BPA Free Bottles - Philip Aventis, Nalgene, Camelbak

BPA - Bisphenol A, a compound in hard, clear polycarbonate plastics molecular structure is similar to estrogen, the hormone responsible for sexual development gained public awareness with the billion dollar class action lawsuit has been filed at the Los Angeles Superior Court against six leading manufacturers of baby bottles: Avent America, Evenflo, Gerber, Playtex, Dr. Brown's and Nalgene. All six manufacturers use BPA in the production of many of their plastic baby bottles and toddler sippy cups. Since the late 1990s, studies have indicated that exposure to BPA, even in low doses, could cause adverse side effects.

Philips Avent, a major manufacturer of baby bottles, feeders and products now offers BPA Free and PP (plastics with BPA) products. Directly quoted from their web site this is the following answers to commonly asked questions:

Q: Do Philips Avent baby bottles contain BPA?
The Philips AVENT Airflex reusable bottle is made from polycarbonate and therefore contains BPA. This product is no longer sold in the United States and Canada. Philips offers two BPA-free reusable bottles in its Infant Feeding line.  Philips AVENT offers two BPA-free bottles as part of its Infant Feeding line and are made from Polyethersulphone – commonly called PES and Polypropylene – commonly referred to as PP. (Please note, these two bottles are NOT sold in countries outside the US or Canada where Avent baby products are sold).

Camel Bak has a whole line of  BPA free bottles for water and liquids. They offer them through resellers such as who carry their whole line. You can search for the term, "CamelBak BPA-Free Better Bottle with Bite Valve" for the bottle seen to the right or just click on the text here in this blog.  Whether for hiking, for an activity or just needing a water bottle, it seems they are well worth getting the newer BPA free bottles.

Nalgene, one of the companies in the class action lawsuit for their baby bottles and sippys introduced their Everyday line of BPA free products. Offering up various sizes, shapes and models which are supposed to be safer for children and adults alike. Again for the sake of your health and your children's health, it's highly recommended using BPA free baby bottles and water bottles.

Shoes for Winter - Snow, Ice and Waterproof

The New Balance 921 Cold Weather All Terrain Running Shoes. Excellent winter running technologies merge with superior comfort for the trails, has removable spikes for additional traction where you need it the most. The 921 also features a TS2® Transitional Support System to help create a smooth transition from heel strike to toe-off for those who moderately overpronate. NB also claims to use an anti-freeze foam.

The new Kayland Vertigo Light takes the concept of light-weight hiking performance to a new level. Based on the same last as Kaylan's award-winning Vertigo High, the Vertigo Light weighs in at a mere 1080 grams per pair in a US Men's 9. The upper is constructed of a breathable, abrasion resistant textile, with an Action Leather rand for added durability and support. The boot features and eVent® Cocona® lining and a Vibram®Mars outsole. Waterproof and all purpose. Waterproof and light, claimed to be good for all purpose use. (

With the Merrell Snowmotion 8 Waterproof boot, there’s no reason to curb your outdoor adventures when the weather turns wet and cold. This men's outdoor boot offers a waterproof leather upper with a waterproof shell to keep you dry, while 400 grams of Primaloft™ insulation, an antimicrobial Polartec® lining, and an ActiveHeat™ insole keep you warm. An Air Cushion® midsole works with a compression molded EVA footframe for long-lasting support and comfort. The rubber sole of the Merrell Snowmotion 8 Waterproof boot features deep lugs for traction on difficult surfaces. (

The Keen® Growler men's winter boot is crafted to ensure warmth and exceptional comfort during the colder months. Keen.dry® waterproof technology keeps your foot dry, and a compression-molded EVA midsole creates a snug, secure fit. The non-marking rubber outsole delivers outstanding traction on slippery surfaces.(


Apertura (Los Angeles) - Wedding Photos Extraordinaire

Apertura is included in this year's Top 10 Wedding Photographers In The World by Wedding photography has crossed into commercial photography with highly crafted prints and crafted bindings that make wedding albums individual pieces of art. "Great stories are made of a series of real moments and emotions," says co-founder Ray Soemarsono.(Ray Soemarsono or Erwin Darmali are photographers of Apertura)

This blogger is an avid student of photography and couldn't pass up their advice for newcomers: "Know your cameras—let them be an extension of your senses," Soemarsono says. "Sense, anticipate, and capture. It is a privilege to witness two families come together as one." This blogger appreciates the passion, craft and thought behind it all, Apertura impresses. Thanks guys.


Best All Terrain Athletic Shoes - Asics vs New Balance vs Nike + Quality

The shoes I picked for comparison were released in January 2009 and I picked them namely because they are all available for $50 and all have very good quality control compared some of their lower priced siblings. You can see the quality in the feel, the cuts of fabric and the stitching jobs. I had a pair of New Balance for 6 years and they were still solid construction. They never gave me blisters nor ever felt uncomfortable. It was hard to get rid of them when they had been worn through and through.  Below are comparisons and examples of a few shoes I tried when looking for new ones.

In search of a replacement and I found the Asics Enduro 5. They have great grip but are too soft and offer no stability. The gel soles are very comfortable and the 3M reflectors work like a charm but they are barely good trail runners. The flexion point is too far back and they are better for walking and standing. The gel is surprising comfortable. The stitching was good and no fabric looked oddly cut or out of the norm. The fit is nice for a little wider feet than New Balance and Nike footware of the similar design. Asics is based in Kobe, Japan and has been producing athletic shoes since 1949.
  • Compression Molded EVA Midsole
  • Trusstic System
  • AHAR Heel Plug
  • Slip Lasted
  • GEL Cushioning System in Rearfoot
  • 3M Reflectivity

I like most New Balance and I loved my MT840. They have Abzorb foam soles, which also make them light weight and never felt a rock poke me in the feet. They offer decent stability, solid all-terrain runners before they reach the end of their cushioning life. The fabric cuts on these were precise, good stitching and are better quality than their lower cost siblings. There is nice ankle support that starts right around where the whole heel is located and a little wider towards the toes. New Balance is based out of Boston and has been making shoes since the 1970s but been making arch supports since 1900.
  • Synthetic/mesh upper
  • Solid sticky rubber outstole
  • Seamless phantom liner
  • N-LOCK external support system
  • N-Grip outsole
  • N-Durance outsole
  • Gusseted tongue fully attached to shoe
  • C-CAP midsole
  • Abzorb heel and forefoot

Nike makes nice all-terrain runners like the Air Pegasus+ 25 (now a 26 available). These shoes have shown to be average trail runners in the $50 price range. For those with narrow feet as they provide a good level of heel support, these remain a narrow from the heel to toes and fit snugly. However, they flexion point is in the middle of the shoe, which could eventually lead to foot, ankle and calf injury like the Asics above. Nike is based out of Niketown - Portland, Oregon.
  • Running Shoes
  • Breathable Mesh
  • 360-Degree Supportive Overlays
  • Air-Sole Unit
  • Stoneshield
  • Waggle Lugs/Blades/Ripples
  • Built for Nike+ Sportsband
In conclusion, all three shoes have meshed uppers, are light and provide soles. This is a light and breathable mesh material on the top fabric that keeps air moving through drying sweat and heat release.

These basic features - Quality, Comfort and Fit can apply to all shoes from hiking, fashion and sneakers. BUT the best shoes for running, hiking and activities are the ones that provide the correct level of support and stability. The only one to come close is the New Balance MT840 and it's even difficult to recommend those but in regards to stability it offered the most out of the 3 sub par shoes. With little to no stability in the plantar fascitis area reflected by their flexion points, they'd almost become a liability rather than a saving piece of technology. Once you find a shoe that has a two piece tread with a hard plastic/technology for arch/flexion support, look into 3rd party soles for pronation, suppination and arch support as needed to compliment your feet, gait and running style.

All Terrain=pavement, grass, dirt, trail


VW TDI, Diesel Jeans, Levi's Quality, Limited Express Mens Jeans, Toyota Prius

Diesel or not to diesel, that is the question.  From the Volkswagon Jetta Sportswagon TDI  and Diesel Jean, to the Toyota Prius and Levi's Jeans. Which do you fall behind?


First off the 2009 Volkswagon Sportswagon TDI. Powered by a 2.0-liter four-banger that produces 140 hp and 236 lb.-ft. of torque, it will be the first automobile to meet the world’s most stringent emission control standards, California’s Tier II, Bin 5. Gas mileage is between 30-city and 50-highway (depending on driving style). 50 state legal and environmentally safe, it emits only nitrogen and h2o. A sporty feeling drive, it beats the Prius off the line and in getting a real car feeling. (2009 Volkswagon Sportwagon pictured on left)

Diesel Jeans are high priced but the designer jeans are as popular as ever. There's just something about the feel, quality and look of them. Girlfriends and wives buy them for their men when budget is not a concern. Designed in Italy but currently being manufactured in various countries including Italy, they have a high quality control regiment and is one of the reasons they are a favorite. They offer from very casual distressed and destroyed looks to conservative but stylish looks. Particular models are nice enough to wear to the office then casually on the weekend. Other premium brand jeans are 7 For All Mankind, True Religion, Rock&Republic and others.  (2009 ad pictured on right)

The Anti-Diesel?

The Toyota Prius and Levi's Jeans are what are I consider the anti-diesel. Its almost like preferring crayons over markers. They are affordable and consistent quality. If you just need jeans, Levi's are great at their price range of around $30 to $50. The quality of Levis jeans are good but not premium. The basic Levi's are not up to par with even Guess Jeans until you get into Levi's premium models. The typical classic 501s, 505s and 517s are of the traditional style cotton jeans while the higher numbered models are closer to the lighter and thicker Limited Jeans style cotton jeans. Check out the 512s if you can find them. With any pair of stylized jeans, the right shoes can compliment the look. If a stickler for quality, check the seams inside the jeans between an expensive pair and a typical pair and compare. You will see the difference and decide what is really worth it. You can find special edition Levi's for much more at premium stores..(Levi's 527 Raw Cut pictured)

As for the 2010 Toyota Prius. Is the TDI a Prius-killer? I personally think so but if you want an engine that you can sneak quietly back into the house with get the Prius. If you don't have the need for a driver's car with really good gas mileage, then it's a valid contender. The question becomes, "Is it the diesel or the hybrid?" Using a very small gas engine in conjunction with a battery array, the Prius is quiet as a mouse off the line and uses it gas engine for higher speeds (2010 Toyota Prius on the right)


Carly Comando - Take One (New Album) + Everyday Sheet Music

Carly Comando, is a pianist who became an Internet sensation with her composition of Everyday for Noah Kalina who posted a video which shows him taking a photo of himself  everyday for six years. The song was then used during the NBA Finals in 2008 for the commercial "When Amazing Happens".

Carly Comando has also released an independent release of Take One. The CD is well made and has a full track list, including the popular Everyday. The sheet music for Everyday is also available for purchase from her web page.

Carly Comando can also be heard on a media marketing commercial for

UPDATE: 11/05/09 - Received the CD today. The CD case made of all environmentally friendly materials and ink, very nicely done. The CD pressed professionally and the fidelity is good compared to the lower quality online downloads of Everyday. Carly left me a nice note explaining that she's been busy on tour with her band and was slow to get the CD shipped. Awfully nice to take the time to write. Thanks Carly and Tom!


Panasonic HDC-SD9 High Definition Camcorder

I bought a Panasonic HDC-SD9 for a great price ($350 brand new) almost a year ago and it takes great video in HD format, HDMI out, etc. It shoots in native HD1920 and has various options to lower the HD quality to preserve flash memory space 16GB SDHC Flash Memory for a low price. The user manual only shows up to 16GB but I don't think anything is stopping it from using 32GB SDHC cards. The one complaint was the OEM battery which only lasts about one hour at full HD quality. Then a solution was found...

I purchased a VW-VBG130/260 replacement kit from Dino Direct. For $15.99 ( sells it for $119.99). It comes with the specific charger (required), a car adapter and 4-5 hour extended life battery. The trick here is that the original Panasonic VW-VBG130 and 260 have a chip that sends the battery life via a current through the power socket on the camcorder. With the replacement, this chip (which is patented) doesn't exist so a nasty message saying "This battery cannot be used" shows up on the screen if it's not covered. The battery kit comes with 2 lugs to cover the power socket! I now have a 4-5 hour battery!

Another issue was editing the AVCHD (Sony format) HD video. Sony Vegas Movie Studio 9 Platinum (I got my copy for $49.99 on eBay) has native MTS/AVCHD support and it works great! It imports and reads MTS files directly without issue in its high definition greatness. It also allows to share edited videos quickly to Youtube through the software. Now with all the tools and batteries for ease and convenience of operation, this makes the smallest full HD camcorder in world one of the best in its price class. People who thought they were stuck with a dud for so long can now rejoice.


The Quality of Shoes - How To Buy Comfortable Shoes

There are two things a person does most of their life. One is sleep, the other is stand on their feet, so never buy an uncomfortable bed or shoes. With the thousands of shoes that shoe companies offer it's easier to find shoes that don't fit well and are not comfortable than it is to find ones that are. However, it's wonderful to have choices, if you walk into a shoes section, whether it be a department store, shoe store or sports store there's a wide variety of manufacturers, makes and model to choose from. Each has their own marketing and some even patenting their technologies. Lots of thought goes into feet you know, from that athlete's highly functional sports shoes to the stylish high heels the lady next to you is wearing. 

First, there's nothing like trying shoes on first and walking in them a while before purchasing them. You may find some shoes fit you well and others feel like they don't. This is normal, everyone's feet are different and everyone has different perspectives of comfort and fit. I offer a few basic things to look for and practices before choosing the right shoes for you. It's even better when the better quality and more comfortable shoes are possibly cheaper and better looking. This article offers some basics of finding and buying shoes of your choice using a simple guideline of quality, comfort and fit.

Quality = stitching, fabric cuts should be even, smoothly cut and stitched together.
You should be able to see the quality of the fabrics, stitching and the cuts of fabric. A tell tale sign a shoe are  not up to par is an initial view from the outside. Check the fabric cuts. If they are rough, hard and stitched unevenly where the fabric lifts up or the cuts of fabric just don't seem to be accurate they better be a good price. Quality control on the shoes were probably set to low standards at that particular factory or shoe manufacturing line. For example, I saw a pair of New Balance shoes that exhibited poor cuts and saw another model right next to it from the same manufacturer of much higher quality and the prices were the same. The obvious choice was to try the ones that looked like they were made properly with clean cuts of fabric and consistent stitching. Uneven fabric and bad fabric cuts means there's a good chance it could catch on something and possibly tear or cause odd wear. In this case, the cut was too large therefore the stitching could not be stitched down consistently and smoothly. Most importantly, it's very possible that the inner part of the shoe may have the same flaws.

Comfort - they should feel good standing, walking or whatever activity they are aimed for.
If you try on shoes and walk in them a bit, you will know in 5 minutes of trying them where the simple Quality meets foot Comfort, which means happier feet and a happier shoe wearer. Walk around in them and get a feel, then try on some other manufacturer's or different models from the same manufacturer and see what the they feel like and what your feet are telling you, there may be some differences you prefer. I recommend trying on many different pairs before making the choice that your feet and you will be happy with and keep in mind what features you are looking for if buying specific shoes for sports, walking or simply for fashion and won't wear that much.

Fit -Size, Width, Ankle Support - Mens and Womens Shoe Sizes and Widths
Shoes are sold in a range of sizes and widths. Mens shoe sizes and widths and Women's shoe sizes and widths differ. Click on the text to see them. Shoes also range from low ankle to high ankle support. Many hiking boots and sports shoes offer ankle support while dress and casual shoes do not. In no way should these features affect the comfort of your feet but only provide increased support for the heel and ankle. A shoe too narrow will constrict blood circulation, shoes too wide could cause blisters and not provide enough support for activities. Depending on what your aim is for the shoes, whether fashion, sports or casual wear, they should fit your feet well. No one person has the same exact foot dimensions, bones or sensitive feet but there are shoes out there that will fit you and your feet.


Cary Judd - Goodnight Human (New Album)

Goodnight Human by musician Cary Judd who is currently touring around the US, has hit the shelves of Barnes&Noble. I was turned to his music with his video for American Girl 2 (The Ah-ha Song) before the release of the album. On the new album, I personally was struck by the instrumental beauty of Andromeda and it sets up the album well. The tone of the ablum is put together with appealing tunes that have a modern cater, easy on the ear acoustic and love song timbre. His performances are one man band performances and worth catching. Cary Judd is a musical artist in his own right.

The Kogi BBQ Bus - Korean Tacos? Love At First Bite.

The Kogi BBQ Bus of Los Angeles has been a hit and I know why. They serve up Korean sytle tacos all day and all night around in their Kogi BBQ Bus! Yummy! It's possibly the best thing invented after a night at a bar or club in Los Angeles.

You can simply find out where they are and where they are going to be by following them on KogiBBQ on Twitter.

You can read more about the phenomenon at the LA Times

Gold, Silver and Precious Metals Becoming An Alternative Currency?

\Is Gold is becoming an alternative currency? There are signs it seems to be. The proof is there when financial markets, stocks and currencies devalue. It is more than evident that individuals, countries and institutions consider Gold as an alternative currency or at least a safe-haven asset class. Now even financial advisers are recommending a small position in Gold and Treasury Bonds, more evidence that investors go to Gold as a "flight to safety" or "safe haven investments" during times of economic uncertainty and distress.

So, you're interested in Gold, possibly Silver, Platinum and Palladium as well as commodities for investment, holding your wealth, hedging against inflation, and rounding out your portfolio. Funny thing is Gold does all these things. Let's start with a few basic myths and truths. Most of the currency in America used to be minted in gold and silver but things changed gradually to the point where we are today, there is no longer any gold or silver in our everyday use of fiat (printed currency). Most people don't even know that gold once backed currency or that gold no longer backs currency, though some have questioned what is the point of Fort Knox if we have the Federal Reserve?

It is true the whole world is now essentially off the Gold Standard. Today most nations back their wealth with debt and bonds. However, sometimes, like current times, countries are on the fringe of defaulting on their debt owed to other countries. In today's news, it's called a sovereign debt problem when it seems a country may not be able to pay off its debt. Historically, gold, silver and other metals have been used to back the wealth and currency of a nation. If the nation didn't have enough gold to cover their debt, they would become bad nations to lend to, however now debt is looked at as wealth as well as huge risk many bankers are willing to take as banking has evolved into a fractional banking system. A rather backwards perspective which runs our financial systems and banks if you asked me. Fractional means that the bank only needs to have up to 10% of actual money they take in from depositors such myself and everyone else who saved money in banks.

Richard Nixon officially took the USA off the gold system believe it or not, it's true the US government at one point confiscated and made it illegal to own gold until the early 1963 while moving silver out of our quarters, dimes and half dollar coins. Now we are stuck in between eras. From one of grave and frivolous economics adopted during the Great Depression and spending beyond to the one we are experiencing during the Great Recession. Instead of fixing things, the people in power convinced themselves that not fixing things and just continually improving upon a broken foundation is best. Well... look where we are today. We are experiencing another first along with the housing market crash, credit crisis, economic depression, consumer recession, man made ecological and financial disasters. We see more than enough news stories everyday.

So who can you trust? YOU! And your will power and growing knowledge of sound economics, being financially responsible and being independent.  If you're realize, paying off debt, living without debt and living within your means should be the norm you're ready to begin looking at alternatives and hedge against risk and uncertainty. Due your own diligence when listening to verbal guarantees of your money's safety and any type of sales tactics to get you to put your hard earned cash in other people's control. Quick money is associated to high risk and that is the the trend now. Long gone are the days of owning a stock for years on end, now it's about the quick trade. So know your risk tolerance, financial situation and what you are comfortable with. Slow and steady is reserved for the sound in society, as is precious metals and core commodities. Invest in things we all need like food, water, energy, tech and industrials in the long run. So let the sales people tell what you want to hear but never forget what you want which is smart money not quick money, even if it how the markets operate in today's uncertainty.

To start in Gold, it's not recommended to trade or invest in ETFs, IRAs, or any form of investment you don't have control of, because that's why we're here and if you don't control your money others will take that risk for your. The goal is to be able to preserve your wealth, not let other people lose it for us. What any trader will not tell you is how much more they lose than gain, they are just better at hedging, balancing and keeping money flowing in arbitrage. Something that not all people need or even should know about.

Starting off with your own base or foundation of precious metals might interest you, whether a coin, a round or a bar, make sure it's a sound place you are making the purchase from. Visit an honest coin shop or bullion shop and purchase some bullion bars, rounds and even fairly price numismatic coins on the precious metal price dips. Avoid the TV advertised places, endorsed by talking media heads that are there to make that quick buck off you. The price for bars and rounds fluctuate following the price the precious metal is being traded for on the Comex and London Fix. By watching the precious metals prices and buying on the price dips, it will be easier to recover equity and gain value, but most of all you own it, it's in your hands. Same concept goes into why NOT to buy from an IRA or 3rd party custodian when starting unless you need to roll it over to avoid taxation (which has its own benefits). So the best practice is to buy the lowest premium bullion bars or rounds, but others like to collect historical pre-1933 gold and silver coinage which have a high collector's premium. Either way, just be sure to do your research and don't get taken advantage of.

Once you've established your base of bullion you  control, that is coins, bar and rounds in your personal possession that no one could steal from you without prying from your cold dead hands, it may be time to consider precious metal ETFs and mining stocks if you've got more money you want to invest. You can even short Gold and Silver on the stock exchange, so be aware prices do go up and down but precious metals have an intrinsic value. You can trade paper gold and silver through a brokerage firm like Fidelity, Ameritrade, ScottTrade and the many others out there. The best ones to use is the one with the lowest trade fees. Then as Warren Buffet does, keep your eye on a small basket of investments like gold, silver, ETFs and mining stocks. Invest or trade by doing your own diligence. In general, buy low and sell high. You may also get into technical swing trading which is a good foundation to look at stock charts and get some meaning from them even though technical analysis/trading is a day trader's momentum trading tactic. Also remember, you cannot eat gold or silver so many say only 10% of your assets should be invested. Some say more, some say less. That will be a personal choice but in the end, there will be a time to sell and times to buy, be diligent and keep your best interests in mind.