• Nerdy Happenings – Corvallis and Vicinity
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    star trek theatre companyCorvallis, thanks to its status as a college town, is home to a great variety of events for an even greater variety of people. Music, art, and sports are all well represented in Beaver Town, but those of the nerdy disposition will be happy to hear that there are more than enough gatherings of like-minded individuals in and around Corvallis.

    To start, the Pacific Northwest is home to a great many fantastic conventions. Locally, Corvallis plays host to Just a Game Con, a tabletop gaming convention hosted by the folks at Matt’s Cavalcade of Comics. The event is held biannually, with its second showing this year coming on Oct. 3 and Oct. 4. Tickets are $8 per day or $12 for both days. Convention-goers can expect to play the latest and greatest that tabletop gaming has to offer with friendly folk around to help introduce you to new gaming experiences.

    For those willing to take a little bit of a drive, Oregon also plays host to a number of comic conventions. Eugene, Portland, and Salem all hold various permutations of the tried and true comic-con formula. Each con attracts the usual fare: a variety of B-list celebrities with cult followings, vendors with all your nerdy interests, cosplayers enjoying the year-long Halloween experience, and a mass of your fellow nerds. The next Comic Con is on Sept. 19 and Sept. 20 in Portland. Each con is of varying prices, but for the most part affordable. As an avid con-goer myself, I can attest to the incredible value of these conventions.

    If you’re interested in comics, but just looking for a little discussion, then our very own library has the answer for you. The Corvallis-Benton County Library has assembled the Graphic Novel Book Club for those who have come to understand the nuances behind their favorite superhero’s actions. Meetings take place on the first Tuesday of every month at New Morning Bakery and the library provides copies of the month’s latest highlighted book.

    For those looking for something a bit more digital, Corvallis Game Devs has you covered. Informative game development meetings and semi-regular game jams should keep you satisfied. A game jam is a game development gathering where attendees plan and develop a full game within a short span of time, usually taking place over a 24- to 72-hour period. No experience is needed and the event is completely collaborative. Game jams are perfect for those even vaguely interested in how video games are made. There are even contingents of developers who make tabletop games at these events. The next jam is being held during Startup Weekend, Nov. 13 to
    Nov. 15.

    Lastly, nerdy artsy folk have a few interesting local events to look forward to as well. Central Park has been the spot for some great music this summer, but on Sept. 13 at 5 p.m., the nerds take over with a stage adaptation of an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Eugene-based science-fiction theater troupe Trek Theatre is bringing their show to Corvallis with their take on the TNG episode “Darmok.” The show is free and family-friendly, and it sounds nuts in all the best ways possible.

    OSU also has a fairly interesting exhibit on display in the Valley Library that both history and gaming nerds may enjoy. The Nuclear Age exhibit is currently being hosted in the Archives Research Reading Room on the fifth floor of the library and features original materials from the Atomic Age, including Geiger counters, original newspapers, and manuscripts and letters from both Linus Pauling and Albert Einstein. In conjunction with the exhibit, OSU is hosting a talk from Hiroshima survivor Dr. Hideko Tamura Snider on Oct. 22. Both history nerds and gaming nerds familiar with the Fallout series will find this exhibit enlightening and will have until March 2016 to enjoy it.

     No matter what subsection of the greater nerd community you lie in, Corvallis and the greater Oregon community has you covered. From video games to comic books, let your passions fly freely and find your new best friends at one of these events through the rest of the year.

    By Nathan Hermanson

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  • Patrick Manhatton: Game Developer
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    patrickmanhattonPatrick Manhatton is one of the minds behind Corvallis Game Devs, a local group of game developers that have come together to make games, share their talents with one another, and help teach those interested in the world of game development. Manhatton has, with the assistance of his co-organizer Ted Carter, set up a number of events for the group and has made an effort to involve the community in as many ways as possible.

    In the early going, Manhatton had a pretty clear idea of what he wanted to do with his life.

    “Deciding to make game development my career goal was kind of like giving into something I knew I should do,” Manhatton said.

    “Designing games was something I could picture myself never wanting to stop, something I thought I had a knack for, and something I was really passionate about. I knew I wouldn’t be able to do something that I didn’t love and eventually I stopped trying to talk myself into other things.”

    But even with all the passion in the world, Manhatton recognized the troubling and difficult aspects of his chosen career path.

    “It’s a very tough industry and it has a pretty bad reputation with work-life balance and burnout,” Manhatton relented. “I can’t really speak to those topics because my experiences have been mostly related to the uncertainty and difficulty of breaking into it. There aren’t many game-related jobs in Corvallis, indie development can be a long shot, and contract work can be hard to find or very low-paying. I’m lucky to have the support of my friends, community, and family. I won’t act like it hasn’t been a struggle. Making game development a full-time career is probably not for everyone. Personally I can’t imagine anything making me feel more alive and like I’m doing what I’m best at.”

    Manhatton didn’t let a weak market and the difficulty of success get in his way, though, and he planned, organized, and held the Summer Game Jam, which was a big success.

    “‘Game jam’ seems to be a magic phrase in this community,” Manhatton gushed. “[Game jams] are a little different depending on the community, but the gist is usually the same: make a game, from scratch, in a predetermined amount of time. Our last game jam lasted 48 hours. There are people whose only interest in game development is jamming. Our other events might be productive, informative, fun, but jams really excite people in a way that’s really motivating for me as an organizer.”

    For those interested in game development, Manhatton’s advice is simple. Get involved.

    “Any advice I’d give would depend a lot on your specific interests, whether it’s design, programming, or art,” said Manhatton. “To everyone I would say jump in, start learning skills that interest you. Talk to people who do what you want to do. See if what they like about it is what you think you’ll like about it. Don’t worry about being ready, I don’t know what ready is and I don’t think it’s a real thing, just get your hands dirty.”

    Manhatton and the Corvallis Game Devs look to continue to grow the game development scene in Corvallis and invite anyone interested to their next “game jam” taking place during Startup Weekend from Nov. 13 to Nov. 15.

     Visit Corvallis Game Devs at http://corvallisgamedevs.com or https://www.facebook.com/groups/CorvallisGameDevs.

    By Nathan Hermanson

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  • Oregon’s Silicon Willamette Valley
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    sex criminalsIf you have yet to embrace your nerdy overlords, it may be time to rethink your life choices. Geeks have been chic for about a decade now, comic book movies dominate Hollywood and television, and video games continue their rise to the top of the entertainment heap. The biggest companies with the highest paid employees are all in the tech industry, which is run entirely by nerds.

    While a great many of those minds congregate in California, tucked away in the Silicon Valley and in Hollywood, Oregon is emerging as a new hub for all things nerdy.

    To the north, Portland is home to your creative nerds. Two giant comic publishers, Oni Press and Dark Horse, have taken up roots in the Rose City, and the constantly rising independent comic scene is anchored by the fantastic creator collective Periscope Studio. Comic giants Matt Fraction, Greg Rucka, and Brian Michael Bendis all live in Portland and produce content for the biggest comic publishers of our time. Michael Allred, an independent comic creator most famous for his character Madman, grew up in Roseburg as a radio DJ. His time in Oregon would go on to serve as inspiration for his first graphic novel Dead Air. A personal favorite of their collective works has to be Fraction’s Sex Criminals,which tells the tale of two strangers that come together after having lived their lives with the ability to stop time whenever they climax. Yeah. That idea was born in Oregon.

    There are a great many notable game developers in our fair state as well. Independent darling Fullbright Studios, known for their narrative-based megahit Gone Home, is right at home in the creativity pod that is Portland. To the east is Sony Bend, a smaller development team that works exclusively on titles for Sony’s PlayStation brand.

    Our hometown isn’t slacking behind Portland, though—no sir. Corvallis is an emerging market for all of those aforementioned creative nerdy outlets and it’s not far behind the Silicon Valley when it comes to tech heavy lifting either.

    For starters, a study released by Nerdwallet in February of this year named Corvallis the fourth most innovative city in the tech space, ahead of Seattle and just behind San Francisco. The listing makes sense when you consider the presence of companies like Hewlett-Packard and NaturalMotion recruiting workers from OSU and the constant flow of tech startups that emerge from the engineering students looking to break big.

    Which means Corvallis houses some of the greatest technical nerds to team up with all those great creative nerds up in Portland. That makes the nerd cred fight fairly even between the Willamette Valley and Silicon Valley. And that’s before Corvallis’ own creative nerds join the fight.

    Comic creators are well-represented in our humble town, with the previously covered Andy Pur-viance taking the lead on his successful web comic, I, Mummy. A few smaller web comic artists operating under the banner of Infinity Break look to follow in his footsteps. Two fantasy comics, Arcane and Ravenwatch, are being produced by Corvallis creators belonging to Infinity Break and they have assembled modest followings since their launches earlier this year. This multimedia collective creates more than just comics, though, providing nerdy entertainment in a number of ways. Between the Dungeons and Dragons-esque improvisational podcast Roll with It and an upcoming comedy web series based on the popular campus game Human vs. Zombies, Alpha Squad, Infinity Break is looking to provide a one-stop shop for nerds of all types.

    When it comes to gaming, video games play second fiddle to the tabletop gaming experience in Corvallis. Between the various tabletop gaming tournaments available at a number of locations across Corvallis and the presence of the tabletop developer Gamesicle, which found great success and national attention on Kickstarter, Corvallis is decidedly a board gaming town.

    That isn’t to say that video games haven’t found their place. A collection of game developers, known as the Corvallis Game Devs, look to bring a greater focus to the digital space in the months to come. There’s also the OSU Gaming Club which holds a number of gaming events on campus. Hell, The Advocate’s very own Johnny Beaver runs an occasionally updated gaming blog known as The Gamesman’s Knob (thegamesmansknob.com), so you know video games are getting even more important in this town.

    There is no questioning that Silicon Valley will continue to dominate the world of tech and nerd culture for years to come, but there is a budding community in our own Willamette Valley that is worth noting. If things continue the way they’re going, though, Silicon Valley may have an Oregonian cousin before too long.

    By Nathan Hermanson

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  • Oregon Fire Departments with No Budget
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    Micheal CarterThe smoky haze in the valley a couple weeks ago is a  reminder of the dangers of fire season, but what we may not be aware of is how underfunded some local fire departments are and how much of a risk that poses for those communities. Antelope is a very small town in north central Oregon with a population of 46. Their fire department provides aid to a large unprotected area consisting of other tiny communities and ranches in a 120 square mile radius. The closest fire rescue or ambulance that will come there is 45 minutes to an hour away.

    They have no dedicated tax base; in fact, their total annual budget is about $3,000 which has to pay for fuel, electricity, insurance, and repairs, so they depend nearly 100% on donations. According to Fire Chief Michael Carter, the people in that area are leery about signing on for any taxation, even if it would benefit them, because of trust issues that began when the Rajneesh came to the area with a cult of followers in the 1980s. His devotees were numerous enough to elect themselves into local offices. Many promises were made and broken.

    As a result, public support and cash donations by any means possible have been (quite understandably) rather difficult to come by. Carter is working to get some grants for training and equipment but those are very lengthy and highly competitive processes which do not offer the best success for tiny rural departments like Antelope’s, as it is usually the bigger departments that are awarded.

    When Carter moved to Antelope in 2011, there was no fire department to speak of. There was nothing but a garage filled with unusable equipment. According to Carter, there wasn’t a single ax, ladder, pike pole, pair of gloves, flashlight, fire extinguisher, or radio. In fact, until two years ago, they relied on phones and knocking on doors to round up volunteers in place of radios. The 1948 Chevy fire engine that had been used until 1998 was still there, but obviously not working. The garage had been left unlocked and anything that was left was falling apart and filled with dirt and cobwebs. As a consequence of these conditions, the community suffered tragically in loss of property and life over the years. A career mobile intensive care unit paramedic with a background in volunteer firefighting, Carter took it upon himself to beef up public safety.

    Today, they have two structure fire engines, a medic unit, a brush fire rig, and a utility vehicle. They have 12 to 16 volunteers at any given time, plus others who provide support services. Carter trains the volunteers in fire rescue skills every month; they recently finished up their first ever Firefighter 1 Academy, which was taught by instructors from Portland that were eager to help. A few nearby fire departments have given them used equipment. Much of it is a bit old and considered obsolete by NFPA standards, but every little bit helps and is an improvement from where they started. They are still in desperate need of a new station (their present station is a simple, small metal two-bay garage built by the Rajneesh in 1980), a dedicated communication link to their dispatch center, EMT training, an oversized alternator and new batteries for their EMS rescue vehicle, and better public relations mechanisms. Many people in the area know nothing about the problems that their small fire department has faced.

    If you want to help out, they need financial donations as well as medical equipment and supplies for their emergency medical services and rescue unit/team, especially diagnostic devices. For info, visit www.cityofantelope.us/fire-department.

     City of Antelope Fire Department
    P.O. Box 111
    Antelope, OR 97001

    By Hannah Darling

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  • Hard Truths: The Truth Spurts
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    HardTruths_8_27_15On Skeletons in the closet

    If you went to a movie in the last couple of weeks, chances are it was Straight Outta Compton, the critically acclaimed biopic of legendary rap group NWA. And if you listened to music at any point in the last 10 years, chances are it was either produced by or on a pair of headphones bearing the name of a certain medical professional, and co-founder of that legendary rap group, named Andre.

    Yes, Dr. Dre has risen from party DJ on the streets of Los Angeles to one of the highest paid musicians on the planet, along the way becoming a rap icon. But along the way he also did a couple of other things, notably the savage beating of at least three different women. His former girlfriend, R&B singer Michel’le Toussaint, detailed a relationship filled with abuse, which came as a surprise to many. But two of the other assaults committed by Dre on women were, not unlike several of the allegations against Bill Cosby and Bill Clinton, well known yet strangely forgotten by masses of adoring fans.

    Particularly notable is the famous beating of rap journalist Dee Barnes in 1991. In that episode, Dr. Dre confronted Barnes, and while his bodyguard held off a room full of horrified onlookers (at gunpoint), the famous rapper and entrepreneur grabbed Barnes by the hair and punched, kicked, and slammed her against a wall repeatedly. This episode, like the countless ones with Toussaint, are completely absent from the biopic, which is leading approximately nobody to care.

    This is a sad commentary on the politics of popularity, which allows some to escape justice based on their persona and success, while others are eaten alive by their past. It’s also a sad commentary on the effects movies have on our perception of history. Biopics like Ray and Walk the Line didn’t entirely gloss over the ugly parts of their inspirations, Ray Charles and Johnny Cash, even though both were still alive when the movies were completed. And fortunately most fans of those older musicians are likely to learn their stories from books. Younger fans of NWA will likely never see Barnes, Toussaint, or Theresa Beth (a third victim who suffered a public assault at the hands of Dr. Dre) have their stories told in an inspiring film.

    This is not to advocate for dragging down Dre, but instead for lifting up those women, and elevating their stories to the level of importance they deserve. It’s also for learning to appreciate our heroes for who they are and were, not for who we want them to be.

    Trust me, if I could separate James Brown, Sean Connery, and Miles Davis from their histories of abusing women, I would. But I can’t. Those stories are part of who they were just like Dr. Dre’s abuse is for him. And they’d make for compelling and important art in telling their stories.

    On the Affair Affair

    Ask not for whom the bell tolls… or something like that. Am I right, people busted by the Ashley Madison data dump?

    Ashley Madison is, of course, the website that facilitates affairs for people, which is, of course, on its face absurd, if for no other reason than that a person who wants to seek an extra-marital encounter can simply take off their ring. Only a complete moron with total faith in Internet security would sign up and give financial information to a website that gathers such potential blackmail victims’ info in one place.

    So it was with no small amount of personal satisfaction and finger-wagging moralization that the world reveled in hackers revealing the identities of everyone who had paid to use the service. So far there has only been one really high profile celebrity shaming, that of the already shamed Josh Duggar. And there hasn’t been a wave of former saints who have seen their halos drug through the mud. But it’s only been a week. People will need more time to sift through all the names to find nuggets of shaming gold.

    If Bill Clinton’s name came up, and surely it was the first one everyone searched for, that would not exactly be news. But what if it was somebody we didn’t already know to be a bit of a scumbag?

    What if the next big name is Neil Degrasse Tyson or Elizabeth Warren, or the Dalai Lama? Where do we really stand as a culture on this topic?

    The truth is there is no easy answer. Adultery is morally despicable, and yet we all recognize it’s only too human. Sometimes it’s the only option. And sometimes things are just “complicated.” To say nothing of the people who use such a site because they live in cultures that don’t accept their sexuality, like homosexuals in the Middle East. Or straight women in the Middle East, for that matter?

    That’s right, we’re completely ashamed/proud/horrified/inspired/shocked/unsurprised by ourselves yet again. We’re a peculiar bunch, humans…

    By Sidney Reilly

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  • Coast With the Most
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    Escape to the Coast_Nye Beach_Abbie TumblesonThis summer has almost been too hot to handle and residents of the Willamette Valley will use any excuse we can to escape to cooler climates, if only for the day. Better yet—we don’t need an excuse to visit the coast. With some of the best beaches on the West Coast located only an hour’s drive away, we should escape to sand and sea as much as possible. Even the most passive Pacific Northwesterner will brag about Oregon’s beautiful coastline. Why? Because all 363 miles of it is for the public to enjoy.

    Head North or South, But Start in Newport

    Highway 101 is your oyster! This busy highway might cause you to slow down and take your time, but just look out the window and enjoy the endless ocean views. Take a trip to Newport to start your coastal journey. Arguably the closest city to Corvallis with beach access, Newport is home to lighthouses, sea lions, and sandy shores aplenty. Popular beaches include Nye Beach, Agate Beach, and those at a number of state parks.

    This seaside community of around 10,000 residents is home to not one, but two historical lighthouses.

    The Yaquina Bay Lighthouse can be spotted atop a bluff perched over Yaquina Bay State Recreation Site. The lighthouse, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, was built in 1871. Inside the lighthouse, visitors are greeted with a blast from the past and period-appropriate décor, including an intricate piece of wall art made out of human hair.

    Climb to the tippy top of the lighthouse on a tour. Tours are free by donation and the lighthouse is open to the public every day except major holidays. The lighthouse is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. through the end of September, and from noon to 4 p.m. from October through Memorial Day.

    The 93-foot-tall Yaquina Head Lighthouse is a shining star of Newport’s coastline. This lighthouse can be found at the end of the road at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area. Purchase a Bureau of Land Management visitor’s pass for the day to take a closer look at this light tower. Tours are also available. For an added bonus to your visit, take a peek at the nearby tide pools and walk along the wobbly surface of Cobble Beach. Sea lions, gulls, and seals are also known to frequent the nearby rocks lining the shore.

    The Bayfront

    For more marine life encounters, stop by the Sea Lion Docks at Port Dock One, located along SW Bay Boulevard. The sounds of sea lions can be heard as soon as you hit Bay Boulevard so you shouldn’t have any problems finding the place.

    Newport’s historic Bayfront is also lined with restaurants and bars to suit everyone and anyone’s taste.

    Good eats can be found at these spots:

    • M & P Authentic Thai Cuisine – This restaurant, located at 836 SW Bay Boulevard, is operated by a sweet Thai couple and the food is just as good as the ambiance and customer service. Try the pad Thai and the lettuce wraps or their can’t-be-beat lunch specials, which come with soup, an appetizer, and a main dish.
    • Mo’s (original location) – This is the spot to get your chowder fix. Mo’s, located at 622 Bay Boulevard, serves up a full menu of fresh seafood offerings to fill your belly while you stare longingly at the Pacific Ocean.
    • The Coffee House – Yes, there’s coffee. There’s also freshly baked loaves of bread, blueberry pancakes bigger than your face, irresistible pastries, killer lattes, and omelets that would fill up anyone’s belly. This is a tried and true spot to nurse a morning hangover. You’ll leave full and happy.

    More Eats

    Café Mundo – Found along NW Coast Street, Café Mundo boasts world cuisine, a funky atmosphere, and live music on most weekends. Be sure to try the tempeh tacos and the fish tacos. You won’t regret it.

    Panini Bakery – Located across the street from Mundo, Panini has what is perhaps the best pizza found on the central Oregon Coast. Cookies, muffins, and sandwiches are also on the menu.

    Rogue Brewers on the Bay – Across the Yaquina Bay Bridge, you’ll find a beer-lover’s oasis. Located along SE Marine Science Drive, Brewers on the Bay offers up standard pub fare and a full list of famous Rogue beers. This location is also home to the Rogue Brewery and Rogue World Headquarters. Drink on!

    A Few More Spots to Visit

    South Beach State Park – While you’re on the other side of the bridge, drive a few more miles down Highway 101 and visit this state park. There is usually plenty of parking and a few miles of calm coastline. You can take a paved path to various sections of the beach and out to the South Jetty. Use caution and check the tide tables before your visit. This is just one of the area’s dog-friendly beaches.

    Oregon Coast Aquarium – Encounter an octopus, watch otters and seals swim, or view the many varieties of exotic fish. The Oregon Coast Aquarium is family-friendly and makes for a great date spot, too. Be sure to stop by the Sea Bird Aviary to see a variety of seabirds, from tufted puffins to common murres.

    To the North

    There’s lots more to explore beyond Newport. If you head north, be sure to make stops in Depoe Bay and Lincoln City.

    Depoe Bay is home to the Whale Watching Center and the world’s smallest navigable harbor.

    Lincoln City is divided into a collection of smaller districts. In this quiet but kitschy city you should plan to make stops at the Lincoln City Cultural Center and a wide selection of local glass studios, where artists give live glassblowing demos.

    To the South

    South of Newport, you’ll find great spots like Ona Beach and Seal Rock. Visit the Port of Alsea for a day of paddling or watch people try their luck at fishing and crabbing. Be sure to stop by local shops for candy, books, or beach souvenirs.

    Head another eight miles down the highway to Yachats. Deemed “the gem of the Oregon Coast,” Yachats is weirdly wonderful and the people are wonderfully welcoming. There are plenty of beaches, guest lodging options, or quiet spots to grab a bite to eat in this tiny town. (The crowds thin out after the summer season. The lighter crowds make a day visit much more enjoyable.)

    Just a few more miles down 101, you’ll find Cape Perpetua. Cape Perpetua is a lovely mix of mountains, an ancient, lush rainforest, and spots to catch breathtaking coastal views. A day pass is required, but it’s worth the money. Purchase a day pass at the Cape Perpetua Visitor Center, or use your Northwest Forest Pass to avoid buying a day pass.

    Now, go stick your feet in the sand and search for sand dollars before summer’s over.

    By Abbie Tumbleson

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  • An Eclectic Overnight in Ashland
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    Overnight in Ashland_fancy cider BrickroomSure, the temperature is a few degrees warmer on the thermometer, and you’ll have to hit the road for three-plus hours to get there, but Ashland is worth it. If you haven’t already been there—and even if you have—take a romantic overnight trip south to enjoy an eclectic mix of tasty grub and fancy libations with a Shakespeare play and a walk in the park on the side. Drink with your pinky out, too. We know you want to. Hell, we want to join you.

    Take a break from your 200-plus-mile drive to this southern belle of a city, and start the trip off with a full belly of beer and pizza from Kaleidoscope Pizzeria & Pub in nearby Medford. Kaleidoscope’s Thai chicken pizza was named “Best Pizza in Oregon” on Zagat’s 50 States, 50 Pizzas list in 2013. The place is also decked out in Grateful Dead memorabilia and tie-dye—which any Pacific Northwestern Deadhead can appreciate. If you really feel like celebrating an evening of Jerry, order the Garcia Bleu, a pie featuring buffalo-style chicken, bacon, blue cheese crumbles, veggies, and garlic, and take a seat next to your favorite album cover. Just don’t pull a Casey Jones and drink too much.

    After you roll into Ashland, the best way to follow up your first course of pizza and beer is to drink more beer.

    Keep it local and head over to Standing Stone Brewing Company on Oak Street, or Caldera Tap House on Water Street, for some seriously drinkable and delicious craft beers. Both places serve food and have excellent outdoor seating areas for you to enjoy those steamy Southern Oregon summer nights.

    No visit to Ashland is complete without scoring tickets to a Shakespeare play. Just remember to practice your Old English accent before the show—no one likes it when you talk during the production.

    Home to a menagerie of unique theaters and talented actors and actresses that take the various stages for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival each year, Ashland has much to offer amateur thespians and English nerds alike.

    Become immersed in one of Shakespeare’s love stories with tickets to Antony & Cleopatra, which runs through Oct. 9, or Pericles, showing through Nov. 1. For a full list of plays featured in the festival lineup and ticket information, visit www.osfashland.org. It’s best to order your tickets in advance.

    Once you’ve had your fill of Shakespeare, head over to Brickroom Gathering House on North Main Street for some après-play fun. Brickroom features an authentic atmosphere and a fancy selection of liquor, craft brews, and ciders. Try the Sascotch, a concoction consisting of Clan MacGregor Scotch, lemon juice, and ginger beer, and order up some small plates to share with your significant other or the group of new friends you’ve met at the bar. The outdoor balcony is a great spot to people watch into the late hours of the night.

    To continue on your booze cruise, wonderfully tipsy, evening out on the town, mosey over to the Black Sheep Pub on North Main Street for a nightcap. You’ll feel like you’ve been transported to the United Kingdom—just don’t cheer for the wrong soccer team. Instead, remember what you’re there for and order up a Harp Lager or Guinness Stout. If you’re feeling adventurous and a little wicked, try something fun like the Snake Bite, a mix of cider and lager. The libations menu also features Irish Car Bombs if you want to mix things up.

    When you’re ready to snuggle in for the night, try resting your head at the Columbia Hotel on East Main Street. This historic, European-style hotel might cost a little bit more than a hotel room in Corvallis, but you’re close to downtown Ashland and the rooms are generously sized. Just keep in mind that “European-style” also means sharing a restroom with a few other hotel guests. It’s really not that bad—you get a break from TV screens and there’s free Wi-Fi.

    In the morning, prepare to rise and shine and head over to Rogue Valley Roasting Co., also located along East Main Street, for your morning caffeine fix. While you’re there, chow down on a breakfast burrito, a muffin, or a slice of vegan-friendly pumpkin bread.

    As you explore the city streets with the kind and costumed people of Ashland, stop in to browse the shelves of Bloomsbury Books. This independent bookstore has maps, cards, classic reads, and works penned by Oregon authors. There’s also good, fair trade coffee on the second level of the building at Bloomsbury Coffee House. You can even grab a sandwich for the road.

    Take a stroll through Lithia Park, the “Central Park” of Ashland, and stretch your legs for a few minutes before heading back north to Corvallis. You might even find the perfect crystal, gemstone, or antique typewriter to take back home with you on the way to your car.

    By Abbie Tumbleson

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  • Beer, Bike, and Hike in Bend
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    BendORPanoramicA day in Bend is memorable no matter what time of year it is. In the winter, Mt. Bachelor draws crowds from all over for skiing and snowboarding. Bend is a great summer day trip from Corvallis as well, although you may opt to stay overnight because you’ll be exhausted after experiencing all, or even some, of what it has offer.

    Start your day out right. Breakfast at the Breakfast Club has been called unadventurous, but not everyone wants adventure first thing in the morning. If you want a basic, slightly-better-than-diner experience, this is the place for you. The coffee is coffee and the eggs are eggs… but it’s really good and it’s where the locals go, so you can’t really go wrong. Insider tip, the Kielbasa Skillet is amazing if you’re into that sort of thing. This place won’t break the bank. You can easily eat and have your morning cup o’ joe for under $10.

    After breakfast, it’s a straight shot up Greenwood Avenue to Pilot Butte. Pick any hiking trail from the parking lot at the bottom, because all of them lead to the top. You can also drive to the top on the paved road. No matter how you plan to get to the top, this is an absolute must when in Bend. You can see the snow-capped Cascade mountains, Three Sisters, Mt. Jefferson, Black Butte, and Mt. Hood from the top of this old cinder cone. You can spend as much time as you’d like… and when you’re ready for lunch head back down Greenwood and stop in at Rockin’ Dave’s Bagel Bistro.

    If you’re a closet Nickelback fan, you may want to tell a fib when asked at Rockin’ Dave’s unless you’re ready to come out to your friends. Rather than call your name or order number, they call you up by your favorite musician when your food is ready, but that’s not all that rocks about Rockin’ Dave’s. Although they are known for their bagels that they make fresh daily, they have much more to offer. Their sandwiches are amazing, especially the Pork Bomb which is made with smoked pork belly, smoked pulled pork, and ham. Their menu is also fairly inexpensive. You can get a fantastic sandwich for around $10, but you can also get a ham and Swiss bagel for $4 if you’re eating on a budget.

    From lava caves to concerts in Drake Park, there is never a dull moment in Bend in the summer unless you want there to be. The dry heat of the high desert climate allows for a lot of outdoor activity in the summer months, but bring a coat if you plan to be out and about when the sun goes down. Temperatures quickly drop to frigid levels at night. Other popular outdoor summertime options: whitewater rafting, rock climbing, hiking, fishing, paddle boarding, bike rentals, canoeing, swimming… the list goes on and on, but if you’ve ever wanted to have a beer or a glass of wine while simultaneously toning your calves, then I have the perfect afternoon activity for you.

    The Cycle Pub is exactly what it sounds like. You can BYOB or wine. You just grab some friends and hop on a barstool and start peddling to propel these unique, pedal-powered vehicles. It doesn’t get any trendier than combining an eco-friendly form of transportation and a craft beer IPA. They have cycles that can accommodate up to 14 people. Not everyone has to do the work; there are some passive seats and a bench for those that want to enjoy their beverages sans working out. You can choose your own route or embark on the Bend Ale Trail.

    The Bend Ale Trail is exactly what it sounds like. There is a Bend Ale Trail Map and a passport that can be printed off of the website, or you can find one in most brochure racks and at any of the 16 participating breweries. When you visit a brewery on the map, you get a stamp on your passport and earn prizes. Although the Cycle Pub is a great way to travel along the Ale Trail, there are myriad other options including a bus, a horse-drawn carriage, and an 1800s-style trolley car. You can’t go wrong with any of these unusual options, but the best part about Bend’s Ale Trail is the breweries themselves. A number of world class breweries have come out of Bend—in fact, Bend has been dubbed Beer Town USA because it has more breweries per capita than any other city in Oregon.

    After a long day in the Bend sunshine, a classy dinner is in order, and there is one dining experience that can’t be found anywhere else. Make a reservation for a sunset dinner at Pine Marten Lodge. You’ll have to also purchase a lift ticket, because the chairlift is the only way to get up there, but you can come up earlier in the day and take in the sights or have a drink in the lounge if you want to make the most of it. The dinner has a pretty steep price tag. The cheapest entree is the Broken Top Burger at $18, but if you decide to splurge on the grilled salmon or the prime rib, you won’t regret it. Although the gourmet cuisine is delicious, the experience is really about the amazing view of the sunset over the Cascade Range, and there is no better way to end your trip to Bend than the scenic ride on the chairlift back to the bottom.

    By Hannah Darling

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  • Miller and Jones Behind Corvallis Knights Successes
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    MillerandJonesKnightsAlternateBaseball is simultaneously America’s favorite pastime and America’s favorite sport to hate on. Games run long, the action is sporadic, and there are a million oddly convoluted statistics for everything. Despite all that, Corvallis has filled seats and found success on and off the baseball diamond this summer—and almost every summer—with the Corvallis Knights.

    The Corvallis Knights are part of the West Coast League, a summer wood bat league composed entirely of college-eligible student-athletes from up and down the West Coast. Play is centered in the Pacific Northwest, with teams from as far north as Victoria, Canada and as far south as Medford, Oregon. Players are put through their paces in an effort to prepare them for professional ball, experiencing tough travel schedules and some of the best college talent in their areas.

    Our Knights were founded in 1990, starting out as part of a recreational league in Beaverton before settling into the Portland City League in 1994. Thirteen years and a few league switches later, the team migrated to the place we call home and has been a staple of our community ever since.

    Within the West Coast League, the Knights entered this season as the leaders in total wins with 320 regular-season victories. Those 320 wins come with eight divisional titles and three league championships, backed by over 151 players who’ve gone on to sign with MLB teams. To put it simply, the Knights aren’t a team to be messed with, something they share with the Oregon State baseball team.

    With such storied success, the Knights’ 2015 season was a bit rocky in comparison. A slow start had the Knights’ record at nine wins and 14 losses after their first month of play. But a red hot July and August put the Knights back into playoff position, finishing with32 wins and 22 losses, good for the only wild card spot in the playoffs, where they would face their divisional opponents, the Bend Elks. The Elks proved to be too much to handle as they went on to sweep the two-game series and end the Knights’ season in the first round of the playoffs.

    With the on-field disappointment, it can be easy to scratch this season off as a loss, but a number of behind-the-scenes changes have led to some huge, less noticeable successes.

    The ones responsible for the hidden successes, both on and off the field, are the minds behind the team. General Manager Bre Miller and Senior VP of Operations Holly Jones are the two-headed dragon working frantically behind the scenes to make each and every home game entertaining for the fans.

    Miller has been with the team for almost a decade now. She’s grown up with the team, starting as an intern in 2007, working her way all the way up to general manager in 2012. She was the first female general manager in the league and her extensive knowledge of the inner workings of the team made her uniquely qualified to take on almost all roles for the team.

    “I am responsible for overseeing everything, marketing, advertising, promotions, hiring, firing, staying on budget, merchandise, ticketing, staff, etc.,” Miller said.

    Jones, on the other hand, has been bouncing all over the map landing jobs everywhere. Since her few years as an assistant and intern with the Knights, Jones landed a job with the NBA, started another West Coast League team from scratch, the Victoria Harbourcats, and even spent some time with a professional minor league team, all before landing back home with the Knights. Jones utilizes her outside knowledge to perfectly complement Miller’s understanding of the team. The yin to Miller’s yang.

    Miller and Jones used that harmony to great success this season, leading to great turnouts and happy fans.

    “I am so thankful to have Holly on staff,” Miller said. “It is so nice to have another experienced professional on board our small front office team to bring new ideas and perspective. Both on and off the field this year was fantastic. On the field, we started off a little slow, but ended up making post season play—what an achievement. Off the field, we hit many goals and exceeded some as well. We finished the regular season with a total attendance figure of 48,466, far surpassing the team’s old record of 43,529 set in 2013. We averaged 1,514 per game over 32 dates, and 1,498 per game for WCL home games which was good for second best in the league—our highest ranking since being members in the WCL.”

    It wasn’t just attendance numbers that Miller and Jones brought to the table in 2015. This year, the Knights introduced a new logo, redesigned mascots, and started a number of community engagement programs. Next year, Miller and Jones are looking to expand on their new ideas and celebrate a certain milestone.

    “2016 is our 10th anniversary in Corvallis so we’re definitely doing something extra special next summer,” Miller stated. “We have the Reading Program that we launched late spring. We’re hoping to get that out earlier in the year so more schools and classes can participate. We also launched a Lil’ Knights Kids Club this year. Again, with a little more planning and time we hope to make both a lot better next year.”

    Thanks to the powerful duo of ladies behind the scenes and the boys on the field, the Knights’ reputation is sterling and looks to remain that way. Knights games have become a summer staple in Corvallis and understandably so, as the experience both on and off the field promises to be worth the price of admission.

    By Nathan Hermanson

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  • Hard Truths: Truthless Ambition
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    HardTruths_8_20_15Chapter 47, in which Sidney attempts to answer a burning question:

    Is it “okay” to support Donald Trump for President of the United States?

    The short answer which should be obvious to everyone is yes. This is the United States of America and you’re absolutely free to support whoever you choose. The medium-sized answer is obviously no, because Donald Trump is a monster and I wouldn’t feel comfortable with him running a pancake breakfast to raise money for arthritis research, let alone the most important country on the planet. But that leads into the longer answer which unfortunately again is yes. That’s the “yes” I want to talk about because it hints at larger discord amongst the electorate.

    There’s currently a flame war going on in conservative camps over the candidacy and unexpected popularity of Trump in the early going. Last week on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show, respected conservative journalist Charles Cooke reacted with incredulity and just a little bit of condescension to Hannity and his other guest, the notorious Ann Coulter, and their continued praise of Trump. Coulter has even since doubled down on her support of Trump, tweeting, “I don’t care if @realDonaldTrump wants to perform abortions in White House after this immigration policy paper,” (with an accompanying link to said paper). Then after that little showdown, Glenn Beck, former fellow Fox News personality of Hannity’s and now an independent conservative juggernaut, used even stronger words to condemn both Trump and his republican supporters, in a widely circulated piece from his website The Blaze.

    The gist of both Cooke’s and Beck’s criticisms is simply that Trump is very clearly no conservative in either the traditional or “big tent” sense. They charge that he’s an opportunist Democrat looking for a way in. He’s pro-tax, pro-choice, pro-gun control, and pro-single payer healthcare. Not only that, he’s an unprincipled clown.

    The clown charge in particular is an oft-repeated one by commentators on both sides of the aisle. I’m pretty sure I even used it myself a few weeks ago in a column.

    Let me be clear, I absolutely think Trump is a clown, and no matter what party he was running for, under any platform, I could never vote for him. My reasoning is as simple as this: Trump represents something that is completely fair, and even to some extent desirable, in an open society with free markets. Trump very simply believes that whatever it takes to end the day with the most coins in his purse is morally defensible, and the ultimate measure of a human is their earning capability. And I honestly don’t have a problem with that in a human. It’s really not that crazy, it’s just another version of survival, which is to say, rational self-interest. But for the job of POTUS, a job that comes with it ultimate responsibility for the safety of all US citizens as well as a being a role model for our youth and a symbol of what is good and just in society, he’s very clearly not the man for the job. This isn’t an insult to Trump. I know plenty of great guys who have no business being president. Barack Obama for one, Mike Huckabee for another. Al Gore, Bernie Sanders, Mitt Romney, Ben Carson are just some other immediate examples that come to mind. But in Trump’s case, I just don’t want the next generation to grow up perpetuating the notion that there’s no such thing as a principle. That you can endlessly compromise, and change your convictions as long as you end up “on top.” It may work great in the board room, but it doesn’t work for president.

    But this all overlooks the key issue, which is whether or not it’s “okay” to support him. And as much as I loathe the concept of him as president, it unequivocally is completely okay. If the problems I mentioned aren’t as important to you as his position on immigration (as ostensibly is the case with Coulter), then you should absolutely support him. Position shaming is the lazy intellectual equivalent of slut shaming.

    “Only an idiot would support _______” is not a politically or morally defensible position. To be clear, not all of the Trump criticizers are relying on this tactic. Charles Cooke gave a very concrete, policy-based and respectful critique on Hannity. But other attacks on Trump, notably Becks and Charles Krauthammer’s from the right, and literally every single attack from the left, have consistently relied on this rather feeble rhetorical strategy.

    If you really in your heart think Donald Trump has the answers to our problems, don’t be afraid to let your freak flag fly. Just be prepared for principled (and not so principled) opposition.

    By Sidney Reilly

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  • Coveting Cats
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    Lil-BubCats rule the Internet. Whether you’re a cat person, dog person, or just a heartless soul who couldn’t care less about soft little fur babies, you’ll find it difficult to avoid the Web’s virtual cat park. Thousands of pictures and videos lie in wait for the latest victim of overwhelming cuteness. Why are cats the Internet’s favorite pet? I will employ evidence surrounding human nature, cat nature, and celebri-cat culture to support three theories.

    Theory 1. We want to punish cats.
    Cats are a*sholes. They bite, scratch, vomit, kill, demand food, party all night, and leave in their purring wake incalculable quantities of hair, dander, and feces. Deep down, every cat owner knows that cats are gross and evil. And because cats are so despicable, we sort of want to hurt them.

    Of course, that would be abuse. A better way to get back at cats for being such jerks is to humiliate them on the Internet: a silly cat video, stupid meme—voila, we have managed to demean the animal that brings us such pain. Fluffy crapped in the sink? Ha, now we’re calling her Hitler on Instagram—no, make that Kitler. Too bad she can’t do anything about that mustache. Is Fluffy overweight? A more grown-up alternative to fat-shaming is cat-shaming. No harm, no foul.

    Theory 2. It’s a Cat-Spiracy.
    Perhaps today’s millions of cat memes are the work of cats themselves, rather than the result of human ingenuity. Fed up with our superior attitudes and idiotic rules, cats are standing up for themselves online. For all we know, cats have long since employed this method to deliver subliminal messages to humans. Cats manipulate us by posing for videos and pictures, which we assume are artifacts of our pets’ capacity for cuteness. Once this “entertainment” goes viral, our cats’ hidden intelligence can be easily distributed to humans worldwide.

    Skeptical about a cat-spiracy? Other mysterious schemes, like the Illuminati, Anonymous, and Siri, were also spread through the Web. Perhaps the real culprit was the cat community. Considering that we’ve been worshiping cats since the days of Ancient Egypt, it’s not such a senseless theory. Even now, we’re inexplicably placing cats in charge of ourselves. Recently, a kitten replaced Seattle’s mayor for a full day. City Hall was, of course, renamed “Kitty Hall.” If the cats are in charge, they are doing a good job, and will soon dominate the world.

    Theory 3. We seek to nurture the helpless and stupid.
    Studies show that we respond to the huge eyes and plaintive meows of cats and kittens in the same way that human mothers do to newborn babies. When childless loners are denied the American dream of a spouse and children due to a lack of social skills, good looks, or sexual prowess, they often turn to cats instead. After all, cats were bred categorically for cuteness. As we obsess the most over cats who appear helpless, our favorite felines are particularly derpy, deformed, and disfigured.

    Top celebri-cats include Nala Cat, whose derp claim to fame is permanently crossed eyes, Grumpy Cat, whose angry glare is the result of feline dwarfism, and Lil’ Bub, a cat born with numerous developmental deformities—most notably a lack of teeth—whose tongue waggles out 24/7. Other members of the derp-list include Princess Monster Truck, whose sharp underbite appears to have been transplanted from her upper jaw, and Colonel Meow, who resembles an elderly man with dementia.

    The Internet has convinced us that looking at cat pictures and videos is a suitable replacement to loving and helping other people, so watching these weirdos attempt to live “normal” cat lives can be quite fulfilling.

    We live in an age where everyone is fast to jump on a bandwagon, start a protest, or troll away. These days, cats may not be the best friend of man, but the evidence that they are the best friends of mankind— and the ultimate motivation for online page-viewing—is found indisputable when one logs onto Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. If it’s got fur or purr, it’s bound to go viral.

     Whether we protect the helpless or play devil’s advocate, projecting our deepest and most desperate desires and fears onto the feline countenance gives us the opportunity to jump on that bandwagon, and spread the mighty word-of-cat: HEAR ME ROAR.

    By Kiki Genoa

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  • It’s a Zoo Around Here
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    Exterior2Tango Says ‘Hey’ at Animal House
    By Kerry Hill

    I’m in Animal House on 4th Street, watching two chameleons delicately, patiently climb the wire walls of their cage, when a woman approaches the register beside me. She’s here for crickets and wax worms. Considering the store’s wide variety of reptiles, the black rabbit with its trembling nose, and thousands of species of fresh and saltwater fish, I’m not surprised when she tells me Animal House carries the “most succulent” wax worms in Corvallis.

    A wry, almost calculated cackling arises from the front room. It’s Tango, the resident macaw—a riot of red, yellow, and blue with a formidable beak and a vocabulary rivaling any toddler’s. Behind Tango’s cage another room houses lovebirds, finches, and rare-hued budgies. In the large enclosures outside, throngs of cockatiels and even more budgies sing and chatter. The air vibrates with their voices.

    The store is dim, labyrinthine, a tad cramped, but I completely trust Dale Stepnicka, the owner. He’s worked with tropical fish nearly his whole life—since he was a precocious nine-year-old—and spent 15 years breeding chinchillas. He and his staff raise guinea pigs, rabbits, and most of their birds in-house. The other critters—the lizards and turtles, the koi, the tree frogs—come from all over the world. And Stepnicka’s work doesn’t end when he leaves the shop; at home, he cares not only for several saltwater and freshwater aquariums, but also over 30 parrots. “You have to have a passion to do it,” he said. Damn straight.

    Forget the fluorescent lighting of big box stores like Petco with their shiny floors and employees lulled into a stupor by the Muzak. At Animal House, open for over 30 years, you’ll find a staff who cares about their animals and customers.

    I pull myself away from the chameleons and drift toward the bird room, stop in front of Tango’s cage. He hangs upside down and eyes me curiously.

    “Hey,” he squawks.

    Staff, Source, and Selection at Animal Crackers
    By Kelsi Villareal 

    Dedicated to pet well-being, Kate Lindburg and Jim Dagata opened Animal Crackers in 1994 in order to supply the best products for pet health and nutrition. They stock items primarily for cats and dogs, as well as birds, rabbits, chickens, and small rodents, although the strangest pet they’ve ever had in was a skunk, which one woman brought by to have fitted for a harness.

    If customers come in looking for products they don’t carry, they send them to one of the other pet stores in town. “We try not to compete with other locals,” said Shannon Proctor, who has been with Animal Crackers for seven years. Proctor’s dog, Bailey May, who joins her at work, is chewing on a tendon that looks like a large piece of taffy.

    “We’ve got a really big selection of body parts,” Proctor said. Besides pet food, bones, tendons, hoofs, and other treats for dogs and cats are Animal Cracker’s most popular items. The store sells a variety of food designed for pets with different needs. For instance, some is made from kangaroo meat for animals with allergies to more common proteins. Animal Crackers also offers a nail trimming service, asking for donations to animal shelters instead of payment.

    Animal Crackers is a great place both to shop for healthy pet supplies and to indulge in silly pet accessory buying urges. Bailey May has her own doggy bike basket and doggy goggles, both items sold at the store. Animal Crackers also sells a box cake mix for dogs, which comes in peanut butter, pumpkin, and red velvet flavors.

     

    Lindburgh said she mostly works with domestic family-held suppliers for foods, and is clearly proud of the store’s staff, many of whom have been there for quite awhile. She is also a past president of the Corvallis Independent Business Alliance, a group that advocates for local sourcing.

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  • August Library Program Brings Wags and Smiles
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    READ dogs 1_TumblesonIt’s a mild summer afternoon in Corvallis and kids are lined up inside the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library as they await their chance to read with a dog.

    Riley, a spunky and charismatic Havanese, sits with one paw placed gently on the hands of eight-year-old Madison McGirl of Corvallis as she reads a book aloud. Claudia Jump, Riley’s owner and handler, explains how much her dog enjoys interacting with people. Across the room, Dustee the Whippet, a seasoned therapy dog of nearly 10 years, rests his head on a blanket nestled next to another girl as she eagerly tells him a story. Jacque Barrington, Dustee’s owner and the Reading Education Assistance Dogs Program coordinator, said Dustee loves spending time with children and is always accepting of the treats he receives throughout the reading lessons.

    Riley and Dustee are trained and certified therapy dogs participating in the local R.E.A.D. Program. The program has been part of the early literacy education offerings at the library for about 10 years, according to Dana Campbell, a youth services reference librarian.

    “A child will sit down and read with one of those wonderful dogs and their kind handlers. We’re trying to instill that confidence to be a reader. We also have a lot of people who use the R.E.A.D. program to introduce dogs to their children,” Campbell said.

    The R.E.A.D. dogs and their handlers are members of Welcome Waggers, a national organization.

    “The interaction between the children and the dogs is just incredible,” said Barrington, a retired schoolteacher. “This has been a very successful program in helping children read. The whole idea is for the child to relax, and they’re not threatened by reading to a dog.”

    Welcome Waggers coordinator Wendy McCoy said in addition to bringing “peace and joy” to the humans they interact with, therapy dogs come with health benefits.

    “Visiting with a therapy dog can lower blood pressure. Almost everybody who sees a dog wants to pet it. We bring smiles to people’s faces,” she said. “Everybody wants a chance [to meet one of the dogs].”

     R.E.A.D. teams visit the library at the end of each summer for the “Dog Days of August,” where for three days each week throughout the month the kids can hang out with the gentle canines. The program happens about once a month throughout the school year. You can visit www.cbcpubliclibrary.net for a schedule.

    By Abbie Tumbleson

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  • Catching Up with Calamity Clifford
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    20150707_182353-1It was about 16 months ago that we met Clifford. My wife and I were considering adopting yet another dog to add to our pack. We ended up at Safe Haven Humane Society in Albany, and met Clifford. A 10-week-old black lab, the runt was so tiny that you could hold him in one hand. He had a short tail that curled like a pig’s. Usually, puppies sell like hotcakes despite the higher purchase price. Clifford, however, was born with challenges. Blindness from birth was the least of his problems. The guy also had one undescended testicle, a hernia, and a heart murmur. The last condition was the most serious. In addition to being potentially life-threatening, the heart condition would make it unsafe for Clifford to ever have surgery to resolve any of his other conditions. My wife and I fought the urge to adopt him ourselves. We knew we couldn’t possibly give the puppy what he needed, and doubted we could emotionally handle what would likely be a short life span. But as we played with the tiny fuzzball, gently keeping him from bumping chair legs in the shelter lobby, we knew we would have to check back day after day until Clifford did find a home. Or else, maybe we would take him home after all.

    Luckily, he went home with Kari and Scott Lasswell the very next day. He proceeded to outlive all the pessimistic projections of vets and techs alike, and grew to full size. In addition to having his own Facebook page, “Clifford’s Calamities,” the tiny pup earned a mention in an earlier Advocate article last summer.

    My wife and I visited the Lasswell home recently, and re-met this runt turned full-sized dog. Clifford is 18 months old now, and weighs about 40 pounds. His curly tail hasn’t grown much, and hides itself in a patch of hair like a comb over. He still has the hernia, and that embarrassing issue with his man parts. He still has a slight heart murmur, too, although it has improved. He’s also still blind. But then, Clifford has never known how to see. He doesn’t have to worry too much about strange obstacles in the Lasswell house or yard. He gets the majority of his play and exercise from his best friend and adopted sister Harley. She is a light brown boxer mix about the same size and weight as Clifford. Despite being more than twice his age, Harley is still puppy enough to roughhouse all day with her jet black buddy. They don’t play hide and seek or chase, but do love to wrestle and box with their paws.

    “It’s the Clifford and Harley show,” Scott said of the relationship between the two dogs. “They’re always together. This backyard is their world.”

    Clifford doesn’t fetch, and will only chew your shoes if he happens to run into them. He will occasionally bump into bushes in the yard and chair legs in the house. But never hard enough to get hurt. When he runs in the yard, it’s usually at a cautious half-speed. Other than the blindness, Clifford behaves like a pretty normal dog. And on at least one occasion, being blind turned out to be an advantage.

    When the two dogs escaped out the front door one day, Clifford only went halfway across the street, where he waited for his humans to retrieve him. Harley, like a typical dog in a “jail break” situation, explored the neighborhood and ended up at a laundromat.

    When my wife and I first met Clifford, we both agreed that he needed to find just the right home, no matter how long he survived. He’s now over a year and half old and going strong. Looks like the right home found him.

    By Dave DeLuca

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