Recipes For a Gourmand


(A gourmand is someone who takes great pleasure in consuming excellent food in large amounts.)


A terrific marinade for flank steak, skirt steak or London Broil starts with a primary ingredient— Coors Beer. The recipe follows:

  • 2 Cups of Coors Light beer
  • One minced green jalapeno-no seeds
  • ½ cup of bees honey
  • ¼ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • One cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup of 100% pure peanut oil
  • ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 tablespoons BBQ sauce
  •  1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
  • 3 Minced Large Cloves Garlic

Start with a large mixing bowl.  Add the ingredients together and blend using a large whisk.  Whip the ingredients until the mixture has a consistent color and the contents seemed to be properly mixed.  I used three pounds of flank steak that I had the butcher at Fresh Market cut for me.  I then placed the steaks in a large Tupperware Marinating container and pored the mixture over the meat. I let the steaks stand in the mixture for 24 hours, turning the container over every two hours when I was awake. I set aside a small portion of the marinade that had not been in contact with the meet for basting when I grilled the meet the next day.  The meat was unbelievably tender and very tasty.  ENJOY GOOD EATING!


2017 and THE PARADOX

By constantly destroying the status quo, capitalism provides a powerful force for making societies wealthier. It does so by making scarce resources more productive. But some are always harmed in this process.

Companies that fail, industries that vanish, and jobs that disappear are inherent parts of our growth system. The economy in the U.S. has been experiencing these negative aspects of the evolutionary nature of capitalism since 2007. The saving grace comes from recognizing the good that comes from the turmoil, which is difficult if you have lost your job and house. Over time, societies that allow capitalism to operate grow more productive and richer; their citizens see the benefits of new and better products, shorter work weeks, better jobs, and higher living standards.

Herein lies the paradox of progress. A society cannot reap the rewards of the evolutionary nature of capitalism without accepting that some individuals might be worse off, not just in the short term, but forever. At the same time, attempts to soften the harsher aspects of free markets by trying to preserve jobs or protect industries will lead to stagnation and decline, short-circuiting the march of progress. Capitalism’s mantra of no pain, no gain is not easily absorbed when a family needs to be fed. The process of creating new industries does not go forward without sweeping away the old way of doing things. This where we are in 2017.

Entrepreneurs introduce new products and technologies with an eye toward making themselves better off—the profit motive. New goods and services, new firms, and new industries compete with existing ones in the marketplace, taking customers by offering lower prices, better performance, new features, catchier styling, faster service, more convenient locations, higher status, more aggressive marketing, or more attractive packaging. In another seemingly contradictory aspect of free markets, the pursuit of self-interest ignites the progress that makes others better off.

Producers survive by streamlining production with newer and better tools that make workers more productive or eliminate jobs. Companies that no longer deliver what consumers want at competitive prices lose customers, and eventually wither and die. The market’s “invisible hand”—a phrase made famous by Adam Smith in the Wealth of Nations–shifts resources from declining sectors to more valuable uses as workers, inputs, and financial capital seek their highest returns.

Through this constant threat to the status quo, capitalism provides a powerful force for making societies wealthier.  Are we willing to allow this to happen?

There is nothing necessarily bad about this. Big firms can be more innovative than startups if given the right incentives. But today’s (2017) incentives favor a static balance. Many big firms thrive because of government and regulation. The cost per employee of red tape—endless form-filling and dealing with health-and-safety rules—is significantly higher for companies that have a few dozen staff than for those with hundreds or thousands. In theory, a capitalist economy depends upon owner-entrepreneurs to lend the dynamism to fuel growth. Today capitalism exists without capitalists—companies are “owned” by millions of shareholders who act through institutions that employ professional managers whose chief aim is to search for safe returns, not risky opportunities.

What has grown from this toxic brew is a wave of populism that is rapidly destroying the foundations of international and domestic order, thereby producing a far more unstable world. One of its many dangers is that it is self-reinforcing. It contains just enough truth to be plausible. It may be nonsense that “the people” are infallible repositories of common sense, but there is no doubt that liberal elites have been smug and self-serving. And populism feeds on its own failures. The more that business copes with uncertainty by delaying investment or moving money abroad, the more politicians (i.e. Donald Trump) will bully or bribe them into doing “the right thing”. As economic stagnation breeds populism, so excessive regard for the popular will of the people reinforces stagnation. Sounds familiar.

High-tech companies are overhauling a larger slice of the economy, including shopping and transport, which should be good for growth (though it also means power is being concentrated in the hands of a few big firms). Is Amazon a mere flash in the advancing darkness or is it developing the new normal? The only new businesses they seem to spawn are small retailers who want to use AMZN’s distribution system which leads to even lower job growth. The US Post Office may ultimately be saved by FEDex and UPS as the latter use the former more in the delivery of small packages.

The rate of productivity growth across the rich world has been disappointing since the early 1970s, with only a brief respite in 1996-2004 in the case of the United States. Here our population is ageing fast and growing slowly. Meanwhile, the fruits of what growth there is, gets captured by a miniscule section of society. And those who succeed based on merit are marrying other winners and hoarding the best educational opportunities.

At the same time democracy is becoming more dysfunctional. Our form in the USA has overspent to give citizens what they want in the short run (whether tax cuts or enhanced entitlements) and has neglected long-term investments. On top of that, lobbyists and other vested interests have by now made a science of gaming the system to produce private benefits.

The first act of our new Congress was to render by rule the ETHICS watchdog useless by having it report to those it was watching.   Thank heavens for twitter.  Donald Trump tweeted that this was a bad idea.  (Our new President may prove very good for the Twitter stock price).  Government can spend to improve infrastructure which is badly needed and this will help the economy.  But then it needs to back away.  It will be hard for those of us who want a better environment, want equality in the work force, are appalled by racism and want better health care.  Regulations are killing economic growth.  Concern for little known creatures must be put aside for pipelines needed to fuel growth. Water and air quality standards should remain because that involves health.  Populism won’t lead us to a better America, but compromise and free markets will.





Alvin Toffler was a futurist writer who had a remarkable impact on my life and the lives of millions, literally millions, of people—shaping how humans understand the world and the era that we live in. He died in June of 2016 at the age of 87.  His wife, Heidi, his wife and intellectual partner lives on.  They were great thinkers and writers.  Their view of the future had a profound effect on me as I gazed at a fax machine in 1985 and wondered how long it would be before it was replaced by something else.

Toffler’s first great breakthrough book, Future Shock, published in 1970, became a global best-seller. It gave rise to an idea, and a term, used widely to describe the vast transformation we were then living through: America was in a period of technological, social and political change. The pill was altering sexual mores. The first wave of feminism was challenging the traditional limits on women. The civil rights movement was creating hope, turmoil and conflict. Youth activism was challenging the habits and structures of older Americans. It was in this time of unrest that this book seemed especially relevant and convincing. But it was a decade later, in 1980, that Alvin and Heidi Toffler brought out their most important book, The Third Wave. It would be hard to overstate the impact of this book. Its argument was that the first wave in human history was the shift from hunter-gathering to agriculture; the second wave was from agriculture to industry; and the third wave—which we were beginning to live through —was from industry to information. This sweeping view of human history empowered people to think very differently about the world at that time.

Toffler predicted a knowledge-based economy would eclipse the post-industrial age, shifting focus from manufacturing and labor to information and data. “The illiterate of the 21st Century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”  Toffler also predicted the spread of interactive media, online chatrooms and devices that remind you “of your own appointments.” “Advanced technology and information systems make it possible for much of the work of society to be done at home via computer-telecommunications hook-ups.” .

Though his predictions focused on the human condition more than scientific advancement, Toffler foresaw a future where a woman would be able to “buy a tiny embryo, take it to her doctor, have it implanted in her uterus…and then give birth as though it had been conceived in her own body.”  His forecast that humans would breed babies with “supernormal vision or hearing” and other abilities may now seem a bit outlandish, but he did foresee the advancement of cloning. “One of the more fantastic possibilities is that man will be able to make biological carbon copies of himself.”

Toffler predicted a symptom of rapid change would be the dissolution of the family unit, noting that it would lead to a rise in divorce rates while society would also begin to embrace the LGBT community.  He wrote, “we shall… also see many more ‘family’ units consisting of a single unmarried adult and one or more children. Nor will all these adults be women.. As homosexuality becomes more socially acceptable, we may even begin to find families based on homosexual marriage.”

He also acknowledged the societal shift in delaying the decision to have children.

In the age of Amazon and the proliferation of online marketplaces and share economies, Toffler’s thoughts on consumerism as a global trend ring true.

“People of the future may suffer not from an absence of choice but from a paralyzing surfeit of it. They may turn out to be victims of that peculiarly super-industrial dilemma: over choice.”

In coining the term “prosumer,” Toffler predicted the emergence of the combined role of producer and consumer, or the trend of do-it-yourself (DIY) in every aspect of life.

Thank GOD he wrote it down.



In the 1976 movie entitled NETWORK, fictional news anchor Howard Beale exhorts his viewers: “I want you to get up right now. Go to your windows. Open them and stick your head out and yell – I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take this anymore.” That is clearly the sentiment behind the Brexit vote and is probably behind the sentiment in our country to “throw all of the career politicians out!” At least 70% of voters think the country is headed in the wrong direction and that the two most important concerns are: 1) our safety; and 2) the need for our economy to grow (job creation).  In recent years, voters have been distracted by abortion and gay rights, but today our safety and our ability to support our families have become paramount.

In 2008, Democrats numbered 49% of our electorate, but now that number stands at 29%.  But the Republicans did not gain more voters. Independents have risen to 42% of the electorate and these are the people who are “mad as hell” and they are going to determine the outcome of this election.  ANGER IS THE NEW HOPE.

Besides being a three ring circus, this election cycle is of paramount importance. First, it determines who controls the House of Representatives. Second, it will decide who controls the Senate. And third, it likely sets the direction of the Supreme Court for a generation considering three of the justices are 77 years of age, or older.

People are “mad as hell” for a variety of reasons:

  • Middle class workers are losing ground in this economy. Jobs are being created, but 49% are in the lowest wage category.  Working 2 or 3 jobs has become necessary, which diminishes the quality of life.
  • Wages have returned to the level of the 1970s. Prices are not being rolled back.  It takes more to support a family, but real wages have moved below sustenance levels.
  • Many believe that illegal immigrants are taking jobs away from local workers. The belief is that these folks will accept a lower wage.
  • The middle class has a declining share of the wealth. Among major industrialized countries, the USA has the lowest middle class share of wealth at 19.4%.
  • Health care has become prohibitively expensive. Drug companies are engaging in unfettered “price gouging.”
  • Education has become prohibitively expensive. UVA has a $2.3 billion slush fund, but raises tuition.  Most likely, the fund is to provide a means to “go private” so that it can be a member of the “IVY LEAGUE.”

I will leave the safety issues to the experts, but I do not feel as safe as I used to and to say it can never happen here seems to be an invitation.

The economy is problematic.  The US economy is growing just slightly above a “recession” pace. As the following chart shows, our GDP (Gross Domestic Product) is growing somewhere in the neighborhood of 1%.  The norm for high levels of employment is about 3%.  Despite the availability of money at low rates, consumers are paying down debt not increasing it.

We have a similar problem that the Japanese have had for 15 years, a declining and aging population.


The baby boomers are retiring, spending less and are not supporting growth.  Consumer spending is by far the largest segment of our GDP at about 70%.  With real wages declining, it is difficult to see large increases in in spending. But the millennials are another story. Among adults ages 21 to 45, 35% receive financial support from their parents. Of those, more than two-thirds could not get by without their parents’ help.  This is the way boomers are now spending their money.

It appears that economic activity and wage growth are going to remain disappointing for a while. ANGER IS THE NEW HOPE.

Speed Bumps


Speed Bumps are the common name for a family of traffic calming devices that use vertical deflection to slow motor-vehicle traffic in order to improve safety conditions. Variations include the speed hump (or speed ramp), speed cushion, and speed table.

The use of vertical deflection devices is widespread around the world, and they are most commonly found where vehicle speeds are statutorily mandated to be low, say25 mph, or 5 mph in car parking lots.

Although speed bumps are effective in keeping vehicle speeds down, their use is sometimes controversial—as they can increase engine noise and may damage vehicles if traversed at too great a speed. Poorly designed speed bumps that stand too tall or with too-sharp an angle, which is often the case in private automobile parking lots, can be overly disruptive for drivers, and may be difficult to navigate for vehicles with low ground clearance, even at very low speeds. Many sports cars have this problem with speed bumps. Speed bumps can also pose serious hazards to bicyclists if they aren’t clearly visible. Though, in some cases a small cut across the bump allows those vehicles to traverse without impediment. Speed bumps cost between $50–$200 and may need have to be replaced over time due to wear.

Last year, parking lots and driving lanes in our community were re-paved and along with this new pavement came some speed bumps.  If you think the current generation of 70-100 year-olds is complacent you better guess again.  Two large speed bumps were installed in the main driving lanes for access and egress from the main residential parking area.  It became obvious immediately to all of us that these speed bumps posed an immediate hazard.  When you drove across them at 10 mph, you would bounce to the ceiling of your car.  It was impossible to go slow enough to avoid being bumped around. They did not have stripes like the speed bump pictured above.  The speed bumps blended into the pavement and they were upon you before you could react.

Most of us over 70 have enough pain at is and we don’t need a hazard to bring out every pain all at one time.  Naturally, there was a lot of talking in The Grille and the DINING ROOM and no one was defending the administration or the maintenance department.  Who authorized these abominations?  We didn’t have speed bumps before!  It’s only the delivery people and visitors that speed.  I can’t leave the parking lot now.  Speed bumps have to go.  The person who designed these speed bumps is a moron.  It’s obvious to anyone that looks at them that they are too high and steep!!

All of a sudden a petition appeared on the residents’ bulletin board.  In a heartbeat, there were 175 signatures on the thing. It was delivered to Joe, our Executive Director, with the demand that the speed bumps be removed.  He said he would get with maintenance and the contractor to decide the course of action.

At the Town Meeting two weeks later, our chief maintenance guy, Dana, who is a diligent worker and great fellow, came to the podium.  He said, “we are going to lower the speed bumps and paint stripes on them.  That should solve the problem.”   Bedlam ensued with at least 15 people speaking at once decrying that solution.  Our folks are not docile and they are vocal about things that bother them.  Bob stood and said, “These things are poorly constructed and are a driving hazard. The only solution is to remove them.  They do not need to be replaced!”

Overwhelmingly, the residents wanted the two on the main drag removed. Dana looked to Joe for help.  Joe was engrossed in his shiny shoes.  To be fair, I believe he was reviewing all of his options.

Finally, he stood, “We’ll take them out!”  Another victory for the grey panthers.  The democratic process at its finest.





The Balladeers


A Balladeer: a singer of ballads.   Or in our case, it is the male chorus made up of residents in our independent living facility. I have not been in a chorus or choir since I was ten, particularly as my voice started changing around fourteen.  But I love singing with The Balladeers.  I avoided the group for the first six months of my residence.  One day I was cornered by U.V. who asked me to join.  I said that I couldn’t sing a lick.  He said not to worry, neither could anyone else and so singing wasn’t required.  Reluctantly, I went to a rehearsal, found there were no auditions and was immediately given a song book.  I was in, just like that. I am about to perform in my third spring concert and am amazed how much my singing has improved.  It’s still not good, but it’s better

We have a conductor/chorus master.  His name is Bob. He is the former Dean of the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music.  Nationally ranked and internationally renowned, the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) is a preeminent institution for the performing and media arts.  CCM’s educational roots date back to 1867, and a solid, visionary instruction has been at its core since that time.

You can readily appreciate that Bob is in over his head. We are sixteen in number.  About half of us can’t read music and don’t know what all the littler signs and signals mean.  Some of us don’t hear very well and a few don’t know where they are.

Bob stands at the front of the practice room behind a podium.  Our pianist is a woman who has played for the Balladeers for 15 years and she knows where we are most of the time.

“Let’s start with the first song in your book.”

From, the second row, “Which one is that?”

BOB, “The first one!!

The enquirer turns to his neighbor, “Is it the first one in the book?”

“Yeah, I think that’s what he said.”

Can you imagine a first year student at CCM under Bob’s tutelage surviving by asking these questions?

“Okay, the next one we need to work on is Let There BE Peace on Earth which is right behind Oh What A Beautiful Mornin. On this one you have to watch out for the Coda.”

“What’s a Coda?” I was, demonstrating my complete ignorance of musical terms.

“See the word Coda on page 2.  It means on the third line of the second verse, you go to the 2nd verse on page 2.”  I drew an arrow to attach the two lines.  It didn’t make any sense to me, but I at least knew what to do when we got to that point.

Again, “Which one are we on?”

In frustration, Bob goes to the back row and finds it in the book.  Three people move closer to see where the song is located.

I love Bob’s facial expressions.  He has a great smile, an even better grimace and a particularly good pained look.   When Bob says, “that’ll work,” it means anymore effort would just be too painful.

Amazingly when we sing in some concert venue (mostly other independent and assisted living places), we sound pretty good, sometimes very good.  It is a testimony to Bob’s patience and skill as well as the number of times we have practiced.  We have at least 12 rehearsals before the first concert, three or four more before the second and at least 4 before the grand finale, when we perform with the Belles, our ladies singing group. We perform with the Belles twice a year at our home auditorium.  It is a 7 pm concert filled with residents, guests, and our loving children and grandchildren.

At the concert, we were lined up in four short rows instead of the normal two longer rows. By the way, we always sit.  If we stand too long, someone will fall out.  If we scare our audiences, we won’t get any new gigs and we love to perform.  The Belles were arranged similarly to us and right next to us.  Each chorus would sing six songs and then we would sing four together.

Our jokester said, “There are lots of airplanes on the ocean floor, but you never see a submarine in the sky.”  He keeps on trying!

There was a conversation behind me between two of our long time members.  I’ll call them Joe and Herb.

BOB: “We are ready for the first number in our book. It’s A Grand Night for Singing.”

Joe: “I don’t seem to have that one.”

Herb: “I think your book is upside down.”

Joe: “O yeah. I still don’t have it.”

Herb. “I think your book is backward.”

In a rather loud voice, Joe  says: “YEAH, there it is, right where Bob said it would be.”

Bob had been holding his arms in the air while waiting for this conversation to end.   I was about to explode with laughter, which I could no longer hold.  Bob smiled just a bit and off we went.  It was a grand night for singing.  We even did several ballads: Aura Lee and I’ll Be Seeing You. The ladies were excellent and our combined selection of Sentimental Journey was over the top. The concert was absolutely terrific. The 16 of us were dressed in white shirts, black pants and a black bow tie and all of us were beaming except for Bob.  He was simply relieved that another Balladeer season was over and he would have a three-month respite.

Bob graciously accepted kudos from the audience and he reminded us several times that we were going to sing at the NRC with the Belles and we would meet the next day to turn in our music.

“What did he say?”

“We meet tomorrow at 10!!”

“Oh, do we have another concert?”

“Yes. At the NRC.”

“Across the street?”


Bob: “After we get back from the NRC, we will meet in the community room to turn in the music.”

Another round of “who, what when and where.”

This conversation was repeated at least five times with different people involved each time.





Monsanto, Bees and Politics




I was thrilled to see the recent article in the Roanoke Times on the declining bee population. This is a major problem for agriculture because bees pollinate plants. Well, you say, there are genetically modified seeds produced by Monsanto that don’t require pollination. But these seeds contain the pesticide dioxin, a deadly chemical agent. That’s the same chemical agent Monsanto used in Agent Orange. the killer agent from Vietnam. Dioxin is so toxic that it wipes out non-GMO crops, bees, other insects, animals and human health. I personally do not want any food produced by a Monsanto seed. Remember this company gave us saccharin and aspartame. The world’s center of PCB manufacturing was Monsanto’s plant on the outskirts of East St. Louis, Illinois, which has the highest rate of fetal death and immature births in Illinois.
It’s not so much that this company has produced toxic substances for years, but they fight so hard to defend these products with money when they come under attack. Our government is so susceptible to money. The big fight right now is the proper labeling of GMO foods. You have a right to know that you are eating a product of pesticide laced seeds. A bill (S. 2609) was defeated two months ago in the Senate that would prevent states from requiring labels. But Monsanto is already back lobbying for a watered down federal law on labeling. Our legislators are so weak. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine voted against the earlier bill (S .2609, but what about now.  They both think a federal solution may be needed.

And then there is Bob Goodlatte. He is on the Agriculture committee. He is essential to Monsanto. Bob takes money from Monsanto for his campaign. Do Bob Goodlatte, Mark Warner and Tim Kaine understand this issue? I am biased by my belief that Monsanto is an evil company. Because these seeds are engineered to be toxic pesticides masquerading as food, the EU(Europe) has banned their use. This is a matter of life and death. Stop killing bees and properly label genetically altered food.

T. Michael Smith

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