24 December 2009

Time to make the Glögg!

My recipe comes from the old Swedish father of a friend of my parents. It is good.. A little history...Samuel Johnson, author of the first English dictionary, wrote "Claret is the drink for boys, port for men, but he who aspires to be a hero must drink brandy." By that definition Scandinavian glögg, will make us saintly.

Glögg, pronounced glug, is a high-octane, mulled wine, which is to say it is made with a potpourri of spices and all three of the above: Claret (red wine), port, and brandy, and is served warm. Especially popular around Christmas, it is the perfect cold weather drink, warming the body and soul from the inside out. How does it work? The warm liquid raises the temperature of the mouth and stomach slightly, and because alcohol is a vasodilator, it forces blood to the skin, making us feel warm and blushing on the outside.

History of glögg

The Greeks and Romans were known to "mull" wine by adding spices to enhance its flavor and because it was thought to have health benefits. Probably because it was thought to be healthful, in an stroke of early marketing genius, English wine merchants in the 1500s named a spiced wine Hippocras, after Hippocrates, the famous Greek physician who lived about 400 years BCE and is often referred to "the father of medicine."

According to the Wine & Spirits Museum in Stockholm, King Gustav I Vasa of Sweden was fond of a drink made from German wine, sugar, honey, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and cloves. It was later named "glödgad vin" in 1609, which meant "glowing-hot wine." The word "glögg" is a shortened form, and first appeared in print in 1870. Its popularity spread throughout the European nations and in the 1890s it became a Christmas tradition. It was often used as a health potion, and I prescribe it often for a wide variety of ailments, especially muscle strains induced by shoveling snow. Originally glögg was a bit less hearty, but a recipe from 1898 shows it was made with sediment from port wine barrels, full bodied red wine, Cognac, sherry, sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, almond, raisins, and vanilla pods, not dissimilar from today's recipes.

There are as many recipes for this old traditional winter beverage as there are for martinis. Instead of brandy, most Swedish recipes calls for aquavit, a distilled spirit frequently flavored with caraway seeds. Finnish gluggi often has vodka. Outside of Scandinavia, the Germans make a variation called glühwein (glow wine) often with a white wine base, and in Ireland it is made with, what else, Irish whisky. In the US, I've tasted it made with bourbon. But I prefer the taste of glögg made with brandy.

The spices and flavorings change just as frequently, with most recipes calling for cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, orange peel, raisins, almonds, and sugar. Some people use dried cherries. Some swear by dried orange peel, others use fresh. Sugar content can be varied according to taste, and I have tasted it made with honey and maple syrup. Some brew it and drink it on the spot, and others age it. I usually do both. My wife and I like to make some for after dinner on Thanksgiving, and then we age some for Christmas and the rest of the winter. We have been making glögg since 1974 and refining the recipe since then.

Recipe for glögg

The aroma of mulling glögg is heavenly, and when it is served steaming hot in a mug after a hard day of skiing or shoveling the sidewalk and driveway, the body offers thanks. Glögg also makes a good marinade for beef or venison. Here is my families tried and true recipe.

Ingredients

1.5 liter bottle inexpensive vodka or Grain Alcohol
1.5 liter bottle inexpensive American Port
750 ml bottle inexpensive Brandy or Rum
10 inches cinnamon stick
15 cardamom seed pods or 1 teaspoon whole cardamom seeds
2 dozen whole cloves
1 orange peel, whole and washed
1/2 cup dark raisins
1 cup blanched almonds
2 cups sugar
Garnish with the peel of another orange

Notes about the ingredients

The vodka, port, and brandy. There is no need to invest in expensive wine, port, or brandy because the spices are going to pre-empt any innate complexity of a fine wine, but don't use anything cheap. Remember, the sum will be no better than the parts. If you want to play, instead of brandy try using Swedish aquavit, a caraway flavored vodka popular in Scandinavia. I've had good luck with Southern Comfort and Capt Morgan, which has a changing flavor.

Raisins. Golden raisins will work, but dark raisins are better.
Cardamom. Cardamom comes in three forms: Pods, seeds, and powder. The pods look like orange seeds. Cardamom seed pods may be hard to find, so you may need to order them from a spice specialist, but don't leave out the cardamon. Cardamom is the secret ingredient. The seeds within the pods are either black or tan, about 1/3 the size of peppercorns. If you can't find pods and can only find seeds, use about 1 teaspoon of them. Do not use powder.

Almonds. It is important to get naked cream colored almonds that have had the shells and brown skins removed. The skins are bitter and full of brown coloring that can give the glögg a dusty texture. Do not use salted or smoked almonds. If you can only find almonds with skins, you can remove them by blanching them. Here's how: Boil a pot of water, dump in the almonds, wait for the water to boil again, let them boil for about a minute, pour off the water, and rinse with cold water, and drain. The skins will slip right off if you pinch them.
Cloves. Do not use powdered cloves.

Do this

1) Crack the cardamom seed pods open by placing a pod on the counter and laying a butter knife on top of it. With the palm of your hand, press on the knife. They will crack it open so the flavors of the seeds can escape. You can leave the seeds in the pods once they are cracked.

2) Pour the vodka and port into a stainless steel or porcelain kettle. Do not use an aluminum or copper pot since these metals interact with the wine and brandy to impart a metallic taste. Add the cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, orange peel, raisins, and almonds. Cover and simmer.

3) Put the sugar in a pan and soak it with half the brandy. Warm over a medium-low flame and stir occasionally until it becomes a clear, golden syrup and all the sugar is dissolved. Let it simmer for about 15 minutes until the little tiny bubbles become large burbles. This starts caramelizing the sugar and adds a layer of flavor.

4) Add the sugar syrup to the spiced wine mix. Cover and let it simmer over a low heat for an hour.

5) Taste. If you wish, add more sugar or brandy to suit your taste. If you do, go easy, 1/4 cup at the most. Like my barber says, "I can always cut more off but I can't put it back on". You can always add more brandy, but if you go over the top, you can't get back under.

6) Just before serving, strain to remove the spices, almonds, and raisins. You can serve your glögg immediately or bottle it and age it. A month or two of aging really enhances the flavors and marries them beautifully. A year is even better. If you are going to age glögg, use wine or whiskey bottles and make sure they are clean. Bottle glögg while it is still warm. Fill the bottles as high as possible and seal them tight. You don't have to lie them down to age, and if you use used corks, they might leak where the corkscrew entered if you lie them down.

7) Fringe benefits. Do not discard the raisins and almonds when you are done, they are impregnated with flavor! I put the raisins in a jar in the refrigerator, and my wife bakes them into panettone, an Italian raisin bread After I snack down a few handsful). I roast the almonds in a 225F oven for about 90 minutes and munch them as snacks with a football game.

8) Serving. To serve glögg, warm it gently in a saucepan over a low flame or, better still, in a crockpot. Serve it in a mug and, don't skip this, garnish it with a strip of fresh orange peel, twisted over the mug to release the oils and a cinnamon stick. Drink while seated and give your car keys to a friend.

10 December 2009

When did you last update your “Emergency Go Kit” ?

I don’t know why I wanted to post this, but I was inspired to review my “Emergency Go Kit” and I want to pass it on. Preparing an Emergency Go Kit in advance can save precious time if you must evacuate or seek shelter. Put the following items in a sturdy, easy-to-carry container such as a backpack or suitcase with wheels. Keep your kit in an easily accessible place. Add the following to your kit:

• At least a three-day supply of water (one gallon per person per day). Store in sealed, unbreakable containers.
• A three-to five-day supply of non-perishable canned food, and a non-electric can opener
• Flashlight
• Battery-powered or hand crank radio
• Extra batteries
• Wrench and/or pliers to turn off utilities
• Whistle to signal for help
• First Aid kit
• Prescription medications for at least one week
• List of family physicians, important medical information, and the style and serial number of medical devices, such as pacemakers
• Cell phone charger or extra batteries and car charger, I also purchased a generator and have 3 days of fuel.
• Extra set of eyeglasses, or contact lenses and solution
• Rain gear, sturdy shoes, and a change of clothing
• Blankets, bedding, and/or sleeping bags
• Identification, credit cards, cash
• Photocopies of important family documents including bank and home insurance information
• Extra set of car and house keys
• Local maps
• N95 dust masks to help filter contaminated air
• Plastic sheeting, duct tape, and scissors to shelter in place
• Tools: screwdrivers, waterproof matches, a fire extinguisher, flares, plastic storage containers, needle and thread, pen and paper, a compass, garbage bags, moist towelettes, and regular household bleach
• Special items for seniors, family members with disabilities, infants, and young children
• Change batteries in all your equipment at least once a year. An easy way to remember is to do it when you turn your clocks back in the fall.

Special Items for Infants
• Formula, bottled water, bottles, nipples
• Jars of baby food and baby spoons
• Diapers and diaper rash ointment
• Medications
• Moist towelettes and hand sanitizer
• Blankets, pacifiers, and layers of clothing
• Sunhat in warm months, warm hat in cool months
• Several small, lightweight toys

Below are simple steps to take to ensure you and your family is prepared for an emergency:
• Teach your children how to make long-distance telephone calls and how to dial 911 for emergency assistance.
• Program emergency numbers into all phones.
• Pick two places where your family will reunite after an emergency: a place near your home, and a place outside the District in case you cannot return home after an emergency.
• Make sure everyone knows the addresses and phone numbers of both meeting places.
• Know and practice all possible exit routes from your neighborhood.
• Put important family records (birth certificates, healthcare records, passports) in a safe place, such as a fireproof and waterproof safe or a bank safety deposit box.
• Practice your plan with all household members.
• Include your children in your planning, practice your plans with them, and quiz them to make sure they understand what to do. Always stress that this is a “just in case” plan.
• Get a copy of your child’s school or daycare emergency plans.
• Make plans for where you can meet your child after an evacuation.
• Make sure that the school has up-to-date contact information for you and other family members.
• Authorize a friend or family member to pick up your child in an emergency if you are unable to do so.
• Identify an easily accessible location in your home to store your Emergency Kit and make sure everyone in the home is aware of the location. If you have young children, make sure your Emergency Kit includes toys, books, and other personal items for your child.

I believe we need to review these areas annually just as we change the batteries in our smoke detectors.

08 December 2009

NICE Systems $22 Million dollar acquisition of Orsus Situation Management could be a steal!


I have been asked to comment on this NICE Systems (NASDAQ: NICE) / Orsus acquisition three times this week so I better write something on what I see as the future of our industry and why I believe this is a very important purchase. My background was in operations before I became involved in Loss, Fraud and Risk Prevention so maybe I look at these solutions differently than someone with a security point of view.      

I met Dan Yalon NICE’s Corporate VP of Strategy & Strategic Alliances back in early 2008 at TechSec Solutions in Dallas. I found the company to be very solid, well capitalized and focused. At the time I was building new alliances for Wachter Network Services and their focus was more on public projects and I was focused on private or non-union projects. I have been tracking them and many others on my http://www.physicalsecuritytechnologist.com/ page. I have also been tracking

CNL

ForgeHouse

Intergraph

Orsus

Proximex Surveillint™

S2 Security

Schneider Electric - Andover Continuum

videoNEXT

VidSys

in the area of Physical Security Information Management or PSIM and BI or Business Intelligence.

I learned a long time ago from my Grandfather that “People will only do what you expect, if they know that you are going to inspect.” My family a 250 bed nursing home when I grew up and when I wasn’t with my Grandmother I was there. He told me that once when I asked him why we would always drop in, unexpected, to see what was happening. I have never forgotten those words and I have used that concept since the late 1970’s to be sure that those who have worked for me do their jobs. In the Risk Management and Loss Prevention business it is all about influencing negative behaviors to stop internal and external theft and liability. With all the information available from our systems thru video feeds, access control information, video analytics, energy systems, computer networks and any other technology that can send a signal, without an intelligent tool to make sense if all this data the investment will be a waste. Without an intelligent tool that can compare data within an enterprise the system will not be proactive and if the system is not proactive it will not create an environment that can stop potential negative behaviors from those we employ and protect ourselves. My goal is always to eliminate opportunity and temptation from the enterprise.

For example: I am involved in a project, in the retail sector, that we have been able to develop algorithms that discover abnormalities within the enterprise. We know that the hardest fraud to detect is skimming. Why? Because there is a limited paper trail or paper trail at all. (Skimming for the purpose of our discussion is the removable of cash from an organization before the cash has been recorded on the books. I call it off-book fraud for short.) We have been able to predict with a 98% certainty, and in real time, which employees are skimming before we even go to the video. The video is then just a confirmation of the evidence created by the business intelligence. We then push this data to the owner/manager who can act on it immediately right from his cell phone.

This is why I believe that the future of this type of technology is the future of this business and NICE systems is making a great deal. Orsus should also bring NICE into other vertical markets such as: retail and banking and other private companies that will invest in this technology to eliminate risks. The return-on-investment (ROI) should be exceptional on this solution and its implementation should be a very simple decision for the management team. It is not all the government accounts that it can help that excites me, it is the 10s of thousands of business's that can be helped that get's me going.

I will be watching, in fact, I think I want to learn more the solution for some of my clients…


02 December 2009

$250,000,000 Dollars of Physical Security Technology Sales Can't Be Wrong.

Risk mitigation, loss prediction, prevention and security have been the driving force for my work since before 911. My client’s have purchased more than $250,000,000 dollars of physical security technology and labor to be used to intelligently mitigate risk, reduce losses, and protect their employees, customers, constituents and company enterprise assets.

The increasing convergence of risk management, physical security and technology is enabling greater incident prevention and analysis; and quicker decision making, deployment and response across the enterprise organization. The acquisition and deployment of these solutions will increasingly require an understanding of how protecting the organization’s business operations functions within the IT/IP infrastructure.

Convergence between physical security solutions and the IT/IP infrastructure allows for the integration of legacy and new IP technology solutions requires seamless implementation across new and existing enterprises. The infrastructure investment for the implementation of security technology now more closely conforms to existing IT business models within the organization. To better quantify the return on investment for their business intelligent/security solutions has always been simple for me, for example on client with 5,000 locations spent $100,000,000 over three years to install my recommended solution within their enterprise. Their estimated return-on-investment (ROI) will be $1,500,000,000 over five years. My point is that the integration of physical security/business intelligent technologies into all elements of the enterprise operation is becoming both a requirement and a substantial value to every organization I associate.

As always, it is my goal and ambition to be passionate about my customers needs, confront and solve problems constructively by fostering a collaborative team effort which conducts business with uncompromising integrity. To continue to offer solutions n the areas of compliance, operational risk management and physical security to make certain I represent key innovation in risk and compliance management solutions that meet the business requirements of Global 2000 customers. If I can help your organization no matter if you are a manufacturer or an end-user, I can help improve your ROI to deliver and benefit from physical security technologies. Drop me a note at james.mcdonald@pst-mail.com.

01 December 2009

Need for Security and Business Intelligence to Make Video Analytics an Essential Tool for the End Users of Video Surveillance




LONDON, Nov. 30 /PRNewswire/ -- The need for pro-active security and business intelligence is boosting the demand for video analytics solutions in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA). The lack of awareness among end-users about video analytics, coupled with inflated promises of earlier generation of analytics, resulted in a huge gap between its capabilities and customer expectations. However, significant advancements over the years and its current ability to offer intelligent analysis of video hold promising opportunities in security as well as non-security applications.


New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (http://www.autoid.frost.com), Analysis of Video Analytics Applications in the EMEA Market, finds that the market earned revenues of $48.0 million in 2008 and estimates this to reach $264.0 million by 2015. The application segments covered in this research are commercial, transport and government.

"The falling prices of video analytics are paving the way for increased adoption, even in small and medium-sized applications," says Frost & Sullivan Senior Research Analyst Archana Rao. "The ability of the technology to analyse large volumes of data (video) and distinguish the valuable bits of information yields significant cost savings in terms of limiting monitoring personnel."

The shift from reactive to pro-active analysis of video helps prevent security breaches in addition to achieving cost savings on meagre resources and the time taken to retrieve data for meaningful analysis. This, combined with the falling price and integration with business processes, offers all end users a high return on investment (ROI).

"However, complex technology combined with the relatively slow migration to Internet protocol (IP) in the video surveillance space and an uncertain economic environment is hindering the large-scale adoption of analytics," explains Rao. "The current video analytics solutions continue to suffer from the unrealistic expectations set in the early stages of the market. Additionally, low awareness about its real benefits, the lack of open platforms and price sensitivity restrain its widespread adoption."

Educating end users about the ROI and setting clear expectations are critical factors for growth of the market.  If you are interested in more information about this study, then send an e-mail to Joanna Lewandowska, Corporate Communications, at joanna.lewandowska@frost.com, with your full name, company name, title, telephone number, company e-mail address, company website, city, state and country.

Analysis of Video Analytics Applications in the EMEA Market is part of the Automatic Identification & Security Growth Partnership Services programme, which also includes research in the following markets: European Electronic Access Control Security Markets, European Security Convergence Market, EMEA Biometrics Market, Distribution Channel Analysis for European Security Systems, Opportunities in the European Intrusion Detection Systems Market, North American Government Physical and Logical Security Market, World Residential Security Market, and Security in the Global Utilities Market. All research services included in subscriptions provide detailed market opportunities and industry trends that have been evaluated following extensive interviews with market participants.

About Frost & Sullivan

Frost & Sullivan, the Growth Partnership Company, enables clients to accelerate growth and achieve best in class positions in growth, innovation and leadership. The company's Growth Partnership Service provides the CEO and the CEO's Growth Team with disciplined research and best practice models to drive the generation, evaluation, and implementation of powerful growth strategies. Frost & Sullivan leverages over 45 years of experience in partnering with Global 1000 companies, emerging businesses and the investment community from more than 35 offices on six continents. To join our Growth Partnership, please visit http://www.frost.com/

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