Monday, May 16, 2011

If at first you don't succeed

I just realized that during Blogger's maintenance down time, the internet managed to eat my post from Thursday, May 12th.  It is gone forever, and I am saddened and a little annoyed.  All I can remember is that I was ranting about passwords and PIN numbers.  If you try to click on the link from Facebook, you will be told the page does not exist.  I am sincerely sorry about that.

Why I love Sunday:  my boys are watching "Tron Legacy" after a Big Breakfast of eggs scrambled with tri-color bell peppers, onions, and sausage crumble, and a pound of bacon sprinkled with brown sugar and baked off in a 425 degree oven.  I am enjoying my second cup of coffee.  The hallmark of a really good cup of coffee is how it tastes when you drink it black, and that is the only way I have drunk coffee for many years.  This coffee, the Lady's Double Chocolate Cream, is exceptional, and we picked it up at the Paula Deen store in Savannah and had it ground there.  I've always been wary of "flavored" coffees, as I can usually pick up an off-taste from the flavoring, but this is so smooth and natural I have been drinking it every morning since we came home after our weekend there.  I am also very wary of products that are hawked by celebrity chefs, and it sometimes looks like Paula Deen has put her name on every conceivable type of marketable product, but all I can tell you is that the coffee is superb.  I feel an online order in my future.  I also feel relaxed, at peace with the world.  Call me a homebody, but as far as I am concerned, this is what it is all about.  Life is good.

The loaf is upside down

I developed a recipe for what I am calling "Out of Season Peach Bread", extrapolating from my recipe for cranberry nut bread.  I am hoping that a quick bread works even better than the pound cake (although everyone who tasted it thought it quite good), but will have to let you know later.  UPDATE:  I OFFICIALLY GIVE UP ON PEACH BREAD.  I am not pleased with the taste, nor the texture.  Despite being a heavier quick bread batter, the damn peaches sank again, and while it came out of the pan without difficulty, the bottom of the loaf was unpleasant.

Christopher Eccleston, Matt Smith, David Tennant - the Ninth, Eleventh, and Tenth Doctors

Change can be good:  I hate to admit this, after my online rants, but the Eleventh Doctor is beginning to grow on me.  Maybe it's just that I like the Doctor Who franchise so much that I will go with Whoever plays the Doctor.  Perhaps it is because the writing remains top notch and the stories hook me in.  Or it could just be that I need a break from endless reruns of Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.

I caught this news article today.  Could not miss the headline: 

Boy abused by mother, then child-welfare system

"The torture started before the Leesburg boy reached his second birthday. His mother severely beat him for crawling into another child's crib.

For the next several years, she ground the soaring spirit of that child into ashes. She and her boyfriend slapped, punched and hit the boy. The couple drank, did drugs and got into fistfights in front of him. They made sure he knew that he mattered to them about as much as a pile of stinking garbage.

Eventually, the boyfriend left, and other men started coming around. His mother let them have sex with his 9-year-old sister, and he got to watch. He remembers it. And he remembers his mother forcing him into sex acts with some of the men.

State child-protection workers would investigate complaints of filthy conditions, bruises and welts from excessive corporal punishment and lack of supervision on four occasions between January 2000 and November 2003, when they finally took him and his sister away and put them in foster homes.

The healing should have started there, but the state Department of Children & Families sometimes dispenses its own barbaric brand of neglect. And this unfortunate child came in for a heaping measure."

This is the world in which I work.

I don't know who bears the majority of the blame (other than the mother), but there will no doubt be a major administrative review of everything and everyone touching that case.  It is particularly disturbing that this happened in Lake County, the site of two of the most egregious cases highlighting the state's failure to protect it's children:  Bradley McGee in 1989, and Kayla McKean in 1998. 

The reason I bring this up is to point out that in the case discussed in the above article, it was not DCF that was responsible for monitoring the child's placement in foster care, and therefore was not the "dispenser of barbaric neglect" as alleged by the reporter. Thanks to the Legislature passing laws requiring privatization, those responsibilities were farmed out to case management organizations, in an attempt to save money and strip DCF of the tremendous power it had once held as the umbrella agency known as HRS (the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services).  Of course, if the child was not timely removed after the earlier investigations, that may well have been the responsibility of DCF, as they are still doing child protective investigations in most counties. Or it could have been the county sheriff's office, and DCF not involved at all.  It would be nice if just once the media got it right.

Here is the problem, as I see it, with all this privatization jazz: the CMOs, as we call them in our alphabet-happy world, are not uniform in quality across the state, or even within a particular county where more than one CMO may be providing services.  Balkanization of protective services, foster care, and adoption services has been, in my opinion, a failure.  CMOs and/or their lead agencies (yet another level of privatization - pray, tell me where are those savings?) are particularly reluctant to criticize a foster home that they have previously vetted and licensed.  The result is substandard foster homes, plain and simple.

The other reason I bring this up is to point out that the budget for child protective and other social services is being slashed mercilessly by Governor Voldemort and the Florida Legislature.  I have been through these cycles before.  No good can come of it.  If DCF and the CMOs are struggling now with overworked investigators and case managers, resulting in an escalated employee turnover problem, leading to a bunch of new workers without sufficient training or resources, cutting the budget can only make it that much worse.  The other result of a ravaged budget is a reduction in available services to children, most importantly, psychological services of varying sorts (including the sexual trauma counseling referred to in the article.)

"Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose" - The more things change, the more they stay the same.  I have seen some very positive changes in Florida's child protection over the past twenty years, but privatization is not one of them.

Sporting chance:  It's the Miami Heat and the Chicago Bulls competing for Eastern Conference winner.  Guess who I'm rooting for?  Big hint:  it's the team without the bad sport, foul-tempered bully.  UPDATE:  the Bulls swamped the Heat.  They tromped on their heads.  They kicked their butts.  They ... you get the idea.  Go Bulls!

True confessions:  I cheated.  (I had to put this up.  I am crazy about Mary Astor.)

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I was juiced to try out some recipes from Jane Butel's book Finger Lickin' Rib Stickin' Great Tastin' Barbecue.  Specifically, I wanted to prepare "Terry Johnson's Hawaiian Luau Barbecued Beef Ribs" and "Steve's Bermuda Lamb."  By the time I got back from Publix, I was in no mood to start slicing, dicing, chopping, and measuring the ingredients for the two different sauces.  So I cheated ... threw the lamb in a ziploc bag with some Sticky Finger's Carolina Classic, a mustard based sauce, and did the same to the beef, using Sticky Finger's Carolina Sweet Sauce.  Next stop, the oven.  I'll let you know how it all turns out.  UPDATE:  Very good!  I'll post the instructions on the recipe blog.

Beef back ribs on the left, country-style lamb "ribs" on the right


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  2. "Eleventh Doctor is beginning to grow on me. Maybe it's just that I like the Doctor Who franchise so much that I will go with Whoever plays the Doctor. Perhaps it is because the writing remains top notch and the stories hook me in."

    I agree, but am a bot concerned with the overall style of the show. I don't mind a bit of darkness once in a while but is it becoming pervasive?

  3. It is very dark right now, but both the Ninth and the Tenth Doctors had some very dark periods. The difference is, I think, that Captain Jack Harkness was around back then to lighten things up. Amy has her funny moments, though.