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Idiot-proof wake-up alarm: Screaming Meanie

When I travel I often use earplugs at night (E.A.R foam are my preferred brand) to mute the sounds of strange places and get a good night’s sleep. Only problem is, the pathetic “eep eep” sound of a typical travel alarm cannot penetrate the earplugs. For years I have searched for a truly heavy-duty portable alarm, and finally found a good candidate at the Petro Truck Stop in Kingman, Arizona: The Screaming Meanie.

Also available from online sources, the Screaming Meanie is not a clock. It is a countdown timer. You set the number of hours and minutes between now and the time you want to wake up. You can also set the volume, either to “loud” or “frighteningly loud.” In case 110 decibels is not enough (“loud enough to wake the dead!”), they have a 220 decibel version too!

When you start the Screaming Meanie the alarm is ON by default. This eliminates my habit of waking up five or six times just to check whether I set my travel alarm correctly. You just know this thing is going to work. You can’t possibly sleep through it because while the 10 and 5-minute warnings can be turned off with one button, it takes 3 buttons pushed simultaneously to silence the final alarm. My only quibble is that it should be smaller (it is a rounded plastic block, 1″ by 2.25″ by 5.25″) but hey, it was designed for truckers. -- Charles Platt

What is a 'normal' night's sleep? It depends on your age, gender and nationality

What constitutes a "normal" night's sleep?

That all depends, says Danny Forger, a biological mathematician at the University of Michigan and an expert in circadian clocks.

"People set guidelines all the time -- you need eight hours, you need seven hours -- but we've found that 'normal' sleep varies tremendously depending on your age, sex and what country you are in," he said.

Forger is the senior author of a new study that analyzed the sleep habits of more than 5,000 users of a mobile phone app known as ENTRAIN.

A new mathematical model can cut jet-lagged time in half, study says
A new mathematical model can cut jet-lagged time in half, study says
The free app was designed by Olivia Walch, a graduate student in Forger's group. It was launched in 2014 to help users efficiently overcome jet lag with the help of a complex algorithm based on Forger's previous research. Essentially, the app tells people when to expose themselves to light and when to avoid it to minimize the effects of jet lag.

Entrainment is the scientific term for fully adjusting to a new time zone -- hence the app's name.

However, the group also invited users to send the sleep data they plugged into the app back to the servers at the university. Roughly 8% of the app's international users agreed to share their information anonymously, providing the team a treasure trove of real world sleep statistics.

"Lab conditions in sleep studies are very regulated, and participants don't have to deal with the stresses of the real world like spouses, children and all the stuff that keeps us up at night worrying," Forger said. "Also, in the lab, it would cost about $20,000 per individual to get this type of information and we don't have that kind of budget."

In a paper published Friday in Science Advances, Forger and his co-authors used the data they collected from ENTRAIN to provide an overview of the social and solar cues that influence when we go to sleep and when we wake up.

Most people in the data set schedule between seven and eight hours of sleep a night, with a mean of 7.88 hours.

Of all the factors considered in their analysis, gender plays the biggest role in how long a person sleeps. On average, women schedule 8.07 hours of sleep, while men schedule 7.77 hours. Women both go to bed a bit earlier than men and wake up a bit later. The authors say this effect is most pronounced among people 30 to 60.

See the most-read stories in Science this hour >>
Age also seems to be an important factor for when people sleep. On average, older people schedule sleep earlier than younger people. Also, there is less variation in the times that older people sleep then younger people. The authors think this could be because older people are more sensitive to solar cues, and can only sleep during certain times of the days. Younger people, such as college students, don't seem to have those restrictions.

Nationality also plays a role in sleep duration. Residents of Singapore and Japan had the shortest sleep duration of the 20 countries represented in the study, getting an average of 7 hours and 24 minutes of shut-eye a night. People in the Netherlands were the most well-rested, averaging 8 hours and 12 minutes of sleep a night. In the United States, the average sleep duration is 7.87 hours.

The authors also note that despite black-out curtains, artificial lights and alarm clocks, solar cues -- the time of sunrise and sunset -- still have a significant effect on sleep patterns.

"We recognize that these solar effects are dulled compared to predictive models, but the fact that they are still there in the data was pretty shocking to me," said Amy Cochran, an assistant professor at Univeristy of Michigan who also worked on the study.

Both sunset and sunrise had a bigger effect on when people woke up, compared to when they went to sleep. Later sunrises (after 6:30 a.m.) were associated with later wake times and bedtimes. Later sunsets were also associated with later wake times and bedtimes, but the effect of sunset on what time a person went to bed at night was weaker than what models predicted.

First-class cabin fuels 'air rage' among passengers flying coach, study says
First-class cabin fuels 'air rage' among passengers flying coach, study says
The authors conjecture that the time we wake up is regulated by our internal, biological clocks but the time we go to sleep is more influenced by societal pressure to stay up.

"We didn't expect to see that, since most people use their alarm clocks to wake up," Forger said. "It could be that people are hitting snooze. They try to set their alarm clock for 5 a.m., but it doesn't work for them."

But that's just a guess. Forger said the ENTRAIN data set is full of unanswered questions as well as trends they would like to see validated in the lab.

In the meantime, the researchers are also hoping to soon collect even more detailed data from ENTRAIN users. They are launching a new version of the app shortly that will take advantage of information collected by activity trackers that monitor both exercise and sleep.

"It is a much richer data set, and we will be able to rely less on self-reported data," Forger said.

He added that a large-scale sleep study such as this one could never have been done without the help of citizen scientists willing to share their sleep data.

"It is really a new way of doing science," he said.

Do you love science? I do! Follow me @DeborahNetburn on Twitter and "like" Los Angeles Times Science & Health on Facebook.

Why We Use The Decibel Scale To Measure Sound Level

Sound is an integral part of life as we know it. Physical sounds allow us to experience our environment in a way like no other, communicate with each other easily, compose beautiful music, and so much more.

As most people will know, sounds are actually pressure waves in the atmosphere around us that vibrate at frequencies that our ears are sensitive to. For various reasons, it is very important that we have a way to measure the strength and the intensity of these signals, and luckily we have developed a system to do just that.

This article will take a closer look at this specialized system of measure, known universally in technical circles as the decibel, or dB. It will help to educate our readers along the way, and it will answer some questions that are relevant to the subject.

These questions include, just what is a decibel, and how did it come to be so named? What are the decibel levels of some well-known loud noises? And, how does the science apply to everyday products? Let's answer these questions.

SO, JUST WHAT IS A DECIBEL, AND HOW DID IT COME TO BE NAMED?

Let's have a discussion about the amazing human ear to start with. These are the organs that help to give us an awareness of the sounds in our environment. They are marvelously calibrated auditory tools, and are quite capable of registering a wide variety of frequencies and intensities.

One of the gifts of the ear is its ability to sense sounds over a wide range of sound levels. This presents problems in some ways, though. This huge range means that when we attempt to measure the sounds the ears hear, the huge variation can make it impossible to perform the necessary calculations.

To make it easier to handle this huge range, a logarithmic scale was adopted, as opposed to the linear scale which is used by things such as rulers. To put things in a little perspective, linear scales measure straightforward changes in quantities, while logarithmic scales measure exponential changes.

For example, if we start at the number 10 on a ruler and count 10 spaces up, we will come to 20. On a linear scale, this is only twice as great as the original number. If we start at 10 on a logarithmic scale and count upward by only ONE space, this represents a 10-fold increase in quantity.

This method of representing numbers is of great value in situations where large variations in quantity are involved, such as the differences in sound intensity. This universal scientific scale is now known as the decibel, which is a logarithmic way of describing the ratio between two quantities.

The story of how it came to be so named is quite straightforward. Telephone circuits are prone to losses in signal power over transmissions lines, and thus a need existed to quantify the magnitude of these losses. The original telephone companies came to agree upon a measure of signal loss known as Miles of Standard Cable, (MSC). This is the amount of power or signal intensity that was lost over one mile of cable.

Over time, this measure was standardized and renamed as the Transmission Unit, or the TU. 1 TU is basically the same as 1 MSC. In honor of Graham Bell, this measure was eventually renamed again to the Bel. One tenth of a Bel is thus a decibel, which is the unit of measure now used universally.

WHAT ARE SOME DECIBEL LEVELS OF WELL KNOWN LOUD NOISES?

Normal conversation at 3 feet away - 60-65dB

* Traffic noise inside a car - 85dB

* A train whistle at 500 feet away - 90 dB

* A jackhammer at 50 feet away - 95 dB

* A loud rock n roll concert - 110 db

* Screaming Meanie Alarm Clock – 120 db

* Jet engine at 100 feet - 140 db

HOW DOES AN ALARM CLOCK APPLY THIS SCIENCE?

Let's face it, there are times and places in life when it is harder to wake up from a deep sleep than others. In times like these, it can be crucial to ensure that you wake up exactly at the time when you are supposed to. An example of this would be over-the-road truck drivers who are often forced to sleep in noisy environments, and thus require something a little stronger than ordinary to get them going.

The famous Screaming Meanie is that something else. Popular with truck drivers for two decades now, this modest device is only slightly larger than a deck of playing cards. Despite its modest size, it can produce alarms at a variety of sound levels up to and including 120dB. Even the heaviest sleeper in the loudest environment possible will be alerted to wake up when it is placed within a few feet of the bed.

Screaming Meanie developer Charles Louis, points out that the Screaming Meanie could be louder, but that at 120 dB, it’s at the limit beyond which hearing could be damaged. “The 120 dB limit is important, because a product for people is only valuable if it’s designed of, by, for, and around people,” says Liu. “When you hear a 120 dB alarm, believe me, the first thing you want to do is to turn it off. Next, you want to know how they can generate so much loud noise from just a 9 volt battery.” Thankfully, he had a useful scale, the decibel, to calibrate his loud alarm clock for consumer use.

Do you have a sleep disorder? What to do?

 We all tend to lose sleep at one time or another. This could be due to stress or anxiety and is entirely natural. However, if you are having trouble sleeping on a frequent basis, you may have a sleep disorder or an underlying medical problem. Lack of good quality sleep can cause fatigue, grogginess, anxiety, and lead to a dysfunctional life

Sleep problems range from an inability to sleep, oversleeping in daytime, and an increase in body movement during sleep. It is important to know the facts about your condition in order to seek treatment or behavioral changes. If you have trouble sleeping, you need to check the following factors which may cause or contribute to your sleeping problem:

  • Your alcohol intake
  • Sleep interruption from loud noises
  • An uncomfortable sleeping environment
  • Consumption of coffee and other caffeinated drinks
  • Your stress levels
  • Any medical condition that may cause sleep problems
  • Medications that interfere with sleep

The following are common sleep disorders which affect millions of people around the country.

 Insomnia

 This is an inability to fall asleep, to stay asleep or to enjoy quality sleep. It is the most common sleep disorder in the world. Persons with insomnia also wake up frequently at night and fail to go back to sleep, or wake up too early in the morning. Insomnia can cause fatigue, daytime sleepiness, and mood swings. It can be treated by medication, although behavioral changes such as getting enough rest, reducing stress and alcohol intake can be helpful.

Narcolepsy

This is characterized by excessive sleep during daytime. It is caused by a neurological disorder which prevents the natural regulation of sleep by the brain. Narcolepsy can result in sudden sleep attacks when driving, walking, or talking. You may also experience loss of muscular control during laughter or when emotional. It can be treated by a variety of prescription medications. If you have problems waking up in the morning, use the Screaming Meanie loud alarm clock. With maximum sound levels of 120dB, it is loud enough to wake you without causing any hearing damage.

Sleep apnea

This is a sleep disorder in which a person stops breathing frequently during sleep. It is potentially serious and leads to gasping for air, restlessness during sleep and waking up repeatedly. Sleep apnea is caused by obstruction of the airways that result in snoring. It can also occur when the brain fails to instruct the body to breathe. This condition is treated by wearing a device that looks like a mask, which delivers air into the lungs during sleep. It is important to check on a person with sleep apnea to ensure that they are breathing normally. A loud alarm clock such as the Screaming Meanie can assist you with this.

Restless legs syndrome

This is a sleep disorder that results in an uncontrollable urge to move the arms or legs during sleep. It is caused by feelings of itchiness, discomfort or aches in the legs or arms when lying down or resting. It may also involve jerking or muscle cramps. The sensations get better when you massage, move or stretch the legs. Restless legs syndrome commonly occurs in the evenings and interferes with sleep. It can also happen during prolonged periods of sitting, such as in a movie or while driving.

Delayed sleep phase disorder

This problem is characterized by a delayed sleep cycle, where you go to sleep very late at night and wake up much later normal. People with this problem can fail to sleep until 3 or 4 am, but end up waking up very late. It usually affects teenagers, but adults can suffer from it as well. Treatment includes light therapy among others. The Screaming Meanie alarm clock can help you get out of bed in the morning as well.

Aging and sleep problems

Many people experience a change in sleep patterns as they grow older. Aging can cause loss of sleep and lead to frequent waking up at night. Although adults require less sleep as they grow older, it is important to maintain a quiet and comfortable environment to help you get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep every day.

Hearing loss and sleep disorders

Studies show that people with work place related hearing loss have problems with sleep. This is mainly due to tinnitus, which is a constant ringing noise in the ears caused by sustained exposure to loud noise. However, even persons with hearing loss but without tinnitus also experience insomnia.

How to improve a sleep disorder

There are many things that you can do to improve your sleep problem. Firstly, identify what problem you have by keeping a record of your sleep patterns. This will help the doctor diagnose the extent of the problem. Try to reduce your alcohol and caffeine intake, as these interfere with the quality and quantity of sleep. Above all, reduce stress and relax in a comfortable environment to encourage quality sleep.

However, if like everyone else you just can’t wake up every morning, get the Screaming Meanie loud alarm clock to ensure you are never late to work.

Essentials for every disaster prep kit

It is important to always be prepared during tornado season because you cannot really predict when forces of nature like severe thunderstorms and tornadoes might rise up and make trouble. In the event of a severe storm or tornado, the best place to take cover is an emergency shelter that meets safety standards.

 If you already have an emergency or storm shelter, stocking it with emergency supplies and other essentials, which will be required if a tornado hits your home, is the next step. Once a tornado hits, it could leave you and your family stranded, possibly for days or even weeks.

 Make sure you have the following things in your shelter before the emergency crews arrive at your area.

 Alarm Beacon

During and after a tornado, flashing alarm beacons can offer the utmost degree of signaling effect. Evacuation alarms for chemical spills, fire and toxic gas leaks are often equipped with a flashing alarm beacon. Moving machinery and structures like doors, gates, lifting equipment, and service vehicles often use them for warning.

An extra loud alarm like the Screaming Meanie 220 Alarm Clock can also serve a similar purpose. In fact, it has been designed to be used as an Audio Signaling Beacon. One of the features of this continuous, high frequency, piercing alarm is that every 5 minutes; it will sound a loud signal that will last for 10 seconds. This is an excellent safety feature for anyone stranded in an emergency situation where cell photos are not working and help needs to be summoned, such as during and/or after tornadoes. The volume of the alarm can be set to three different levels, namely 70db, 90db and 120db. Even if a tornado destroys the power lines, you will also be able to use the in the dark since it is equipped with an indigo backlit display.

 Long-lasting food items

It is ideal if you stock your emergency room with food and water that will last anywhere between five and seven days, feeding every member of your family, including yourself and any animals you may have. Somewhere between 2000 and 2500 calories should be allotted to each person. Make sure the foods you stock your emergency shelter with are non-perishable, such as:

Canned fruits and vegetables

Canned meat and seafood

Cookies

Crackers

Dried fruit

Energy or granola bars

Meals Ready to Eat (MREs)

Peanut butter

Foods that are non-perishable and have a long shelf-life will not expire any time soon. Similarly, Meals Ready to Eat can last for a couple of years as long as you do not open them.

Sufficient Water

Your emergency shelter should always have water. You should also regularly change out the water to prevent stagnation and preferably even stock your emergency shelter with bottled water that has been specifically treated to last for a long-period time. Bottled water bottles have expiry dates, so they should be used before they expire, and you should replace them with new ones. For each person who may have to take shelter, there should be several gallons of water.

Basic Medicine

The emergency shelter should also be stocked with a first-aid kit that must contain antibiotics, basic antiseptic gels, pain relievers and other basic medications. The medicines should also be changed out once they are near their expiration date. During a storm or tornado, reaching a hospital may not be possible; any medications that might be required for extra contacts, medical conditions and other basics should be stashed in the shelter. Since accidents and injuries can occur during a storm or tornado, the risk of infection and life-threatening conditions can be reduced.

Baby Items

If you have a baby, make sure you also stash baby food, formula, diapers, medicine and wipes in the emergency shelter. If you have older children, stock items that will keep them entertained and occupied, such as games, magnetized toys, puzzles, etc.

Basic Camping Gear

If a storm or tornado ends up damaging your home, you will need camping gear both during and after the incident. Make sure the tent that you use is large enough to house your entire family. You should also have blankets, and sleeping bags stashed in the shelter for all of your family members.

 Warm Clothes

During or after a storm or tornado, your heating system may also malfunction. To ensure that your entire family can remain warm, make sure there is a wide range of warm clothes in your emergency shelter.

Batteries & Flashlights

Flashlights can come in handy during an emergency situation. So, there should be several flashlights and plenty of batteries stashed in your storm shelter. So, in case of a power outage, especially if you do not have a backup generator or if the one you have stops working for whatever reason, you will have some light to navigate within the shelter.

Hammer

You end up getting stuck in your shelter because of debris, you can clear it using a hammer, and you can even use it to make noise in order to alert rescuers.

Cell Phone & Cell Phone Accessories

Although cellular service may not even be up during and after a storm or tornado, it will likely be back up eventually. So, make sure that you have your cell phone along with additional batteries and/or a battery operated charger with you so that you place calls for help if you find yourself unable to move debris, snow or other obstacles.

Pet Food & Supplies:

If you have furry four-legged friends who will also be taking shelter with you, make sure there is enough pet food in your emergency shelter as well as a leash and toys.

Personal Documents

As mentioned, a storm or tornado may end up damaging your home, so it would be better if you store important personal documents like your birth certificates, home deeds, insurance documents, etc. in your emergency shelter. This way, you will not end up losing them in such an emergency situation.

Conclusion

If you do not wish to face the severe consequences when a harsh storm or tornado strikes and you want to ensure yours and your family’s survival, then it is of utmost important that you properly stock your emergency shelter. If you do not wish to face the severe consequences of a harsh storm or tornado, and you want to ensure yours and your family’s survival, then it is of utmost importance that you properly stock your emergency shelter.

How To Guide for Making the Perfect Turkey

Getting it Right Without Risk

Americans have a love affair with two things: Thanksgiving and turkeys. Thanksgiving is the major holiday least influenced by commercialization. It's our tradition to gather together before a lavish meal, without the shopping pressures that come with other special days. Though the pilgrims almost certainly didn't actually eat turkey for their thanksgiving event, we know what constitutes our preferred main course today.

If you’re like me, all the available articles and advice columns about how to cook a great holiday bird eventually just flood your mind with often conflicting, subjective information. I don’t know about you, but I forget the steps, mix up the advice, and do things out of sequence. As a predictable result, despite my many years of experience cooking holiday turkeys, I've never really nailed it perfectly. Until I acquired the right tools, and used my current method, my birds were either too dry or lacking flavor, under cooked, or on one embarrassing occasion, borderline burned. What a disaster!

Gradually, I’ve been able to break the process down into a simpler, easier process that produces the most reliably fool-proof, scrumptious Thanksgiving turkey ever.

This process isn’t mysterious or controversial, just comprised of simple, mainstream steps, using the best tools for the job. My method of marinating first, then cooking in a high quality oven bag is proven to produce the best, most deliciously consistent results.

Fresh vs. Frozen: Let it Go.

When meat is frozen, ice crystals form that can puncture the cell wall of the muscle tissue, changing the texture of the meat into mush. The big food companies know this, which is why they ensure small, slow ice crystal growth by slowly freezing the meat under controlled conditions. I've had incredible results with store bought turkeys, and for the price, they're hard to beat. If you want to reach the highest level of turkey nirvana however, fresh is best, and there's no thawing time.

Heritage vs. Butterball (or just about any other brand name frozen turkey)

Heritage turkeys are the birds we all visualize when we think of turkeys. Big plumage, dark feathers, etc. There are many breeds, from Auburn to Narraganset. If you have a local farmer, try to find out what breed she's raising. This is by far the best option for a perfect meal, so long as you can find it and afford it. No factory birds, these tend to be free range and organic. The best part is the taste. Heritage turkeys have the most turkey flavor.

How Big, This Bird?

Conventional wisdom holds that one pound of turkey feeds one person. If you're like me, you don't consider two oreo cookies to be a "serving." Two pounds of turkey per person is a better calculation, leaving some leftovers even if you underestimate appetites. If you've purchased a Heritage turkey, remember that they tend to be smaller, with way smaller breasts. Consider cooking two turkeys if the size of your guest list justifies it.

A Meaty Proposition

Number of Guests

Turkey Weight Needed (Lbs)

 

4

8

 

8

16

 

10

20

 

12

24

Five Important Tools You'll Need

  1. Roasting Pan: A Turkey needs to be oven roasted. In order to accomplish this, you need a roasting pan. Roasting pans vary widely from disposable and made from foil, to some serious stainless steel overkill.
  2. Alarm Timer: Don't get caught, as I did, sleeping on the cooking time. As with work and school, in cooking your turkey, being on time is important. We definitely wouldn't want our turkey to be anything short of perfection.
  3. Brining Bag: The importance of marinating your holiday turkey is hard to overstate. The brine will break down the molecules in the turkey, allowing them to absorb the glorious juices more efficiently. When brined correctly, a turkey can become your personal nirvana.
  4. Oven Bag: Why all the bags? Nothing retains moisture better than a good trap. It's a simple concept that keeping the juices from escaping makes for a tastier bird. An oven bag also dramatically reduces clean-up while it enhances flavor -- a win-win for everyone.
  5. Thermometer: The best thermometer can be a subjective question. For my needs, I wanted a small, light, easy to use model with an accurate, easy-to-read display. Getting the temperature of the meat right is a crucial step. Although we want our bird to end up at 165 degrees, we should remove it from the oven at 150-155, because it will continue to cook after removal. Ten degrees temperature rise after removal is reliable and routine.

Large Roasting Pan - Not the Frying Kind

  • Since I'm recommending a 20 lb turkey, make sure your roasting pan can accommodate one. Foil or hard sided are both fine, but you need a roasting pan to do the job right.
  • I've had great experience with my 17.2" x 12.7" x 12.7" large roasting pan with rack.
  • If you're looking for quick and easy you could always buy a disposable roasting pan, but a bit of a money sink for a one-way product.
  • You can also use a cookie sheet or any pan big enough. Be sure that if you're not using a rack with a pan inside of it, to keep the bird raised up. Coarsely chop an onion and lay the turkey on top. This will ensure you don't have direct contact between the bird and the pan, allowing the bottom to cook more evenly. Be sure that the pan won't let the juices fall out into the oven. The drippings will be used to baste the turkey and as a key component of the gravy.
  • If you live close to the fire department, you could try the deep fried method. Due to the possibility of fire, I don't recommend this method, but it's possible to make a tasty turkey by deep frying it.

Alarm Timer - Taking No Chances

  • I can't adequately express my frustration about the times I've overcooked things because I thought I'd remember when to check the oven. Just as often as not, I've gotten busy, fallen asleep, or failed to remember when to check.
  • From my own experience, I'm convinced that the Screaming Meanie model 120 alarm timer is the best product of its kind on the market, and ideal for our needs. Its super loud alarm checks in at 120db, so even if you're in the back yard you can hear it. The meanie's plastic case is all but indestructible, and it has a reputation for reliability stretching back for decades. Plus it comes in various jaunty colors so it's hard to lose.
  • The timer on your oven will work fine too, but make sure you remember to set it, and that you can hear it from anywhere you'll be during the process.
  • Almost everyone has a smart phone. Set the timer on your phone and keep it with you as an alternative.

Brining Bag - Magical Secret to Turkey Paradise

  • This is an important step. Marinating the bird is what separates it from the ordinary. The brine will break down the molecules in your turkey, allowing them to better absorb juices, resulting in the perfect holiday feast.
  • The Liquid Solutions brining bag holds up to a 25 lb. turkey, comes with a double zipper enclosure, and is strong enough to do the job. Complete instructions are included.
  • You can always use a five gallon bucket, lined with a plastic bag, but be sure your plastic liner is BPA free.
  • If you're brining a few turkeys together, you can consider using a bathtub. Be sure to clean it well before and after, please.

Oven Bag - That Extra Flavor

  • After your bird is marinated, use an oven bag to cook without excess mess, while producing the tastiest turkey you've ever experienced.
  • Liquid Solutions offers an oven bag with their popular brining bag, available as a set. One of each is all you need and you can buy them as a set on Amazon.com, recipes and instructions included.

Meat Thermometer - It's Not Horseshoes

  • There are really only four types of thermometers used for cooking turkeys. They all have their benefits. A good thermometer is essential for turkey, but also for chicken and steaks.
  • Oven safe thermometer - designed to stay in the thigh of the turkey as it cooks. No need to open the oven to take a look.
  • Oven cord thermometer - a probe is placed in your turkey and feeds out to a readout on your countertop. The best part is they can be set to beep when a specific temperature is reached.
  • Instant read thermometer - open the oven, stick in the probe, and read the temperature. These are generally among the more affordable options.
  • Pop up timers - these timers have a small amount of metal in them, holding up a spring. When the metal hits 180 degrees, the metal melts and the spring pops up. Usually these devices are placed in the breast. If the breast is 180 degrees, the meat is probably overcooked. They should be placed in the thigh instead.

 

·        Zoom to the Finish Line

  • Try my two bag method and not only will your turkey be the most delicious ever, but it will be done in around half the time of other methods. No more waking up at 5am to put your bird in the oven. This year, wake up when you like and still have your bird ready to go when the time is right.

·        Defrosting Your Glorious Bird

Weight (Lbs)

Time (Days)

 

10

2

 

15

3

 

20

4

Much Ado About Stuffing

My grandmother used to always stuff her turkeys before popping them into the oven. The problem was, and always will be, that the stuffing had to reach 180 degrees in order to be safe. To properly cook the stuffing inside the bird, you have to overcook the turkey. It's as simple as that.

The best stuffing I've ever had has been cooked on the stovetop, using some of the drippings from the turkey. Here are some stuffing recipes:

Old Fashioned Stuffing - http://allrecipes.com/recipe/23412/old-fashioned-stuffing/

Pecan Cornbread Stuffing - http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/pecan-corn-bread-dressing

Sausage Pear and Pecan Stuffing - http://www.recipe.com/sausage-pear-and-pecan-stuffing/

 

Marinate a Turkey - Brine it!

Brining Directions, Savory Turkey Brine:

You'll need: 2 quarts vegetable stock, 1/2 cup salt (3/4 cup kosher or course salt), 1/2 cup white sugar, 1 tablespoon dried rosemary, 1 tablespoon dried sage, 1 tablespoon dried thyme, 2 quarts cold water.

Into a large pot, pour stock. Add sugar and salt. Dissolve sugar and salt by heating solution on medium. Continue to heat water until the salt is completely dissolved, perhaps 15 minutes. Add it to cold water. Add all remaining spices and stir to combine. Chill brine completely in the refrigerator before adding turkey. Place your turkey in the brine by pouring the solution over the top of your meat. Seal brining bag and return to the refrigerator for the required time (one hour per pound). Check carefully that the bag is fully and completely sealed. Rinse poultry twice after removing it from the brine solution; discard brine.

Into the Bag You Go!

Oven Bag Directions:

You'll need: one turkey, one tablespoon flour, one medium sliced onion, two medium stalks of sliced celery, two tablespoons of melted butter or cooking oil. Optional: 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt, 1/2 teaspoon paprika.

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Open oven bag and shake flour inside it, leaving the flour inside once shaken
  3. Place floured oven bag into large roasting pan
  4. Add onions and celery
  5. With neck and giblets removed, rinse and pat turkey dry
  6. Brush oil or melted butter all over the turkey, then sprinkle evenly with spices
  7. Place turkey into the bag, breast side up and on top of celery and onions
  8. Close and seal the bag, but poke a few 1/2" holes in the top to allow the steam to escape
  9. Turkey will cook about 1 hour faster than with open recipe.
  10. Verify temperature with meat thermometer before serving.
  11. Carefully cut bag away from turkey and serve your delicious bird with no pan to clean up!

 

Carving Your Masterpiece

A great sculptor once said, "To make a masterpiece, I start with a block of stone, then chip away everything that's NOT part of the masterpiece." Or something like that. Of course, with carving a turkey, the aesthetics are just as important as anything else. This video, courtesy of Cooking.com should give you confidence that you can indeed make and serve a world class holiday turkey!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=3&v=5GCdkuQoLrY

 

Keys to Independent Senior Living

Keys to Independent Senior Living

 

My grandmother, Ethridge Shadoan, is 95 years old. Three years ago, she had to move down to Florida from her beloved Kentucky home, so that my mother could care for her. If she had the choice, she would have stayed in the place that she knew all her life. She had friends there, and it was a small town, so many people knew her by name. When my grandfather passed away, my family tried to let her stay on her own, as she wished, but when she had a stroke a couple of years later, we knew that she could not be alone anymore.

 

The longing to live independently is common for many seniors. Living in a home that you love and cherish, gives you a certain sense of comfort.

 

Normally, as people get older, they honestly have no desire to move to a new town or meet a whole new group of people. Instead, they find peace in the familiar places and faces that they have grown to know and love.

 

Unlike my grandmother, some seniors have never experienced a stroke, or anything else that prevented them from being able to live independently. In fact, many seniors are perfectly capable of living on their own, if they just have the right tools to do so.

 

Daily Struggles

 

The most recognized struggles of senior living are usually safety related. The elderly are more at risk for preventable accidents, like falling or getting hurt.

 

As a result, many products have been made to keep these types of situations from happening. Inventions like chairs that help you go up and down the stairs, or emergency services that are just a button push away, are just a couple of examples.

 

Of course, these types of tools are great for helping seniors do very difficult tasks. They could even save lives… but what about the smaller tasks of daily life? What about the tasks that wouldn’t even cross the minds of most young people? Things like remembering to take your pills, or not being able to hear the sound of your alarm when your hearing aid isn’t in. You know, the small (yet very bothersome) daily struggles that only seniors would understand!

 

Well, I believe that the key to happy, safe, independent senior living is through making those small things easier.

Problem Solved

 

Sometimes, seniors just need to be reminded to do their daily tasks in the first place. What if you had one device that could help you remember things throughout your entire day? Well I have found one great tool for this called The Screaming Meanie.

 

It may sound like a funny name, but I am telling you, it works. The Screaming Meanie is an alarm …. (fill in your info)

 

Tips

 

Think of the problems you have daily and try to find ways to make them easier. Sometimes when problems occur, we just try to deal with them. We don’t consider ways to improve or we may not even know a solution exists. Good news is, you are reading this article, so you are already one step closer to improvement.

 

Even though you are in your own home, always be extra cautious to avoid accidents. Being comfortable in familiar surroundings is great, but don’t forget that you are not the same as you were twenty years ago. Be extra conscience of your safety and just take things slow.

 

It is OK to ask for help. Just because you are living independently, does not mean you are isolated from outside help. Never feel ashamed or embarrassed to have someone come and assist you in your daily activities. If you care about yourself, then you should allow others care for you too.

 

 

Clearly, senior living can have its hardships but that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything to make it easier each day. Living independently helps you feel confident and capable. It allows you to live your life normally, with a sense of belonging. Don’t allow the little tasks of life get in the way of your happiness. Instead, use tools to fix your problems. Be smart, and live free.

5 Ways to have a great College experience

5 Ways to have a great College experience

 

College can be an amazing and educational experience for people today. From teaching valuable life skills to providing the education needed for a successful career, a college degree provides significant benefits. However, in order to experience those benefits, it's important to make the most from the college experience. Use these basic tips to get started on the right foot.

Do A Run-Through

The day before classes start, go around to each classroom. Some classrooms are difficult to locate and the first day of classes is stressful enough without getting lost. Taking a few minutes ensures an on-time arrival. Also, professors tend to make first impressions of their students, so arriving late starts the semester on a bad note. Make sure to double-check the location and time of the class also to prevent any problems on the first few days of classes. This step helps to form a good relationship with the professor.

Have the Materials

Some people try to read through their books before the semester even starts. While it's not a bad idea to flip through the textbook, don't feel the need to memorize the book before the class. However, make sure to have the book and any other materials needed for class. Usually professors make up the reading list and take it seriously so students should as well. Instead of trying to get through the semester without reading the chapters or borrowing a friends book, make sure to have it handy. With the high volume of used textbooks or inexpensive e-textbooks, it's easier than ever to afford the book. Having the materials makes a huge difference in college success.

Get to Class on Time

One of the most difficult parts of college is waking up early for classes. However, early morning classes are notorious for taking attendance and the professors notice when their students don't show up on a regular basis. Make sure to set an alarm, maybe even two, to get to class on time. If the normal alarm tone isn't doing the trick, try something more distinctive. A screaming meanie, like one from screamingmeanie.com, is a great way to make sure that a morning alarm does the trick. After all, college classes are expensive and skipping out can hurt success as well as a future career. Try to make all early morning classes knowing that professors really do notice the students who show up!

Work Strategically

College can be expensive, which is why so many students work during the semester. A fairly reasonable schedule should allow for a part-time job, but try not to overload the semester with work and school. Both will suffer as an effect. One of the best ways to juggle a job and taking classes is to find a job where it's possible to fit in some studying time. Some students find that working the front desk at a library or reception desk allows them to get in some great study hours each week. Other jobs may be related to the major and provide value in other ways. Try to find a job that works well with either a busy schedule or that may provide benefits in the future. These jobs are available, but they can take a little more time and effort to find.

Join Groups

Not just any group though. It's a good idea to find college groups and clubs related to interests, especially career interests. For example, someone who is majoring in business, may want to join the business club or be involved in business-related groups on campus. These groups provide valuable training as well as networking. Most campus groups also have a professor serve as the faculty mentor, so they can be a good way to form a relationship with a professional in the field. Do some research to find out what groups and clubs are in the area. Try to be involved in one or two a semester. More than that may be stretching too thin, so really get involved in these groups to see benefits.

These are simple tips which can be used to be successful in college. Since many people find that they enjoy college life, putting these tips into practice can boost their experience. Make the most out of the experience with some simple, but effective advice.

Gift Ideas For College Students

Summer is almost over and the time is near for you to buy some gifts for your son or daughter who is headed off to college in a few weeks. College students don't typically have much money to spend so it is a great idea for mom and dad to go out and get some items they really need. When they head back to school, they are going to need to get ready for that long walk to classes, many times early in the morning. They are going to need an alarm clock. Not just any clock, but a nice loud alarm clock that grabs their attention for that eight o'clock class all the way across campus. You can even add the touch of getting a loud one with a radio built in so it would grab their attention even more.

Gifts for college students could include a microwave. It does not have to be big, just big enough that they can heat up a piece of pizza they bought the night before or a TV dinner. Microwaves are not all that expensive anymore, and a gift like that can really make a difference.

When college students wake up in the morning after a long night of studying or cramming for that all important exam, they could sure use a hot cup of coffee. A coffee maker with a built in timer is just what they need. They can prepare their coffee make the night before, and when they get up a nice hot pot of coffee is ready to greet them.

Going back to school is tough for college students since they have a large work load ahead of them. Make them comfortable. Give them a nice warm blanket to cuddle up with on cold winter nights. They will appreciate you.

Studying all night

I remember back in my college days, I had a history final.  It was going to be on this book about some ancient greek guy, and I hadn't read it, despite the 5 weeks we'd had to accomplish that.

I stayed up all night and read that entire book, some 400 pages.  Felt pretty proud of myself, except for the fact that my alarm didn't wake me up from my deep 1 hour of sleep.

I passed the class after much pleading and begging after taking the exam later that day.

 

Don't let that happen to you.  The Screaming Meanie 220 WILL wake you up.  120 db of sonic thunder will surly jolt you out of the deepest slumber.