More beer … More beer

Sitting here in the Qantas lounge drinking a complimentary Allagash White out of Portland, Maine, and I think it is about time I tell you about the beers from the Portland we visited in Oregon.

brewvanaAs previously mentioned, Portland is known by many names one if which is Brewvana. Here’s a note from inside our lift.

I wondered how many of those 154 brewing companies I could sample the wares of over three days. Well, as it turned out, not too many. We did have to do other things in Portland as well. As earlier mentioned, Oregon is tax-free and there’s some pretty good shopping to do, even bought myself this and they shipped home to Australia for me.

But I thought I’d have to try a few beers. What I have not included in this list is the six-pack of mixed stubbies from Whole Foods – $1.99 a stubby if interested. So, I only had time for beers from six different breweries but a total of 20 different beers.

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APDT Conference: Day 5.1

Almost there folks. Just got back from some excellent pasta now lazing around  thinking about packing, watching the football, about to eat a bear claw, writing this post, and thinking about packing.

Day 5 of the conference started with a session from Mary McNeight titled “Service Dog Training for the Pet Dog Trainer – Basic Program Structure to Ensure Success”. I met Mary at one of the previous conferences and knew her passion for training in the service dog industry and her business and expertise has grown over those years.

There are so many service dog training agencies in the USA but there is still a huge demand for more. Mary’s talk was about dog trainers working towards training people to train their own service-dog and the benefits this has to the people in need and also the dog trainer business.

She spoke about a lot of the things I cover in my workshop for the NDTF but I still found the session interesting. One of the things that she raised, that I found good, was to put yourself in the position of the person who is to get the dog. For example, she had us tape our hands then try and get some skittles (like M&Ms) out of a cup, which replicates how someone with limited hand mobility has to deal with life on a daily basis. And then use that with the knowledge that that person also has to handle a dog.

A lot of the things she also apoke about are so true – such as a commitment to training is 1-2 years, not overnight; and socialisation is so important. One of the things she also does in her training is to train all dogs to fetch a telephone as that is such an important skill for anyone who has a disability.

Dog selection is important and so is the person who is to train the dog – are they suitable now and will they still be suitable in the future. She said it’s like having a child with you 24-7.

I have many other notes but these are some of the key points. If interested in other things Mary mentioned, let me know. Because now I might pack, or maybe I’ll eat the bear claw, then I might pack.

Twenty thousand roads I went down, down, down. And they all led me straight back home to you

Gram Parsons.

What does that have to do with anything. Well, Caroline is the expert on all things musical and she tells me the story of Gram Parsons, singer songwriter, who used to venture into the Joshua Tree desert and just think (if you don’t know about this, then think of when Homer Simpson went into the desert and had the coyote talk to him). One time in 1973, Gram Parsons was staying at the Joshua Tree hotel when he passed away, suddenly, one evening. He was at the place of two of his greatest loves – the desert and hard drugs.

Anyway, some relative wanted his body back in Louisiana possibly in order to claim the inheritance. However, Gram Parsons’ manager and some friends knew that Gram’s wish was to be cremated and have his ashes scattered in the desert. So, they stole his coffin from the airport, drove out to a location in Joshua Tree – Cap Rock – and poured petrol over the coffin and lit a match. The police were on the trail and put a stop, not before some ashes got scattered. The rest was shipped back, there was no offence for stealing a body; however, they did get fined $750 for stealing the coffin.

So, part of our trip from the magnificent Palm Springs (where the rich and famous and movies stars used to holiday) was to take a drive out to the Joshua Tree National Park and desert. Not necessarily to pay homage but more to see the desert and the trees known as Joshua Trees. This was another of our tourist treks of great things to see and again well worth the visit.

We left in the morning to beat the heat, although it was only 22 it felt much hotter from the beating down sun. It’s cool because it’s on top of a mountain, down below it was over 30.

There are plenty of walks and great things to see. Kind of eerie and you could quite easily imagine why you would want to just come out and watch the stars and think of anything and listen to the voices. We went for one walk and after about five minutes there was nothing there but us and nature. It was quiet and beautiful. And hot, and I wish I’d taken some water. And we could see our car after turning each rock but maybe it was a mirage because it disappeared as quickly as we saw it.

There were also great views overlooking Palm Springs and the valley and the San Andreas Fault line. If you go to LA and are looking for something else other than Disneyland and Hollywood, take the trip out for a night or two at Palm Springs – easy freeway driving (or you can fly).

Here’s a collection of shots (we stayed at a real ‘cool’ hotel the Ace and could recommend).

The first album is of Palm Springs, which as well as being the home of the movie stars, is probably more known for its architecture; the second is the Joshua Tree National Park.


I feel stupid and contagious, here we are now entertain us


Going back through the weeks when in Seattle we visited the EMP museum, which is near the base of the space needle. This museum is about popular culture but its main focus is music. It was one of the places we wanted to visit and is also maybe not a mainstream tourist mecca, like the space needle, which has a base made from souvenir shops and even a busking pan flute band with ponchos and CDs.

The EMP was quite enjoyable – if you have any interest in that kind of thing. As well as permanent exhibits, they rotate through exhibits. Current exhibits for our visit were all great: Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana, the lure of Horror movies, icons of Science Fiction and worlds of Myths and Fantasy. Something for everyone – the music diehards or those interested in two people/band that changed music; and the horror, science fiction and fantasy nerds. And you should have seen the sic-fi and fantasy nerds – they were literally wetting themselves and some were even disputing the fact that some dagger from Lord of the Rings was the actual one.

We started off going through the history of guitars – the music is very much guitar orientated. This was good, especially if you have any interest in guitars. We used the iPods they give you to listen to the displays and music but gave up after a while otherwise we’d probably still be in the history of guitars hall. Great to see the old guitars. Then moved on to the two key exhibits: Nirvana (excellent) and Jimi Hendrix (maybe not as good but still great).

Then we hit nerdsville – starting off with sic-fi and what I said about some people wetting themselves was not far from the truth. These people knew everything about the weapons on display, the costumes on display, the dalek on display, anything that was on display. This moved into horror, which I am a bit more a fan of and for things like Jason’s mask from Friday 13th, or the Alien and Terminator, and clips from films where they discuss why the films were as good as they were, like the Exorcist – made me kinda want to wet myself.

Then the myths and fantasy and as I mentioned above, there was a group there that knew more about the exhibits than the museum displaying them.

This was a really interesting museum, with a good cafe and some good merchandise. Very interesting architecture as well.

Here’s a few snaps and also some of the space needle. That’s kind of interesting but we didn’t waste money going to the top as the fog would have meant nothing more than an expensive ride in a lift. If you go to Seattle, go to a club to listen to the music, go on a ferry, visit the Pike Place market, see the eye and if interested go to the EMP. However, we have rated that maybe Seattle is not high on the revisit list but we are pleased we did visit.

And still plenty posts to come …

Signs, signs, everywhere a sign

And we thought we lived in a nanny State in Victoria. Here is a collection of some warning signs I have been taking during our travels.

I have a few more so will do another post later. Also have some more beer, more food, great shots from the Joshua Tree National Park (the desert), and other odds and bods.

Currently in LA after negotiating the freeways, leaving on Sunday (I’m writing this Thursday here) and with the date-line back in Melbourne Tuesday.

APDT Conference: Day 4.3

Some basic but otherwise interesting stuff to conclude Day 4 – Irith Bloom with a problem solving session titled “Shut Up Already! Dealing with Excessive Barking.”

Irith was quite a good speaker so it made the session interesting. She classified the types of barking into one of the following:

  1. Alert barking – generally occurs in response to a new or sudden stimulus
  2. Demand barking – reinforced by attention and any attention is often good enough
  3. Anxious barking – often no obvious trigger and is likely to be emotionally motivated
  4. Aggressive/Fearful barking – usually reinforced by distance

She then spoke about each and offered some helpful training.

Alert barking – strategies included the blocking access (physical/visual), adding white noise to the environment, etc. She also likes to teach “Quiet”. And another stagey is “click for barking”. The way this works is Bark->Marker->Food. Repeat as many times as necessary with a goal to reduce the number of barks to one or even zero over time. Ultimately, ‘alert-worthy’ stimuli will cue the dog to go find the handler. She had a video of this with a dog barking at the door and showed even within a short duration the dog went to the handler rather than bark at the door.

Demand barking – is often highly resistant to extinction and any type of attention may be reinforcing. There also may be some form of anxiety involved so she recommends relaxation exercises – she adapts Dr Karen Overall’s program (I have used this and it provides excellent training). Irith also mentioned the following thesis from Debra McKnight – thesis. Strategies for demand barking include: keeping the dog happily occupied (food toys, puzzle toys, etc); impulse training (e.g. “leave”); look for and reinforce quiet behaviour; ignore (more effective if the behaviour is new); negative punishment (e.g.. leaving the room) – however, this could then result in anxious barking.

Anxious barking – often the toughest type of barking to deal with. It may appear random or be part of an observable stimulus pattern – trying to identify the antecedent and the reinforcement are difficult. However, if known strategies include avoiding the stimulus. Again, the relaxation training is of benefit. As well as the Karen Overall protocol, she also mentioned “relax on a mat” from Chill Out, Fido!, mat relaxation using marker from Fired Up, Frantic, and Freaked Out (she likes this one), bodywork or TTouch on mat from Control Unleashed. Off-switch games are of benefit, such as from Control Unleashed, tug (Jean Donaldson), fetch, etc.

The objective with anxious barking is to reduce the overall stress of the dog – so identify and eliminate as many stressors as possible. Further strategies include mental exercise and enrichment.

Aggressive/Fearful barking – occurs in response to certain stimuli. Strategies include: avoid triggers, block sight lines, white noise, strategic walk locations and/or timing; counterconditioning and desensitisation; watch; look at that; hand targeting; BAT/CAT/Treat-Retreat. And perhaps some desensitisation and counterconditioning for the handler reaction as well.

As earlier mentioned, it was a pretty good session and well balanced with some good video.

And now there is only Day 5 to go – these conferences are so value for money (even more so if you include a holiday with it) so if ever you are thinking of going to USA for holiday, look at planning around the conference. The next one is in Connecticut (NY way), then Dallas (Texas is great and you can fly direct to Dallas), then if you really want a holiday – Las Vegas. So start saving now.

I am in LA now with three days to go after a long but highly enjoyable five weeks away. Will get the Day 5 summaries posted soon.



lock visual

Highway 101 – North?: Let’s Go Niners, Let’s Go

Left Monterey Saturday morning and headed north to San Francisco. This is the third trip to San Francisco so have done the touristy things before; however, I did ride the cable trolley on a different route than previously – and found more hills.

San Francisco is hilly – damn hilly. It is also quite touristy but also quite pleasant. I like San Francisco and would go back there just to do nothing (although Caroline loves the shopping). Only problem is parking – we had the car so had to pay for parking at the hotel at a mere $54 a night. And we complain about the cost of parking in Melbourne!

We stayed down near the ferry terminal, which has an excellent market area and is also accessible to the main downtown area of Union Square via shanks pony or the tram or trolley. Another Kimpton Hotel, this time the Harbor Court, which was another nice Kimpton with the wine hour and if you can be bothered, warm milk and cookies at nine. This was a good hotel, although the concierge we mainly dealt with was maybe not as good as others; however, he did warn us to take a coat to the 49ers game.

The 49ers game – that’s pretty much why we took a detour to head back north to San Francisco, just to go to a game of NFL. However, for the atmosphere alone, this is well worth the diversion. I got the tickets when in Melbourne and scored magnificent seats amongst the 49ers faithful (die-hards) seven rows from the front. The game was not great as it was very defensive but the atmosphere was electric, even if the only thing the 49ers shouted all day was Deeefence! And after the 49ers played a rather shitful offensive game (their QB had his worst performance ever) they were jeered from the ground just like Richmond after a loss.

It was also quite historical as this is the last season the 49ers will be playing at this home ground – Candlestick Park. It reminded me so much of the old Princes Park (almost a tear in the eye). No nacho hats but plenty of food options and at the ultra-huge mark-up options as in Melbourne. For those interested in nostalgia and can remember the MCG as far back as me, they also had a peanuts man who I reckon was so similar to the one from the MCG (except as an added bonus he also sold popcorn).

Our only problem for the day was getting to and from the stadium. It is a fair way out of town and the only real option is the bus. Getting there is usually a pretty good express run; however, it was also the day before Veteran’s Day (11/11) so the street was blocked for the veterans day march, which meant no buses could get through until after the march. This caused a lot of angst amongst those waiting, a group even hijacked a hotel shuttle. We waited it out – $4 return is good value on the bus and it was easy to get into the ground – bag searches like the G but also the wand. But getting home, well that had memories of leaving the old Waverley. Trying to find the end of the queue for our bus, then actually waiting for the bus. It took a long time and we were glad we brought the coats as it got effing cold out there. But anyway, we eventually made it on a bus, back downtown ready for an easy night with checkout Monday morning for a trip back down the 101 to Ventura.

Here’s a collection of shots from San Francisco and the football

APDT Conference: Day 4.2

Nearly finished, only a few more sessions to go. Next on the schedule was a session with Dr Aubrey Fine who works with children and uses dogs in therapy. His session, which I found quite interesting to learn about attention disorders in children, was “Understanding and Working with Child Learning and Attention Disorders”.

I think we all know of the benefits of dogs and with my work with assistance dogs I have seen it first hand. ADA has been using dogs helping kids with reading difficulties for a few years now and it has been with great success. Some of the things Aubrey touched on form the basis for the reading program. Primarily, all children are children first and if children can’t learn the way we teach, perhaps we should teach the way they learn. Dogs are great at this because they do not judge and are more accepting of individual idiosyncrasies. Labels are for jars, not people.

Aubrey then went on to explain ADHD and Autistic Spectrum Disorders, which is an order of self-regulation – I don’t stop and think. Here are a few slides on ADHD:

A few more facts – not every child with ADHD is the same; ADHD remains throughout adult life in about 75% of cases; children with ADHD are often socially and emotionally younger than their age (about three years).

Aubrey has the child working with the dog, teaching obedience and learning the social skills as shown in the slides. It is important to watch for over-stimulation and manage excitement and impulsivity.

Here are further slides related to autism – autism spectrum disorder

ASD is a lifelong disorder but people can learn to overcome. Dog training provides a second leash on life. Regarding the leashing of the dog to the child, Aubrey mentioned that in many cases running away was reduced greatly in about three months.

Summing up, Aubrey’s final thoughts were that it is all about companionship.

More to Spokane than Dogs

Seems like ages ago we left Spokane and the dog conference – a few more posts to come on that, stay with me – and it’s probably good too as it’s snowing in that neck of the woods now. And you know the best part of that, I am writing this poolside in Palm Springs where it has been a magnificent day and will be just as magnificent tomorrow. Only problem, poolside beer costs more than the el-cheapo we have been having – but, who cares … Here’s a photo, which I took right now (and you should have seen the sunset change colour as I type)

Ace Hotel

Anyway, thought it was about time I gave a little more about Spokane, which is inland and the fourth largest city in the Pacific Northwest – we visited the others above it being Vancouver, Seattle, and Portland. I don’t think there is really much in Spokane apart from an international airport, skiing and obviously conferences.

There is an excellent river and walking paths and it felt pretty safe in the areas we ventured downtown. Spokane is also where the Gonzaga University is situated (famous for basketball and last season they had two Aussies on the roster). Hint, if not sure of where to go aside from the regular tourist places, go to a city where there is a large university as these towns are generally pretty well looked after.

Spokane, surprisingly (??), also had some excellent eating places. And one more thing, there are car parks everywhere a building once was (it’s not a city of high-rise or anything new – apart from the convention centre). Oh, and as well as being known for the above-mentioned, I bet you did not know that Spokane has the largest radio flyer wagon cart in the world.

Radio Flyer


And that’s pretty much for Spokane. Unless you are going to a conference or want to try skiing elsewhere, or maybe want to fly in from elsewhere, this is probably the closest you will ever get to Spokane.

Here are some random shots –

Back to Highway 101 … and 1:Day 7

Left Yosemite a week ago and so much has happened in between – not like the drive between Yosemite and our next stop Monterey. This was a pretty much unexciting drive mainly on the 152 with a stop for Starbucks lunch at Los Banos. Starbucks are the new Maccas on road trips – cleaner and better quality food and drinks – and a better quality of clientele. Actually Los Banos might be a kinda interesting town as we passed several liquor stores that also sold sporting goods and ammo; and several sporting goods stores that sold liquor and ammo. Anyways, pretty much a lot of the flat lands were farming – and farming just about anything you could think of it, it was like all these plains were where the USA vegetables come from. Took one picture on the drive, which has no gardening, just dry hills near the San Luis Reservoir. (No map – work it out for yourself if you want – Google Maps Fish Camp, CA to Monterey, CA)

san luis reservoir

Arrived early in Monterey, which is on the coast and we had to touch back onto the 101, and also next door to Carmel where Clint Eastwood was the mayor. This is also where Pebble Beach is (we went to drive around there but you have to pay – no wonder they are rich so we didn’t give them any more) and Cannery Row – famous from the Steinbeck novel and sardines – and now nothing but a tourist trap. They have done a good job fixing all the old sardine canneries but if only they hadn’t filled them with every tacky kinda souvenir shop you could think of. Great things such as the mirror maze and wax museum – you name it, they had it. Here’s a couple of shots – note Caroline’s face, which pretty much sums up what we thought of Cannery Row.

We stayed out of the downtown area, never got to Fisherman’s Wharf, but did enjoy the shopping centre across the road from our Comfort Inn, which was another of those old-fashioned drive-in motels that comes with complimentary neighbour noise and a buffet breakfast – range of people at this hotel but I don’t think any generally caught their breakfast – also a few overseas visitors. This area is very popular with the tourists because this is also where one of the world’s most spectacular drives starts or ends, depending on whether travelling north or south. And that’s what drew us there and why we stayed two nights. I couldn’t imagine how busy this area would be over summer.

We travelled down Highway 1 from Monterey, through the Big Spur and turned around in Cambria, which was an excellent little strip-village off the highway, and many lunch choices. This covered the best areas of the drive and there was everything. Coming from north to south is also ideal as that puts you on the beach side when driving for the best views and turnouts. But interestingly, we came back south-north and it does give you a different view, it was like a new drive. Also interesting to see how long it takes. I didn’t do an exact time but it was over four hours to reach Cambria with all our stopping and a little over two on the way back – so it depends on how much you want to stop. There also seems to be a few who appear to want to see how quickly they can do the drive, which is primarily single lane each way at about 55mph. And there are also quite a lot who have done the ultimate road-trip in hiring a convertible – and yeah, the weather was good and that would be kinda cool to do.

So, the highlights on the trip was the absolutely magnificent view of the ocean, how close you get from the top of the cliffs, the amazement of driving through a forest at the Big Sur and then more great ocean – only a stone’s throw from Australia across the Pacific. But we also saw stacks of sea lions (now would be the time to go back to the Sea Lion caves) and a beach where the elephant seals come in before winter, and a gopher, and some fantastic houses on the edge of the cliffs, and sea eagles. And yes, it was well worth the drive. This and Yosemite were two of the things we wanted to see and do and have not been disappointed. And yes, the Great Ocean Road has nothing on this road-trip. Here’s a few pictures but it is really the views, sounds, smells in our heads that you can never put in a picture.