Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Why I Write Part III

Vivi, sisters, and Win

Yesterday, I received this wonderful letter from the mother of these lovely children. I cried. There is no greater gift a writer can receive than to know she's made a difference--large or small.

Dear Ginny Rorby,

I am writing to you about one of your books How to Speak Dolphin. I have read this book many times and I love it. I am around Lily’s age and my brother Win is around Adam’s age.Win has autism just like Adam. He does not have severe autism like Adam but he still acts like him. He goes to therapy and goes to a regular daycare.They aren’t even a daycare for kids like Win, but he has a nice lady who goes to school with him everyday and they love him a lot.
Your book has let me know that I’m not the only one who might feel like Lily does about Adam. I have a special love and bond for Win who I have for no one else. I can’t have sleepovers at my house with friends, he comes into my room and messes up my bed, and he screams when he wants something. I know he can’t help it and I really understand it but it is very hard not to feel discouraged. Lily met Zoe who is blind and a sick dolphin named Nori. They both made Lily realise that it’s okay. Adam might always deal with autism but things will be alright. This book has taught me that it’s okay too. Win is wonderful and might always deal with autism too but he will be okay. Like Adam, Win has people who love him and want what’s best. I love Win and better understand what he’s going through because of Lily and Adam.
This book has changed the way I look at kids or people with special needs just like Win has. I am more patient and kind with those who have special needs because of him. I absolutely love this book and hope you can write more about things like this. Thank you for writing such a wonderful book.
From your biggest fan and best reader,
Vivi T 
Searcy, AR

The real Adam

Friday, December 2, 2016

Something Lovely to share

HOW BEAUTIFUL IS THIS? and Poldi 1.jpg?attredirects=0

anja Brandt is a German photographer who has dedicated her career towards photographing animals and wildlife.
In one of her most recent projects,
Brandt shot photographs of a highly unlikely pair of friends – Ingo, the Belgian shepherd; and Poldi (Napoleon), the one-year-old owlet. and Poldi 2.jpg?attredirects=0
Poldi and Ingo are both pets of Brandt’s, and have formed a bond over the past year that the photographer simply couldn’t ignore.  
Brandt is a professional photographer, and has years of experience doing photoshoots with various animals.  
Ingo, the shepherd, is one of her most loyal and popular models. and Poldi 3.jpg?attredirects=0
The dog is very very well educated. He is able to do every order by far.  
Head down, head right, stay, sit, everything… but not so with the birds.” and Poldi 4.jpg?attredirects=0
Brandt describes the relationship between Ingo and Poldi as somewhat of a ‘protector-protected’ relationship.  
Ingo is a guardian for Poldi, whom Brandt states “doesn’t know how to live free”. and Poldi 5.jpg?attredirects=0
Poldi didn’t hatch until two days after his six brothers and sisters, and has always been very vulnerable due to his size. 
Ingo, on the other hand, comes from a family of strong and oftentimes ruthless police dogs. and Poldi 6.jpg?attredirects=0
Ingo is very protective over the year-old owlet, and their bond is as strong off-camera as it appears in Tanja’s photographs. and Poldi 7.jpg?attredirects=0
They respect each other and they can read each other.” and Poldi 8.jpg?attredirects=0
Ingo is often photographed with various birds (such as the Harris hawk)  
and other animals, but he doesn’t share a bond with anyone quite like he does with Poldi. and Poldi 9.jpg?attredirects=0

Monday, October 31, 2016

One Rat I can get behind

Throughout the world, places that have been involved in war and/or civil strife often have large minefields that still need clearing.  In 2013, it was estimated that there was a global average of around nine mine-related deaths every day.  The situation is especially dire in Africa. 

Typically, clearing a minefield involves men in body armor walking in very precise lines with metal detectors.  Anything (from a rusty nail to an old ammo cartridge) that sets the detectors off must be investigated before moving on.  A new method of bomb detection using rats, however, is flipping this process on its head.  A Belgian NGO called APOPO has developed a way to train African pouched rats (named for the storage pouch in their cheeks) to sniff out bombs quickly and safely. 
They used this rat because it has an incredibly fine-tuned sense of smell and a long lifespan (8-9 years) to yield returns on the nine months of training they undergo.
They're called Hero Rats, and NOT ONE
has died in the line of duty since the program started in 1997. 

The average mine requires 5 kg (roughly 11 pounds)
of weight to trigger an explosion,
but even the biggest of these rats
are only around 1.5 kg (3.3 pounds). 
Since they're trained to sniff out explosives exclusively,
they aren't distracted by other metal objects
the way human minesweepers are. 

  They can effectively search 200 square meters
in less than 20 minutes.
A team of humans would need
around 25 hours to do the same job.

Since they're in the African sun a lot,
the Hero Rats get sunscreen to keep them cancer free.
If a rat does get cancer,
it receives full medical treatment.

The rats are "paid" in avocados, peanuts,bananas and other healthy treats.
After about 4-5 years on the job
(or whenever they lose interest in working),
they're allowed to retire.

Retirement consists of eating all the tasty fruit
their little hero heart's desire.
Reprinted from

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Could we please come to our senses?

I'm a Tim Egan fan. He wrote The Worst Hard Time about the greatest man-made environmental disaster EVER. 

So far. 


"Civility, always a tenuous thing, cannot be quickly restored in a society that has learned to hate in public, at full throttle."

by Timothy Egan 

Monday, September 26, 2016

Maybe my most important blog post ever.

 Taken from A Hopeful Act in a Perilous time

 Pam Houston's Dedication

When I was four years old my father broke my femur. I believe he meant to kill me, and for the next fourteen years it became my mother's job to try to keep him from getting another chance.  Needless to say, my childhood home was nervous at best and terrifying at worst, and it turned me into a woman who always takes notice when a man threatens a woman's life.

My father said to me often, Pam, one of these days you are going to wake up and realize you spend your whole life lying in the gutter with someone elses foot on your neck.  It was the closest thing he had to a world view.  Looked at a certain way my entire life has been dedicated to making his words untrue.    

Maybe its because I grew up in my fathers house that I can see Trump so clearly for what he is.  A desperately insecure bully, with no moral center--no center of any kind really--who feels momentarily powerful only when he is able to break those unlucky enough to step into his path.  

Trump has already vowed to destroy (or threatens by his very being) every single thing about my life that I value: the remaining wilderness, diversity of all kinds, education, art, animal rights, choice, affordable health care, compassion, tolerance, honesty, hard work, kindness, peace.  I have not lived well these 54 years just to end up with a sociopathic narcissists foot on my neck.

So I dedicate my No-Trump Vote to my four year-old self, smiling bravely for the camera in her 3/4 body cast, and for every little girl who lays awake at night in her room afraid, and to Hillary Clinton, who has dedicated much of her life to the betterment of girls and women, and who each day puts on her bulletproof vest and stands up for us all.  

To Dedicate Your No-Trump Vote, Click Here

PAM HOUSTON is the author of two novels, Contents May Have Shiftedand Sight Hound, two collections of short stories, Cowboys Are My Weakness and Waltzing the Cat, and a collection of essays, A Little More About Me, all published by W.W. Norton.  Her stories have been selected for volumes of The O. Henry Awards, The 2013 Pushcart Prize, and Best American Short Stories of the Century. She teaches in the Low Rez MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts, is Professor of English at UC Davis, and directs the literary nonprofit Writing By Writers. She lives at 9,000 feet above sea level near the headwaters of the Rio Grande and is at work on a book about that place.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Help Stop the Deportation of Endangered Chimpanzees

Finally, chimpanzees have been recognized as an endangered species and, in its first test of how their protection will be implemented, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, failed miserably.

Perhaps a backlash is in order.

"For almost two years, the Yerkes National Primate Research Center at Emory University has been working to send seven chimpanzees to a zoo in England, prompting the outrage of several animal welfare and conservation groups because the zoo is unaccredited and there are American sanctuaries ready to accept the chimps." From the NYTimes.

Here is the latest update in our critical campaign to stop the transfer of Emory’s Yerkes 7 endangered chimpanzees—Agatha, Elvira, Faye, Fritz, Lucas, Tara, and Georgia—to Wingham Wildlife Park in Kent, England. 

Immediately upon hearing Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s decision that New England Anti-vivisection Society NEAVS and its coalition lacked standing to stop the export permit, and upon reading the Court’s language regarding the export, including that “FWS’s [U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s] broad interpretation [of the Endangered Species Act] appears to thwart the dynamic of environmental protection that Congress plainly intended,” it is obvious that the legality of this export permit was successfully challenged. (As background we have attached the entire court ruling, but most important are pages 56-58; key sections highlighted.) The Judge’s ruling places both Yerkes and FWS under a glaring spotlight. Even with the permit in hand, the illegality and accompanying immorality of this export is no longer in doubt. It is confirmed. 

NEAVS appealed directly to the Emory University President and its Board of Directors. You can view the letter here:

And to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, who soon will welcome Dan Ashe, Director of FWS under which this highly unethical and blatantly wrong interpretation of the Endangered Species Act has occurred. You can view the letter here:

NEAVS and its coalition of chimpanzee and conservation experts, former Yerkes caregivers, and animal advocates will leave NO STONE UNTURNED to stop this export of endangered lab chimpanzees. As we write, our lawyers are planning our prioritizing our next steps. Our staff are working hard on internal strategies.

We are now asking YOU to SPEAK OUT in opposition to this illegal export permit as it is in clear violation of what the U.S. Congress intended within the language of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). 


1. Express your strong disapproval of the export permit TODAY by contacting Emory University President, Claire E. Sterk, Ph.D. at, or call Dr. Sterk at 404-727-6013. Implore her to make certain that Emory stops Yerkes’ complicity and blatant disregard for U.S. law and instead exhibits nothing less than the highest ethical standards of behavior by sending these and all of their chimpanzees to U.S. sanctuaries.

2. Contact Dan Ashe at FWS and ask him to suspend this export permit given the scathing language of the court calling into question why FWS thinks it has the right to “sell permits” when its mandate is to protect endangered species. You can contact him at or 202-208-4717.

Keep those emails and calls coming and spread the word. They need to be reminded that FWS did not prevail in this lawsuit on merit. The judgement was with NEAVS and the thousands who oppose this export. They prevailed on a legal technicality. And shame on them if they take advantage of that to the detriment of these 7 chimps, all captive U.S. chimps, and all chimpanzees worldwide.

Theodora Capaldo, EdD
Chief Executive Officer
New England Anti-Vivisection Society (NEAVS)