Dinner with Dogs??

Do you love dogs?  Sure.

Do you love OPD (Other Peoples’ Dogs)?  Uh, not so much.  

Well, as of January 1, California restaurants with patio spaces will be allowed to serve dogs right along with their owners, assuming the owners are human. This “change” will probably affect Humboldt less than more urban regions  because plenty of local eateries are already allowing dogs. The rules are that the patios must have separate entrances so that the doggies don’t enter the restaurant itself and they continue to be banned from food preparation areas. The new rule does NOT mandate that dogs must be allowed on patios; that’s up to the proprietors.  Nor does it change any of the rules on bona fide service animals. 

I’m a dog owner who does not envision taking my dog to a restaurant in this lifetime. For one thing, she’d eat everything in sight.  For another, she’d never be able to share space with one of those cute fuzzy little dogs that look and sound exactly like her squeak-toys. The other question is, do I want to share a table with someone else’s dog?  When MY dog drools  on the table, it’s cute. When YOUR dog does it, it’s disgusting.

I’m all in favor of consumer choice, so when I pass by a patio cafe where chows are chowing down in favor of a human-only environment, that’s a valid choice. I wonder how the majority of Humboldt diners will react to their new dining companions.

The Man from Freshwater Farms

I met Rick Storre on two occasions. The first was when I visited Freshwater Farms to find a native-plant solution for my planter boxes that always looked like hell, stuffed with geraniums that never seemed to thrive. I entered the building and eventually a friendly man showed up. From the way he settled into his seat, I could tell this was going to be a long chat. It was. It was the kind of chat that takes place when one oldtime Humboldter encounters another.

We reviewed his parents and grandparents, and mine, and gossiped for an hour or so. It felt like being in Ireland, where purchases are never hurried. He suggested a certain type of huckleberry for my planters and I left with six of them.  Three died immediately  and I called him for advice. I went back to FF and he replaced them cheerily. Eventually I managed to kill all of them and went back to geraniums.

I must have passed by FF a thousand times since then, secure in the knowledge that there was a friendly and intelligent person within. Today I feel very empty inside. The house where the bodies were found is a few blocks from me and I feel violated. I lost an acqaintance. I can only imagine how his friends and family feel.

And I feel that I’m losing my town. I don’t recognize a Eureka where St Bernard’s Church is considered in a “bad neighborhood” or where people are murdered a short walk from my home. The people who are running for County or City offices had better have some ideas for change. Mental illness is perhaps the toughest issue facing our society and balancing the rights of the mentally ill with the rights of people like me who are supposedly sane is a conundrum for which all the answers are expensive. Necessary, but expensive.

All I know is that I feel empty. “And the sky is crying.”

“Season of Wonder and Light”- Bah, Humbug!

I have my curmudgeon hat on today, an effect of reading this morning’s papers and blogs.   Any of you wanting sugarplum fairies should be reading elsewhere. To begin-

Eureka City Schools, Loleta Union School District Sued for racism, sexism.   Is this a surprise to anyone, especially considering the ongoing festering situation in Ferndale?  When I was attending Eureka High, the Native American kids were almost completely segregated, to Hoopa. Sounds like things haven’t changed much. If ANY of these allegations are true, and I suspect these may be just the tip of the iceberg, some heads should roll.

Chet Albin Appointed to Eureka City Council-  Anyone who has to take down his Facebook page out of fear that his constituents might see it does not have the moral fiber to hold public office. Nor do the folks who orchestrated this outrage.

Jason Singleton Vilified for ADA Suits- Both his letter to the North Coast Journal, reprinted this morning in the Times-Standard  and Chris Jones’ My Word in the Times-Standard this morning (links not available for either) tell it like it is. As I posted here last week, if the city/county staff were tasked to do MEANINGFUL ADA reviews before issuing permits, poof! Problem solved.  The most distressing news is that otherwise rational businesspeople are trying to address their issue through demonstrating at the courthouse, a useless circle-jerk. Gee, those “Occupy” demos worked out so well…

The GPU has been hijacked and thrown back to the Planning Commission  and the Planning Commission is one vote away from being controlled by HumCPR.    Not good news when any special interest group has this much clout, especially when the voters are demoralized and disorganized (in comparison.) I happened to notice yesterday while driving on 5th Street in Eureka that the CPR has a storefront now, where the Republicans’ office was. Don’t know how long they’ve been there.

Finally, Two Good People Have Left Us.  Leon Berliner and Silas Morrison the younger both had obituaries in the Times-Standard today. My first job in rehab was at Redwoods United, Inc. long after Leon had moved on to the  Cornucopia.  No agency helped more people with disabilities in this county and that program is sorely missed. Silas was a friend and an unforgettable personality. I will miss him a lot.

Sincere wishes for a happy holiday, despite the foregoing. You can’t ALWAYS have a Merry Christmas. There’s always next year.

 

The Weather Outside is Delightful (but the temperatures are frightful)

…And I don’t know about you but wearing four layers of clothing and STILL having my muscles clenched against the cold is getting old, real old.  Here are some of the highlights of the week in business.

HSU’S ECONOMIC REPORT compiled by the ever-helpful Dr Erich Escher shows a mixed bag of indicators;  Housing prices are  up, but sales are down. Gas prices are in decline also, note the $3.70 ranges in the report, although I just saw $3.54 at COSTCO.  Read the whole report; this is a resource we are lucky to have.

SINGLETON STRIKES AGAIN:  According to the Mad River Union, it was an ADA lawsuit filed by Mr Singleton that caused the closure of Arcata’s branch of Porter Street Barbecue. I don’t know why business owners can’t get it through their heads that after 30 years the ADA is not going away,  but there you go. Unfortunately, the food at their Eureka store has declined considerably.  The  last few times I had their chili, it contained a spongy meatlike substance that almost seemed like stomach tissue or tripe.  I’m sure it’s legal but sure isn’t very appetizing.  When, oh when, will someone open a REAL barbecue here? But then I’m a Carolina girl. I’ve had the real stuff.

There is voluminous guidance from the State and from employers’ group on meeting ADA/FEHA standards and it’s not all that hard to understand. If only our city and county permit processes incorporated the ADA requirements, no one would have to be surprised after they’ve already spent money. I’ve been hearing this same complaint for years.  This is a wasteful and expensive way to do business and it doesn’t have to be this way.  I notice that the Wendy’s in Eureka which previously  closed allegedly due to some sort of ADA issues is hiring and getting ready to open for business again. Maybe they’ve learned something.

ANNALS OF GREED, or It Must Be Nice Dept: Republican State Senator Bill Emmerson of Redlands resigned his seat and a week later was named a senior vice president of the California Hospital  Association “where he will oversee the group’s in-house and contract lobbyists. ”  Every State employee is drilled on the requirement that a year must pass before conversations that might be construed as lobbying can take place but by the subterfuge of having him “oversee” the effort, he’s free to pursue the best interests of the CHA, which are not necessarily in the best interests of our citizens.  Former Sen, Michael Rubio did similarly a few months ago,  working now for Chevron. 

CALTRAIN NEWS: The CalTrain Board has announced that daily ridership is now in the 50,000 range, up from 30,000 ten years ago. CalTrain is also installing racks and other equipment to encourage cyclists to come aboard. All good news.

I’m going to stop now because this has really been a horrible week of homicides, deaths by fire and generally un-holidayish happenings. Maybe next week will be better?  Let’s hope so. See ya at the Truckers’ Parade Saturday evening.

Standing Up While You Work Is Good, Facebook Is Depressing, Jerry Brown and Bill Clinton Thrive

In the first few hours of our Federal government shutdown, it would be nice if I could come up with some POSITIVE things to say about Our Current Situation but I really can’t think of any. The impact on Humboldt County, with our huge Federal holdings such as Six Rivers National Forest and Redwood National Park, plus all that BLM land, will be huge. Anything that hurts tourism hurts us all.  Let’s hope for a quick resolution. Elsewhere in the news…

STAND AND DELIVER: Have you been getting a lot of online ads for treadmill desks? The ads I get are for models starting at about $1200 and I see one in my future. I had a couple of colleagues when I worked for the State who used standup desks because they had back problems but I’ve seen about five articles lately indicating that working on your feet is a healthy choice for everyone. Churchill, Hemingway and Leonardo da Vinci did it.  The evidence is mounting that, as the Economist puts it, “Prolonged periods of inactivity are bad regardless of how much time you also spend on officially approved high-impact stuff like jogging or pounding treadmills in the gym.”  Even just standing up instead of sitting is a low-level activity that uses a different set of muscles than does sitting.

The evidence is scary. A study from England found that the individuals who are least active at work or otherwise are twice as likely to develop diabetes as the most active, are twice as likely to die of a heart attack and are 250% more likely to develop cardiovascular disease. These results seem to be independent of the amount of hardcore gym exercise that the study subjects did. A different study, on rats, indicated that immobilizing them led to a dramatic drop in their HDL levels, which is undesirable as low levels of HDL promote heart disease. The good news for humans is that breaking up long periods of sitting with two minutes of walking every 20 minutes can lower your blood glucose level by 30%.

So what does this mean to an employer?  You might want to speak to your workers’ comp carrier about a break in your rates if you install standup desks and walking paths. Anything you can do to encourage your employees’ low-level activity, like walking, may turn out to be a lifesaver.  Now I’m going to get up and walk around.

FACEBOOK IS DEPRESSING:  I never miss a chance to bash Facebook, so here’s this week’s news. Two recent studies studied Facebook users. The first was a joint venture by the University of Michigan and Leuven University in Belgium, which studied 82 teens and young adults over a two-week period by means of questionnaires.  They found that the more an individual used Facebook during the study period, the worse they reported feeling.  On the other hand, the more real-world interaction they had, the more positive they reported feeling. The  other study, by social scientists at Humboldt University (NOT Humboldt State) and Darmstadt Technical University, both in Germany, surveyed 584 Facebook users in their twenties and found that the most common emotion associated with Facebook use was: ENVY. I don’t doubt it, since looking at all those doctored photos and “status updates”  which consist mainly of bragging could well affect a person. So, employers, Facebook is not only stealing your employees’ time, it’s making  them feel inferior. Try to encourage something more positive. Like Angry Birds. 

JERRY BROWN: A new biography  by Chuck McFadden, Trailblazer, reminds us that when he was elected Governor he was the youngest Governor in the nation. Now he’s the oldest, at 75, and is apparently planning to run for another term. He’s still jogging three miles several times a week and his Prop 30 has apparently calmed the States’ budget crisis. His wife, Anne Gust, former CAO of the GAP, is a strong partner in his administration.  The “crazy” ideas he espoused in his first term that earned him the nickname “Governor Moonbeam” – communications satellites, space exploration, solar energy etc etc- have become mainstream.  The book makes the point that Brown’s three (or four) terms as Governor added to his father’s two terms back in the ‘fifties (he left to become Chief Justice) are a very long run. And he shows no signs of slowing down.

BILL CLINTON: I may have been the last to hear about it, but it has been brought to my attention that Bill Clinton- the Bill Clinton of the fried chicken and pork rinds – THAT Bill Clinton has, for the past three years, been a VEGAN. I’m still trying to process this, but if that’s the reason he looks so good lately, I may become a convert. Cheaper than a standup desk in the short run. Last October, on a road trip, we passed through Little Rock and  I insisted on visiting  his then-favorite lunch spot, Doe’s Eat Place, ( I’m not kidding) .  It was closed but I’m willing to bet they don’t serve vegan. All things change. Both Jerry and Bill are inspirations for those of us who are, shall, we say, getting on in years.  More power to both of them. 

Now if we could just resolve this darn shutdown…

NCEPD- Honoring the success stories of people with disabilities

I just attended an event that more of you should go to- the annual recognition luncheon of Northwest Committee for the Employment of People with Disabilities, or NCEPD. As an old Rehab counselor and former member of the Committee, I’ve attended quite a few of these and they are truly amazing events. You hear stories of courage, stories of generosity, stories of ingenious problem solving, a glimpse into a world people without disabilities rarely think about.  Our friend Bob Van Fleet used to refer to the non-disabled folks as CRABs- Currently Regarded as Able Bodied. It only takes one car collision, motorcycle crash or work accident to turn a CRAB into a person with a disability and of course many people are disabled from birth.  Giving these folks a chance to be self-sufficient is one of the best things an employer can do, for themselves and for the community. Thus, both the employee and employer are honored.

I hadn’t been in a couple of  years and was pleased to find that Reaching for Independence , a parents’ group in Fortuna which was just getting started when I left, has become a multi-service agency. If you’re not familiar with the rehab agencies and their programs, be aware you can locate a suitable candidate for your vacancy and get tax credits and FREE job coaching which which continues during the entire term of employment. The clients range from folks who do best at repetitive tasks to geniuses who happen to use wheelchairs. Or medications for seizure disorders. Or clocks that TELL you the time. Or screen readers for visually impaired people so that they, too, can waste time on Facebook as well as attend distance learning classes at schools and colleges. I should mention that both CR and HSU have many services for people with disabilities, who by most counts comprise about ten per cent of the population.

Services for those of us who are older? Not a problem. After all, you have two choices in life- you can become disabled or you can die young. I know which I’m picking.

I met a gentleman who is retiring from HSU after 38 years. Could have sat out the whole time on Social Security, but  chose to work. The Department of Rehabilitation is not a perfect agency but they DO turn people with disabilities into taxpayers. We should  all support them.

Another agency worthy of your support is Tri-County Independent Living, which is having its seventh annual disabilities expo on Friday from 10am to 3pm in the Vickers Building at Redwood Acres, where many of the local organizations offering choices to people with disabilities will be present, including HTA which will be bringing a bus to demonstrate their accommodations and services.  Admission is free.  Finally, the next day, Saturday, the Humboldt County Library is holding a Reading Fair to familiarize low-vision and blind patrons with a range of equipment to help with reading. The library has a loan closet which offers an opportunity to try equipment before making expensive purchases.  The Fair is from 1pm to 3pm Saturday. Show up! You just might learn something.

One thing I learned in my time at Rehab is that people with disabilities appreciate having a job, because it’s hard for them to get one. The next time someone from DOR, EDD, HCOE or any of the other agencies that work with people with disabilities approaches you, please consider giving people with disabilities a chance. You won’t be sorry.