, as a kid on vacation who can be good. There are some many new things see and to do and of course I wanted to do the all.

On occasion, in the mornings we would walk down the streets of downtown Asheville to go sightseeing. I wasn’t used to shops having their storefront windows decorated with vibrant colors and displays. Each store seemed to be just as creative as the next. As a young child, and even as a teenager, the downtown area of the city seemed like a giant carnival. We kids wanted to go into all the cool shoppes. We didn’t care they had things to sell we just wanted to see this strange and new to us treasure of this festive city. I think one of my favorite parts about coming downtown, and this I feel still holds true to this day, were all the street buskers. As we walked the streets of Asheville there would be people playing music and singing, others would be preforming magic tricks while yet others painted local scenery and cosmos.

Both of the sides I was able to experience on my vacations in Asheville were always fun and exciting. whether I was camping in the middle of the Pisgah National Forest or staying a bed and breakfast downtown, there was always something fresh and new even when the scenery was 100,000 years old.

The Changing of a Shoe

Remember when skateboarding was just another trend and our parents wished it would just go away? I do. And, skateboarding didn’t go away. Now the activity is as much a part of American popular culture as baseball and football. When I was an adolescent and skating just hit my town, me and my friends would go skateboarding every day after school. During those days, there was not a lot of marketing surrounding the fade. Because of that, we just had our skateboards and that’s all anyone cared about. Of course, that has all changed. Now, there are lines of clothes and shoes for every taste.

When I first started skate boarding footwear wasn’t really a concern. I’d just strap on any old pair of casual shoes I had laying around. Some of my friends would even skate in their sandals or boots, I always thought they were crazy. Of course, there weren’t any real choices then. As the years passed by several types of shoes specifically made for skateboarding have since come and gone and now we have several types to choose from.

For a long time I used canvas shoes. This may have been in part, due to the fact that I used to play a lot of hacky sack. And canvas footwear was the way to go for kicking the bean bag around. And, who wants to think about having to get a separate pair of shoes when you already have a perfectly good pair in the closet. Canvas shoes were good skateboarding shoes in the beginning because all you really needed was a flat sole so your foot would have as much contact space with the board and road as possible. But as skate boarding grew and became increasingly more popular people started doing new things on their boards. People started to skate on half pipes, empty swimming pools and constructed skate parks. As the diversity of the activity expanded the shoe need to do the same. Now the canvas shoe began to show some weaknesses. The first thing that begins to be seen is the obvious wear. Because of the tricks done with the skateboard the canvas begins to wear down on the outside of the foot around the small toe and the outer ridge of the foot. This may be the first flaw noticed with the canvas shoes, partly because it is visually noticed. The second major issue with canvas footwear is the lack of support provided, not always noticed right away because it come with time. A good skate shoe needs to provide ankle support while still allowing for full mobility. Most canvas shoes don’t have aches in the sole or heal support. For the most part the shoe is just a sole, some canvas, and shoes strings.

The solution to this came along in the form of a low cut shoe with ache support, reinforced heal and toe, suede shoe leather and a thick sole. Because skateboarding has become such a diverse activity the shoe needed for it had to become more suitable for the activity.

Skateboarding past through being a fade or a trend. The activity has become a household word and is quite often some ones hobby within the household. I still think about picking up skateboard and strapping on my shoes and hitting the streets. Perhaps, I’ll see you out there.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Trolleys and the Changing face of Asheville

Over the past five years of living in Ashville North Carolina I have experienced the change in the look and feel of the City. One of my favorite ways to see the city is to take the trolly tour around the city. It only takes a little over an hour and the amount of sightseeing during that time gives one a good over all impression of what’s happening throughout the city.

I like to take a ride around downtown ever now and then to get a new look at my town and I find it quite relaxing and educational. The are different places you can catch the trolly but I usually get on the one that just goes the down town loop I like to hear the driver tell the history of the buildings and what inspired their development.

As I have be one my leisurely trolly tours around town I have seen new building come up and more and more of the skyline has been filled in with high rises and condos. One of my favorite changes that I have seen happening downtown is locates between Pack Place and the local courthouse, which by the way is an amazing example of art-deco architecture, there is a large green way park and amphitheater being built. I have been watching it happen from the window of my trolly rides for the past two years. The project is scheduled to take another year but when it’s done I think it will be a wonderful asset to the city’s downtown environment.

Another interesting development occurring is a potential project going on just down the street from the Haywood Road Hotel at the Groove Arcade. The trolley tour stops at the spot all the time because it is a wonderful example of the diverse architecture in Asheville. The proposed project is the completion of the Groove Arcade. When it was designed the architect had originally planned for a high rise to build in the center of the mall. But as the building was being erected situations arose and the construction of the high rise never occurred as can be observed by its present state. However, there are now plans to build the high-rise using a modified version of the original plans. I think this is another good development for the look and economy of the area.

One of my favorite stops the trolly tour makes is to the river arts district. Talk about seeing the look and feel of a place change, wow, this area of town has gone from being a collection of empty beat down warehouses to a hoping creative center. In the early days of my trolly rides, the tour didn’t go down to the river district. For that matter, nobody really went down there. Now away days, the arts river district is filled with several kinds of art studios and galleries. And, during the summer there are art walks were all the studios and galleries open up for tours during the evening. This has to be one of my favorite parts of my sightseeing tour of my home town. Every time I go down there is new art on the streets in front of the studios and galleries have new art up on their walls all the time.

Over the years the Face of my town has changed a lot. I feel most of it is for the better and has really added to the over all environment has enrichened. And, it is always a nice enjoyable way to see it through the window of the trolly.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Food Transtion: From Junk to Heatlh

Last night I enjoyed another evening of wonderful healthy natural foods. A bed of alfalfa sprouts top with balsamic vinaigrette, served up with steamed Basmati rice and a baked fillet of salmon. Meals this healthy were not always my mainstay, now they are. For me it was fairly easy to make the transition to a healthy living lifestyle because I live in an area where the general population is predominantly health conscious. Thusly, health stores and co-ops are on every side of town. Because being health conscious is such a big part of the market trends in the area, consumers can find organic foods and other healthy options in most of the major grocery stores as well. This may not be the case in you town. So how can you make the switch to a more healthy lifestyle?

Food is the first step in the transition into a more natural lifestyle. Starting with food is a good because it dose not require you to go to far out of your way of your daily routine to do it. So you say that you don’t have any health food stores, co-opts or farmers markets in your area. How are you supposed to eat all natural foods? Start by looking at the ingredients of the item. Make sure that are no harsh preservatives in it such as sodium benzoate and Benzoic Acid. Both of these chemicals acidify the food which in turn acidifies the pH of your body. Another thing to watch out for is flavor enhancers such as monosoduim gultimate (MSG). Federal Food Administration (FDA) announced in 1995 that MSG leads to short term and long term health issues such as heart palpitations and Alzheimer’s disease. Also, watch out for food colorings such as Red No. 2, 4 and 32 as well as many others. Studies suggest synthetic preservatives and artificial coloring may be aggravating ADD & ADHD symptoms. By making sure these chemical additives are not in your foods, you have stated down the path of healthier lifestyle. Finally another to look for when buying conventional foods from your local major chain grocer is to make sure you know what the ingredients are, the simpler the better. For example, carrots, water and salt in a can of carrots would a safe bet. I like to say that if you can read it and understand it it’s probably not full of chemical.

A finally tip on making the transition from junk foods to health food is find healthy menus with organic recipes good recipes that include different essentials for daily nutrition. There are recipes all over the net you can find. Here is one I found just the other day:

Turkey Pot Pie

4 tablespoons Organic Valley Cultured Butter
6 tablespoons flour
3 cups turkey or chicken broth
2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or 1-2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
1-2 teaspoons dried basil
1/2 cup Organic Valley Heavy Cream
Salt and pepper
3 medium carrots
1 medium onion
1 celery rib
2 cups cooked, cubed Organic Prairie Turkey (or more as desired)
2/3 cup peas
1 recipe baking powder dough, such as Rosemary Buttermilk Biscuits


1. To make sauce: Melt butter in a large, heavy saucepan over medium-low flame. Stir in flour until smooth; cook over low flame, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Whisk in the warm broth, parsley and basil. Let it simmer slowly, stirring often, about 10 minutes. The mixture will thicken into a sauce. Stir in cream and season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep sauce warm.

2. To make vegetable-turkey mixture: Add water to a depth of 2 to 3 inches to a medium saucepan; bring to boil. Meanwhile, dice the carrots, onion and celery. Add them to the boiling water; cook at a strong simmer until vegetables are crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and stir cooked vegetables, turkey and peas into sauce. Simmer 2-3 minutes, then lower heat to lowest flame and keep mixture hot.

3. To make biscuits: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-by-13-inch dish, one that is at least 3 inches deep. Prepare biscuit dough according to recipe directions. Cut biscuits into 10 or 12 three-inch rounds with a sharp knife and a cup, or with a round cookie cutter.

4. To bake: Spread hot turkey-vegetable in the baking dish; top with biscuits and bake until sauce is bubbly and biscuits are high and golden, about 20 minutes. Serve hot from the oven.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Passing of a Pet

Have you ever lost a pet that you loved more then anything you can think of? I’m sure many of you reading this have. I have. And, when it happened to me I knew I didn’t want to just bury him in the back yard. Burying them in the back yard is not always an option anyway, particularly if you live in a city or you plan to move in the future. I wanted the passing of my beloved friend to be honored and remembered, something special and more thoughtful then a hole in the yard. So what can you do to make their passing special? There are pet cemeteries but they can be quite costly. And, should you move to a new town traveling back to see your loved one can be time consuming. However, there are other options. I think pet urns are a wonderful solution to this dilemma. Today, cremation is becoming more and more of a viable and exceptable way to celebrate one's passing. With a cremation urn a family can take there beloved animal friend from one place to the other with ease. With unique pet urns, you have several more options as to where you place the remains of your loved one.

Cremation urns have come a long way since the days of porcelain jars. Now a days, urns are being made of sculpted wood, blown glass, hand crafted ceramic, fabricated metals and other materials. You no longer have to get an urn that looks like any other vessel at an everyday store. Instead you can get one of a kind art urns. Something that expresses the unique character on your loved one. These beautiful, one of kind urns are truly art. They can be placed on your mantle with distinction, something pleasurable to look at. Also, urns can be place outside should you care to have some kind of alter or memorial area in your yard. With decorative cremations urns you have the ability to move the urn to where you want as many times as you need to.

I found one of the interesting options to be glass. With blown glass urns the ashes of you loved one can actually be used in the glass. This would also the remains to always be with you. There would be no worrying about spilling or moisture. The essence would always be safe and preserved in the glass itself. With the blown glass option you can also do keepsakes such as “paper weights” beads, pendents and other items. This way if several people wanted to have something to remember the passed loved one it would be easy to give them all pendants with some of the remains captured in the glass.

In the end it is still a hard decision. Whether you choose to have a burial in the back yard, or at a pet cemetery, or in a funeral urn on your mantle the choices are out there. Personally, I like the artists cremation urns. The blown glass is really something else. No one has to know what is in it. To causal friends that come over it is just another piece of beautiful art in my home. But to me and my family it is a memorial to our passed friend I’m glad there are options because what is right for one family is not always right for another.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Going Natural

Growing up I had no thoughts about health and diet and how they were related. For that matter, there were no thoughts of healthy natural living at all. I was a kid, for all I knew I was going to live forever. Now as the years have passed by and I have realized that age is real and that it is really happening to me, I come to see the wisdom of a healthy lifestyle.

As an adolescent I did sports and stayed pretty active all the time. If I wasn’t training for a match I was playing a game of football at a park with a bunch of friends. Exercise was about the extent of my healthy living. Because, when it came to foods I ate anything that I desired. I ate cookies, candy, processed foods, fast foods and drank soda. There wasn’t a thought in my mind that said what about vitamins, minerals, and digestion.

Well the years have passed by and here I am today much older but still healthy and in decent fitness. Of course, I have changed my diet and I continue to be active. There aren’t as many football games in the park with my friends any more. Now, exercise comes in the way of doing yoga, tai chi and brisk evening walks.

And as for my diet, healthy menus with organic foods have become the mainstay of my eating habits. I sometimes have a memory of enjoying fast food but then I remember the indigestion, heart burn and overall dissatisfaction of the quality of the food. Now, when I sit down to eat I want dark greens, with brown rice and some organic chicken breast. It amazes my how at one time I knew nothing about natural foods but now its everywhere. There are health food stores all over the place along with food co-ops and more and more you can find organic selections in just about any major chain grocer. Perhaps it’s the change in awareness concerning being healthy as to why I notice how easy natural living is these days. Or, maybe it is because it’s becoming more of a national trend. Whatever the case, I’m glad it has shifted. I feel healthy and fit and I believe eating better has really helped.

On that note here is a recipe I found the other day, Enjoy!:

Pepperoni and Mushroom Pasta


10 ounces penne or ziti pasta
3-4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3/4 pound wild or cultivated mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1/3 cup finely chopped sweet onion (like Vidalia or Walla-Walla)
1 can (15-16 ounces) pizza sauce
Dried oregano
Crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
3 ounces (about 30 slices) Organic Prairie Uncured Pepperoni
1 container (4 ounces) Organic Valley Shredded Parmesan
1 package (6 ounces) Organic Valley Shredded Italian Blend Cheese


1. Cook pasta in lots of boiling, salted water until barely tender. Drain, rinse with cool water, then drain again.
2. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Oil a baking dish just large enough to fit all the ingredients.
3. Heat half the olive oil in a large skillet over a fairly high flame. Add half the mushrooms and sauté them, stirring occasionally, until tender. Transfer cooked mushrooms to a large bowl. Cook the remaining mushrooms in the remaining oil, then add them to the other mushrooms.
4. To the mushrooms add the cooked pasta, chopped onions, pizza sauce, and 1/4 cup water; stir well.
5. Spread half the pasta mixture in prepared baking dish. Sprinkle lightly with oregano and even more lightly with red pepper flakes (if desired). Arrange pepperoni slices over pasta. Sprinkle on the Parmesan. Now add the rest of the pasta, a little more oregano, and a tiny more red pepper flakes, if desired. Sprinkle on the Italian Blend.
6. Bake until cheese is melted and pasta is heated through, 20-30 minutes. Serve immediately.

An Old Look with Something New

For years I've been thinking to myself and talking to friends about cars. But, not just any cars, old classic cars. Cars that when they drive by scream of beauty and form, style and class. I strongly feel that many of todays cars don’t have the stylish character that cars before the 80’s had. For the longest time I would dream about driving a 1974 Corvette down the strip. And back in the 70’s the would no problems. No thought would come to mind. However, in todays market with gas prices climbing higher and higher driving an old gas guzzling car is pricey and a bit on the wasteful side. So for the longest time I slightly dreamed to myself about a day when an auto maker would design a car with the same look as a classic but have all new technology and engineering under the hood.

Well, I’ve seen them and I’m sure you have too, those new cars that are supposed to be “remakes” of the older version: the roadster, the beetle, the impala. Phuy, I say! These newer cars may have all the new engineering but they don’t have the look I want. However, there is now a line of transmissions that is on the market that can take your older model car and give it the new technology. These new GM transmissions are high performance and fuel efficient. And the best part is, you don’t have to alter your old car in any why. The transmission kits are made to fit where the old transmission used to be.

So if you’re an old car fan like me now you can find the right transmission for the make and model you need. For me, it’s the Corvette! Here is a list of transmissions that are available:

1955-1962 Corvette 5-Speed PerfectFit™ Kit - TKO-500
1955-1962 Corvette 5-Speed PerfectFit™ Kit - TKO-600 (.64)
1955-1962 Corvette 5-Speed PerfectFit™ Kit - TKO-600 (.82)

1963-1967 Corvette 5-Speed PerfectFit™ Kit - TKO-500
1963-1967 Corvette 5-Speed PerfectFit™ Kit - TKO-600 (.64)
1963-1967 Corvette 5-Speed PerfectFit™ Kit - TKO-600 (.82)

1968-1982 Corvette 5-Speed PerfectFit™ Kit - TKO-500
1968-1982 Corvette 5-Speed PerfectFit™ Kit - TKO-600 (.64)
1968-1982 Corvette 5-Speed PerfectFit™ Kit - TKO-600 (.82)

1984-1988 Corvette 5-Speed PerfectFit™ Kit - TKO-500
1984-1988 Corvette 5-Speed PerfectFit™ Kit - TKO-600 (.64)
1984-1988 Corvette 5-Speed PerfectFit™ Kit - TKO-600 (.82)

These Keisler PerfectFit™ System are the easiest and most complete way to put a high strength, modern overdrive Tremec TKO 5-speed transmission in your 1955-1988 Corvette. The Keisler Custom Engineered PerfectShift™ Tailhousings and Shift Mechanisms provide the smoothest operation, the shortest throws and the only true internal offset you will find out there in the Market.

And, of course, these are but a few options to choose from. The are many, many more. So you might be saying to yourself right now, “what about cars other then the Corvette?” And your right, I am a bit bias when it comes to my favorite car but your in luck there are Ford transmissions, GM transmissions, Mopar transmissions as well as other makes.

Now because of these wonderful new transmissions I can go cursing down the strip and not feel too guilty about it. Of course, I still wish Chevy would just go ahead and make a 1974 Corvette Stingray with the same look as the original but juice it up with the latest engineering.