Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Win a 2010 Toyota Camry Hybrid!!

So many cool blogs exist in cyberspace that are run by some very generous folks who will gladly give away free stuff to their loyal readers.

Sadly, I'm not that generous, lol.

But I am going to let you all in on this terrific raffle being jointly run by the Alberta Conservation Association and Sherwood Park Toyota in which you could win a 2010 Toyota Camry Hybrid!!

A maximum of 5,000 tickets have been printed, which means that if you buy just one, you have a 1 / 5,000 chance of winning -- not bad odds when you compare it to the millions of people we compete with each time we purchase a regular lottery ticket.

The details:

~ Each ticket is only $25.00 each.

~ Estimated prize value is $34,000.

~ Proceeds from ticket sales will benefit Golden Ranches, which is an area 27km east of Edmonton that spans just over 1,500 acres. (It is our hope that this area can be purchased and protected for conservation purposes.)

~ The draw will take place on December 5, 2009 at Sherwood Park Toyota.

~ This contest is only open to Alberta residents over the age of 18.

I'm in no way associated to either the Alberta Conservation Association or Sherwood Park Toyota, but I believe in this cause and would love nothing more than to bring awareness to Alberta's conservation needs.

Thank you so much to everyone who contributes to this endeavour.... and good luck in the raffle!!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Not-so-hurtin' Albertan

As you may have gathered from some of my previous posts, my husband is a two-time winner of CFCW's Recipe of the Day contest. And as proof that he really does cook from time to time, here he is proudly displaying an apple pie creation while wearing his Sharon & Danny CFCW apron.

Notice that he's also wearing his Clean Team Captain t-shirt in this shot.
(Seriously, folks, I couldn't have planned this if I tried.)
In continuing with his winning ways, my husband once again entered and won a contest on CFCW last week, but this time it was for a pair of tickets to see Corb Lund & the Hurtin' Albertans play a private and intimate show at the Empress Ale House on Whyte Ave last night.

Here's my husband below, interjecting himself into a shot with Corb and his bassist. Notice how it's oddly reminiscent of the scene-stealing squirrel photo taken by tourists this past summer.

So very different, and yet both photos are so very entertaining.

But for those who are only here to see Corb Lund in his smiling glory, here he is:

Thank you CFCW, for allowing us to attend this terrific show!!!!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Because we love Lucy

As the daughter of a game show fanatic, I've developed an appreciation for Bob Barker.

Regardless of how old he gets or how much his appearance deteriorates changes over the years, I will always see him as the likeable Price Is Right host who happily reminds us to help control the pet population by having our pets spayed or neutered.

Having said that, though, I can't say I agree with his recent plight to have Lucy, the Asian elephant at our local Valley Zoo, relocated to an elephant sanctuary in the U.S.

Barker was in town yesterday to meet Lucy and to plee for her transfer, and although I know he means well, he is, quite frankly, wrong in this situation.

As a Wildlife Biology grad, I spent several years volunteering at theValley Zoo where I got to know Lucy and many of the keepers while working on the elephant shift.

Put simply, Lucy is magnificent.


She is a gentle soul who is far more intelligent than any of us can comprehend. And she appears to believe she's human. The keepers are her family, and they care for her as though she is their child. They are inseparable.

In a perfect world, Lucy would never have been orphaned at a young age. She never would have been brought to Canada to live out her time in a less-than-adequate facility. And she never would have been separated from other elephants for such long periods.

But she was brought here during a different time, and we can't change what's already taken place. And while Barker argues that we should finally do right by her and have her transferred, he seems ignorant to the fact that the move would more than likely kill her.

Veterinarians have examined Lucy and are in agreement that the stress of a move like that would lead to her demise. She has some serious health issues that are currently under control, and although the circumstances under which she lives here are less than ideal, she is unmistakably content.

Lucy gives hugs and "purrs" while quietly being held in an embrace by her keepers. She takes lengthy walks each day and freely explores the trails and vegetation on the west side of the Valley Zoo property, away from the public eye. And she playfully turns the water hose on her keepers -- or in my case her slave volunteer keeper -- when we attempt to give her a bath.

There is so much care and interaction occurring behind the scenes with Lucy, and it's impossible for outsiders to appreciate the bond she's developed with the staff of the Valley Zoo. They are her companions, and to separate them by moving her to a new facility would undoubtedly endanger her life.

I realize that Barker and other protesters only want what they feel is best for Lucy, but they've failed to realize that what's best is for her to remain with her family at the Valley Zoo.


As a volunteer at the Valley Zoo, I was fortunate enough to witness Lucy painting some of her sought-after portraits. The above is the scanned image of a Christmas card that was given to me one year by the elephant shift staff, and it features a reprint of "Ode To Joy", one of Lucy's many pieces of work.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Street cleaners

A recent Facebook status update from a relative of mine has me feeling really disapponted in the state of our society.

And it has to do with littering.

Specifically, my relative littered in the street and was given a warning about this by a police officer. And then she proceeded to laugh about it and post as much on Facebook. And so did her friend when commenting on the initial post.

Now I know what you're thinking: It's just littering, right? Don't police officers have more important issues to, well, police?

Frankly, that's missing the point.

The real issue at hand is that littering is a disgusting, egocentric act that harms EVERYONE. The trash that you dump from your car may supposedly be out of sight and out of mind for you, but it's more than just unsightly for the rest of us. It weasels its way into the ecosystem and wreaks havoc on food chains that inevitably work their way back into harming us.

There are no coincidences. Everything is connected. And if you think that simply tossing that cigarette butt out the window of your car isn't doing any harm, then you're tremendously naive and undereducated in terms of ecological developments. (Either that, or you just don't care.) *shudder*

I earned my degree in Wildlife Biology through a lot of hard work that involved many years of extensive scientific research, and it is frustrating to have people around me who are too self-absorbed to see the big picture and the end result of their actions.

But you know what? Even if you didn't graduate magna cum laude from an accredited biological sciences program, you should have figured out in playschool that littering is wrong.

Don't lick the glue.
Don't run with scissors in your mouth.
And don't litter.

Science aside, to be surrounded by masses of trash is just gross. And if you're throwing garbage out your window because you don't want to have it in your car, what makes you think the rest of us are okay with wallowing in your crap??

There are garbage cans and bins EVERYWHERE and so there's no justification for you to simply toss things out the window. End of discussion.

And, frankly, that's just laziness on your part.

The City of Edmonton finally acknowledged as much several years ago by launching the Capital City Clean Up program, which recruits ordinary citizens to pick up litter and report graffiti in their neighbourhoods. I'm proud to say that my husband has volunteered as a Clean Team Captain ever since the program's inception.

In donning the gloves and patrolling our neighbourhood with garbage bags in hand, we've seen (and smelled) other people's trash first hand. And you know what the worst part of that has been?

The cigarette butts.

They're everywhere. They smell bad. And they're a pain in the ass -- and extrememly time-consuming -- to pick up after the fact.  Honestly, why do smokers think it's okay to use the world as their mobile ashtray??

(Of course, nevermind the fact that cigarette butts pollute groundwater reserves and are eaten by aquatic species who mistakenly think they're a food source. Like I said, science aside, they're also just really gross.) 

The other challenge has been in collecting garbage that's been scattered by wildlife and neighbourhood pets. Although this form of littering isn't intentional, we always cringe when we approach a home that doesn't use covered garbage cans but instead just sets their garbage bags out for collection.

Because, inevitably, an animal always comes along and rips it open, spreading its contents throughout our back alley.

Nothng turns your stomach like having to re-garbage another family's used diapers or food containers after their bags have been ripped open and scattered. (Except for maybe picking up their cigarette butts too. Both are equally deplorable.)

In reflecting back on my initial rant about the relative and her friend who littered, it's not even the littering part that upsets me the most. Rather, it's the fact that they continued to laugh about it after having received warnings from police officers.

Now you know what? I'm no more or less perfect than anyone else, and I'll openly admit that I've done things I knew were wrong. So, in that regard, I'm in no position to judge.

But the difference between us is that I've been remorseful and have tried to correct the areas in which I need work. And if it came to a point where an officer of the law had to give me a warning, I would be mortified. I mean, how humiliating is that??

So for them to have gone through all that and STILL not have figured out that what they did was wrong... well, like I said before, there's just no excuse.


For a brief look at the bigger picture, watch this clip. And be prepared to make a difference by volunteering to pick up litter in your own neighbourhood. It has to start somewhere, and I've seen through my husband that one person really can make a dent in this problem, not just in picking up litter but in leading by example.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Remembering 9/11

Although eight years have passed since terrorists launched their attacks on US soil in 2001, the events from that day are still quite vivid for me. And like for many others, my life was directly affected and forever changed after that day. That's not a complaint, just a reflection of how that one single day completely altered my future.

Everything happens for a reason, right?

But what really bothers me is that the coverage of this date seems to be waning with each anniversary.

While I don't want there to be an overwhelming amount of hoopla (read: ticker-tape parades and the like), I do think it's important that we continue to acknowledge the events from that day with simple gestures.

Moments of silence. Musical tributes on the radio. Poignant editorials in newspapers and magazines.

Sure, these things do still occur, but I get the sense that this is just another day for many of the people I'm interacting with today.

Maybe it's that they're desenstized to the images from 2001. Maybe it's that they just have too much going on in their own lives now to even realize what today's date is. Or maybe it's that they're so far removed from the events of that day that they just don't care.

Out of sight, out of mind.

Anyway, that's just an observation on my part. Obviously things are different south of the border where today is officially known as Patriot Day, and there have been numerous events comemmorating the attacks from 2001.

Family members of those lost on United Airlines Flight 93 were in attendance last night as guests of the Pittsburgh Steelers NFL team. Tonight the New York Yankees will also host a pre-game tribute at Yankee Stadium. And of course there are numerous events taking place at each of the attack sites today.

This YouTube video was constructed by a private citizen for last year's anniversary, and although the images are difficult to watch at times, I feel it's necessary. We must never forget.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Plus-sizing acceptance

Kudos once again to Glamour magazine for publishing a photo of plus-sized model Lizzie Miller in a recent issue.

Personally, I think this model is average-sized rather than plus-sized.... but I guess she certainly does fall outside the box of waif-thin models that usually adorn women's magazines.

Regardless, she's beautiful, and her photo should be shared and appreciated.