the gRumpcAst

Not for the mearly gloomy or the slightly crabby, the gRumpcAst is for the professional grumps. We feature rants, raves, dreams and some amazing music to provide a yang to the yin.

Safety Third

Flickr Image by Phil Gold

For a former firefighter/EMT, you might find it surprising that I’m a “Safety Third” kind of guy.  While I believe that considering safety is important, my priorities are…

  1. Love
  2. Adventure
  3. Safety
-0-
No comments

When a Warranty is Really a Warranty – Fan-Tastic Vent

20110827-061635.jpg

Say “hello” to my tiny travel trailer and it’s Fan-Tastic ceiling vent. I’ve been a camper my whole life. I’ve slept in tiny tents that I carried on my bike and big community tents that took a day to erect. A few years ago, I added a travel trailer to my fleet. It’s tiny and some people think it’s cute. It’s one of 67 built by a company with a good idea but not enough capital.

My trailer is made out of insulated fiberglass. Here in Florida, good ventilation is helpful. That brings up my fan. Like most RV’s, my tiny trailer has this cool skylight/vent/ceiling fan. The vent in my trailer is a “Fan-tastic Vent”. It’s a clever design, using simple and commonly available parts. My fan has a screen, can suck or blow, has multiple speeds and a temperature sensor. Other models have different features.

I’m at least the 3rd owner of my trailer and perhaps even the 4th. I’ve owned the trailer for a few years and being built in the 90’s, you’ld think that any warranties would have long since expired. Imagine my surprise then when the motor in my fan failed. I called the company, talked to a very knowledgeable customer support technician who asked a few questions, sent me off to try an easy fix, and then determined that a new motor and fan would be required. He took my contact information and said that a replacement unit would arrive in a few days. “Do you want my credit card information?”, I asked. “No,” the technician replied, “The fan is covered under a lifetime warranty”. I’m totally amazed and feeling lucky to have discovered a company that truly stands behind their products.

You can find that Fantastic Fan website at: http://www.fantasticvent.com/

No comments

Say “Hello” to Jesus

Say hello to Jesus Christ or at least an early representation of the guy. This image (Thank you to our friends at http://commons.wikimedia.org) is a photograph of a mosaic created in the late 3rd century, CE. Scholars say that it is combination of the earlier sun god and the newer man god.

It’s that time of year when the believers get serious about celebrating their beliefs.

I’ve seen a few amazing things and have nothing against believers. I do get a little creeped out by the hell and brimstone death cult churches. I’m even more creeped out by the “prosperity” churches. Pray and get rich seems a bit strange for the guy who threw the money lenders out of the temple.

A long time ago, a preacher told me that it didn’t matter what you believed in, as long as you believed in something. From the preachers perspective, a belief system gives you a framework for processing the things that happen in life which are beyond understanding and to give you a moral compass for navigating the planet we find ourselves on.

For me, the idea that anyone can know the truth about life, the universe and everything (spoiler – it’s 42), is just plain silly. To think that mere human beings have the intellectual capacity and appropriate sensory inputs to understand much of anything seems beyond arrogant to me.

None-the-less, a lot of the world believes and who am I to tell them they’re wrong.

Preacher Fred

The GrumpCast welcomes Preacher Fred; our new religion and cults editor.

No comments

New York City Soldering Championship.

Sadly, my Hakko 926 soldering station is having problems and I went to YouTube in search of solace. I found this.

In this 2008 video, Bre Pettis hosted and co-sponsored a citywide soldering contest.

No comments

His name is Linux

This is a probably the best (and perhaps only) television advertisement for the Linux operating system.  It was produced for IBM and is, in my opinion, a classic in contemporary advertising history.

A tip of the hat to my friend Stef who pointed me toward this story.

No comments

We need to be healthy to be competitive.

Public health nurse visiting a family during the first great US depression. US Government image from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum.

Orange

… is the color for National Security and has been since 911. There are any number of possible acts of terrorism that could cause a disaster that no individual, or groups of Insurance company could pay and we would be bailing them out again!

U.S. Business has to compete in a World Market where competing companies in both Canada and Mexico do not have to pay health care cost.

It makes no sense that if I hire a person to work for eight hours I have to cover their Insurance cost as well as their spouse and kids for 24 hours.

I thought I had a good policy with a good company but the fine print canceled my coverage. I complained to the Fl. Dept of Insurance and was told it was “Buyer Beware” on policies sold in Florida. Their job was the financial health of the companies that sell the policies.

We need a Public Health care plan that both protects the health of the American Public and not corporate profit, but also makes us economically competitive in the World Market.

Peter Broderson lives in North Florida and isn’t the least little bit grumpy.

No comments

Florence Nightingale – Health Care Hero

With all the talk from the “I hate my government” tea bagging  anti-health care crowd, I figured it was time to take a break from politics and revisit some of the hero’s from the past who advanced the concept of public health.

German stamp with image of Florence Nightingale

From the German stamp series "helper of mankind VII", Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) - The first name was printed as Florentine by mistake

The other night, at a party, a friend asked if I knew the one thing that Florence Nightingale did that saved the most lives.  While I have dim memories of the “lady of the lamp” from my misspent youth, I mostly got to know her while teaching computer classes at the FSU College of Nursing.  To nurses, Nightengale is a hero.  She was a woman of wealth who grew up in Victorian England.  As a young woman, despite the wishes of her parents, she studied nursing and became a force for good in the world of health care.

Like many people, I thought that Nightingale was a sort of folk hero, caring for the sick and injured victims of the Crimean War.  To my nursing school colleagues, she was the founder of “professional” nursing.  Actually, her most significant contribution to  health care was her invention of a type of  pie chart.

It turns out that Florence Nightingale, in addition to being a nurse, was a statistician and a lobbyist.  Like many of today’s politicians, the English Parliament of her day were not always the brightest candles in the lamp.  In order to explain the statistics of disease, and to educate politicians on the importance of health care, she used a pie chart, a new technology invented in 1801.  Her testimony and advocacy resulted in some of the earliest public health legislation in the United Kingdom.

So as our ‘leaders’ decry the idea of universal health care, let’s stop and raise a glass to Florence Nightingale, an early adopter of using graphics to educate management and a hero who knew that being healthy is good for everybody.  Anyone who puts up a PowerPoint presentation owes her a debt.

Country Joe McDonald (another hero) built a beautiful web tribute to Florence Nightingale.  You can find it here.

Thanks to my friend Stephen who educated me on Florence Nightingale and so more.

No comments

Corned Beef Hash and Poached Eggs

cornedbeef

I count corned beef hash as one of the America’s greatest culinary contributions. It’s a balance of starch, protein and fat.  It’s crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. In short, the definition of deliciousness.

For many people, “corned beef hash” means a can from the supermarket shelf. While I can understand the attraction of convenience foods, you can do a lot better. Making your own corned beef hash is really simple.

The “corn” in corned beef refers to the salts used to preserve it which are supplied to the meat processor in corn kernel sized pellets. It was a method used to preserve beef in the days before refrigeration. Sailing ships carried kegs of “bully” beef, an old term for the same product, to feed their crews. These days, you can find corned beef brisket floating in a brine solution in a plastic bag at your local meat market.

I add the meat, brine and all to a pot with enough boiling water to cover the meat.  I add spices (usually peppercorns, allspice and bay leaf) to the pot, cover and simmer for about 4 hours or until it’s about 165º F on the thermometer.

The meat comes out of the broth and is allowed to cool.

Corned Beef Hash

(makes two cups finished hash)

1 cup of cooked and pulled or chopped corn beef.

1 large onion, peeled and chopped. (I prefer white onions for this dish)

1 cup of chopped potatoes.  (Try Yukon gold, but any potato will do)

unsalted butter and/or pomace oil.

salt and pepper to taste. (I like chunky salt in this dish and of course, fresh ground pepper)

Everybody has their own hash recipe.  I’m a purist and only use potatoes, onions and the corned beef. Some folks add carrots or other veggies to the recipe.  Not me.  I use equal quantities of potatoes (parboiled in water or semi-baked in the microwave) and beef, and about 1/2 as much onion as I have potatoes.

Chop everything into a size you like.  Instead of chopping the meat, you can pull it into pieces (like you would for bbq pork).  I’m fond of chunky hash and keep my pieces around a half inch or so.

To start, you heat some oil and or butter (for me: 1/2 pomace oil and 1/2 unsalted butter) in a heavy pan (I use Jane’s cast iron chicken fryer).  Add chopped onions and sweat until a bit soft.  Add the potatoes and chopped/pulled corned beef.  Mash it down and let it fry.  Some people use a ring to give the finished dish a form. Others like it a bit more rustic.

Cook over a medium fire until you hear it sizzling and smell it getting close to burning (but not too close).  Flip it over and brown the other side. I serve it with a lightly poached egg on top.  The idea is to have a mostly liquid yolk which flows into the hash. It’s a very rich dish and probably not one that you should eat too often, but well worth the effort and absolutely simple to prepare.


No comments

Extra Slutty Olive Oil

If you can call the very first, softest pressing of olive oil, virgin, then pomace oil must be extra slutty.

pomace

Olive oil ratings mostly have to do with how much pressure is placed on the olive pulp and seeds and how long it was pressed.  You load the press up with crushed olives, and start pressing.  The first oil that comes out of the press with the lighest amount of pressure is called “extra virgin”.  The olive pulp gets pressed a bit harder and a bit longer and you get regular olive oil.  Take what’s left over, grind pulp and seeds and process it using various secret methods (chemistry is involved).  What comes out is “pomace” oil.  This is the lowest edible grade of olive oil.   After this, comes the oil that burns in shrines throughout the mediteranean.

Some people turn up their noses at pomace oil, disrespecting it’s industrial birth.  Some people will tell you that pomace oil is only fit to be use in a lamp or to lubricate your bicycle chain.  I disagree.

Pomace oil has none of the flavor or aroma of olive oil.  It burns at a higher temperature.  It doesn’t have the (at least to me) bitter taste of rapeseed (canola) oil or corn oil which also goes through some major processing.

I’ve used it a little mixed in baked goods and pancakes, but mostly I fry with it.  I mix it with about 1/2 toasted sesame oil when I do panko frys.   While it cut’s the sesame flavor a slight bit, things seem to fry better in the mixture than with toasted sesame oil alone.  It’s hard to beat for frying fish.  It’s the perfect media for frying squid.

It’s difficult to find pomace oil.  Look for a store that specializes in Italiano or Greek cuisine or just click on the Amazon link below and make me richer than my wildest dreams.

2 comments

First campfire of the season

Late Sunday night:

I love fire. For 25 years, I was a fire fighter until I retired as an Assistant Chief.

I have a fire ring in my yard, heat my house with wood, and consider myself one of the firedogs  at community bonfires.

I really like making fire.

Summer in Florida is all about heat, humidity, biting insects and did I mention humidity. It’s really no time to make fire. Fall is the prefect time. Some Floridians prefer the springtime with it’s show-off blooming goodness. I understand and appreciate spring, but autumn is incredibly wonderful.

Pay attention you folks who are thinking that Florida is paradise and how there are all those foreclosed houses and all…this place is not for sissies. The humidity is exhausting in August. We have bugs the size of small dogs and don’t get me started on the snakes and alligators.

None the less, I (heart) the silly place and fall is my favorite time to be here.

My fire tonight wasn’t the first of the community this fall, but it was my first one. I paired the fire with a tasting of three sour mash bourbons. While sour mash has a rich history in the South as good moonshine, all mine were tax paid and legal. We did an Eagle Rare, a Maker’s Mark and an Evan Williams single barrel 1997. The Eagle Rare was sweetish with a aftertaste similar to Scotch. The Maker’s Mark was smooth and wonderful. The Evan Williams was amazing.

Bourbon is, for certain southerners, a holy sacred elixir. It was the ‘crack’ of an earlier generation.

The best thing about the beginning of fire season is that oyster season is just around the corner.

Sunday morning update:

No hangover despite sour mash tasting. I consider this a sort of positive health checkup.

No comments

Next Page »