Saturday, November 03, 2007

Friday, November 02, 2007

A message from the president of the Moncton SPCA board of directors

Submitted today to the Moncton Times & Transcript:

"November 2, 2007

As a result of recent media attention in this newspaper sparked by a letter to the editor on October 29, 2007, the Moncton SPCA has been placed in an extremely difficult position.

The policies and procedures in place at the SPCA are intended to facilitate the implementation of our mandate - to provide a safe, comfortable haven for animals in need, and to place as many of these animals as possible in safe, loving homes. These policies have been developed over the 50 years the shelter has been in operation and are consistent with those you will find in place in many other animal shelters across the continent.

One of those policies is that we will not place a “hold” any animal for one potential adopter. The policy is intended to prevent situations in which an animal misses the opportunity to be adopted by someone who is already approved and ready to take the animal home, only to find that the person who wanted it “held” is now unable or unwilling to adopt it.

The incident in question was investigated and we are confident this policy was communicated to the Spragues. It is not unusual for people who are excited at the prospect of taking a sweet and cuddly new companion home to hear only what they want to hear. It is indeed unfortunate the Spragues were disappointed as they obviously were. However, the story does not end there.

As a result of the letter and subsequent article and editorial column, the shelter has been inundated with what can only be described as extremely hostile communications - email, telephone calls, letters. People have even shown up at the shelter to express disgust at this situation. People have called our shelter manager at her home to express their personal disdain for her. She has been sworn at, called foul names and physically threatened. Nevertheless, she continues on, managing the shelter with extreme skill and dedication. But again, the story does not end there.

As your readers know, the beagle in question was adopted. However, the day Ms. Sprague’s letter appeared, the beagle was returned to the shelter because it was not getting along with the adoptors’ other pet. It was now available for adoption again. The Board of Directors authorized the shelter manager to hold the dog for the Spragues and they were contacted. As you can imagine, they confirmed they still wanted the dog and mother and daughter arrived to pick it up the following day. They were advised that the dog might have a urinary tract infection and exhibited signs of severe separation anxiety that might result in destructive behaviour if not properly attended to. They insisted they wanted the dog despite these issues and indicated that they had the time to work with the dog. The adoption was completed. Unfortunately, the story does not end there.

The following day, the SPCA was advised that the Spragues were bringing the dog back to the shelter. The dog was returned that day. The reasons listed for the return were “separation anxiety”, “not good with other dog” and “destructive”. Upon return, reception was advised that the family does not have time to deal with the dog’s issues. Unfortunately this is the type of thing our shelter manager and staff deal with every day.

I would like to extend a heartfelt thank-you to all of the shelter’s loyal supporters who, recognizing the work the shelter does, the circumstances that it faces and the fact that sometimes things are not always as they are represented in the media, voiced their support to our shelter manager during this difficult time.

Despite the negative news coverage and damage to our reputation that this issue caused us, we would like to thank the Moncton Times & Transcript for the assistance they have given us over the years. We know that you truly care for the animals in our care and want what is best for them.

I would like to reiterate that our policies are based on experience. They may not be popular at times, but we too have the best interests of the animals at heart.

Lee McKeigan-Dempsey
President of the Board of Directors
Moncton SPCA"

Click here to visit the Moncton SPCA's website and click here for more info on Daphnee's, the beagle in question.

Kevjumba: High school

Royal Canadian Legion's annual poppy campaign is now on!

Please support the Royal Canadian Legion's annual poppy campaign in honour of the men and women who have died defending Canada. I buy one every year and I hope you will, too!

Courtesy of Veterans Affairs Canada, here are some questions and answers about the poppy:

"When can poppies be worn daily?

The official start of the Poppy Campaign is the last Friday in October. This year the campaign will run from October 27 to November 11. Presentations of the poppies to dignitaries - for example, the Governor General, the Lieutenant Governors and Premiers - are normally made in advance of the official campaign start date. The distribution of poppies to the general public commenced on October 27 and can be worn at any time after that date.

Is it proper to wear a poppy to commemorative events at any point during the calendar year or should the poppy be worn only during the Poppy Campaign?

Although it is tradition for the Poppy to be worn only during the annual Remembrance period, a person may wear a Poppy any time he or she wishes to do so. It is not unusual for Poppies to be worn at commemorative events throughout the year, particularly during Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) pilgrimages. The best approach is to follow the lead of the event organizers. If you are organizing the event, you can seek advice from VAC senior officials or the Royal Canadian Legion.

How should the Poppy be worn?

The Royal Canadian Legion suggests that the Poppy be worn on the left lapel of a garment or as close to the heart as possible."

Click here for more on Veterans' Week 2007 in Canada.
Lest we forget.

If there's one thing I hate when buying salad...

... is finding rotten lettuce leaves. It's a stupid and careless move on the restaurant's part. The leaf showed here was in a salad I got from Quizno's (downtown on Main Street, Moncton) today. (Click on the photo to see this huge honkin' leaf in all of its rotten glory.) First of all, the leaf is HUGE - at least 6-8" inches long. Who the heck puts a tree like that in their lettuce? In fact, half the romaine lettuce in the salad was rotten. By the time I noticed, I was already back at the office, so I picked through it to at least be able to eat the chicken - some of which was still half-frozen, despite having gone through their oven. I was absolutely starving and had to eat something. What a sorry excuse for a meal. Major quality problems at this store. I'll go to the one on Champlain Street in Dieppe from now on. The one downtown is just not up to snuff. There's no excuse for this! And it's too bad for all the low-carbers out there to have to avoid a restaurant that serves a relatively low-carb menu item. But who wants to eat rotten food?

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Halloween: if you can't beat 'em, join 'em!

Hump Day
Published Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Appeared on page D8, Moncton Times & Transcript

"Have you seen the ghost of John? Long white bones and the rest all gone! Ooh! Ooh! Wouldn't it be chilly with no skin on?"

When I was in elementary school, this song would echo through the doors of Sister Lorette Gallant's music class and down the creaky, wood-lined hallways of Aberdeen School. Halloween was a good time for getting kids excited with some fun music that would have us looking forward to her class all day!

Of course, we didn't need much prodding for getting excited about the one night of the year when we were allowed to stuff our faces with sugar. Although I've now sworn off the stuff, I remember looking forward to that sugar rush and rifling through our pillow-cased loot so that I could get to all the good candy first.

I always felt sorry for those poor yellow suckers, though. They always seemed so lonely since they were usually the last things eaten sometime in early November.

It's a little-known fact that this is also National Dentists Buy Expensive Cars Week across North America. Wherever children go door to door, dentists will be cackling with glee and their receptionists getting to work extra early tomorrow in order to deal with all those calls from moms and dads (probably mostly dads).

Never mind the sugar headaches, tummy aches and hyperactive episodes that many kids will have tonight, the sounds of parents' teeth breaking on candy and crowns coming off due to those super-sticky candy kisses will be like a symphony of rocks being thrown against a large picture window. "Bang! Crack!"

To a dentist, Halloween is the sweet sound of a credit or debit card being swiped in their office. Cha-ching!

To cut down on the tooth-rotting amount of sugar that will be handed out throughout the area tonight, I decided that I was going to hand out healthy treats this year. I proudly and sanctimoniously announced that fact on my two blogs, to friends, and to pretty much anyone else who would listen. I was hearing rumours that Al Gore was having his Nobel Peace Prize revoked in favour of me.

I was going to personally put the "healthy" into Halloween.

So I trotted off to one of the local warehouse stores. I knew that I'd probably be able to find a 50-pack of organic seaweed surprise bars or something or other. I imagined the teary-eyed children at home, happily eating the pure, healthy goodness that I'd lovingly tossed in their little plastic pumpkins the night before. It would be something you'd see on the front of a Christmas card -- if it were Christmas, that is.

I decided to bite the bullet and shell out the cash for some bars I'd never heard of before. You know they're good when you've never heard of them, right? Unfortunately, by now, I was even starting to annoy myself.

If I thought for one bloody minute that every kid who came to my house was going to write me a letter of thanks after opening up their Uncle Brian's Organic Clump'o'Goodness bar, then I was surely kidding myself.

What was I going to do? Change the entire branding of Halloween with a few over-priced boxes of bars that I'd never try myself?

If I were lucky, I wouldn't find my house covered from head to toe with bathroom tissue the next day along with warnings scratched on my driveway with chalk: "Don't mess around with Halloween, dude. You've been warned, mister."

Ooh. "Dude" and "mister." These guys mean business.

Of course, the astronomical price of those likely yucky bars didn't do much for my desire to change the world. And let's face it, I didn't have the $2.6 billion in my bank account to pay for the 48 organic watchamacallits in my cart.

So, I reluctantly talked myself out of them and picked up a box of 48 full-sized "regular" bars, certainly enough for the 35 or so kids who will show up at my door tonight.

I do feel guilty. I mean, as a member of society, I shouldn't have caved in to the pressure of cheaper junk food. I should have sprung for the more expensive organic stuff.

But you know what? Having a bunch of ghouls and goblins showing up at your door all happy, then arriving back home later only to mock your personal choice in Halloween candy is something that I would never subject myself to.

As a kid, I remember that there was always a house in the neighbourhood that would give out the worst stuff. It was like they read books on what kids hated, then ran out and bought a truck full of it like some evil Halloween haters extraordinaire. I didn't want to be the subject of an Oprah show about bad neighbours who ruined Halloween for small children in cute costumes.

So yeah . . . like I said, I returned the good stuff back to the shelf and grabbed the bad and threw it in the cart.

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

I'm pretty much on the record for despising Halloween. I think it's barbaric and simply an excuse for brats to cause trouble. But there are the cute ones, though, like the sweet little kids dressed up as Winnie the Pooh who don't have a clue what they're doing. "Say thank you, Megan." "Tenku!" little Megan manages to drool out.

So tonight, if you're one of the lucky kids to come by my house, enjoy your treat and be thankful that I decided not to save the world this year.

Otherwise, you'd be throwing some organic clump of something in the garbage tomorrow morning while your father's on the phone with his dentist trying to pronounce "candy kiss" with no teeth.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Maurice Henri / Justin Surette photo exhibit at Moncton Public Library

Renowned Moncton photographic artist Maurice Henri and student photographer Justin Surette will open their month-long joint exhibit entitled "Natural and Urban Scenes" tomorrow at the Moncton Public Library. The exhibit runs from November 1 to 30 at the Library. Tomorrow's opening is from 12 - 1 p.m. Each November, the Library will host a joint exhibit by a local professional artist and a student artist. What a wonderful idea for passing on techniques, ideas and inspiration to the next generation! Click on the photo for a larger version of the poster. Congratulations to all for such this admirable initiative.

So Halloween is essentially over!

I got 28 kids tonight. Less than last year. I got about 35 last year. One person I saw on Facebook went from 72 last year to only seven this year! Quite a dramatic drop. (You gotta start giving out better treats, Rhona! Ha!) Luckily, a crew of teenagers showed up at 8:50 p.m. (10 minutes before my personal 9 p.m. curfew for trick or treaters) and I was able to dump a lot of candy on them. This year, I gave out full-size boxes of Smarties. Quite a hit with the kids! One little guy was screaming at his father from the front step. "Daddy, I got a big box of Smarties! Daddy! Wow!!" I love little kids like that.

Speaking of Smarties... You'll all remember the jingle from this Smarties commercial:

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween! Be safe out there when trick-or-treating tonight!

Today's Hump Day column: Halloween: if you can't beat 'em, join 'em!

Today's Hump Day column appears on the editorial page (pg. D8) of the Moncton Times & Transcript and is all about me wanting to change Halloween into a healthy treat holiday! Fortunately, I came to my senses before spending a lot of money on some organic thingies that the kids would just throw out (and up? ha!) when they got home. Pick up a copy of the paper today or you can wait until tomorrow when it is posted online here.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Crooner Robert Goulet dead at 73

"Robert Goulet, the Canadian-raised singer known for his baritone voice and frequent TV appearances, has died, a spokesman for the singer said. He was 73.

He had been awaiting a lung transplant in a Los Angeles hospital after becoming ill on Oct. 13 with a form of pulmonary fibrosis while returning from a concert appearance in Syracuse, N.Y."

Click here for more.

Here he is singing The Happy Time:

Some cities have stray cats... Moncton has stray moose

This is from earlier this week in Moncton. The moose was eventually tranquilized and trucked out of town. Unfortunately, it later died. (Thanks to Brian Branch over at Moncton Pixels for giving me the heads up on this!)

This week's Hump Day column...

... is all about Halloween and how I tried in vain to convince myself to pass out healthy treats to the kids this year. I thought I could convince myself to change the world, but alas. 'Twas not to be. Read Hump Day on the editorial page of tomorrow's Moncton Times & Transcript.

Monday, October 29, 2007

It's officially the Christmas shopping season...

I saw my first Christmas shopping TV ad today... for Wal-Mart! A bit early, but difficult to avoid. It's like trying to stop the tide from coming in with your hands. No use!

Recipe: Low-carb Italian chicken casserole

This is so easy that it's a joke, especially when you use one of those roasted chickens from your supermarket. I made this for the second time tonight. There's nothing to cook! You just need to take apart the chicken, put it together and throw it in the oven for a bit in order to melt everything.

If you're in the mood for a cheesy, gooey Italian meal, give this a try!! Courtesy of the excellent Linda's Low Carb Menus & Recipes website.

- 1 roasted chicken (from the grocery store, or roast your own)
medium tub of ricotta cheese (I used ricotta the first time and didn't like it. Not a fan. I used 2% cottage cheese this time. I prefer the texture of cottage cheese.)
shredded mozzarella cheese (I just used "handfuls")
grated parmesan cheese (I just used "handfuls")
1 jar of low-carb tomato sauce (I used a bottle of organic marinara sauce with no sugar added)
1 teaspoon of dried basil (I just sprinkled some on each layer without measuring)
1 teaspoon of dried oregano (I just sprinkled some on each layer without measuring)

Spread 5 tbsp of the tomato sauce on the bottom of a casserole dish. Shred the roasted chicken, and spread half in the dish. Layer cheeses on top, and then cover with sauce. Put the rest of the chicken on top of that, and make another cheese layer. (I actually made three layers, not two.) Cover with tomato sauce, and TONS of mozzarella cheese on top. Sprinkle with dried basil and oregano. Bake until cheese is melted and golden brown! (There was no baking time or temperature for this recipe. I used 350F for 45 minutes, but it could have probably a good hour and five minutes after that with cover of the casserole dish off.)

(I sprinkled dried basil, oregano, parsley flakes and pepper after each layer of cheeses (i.e. three times total). I also sprinkled minced garlic on the top cheese layer and threw on a few thin slices of a small tomato for looks.)

For added flavours, and fibre, add cooked veggies, or spinach!

This is a delicious and fast casserole. It's versatile, so you can pretty much add what you want. If you're craving lasagna, this is a good substitute. I think this would also be good with sausage meat or meatballs, too.

The photo above is from the one I made tonight. I probably could have let it brown a bit more on top, but you get the idea. I just put the tomatoes there for "looks," but they taste good, too! This is a very large casserole. The photo is taken on top of my stove and you can see that the large casserole dish takes up two full burners! (And yes, I need to clean under my burner grates. Ugh!) Click on the photo for a larger version.

Country music legend Porter Wagoner has died

When I was growing up in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Porter Wagoner was a staple of country music radio and television. He died yesterday of lung cancer at the age of 80. He was also credited for having discovered Dolly Parton. Click here for a news report on his death. Click here for his official website.

Here he is singing Satisfied Mind: