Here Be Monsters Podcast

The Podcast About the Unknown

HBM107: Carlo Surrenders

Carlo Nakar spent more than twenty years in the United States before he was called by God to return to the the Philippines. It happened during one of his first classes of grad school at the Seattle School of Theology and Psychology.  He looked into the rafters and asked, “Lord, what would be the hardest thing that you could ever ask me to do?” He received a verbal answer: “You should work with sexually trafficked girls in the Philippines.”

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Content Note:

- Human Trafficking
- Sexual Abuse
- Language

At that time, Carlo was in grad school to find himself after a long stint working at a facility for abused and neglected kids.  But he had stayed there too long and effectively burnt out from the secondary trauma of working with children who were sexually aggressive.  He felt unfit to become a therapist.

So it came as a surprise when God called him to work with sexually trafficked girls in the Philippines: “But I was called to do this. I have to show up.”

Since receiving the call from God, Carlo accepted an internship at Samaritana in Quezon City, near his hometown of Manila, where human trafficking is prevalent. There he works with women who have been trafficked or worked as prostitutes. In this episode, Carlo tells the story of the first time he did street outreach in Quezon City on behalf of the organization.


Since recording his audio diaries, Carlo traveled to India to attend a conference hosted by the International Christian Alliance on Prostitution. He attended a presentation on OSEC (online sexual exploitation of children) and for a second time he felt called by God. He said he felt a sense of certainty that this is the work that he is uniquely prepared to do. After graduation, he intends to work as a therapist for children who have been sexually exploited online.

Carlo’s been on HBM before, in one of our very first episodes. Listen to HBM008: Chuck Gets Circumcised.

Bethany Denton produced this episode, and Jeff Emtman helped edited it.

Music: The Black Spot | | | Circling Lights

 Carlo Nakar and his contact juggling ball. Photo by Carlo Nakar.

Carlo Nakar and his contact juggling ball. Photo by Carlo Nakar.

HBM106: Beautiful Stories about Dead Animals (part 2)

👉 Listen to Part 1 👈

This is a special two-part episode, in which Kryssanne Adams describes the many times where she’s seen death or inflicted it upon animals.  Soon, this will turn into a book, which will be available to purchase in our store.

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Content Note:

- Animal slaughter
- Descriptions of Death

Kryssanne is a writer in Bellingham, Washington, where she also helps run the Bellingham Alternative Library, sings in a Threshold Choir, and works at a museum.

Jeff Emtman produced this episode with help from Bethany Denton.

Music: The Black Spot ||| Serocell

 Kryssanne Adams. Photo by Jeff Emtman

Kryssanne Adams. Photo by Jeff Emtman

HBM105: Beautiful Stories about Dead Animals (part 1)

👉 Listen to Part 2 👈

Before Kryssanne Adams was old enough to understand death, she found a dead mouse and carried it around with her in a plastic Easter egg shell.  She talked to it and gave it water.

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Content Note:

- Descriptions of Death
- Dismemberment
- Language

This is a special two-part episode, in which Kryssanne describes the many times where she’s seen death or inflicted it upon animals.  Soon, this will turn into a book, which will be available to purchase in our store.

Kryssanne is a writer in Bellingham, Washington, where she also helps run the Bellingham Alternative Library, sings in a Threshold Choir, and works at a museum.

Jeff Emtman produced this episode with help from Bethany Denton.

Music: The Black Spot

HBM104: Scrapheap Reactor

Max Turnquist advises against wearing shorts while dumpster diving for used lab equipment. Almost every day, Max visits a university parking garage, where there are several small mountains of discarded equipment, some of it quite rare.

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Content Note:

-Language

It’s where he found his ion pump, and a lot of his rack-mounted monitoring gear and power supplies.  He’s building a small nuclear fusion reactor from scratch in his bedroom, and he’s doing it on the cheap.

Viable fusion power has long been a dream of scientists.  Once a fusion reaction starts, its only waste products are helium, water, and relatively small amounts of neutron radiation.  The fuel for these reactors is often Deuterium (aka. “heavy hydrogen), a common isotope of hydrogen found naturally in seawater.  Compared to nuclear fission (the nuclear tech we currently use), fusion seems almost too good to be true—nearly free energy with few downsides.

Correction: In the episode, we misstate the natural abundance of Deuterium. The correct abundance is .015%. We regret the error.

 Max looks for lab equipment in a pile of discarded electronics in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Max looks for lab equipment in a pile of discarded electronics in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

But there are a number of obstacles in the way.  Getting atoms close enough to fuse takes massive amounts of force and heat.  In the fusion reactors made by nature (stars), fusion happens because of the ridiculous amounts of gravity that create the high heat needed for this reaction.  But here on earth, where sun-like gravity isn’t an option, scientists like Max have to rely on trickier methods.

Max thinks that physicists are intuitive scientists.  They observe something many times and gain an inherent knowledge of the universe.  He says that the biggest laws that govern the physics are often quite simple, elegant.  Max found himself drawn to one of the archimedean solids, and followed his hunch.

His proof of concept reactor has a metal cage in the shape of a truncated icosahedron, a couple inches wide. In this shape, Max suspends particles in a cage of other particles.  This shouldn’t be possible, based on Earnshaw’s Theorem, which in layman's terms, means that it’s really hard to keep the particle in the middle from squirting out the sides.  But Max’s shape, along with a constantly changing voltage, suspends things in a Goldilocks-type way. He calls this “stably unstable”.

His first proof of concept worked.  Now he’s on his second. He says he’s almost ready to do a major fusion test, where he’ll drag his 300 pound reactor out to rural Maine,  bury it in the ground and stand a safe distance away (to avoid the neutron radiation). And if it works, he’ll be on to solving the next problem, which is how to actually harvest the power it generates.  

Max doesn’t think the solution is a single step away.  There are still many hurdles to overcome before fusion replaces the dirty and inefficient power we use today.  And maybe those hurdles are too many, maybe it’s a fool’s errand.  But he’s hopeful that fusion can save at least part of the world.  

Jeff Emtman produced this episode with help from Bethany Denton.

Music: The Black Spot | | | Serocell | | | Lucky Dragons

A couple more links for you:

 The prototype nuclear reactor that Max built has a name, “Proof of Concept 2”, and a mascot, the octopus.

The prototype nuclear reactor that Max built has a name, “Proof of Concept 2”, and a mascot, the octopus.

HBM103: Fate's Notebook

Somewhere in Maritza Gulin’s basement, there’s a typewritten notebook that belonged to her father, Reynaldo. The notebook contains essential advice and warnings to Reynaldo, his wife Flora, and their five children.

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Content Note:

- Suicide
- Mental Illness
- Animal Sacrifice
- Language

In his younger life, Reynaldo’s atheism was strong and biting. But chronic migraines would often flatten him for days at a time. A stranger approached Reynaldo one day on the subway to tell him that he’d always suffer until he got right with God.

Reynaldo subsequently became an adherent to two related Afro-Cuban* religions: Palo Mayombe and Santeria. Palo focusses on veneration of spirits of the dead and of the earth. Santeria focusses on a pantheon of demigods called “Orishas”, who are usually represented by equivalent Catholic saints.

The notebook in Maritza’s basement is notable for its specificity. When she recently rediscovered it, she found warnings for her father against eating beans, sleeping with all the lights off, a requirement for white pajamas, a prohibition on horseback riding. Reynaldo followed these rules. He believed in fate, and was pretty accurate at predicting the time of his ultimate death from old age.

 A dream about flamingos avoiding deep water, as interpreted by Reynaldo. (Photo by Maritza Gulin)

A dream about flamingos avoiding deep water, as interpreted by Reynaldo. (Photo by Maritza Gulin)

Michelle Santana is a childhood friend of Maritza’s. She’s a psychic medium who’s not been formally initiated into Santeria, but she often consults the Orishas and the dead while working with her clients.  She’s done a number of readings with Maritza. Michelle, too, believes in fate, saying that, cruel as it seems, some people are just destined live bad lives, die young, and nothing can be done to change that.

Maritza’s youngest sister, Vanessa, was born when Maritza was already an adult, so Maritza helped take care of her youngest sister. Vanessa experienced severe depression, especially after the birth of her first child. She committed suicide.

After her Vanessa’s death, Maritza and her mother Flora lost their faith. They asked: if the future’s written, why weren’t they warned? Why weren’t they told either in the notebook or during their regular psychic readings. Flora says she’s mad at God. Maritza says she no longer believes in destiny.

 Reynaldo Gulin at his funeral, wearing the clothes he wore on the day he was initiated into Santeria. (Photo by Maritza Gulin)

Reynaldo Gulin at his funeral, wearing the clothes he wore on the day he was initiated into Santeria. (Photo by Maritza Gulin)

Despite this, Maritza still treads lightly around some of her father’s belongings. Some of this is due to respect for her father’s desires, and some of it is based on an abundance of caution. She recently deconsecrated a black metal cauldron that her father used in ceremonies. Michelle told her to bury it in her backyard or throw it in a river. Marita did the former. Inside, she found a toy revolver, a pair of ram’s horns, railroad spikes, and other small items.

Santeria’s practice of live animal sacrifice wound up in the US Supreme Court in the early 90’s as Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye, Inc. v. City of Hialeah, in which a city in Florida passed an ordinance banning the practice of killing animals “in a public or private ritual or ceremony not for the primary purpose of food consumption”. The court ruled unanimously that this ordinance was unconstitutional, citing its attempt to restrict religious practice.

Jeff Emtman produced this episode with help from Bethany Denton.

Music: Circling Lights | | | The Black Spot | | | Serocell

*Today, Santeria and Palo are practiced across much of the Caribbean, especially Cuba, Haiti, the Dominican Republic. Other areas of Caribbean diaspora like Florida, New York and New Jersey also have significant populations of believers. However, solid numbers of followers are hard to estimate due to the religion’s decentralization, which also contributes to the varying beliefs across adherents of different origins. If you practice or used to practice Santeria/Palo/Ifa, we’d love to hear your thoughts on this episode. Tweet at us @HBMpodcast.

If you are feeling suicidal, the Suicide Prevention Lifeline can help in the USA (phone: 1-800-273-8255). Outside the USA, consult Suicide.org’s list of hotlines. If you’re experiencing postpartum depression, Postpartum Support International has links to local organizations that can help you.