Friday, February 20, 2009

Chicken Massacre

I've been slowly trying to transition to all organic foods. It's been a slow process since in most cases, organic = expensive, or at least it does where I live. For example, I recently paid over $6 for a pound of organic ground turkey. Ouch! So in an attempt to still eat organic but not completely blow my budget, I decided I need to start buying whole, organic turkey or chicken, which is way cheaper than the cut up version. Of course I've never worked with a whole bird before and had no idea how to cut it up into pieces I'm familiar with. Today I decided to go for it and try my hand at cutting up a whole chicken. First things first, I got my knives sharpened! They were really dull. When I took them in to be sharpened, the lady felt the blade, looked at me and said "these are really dull." "Umm, ya, I know." Anywho, 20 minutes later, I had nice sharp knives. (Side note: it's very odd to walk down Main St. carrying a canvas shopping bag containing two large knives.)

I went to the store and found the cheapest, whole chicken I could find. I wasn't going to bother with organic for this adventure.

I got home, sat down and watched a couple of "how to" videos that I found on the Internet. I set my laptop on the kitchen counter and covered it with plastic wrap so I could play the video without getting chicken goo all over my keyboard. The video I ended up using was one from It was nice and detailed and the person giving the instructions wasn't annoying. It was also professionally done so it looked and sounded good unlike some of the home grown vids I viewed.

Overall I think it went pretty well. It wasn't the prettiest scene I've ever gazed upon but in the end, the pieces looked somewhat familiar. Now I'm considering how I can grind my own turkey. I've decided that I NEED a Kitchenaid stand mixer with the food grinder attachment and while I'm at it, I might as well throw in the pasta attachment as well. Hah! It's amazing how quickly the urgency to pay off debt diminishes when I can justify a new purchase. "This will save me $ in the end." "Think of all the foods I could make if I just had the professional version in the very cool COPPER color."

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Update in 2205 Words or Less

Wow, it’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything here. Let’s see…since I posted last I went to Wisconsin for Christmas, went on vacation to Florida, survived -22 degree temperatures here, turned 40 and as of today, went one year without using my credit card! Yay me!

Christmas in Wisconsin

On the way there, my normal 7.5 hour drive took 12 hours due to crappy road conditions. That was a lot of fun. Once I finally arrived in WI my visit was fine. Christmas was good, I got to see relatives, frost Christmas cookies, get into (or perhaps instigated) a political argument (everyone’s REALLY opinionated about this election) and even managed to exercise. Of course I ended up returning a day early to avoid another 12 hour drive due to more crappy weather.

Vacay in Fort Lauderdale

I think this might rank up there as one of my best vacations ever. I stayed with my friend Charlie who lives in Fort Lauderdale and conveniently works at a dive shop. It didn’t start out great since my other friend, Clipper, who was also going to FL went and got herself a concussion and was unable to go That sucked. I was bummed that she wouldn’t be able to go and I was a little worried that since it was just me staying Charlie for a week that we would get on each other’s nerves. I worried for nothing because Charlie and I got along great. The whole week was perfect. The weather was beautiful, I got in 8 dives (see my dive log below,) I got to hang out with a great friend and I ate cheese and bacon pretty much everyday I was there. AND I paid for the whole damn vacation in cash!

6 Jan 2009, Scuba-Do, Key Largo

So we get up at the butt crack of dawn to drive to Key Largo for a morning dive. The drive there wasn’t too bad. Charlie was faking perkiness pretty well while chugging down Diet Cokes. We arrived at Key Largo about and hour early so we stopped for breakfast and then made our way to the Scuba-Do store. We were a little early so we tried to sleep in the car until they opened. After we got registered and signed the liability forms we were off to the boat. It was fantastic because we got the entire boat to ourselves.

Dive 1 – The Spiegel Grove

Holy crap, we’re diving the Spiegel Grove! I’ve been itching to dive and intact wreck and the Speigel Grove was high on my list. It’s considered more of an advanced dive but I figured since I had a dive instructor as my buddy, I should be good to go. On the boat as we were preparing to get in, I had my usual pre-dive anxiety. Since this was the first time I had ever really dived with Charlie, I don’t think he wasn’t used to my nervousness. I did my nervous little ritual of talking myself into taking the giant stride. Once I was in the water I could feel that this wasn’t going well since my mask and regulator were making me feel claustrophobic. I think I really freaked out the crew and Charlie when I kicked over to Charlie, handed him my reg. and asked him to turn it all of the way up. Not usually a good sign. On the way down the mooring line I was doing my “slow deep breaths” and “don’t freak out” mental chants. Even though I was not doing well I was still excited to see the wreck come into view. It was so cool. Once we were on the wreck, I continued with my internal monologue. I kept telling myself not to bolt, to remain calm. I actually looked up at a mooring line that was not in use and considered simply heading up and making the boat come and get me. In the meantime, Charlie is giving me the “are you o.k.?” signal about every 30 seconds. At some point in the dive, and I have no idea when or why, I was o.k. I started to really enjoy myself and relax. Of course I had sucked through so much damn air that we really didn’t have a lot of time on the wreck. I am glad that I pulled it together and was able to enjoy my first real wreck. It was amazing. I’m ready to go back!

Dive 2 – The Benwood

Wow, this wreck was filled with life! The wreck itself is spread out quite a bit. It’s kinda cool because we just kept moving from piece to piece. Charlie got some great video and even handed over the camera to me briefly to get some video of him. It was in about 55 feet of water so we were able to stay down a long time. In fact we finally ended the dive simply because we were so cold. I actually came up with 1000 psi in my tank - much better than our first dive.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009, Jupiter Dive Center, Jupiter

Dive 1 - I finally got to use my Nitrox, forgive me, my Enriched Air Diver card. I rented 100 cu ft. steel tanks. The weight of the tanks meant I had to do some adjusting with my added weight. Up to this point I had been using 22 lbs. Probably a little too high, but not bad considering I was using a 7mil wetsuit, 7 mil boots and neoprene socks. The divemaster recommended reducing my added weights by about 6 lbs. So I loaded up my 16 lbs of lead. Charlie and I were at the back of the boat so we were one of the first ones in. I could tell right away that I was well weighted because I dropped like a stone. First thing we saw when we reached the bottom was a ginormous grouper out in the sand. The ledge we were drifting along had a lot of life. We saw a huge school of Atlantic Spadefish that Charlie got some great video of. We also saw a few sharks including a nurse shark that was probably about 6 ft away from me. Earlier in the dive I saw a shark at the top of the ledge. Charlie had mentioned earlier that if you yell loud enough into your regulator, others can hear and understand what you’re saying. I decided to try this out by yelling to Charlie and pointing to the shark. He actually heard me and was able to get it on video.

There was really a lot to see on the first dive. Unfortunately, I was so freaking overweighted that I spent most of the time screwing around with my buoyancy. I was also getting really tired from hauling around the extra weight. It didn’t help that the divemaster who was leading the group and holding the dive flag was kicking down the ledge rather that simply drifting. That meant the rest of us had to kick to keep up. I sucked through my air very fast. When I saw my air pressure at 1000 psi, I indicated to Charlie that I wanted to go to the line. Of course that meant I had to kick harder to catch up to the damn line. By the time I was at the line I was at about 600 psi and getting more than a little concerned. I immediately started to head up assuming Charlie saw me head up and was right behind me. When I looked back, he was still at the bottom. I was getting really nervous now because I still had to do my safety stop. I met up with another solo diver on the line, showed him my pressure gauge. He kindly buddied up with me for the safety stop and ascent. During the safety stop I had a hard time maintaining my depth and kept sinking a little. When I sunk too low, my computer would stop the countdown until I was back up in the acceptable range. In the meantime, I’m watching my freaking air pressure plummet. I REALLY did not want to have to share air with my new buddy because I didn’t want to be the dumbass who couldn’t keep track of their air pressure. I finally gave up on my computer and went ahead and ascended the rest of the way. At the surface I got to enjoy the lovely feeling of being a very small diver in the middle of a very large ocean. Thankfully I had enough air remaining to inflate my bc and breath off of my reg. while I bobbed around in the waves. My buddy inflated his safety sausage and we waited for the boat. Actually, it was pretty easy. The boat came right up to us, and the captain got close enough so the ladder was maybe 5 feet away. Getting up the ladder was very easy because they use the Christmas tree ladder so I didn’t have to mess with removing my damn fins.

The first thing I did once I was on the boat was to shed some lead. Unfortunately, there were no more weights but another diver was willing to give me his weights and he used a couple of mine. The bad thing was he only had 3, 4 lb weights. He lost one of his weight pouches on the first dive. That meant I was I little off balance with 4 lbs in one pouch and 8 lbs in the other, but it was still better than the balanced 16 lbs.

After a little post dive review with Charlie where he reminded me what the ascend hand signal was and I pointed out to him that I would like to start our ascent on the next dive at 1000 lbs we were good to go for the next dive.

Dive 2 - The goal for the beginning of this dive was for everyone (all 12 of us) to descend right away before we drifted past the first point of interest. The descent went well. I had enough weight to descend easily but not so much that I beat everyone to the bottom. I think because the divemaster stressed the various points of interest so much, we tended to bunch up on this dive quite at bit. It was like freaking bumper divers down there and there was so much silt being stirred up. The current also seemed stronger on this dive so it made it very hard to stop and look under ledges not that anything could be seen under the ledges with all of the freaking silt everywhere. There were a few highlights on this dive though. We saw a really big loggerhead turtle. He looked like a big grandpa to me and he came so close, it was very cool. We also saw a few more sharks in the distance. Apparently there was a big nurse shark under a ledge but by that time I was so sick of bumping into other divers and having sand kicked up, I just kept out of the way so Charlie could get it on video. When I reached 1000 psi (of course gill-boy still had plenty of air left) we both gave the ascend signal and went up the line for our safety stop. Again, at the surface, we signaled that we were fine and the captain came right up to us (in fact it looked like he was going to run us down) and we climbed aboard. We were one of the last divers on this time so I felt like I kind of redeemed myself from the previous dive since we were one of the first divers in. I surfaced with a respectable and safe, 500 psi. Gill-boy still had 1500 and he was using smaller tanks. Grrrr.

One of the highlights of the day occurred on the ride back. We were talking with some of the other divers and found out that there was a family from Ames and, better yet, they were all certified by Jerry. Once again Charlie finds himself on a boat with a bunch of Iowans, all of which are Jerry’s kids. It was perfect!

I would definitely do this dive again, I would just be better prepared. It would be nice if there were less divers in the water. I think we got spoiled by our private boat in Key Largo. I definitely need to use the bigger tanks if I dive with Charlie again or his dive gets cut short. I will definitely start with less weight. I was so tired from the first dive that I think it affected the second dive a bit. If I’m better weighted to start with, I won’t wear myself out so much.


Need I say more?

Lordy She’s 40!

I had a great birthday. I took the day off and all I did was eat and sleep. Lisa and Clipper made sure I was well fed. Lisa even made me a yellow cake with chocolate frosting. She decorated it in the car, outside of the bar. That’s true friendship (or she's a little nuts.)

One Whole Year!

Exactly 1 year ago today, I made my final credit card purchase, I paid for my Rescue Diver class. Since then it's been all cash!