Better (six years) late than never: I finally review the Vita-Mix Super 5200 blender

Vita-Mix 5200

A while back, a PR person for Vita-Mix sent me a free Vita-Mix Super 5200 blender in exchange for a review. That was December 2008, over six years ago, so I thought maybe I should get around to doing that review already. Yes, that’s right, a PR company sent me a blender that costs (holy shit, I just looked this up), $449 dollars, and NEVER followed up with me about a review. Who is running that place? They should be fired! Maybe they were! Maybe that’s why they never followed up!

I had originally intended to make a video to review the blender. My friend K was trying to decide between a Vita-Mix and some other model at the time, so I brought it over to her house and we blended a lot of stuff and it was quite fun. This machine is a monster! It can blend anything that is blendable, and some things that aren’t. However, I had never done a video review before and when I reviewed the footage a lot of it wasn’t lit well and editing the whole thing together was going to take a lot of time, so I never bothered to finish it. I’ve occasionally wondered if K thought I’d made up some weird story about a blender review as a way to get invited to her house or something.

I’ve had this blender for six years and every now and then I’ve thought to myself, “You should really review that Vita-Mix. You’ve gotten as close to stealing that blender as you can without technically committing theft.” So, now is the time. Now is the day I finally review the Vita-Mix!

Let me put this simply: this blender is totally awesome. It’s the greatest blender I’ve ever used. I swear I am not biased by the fact that I got it for free, because obviously I could have kept my mouth shut for another six years and no one was going to give a damn.

You do need to know a bit about blending to make it work best. When I was at K’s we threw a lot of solids in without much liquids, which made us think it wasn’t working that well. Oh, how foolish I was in my late twenties! You need to put the liquids in first and the solids on top of that so the blades are able to spin more freely and chop better. Once you figure that out, you can blend ice and frozen vegetables without a problem.

Vita-Mix 5200 controls

There are two settings: variable speed and high speed. When you’re using variable speed you can use a knob in the middle to adjust how fast it’s blending. I start out at the low setting when I’m making a smoothie and then slowly ratchet it up. Once the ice has been broken up a bit I flip it into high speed mode.

I believe the blender also came with a recipe book, but I’ve never used that. It also came with a stirring stick, but I’ve never needed that either. I’ve only ever made smoothies with it, but hypothetically you can make soups and sauces. To clean it I just squeeze a bit of dish-washing soap into the container with some water and blend for a few minutes. All clean!

So there you go. The Vita-Mix is awesome. If you have a few hundred bucks to drop on a blender, you will not be disappointed. Or you can start writing a weight-loss blog in the hopes of luring another PR rep into sending you one for free. I’m not sure that’s going to work twice though. I’m surprised it worked once.

If you could get by with 3 hours of sleep a night would you want to?

Sleep

Did you know there are people who only need 3-4 hours a sleep a night? I didn’t, at least until I read this New Yorker interview with a woman who has the..disorder? Disease? Mutation? Whatever. They’re called “short sleepers.” She never gets jet lag! She can take really long road trips! She didn’t feel sleep deprived when she had a baby! While it’s fascinating to learn about this ability and how it affects this woman’s life, I found myself wondering if I would want it if I could have it. To my own surprise, I gotta’ say I’m leaning towards “no.”

I really like that there is a window of time during the day when there are no expectations upon me. Somewhere between 11pm at night to maybe 8am in the morning, it’s widely accepted that it would be rude to call someone or drop in on them or ask them to do something for you. If you do get a call during that timeframe it’s also wildly accepted that something has gone horribly wrong and you’re about to receive life-changing information. That’s because that time is your own. You do not owe it to your employer. You don’t owe it to your friends (unless you want to party). You might owe it to your family if you have people to take care of. But otherwise it’s “you” time when you get to hide away from the world for awhile, curl up, and get unconscious. I love it.

If this window of time were suddenly shortened from 8-9 hours to just 3-4 hours, I would be pissed. Now people would think it was ok to call me at 4am in the morning, and we’d be expected to work 12 hour days, or 20 hours days if you were a workaholic. There would be pressure to get even more done than I currently do. I already feel like I don’t accomplish enough during my waking hours, so if you added another four hours a day I’d just feel guiltier about it, because I wouldn’t get as much done in that time as I wanted to either. I like having eight hours during the day where it is societally acceptable to do nothing. I don’t feel the need to do more. I feel the need to do less.

I also spend a lot of my waking hours in chronic pain, so sleep if often a refuge for me. There have been times when I’m lying on the couch in the evening and I check the clock only to think, “Oh my god, are you kidding me? I have at last six hours of consciousness left? Seriously?” I just want to zonk out already and stop feeling like crap, because I can’t get much done when I feel like my head is full of sand bags.

So, no thanks, short sleepers. I’m a long sleeper and I prefer it that way.

My phone has officially become too complicated for me to fully understand

How do you take a picture of your own phone?

I got a new phone in December because my old one had started rebooting randomly for no apparent reason. When it wasn’t doing that it was outright dying after 10 seconds of Candy Crush Saga. The most painful moment was when it died at a town meeting I was at where a man rambled on and on and on for ten minutes about nothing related to anything, so instead of checking Twitter on my phone I was more tempted to hurl it at the speaker. I considered just getting a new battery, but decided to upgrade since the phone was two and a half years old. I’m a web designer by trade so I should at least appear like I’m attempting to keep up with technology, though I think that’s ultimately a futile pursuit.

I got a Samsung Galaxy S5, upgrading from my Galaxy S2, and it’s made me realize phones have reached a point where they are too complicated for me to completely understand. There was a threshold and we have crossed it. This phone has dozen of features I don’t use, will never use, and probably don’t even know exist. In addition to that, it has features that are supposed to make my experience better, but just make it worse.

Image Stabilization

The first photo I tried to take was of my skinned knee, a knee that burned like it was on fire, so I wanted to snap that photo fast and get some Neosporin on it already. However, I could not get the damn thing to focus, which is not a problem I had with the S2. I had to take five pictures before I got a clear one. Later I did some Googling and determined that the problem was caused by the “image stabilization” feature that only seems to work when you’re in bright lighting, thus making it more of a “image hard-to-take-ization” feature. I turned it off and haven’t had much trouble with it since.

Blurry knee

Noise Reduction

The second problem I encountered with my phone was that it seemed to be good at doing everything except being a phone. Whenever I made a phone call, people said I sounded muffled or they couldn’t understand me at all. I was starting to have a mild panic attack, thinking I’d have to buy another phone to replace my new phone, or wondering if it might be cheaper to somehow run all my phone calls through the Skype app or something. (How ridiculous is it that one of the lower priorities I have for a phone is that it actually work as a phone?) After an hour or two reading Sprint message board forums I finally discovered there was a “Noise Reduction” setting hidden two or three levels deep in one of the settings menus. Once I turned that off, I no longer sounded like one of the adults in a Charlie Brown cartoon. Wah-wah-wah-wah.

Weather Alerts

My new phone also came pre-configured to scream at me like a maniac whenever there was a national weather service alert. This means I was awoken at 7am in the morning so my phone could tell me there was a cold weather warning, which I did not care about because I was snug in my warm bed. I remember having the same problem with my old phone at first. It was hard to determine how to turn this off because the setting was hidden under the “Messaging” settings, and you can never really be sure you’ve turned it off until a tornado or a blizzard comes your way and your phone doesn’t say anything about it.

Various Other Issues

I’d also forgotten that when you get a new phone all your applications think it’s ok to send you push notifications, which is why I heard the “chung-chung” of my Law & Order themed message alert at midnight letting me know all my lives had refilled in Candy Crush saga. I’ve had to turn these off one by one as they go off. There is another alert I still haven’t figure out how to turn off. It’s a little song that chimes from 5 seconds when charging is complete, but only when I’ve plugged in my phone with 90% or more battery power left. I’ve looked through all the settings I can think of, done all the Googling I know how, and still have no idea how to disable that. The imaginative part of my mind thinks there will one day be a scenario where I’m hiding from a bad guy in my home and then ♫la-da-dee-da-da♬ my position is betrayed by the damn charging sound I could never figure out how to disable.

A new phone is supposed to be fun, like a puppy. But like a puppy it has to be housebroken and trained. All of which is to say, I am feeling more and more like the “mother” mentioned when people ask, “Could my mother learn how to use this?” I feel like I only understand 75% of the icons and gestures necessary to use the latest apps. I find it difficult to take pictures and talk on my phone. I don’t have full control over the bizarre sounds it makes. I fear this will only get worse with time. I’m not really sure what to do about it other than not to care what people think, and if they do say something rude to me, hurl my old S2 brick at their heads.

Snowpocalypse 2015

Snow

I’ve heard that Wal-Mart designs their parking lot to be large enough to hold all the shoppers on the busiest shopping day before Christmas. If that’s true, grocery stores must design their parking lots to be large enough to hold everyone on the day before a blizzard. And when I say “blizzard” I am talking about the North Carolina interpretation of the word which is “5 inches of snow.”

I don’t think I’ve ever gone to a grocery store the day before a natural disaster, but I needed the food, so I had to dive in despite my hesitations. First, I tried Trader Joe’s. Bad idea. Very, very, bad idea. I cannot communicate how bad of an idea this was. I have not seen that much competition for parking since I was in college and we’d stalk people on the way to their spots while humming the Jaws theme. The lot was literally full and there were at least a dozen people circling the lanes and a guy in a van tried to back out into me until I honked my horn at him.

So I headed to Harris Teeter instead, where the lot was only 99% full, and I was able to park in the way, way back where I have never seen anyone have to park before. Important shopping strategy tip: grab a cart from one of the refugees in the parking lot like I did because there will be no carts available at the front of the store.

Thankfully, it wasn’t as bad as I feared it would be inside. There was still plenty of bread, milk, and eggs. I didn’t see any brawls break out over the last can of Pringles. They had 12 lanes and the U-Scan line opened, so the line moved along at a good clip and was never longer than 3 people per lane. I was able to get in and out without too much fuss, and I got some extra exercise walking up and down the parking lot, so I suppose that’s good for me.

Late night snow

After all that, I would have been disappointed if we hadn’t had a southern blizzard. The snow started coming down around 9pm last night and we’ve probably got at least 4 or 5 inches of heavy, wet snow, though I haven’t ventured outside to do an official measurement. The lights flickered on and off at least three different times last night, but thankfully I still have power.

Unfortunately, I do not have internet, which really puts a crimp in that working-from-home thing. Of course, if I had to choose between power and internet, I’d choose power. I do enjoy heat, and even a snuggly kitty can only provide so much warmth. It’s funny how many things I do these days that depend on live streaming. Can I listen to songs on Spotify? Nope. Can I watch streaming movies on Netflix? Nope. Can I watch the shows on my DVR? You would think the answer to this would be “yes,” but it’s actually “no” because the Time-Warned DVR is stuck in some endless boot cycle that can’t complete without a live cable connection, so I will not be catching up on “Better Call Saul” today.

Loading....not

But whine, whine, whine, at least I am warm and safe and a tree didn’t fall through my bedroom window during the night. I saw some people playing in the snow an hour ago. Grown people, not children, who built a snowman and went all out with an actual scarf. It’s good to see some people having fun. It’s too easy to focus on all the things I can’t do today than on the fun things people can only do today.

Snowman

I’m going to try to post this entry using my phone, which has half a bar of connection strength. *Fingers crossed* That is the one good thing about being snowbound and unwired, it’s forced me to write a blog entry because there’s not much else to do. I’m like Bon Iver.

Let’s get physical…therapy.

Remember when I twisted my ankle and skinned my knee last December? At first I thought I was fine, but then my ankle started hurting ten days later. I hobbled my way through the Christmas holidays, spent an entire weekend indoors on the couch, and then waited five days for the podiatrist to come back from a loooooong New Year’s weekend to get a diagnosis. Turns out when I turned my ankle I strained a ligament on the outside of my foot, which caused the tendons and ligaments on the inside of my foot to work harder to compensate, which is why they only started hurting days later. As a result, I had to wear an ankle brace for a few weeks and now I’m doing physical therapy.

Part of me is depressed that I’m at an age where twisting my ankle requires physical therapy to recover. However, another part of me is kind of psyched to be doing physical therapy. I’m not completely sure why. I know it can be grueling, hard work if you’ve been significantly injured, but I only suffered a minor sprain, so I can focus more on the fun of experiencing something new.

After four visits I can say that:

  • I am getting really good at standing on one leg without falling over. The key is to lock your gaze on a focus point. It’s amazing how much the visual feedback helps. If you want a real challenge, try balancing with your eyes closed.
  • I can spell the alphabet with my foot really well.
  • I’m getting fairly good at lunges, though my knees sound like crunchy cellophane.
  • My ankle sometimes makes the most interesting clicking sounds.

We’ve been adding more exercises each week that I do at home between visits. It’s gotten to a point now where it’s definitely a workout, making me sweaty enough after a session that I drive home to take a shower. I’ve started bringing a water bottle to PT like I would to the gym. All of which has made me start to understand the appeal of having a personal trainer. It’s nice to have a scheduled time on the books where I have to exercise. Non-negotiable. Typically, I try to fit it in exercise when I can depending on how heavy my workload is or how much my headache is hurting. (Me and my headache, seven years together as of yesterday!) Of course, I can’t really afford a personal trainer, and even the physical therapy visits are $50 a pop, so it’s not something I can afford to do long-term. But I can see the appeal now.

The ankle itself no longer hurts when I walk, thank goodness. Currently we’re working to strengthen the muscles around the ankle so I’m less likely to twist it in the future. Evidently the strongest indicator of whether someone will sprain their ankle is if they’ve sprained their ankle in the past. Unlike the stock market, past performance is an indicator of future success.

Anyway, it’s just one more mark of wear and tear on the body I’m moving through life with. Injured ligaments. Grey hairs. Rosacea that worsens in my 30’s. Who knows what aches and pains I’ll develop next? At least with physical therapy I’m less likely to take another header on the sidewalk.

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Want second helpings? Devour more entries in the archives.

 
 
Chocolate & Vicodin: My Quest for Relief from the Headache that Wouldn't Go Away Half-Assed: A Weight-Loss Memoir

Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, chronic headache sufferer, (former?) weight-loss inspiration, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She was formerly known as PastaQueen. You can contact her if you promise to be nice.

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for keyboards ruined by coffee spit-takes or forehead wrinkles caused by deep thought.

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