Tag Archives: jobs

Meatasaurus Rex

The sizzle hits you before the smell, but the double whammy really gets your mouth watering.  There is nothing better than a good steak, unless it is a good pot roast or pork loin or perhaps some short ribs.  I have always insisted that a meal is not a meal unless it has some primary protein (MEAT) included.  You could safely call me a carnvore.  If I were a dinosaur, I would be a meatasaurus.  My mother would love to have a pot of beans with cornbread and cabbage as a meal.  I could enjoy it as well, as long as the beans were cooked with a large ham bone and pieces of pork.  But still, a good steak is at the top of my list.  Of course, it has to be cooked properly, and that is where most people have troubles.  The other day I was enjoying lunch with some colleagues when the topic of cooking came up, and in that discussion was how to grill a good steak.
pullquoteIn another life, I was a restaurant manager and I have worked at every possible job in the food service industry including cook.  I am a pretty good cook if I do say so myself.  When I was 18 or 19, I worked at Bill Kenny’s Restaurant in Humble, Texas.  Bill built and opened the restaurant to operate at a loss for tax purposes.  He never meant for it to make money.  He paid the staff well and offered plates for low prices.  He hired a certified chef to run the kitchen along with a kitchen manager and myself and one other guy as assistant kitchen managers.  I had already worked at food prep and line cook and expediter jobs at places like Red Lobster, Sonic and Long John Silver’s so I knew my way around a commercial kitchen.  With the combination of talented staff, low prices and good food, Bill Kenny’s became a victim of its own success.  It made money.  A lot of money.  Bill lost his tax write-off and so he closed the restaurant and sold the land.  There was a Texaco where the place once stood.
While I was there, I learned a lot about cooking, but nothing more important than how to grill a steak.  The chef was not a tall man, but the description of “large” fits.  He clearly enjoyed the benefits of his labours.  He took me under his wing and showed me a lot about food preparation, but one day he was talking about steaks and temperatures.  I thought he meant we needed a meat thermometer, but he quickly corrected me.  Rare, medium-rare, medium, medium-well and well-done are the proper designations for steaks and the best temperature to serve a good steak is medium-rare.  Now, at that time the sight of blood on a plate kind of grossed me out.  I was still young and inexperienced in the finer foods so pink meat was scary and rare was out of the question.
“How do you like your steak,” he asked me.
“Well done, of course,” I confidently answered.
He looked at me as though I had just spit on his grill.  “Well done is shoe leather.  It’s a waste of meat.”  The contempt dripped from his mouth.  “Come here,” he said.
He led me over to the grill where a huge slab of sirloin had just hit the fire.  Bright red marbled with white with the grease just starting to weep across the surface, it sizzled on the hot grill.  It was called “The Hanger” because it was so big it hung over the edges of a standard platter.
“What temperature is that steak right now,” he asked.
I looked around for a meat thermometer.
“No. no.  Just look at it.  You can see it if you know what to look for.”
I was lost and it must have shown on my face.  He grabbed the tongs and pointed to the grain of the beef.  “See the color?  Here by the marbling.  When it turns gray like this across the surface, you are at rare.”
He picked up one side of the steak.  “See how the meat moves along the grain?  It’s still pliable,” he said jabbing the tongs into the meat.  “That means it’s still tender.  If we want to serve this rare, we flip it now just long enough to char grill marks on this side and serve it.”
“Rare?” I wrinkled my nose as he flipped the steak.
“This guy wants medium,” he said ignoring my reaction, “so we leave it down here a little longer, then we flip it back and turn it 90 degrees to get the square grill marks.”
We watched the steak cook for a few seconds before he brought up my reaction.
“What you got against rare?”
“It’s gross and bloody,” I answered as if that was enough of an explanation.
“Boy,” he sighed.  “You missin’ out.  All the flavor’s in the blood.” He reached up and grabbed a knife from the magnetic holder beside the grill.  “Here,” he said cutting a chunk of beef from the side and stabbing it with a fork. “Try this.”
“But this is a customer’s lunch!” I was aghast at the suggestion.
“Ah, he won’t finish this,” he said dismissively.  “No one does.  He’ll never notice it missing,” he popped the bite into his mouth.  He cut another one and again offered it to me.  “Go on, you’re supposed to periodically taste test anyway.”
I wrinkled my nose again as I took the fork.  The meat was still pink with a drop of red juice and grease forming along the bottom of the cut; a perfect medium-rare.  Not wanting to look bad, I put it in my mouth, fully expecting the bile to immediately surge in my throat.  To the contrary, my mouth watered and the mixed with the juices to create a heavenly experience as I chewed the best bite of food I had ever experienced.  I groaned my approval.  The chef just nodded with a knowing smile.
From that moment on, medium rare is the only way I take steak.  I Iearned much about steaks from that chef.  Of course the steak needs to be seasoned.  Some use marinades, some use complicated mixes of spices.  For my money, salt, pepper and occasionally a hint of cumin sprinkled on both sides of the steak should be all that is needed to bring out the natural flavors of the meat.  No steak sauce should ever touch a properly prepared steak.  Sauces are for well-done shoe leather to make it semi-palatable.  Of course, if well-done is to your taste, have a bottle of A-1 and Bon appetit.
After I left Bill Kenny’s, I went on to many more restaurant jobs, learning more and vowing after each one that it would be my last.  Grandy’s, Casa Viva, and Waffle House each taught me something about cooking and I took my favorite recipies from each one so I have a pretty good repertoire, and I could probably open my own restaurant if I ever completely lost my mind.  I guess next to cooking a steak, the most important lesson I ever learned from all my time in restaurants was that the best job in food service is that of customer.  I’ll keep that job for a while.  It lets me sample all the varieties of meat available at the many restaurants that keep popping up all over.  The best steak I have ever eaten (that I didn’t cook) was a filet mignon from Morton’s in Nashville, but the prettiest most perfectly prepared T-bone was at a Texas Roadhouse in Katy Texas.  I keep trying to find the best steaks everywhere I go.  I am a carnivore, after all.


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Get To Work!

What do you do for a living? This has long been a standard icebreaker when starting conversations with new acquaintances and it was usually an easy one. Now more and more people don’t have a satisfactory answer to that otherwise benign question; or at least an answer they feel comfortable admitting. The unemployment rate continues to hover near 10 percent nationwide, even though many employers are hiring. The situation is so grim that a grumble has begun among the people that something must be done, and they are demanding that the Federal government be the one to do something.

This is not a surprising reaction. Whenever something goes wrong, any human is going to expect someone to do something; someone in authority—someone other than us. The sad fact it that there is no single authority that can fix this problem. It is not up to the government to create jobs.

President Obama has been drawing a lot of criticism and blame for the current jobs market. Some of the problem is his fault, but not all. His responsibility in this mess is that he created policies that drove businesses to stop spending, thus cutting jobs. That is a problem he can address by reversing some of his “Big Government” policies and letting the economy heal itself.

But no one should be looking to Washington or Obama to create jobs. It is not the government’s job to create jobs. Job creation has always been and should always be the purview of business. A business owner determines how many people the company needs working for them in order to maximize revenue and maintain productivity. Too few employees depletes morale and hurts productivity, too many employees dilute compensation and benefits and erode profit. The business owner needs to determine the number of employees needed and the compensation levels, not the government.

Similarly, the government is not supposed to create jobs out of thin air. Creating an office in order to create jobs is a waste of taxpayer dollars and hurts the economy rather than helping it, since it is invariably paid for with tax increases to the working class. Infrastructure jobs are only temporary and while that may boost employment figures in the short term, it does nothing to help the economy in the long run.

With his public approval rating the lowest it has ever been, Obama feels the pressure to do something to get the public support back—especially heading into the campaign season. He pulls his old “stimulus plan” off the shelf—the same one that was defeated because it would cost too much of the tax payer—rebrands it a “Jobs Bill” and expects congress to approve it so “America can get back to work.”

This bill was defeated in the senate—again—and now Obama is pointing fingers at senate republicans claiming that they do not want American to have jobs. This is ludicrous. No one wants high unemployment. Conservatives want people to go back to work, but they don’t want the government to pay for it. Much of our current economic mess is because of too much government spending. Throwing more money at it will only make it worse. What sense does it make to try to put out a gasoline fire with more gasoline? The answer is to relax some of the regulations on business that the liberals put in place so that business owners feel comfortable hiring more people. Create an environment that will foster new business development, not more taxes and more regulations that make entrepreneurs think twice about starting a new business venture. Give business room to grow, and more jobs will sprout as a result.

People want jobs. They want to work. But people need to look to business for job, not Uncle Sam. The last thing any sane person should want is the federal government writing their paycheck with money garnered from taxing others’ checks. That is just one more example of socialism. Look for a job that generates a paycheck that is not dependant on other people’s paychecks, but rather on the success of the business in question. Then people can start answering that polite ice breaker “what do you do for a living” with an answer full of pride of self respect.

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Someone Call For A Doctor?

The time is coming when getting health care will be a simple and inexpensive matter. No matter your illness, you will find the proper treatment, with affordable care and the finest doctors. All you have to do is sign off on this new plan put forward in congress. It is so simple, how can anyone disagree with it?

Well, for starters, there is an old adage: you can’t get something for nothing. There is another one that goes along the idea of “you get what you pay for,” but you get the gist. Healthcare is not an inexpensive proposition. In fact, it is one of the costliest expenses anyone can face. Child birth for example costs in excess of $6000 just for the hospital bill alone. This doesn’t include the sundry items that go along with it or the cost for complications with the delivery. A C-section can double that charge. Doctors charge for their time as well. Doctors earn on average anywhere from $200,000 to $700,000 a year depending on their specialty and expertise.

Do they deserve it? That is a blog for another time, but the short answer is yes. You go through eight or more years of college and then work almost 24 hours a day as an intern while learning your job and see how much you charge for your time. But they do not always get what they earn. Insurance companies force doctors to accept less than the amount they bill. It is like the Wal-Mart mentality. Buy in bulk and you can name your price. Insurance companies have thousands of clients that need care. If the doctor wants these patients, they have to accept a smaller amount per patient in order to get the volume.

This is where insurance companies get their power. We hire them to pay our medical bills for us. They negotiate a rate that is much more affordable than we would otherwise have to pay. But the trick is that they don’t actually pay a whole lot when you average it out over their client list. Only 40 percent of us will visit a hospital or ER this year, yet we all pay our insurance premiums. Some of us go a lifetime never stepping foot in a health care facility. This is money the insurance company banks. It is straight profit. They don’t actually want anyone to go to the hospital so they can bank more premiums without having to actually pay a medical bill. They also deny coverage whenever they can to maximize their profit. This is where the problem begins. They are a business after all, and businesses exist to make money.

People hate being told “no” to medical care. Seeing someone ill or dying is a tragedy that no one wants to bear and it is made worse when they do not have medical coverage. Very few people can afford medical care on their own. Why? See paragraph one. Why is it so expensive? Education is not cheap, nor is research and development of procedures, equipment and medicine. Yet society is under the impression that everyone is entitled to medical care, no matter if they can pay for it. It is like they think it is a basic human right.

Nothing is farther from the truth. Medical care is expensive and rightfully so. Before the advent of modern medicine, people died by the thousands from things we today cure with a pill. A doctor is a businessman who performs a service. He or she deserves some compensation for their service. Should we expect that they render their service with no pay? Should we expect a plumber to fix our pipes when we cannot afford to pay them? Of course not. If we think the plumber charges too much, we can shop around for a cheaper one. You can do the same with your doctor. It’s economics. Sure it is tragic when someone dies, but there is no government regulation or law guaranteeing a stop to death. Nor is there a guarantee to good healthcare. Nowhere in the constitution does it say all citizens are entitled to health care.

The liberals think otherwise. They are under the impression that the first order of business is ensuring that everyone has medical coverage. This seems like a good idea on the surface. Sickness and death are bad things and we as a society should do what we can to mitigate bad things. But since health care is so expensive, how do we provide care to those with no money? Who shall pay for it? You? Me? That is the root of the debate. Since liberals think that the government coffers are filled with an endless supply of money, they love the idea of putting health care on the government dole. Our tax dollars will pay for every person to have health care, no matter that in reality less than 17% of US citizens are uninsured or underinsured. That 17% will drive our taxes up and raise the cost of healthcare for everyone.

What can the government do? Force doctors to charge less? That will drive people out of the medical profession. No one will want to make the investment in education if they are looking at a federally mandated capped income. Those who do become doctors will be the equivalent of the lowest bidders for a contract; probably not the best people to be poking around inside you. How about if the government just monitors the health care plan? That would be worse than an HMO. The federal government would be denying treatments left and right and letting people wither and die while they or their family file appeals.

Should everyone have access to health care? Sure. Should someone pay for health care? Of course. More than 83% of us have health insurance the majority of which is paid for in most cases by our employers. Simple idea that: want insurance—get a job. No job? No insurance. Sad situation to be in to be sure, but just because you get laid off or fired doesn’t mean that everyone else should pay for your health care. Consider it motivation to get a new job, or a better job.

Is the health care system in our country perfect? Far from it. Does it need reform? Sure, why not; let’s make some changes. Health care should be a simple and inexpensive matter. No matter your illness, you should expect the proper treatment, with affordable care and the finest doctors…in a perfect world. We cannot just say that the federal government is the best entity to manage our health care and be done with it. Medicine is and should remain a private business. This ensures that doctors and patients can continue to expect privacy in their dealings and that the doctors can make their assessments and diagnosis and treatment plans without government interference. Government has no business in the treatment room. Remember, this is the same government that pays $700 for a toilet seat. They cannot make our healthcare system work any better than it is now. They will probably make it worse.

This matter is before congress now. Many senators and representatives have spoken out against this bill, but the proponents still insist on hammering it home to get it passed before Christmas. In my next blog, I will discuss these flip floppers. Stay tuned.

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