HBM108: Witch of Saratoga

Angeline Tubbs may have been as old as 104 when she died alone in the woods, in a hut she made with her own hands.  She came to America with a British officer who fought in the Battle of Saratoga (see HBM074: Benedict Arnold Makes People Nervous).

Content Note:
Language

It’s uncertain what happened to the officer, but soon after the battle, Angeline began living a hermit’s life, on the outskirts of society, alone in the forest with her cats. She foraged and hunted her food.  Only rarely did she venture into the newly forming town of Saratoga Springs, where she made money by telling fortunes.

On this episode, producer Alessandra Canario walks into the woods near where Angeline Tubbs lived and died. She builds her own shelter, makes a fire, and cooks her own food.  Alessandra wonders if she too might be a “witch,” due to a kinship she formed with trees as a child. But she also hears echoes of her mother’s warnings against being outside without a man for protection.

Alessandra Canario camps in a homemade shelter in the woods near Saratoga Springs, New York. Photo by Alessandra Canario.

Only known photograph of Angeline Tubbs. Circa 1860. Republished in the January 30th, 1959 issue of The Saratogan.

Producer: Alessandra Canario
Editor: Jeff Emtman
Music: The Black Spot | | | Serocell

🐑 🥩 💀 Buy our new book! 💀 🥩 🐑

Video by Alessandra Canario.

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.”

Content Note:
Human trafficking, sexual abuse, and 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.

Producer: Bethany Denton
Editor: Bethany Denton
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.

Content Note:
Animal slaughter and other 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.

We turned these episodes into a book, which is available for purchase in our store.

Producer: Jeff Emtman
Editor: Jeff Emtman
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)

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.

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.

Producer: Jeff Emtman
Editor: Jeff Emtman
Music: The Black Spot

👉 Listen to Part 2 👈

HBM104: Scrapheap Reactor

HBM104.jpg

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.

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.

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.  

A couple more links for you:

Producer: Jeff Emtman
Editor: Jeff Emtman
Music: The Black Spot, Serocell, Lucky Dragons

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

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.