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Greetings From The Northwest: Under The Weather

Think Out Loud Staff Picks Of 2015


Every weekday at noon Think Out Loud hosts an hour of live, unscripted conversations on topics important to people in the Northwest. After countless conversations in 2015, the staff of Think Out Loud revisit some of the most notable shows of the year — covering a wide topics from the state fair, police relations, assisted suicide and a local puzzle master.

150 Years Of The Oregon State Fair

The 150th annual Oregon State Fair opened on August 28th.

The 150th annual Oregon State Fair opened on August 28th.

Christina Belasco/OPB

Think Out Loud broadcasted live on the first day of the Oregon State Fair and talked to participants — ranging from the 4H exhibitors to the table decorators, the paper artists, poets and sword swallowers.

Think Out Loud Host Dave Miller highlights his conversation with Brad Byers, who specializes in sword swallowing and other unusual and unique acts. Byers describes how he started sword swallowing; “I’m celebrating my fortieth year in show business. Back then there wasn’t YouTube. You didn’t go on the computer. There were no books available. … I learned to swallow swords all by myself, never seeing a sword swallower before,” said Byers. Listen in at 31:10 to hear the full conversation with Byers.

At Home With ALS

Summer Whisman was diagnosed with ALS three years ago at the age of 32.

Summer Whisman was diagnosed with ALS three years ago at the age of 32.

John Rosman/OPB

Think Out Loud’s At Home series is a collection of personal conversations from people’s homes across Oregon. In September, Think Out Loud interviewed Summer Whisman who was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) at the age of 32. She decided to write a memoir. The unpublished manuscript chronicles her first symptoms and eventual diagnosis with ALS, as well as her life before that teaching English in Sapporo, Japan, and waiting tables in Colorado, where she went to school.

Elizabeth Gilbert Gets Creative

One of the biggest names on Think Out Loud this past year was “Eat, Pray, Love” author Elizabeth Gilbert. She wrote a self-help book for everyone looking to find a little more creativity in their lives. Gilbert started the project after a TED talk she gave in 2009 became wildly popular online and people started asking her for advice.

Represented: Police Relations In NE Portland

Barbara Allen has been arrested a number of times. She's had some good experiences and some bad ones, but generally, she says, "I don't have anything against the police, even though I've done wrong. I've done it all. I've never killed anyone or shot anyone, but boy I've done not too nice of things. And when you're wrong you're wrong. I'm wrong. Why be mad at him cause I'm wrong?"

Barbara Allen has been arrested a number of times. She's had some good experiences and some bad ones, but generally, she says, "I don't have anything against the police, even though I've done wrong. I've done it all. I've never killed anyone or shot anyone, but boy I've done not too nice of things. And when you're wrong you're wrong. I'm wrong. Why be mad at him cause I'm wrong?"

John Rosman/OPB

This year Think Out Loud launched a new series called “Represented” where the staff travels to cities and towns across the state to hear about how policy issues affect Oregonians at home. In February the team visited Oregon’s 43rd district, represented in Salem by Rep. Lew Frederick. The district includes a large swath of north and northeast Portland, where relations with police have been strained. Rep. Frederick has introduced a slew of bills to reform police bureaus around the state, including laws that would limit profiling, require police body cameras and change the standard for use of deadly force.

Producer Dave Blanchard highlights a conversation in the show when D’Vario Rice describes his experience of being pulled over in Portland. Listen 16 minutes in to the show to hear the whole conversation with Rice.

Peter Rassmussen

Dr. Peter Rassmussen died at home on Nov. 3 surrounded by his family, after taking a lethal dose of drugs to end his life. Rassmussen worked for thirty years as an oncologist and palliative care doctor in Salem, and was one of many doctors who pushed for the the Death with Dignity law to pass in Oregon.  As an oncologist, he wrote end-of-life medication prescriptions for dozens of people since the act became law in Oregon.

Think Out Loud Executive Producer Sage Van Wing looked back on the show: “We had the great honor this year to talk to several people who have since passed away. Dr. Peter Rassmussen who wan a longtime oncologist in Salem, and also one of the biggest proponents of Oregon’s Death With Dignity bill, was himself diagnosed with terminal brain cancer this year. He said he wanted to spend his last days talking on the phone with friends and cooking dinner for his wife.”

Local Puzzle Master Wins Competition

Thomas Gazzola, math professor at Washington State University, is a champion of the world-renowned MIT Mystery Hunt. This multi-day event takes place every January. It gathers students, teachers, computer scientists and puzzle aficionados together to complete a series of challenges, including crosswords, anagrams, physical challenges and scavenger hunts.

Gazzola was tragically struck and killed by a car when running this summer. Executive Producer Sage Van Wing chose to highlight this conversation because of the way Gazzola spoke movingly about how he knew he had found his tribe when he met other puzzlers.

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