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.

Archive for the 'blog' Category

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.

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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.

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Bicycles and Death

Ghost bike image from flickr user ( kurtz ) and is covered by a creative commons license.

Ghost Bike

I just received word that a young friend and neighbor was killed this evening in a accident while riding his bicycle. In my city, and most of the US, there is not a whole lot of transportation planning that focuses on bicycles. Instead, it’s all about the cars and trucks.

I was already pretty pissed off about how bikes are treated in my local transportation system. I have a brother and a son who commute on their bicycles every day. I commute on mine every now and then.

The death of this boy is a tragedy in my community and in my city. It’s a tragedy for his family and friends. We all handle grief in our own way. I’m planning to channel mine into being a pain-in-the-ass to the politicians and bureaucrats who claim they work for me on the issue of bicycle infrastructure in our transit system.

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The downside of bargaining.

euphonium and tuba
The instrument on the left is a euphonium.  The instrument on the right is a tuba.

A week ago, I wandered through one of the many salvage shops in Tallahassee and spotted what I thought was a small tuba.  I’ve been enamored with brass instruments after a visit to Festival International in Lafayette Louisiana a few years ago.  It’s a great festival and pulls in acts from around the French speaking world.  We thought we went there to hear Urban Trad (a great band from Belgium) perform, but it turned out that we went there to hear all sorts of wonderful musicians.  That year, for me, the theme was tubas.  There were tubas in at least 5 of the bands we heard.  In one amazing band from Quebec, there was  a sousaphone.

So when I saw the little “tuba” sitting on the shelf at the shop, I had to check out the price.   It was out of my comfort range so I forgot about it until today. I was back in that store and sure enough, it was still there.   The manager saw me checking it out and asked if I was going to buy it.  I said “not for that price” and made a counter offer a lot lower than I thought they’d go.  So now it’s mine, at least temporarily.

It turns out that it’s not actually a small tuba, but something called an euphonium.  Mine is a little dinged and two of the four valves need a bit of love.  It might be for sale or I might just keep it and toot on it.  Even with the dings and sticky valves, it’s making a very lovely noise when I blubber (is that the proper term?) on it.

I guess that the moral to this story is: “sometimes a good deal at the salvage shop is a lifestyle decision.”

This post is dedicated to furry fat boys of the 1999 James Madison University Marching Band tuba section.  Greece rocked.

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Loafing on a Saturday

It’s been a long week and I even went into work for a bit this morning. It’s time to loaf. My favorite kind of loaf is turkey loaf. In honor of my brother Steve, who’s going to be older next weekend while I’m out-of-town, I’m cooking a delicious turkey loaf. Here’s my recipe:

turkey loaf

This image is by a flickr user with a trademarked user name. It’s covered under a Creative Commons license. Mine looked a bit different but I’m too lazy tonight to get my own photo together.

Start with ground turkey. The quantity is up to you. Put it in a mixing bowl and add bread crumbs (I like panko for the better texture), an egg, some hard grated cheese, some fresh herbs (today I used tarragon, rosemary and cilantro), chopped up green pepper, scallion, onion (I did a big Vidalia)

Chop everything up as big or as little as you want. Mix it up as much or as little as you want. Add salt and pepper but go easy. It’s not a good idea to taste raw turkey.

Put it into some sort of baking pan. For tonight, I’m using a French ceramic casserole pan with a cover. I checked two sources for the appropriate internal temperature. A professional cook told me 155 degrees F. A cooking web site told me 165. You should make your own decision about that.

It’s guaranteed to be yum.

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Death and taxes.

Alpha Omega Tax Service
Creative Commons Attribution Licensed image by rachaelvoorhes via flickr

When someone dies, there are taxes to be paid. The estate pays taxes and individuals who receive assets from the estate pay taxes too. There are ways to “minimize” taxes and the current bunch running things in Washington would like to eliminate what they call “death” taxes.

Actually, from where I sit, taxes are not an evil thing. I try to look at the other side of the equation; what I receive for what I pay. The closer I get to my home, in terms of governments, the better deal I get.

My county taxes provide fire and police protection, environmental management, trash disposal, and excellent schools. I don’t mind paying my county taxes at all. In my state, the state revenue comes mostly from our version of the V.A.T., the state sales tax. I’m a little less happy with how my state government spends money. They seem to waste a lot more of my tax money than the county does.

Don’t get me started about my federal income taxes and how they are spent. Geesh.

Then, along come this new “run the country like a business” and “cut taxes, downsize government” crowd. These guys really piss me off. They get their money from folks who make their money through their investments and pay a much much much smaller share of their earnings in taxes than working people do.

Of course, they’re not doing much cutting of federal taxes here in the U.S. Instead, they’re spending money that they don’t have and putting our great great great great grandchildren in debt. They’re spending on big defense projects that put a lot of money back in the pockets of the rich folks investment club. Meanwhile, the services to working people; the folks who get most of their money from their paychecks are being eliminated.

Don’t even start on health care. They used to fool us by pointing to long wait times for medical services in countries with single-payer government-run health systems. Now, with “managed” care, it’s not a bit different. What is different in the US is that a large number of hard working Americans don’t have any health coverage.

We spend way too much of our national health care budget on paying for useless insurance infrastructure, not to mention the obscene profits being made by the “investors” in the scheme who make more money by not providing services to insured sick people.

It’s disgusting.

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Don’t bother asking a grumpy old guy. He’ll be rude and tell you what he thinks anyway.

Recently, a neighbor asked about the wisdom of cutting a tree that was leaning against what she thought might be a power line.  Here’s my response: undefined  

It’s never a good idea to touch anything resting on a power line.  If the line is charged, there’s a good chance that you could be badly shocked.    Even if the line is dead or a low voltage line, it’s under a lot of tension and has  a lot of potential energy stored up. Think “spring’.After Hurricane Kate, a group of neighbors decided to cut the 10 inch oak tree that had fallen on the phone line at the top of “Incredibly Steep Hill.  The phone line hadn’t snapped but was under a lot of tension.  Six or 8 of us got on the tree; half on one side of the phone line and half on the other. One brave soul started up his chain saw and said, “Get ready y’all” as he moved toward the tree. He got about  7/8’s of the way through the tree before there was a loud cracking sound and the tree started reacting to the energy of the string.  It flew up in the air taking the chain saw and the guy holding on to it, up and over,  into a sort of summersault.  Somehow the chain saw managed to land without cutting off anybody’s foot.  The rest of us were tossed to either side of the tree. The guy who did the flip landed pretty hard.  I can’t remember if he passed out but I do remember that he was acting weird enough that he agreed to go to the ER.  So no, don’t go all do-it-yourself on overhead utilities.  If it’s a power line, or if you’re not sure, call the power company.  If it’s telephone or cable TV, call those folks.  Of course, if it’s sparking and you’re worried about the woods catching on fire, call 911.  Image source:  Wikimedia commons.      

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Rate Beer y’all.

I’ve checked into most of the social networking sites over the years and am active to varying degrees in different ones. One that I especially enjoy is RateBeer.com. It’s a site where members rate and discuss beers, breweries, places that serve beer and places that sell beer. It’s a wonderful site. Here’s my most recent post, on what happens to be my favorite beer.

Cantillon Gueuze 100% Lambic Bio

This is absolutely my favorite beer on the planet. It comes from a tiny museum/brewery in Brussels Belgium. I find one now and then in my travels. I haven’t been to Europe much lately (that pesky devalued dollar and all) but found this one in April of 2007 in a grocery store in the Yokohama Japan train station. That little bottle had quite a ride until it got to my belly in a home on a dirt road in North Florida.

This is an incredibly well balanced guezue with palate that is quite dry but not offensively so. Smell is so subjective. Either you love or it reminds you of a sheep pen. I love but then I kind of like the smells of a barnyard so take that at what it’s worth. It poured a beautiful amber with a very tiny and quickly evaporating head. It’s an amazing beer.

I was a little worried about how this bottle had fared on it’s long journey. Fear not, pilgrim. It was just as tasty as it was when I drank a bottle in Antwerp a few years ago that had had a much shorter trip.

This bottle came with the makenpis statue on the label and a Japanese label (with barcode) pasted on the back. If you have a chance to try this beer, you owe it to yourself, even if you don’t think you like lambic’s.

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