Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Good Safe Food

Cooking around the Old Place has always been an adventure.  Back in the day there was a wood burning pot-bellied stove which doubled as a heater.  It’s still a heater to this day, but now we have a separate wood burning stove/oven combination that uses propane as a starter.  As you can imagine, the safety challenges of cooking on a wood burning stove are manifest.  Burns are a given and in defiance of the old saw, an unwatched pot boils over so fast you just can’t believe it.  In preparing a proper Job Safety Analysis or JSA for this task I found that all the steps had the same hazards fire and burns so wearing gauntlet type oven mitts and keeping a full bucket of water close to hand are advisable.  Today I’m cooking bacon for the delicacy of day is the shamelessly male satisfying delight, chocolate covered bacon.  Oh yes, fellas, you heard correctly, chocolate covered bacon.  Please note, the bacon is not atop the stove rather it is sizzling happily on a foil covered cookie sheet inside the oven.  This increases the crispiness by allowing the grease to run off.  I find that “Wright” brand bacon works best when cut into 4 – 5 inch long sections.   Wood fires heat up quickly so put the tray in immediately after lighting.  15 – 17 minutes should do it.  The bacon is then placed on cookie racks to dry and cool.  Chocolate bark is best for coating as it melts quickly in a double boiler.  Take care not to burn the chocolate or the body on the stove top, the whole thing is hot.  Before proceeding, layout some wax paper on the table to receive the coated bacon.  Dip the dry, cool bacon in the melted chocolate.  Pay close attention here, the goal is to coat the bacon not cover the cook’s fingers in scalding hard to remove goop.  Keep a pot of cold water nearby, just in case.  I use a pair of Magill Forceps, grab the bacon on the end and slowly dunk it into the sweet confection.  Remove immediately and allow to drain.  The chocolate must be kept hot and the bacon dipped quickly.  Too thick a layer of chocolate will mask the taste of the bacon.  Layout the coated bacon to cool, then refrigerate for 10 minutes before boxing between wax paper layers.  Oddly enough the last step in this task is the most hazardous: that of not making enough chocolate covered bacon to go around.  

Sitting in a rocker at the Old Place I am, Col. Jim

Friday, March 8, 2013

Why We Must Change and What We Must Change Into
Change is inevitable wouldn’t you say Col?   I grew up with change watching “Superman” on the old black and white Magnavox.  George Reeve would dash into the store room wearing his street clothes and leap out the window a moment later, changed, transformed from the mild manner reporter into the invincible Man of Steel.   My grandmother Nora taught me about change with stories of the mysterious east where the cunning horseman Rewagunga changed into the beautiful Afghan jihadist, Yasmini.  And who can forget how the leopard changed his spots with a little help from his Ethiopian friend who had, “just a little color left over on the finger tips of his fine new black skin.”  Yes, change is inevitable my brothers and sisters.  Sometime it is brought on by necessity and other times it is forced on us a knife point.  There has been a change in our safety world my friends, one which we ignore at our peril.  I am not talking about some deadly new chemical or dangerous new process, no.  In this case it is one both famous and infamous.  It is, the trial lawyer.   The Workers’ Compensation system has been turned on its head.  First off, since all of the comp judges used to be trial lawyers and since all of the comp attorneys are trial lawyers, well you can see it is rather like the fox guarding the hen house.   For years they have tried to find a way around the basis for the existence of workers’ comp that of “no fault.”   At long last, they have succeeded. 
In the last few years illegal immigrants injured while working in the US have been awarded huge settlements in addition to their workers’ comp benefits.  These settlements have now been upheld by the various supremes court.  Sadly, this means that the legal protection of workers’ comp for employers has been breached.  Oh sure, your basic simple comp cases will still work their way through the system no harm/no foul as usual just to make it look good but let some trial lawyer smell blood in the water and ohhh Ricky!
So what’s it got to do with safety?  Well you may ask.  Simply this, those employers who do not have proactive, preemptive and effective safety programs will soon be out of business.  Gone are the days of sitting presidents pardoning company officials and vacating their fines for multiple fatalities.   Gone are days of laisse’ faire safety attitudes of “they’ll never get me.”   The predictions of former OSHA Secretary, John Henshaw made just a few short years ago right here at our own Safety Council are about to come true, and I quote, “those companies who do not comply and continue to hurt workers will be run out of business.”
Mr. Employer, this means that now more than ever your corporate safety director needs to be more than a company man with a suit and secretary, and much more than a book worm with a high test score.  The modern corporate safety director must be a man who has come up through the ranks.  A man who has worked on his tools, swung the hammer, run the bead and the backhoe and climbed the scaffold.  The modern safety director is creative, a bit artsy, after all he was and is still a craftsman.  He should have a love of music and be musical himself.  The modern safety director enjoys the limelight, and even excels in it.  The modern safety director must be all of these things because he must be able to use all of these things to teach, coach, challenge, and entertain.   If your safety program is to prevent all accidents, it must change minds and touch hearts.
Sitting in a rocker at the Old Place, I am,
Col. Jim

Monday, August 6, 2012

Fight to Learn

Anyone who knows the old Colonel well knows I love books and movies.  Over the years I have put together a collection of my favorite quotes for specific occasions.  This one from Top Gun serves as a good opening for today's blog.  "Gentlemen this school is about combat; there's no points for second place."  One of Hannah's cousins will be starting college this fall, and it put me in mind a collection of quotes my father Fred put together to send me off to school that fateful fall of 1975.  There were quotes from Vince Lombardi, Calvin Coolidge, even St. Paul but the one that stuck with me all my life was from Gentleman Jim Corbet.  No not the LSU basketball star but the famous pugilist.  Gentleman Jim was the last bare knuckles professional boxing champion, from then on every prize fighter wore padded gloves.  Corbet said this, "Fight one more round. When your arms are so tired that you can hardly lift your hands to come on guard, fight one more round. When your nose is bleeding and your eyes are black and you are so tired that you wish your opponent would crack you one on the jaw and put you to sleep, fight one more round remembering that the man who always fights one more round is never whipped."  Those words shepherded me through many of the trials of my life.  True they did not stand alone for sooner or later we must fall, "so that we can learn to pick ourselves up."1  The famous allegory, "Footsteps" tells of a man looking back on his life with Christ as footprints in the sand.  At first there were two sets of prints as the man walked side by side with the Lord.  Sometimes there would be knee and hand prints where the man had fallen.  Suddenly during the greatest crisis of his life, one set of prints vanished!  When the man asked the Lord why he had left him alone, Christ replied, "those single footprints were when I carried you my brother."  Let nothing but your honor stand in your way during this phase of your life.  Be selfish of anything that keeps you from your studies.  Praise God for the well done job and feel no shame in your small rewards.  For if a dog trainer rewards his animal will not Our Father reward you better than this?  If motivation runs out, seek diligently for another and do not rest until you have it.  It is only a few very short years.  Work it up the hill.  In closing I will take poetic license firmly in hand an paraphrase the Fighter Pilot's oath, "Learn to Fight, Fight to Learn, Learn to Win!"

Sitting in a rocker at the Old Place I am,

Col. Jim

1 - Thomas Wayne in "Batman Returns"

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

"I've Got Vision and the Resta the World Wears Bifocals"

It is astonishing to me how badly we need a viable, well financed third party and a truly unbiased news media, but we just don't have them.  There is a great line in the 1987 movie 'The Untouchables" delivered by Kevin Costner's character Elliot Ness, "I have broken every law I swore to uphold; I have become what I beheld, and I am content that I have done right!This has become the mantra of the left in general and, of late, the power right as well.  Fabulous amounts of money, fawning sycophants and the exquisite thrill of the power they wield blinds them to the coming storm.  Celebrity suck-ups, PACs and other lobbyists poison our elected officials like sirens beckoning sailors to their deaths on the rocksTerrified of the future, they are doomed to repeat the past at the expense of us all.  Down through history tyrants have always created their own worst enemies and were ultimately brought down by them.  The Democrats created the Libertarians and the Republicans the Tea Party.  So too have ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN created Fox, Limbaugh, Hannity, Levin and etc.  Our plight is a vicious one: We (and our children) are forced to tolerate and even embrace salacious and disgusting behavior so vile and unnatural you can almost smell the brimstone.  We openly do business with wealthy Islamics who perpetuate the sex slavery of young girls. (Mostly white girls. Sorry but I don't make this stuff up.)  Those of us with a vision for the future are shouted down or threatened.  Soon the kindly folk of the country will be forced to pack and tramp, each fathers son from his father's home and from the lands where he was fed and bred and played as a lad.  Ach and the cruelest blow of all as we are forced to witness and tolerate the greatest form of personal arrogance there is, the murder of God.  Ever wonder why old people are cranky?  Well, now you know.

Sittin' in a rocker at the Old Place, I am,

Col. Jim

Title quote is from the movie, "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid."

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Jasmine's On the Bayou is a tiny but very tasty little restaurant. A full lunch menu is available. I had the Shrimp Creole and salad. Crispy, cold greens, shredded carrots and crunchy croutons were served quickly. The creole had an Oriental/Cajun combination with big firm shrimp over perfect rice and a generous piece of French bread. All served with a smile. They also cater. I recommend it highly!

Sitting in a rocker at the Old Place I am,

Col. Jim
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Sunday, May 1, 2011

Unnatural Overreaction

In the rock opera, “Jesus Christ Superstar,” Pontius Pilate had a dream. He dreamed of an amazing man, a sad man, with a “haunting, hunted” look. Despite his best efforts, Pilate can not get the man to tell him what is bothering him. As the dream shifts Pilate sees the man being killed by a mob. As the dream’s fog finally clears he sees millions crying for the man and blaming him, Pilate for his death. Of course the Holy Bible says it was Pilate’s wife who had the dream. What sort of significance can the husbands of the world attach to that?

Old Pilate was a governor of sorts, charged with responsibility for keeping order and collecting taxes. Little is actually known about him and many scholars believe he was nothing more than a biblical allegory. In any case, rather than risk an uprising Pilate agrees to the violent demands of a very small but well organized mob and hands Our Lord over to be murdered. Angry mobs kill innocent people, destroy property and generally spread fear so it could be said Pilate erred on the side of caution. Ironically, it seems Pilate subscribed to an old Hebrew proverb that says, “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” (No, it did not come from Star Trek.)

So what’s it got to do with safety?

Often people and governments react to small seemingly insignificant things and miss the big picture. Referred to as a, “Knee Jerk Reaction,” they result in sweeping legislation and regulations costing billions, serving almost no one and occasionally causing great harm. As a Catholic one of my favorites has to be the Roe v Wade decision. No matter which side you come down on philosophically the law ignores the rights of the weak (the unborn) in favor of the strong (lawyers).

Another group that burns my bacon is what I call, the “have your cake and eat it too crowd.” Screaming for the rights of homosexuals on the one hand while at the same time demanding a return to all “natural” foods and life styles. Huge irony there! Hey, if we are going all natural, I want them to bring back asbestos. It is still the best insulator there is and all you have to do is just dig it up. Slip on an impervious suit and appropriate respirator and once it is sealed properly it perfectly safe and lasts forever!

A discussion of asbestos brings me to group three, what I call the, “Greed Breeders.” You would call them plaintiff lawyers, for them asbestos is big business. There is even a boat in our marina named, “Asbest There Is.” These creeps hide their massive greed behind the facade of “protecting” the rights of the injured. In 95% of all such cases, their clients caused their own injuries or illnesses by ignoring safety rules. Ever wonder why gasoline costs so much, insurance costs are so high or medical fees are out of site? Well, that is why.

If legislators and courts really want to know where the dangers are their best bet is to consult a safety professional. I know a whole bunch of good ones.

Sitting in a rocker at the Old Place, I am,

Col. Jim

Being Safe Saved the Day

How many agencies there are in the US Government? It seems like one for every man, woman and child in the country. Actually there are over 470 US Government agencies and of these, 52 are dedicated to protecting our lives and property. There 14 are safety information and enforcement agencies, 11 are responsible for law enforcement, and 2 are responsible for boarder protection. The Department of Defense has 19 agencies under its control for national defense and there are 7 utility management agencies responsible for the national power grid. Now the big questions, in the event of a government shut down how many of these vital safety related agencies would continue operating at full strength? All of them. Once again the fear mongering media and Libbies are feeding us a load of Bravo Sierra. Intimating starving children, senior citizens deprived of medication, swarms of locusts, mass sponge migrations. . .Wait a minute, sponge migrations? Okay, so I got a little carried away there. But fear not my fellow Americans your Congressional delegations will still be dining with silver and china on starched table clothes, and sipping champaign cocktails from crystal goblets paid for by you!

So what’s it got to do with safety?
A few of the agencies who will still be there protecting your safety include of course the Department of Defense and all its United States military division. Federal law enforcement agencies such as the FBI and the US Marshal’s Service will also continue to pursue criminals and investigate crimes. NOAA and its National Weather Service will continue to monitor the nation’s weather and all severe storms while Homeland Security and TSA will keep the flying public well screened. Of course the national power grid will continue operating along with all federally run hospitals.

So what is the problem with a government shut down?
There is not one. This is a broad chance to find out just how unimportant and overstaffed most of the agencies of our government really are. One agency that could likely use more or at least smarter personnel would be the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. It is one of only six agencies dedicated to budgetary concerns. If everyone of our 400 plus agencies would just cut their lost time incident rates by two percent we would save several billion right there. Sadly our government employees do not have to comply with OSHA so the likelihood of that happening is pretty much zero. Once again, it looks like it is up to us, the safety professionals to save the world. It is a safe job and everyone needs to do it.

Sitting in a rocker at the Old Place, I am,

Col. Jim