Nurturing creativity with art, animals, and science fiction

Month: December 2018 Page 1 of 2

Can the New Year bring new attitudes?

The Artdog Quote(s) of the Week

I’d like to wrap up our month-long focus on homelessness in the Quotes of the Week with some thoughts about the future: specifically, the generation that is growing up homeless right now. What does homelessness do to a child? It’s devastating. And the ill-effects can last for decades. Even a lifetime. Complacency isn’t an option.

Can we do a reset? I fear it’s an uphill battle. But another year is coming, a whole season of fresh starts and new beginnings. Can we have hope?

Better to ask: can we dare (or bear) not to have hope?

IMAGES: Many thanks to StoreMyPic for the quote image from Cyndi Lauper about youth homelessness; to MoreFamousQuotes, for more of the above; and to Stephanie Guzman’s Pinterest board for the “The Greatest Cruelty” (unattributed) quote-image.

What are the challenges smallholders face, and how can we help?

The Artdog Image(s) of Interest

Most of December’s Images of Interest have focused, using quotes from several sources and infographics from Bayer, on the massive economic importance of smallholder farmers worldwide.

Smallholder farms are tiny, only two hectares or less, yet in many places they provide the majority of their communities’ food. They’ll face increasing challenges in the future, to keep up with demand. Even as governments, large corporations, and NGOs seek ways to help them, it’s vital that we listen to them, and include them in any “solutions” we try to apply.

IMAGES: Many thanks to DoubleQuotes, for the quote from Bill Gates, and to Bayer for the infographic on challenges faced by smallholder farmers.

Every family is holy

The Artdog Quote of the Week

The “quote” is a little harder to see in this week’s Quote of the Week. It is “Every Family is Holy,” the theme of a campaign created last summer by Christ Church Cathedral in Indianapolis, IN (Vice President Pence’s home state).

The Trump Administration may no longer be separating families and caging children, but it doesn’t hurt to remember that the Christmas story in the Bible tells us Mary and Joseph (who may or may not have been pooralthough pastors all through my life have made a point of emphasizing that they were) had to go pay taxes and register, then couldn’t find any safe place to stay but a barn. That can’t have been their most positive family story to share.

The Flight into Egypt by Giotto di Bondone (1304–06, Scrovegni Chapel, Padua) By © José Luiz Bernardes Ribeiro /, CC BY-SA 4.0,

After that, on reliable intelligence, they fled in terror to Egypt from persecution. Again, those with a political agenda will point out that they weren’t technically refugees, in part because no such definition existed at the time. However, if you apply today’s definition they certainly were.

My point in bringing all of this up for today’s Christmas Eve post is deeply grounded in my own Christian faith (so be warned)No matter how hard you proof-text, it’s really hard to dance around the fact that today’s so-called Christian Right often espouses harsh, judgmental, and all-too-frequently-racist positions, in stark opposition to the message of inclusion that Jesus taught. You have every right to disagree with me, but you’re not going to change my mind on this. And I–thanks to the First Amendment–have every right to say something about it.

IMAGES: Many thanks to Ryan Liggett’s Twitter post for the first embedded Twitter image in this post, and to Christ Church Cathedral of Indianapolis’s Twitter post, for the second. Giotto’s Flight into Egypt is courtesy of Wikipedia and José Luiz Bernardes Ribeiro. Many thanks to all!

Winter’s joy

The Artdog Image of Interest

In honor of the first day of winter . . .

To my friends in the Southern Hemisphere: I don’t wanna hear about it.

IMAGE: Many thanks to Imgflip and Pinterest for this image.


I’ve been trying to wrap up my final draft and get it to the last editor since the beginning of December. My plans were clear, my goals laid out with pristine exactitude.

Yeah, that. 

The details–although I’m sweating them currently–don’t really matter to the big picture. What does matter is that at any moment something else WILL demand my attention. So instead of a long, wordy post I thought today I’d offer a handful of thoughts on interruptions.

When is it okay to interrupt reading groups or conferences? Aliens are invading. You are on fire. Tornado. The classroom is flooding. Peyton Manning enters the classroom.
As a former teacher, I can relate–although the interruptions during my classroom presentations or discussions were almost as often announcements on the intercom, or calls from the office on the classroom phone, as they were interruptions by students.

This topic yielded a multitude of cartoons and memes from office settings, medical, legal, and other fields. I certainly don’t feel alone in my plight. If you share it, you have my heartfelt commiseration. If you live blissfully free of interruptions, just wait

You’ll get yours, soon enough.

IMAGES: Many thanks to QuoteFancy, for the Allen Saunders quote-image; to the Teaching in Blue Jeans Facebook page, via Charlotte Jackson’s Pinterest board, for the guidance on when classroom interruptions are okay; to Comforting Quotes for the observation by French writer Andre Maurois; and to Kjersti Berg via SlidePlayer, for the “interruptions gestalt” image, though I couldn’t immediately confirm the $$ estimate.

What is poverty, and what should we think of the poor?

The Artdog Quote(s) of the Week

We celebrated Human Rights Day last week, but human rights should be part of our values every day, all year long. As noted in last week’s quotehousing is listed in Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as one of the fundamentals. Yet homelessness is a widespread phenomenon, both in the USA and around the world.

IMAGES: Many thanks to Nyamnyam via Pinterest, for the quote-image from Bryan Stevenson. Unfortunately, doesn’t seem to exist anymore. I did find a that appears to come from a similar place philosophically. You might enjoy their page. Many thanks also to QuoteHD (also here), for the Sheila McKechnie quote-image (see also her foundation), and to Liberals are Cool via Summer Rain, for the “Poverty is not a lack of character” quote-image.

Empowering smallholder women

The Artdog Image of Interest

December’s focus for my Images of Interest is smallholder farmers, a vitally important sector of the economy across the world. Last week’s Image focused on “The Smallholder Effect.” This week’s focus is women smallholder farmers.

As microlenders have discovered, women are often extremely responsible businesspersonsThis Bayer infographic further explores their role and importance.

IMAGES: Many thanks to AZ Quotes, for the Judith Rodin quote about empowering African women, and to Bayer, for the infographic on Women in Smallholder Agriculture.

Universal human rights

The Artdog Quote of the Week

Yesterday was Human Rights Day, when this post was originally supposed to go live (many apologies!). But human rights are important every day. My theme for the December Quotes is homelessness. I think this excerpt from the United Nations Declaration of Human Rightsratified 70 years ago in 1948, is fittingly consistent with that theme.

IMAGE: I created today’s image. The background photo is one I took last September in Dallas, TX; the words, as credited, are from the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 25(1). Please feel free to use the quote image if you wish, but kindly include an attribution to me (Jan S. Gephardt) as the creator and a link back to this post. Thanks!


Please accept my apologies. This was scheduled to go live Wednesday, 12/5/18. It failed to publish for reasons I don’t understand.

Like many people around the world, I was touched by this photo of President George H. W. Bush’s service dog Sully by his casket this weekend.

The late President George H.W. Bush’s service dog Sully helped him with “a list that’s two pages long” of tasks, after his wife Barbara passed away earlier this year. Photo by Evan Sisley.

I’ve written about service animals repeatedly on this blog, including in a series of Images of Interest in January 2017, the first of which is here. Several species can be taught to perform a variety of helpful tasks, including monkeys and miniature horses, but the vast majority of service animals (as opposed to emotional support animals or ESAs), and the ones most clearly identified as such in the ADA language, are dogs.

Regulatory language established under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA)signed into law by President George H.W. Bush, says “service animals must be individually trained to do work or carry out tasks” on behalf of the disabled person. The original language did not specify acceptable species, but currently only dogs are recognized as service animals under Title II and Title III, but an exception is made for miniature horses in some cases.

What are they “individually trained” to do? Here’s a video that offers a sampling of three major kinds of service training, as guide dogshearing dogs, and mobility dogs:

However, those three specialty areas are only the beginning. They can be trained to do all sorts of things.

There has, of course, been controversy recently about emotional support animals traveling and having access to facilities from which pets are banned, particularly in the wake of an incident when a woman attempted to bring a “comfort peacock” on a United flightIn October 2018, Southwest Airlines limited acceptable species to dogs, cats, and miniature horses

Miniature horses mostly appear to be used as guide animals for the blindHere’s an overview with several good pictures, including a situation that occurred in a devout Muslim family. Their culture considers dogs to be unclean animals, and therefore not acceptable in the home–but horses are okay. I also found a rather fuzzy 2009 video from The Rachael Ray Show (they’re worrying about ADA regulations that ultimately did include guide horses) but Ann Edie and Panda, the guide horse Rachael Ray featured, are also featured in a much clearer video from 2017.

No, cats can’t be service animals under ADA regulations (after all cats have staff. They aren’t servants themselves! That would be a perversion of nature. Right?). But apparently they can be ESAs, according to Southwest. Currently banned are all other animals, including ferrets, pigs, parrotsmonkeys, and, yes, peacocks.

If you’re wondering what will become of Sully, who was trained by America’s VetDogsthe family and American VetDogs has announced that “Sully will be joining the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center’s Facility Dog Program.” As Kathleen Curthoys put it in her Military Times article, “Sully will work with other dogs assisting with physical and occupational therapy to wounded soldiers and active-duty personnel during their recovery at Walter Reed in Bethesda, Maryland.” 

IMAGES: Many thanks to Military Times, for Evan Sisley‘s photo of Sully by his late master’s casket, to Omni Military Loans for the video about service dogs, and to All 4 for the video about Panda the guide horse.

Small but mightily important

The Artdog Images of Interest

During my research last month into food insecurity, I discovered the importance of what are called “smallholder” farmers. I thought you might enjoy a deeper look into these essential participants in their local economies.

A “smallholder” farm covers two hectares or less of land. That defines more than 475 million farms throughout the world. How much land is that?

It’s not a lot of land. This means they need to become more and more efficient, if they are to feed a growing number of hungry mouths as we move into the future. Many large corporations have begun to take notice.

As the Starbucks video above points out, they produce about 80% of the world’s coffee–and reportedly are the source of more than 90% of the rice production in Tanzania, a reflection of their importance as food producers.

Another large corporation, Bayer, has produced a series of infographics about their work with smallholders.

IMAGES: Many thanks to Crop Life, for the illustrated quote from James D. Dargie; to Starbucks for the video about the size of a hectare; and to Bayer for the infographic on the “Smallholder Effect.”

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