Processed Meat Scare Hooey

Processed Meat

All of a sudden processed meat is no good, cancer forming, fattening (we knew this) and bad for you stuff. As the news goes on and salami stocks plummet, the news caster says, “Cigarettes are 2,000% likely to cause cancer, and processed meats are 18% likely.” “Hooey,” I say. Certainly if you eat processsed anything by the ton every day, you are doing yourself a disfavor. Certainly if you eat only processed meat an nothing else, you are giving yourself a chance for a visit to the great beyond. But just as certainly if you eat normally, including processed meat along with fruit, vegetables, bread, and the other fifty food groups normal people eat, you aren’t going to die from Colon Cancer.

Air is a carcinogen for crying out loud. The air in a pine forest pegs a smog meter.

My sainted mother, God rest her soul; a Danish emigrant and mother-to-daughter trained cook; my mouth waters thinking about her meals, was a meat and mashed potatoes and gravy kind of gal, but she always had peas, or string beans or brussels sprouts to go along with. She never shied away from wurst, paté (leverpostej), salami, bacon, sausage or ham. (As a side note, it really wasn’t until after the war {WWII for you youngsters}, that we were actually able to buy meat on a regular basis.) My favorite Danish meal, Boeuf Maloy, is hamburger patties fried in bacon fat, with gravy, fork mashed potatoes and crisp fried (in bacon fat) onions. Don’t forget the peas.

I have eaten meat, for seventy plus years, and three years ago my colonoscopy doctor told me he didn’t want to see me again for ten years. I eat meat in some form or another, processed or natural (if there is such a thing) at least three to four meals a week. Octoberfest wurst, St. Patty’s corned beef, Thanksgiving Turkey, Easter Ham, and Christmas Prime Rib Roast are musts in my home and will be til the end.

My lovely youngest daughter is a Vegan. I don’t hold it against her, she chose her own path in life. I do have a bit of malice in my soul for scare mongers and irresponsible newscasters, however, who rant on without thinking. Every single prime time network news station lead with the Cancer Scare story last night, as did all the newspapers this morning. As if we didn’t have enough to worry about. C’mon, enough already.

Meat Snobs Beware

Beef CutsPork Cuts

I’ve alwayas been somewhat of a meat snob. Chateaubriand, Porterhouse, New York, Filet Mignon, Pork Loin, Baby Back Ribs, Chicken Breast, you know what I mean. My wife and I had been craving a Pot Roast, you know, like Mom used to make. So yesterday at 9:30 AM I popped a 3.5lb Chuck Roast into my Kitchen Aid, 7 quart Slow Cooker; along with three large carrots halved lengthwise and cut into 1″ pieces, three small onions sliced vertically in 1/2″ crescents, four stalks of celery cut in 1″ pieces and six small, white potatoes cut in fourths. I added two packets of McCormick’s “Slow Cooker Pot Roast Spice” mix with two cups of water and cooked it all on low for 9 hours. Friends joined us and were pleased with the results, as were we. This got me thinkin.

After the paper, this morning, I leafed through my copy of “175 Essential Slow Cooker Classics” by Judith Finlayson, and noticed that most of the meat cuts were the odd named cuts that I have shunned my entire life. Beef Chuck, Cross Rib, Rump, Brisket, Short Ribs, Country Ribs, Round Steak, Pork Shoulder, Lamb Shanks*, Bone in Chicken Thighs, you know what I mean. (* I’ve ordered this in restaurants, but have never cooked it.)

Every one of the pictures depicting the recipes  looked delectable. What have I been missing all these years? I have decided this winter, to go on  a Slow Cooker dish binge and once and for all find out what I have overlooked these seventy odd years.

I’ll keep you posted.

The Pigs are at the Trough

Pigs at the trough2

The San Francisco Sunday Chronicle carried an article in its “Business Report” section entitled Pension too high or low? Depends on your stance. The writer offers an analysis that compares the average pensions of “full career” retirees to the average of all pensions paid to all retirees.  The article also talks of incongruities in the pension systems where retirees gleaned retirement benefits six figures higher than their salaries when they were working, a rarity, but it happens and it shouldn’t.

When it comes time for raises, the Public sector workers always compare their salary to that of other comparable Public workers in other areas and raise themselves accordingly. This is akin to the fox guarding the hen house. The whole exercise is a race to enhance their salaries, especially the last or highest three years, in order to peak their retirement benefit. Their retirement benefit is 90% of the average of their highest three annual salaries including bonuses, and any other enhancements they might have received in those three years. The formula for the 90% is calculated as 3% for every year of service, up to 30 years, allowing many to retire between 50 and 55 years of age, a burden that Private sector taxpayers have to bear.

Another article I read a few weeks back compared the average salaries of our local area Public sector workers ($124,000 per year) to that of the same local Private sector workers ($69,000). It doesn’t seem right to me that the Public sector salaries are double those of the people being taxed to pay the Public sector salaries.

The fix is simple in concept, but very complex in administration. Public sector retirement age should be the same as Social Security. Public Sector workers should pay equivalent amounts toward their retirement as do Private sector workers. Buying early retirement schemes should be eliminated in the Public sector. Retirement amounts should be formulated on a 60% basis, or on a an analysis of the percentage that the average Private sector retiree receives, which in my case was around 52%, comparing my current income to my last year of work income.

In any case Public sector retirement payments are unsustainable as they stand, and need immediate attention by the Federal and State Governments. As it is, so many of our tax dollars go toward Public retiree income, that standard Government services like Law Enforcement, Infrastructure Maintenance, Road and other Transportation Construction, Education, Parks Maintenance, etc., go begging and don’t get done. We have “Government” in order to supply the services. When the “Government” costs so much that they can no longer supply the services, then we really no longer need “Government”. Get involved.

Cool Clear Water

Conserve Water
Conserve Water

“Every drop of water you drink has already gone through someone or something elses intestines.” That was the first thing my Water Resources Management professor said on the first day of class, 1965. It got my attention. He went on to tell us that ‘we live in a closed universe’ and ‘matter is neither created not destroyed’. He also postulated that there would be competition for water by 2020 to 2025.

What we had when Earth was created, a little over four and a half billion years ago, is pretty much what we have today. The shapes may have changed and the chemical make-ups may have changed, ions moving around and such, but the matter is still intact, minus some space probes and other junk that we have shot out there and have no intention of recovering. I have always found that fascinating. The Big Bang, 13.7 billion years ago (bya) spewed the gasses from which our solar system was formed. Our sun’s gasses spun around getting denser and denser, grabbing in its gravitational field the intrepid planets and moons that whiz around their orbits, including our 4.6 billion year old Earth.

The first life forms didn’t show up until 3.5 bya. The first vertebrates 500 million years ago (mya), the first organisms on land 475 mya, the first reptiles 350 mya, first dinosaurs 250 mya, first apes 20 mya, homo erectus 1.9 mya and finally homo sapiens 200 thousand years ago (tya). I assume that the first vertebrates started drinking the water 500 mya but we’ve only been drinking for 200,000 years.

In a mere blip on the of the Universes continuum we have managed to drink all the water, probably more than once. Thankfully, water is not so short lived. It keeps coming back in the cool clear form of which we are in so much need. 2020 to 2025 is just around the corner though. I think it is time we begin to take water conservation more seriously and do what we can to keep the taps flowing. I live in Northern California which is currently experiencing a major drought, last night was the first rain of our winter season.


Spin and Scorn

The spin stops here.

Last night I wasted a considerable portion of my prime time TV viewing watching the shenanigans on CNN (6PM to 8PM PST). With the exception of possibly Bernie and the Marine, I haven’t heard so much spin and scorn in one sitting, in my life. My head was twisting so fast it nearly fell off my head.

One of the candidates was asked, “You are a very wealthy individual, how can you convince voters that you understand the plight of the Middle Class?” The answer immediately spewed forth. “We haven’t always been rich, and I am proud of the hard work that we have done to create our wealth.” Really? With all the righteous indignation the candidate could muster, we were treated to a sermon on the rewards of honesty and a hard work ethic. I think even Sidney was squirming. I got up and made a drink, this was crazier than I thought it would be.

One of the candidates, under two or three current investigations for questionable conduct while in office found a scapegoat fall guy to blame for every single one of the allegations. Those !@#$#@! Republicans. With a smile and linguistic precision the candidate blamed the last seven years and everything that has gone wrong on the !@#$#@! Republicans. It was so convincing I hung my head in shame. How could I possibly align myself with such a callous, mean and despicable political party. I snapped out of my funk quickly when I remembered what I was watching, and got up for another drink.

It’s only the beginning folks, we have another year of this to swallow. A good thing to remember comes from a chapter in Charles Krauthammer’s book “Things That Matter” (a super read BTW). He proposes that we should listen closely to all of the candidates and their bantering back and forth, smearing eachother with the worst of the worst, and remember that the day after the election, one of those creeps has managed to become your President. Spine chilling isn’t it.

My Gal, Talkin ‘Bout My Gal.

Once in a lifetime you meet a Gal you can spend the rest of your life with. The trick is how to spot the right one.

It was late Friday afternoon, I had gotten off work and was driving from Eureka, CA to Concord, CA to spend the weekend with my Gal. I had just had my Austin Healey Sprite tuned and gassed and ready to go, and headed south on US 101 through Fortuna, Rio Dell, Humboldt State Redwoods Park, and Miranda, when just outside Garberville, Bang! Something goes wrong with the engine. I was able to limp in to town and found an open gas station. “Can you fix this?” I ask the attendant. “The mechanic will be back Monday morning, we can look at it then,” was his answer. Super, what to do now?  “Hi sweetie, it’s me,” I say into the phone. “Where are you, when will you get here?” she excitedly asked. “Actually I am broken down in Garberville, do you think you can come and get me?” The phone went momentarily silent. “I’ll be there as soon as I can. Four and a half hours later, my Gal comes driving up the hill to pick me up. This was my first indication.

I decided to try my hand at International Construction Projects and signed on for a project in Saudi Arabia. For a single male this was not a wise thing to do. The existance was lonely, drab and lifeless. Work absorbed 95% of my waking hours. After three months I rated a vacation, so I wrote my Gal and asked her to join me on Tenerife for ten days. I reasearched the flights and found two that would end up at the same time and date at London’s Heathrow. My flight arrived an hour before hers so I found a seat that was situated with a view of the stairs that all passengers had to negotiate to get to passport control. Passenger after passenger wended their way down the stairs to the gigantic room. Finally a trim, gorgeous blond rounded the corner and down the stairs. MY GAL. I was excited. This was my second indication.

Like an idiot, I signed up for my next project in Iran. Even though my Gal had not said yes yet, I demanded a ‘married status‘ contract and I got it. Two months into it, I wrote my Gal and asked her to marry me, and she said yes. I sent her a ticket and a month later she was on a plane to Laguardia and on to Tehran. At Laguardia there was a bomb scare on her flight. Mayor Ed Koch (1978 to 1989) and his entourage were on the same flight who noticed the fear in my Gal’s face and actions. The Mayor and friends calmed her down and asked her to join his group in First Class. The Mayor and his group deplaned in London and my gal flew out on Iran Air, an hour later. She arrived at Mehrabad Airport, Tehran looking fresh and beautiful and as always wore that welcoming smile. This was my third indication.

Preparing for marriage in Tehran was challenging. The country was on military curfew, the atmosphere was tense and government officials were more difficult to deal with than usual. We had to go through physical exams, aids testing, and the like. My Gal was the only woman being xrayed (by male technicians) required to strip. There were two bright sides to our wedding day. The minister was a jovial fellow who put everyone at ease and remarked “The Shah has seen fit to lift the curfew from 9PM to 11PM just for you.” The brightest side of the day was watching my Gal, in a slate blue, form fitting gown from Selfridges in London, walk down the aisle beaming her beautiful smile. This was my fourth indication.

This morning I woke, got up, prepared the coffee pot, went down for the paper and was sitting in my usual spot reading the news. “Good morning dear,” I said as she walked out of the bedroom. “Hi honey bunny,” she said cheerfully. This was my 13,505th indication. It has been 37 years.