Calling All Hermits: Fight Animal Cruelty!

Sim LakeMy fellow hermits,

I come to you with a heavy but important topic. The Animal Legal Defense Fund has “filed a brief in a landmark federal case against a couple accused of making graphic animal torture videos for viewers” (ALDF 2013). As this article explains (WARNING! GRAPHIC CONTENT), a Texas couple was arrested earlier in the year for producing home videos of animals being tortured for what they considered a pornographic enterprise. However, ALDF explains, “On April 27, 2013, U.S. District Court Judge Sim Lake, in the Southern District of Texas, ruled that the conduct in the videos was not obscene and the Act infringed upon the First Amendment rights of the defendants. Last Friday, federal prosecutors filed an appeal with the Fifth Circuit. ALDF’s amicus brief supports this appeal, arguing the Act is limited in scope to obscene videos of animal torture for the sexual gratification of viewers.” It is up to you if you would like to read the ALDF article, as it is very disturbing, but I am providing  you here with what you need to know. If you would like to fight against this cruelty and support ALDF’s drive for justice, consider making a donation here. If you would like to let Judge Sim Lake know how you feel, you can reach his Houston office at 713-250-5177 and leave him a message, as Lauren and I both did today. Finally, let your lawmakers know that you demand protections against this cruelty by singing ALDF’s Animal Bill of Rights.

Hopefully, I have something more upbeat for my next post!

For now, you know what to do,




Inspiration – We Are Their Heroes by Jim Willis

If you worry that you have not made a difference, you have,
for only those who do not worry about it have not.
If you feel overwhelmed, if the weight of problems is too heavy to bear,
remember it is a shared burden
and the strength of numbers can accomplish much.

If you think society and government are blind,
it only serves to remind that we need to change
one mind at a time, one law after another.
We effect change by cooperation, not by isolation.

If you consider that we cannot save them all,
and what difference does one make?,
you ought to know the joy of the one who is saved.
Mourn those we cannot save, it is a eulogy to their being.
Do not let their loss be in vain.

Be kind to yourself, remember your needs
and those of your family and friends of every species.
If you give everything, what will you have left for yourself,
or for them?
Strive to be happy and healthy. You are needed.
Achieving balance in life is a lifelong struggle.
We who help those who do not have all that they need
should be among the most grateful for what we have.

Be proud of your accomplishments, not your opinions.
The quality of your efforts is more important than the quantity.
Forgive your own deficiencies – sometimes your caring is sufficient.
Everyone can do something, it is up to you to do the thing you can.
A kind word and a gentle touch can change a life.

If anger wells up within you, because people are the problem,
remember your humanity and that people are also the solution.
Concentrate on specific needs, pay attention to the individual –
they make up the whole.
See beyond the unlovable, the unattractive,
the impure and the wounded –
see that their spirit is as deserving as the rest. Help them heal.
Their eyes are windows to their soul
and the mirror of your sincerity.

All species, all beings, share this Earth in a chain of life.
Care more about what makes us alike than what separates us.
Policies, rules and regulations are not infallible.
Apply them judiciously, interpret them wisely.
No decision based purely on money is ever the right one.

Listen to your heart. Sometimes we have to do that which
we are most afraid of.
Be true to yourself and your beliefs.
Family may abandon you,
friends may disappoint you, strangers will ridicule you.
People shun what they do not understand.
Help them to understand – kindly, softly, gently.

Those who do not respect all life are to be pitied.
Often the wrongdoer is as in need of help as his victims.
Forgive, then teach by example.
Educate yourself or you cannot hope to teach others.
No action based in hatred is ever right
and anger drowns out wisdom.

Yours may be a voice crying in the wilderness,
make it a voice to be respected.
Listen more than you talk, be courteous and reliable.
Learn to ask for help. Never waiver from the truth.
Know that it takes a lot of strength to cry
And with every defeat, we learn.

All Creation celebrates that which is in its own best interest.
The Children are our hope – nurture them.
Nature is our legacy – protect it.
The Animals are our brethren – learn from them.

Your rewards will not be material, but they will be meaningful,
and the courage of your convictions can survive anything.
We are small boats cast adrift on a cruel sea,
but someday the tide will turn toward a safe harbor.
No matter how dark the storm clouds,
or deep the pain of heartbreak – never forget:
We are their heroes.

Source: Jim Willis, We Are Their Heroes, Pieces of My Heart, 2001

Image Source: L.Korany, Flickr, February 2012

Ag. Gag and my Declaration of War


Wow, I just read this article from Mother Jones this past week. It was written by Zaineb Mohammad and was published on July 25th. I found this to be a powerful and infuriating piece that touches up on the current state of the meat industry and its lack of transparency. It also makes points about the abuse animals experience, as well as the humans that have essentially no choice but to work in this degrading industry. Please take the time to read this article, I couldn’t recommend it more:

These injustices against human and non-human animals alike remind me why I have chosen the path in life I have. With grad school beginning, articles like this help me refocus. Needless to say, I am declaring war on any representative, corporation, or group that supports ag-gag and seeks to further prevent transparency and compromise the first amendment.

If you are unfamiliar with Ag Gag laws, check out this site from the Humane Society of the United States. If you’d like, take the pledge to fight Ag. Gag laws here.

That being said, enjoy your weekend!


Image: Mother

Cows Overjoyed to See Grass

This video was posted on Youtube by a small family run dairy farm in Gloucestershire, England. These cows are so excited to be let out of their holding after a long winter that they literally frolic out into the pasture. This should an insight that animals feel the same stress of being pent-up as we do. For those who consume dairy or beef, please conscientious of where your produce comes from, how the cows have been cared for, whether they are in confines, the amount of produce they are forced to create, and their general welfare.

Here is a link to the ASPCA’s fight on farm animal cruelty, covering major issues with cow factory farms.

Source: thefunkyfarmer, Youtube, 3 April 2012.

My Birthday Present: A Rhino Named Maxwell

I used to laugh at the absurd lyrics of the old time Gayla Peevey tune “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas”. Well, for my birthday, I got a rhinoceros. It was a gift from my fellow Urban Hermit, Lauren. His name is Maxwell. He is a blind orphan who was rescued by the David Sheldrick Wildlife Fund, a wonderful nonprofit that rescues orphaned and endangered animals in Kenya’s wilderness. I am now one of his adoptive parents and will receive updates on his progress. Here is an enjoyable post. They have a particular focus on the African Elephant, which has unfortunately become increasing threatened recently. Take some time to explore the site and their mission and if you are interested, considering fostering one of these wonderful creatures!

My boy, Maxwell!

Image Source: Cat Y.,, Oct 2012

Inspiration – Make a Better Future

Urban Hermits - Noam Chomsky Quote

Design by Lauren Korany, Urban Hermits, 20 August 2013.

Mark and Lauren Go Places – The Great Lakes Zoological Society

Mark and I visited the Great Lakes Zoological Society last month in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The astounding reptilian, amphibian, and avian rescue is a wonderful family destination and educational center for all ages. The GLZS’ mission is to “promote conservation, the importance of a balanced ecosystem, and how to coexist with wildlife; as well as serving as a rescue and recovery center for injured, neglected, and unwanted reptiles [amphibians, and birds].”

I was truly impressed by the effort to give each animal a beautiful and spacious enclosure. It came as a relief after being accustomed to seeing various snakes, lizards, turtles, and birds in cages too compact for physical and mental health. The resident parrots even sit on large branches in the open, free to move as they please (which isn’t an issue with visitors since they mostly stay on their gyms). Volunteers and interns care for the animals with a passion. They would share their extensive knowledge of the individual animals, often allowing the children to touch the head of a tortoise or the back of a small snake.

The Great Lakes Zoological Society is a 503(c)(3) nonprofit. It offers a variety of sponsorship, summer camp, volunteer, and event opportunities. A must see and a great place to support if you are interested in the welfare of all animals!


The rescue’s male Crocodile Monitor, Mahuru.



Mahuru basks on his tree!



The resident Greenwing Macaws– Scarlet preens Charlie!


Image Source: A. Fulmer, July 2013

Mark and Lauren Go Places-The Detroit Zoo

Have you been to a local zoo this summer? A few months back, Lauren, myself, and some friends had a great time visiting the Detroit Zoo on a warm summer day. I used to love the zoo and was skeptical how much I would enjoy it being 15 years older than those good old days. It did not disappoint, check out the photos below. If you’d like to see more photos, here is the link to our Flickr album.

Butterfly house and AviaryDSCN4544Scarlet IbisLovebird family living in the grates of the Aviary
Sculpture outside the Reptile House
Camels cuddling
Peacock strutting its stuff
White Rhinos!
Prairie Dogs
Anteater digging for ants
Duckling in the Lillypads

Once Unidentified Shiso

The apartment complex I live in created a few garden plots a year ago. This summer, due to the nature of having multiple residents, I didn’t use the same plot as I did before. I ecstatically planted seeds but what sprouted was not what I had expected. A mysterious plant emerged from the previous year’s planting. It began to spread all across the plot, even into other plots! It had thin leaves, serrated edges, and smelled of pepper and citrus. I hoped it was edible but I couldn’t find any information on it by searching those characteristics. It took 3 months, but I finally stumbled across what it was – Green Shiso, also known as Perilla or Beefsteak. Last night I made Shiso pesto and I was really impressed by it’s unique flavor. I will plant this intentionally in the future! I love it!

Updates on the Budgies!

I just wanted to post some updates on the budgie crew from the past couple weeks. I have bought my first smart phone and consequently have been going a little instagram crazy. Django, Mark’s recently adopted budgie has been staying in my apartment. He had another flare up of thrush and is once again happy to be off of his medicine. My two boys, Sufi and Tél, with the addition of Django have stirred up interesting bouts of drama and jealousy. Django has decided that Sufi is his love, and the two get quiet and stare Tél down anytime he comes over to be part of the commotion. So, Tél has been hanging with Mark and I. See below!