Archive for September, 2008

Service Dogs –

25 September 08

Herself Sez: Sorry there haven’t been any posts for the past 2 weeks. We are in South Carolina. This is a post on the fly. Himself is working via computer while I train.

My wife now has a service dog to help her with tasks that she can no longer do because of her arthritis. (Old age is not for sissies!)

There are many things to consider here. We probably all know that service dogs,  including guide dogs for the blind, cannot be denied access to any public facility. What most of us do not know is just what it takes to get one of these helpful animals, and the laws that govern them.

Our dog is from an extremely fastidious and reputable training facility in South Carolina – PAALS – Palmetto Animal Assisted Life Services, and that ain’t cheap. Their dogs are carefully screened for health, particularly hips and longevity, for temperament (must be safe and well-behaved in public), and are extensively and intensely trained to obey instantly and behave at all times. The dogs are carefully matched to the personality and needs of the owner. Standard training for all assistance dogs as well as very specialized training for the individual’s particular needs are extensively trained into the dog’s repertoire. Worth visiting their web site: http://www.paals.org/. If ya wanna make a donation, that would be very welcome (and tax deductible) also.

Herself sez: No donation too large, no donation too small!! {GRIN} And a comment about PAALS from the partner’s point of view. They are still small – which means they have the time and the opportunity to give much individual attention to the human partners – ensuring that we know the commands (cues), know the behaviors expected, and know to not let the dogs get “sloppy” or not follow through. These are important considerations because letting the dog get “sloppy” on one cue will lead to sloppiness on another and another and another until all the cued responses are sloppy – and perhaps the cues aren’t even followed!

Most people are at least vaguely aware that the ADA (American’s with Disabilities Act) covers these animals in some way. But local legislation is needed to fully cover these animal assistants. Now, as most of you already know, I’m a pretty conservative constitutionalist who does not like unnecessary laws. However, this is a case where some meaningful legislation is pretty much mandatory to keep abuses from occurring. One of the key abuses that I see happening now is the “pet lovers” who want to be able to take their little darlings everywhere with them. This is a far cry from the working dogs who are providing vital services to the handicapped.

I do believe that people should be able to “roll their own” if they have the skills, time, and motivation. This would mean that you should have the right to train your own assistance animal. Now here is where it gets sticky. Assistance animals must meet a rather strict set of guidelines about public behavior and the services they must be able to provide for their masters. I have seen “certification” and service capes for sale on the internet. How are these dogs tested? They aren’t. You just click a box saying that your animal meets the standards and give your credit card – $249.00 gets you “everything you need”. This just will not do at all. Just as you must pass a test and be licensed to drive a car, or be accredited by a proper medical association to practice medicine, your dog should be properly tested, certified, and licensed before you should be allowed to bring the dog into public places. You know what the consequences of unlicensed animals will be – eventually someone is going to be hurt by an unqualified animal, or improper behavior is going to sour the public on all assistance animals.

Since we should enable people to function to their maximum ability we do need these dogs to be able to appear in public places. One approach would be to say that only certified trainers can provide these animals. That would be a terrible error. We must allow people to have the possibility of training their own. However, there should be a testing procedure, for some reasonable fee, that would insure that unqualified animals are not granted assistance dog status. For that matter, even professionally trained animals should be tested to make sure that they meet the required standards. I don’t know about other facilities, but if they select and train to the same high standards of PAALS there will be no problem passing any reasonable test.

While seeing eye dogs have been around for quite a few years, other forms of assistance are fairly new. One good possibility is offered by ADI – Assistance Dogs International – it is worth visiting their website. Among the things offered is a model law which can be used by local legislatures as the foundation for State Law. They also give an example of the kind of public access test required for service dogs. I would say that this is one fight worthy of your involvement for several reasons:

First, we want to keep the public safe.

These are assistance dogs. They are NOT guard dogs. They must display absolutely no aggressive reactions to people or other animals. They are also NOT pets. Yeah, there is love here. Actually far more bonding and love than occurs with some fat, spoiled, useless “mommy’s darling”. Over hundreds of thousands of years we have bred dogs to help with the tasks of life. A dog who is doing useful work is much happier than one who sits around being bored all day. (So are humans!)

Second, we want to enable all people to function to their maximum potential.

Along this line I want to stress that I don’t buy the paternalistic “Let’s take care of the poor cripples” routine. Nor do I buy the equally objectionable gooey liberal nonsense of “oh, you poor dear, let us do everything for you”. Nuts – as a Constitution-minded conservative my position (the correct one) is “let us remove obstacles so that you may live up to your maximum potential as you see fit”. If we have removed barriers and you still fail, that is your problem. If we have not removed barriers then we have not enabled the Constitution to function properly for the individual and that is our problem as a society.

Third (kinda part of Second),

I have no desire to carry people on my back for their entire lives (or mine). By enabling people who have physical limitations to use service animals properly we enable ourselves to more freedom. Either we kill people who cannot always do for themselves, we provide nursing and assistance care as needed, or we allow people to do for themselves with assistance animals. The last is much more palatable and responsible. (And cheaper!)

Fourth, people using assistance animals need to know proper public behavior and consideration.

We do not want assistance animals eliminating inside. We do not want animal poop all over the public ways. We do not want to be eating our meals and have animals grabbing food (even spilled food), begging, or whatever. I once knew a blind girl who was raised by parents who must have felt guilty or something. They waited on her hand and foot and never taught her decent manners or consideration of others. Her attitude was that the world owed her everything because she was a “poor little blind girl”. She assumed no responsibility for making sure her dog behaved in public and would allow the dog to do whatever he pleased when he was not leading her. This did not make a favorable impression.

Upshot of all of this? We need to make sure that legislation is in place to allow free access to people with service dogs. We also need to make sure that the needs of the public are guaranteed. We can only do both with access laws, proper training, and certification. Check out the ADI site and urge your legislature to pass proper laws to insure both. Only thus can the freedoms and opportunities of all citizens be guaranteed.

Herself Sez: YEAH! Please check out the ADI site and keep an ear / eye out for your state legislature’s work on any ADA / service dog laws! If you have any questions, ask us, and if we don’t know, we’ll ask the people at PAALS and get back to you!!

Double Standard Alive and Well –

13 September 08

Consider the way Conservative talk show hosts were treated by the libs at the Democratic Nation Convention. They were bluntly told that they could expect no co-operation from the DNC and that their access to libs for interviews would be severely restricted.

Contrast the way the liberal media was treated at the Republican Convention. Full co-operation and they were treated quite well.

Consider the crucifixion of Sarah Palin. The media has put her private life under a microscope. They have not examined her on the issues but have gone exhaustively into her family life. The very libs that are all for “women’s rights” have hammered on her being a working mother. The very libs that want abortion on demand with no parental notification for minors are flaying Sarah Palin because her daughter is pregnant (and going to bear the child). The very libs that do not want our dui laws to apply to illegals and do not want child molester’s records to be public are making a big deal about Palin’s husband having ONE dui 22 years back.

Sarah Palin is constantly hammered as “inexperienced”. Bull – she has more executive experience than the entire Democrat ticket. The tough questions have never been put to Obama – who is qualified for nothing. Palin will be extensively grilled. There will be a microscope applied to Sarah Palin’s firing of Walter Monegan (so-called Troopergate). That’s not a problem – if reported fairly. Monegan was corrupt and incompetent. But where is the scrutiny of Biden – who is crooked as a dog’s hind leg? It is well known that Biden’s vote and influence are for sale. Where is the news scrutiny of the relationship of Hunter Biden to Joe Biden’s votes? Check it out – it’s for real. But I don’t see the lefty newsies pursuing what I consider a real and relevant story. Where is the grilling of Obama’s socialism – which is clearly contrary to the Founding Father’s intentions for this country – and which cannot be shown to have worked successfully anywhere on this planet. Where is the grilling of Obama for his stated intention to tax the people of this country heavily and send the money to other countries because we are “citizens of the world”.

Now the latest in double standards. A book about Aisha (sometime Ayisha), the child-bride of Mohammed, was cancelled by Random House at the behest of a Texas University Professor type – Denise Spellberg. Want to guess which way an academic type leans? Part of Spellberg’s response is “I don’t have a problem with historical fiction. I do have a problem with the deliberate misinterpretation of history. You can’t play with a sacred history and turn it into soft core pornography.” Why is it that the nastiness portrayed in The Last Temptation of Christ arouses no such reaction? Indeed – if you will think about it the only reaction I can remember from the left was that The Last Temptation of Christ was a wonderful thing covered under freedom of speech. Why is it that The Jewel of Medina is to be restricted? Yeah, it is fiction. Yeah, it is not completely accurate. The book has Aisha 14 – she was in fact 6 when Mohammed married her. The tale that is recorded as Moslem sacred history is that she lost her hair immediately and Mohammed did not consummate the marriage until she was 9. Marrying a 6 y.o. and sex with a 9 y.o. is still perversion and pedophilia any way you dress it. Why is it OK to “play with a sacred history and turn it into soft core pornography” if the story is about Christ and not OK to even come close to the truth about Mohammed? Why is The DaVinci Code OK and I am a religious bigot if I react negatively to that? Why are we supposed to be sensitive to Moslems and not to Christians? Random House was warned that the lives of their employees would probably be at risk if the book were published. Where is the outrage of the left? If a group of Christians were to riot and/or murder someone for perceived disrespect the left would be howling for blood. When Moslems riot and murder we are told that we need to be sensitive and respectful.

I don’t mind evenly applied criticism – but the standards need to be applied to all equally.

Sourdough Onion Bread –

6 September 08

This is a rather nice sourdough bread variation.

1 pkg yeast (NOT rapid rise)
160 grams warm water (3/4 cup)
200 grams fed sourdough starter (1 cup)
1 stick soft unsalted butter (1/2 cup)
110 grams milk (1/2 cup)
56 grams sugar (1/2 cup)
11 grams salt (1-1/2 tsp)
1 egg
740 grams bread flour (5 cups)

Filling:

100 grams finely chopped onion (1 cup)
½ stick melted unsalted butter (1/4 cup)
15 grams grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1-1/2 Tbs)
10 grams sesame seeds (1 Tbs)
3 grams garlic salt (1 tsp)
2 grams paprika (1 tsp)

Mix the water and milk, warm to about 100°F, add the yeast and a pinch of sugar. After the yeast proofs (about 10 minutes) mix all the bread ingredients on low speed for 3 minutes, then second speed for 3 minutes. Discussion: Bread dough makes a softer and smoother crumb. If you want a bit more texture to the tooth, then use all-purpose instead of bread flour.

Put into a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour. Pat down and fold gently. Let rise another hour.

While the rising is going on make up the filling. You may prefer to use a couple of finely chopped cloves of garlic and a sprinkle of salt instead of the garlic salt. Suite your own taste buds.

Roll out on a greased board to about 12″ x 18″. Make a choice between a roll loaf or a braided loaf.

For a roll loaf spread the filling evenly and then roll up like any other rolled loaf. Split into two loaves and place into two greased bread pans seam down.

For braid slice the dough into 3 pieces about 4″ x 18″. Spread the filling down the center of each braid, lift around the filling and pinch closed. Now do a standard 3 strand braid and place on a greased large cookie sheet.

For either: cover with plastic wrap and let rise about another hour.

Bake about 30 minutes at 350°F. Brush the top with melted butter and back into the oven for 3 or 4 minutes or until nicely brown on top.

You can make the filling anything that you like. A sweet filling would make this a very suitable dessert bread.

Chicken with Dipping Sauce –

4 September 08

This is one of those things that tastes a whole lot more complex than it really is. Actually, this is very simple, easy, and takes very little energy to assemble.

Take a boneless, skinless chicken breast per person. Sauté in olive oil and butter about 5 minutes per side on medium heat in a good, heavy (preferably cast iron). If the surface has not browned to your satisfaction crank the heat up and give it about 1 more minute per side.

Plate the chicken and tent with aluminum foil. Drain off the liquid from the skillet until you have about a tablespoon or two left. Return the skillet to the heat. Add enough apple vinegar to deglaze, whisk thoroughly. Add a little more apple vinegar if needed, add about 25% to 50% honey to the vinegar. Whisk over low heat. Add a teaspoon of stone ground mustard and about a teaspoon of grey poupon. Whisk together well. Whisk in enough heavy cream over low to medium heat to thicken just a bit.

Goes well with a nice French bread baguette and a simple garden salad.

Herself Sez: This was wonderful! I ate every bit. And the sauce was excellent. I LUV chicken. I’ll go along with a variation on what Bubba Blue from Forrest Gump said: “You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. Dey’s uh, chicken-kabobs, chicken creole, chicken gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There’s pineapple chicken, lemon chicken, coconut chicken, pepper chicken, chicken soup, chicken stew, chicken salad, chicken and potatoes, chicken burger, chicken sandwich.” Yeah! Yard bird is one of my absolute favorites. Bubba forgot about chicken Alfredo and chicken burger in a manwich sauce. Unfortunately, the Ol’ Curmudgeon doesn’t think much of it. So he seldom fixes it for me unless I ask – usually several times. I’d eat it 3 days a week. That leaves 2 days a week for vegan eating, and 2 day to have beef or pork. But chicken – that is the “food of the gods” – ambrosia – to this Southern gal!! Yeah – chicken salad – chunks of chicken with green grapes cut in half, slivered almonds (or pecan pieces), celery, a tiny bit of onion, mayo and a smidge of spicy brown mustard. Wonderful party food in a bed of varietal cabbage – very colorful! very tasty! Fried chicken with rice and gravy and a side salad – yummo!. Sometimes I just have to slip up to KFC or to Chic-fil-a to get my chicken “fix.” I’m drooling on my keyboard!


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