Vandercloot

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“It’s living between the folds in your cerebral cortex.”
–   Dr. Vandercloot

Dr. Vandercloot is a 19th century exorcist, scientist, and collector of strange artifacts. He will appear on stage next month – Friday the 13th – October.

Info here: Seattle Playwright’s Salon

Vandercloot’s first name is Randolph, but you won’t know that from watching him on the stage, because no one is on a first-name basis with the doctor.

(He’s part of a Halloween-themed show presented by the Seattle Playwright’s Salon.)

His assistant, Alba, will accompany him. She enjoys the doctor’s occult science, but is a bit numbed from years of serving as his guinea pig.

(Remember that Friday night parking in Georgetown can be horrifying, so please appear earlier than the 7 p.m. start time.)

In this short adventure, Vandercloot endeavors to help his local dentist, named Florian, who has a terrible malady. In the process, we’ll seen some ghastly items from the doctor’s peculiar collections.

 

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eclipse weekend

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We were among thousands that drove to the totality zone for the eclipse, camping for three nights in the Eastern Oregon town of Culver. We participated in a scenic 25-mile bike ride as part of the Culver Crawdad Festival and in general, had a great time there.

On eclipse-day morning, we watched the first slice of shadow cut across the sun. Soon the temperature started to fall. Over the course of the next hour and a half, the temperature dropped from somewhere in the low 80s °F until it was cold enough that I wanted to put on a sweatshirt. The landscape around us gradually turned dim and a little grayish, as this picture shows in totality.  It became fairly dark, Venus appeared in the sky, streetlights came on. There were sunset colors around the entire horizon.

Most amazing, of course, was the sun, or rather the lack of it. You can look without glasses while it’s completely covered, and the sun was like a black jewel in the sky with rays of light sticking out around the side. Even though the circle itself was dark, there was something crystalline and “super-real” about it. The two minutes of complete eclipse seemed momentous and cosmic, even though it’s fairly common. It looked like this about a second after totality. (I only had my phone camera, so I have none of my own.)

We were fortunate to see some wonderful sights in addition to the eclipse (click to expand)

On a bike ride, we viewed Mt. Jefferson over farm fields

Wind farm in South-Central Washington

The amazing Lake Billy Chinook

Last but not least, the Culver Crawdad Festival

i want to be the anti-trump

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Now that we’ll have a new Republican president who spent five years spreading the lie that President Obama was not a citizen, who spent $20k of Trump Foundation charity money on a six-foot portrait of himself, who admires Vladimir Putin, who brags about groping women, who Tweets crazy stuff in the middle of the night about a former Miss Universe, and will soon have the codes to unleash the U.S. nuclear arsenal …

Now that the KKK and neo-Nazis are celebrating the new Republican president …

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Now that we’ll have a Republican vice president who doesn’t seem to accept the reality of evolution or global warming, and who believes in preposterous “gay reparative” therapy …

Now that the last three years have averaged the hottest global temperatures ever recorded, and Arctic sea ice has declined by more than 30% in just 25 years, and we are likely to have a global warming denier heading up the EPA …

Now that we’ll have a new Republican Secretary of Health and Human Services who belongs to a group (AAPS) that pushes anti-vaccine and other fringe propaganda, and once co-sponsored a bill to define human life as beginning at the moment of conception, which, if passed, could have had birth control pills classified as murder weapons …

Now that our new Republican president has selected for Treasury secretary a Wall Street insider, former Goldman Sachs partner, and hedge-fund manager who’s profited from predatory lending (and Trump says he’s “draining the swamp” in D.C.) …

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Now that we’ve elected the guy who swore the election was rigged against him, and still makes the delusional, evidence-free claim that millions voted illegally …

Now that all that is happening, I have to do something to make me feel like I’m countering the crazy.

One thing I’m doing, which I planned before the election, is volunteering at a local youth tutoring program for kids. I help with skill building and homework. (I’ve been paired with an elementary school boy who is Muslim. His parents are probably immigrants. Hopefully in Seattle he isn’t a target for bullies and bigots.) I think that if I can instill some critical thinking in a youngster, I’ve done a small service.

I’ve also joined the ACLU – it’s been quite a few years since my membership lapsed, but I’m back on the rolls now.

I made a donation to Planned Parenthood, now that we could face the return of back alley             abortions if a near-future Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.

I donated to the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights.

That’s barely a drop in the bucket. I’ll be looking for other volunteer or political action opportunities – something to avoid the dystopia that seems to be in the offing.

The backsliding on social issues — like reproductive freedom for women — is likely to cause considerable harm and suffering. Meanwhile, the science denial among today’s Republicans is excruciating to hear. It’s like riding a bus in heavy traffic and watching the driver gleefully put on a blindfold. The wingnuts are behind the wheel.

The small bright spot we can point to is that the majority of voting citizens did not vote for Trump. The current count is 2.5 million more votes for Clinton. There is hope.

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i go to new york

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Decided to attend NECSS in Manhattan. That’s the Northeast Conference on Science and Skepticism. Some of the NECSS highlights for me included:

  • Most of the medical-related sessions. Of particular interest was hearing doctors give accounts of dealing with patients who are also seeing and getting advice from alternative health providers.
  • The Skeptical Extravaganza of Special Significance was very entertaining and funny thanks to the wonderful George Hrab and the wide variety of stunts and activities.
  • Bill Nye was both amusing and inspirational when discussing climate change.
  • Richard Wiseman’s keynote. He combines engaging and enlightening in a perfect way.

In addition to the conference, I got pizza, of course. Multiple times. A little place called Amadeus was the local slice source for me. Also visited Central Park and the American Museum of Natural History. I spent hours at the latter, including attending a spectacular Hayden Planetarium show. Also saw a very fine production of Matilda.

(1) The naked cowboy (2) Hailing a cab. (3) Massive brick edifice. (4) Entrance: Chelsea Pods. (5) Where Kong died. (6) Colorful Matilda stage. (7) Famous museum dino. (8) Large museum head. (9) Walking the Highline (elevated park). (10) Strawberry Fields.

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