Friday, February 20, 2009

MSPCA Top Dogs Take Home Over $200,000

The Boston Globe reports that, despite a financial downfall which is forcing the MSPCA to close three shelters, downsize several programs and eliminate a total of 46 positions, four of the non-profit's top officials are earning upwards of $200,000 annually. MSPCA spokesman, Brian Adams explains the generous salaries to the Globe. "We have to attract the right talent, and we have to remain competitive. We can't remain competitive by asking people to work for free."Free? Isn't there something between six figures and free? Actually, the MSPCA does ask people to work for free. Every day shelter volunteers clean out cages, feed, water and exercise animals, assist with adoptions and perform any number of necessary hands-on tasks to keep the operation going. Could they be spending their time elsewhere, padding their income? Sure. But, because of their dedication to animals, they choose not to.
The MSPCA is funded by memberships, private donations and fees for services such as veterinary care. It receives no state or federal funding. The Society's website states, "When you give your money, time or energy to the MSPCA-Angell, you can be sure you are having a very real impact on very real animals as well as on the issues that determine the quality of human and animal lives - today and in the future." Well, that's true; donations are certainly improving the quality of human life for the big four at the MSPCA.

Image by Bubamara. Available at Wikimedia Commons.

When Things Get Crazy with Your Teen

From the small stuff - like wearing weird clothes - to the serious - such as suicidal behavior - When Things Get Crazy with Your Teen offers exasperated parents of teenagers an immediate and practical course of action. Subtitled "The Why, the How and What to Do NOW," Michael Bradley's latest tome on taming teens is chock full of bullet lists and bite-sized advice. Set up like a reference book, it's not so much a book to read cover to cover as it is one to consult when the inevitable need arises. For instance, your 15 year old daughter insists she absolutely has to have her nose pierced. Quick! What do you say? What do you do? Pick up this book and scan the alphabetized sub-headings under Body/Appearance Issues until you find "Piercing, Wants A." Turn to the appropriate page and start following the DO list.
  • Set a minimum age requirement before she "has" to have them (if it's not too late).
  • Stay calm (now that it's too late).
  • Ask if she has researched the health risks.
  • Require a consultation with a physician
  • Have the doc list the piercing areas be relative risk
  • Insist on the least risky area.
  • Trade off piercing for increased responsibilities (grades, chores).
  • Negotiate the minimum interval before any other piercing can be considered (if any).
Next, consult the DON'T list for actions to avoid in this situation.
  • Flip out and yell "NO!"
  • Say OK right away.
  • Accuse her of "following a fad." (Of course she is - so what?)
  • Assume that all piercings have equal risks.
  • Allow an additional piercing within a short time (six months).
  • Assume that a pierced nose indicates pierced character.
It's not all this recipe-ish. There are also brief narrative Why and How sections, as well as general introductions to each issue area. And the book ends with "The Twenty Minute Guide to the New Millennium Teen." But, as Bradley himself states unapologetically in the preface, "In this book, you'll find little theory and lots of advice - practical, specific and well-researched advice."

Monday, February 9, 2009

Voluntary Madness

Being of sound mind and body, author Norah Vincent feigned depression, checked herself in to the psychiatric ward of a large, public, city hospital and started taking notes with a blunt-tipped Crayola marker. (Her ballpoint pen had been confiscated during admission - too pointy.) The result is Voluntary Madness: My Year Lost and Found in the Loony Bin. Throughout the course of Voluntary Madness, Vincent samples three mental health facilities from the inside - the public hospital, a private, suburban clinic and an alternative treatment center which touts exercise and intensive talk therapy over medication. The author shares her blunt observations along with her strong opinions on the pharmacuetical industry and its cozy relationship with psychiatry.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Cats and Dogs Exterminated During Plague

During the Great Plague of London (1664-65), cats and dogs fell under suspicion of spreading the disease that was claiming the lives of over a thousand Londoners a week. In his Journal of the Plague Years, author Daniel Defoe wrote of the widely-held belief that because dogs and cats were "domestic animals and are apt to run from house to house, and from street to street, so they are capable of carrying the effluvia or infectious steams of bodies ... even in their furs and hair." Hoping to end the spread of this fatal "effluvia," the lord mayor issued an order to kill all cats and dogs in the city. A special executioner was appointed to the gruesome task. An estimated 40,000 dogs and 200,000 cats lost their lives in a useless effort to contain the Plague. Not only did the disease rage on, but the natural predators of the true Plague carriers - flea-infested rats - had been eliminated.