Bear with me..

Two weeks of agent & publisher hell, slowly receding. Blogging may be light for a bit yet but here are some links, and there will be photoblogging of various creatures later.

Nature and science. Carel blogs on an extremely odd, newly discovered snake that apparently has evolved a “lure” on the end of its tail. Too bad it is in Iran– that doesn’t make it easy to study.

Bar tailed godwits, a kind of shorebird, make the longest nonstop migration of any bird (over 7000 miles, from Alaska to New Zealand.) HT Walter Hingley.

“The six cutest animals that can still kill you.” A bit over the top, and I don’t think I’d include the dingo, but still funny. Check the link at the bottom to killer insects– that Japanese giant hornet is intimidating. HT “Batwrangler” Sheila.

This one slides from nature to Central Asia.Andrew, who is going to Mongolia to stay with the Tsataan reindeer riders next week (lucky man) sent me a link to his sister- in- law Ulaana’s blog. It is full of good things, including a report on an eagle hunters’ festival near UB. If you scroll down to the pic of the former Lenin Museum you can almost see our regular UB base, the Bishkek “Very Good Hotel”, which stands just outside the photo to the right. Makes me nostalgic!

Mike Spies sends another good contribution to our ongoing discussion on dog breeding. I disagree with the writer’s handling of the Dalmatian controversy but it is an interesting and accessible essay.

Doom and Gloom. I’m not even going to link to the LA county dog breeding ban (and neutering at four months!) pushed through by Lloyd Levine– too depressing. Goodbye California I think. Eric at Classical Values addresses the issue again, and as always has some sharp observations.

Dogs banned in Iran. HT Annie Hocker, who says: “Listen to what the vet in Iran says about ancient breeds, salukis, and Persian history. Pet dogs are now illegal in Iran and if one touches you or your prayer rug, you must clean yourself seven times. Not to mention the arrests, confiscation, etc..”

This is especially tragic as Persian and Kurdish tazis/ salukis from Iran are among the best in the world, and have traditionally been exempt from what are really ARAB anti- dog tribal prejudices (and most Arabs considered salukis exempt also.) What kind of minds spawn this poison? It might be worth observing that the mullahs are anti- pigeon too, just like the Taliban (see “Talibanning Pigeons” in the sidebar.)

I’m sorry, but mandating lightbulbs full of toxic waste that I can’t throw away without driving at least thirty miles does not seem an environmentally sound solution to carbon use.

The inevitable English Doom entry (shall we just pass on the Archbishop of Canterbury’s acceptance of Sharia law?): a driver faces fines of 20,000 pounds and six months in jail for throwing away an apple core. Her “crime” is described as “knowingly causing the deposit of controlled waste, namely an apple core, on land which did not have a waste management licence”.

“A British novelist has been awarded legal damages in excess of £100,000 because she writes thrillers, not literary masterpieces. What’s at fault? She’s been inhaling fumes from a nearby shoe factory.” Read the whole thing! Do you think I could get $200,000 for being poor because I drink Magdalena water? Of course there may not be that amount of money loose in Magdalena. HT Pluvialis.

General & random weirdness. When Peculiar was in high school we concocted a joking “meme” for the perfect PC pet: the tapeworm. I forget a lot (and perhaps he can remind me) but three features were that you kept in in its natural habitat, that it cost nothing to feed it; and that it kept you thin. Well, according to the Yankee bloggers at Maggie’s Farm, somebody thought of it before we did.

Annie D sends a link to a hilarious mural. May be slightly NSFW.

The “Blog” of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks. I particularly liked “”Cautions” slipperly” but there are other gems.

Pics coming later, and more on dog issues…

Dog Blog Comment (Spay/Neuter)

My friend Eric forwarded an interesting post by a Canadian dog trainer (not Gregg) who looks to the falconry permitting scheme as a possible answer for the mandatory spay/neuter situation in the dog breeding world. It reads in part:

“How come the falconers have learned to control the breeding of falcons without spaying and neutering their birds, yet dog people have not?”In the old days they had things like kennel masters and breed keepers. I do not see why a developed country like Canada can not create professional breed surveyors who regulate the breeding of dogs.”It takes time to become a falconer. You have to apprentice. Then you graduate to being allowed to own one falcon. And then over time you can have two and then three. And then finally you are allowed to breed falcons under conditions.”Why can they not set up a similar situation with dogs? Perhaps if it took more studying, apprenticing, mandatory training classes and so forth to own a dog then there would be less people getting them. That would control pet over population far more than mandatory spaying/neutering ever will.”

The blog post did not allow comments so I emailed the author my thoughts:

“As a falconer I appreciate your positive comments about our sport and the permit scheme we operate under (I’m an American, but I presume the Canadian system is very similar).

“We are facing a sweep of mandatory spay/neuter laws across the country and many of us find it as alarming as you do. We would welcome any relief from the growing threat to pet and working-animal ownership posed by the “animal rights” lobby.

“But be careful what you wish for in further governmental oversight and permitting. Falconry is the most highly-regulated field sport in our country, and that chafes us plenty. We have an honorable and ancient apprenticeship tradition, one that (given the difficulty of the sport in general) has served as an excellent “gatekeeper” and schooling mechanism for centuries. The federal and state permitting does little to enhance this existing system, and does much to detract from it by applying paperwork and legal penalties for non-compliance.

“We feel the government’s role is to regulate and conserve the public wildlife resources we use (the wild-trapped hawks and our wild quarries); we do not feel it should weigh in on the breeding and treatment of captive bred hawks or become a falconry police force.

“Since dog breeders and trainers use an existing domestic stock, which should be considered private property, we feel the government should have little or nothing to say about it—-provided the rights of others are not impacted.

“Preserving the traditions and techniques of your sport, and the dogs themselves, should be up to you.”

Anyone else care to weigh in?

Mardi Gras Gumbo

When you were born elsewhere, raised elsewhere, trained as a world child and a globe trotter, how do you become a native of any one place? How do you finally find a home?

In Louisiana, “first you make a roux.”

Our local celebrity chef, John Folse, writes about the roux in his new game cookbook, After The Hunt.

“In Bayou Country the saying goes that every recipe begins with, ‘First you make a roux…’ but for this book, we should probably begin with, ‘First you shoot a deer, or a rabbit or a duck,’ because until you’ve got that, the roux won’t do you much good.”

A roux is the primordial stuff of Cajun cooking. It’s made of oil and flour and elbow grease. It can be blonde or brown or any color in between, like the people who invented it. You add a roux to a stock to thicken it and give it a rich flavor. Gumbo is basically a soup of stock plus roux plus meat plus Louisiana’s holy trinity: bell peppers, celery and onions. A little rice and French bread go with.

I made my first gumbo tonight, cheating on the roux with a dry mix that would probably make Chef Folse throw up his hands; although I’m sure he would approve the deer sausage and the duck breast, welcome gifts from my neighbors.

My trepidation about the roux is evidently common. As Folse says, “[the roux] can be a little intimidating because the margin of error between a perfect roux and a burnt one is slim. Just remember with any roux, it cannot be fixed if you burn it; you must start over.” I would hate to have wasted the meat and the money in fresh ingredients on my first attempt.

Nevertheless, it seems you can’t go wrong with gumbo. I spent about 4 hours in prep time (mostly re-reading the short recipe while things boiled) and about five minutes finishing off my bowl.

From one slowly simmering Louisiana native, Bon appetit!