Sunday, December 25, 2016

2016 Christmas Wine—Tasting or Science? Maybe Both!

Christmas isn’t over, but we decided to open our Christmas bottles early. We actually opened two bottles. The first was a 1982 Chateau Cheval Blanc, a widely hailed great vintage from the Saint-Emilion 1st Grand Cru Classe house of the white horse. This bottle has been in my loving care since its release. There can be no issue of cellar abuse. I had wanted to save this great vintage for a very special occasion, but I could no longer ignore reports of its seeming decline. It was open it now or never experience it’s greatness. Alas, I was a bit too late. The 1982 was a wonderful drinkable wine that went superbly well with the fat rich rare prime New York strip streaks. But Cheval Blanc needed the food! It lacked the stand alone character that would make you just want to enjoy the wine—maybe with a little cheese or pâté.  Its fruits had faded when opened but rebounded after about an hour in the decanter; nevertheless, the 1982 bottle could have been any really good drinkable wine, maybe even a pinot or ,of course it’s true colors, a merlot.  “If you have them, smoke them.” There no reason to keep this any longer. It is not going to get any better.




The next bottle was an antique—a fifty year old Chateau Lafite Rothschild that had lived a questionable cellar life, at least from its outward appearance. Now this was interesting.  There is no question than the wine is well past its prime, but it still had a character all its own.  Unlike the 1982 that you just wanted to enjoy with the steak. You kept wanting to go back to the Lafite for another sip—another taste. What is the wine telling me now?  Some time old wine is more like a science experiment and maybe the Lafite was near that edge.  When first opened, you questioned its drinkability. Then things started to happen—but it was not the fruit, color, or nose of a young wine.  It was dried flowers. It was the taste of and nose of autumn.  Where the 1982 needed the food, the 1966 added something else to it but didn’t really need the food. It wasn’t part of the menu; the wine stood alone.  It was not a wine to drink—it was a wine to sip. The ‘66 Lafite was a wine to be taken in small doses with amble resting time between those taste. You wanted to observe its evolution once freed from its fifty-year imprisonment.
***
It is the next day and as you would expect there is nothing left of the 1982 Cheval Blanc, but there is still a little of the Lafite in the carafe, and I just repeated the experiment—another sip. The color was and still is very light-darker than a Rose but bourbon like. The point being that it’s color  has faded with age.  The taste is old but no tannins; it is leather and dried flowers—a walk in the woods.  But you know I still want another sip.  As for the 1982, I have done that and checked it off the list. However, I would love to try another ‘66 Lafite, just to see if that other bottle, maybe treated with better care, is any different. I’ll remember the ’66, and that is the difference character makes. It is unique. It is memorable. Where the 1982 gave you all its answers; left you with no questions. The ‘66 just may still be hiding something that another bottle might answer. 

# # #
For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and ebook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. Ebook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBooks Store and Smashwords.com.

Published by I-65 North, Inc.



Saturday, December 17, 2016

An Antique Wine for Christmas 2016

Soon we’ll celebrate another Christmas. And as our new tradition continues, we will enjoy another antique wine during the holidays. One I will tell you about when the season is over and that last drinkable sip has been drained leaving behind a little residue from the bottle’s years of resting in its cellar.

If you recall, it was an antique 1947 vintage of Chateau Cheval Blanc that was a central character in my book The Claret Murders. The ‘47 Cheval Blanc is considered by many to be the greatest wine every made.  I did have the great fortune of tasting a small share of this extraordinary wine at a tasting dinner several years ago.

In the animated hit Ratatouille, feared critic Anton Ego visits Gusteau's, the restaurant in which the movie is set, and orders a bottle of 1947 Château Cheval Blanc to go with his meal. The wine critic, Mike Steinberger, noted that the film which is full of delicious insider moments for foodies did so as wink to the wine lovers. He explained,
 “That's because the '47 Cheval is probably the most celebrated wine of the 20th century. It is the wine every grape nut wants to experience before he dies.”


Today, seventy years later, a single surviving bottle of the 1947 Chateau Cheval Blanc purchased, rather than retrieved from one’s cellar, can cost as much or more than $12,000.

Last year’s antique treasure got close but miss this greatest of all wine by just one year. We celebrated that Christmas with a 1948 Cheval Blanc.

Our 1948 bottle was very much alive—wonderful, but no longer a characteristic Claret. It smelled of plums and raisins with the taste of an exceptionally smooth port. We paired the wine with cheese and rich fat hamburgers that brought back the richness of the wine and showed its nobility as a great Claret from the house of the white horse.

What makes the experience of an antique wine so exceptional is the realization that you are one of the last people on earth to have the opportunity to taste the wine—through the experience you time travel back in to its birth. It is the product of soil, weather, and the light hand of the wine maker at that precise place and time in history. Like a snowflake—it is unique and can never be repeated.



# # #

For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and ebook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. Ebook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBooks Store and Smashwords.com.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.



Friday, December 2, 2016

EMPLOYERS – WAIT, WAIT DON'T DO IT!

Qualifying for a Tennessee carry permit requires mandatory training and being tested on the firing range. In spite of the sustainable personal investment in time and expense, many Tennesseans have gone through the process becoming responsible gun owners. One of the things they learn during training is that firing a deadly weapon exposes them to civil and criminal prosecution regardless of the reason for doing so. The only justification for aiming a weapon at another human is that you believe you or someone else is at risk of being killed or suffering grave bodily harm. Their judgment as to that circumstance will be questioned. They will surely have to defend their decision in court. Responsible gun owners have a lot to lose and thus take their responsibility seriously. Based on experience, we have much to fear from criminals with guns and almost nothing to fear from the licensed individual. In fact, those licensed for conceal carry provide an additional level of security—security that could one day save your life or the life of someone close to you.

In spite of the potential benefit the licensed individual provides, fear of guns in anyone’s hand has led some businesses to adopt a no guns on the premises policy. However, a company’s right to bar guns has limits as Steve Collins humorously explains below:

“Hey, Harlan, I heard Louise has got a shiny Colt Detective 38 Special locked up in her trunk.  She's always pushing the rules.  There are no guns allowed on company property.  I've had it with Louise.  This is it.  I'm firing her."
Wait, wait don't do it.  In 2014 Tennessee passed Tennessee Code Annotated 39 17 1313, commonly referred to as the "guns in trunks law."
Since Louise has a proper Tennessee carry permit and since her Colt Detective 38 Special is locked up in her trunk, she is protected by the law.  The law allows Louise to transport and store her gun in her vehicle.  That law applies to the company parking lot.   All Louise has to do is be on the property legally, be parked legally, and her have her gun and ammunition 'kept from ordinary observation'.  A gun locked in the trunk is 'kept from ordinary observation'.
Also if Harlan does fire Louise she can bring a lawsuit against the company charging that her statutory right to have her gun locked in her trunk has been violated and she can in turn seek and receive damages from the employer including her attorney fees and litigation costs and she can get an injunction prohibiting her employer from violating that law and taking an adverse employment action against her.  These remedies for Louise are provided for in Tennessee Code Annotated 50-1-312. The result is that an employer of any size is now prohibited from discharging or taking an adverse employment action against its employee in Tennessee 'solely' for being in compliance with 'guns in trunks'.
Be aware and wait, wait don't do it.  Tennessee Code Annotated 50-1-312. Became effective July 1, 2015.

For more WAIT, WAIT DON'T DO IT advice to employers check other Steve Collins post at http"//spicefirm.com/news.html.

# # #

For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and ebook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. Ebook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBooks Store and Smashwords.com.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Time Off to Vote—It is a Right!

With the election of our next President only days away, employees and employers need to start thinking about voting plans.  Imagine the following conversation between employee and employer:
“I need to take off to go vote today."
“Wait a minute Joe, you do that on your own time.”
“I’ve got to vote!”
“Well, if you leave work, no need to come back."
Steve Collins with the Knoxville law firm Spicer Rudstrom, PLLC says, “EMPLOYERS – WAIT, WAIT DON'T DO IT!” Tennessee Code Annotated 2-1-106 provides that the employee on the day of an election must be given "a reasonable period of time, not to exceed three (3) hours, necessary to vote during the time the polls are open in the county where the person is a resident.” The law also provides, however, that Joe has to make application for the time off at least before 12:00 noon on the day before the election. Further, the law provides that if the employee's work begins three or more hours after the polls have opened or ends three or more hours before the polls close in the county where the employee is a resident, then the employee is not entitled to the time off. The employee “may not be subjected to any penalty or reduction in pay for such absence.”




"Termination of an employee for a protected right, protected by a statute or regulation, can give rise to a retaliatory discharge lawsuit.  If Joe makes an application before lunchtime the day before the election and if Joe's work does not start three or more hours after the polls in his county open or his work does not end three or more hours before the polls close in his county, you better let him off to go vote."

"In the case of Hodges v. S.C. Toof & Co., 833 S.W.2d 896 (Tenn. 1992) a Tennessee jury returned a verdict of $575,000 for a plaintiff found to have been wrongfully discharged  for engaging in a protected activity (jury duty).  So, wait, wait don't do it!"

For more "Wait, wait don't do it!" advice from Steve Collins go to http"//spicefirm.com/news.html


# # #
For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and ebook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. Ebook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBooks Store and Smashwords.com.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.



Friday, August 26, 2016

Aunt Enie

Aunt Enie
April 21, 1920 - April 14, 2016

We said goodbye to Earline Rogers, a.k.a. Aunt Enie.  Actually, she wasn’t legally my aunt; she was everybody’s aunt. She passed away several months ago at 97 on April 1 4th, 2016.  On August 22nd at the Woman’s Club of Nashville, we celebrated her life—a life wonderful for everyone who knew her—a life of giving that will continue because she set up a trust to provide college scholarships for generations to come.

Aunt Enie will be remembered by all walks of life in the Nashville and Centerville area including her Juris, Inc. friends.

Aunt Enie was an honorary member of the Juris, Inc. team complete with logo jacket and a Juris business card with the title Official Executive Guest Chef and Expert Biscuit Maker.  For years Aunt Enie and Lee Ann’s Herron’s mother prepared a Christmas time breakfast-lunch for the Juris home office team members—Country Ham, Grits, Eggs and Aunt Enie’s Biscuits—with all the fixings.  If you were one of those Juris team members, you remember those world famous biscuits.  She left behind her recipe so that you can continue that Christmas tradition:

I can’t possibly detail all the credits she accumulated during her life, but let me remind you of just a few. Known for her unfailing smile, everyone she met became a friend. She was widely traveled. As a senior citizen she was a government courier for top secret documents. In her seventies, she went Heli-hiking in mountain terrain. She entertained sick children as a clown. She loved bridge and often played at what he called her second home, the Women’s Club. She was at home anywhere with anyone, but she always retained a little air of country about her. She became a lady of means and a generous one. As one family member said, “Aunt Enie believed in keeping money circulating.” She did and she enjoyed it!

# # #

For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and ebook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. Ebook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBooks Store and Smashwords.com.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Surviving a Terrorist

What happened in Orlando is another reminder that all of us are at risk of becoming targets in this war against radical Islam. The odds are low that you, I, or family members will find themselves in the middle of an Orlando type attack.  But it could happen just as you could be a storm or earthquake victim, so you need to be prepared to take action to survive. Action is the key. Those who act in the first seconds are the survivors. Try to be aware of your surroundings. If for any reason you feel uncomfortable, get out. If you see something suspicious tell — call 911 or the authorities.  Enter the FBI as a contact in your phone. You can contact your nearest field office or use the national tip line, 202-324-3000.   It is a good idea to have the fire and local police numbers in your phone as well.

If you are in a public location, know where the exits, restrooms, stairs, and fire extinguishers are located. 

Most people will mentally try to rationalize a threat away—shots are probably just fireworks, screams are just teenagers acting up, etc.  Survivors think threat first. They quickly assess to grasp the situation and they act.  They run, hide, or fight.

Get out of harm’s way if you possibly can. Once out, contact the
authorities and give them as much information as you can. The best way you can help others is too first save yourself. Only if you are alive can you help save other lives by assisting authorities and later helping those hurt or wounded. 

If you cannot run, hide. Make yourself disappear or as small a target as possible. Put a barrier between you and the terrorist. Preferably one that both hides you as well as stops bullets or debris from an explosion—a closed off room, a concrete wall, behind equipment, furniture, etc.

Finally, if you can’t run and you can’t hide—try to find a way to fight back.  If it is a terrorist attack, they intend to kill you. At least fighting back provides some possibility of survival. Be ready for an opportunity – an opening such as a jammed gun, an empty ammunition clip, or a distraction. Recruit others if possible. Get a weapon if you can—a sharp object like a broken stick, glass or knife, a hard object like a beer or coke bottle. But your body may be the best weapon—your full weight and fury thrown at the terrorist with blood curling screams, hands ripping hair, knee slamming private parts, teeth tearing ears away, fingers gouging eyes. Separate the terrorist from his weapon.  Hopefully, others will join you and together you can take the terrorist down. 

Fighting is, however, the last option. Terrorists may be working as a team. Yours may be wearing an explosive vest. Your fight may save others but not you. 

# # #

For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and ebook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. Ebook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBooks Store and Smashwords.com.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.

Monday, March 28, 2016

World Peace?


This cartoon was drawn 112 years ago. The clothes we wear has changed more than national behaviors, and the cartoon is missing the new Goliath on the world stage—the Middle East and radical Islam.
   
World peace seems as illusive today as it did 1904 when the cartoonist depicted a helpless Uncle Sam that did little more than sat on the side lines watching the squabbles between nations, while he wished for world peace. Back then, we enjoyed the isolation- of oceans protecting the USA from nationalistic ambitions of adversaries. We could take sides and go to war, but war couldn’t effectively reach the U.S. homeland.
   
No more! Wishing for world peace won’t cut it. Nuclear and space age weapons, global communications, air travel, cross boarder commerce, and porous borders have bridged our ocean moats.

###
For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and ebook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. Ebook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBooks Store and Smashwords.com.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Immigration—It Is Just The Same Old Thing or Is It?


The Puck cartoon pictured above is over 100 years old. Those already here resented each new arriving wave of immigants until they melted into the United States “pot”.  Initially, new immigrats stuck together, and their increasing numbers seemed to threathened our existing culture.  Over time their children and their children’s children spread out into the general population.  Some of their culture, especially their food, became Americanized and  added to the richness of the US. A lot of their old ways were,however,  left behind as the intelopers themself became Americanized.

However, what we are dealing with today is different. We have a large and growing number of undocumented people who stole their way into our country. And they did it at a time of heightened war time security. That is right, we are at war—at war over drugs and with radical religious elements out to do us harm. These undocumented persons are off the grid. We don’t know who they are or where they are.  And the existence of undocumented millions in our midst has become an intolerable risk.

Building a wall will not remove that risk.  At best, it merely keeps the risk from increasing. To eliminate it, we must either remove the illegal people or document them. It seems to me that documenting the undocumented is the logical course.  And, we don’t need to solve the “hotly contested” citizenship issue to do that. Documenting these immigrates is no more complicated than issuing a driver’s license.

We can provide illegals already here with a renewable work permit along with a Non-U.S. Citizen ID Card provided they meet certain conditions and register before a specified dead- line. Registration has to include securing identifying information including finger prints, photo and personal history. The permit would terminate if  the required conditions are violated -- for example, a subsequent felony conviction. This documentation process provides no path to citizenship; nor does it prevent providing one at some future time.

Those who fail to register or fail the requirments for registration must be taken into custody and deported when they surface, and they will.

There are many who feel that doing the above will simply stimulate a fresh flood of illegal immigration. That is why a majority of US citizens wanted the border problem solved first. Unfortunately, the risk of not knowing who they are and where they are has grown to great to wait. 

# # #


For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and ebook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. Ebook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBooks Store and Smashwords.com.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

WE ARE BACK

We ran away to Florida for a few days to get away from the cold and snow.
We left things looking like this:



Unfortunately, southwest Florida was having a cold wave of its own and had been hit with the “red tide” which can kill fish and make it hard to breathe. So - when sunny, we spent our time on the beach bundled up against a cold  wind.
















And, - avoiding dead fish and other sea life that had washed ashore as a feast for the pelicans.


All things are relative, however. The food was great and the gulf sure beat the snow and freezing weather at home.

# # #


For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and ebook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. Ebook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBooks Store and Smashwords.com.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

The best port I ever had was a 1948 Claret!

Another wonderful Christmas gift was enjoyed with my son in Austin over the holidays—a 1948 Chateau Cheval Blanc, a Premier Grand Cru Bordeaux from the Saint-Émilion region of France.


If you recall it was the 1947 vintage of this wine that was a central character in my book The Claret Murders. Unlike the 1947 vintage considered by many to be the greatest wine every made, the 1948 was considered atypical when young—very tannic with a high 13.5% alcohol content. The 48 was the ugly duckling that had to spend years resting in dark cellars before securing its place among the sought after vintages of Cheval Blanc.


Today, nearly 70 years later, a single surviving bottle of the 1948 Chateau Cheval Blanc purchased, rather than  retrieved from one’s cellar, cost between $3000 and $5000.


Our 1948 bottle was very much alive—wonderful, but no longer a characteristic Claret. It smelled of plums and raisins with the taste of an exceptionally smooth port. We paired the wine with cheese and rich fat hamburgers that brought back the richness of the wine and showed its nobility as a great Claret from the house of the white horse.


What makes the experience of an antique wine so exceptional is the realization that you are one of the last people on earth to have the opportunity to taste the wine—through the experience you time travel back in to its birth. It is the product of soil, weather, and the light hand of the wine maker at that precise place and time in history. Like a snowflake—it is unique and can never be repeated. 

# # #

For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and ebook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. Ebook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBooks Store and Smashwords.com.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.