August 22nd, 2008

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America's Heroes at Work

I've posted several news items about veterans and their struggle to rejoin civilian life. This website offers information to employers about how to hire and retain veterans, and how to help them get back to a more ordinary lifestyle. If you work in Human Resources, or you know someone who does, please take a look. Nevermind the government's often questionable deployment of the military; the soldiers themselves typically joined with the intent of protecting the country, and some of them gave up a lot in the process. If you're in a position to do so ... give something back.

Some general tips based on veterans I've known ...
  • Sudden motion and loud noises are bad. They can trigger unpleasant memories which are hard to break out of again.

  • Corner seats and other easily defensible places with a good view are good. They help skittish people feel safer.

  • Routines, lists, and other predictable things help restore a sense of order.

  • Comfort food, soft blankets, and other little luxuries can distinguish "home" from "battle zone." A desk with some personal items or other defined workzone can distinguish "workplace" from "battle zone." Put the chair and desk facing the door.

  • Little social exchanges, even stuff as simple as "good morning," are good; so are invitations to participate in events or activities. Don't be suprised if acceptance takes a while.
  • Some people like to be asked what will help them feel better, or be offered help. Some prefer people to overlook minor slips and act like everything is normal. Know which you're dealing with and use your best judgment about how far to honor the person's wishes; their judgment may not be solid all the time.

  • Veterans tend to be durable and full of impressive skill at making-do with available materials or personnel.
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    A Very Inside Look at John McCain

    I was fascinated by this article about John McCain:

    Why I Will Not Vote for John McCain
    by Phillip Butler | March 27, 2008
    As some of you might know, John McCain is a long-time acquaintance of mine that goes way back to our time together at the U.S. Naval Academy and as Prisoners of War in Vietnam. He is a man I respect and admire in some ways. But there are a number of reasons why I will not vote for him for President of the United States.


    Whether you're for or against McCain at this point, the article contains a lot of interesting background and details.
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    Deerloaf with Bacon

    I made this yesterday for supper. It was inspired by my mother's meatloaf recipe, here customized for venison. Murrrr ... so good.


    Deerloaf with Bacon


    Ingredients:

    2 lbs. ground venison
    1 lb. bacon strips
    2 eggs
    1/2 cup milk
    1 small sweet onion, diced
    about 1 tube of saltine crackers
    3 juniper berries
    1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
    1/2 teaspoon sea salt
    1/2 teaspoon sage
    1/4 teaspoon rosemary


    Directions:

    Preheat oven to 350º. This recipe will make two loaves. Grease two loaf pans. Both the ground venison and the bacon should be thawed and room temperature. Count the bacon strips and divide into two batches.

    In a mortar and pestle, crush the juniper berries and peppercorns. Add the sea salt and sage. Crumble the rosemary needles with your fingers and add them. Mix all the spices together evenly.

    Put the ground venison in a large bowl. Add 2 eggs, 1/2 cup milk, and diced onion. Crush the crackers and add them to the bowl. Mix everything together. It should have a firm, even consistency and stick together well enough that you can pick up the ball and turn it over in the bowl. If it’s too wet, add more crackers; if it’s too dry, add a little more milk. When the consistency is right, add the spice blend and mix thoroughly.

    Divide the meat mixture in half. Shape each half into a loaf. Each loaf gets 1/2 lb. of bacon for wrapping. Divide the first batch of bacon in half so that you have several strips to line the bottom of a loaf pan lengthwise; put the deerloaf into the pan on top of the bacon; and lay the remaining bacon strips lengthwise on top of the deerloaf. Repeat the process for the second loaf.

    Bake at 350º for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. A single 1-lb. deerloaf usually cooks in about an hour; cooking two in the same oven can make it take longer. The juices should run clear when the deerloaf is done. Remove loaves from the oven and place on a cooling rack. Allow 5-10 minutes for cooling before cutting into the loaf.


    Notes:

    It’s easier to make this recipe with two people, one to measure ingredients and one to mix things into the ground meat by hand.

    The spices in this recipe are fine-tuned for venison. The bacon adds fat so the lean venison doesn’t stick to the pan and burn. Similar game meat such as elk or moose might work as substitutes; domestic meat such as beef or lamb would do better with a different spice blend.

    You can cook both loaves at once, or wrap one to freeze for later. One loaf will feed 3-4 people, especially with side dishes.

    Don’t try to cut through the bacon strips when slicing the deerloaf. Just peel them off and serve them whole.