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Looking for thoughts about a divorce over a change in a partner
2020.09.26 21:47 relationshipadvice51Looking for thoughts about a divorce over a change in a partner
This is a longer, more complex one so please be patient. About a year ago, my wife and I would argue almost daily about every day cleaning household differences. I couldn’t fold a towel right, I might have forgotten to put a blanket on the back of the couch right, I might have forgot to clean or missed some soap that has dripped from the soap dispenser onto a counter top, or maybe I forgot to use a coaster for my drink. I made efforts to try to make these things change to make her happy, but every time I slipped up and forgot to do something minor, I felt like a dog that peed on the carpet and was having it’s nose pushed in it. It made it stressful in the house, as I also like things clean, but I am okay with the house not looking like a hotel all the time. As long as the house was comfortable, I was happy. I think I probably started to feel resentment and I didn’t want to be in the house much. My wife began to have baby fever beginning in the beginning of the year. I had some reservations about bringing a child into the marriage whenever I didn’t feel happy and I felt that there was constant bickering and unhappiness. I told her I didn’t feel happy in our relationship so we decided to go to marriage counselling. The marriage counsellor basically said we had a mix-match of love languages. Her love language was acts of service and mine was touch. So he said hold off on the baby, we have plenty of time. Focus on each other and our love languages. I started trying to pick up my stuff more, in an attempt to show her that I am trying to make her happy. We revisited out chore list and I took on some additional chores. I installed a new toilet, installed a new privacy fence, hung up a line for our grapevine to climb on, as well as did most of the cooking. I didn’t see a change in her behavior, which was frustrating. We stopped having sex. She didn’t want to do things together with me. I felt like we were stuck. I am a police officer. George Floyd happened. I started to see a lot of anti-police type messages (or at least a lack of support of police) from my wife on social media. She began getting into arguments or “discussions” as she would say with my friends. She would attack my dad’s facebook posts. My friends saw her as a liability to their career and blocked my wife, upsetting her. I told her I felt sorry for her, but I could also understand where they were coming from. She took this as not supporting her, and still to this day she brings it up as not having her back. With feeling like she is pushing away our friends, my family, and not supporting me or my career choice, I really had reservations about having a child with her. I reached out to my old college roommate several times for advice and to see if he has seen a change in her within this year (he said he has). I reached out to her college roommate and asked similar questions and she stated she has. I reached out to a friend, I only really known from online for advice and a place to vent. I never really talked with my wife because I think she has the right to post whatever she wants to post on social media as long as she believes what she posts. I also wanted to see if this was a fad, or a bandwagon thing because it seemed to come from out of the blue. I was just hoping it would go away and we could go back to how we were. In one of my most recent conversations with my old college roommate, I said that I was afraid my wife and I weren’t going to make it, and I said a lot of the beliefs she had were crazy antifa, anti-cop, feminist ideas (this is important later). I also told my buddy that if we were dating that I would break up with her. Now, I stand by what I said, but if I was talking to my wife, the message would be similar, but the words would be very different. I considered this venting to my old buddy. My wife gave me an ultimatum about the child and started hinting at divorce. She wanted me to have an answer if I wanted to have a child with her by the end of fall, and not only a yes or a no answer, but if it is a yes, when. She said things like she would rather be a mother than married. She said she wanted a sprinkler system for the house, but didn’t want to invest money into a house that she didn’t know she would be living in. With all this going on, and it getting closer to Fall, I wanted to reach out to a therapist to get an outside perspective and opinion, and a way best I could relay my feelings and thoughts and have them best received by my wife. I made an appointment, but the nearest appointment was a few weeks out. On an off day, I was bobbing around the pool by myself, listening to music, watching TikTok videos on my Bluetooth speaker, and drinking. It was late at night, but I work night shift so it wasn’t unusual for me to stay up late on my off days. I invited my wife out to come hang out with me on 3 separate occasions this evening and she turned me down to keep playing Nintendo or keep watching Netflix or whatever she was doing. Well about 5 A.M., I look up and see my wife outside staring at me. I didn’t hear her coming I guess because of the Bluetooth speaker or the waterfall of the pool. And I didn’t see her coming. She surprised me and I am sure I reacted. She said I should probably come to bed and I agreed. I went to bed and slept like a rock. I woke up around noon as I see my wife come into the bedroom. She is upset and crying. I asked her what was wrong and she told me she went though my phone. I asked her what she was upset about and she saw the messages I sent to my old college roommate, her roommate, and that online friend I had. She scheduled a marriage counselling session at 2P and said to get ready. We go to the session and she basically said that my wife isn’t anti-cop, and I wasn’t a racist cop and we needed to learn to communicate better. We get home that evening and I had some screenshots on my phone of some of her social media posts that I didn’t agree with. I thought it would be a good way to discuss foundational differences that we had. I learned in therapy that I needed to try to communicate better so I sent her the screenshots in hopes she would see a theme of her posts and could see how I would feel what I feel. This somehow scared her that I took screenshots of her social media posts, she said she had to leave the house and acted like I did something a psychopath would do. She get dressed and I guess she left. I am not sure if she left or just went into another room. The next day we are talking and she said she thinks we need to get a divorce. She started to list our differences, said we needed to get divorce attorneys, how we could split the house, I could keep the furniture, what pets would go with who. She asked what reason we had to stay together besides we have been together for 9 years and we were comfortable. I struggled to come up with an answer. I asked her the same question. She struggled to come up with an answer. She said the idea of divorce brought her a feeling of relief. Alright, I considered us split. The next day we sign up for another counselling session, kind of a hail Mary for our relationship. The counsellor said that we would just have to accept we have different thoughts and beliefs and learn to deal with it. I was still in a mental fog. Feeling broken up with. Confused with my feelings. A couple days later wife approaches me with a “what’s your deal?” I told her I was concerned for our relationship. She gets upset, raises her voice, cuts me off, talks over me. Said again we need a divorce, and to get an attorney, blah, blah, blah. Okay. We are broken up a second time and we didn’t even get back together after the first lol. One morning I get a call from my co-worker asking if everything was okay. I said it was. He said that isn't what my wife said. I asked him what she said and he said that she messaged him and told him that we were getting a divorce and I might need someone to reach out to me. I explain everything to him and get off the phone with him after about an hour phone call. I then check my text messages and see that my mom texted me asking if everything was alright. I called her around her lunch break from work and asked her what she heard. Apparently my wife called my mom as she was getting ready for work and told her that we were getting a divorce and that I might need someone to reach out to. I am worried about my mother, knowing she was at work probably worried sick about me. I went over to my parents house and told them everything that was going on since they were so blindsided. The next day she said I need to hurry up with the divorce papers because I drag my feet on everything. Said she is glad she never had a kid with me because I would be a shit father and leave her to do 90% of the work. I took a shower and she apologized. I said okay, accepting her apology, but not being okay with what she said. The next day she goes over to her parents and talks to her mom and sister who I guess convince her that she made a mistake. She writes me a facebook message saying she didn’t mean what she said about divorce and wants to try to make it work. She said that the reason she said she wanted a divorce is because she saw in my phone when I was talking to my college roommate that I didn’t think it would work. At this point, I have no desire to make it work. I feel so detached from the relationship and I started accepting the relationship was over the first time she brought up divorce and how it made her feel relief. It is awkward around the house because she hasn’t moved out but yet we still aren’t really talking. I still feel the same way. I don’t think I can look at her the same way. I feel like she pushed it past the breaking point and the damage is too much. I am confused and my thoughts are mud. I had my own therapy session with a new therapist and he didn’t really offer much groundbreaking advice. If anything it was a good place to talk about it. And hopefully this is a good place to talk about it as well. I am open to other people’s thoughts and opinions, and I will reply to comments if there are any. When this tread dies down, I will most likely delete the post, as I have several friends and my wife also are on Reddit and I would like to keep this in between myself and anonymous people on the internet. Thanks for listening. TLDR: I am a police officer. Wife started posting anti-police social media posts. Wife gets in fight with friends and family over social issues. Wife goes through my phone and said she wants a divorce.
2020.07.25 19:12 ThrowRAfrienddramaAn old friend (30sF) just reached out to me (30sF) to apologize for ghosting a decade ago, and I don't know how to respond
The title is the short of it. The long of it is that I met this girl and two others during my last years in high school: my family moved the end of my junior year, so I was left making all new friends for my senior year. Honestly, of the few friends i had in high school, these three probably were (and are, in one case) the closest friends I've ever had. The friend in question (I'll call her Helen) had a rough life that we tried to be supportive of and help her with. I even took her on!again/off-again BF to senior prom because they were "off" but he was refusing to go to prom without a date. Wasn't bad, just... awkward. I think he was, in part, the crux of the ghosting: we thought she could do better than someone she was meh about; she saw him as her ticket out of state. The rest of us graduated before she did, but we stayed in touch and hung out when possible. The last real conversation I had with her was wedding talks (looking over dresses and ideas) where she said she wanted myself and another of our group as bridesmaids for her wedding with on/off BF. Sure, we said, we'll be there. She stopped responding after we left the hang out time. Eventually deleted her MySpace. Found out she'd run off with the BF through grapevine from her mom. Found out she married him through that same grapevine. Same thing when she eventually had her kid. We found her on FB; we all tried to reach out, add her, just see how she was doing. She didn't respond. So moved on. She and her husband moved back to the state a few years ago. I found out because she happened to come to the store I was working in and we ran into one another. It was... awkward. I was shocked and cold (within customer service limits); she was acting like nothing had changed. She apologized for being a poor friend and said she wanted to hang out, if willing. Sure, we can try as mutual friend and I have an errand in your neck of the woods next week. I'll call. Called. And called. Left on voicemail. Left voicemail too. She called a week later to say she didn't recognize the number so figured it was spam. I didn't return the call. That last bit was... about 8 years now. I got a message earlier this week from mutual friend saying Helen has been reaching out to the old friend group to apologize and wanted to know if she could reach put to me. I told mutual I needed to think on it. Helen messaged me (via FB Messenger) this morning anyway. Honestly, it sounds like her last apology: she's a coward who runs when it gets tough, and she wasn't a good friend. She's apparently going to a therapist now. She says I don't have to respond, but if I do, she's willing to accept what I throw at her. What I feel is tired. And grief again for the friend I lost because I haven't thought about her since the last attempt. The ball's apparently in my court now, but I'm not sure what to do with it. Help? Tl;dr: old friend from high school who just dropped everyone during college is reaching out to apologize and I don't know how to respond or if I even want to.
2020.07.19 04:43 AintEverLuckyChecking in on Texas schools, Start of Fall 2020 edition -- when will 100+ large ISDs start the new school year, virtual vs in-person, etc
Howdy one and all. As I post this, Sunday July 19th, we're mere weeks from when Independent School Districts across Texas plan to start the 2020-21 school year. Similar to April when Spring 2020 started winding down, I figured it may help some folks if we had one consolidated thread to collect start-of-school news. I'm starting with the districts in and around these areas -- Austin / Central Texas; Corpus Christi / Coastal Bend; Dallas / Ft. Worth; El Paso; Houston; Lubbock; Rio Grande Valley; San Antonio; and Waco/Killeen area. If or when Redditors pass along information about other large ISDs that I may have overlooked, feel free to mention them in the comments (with links if possible! thank you) and I'll update the top-note with those additions. A few things to remember in terms of statewide guidelines from the TEA:
In mid-June the agency said that districts could choose to start the school year as early as August 3rd, and keep school in session through the 3rd week of June 2021. This type of proposed calendar would expand Thanksgiving Break to two weeks, Winter Break to 4 weeks, and Spring Break to 3 weeks.
Just days ago, the agency said districts can move their First Day of School dates to later than usual, if desired. They also said that districts can provide virtual-only instruction for the first 4 weeks of the year, with no questions asked, and that districts in areas that have been hard-hit by the pandemic can request waivers to stay virtual-only an extra 4 weeks, for 8 weeks in all.
With these guidelines in mind, for each district I plan to list the start date listed on their website, as well as whether they plan to start the year with virtual learning only, and if so, for how long. (If I don't mention a virtual-only period, assume that the district will offer virtual and in-person instruction from the start.) Austin area districts --
Houston area districts -- as with DFW, I know there are umpteen different districts, and just to keep this semi-manageable, I'm going to look at the districts depicted in this map . If anyone wants to add links to districts in the outlying counties, that sounds OK to me.
Waco / Temple / Killeen area districts -- for now I'm going to stick with the bigger districts, i.e. those that contain one 6A high school, This page tied to the ESC for TEA Region 12 lists links to every ISD in the region.
2020.06.19 03:03 ZenifiedPandaUPS Mail Innovations, did they lose my package?
So I ordered a PS4 game from gamestop and I have been tracking it for about 7 days now. I do understand that the shipping can take longer, but I'm worried that my package as somehow been lost or stuck in a facility. I do know that with UPS MI, UPS hands off the package to USPS in which they then complete the delivery, but my package seems to be stuck at a UPS MI facility for about 6 days now. I have even called UPS support and all they told me was that my package is at a local post office with a pending delivery date, but my tracking number hasnt told me that. The packaged was supposed to be delivered to Nevada on 6/17/20. I tried tracking my package on the USPS site but all it told me was that my USPS is waiting for my package to arrive. The current date is 6/18/20 and so far my tracking looks like this... 06/12/2020 - 6:15 A.M. Carrollton, TX, United States Package transferred to destination UPS Mail Innovations facility 06/12/2020 - 1:11 A.M. Carrollton, TX, United States Package processed by UPS Mail Innovations origin facility 06/11/2020 - 12:39 A.M. Carrollton, TX, United States Package received for processing by UPS Mail Innovations 06/10/2020 - 8:30 P.M. Grapevine, TX, United States Shipment tendered to UPS Mail Innovations Is this normal (I havent used UPS MI before) or is this something I should be very worried about? UPDATE: The package ended up coming today at 6/27/20. The shipping literally took 17 DAYS. Coming from both me and the other user in the comments DO NOT use UPS MAIL INNOVATIONS and by all means AVOID THE SERVICE.
2020.05.10 03:18 Standard_ManyM7 ORM Non-Coastal US candidate -- 1 year Reflection
I saw jdmflcl's post and thought I could offer my own experience as well! I'm from the center of the US, so I figured I may help people from the Great Plains / Great Lakes region who may think about pursuing an MBA. Tl;dr: It’s been great, but wish I’d taken more advantage of out-of-class experiences and recruiting in first semester. Background · Work experience: 5 years varied experience in US Great Plains (2 years at a nonprofit service org, 2 years running a successful local tech startup, 1 year as a manageanalyst at regional finance firm). · Extra curriculars: Board of nonprofit service org, started a local pro bono consulting group, volunteered with my city's economic development board. · Undergrad school/major: T25, top public college (Berkeley, Michigan, UVA, UCLA, UNC, Texas, etc…) · Other education/coursework: Took some online coursework at target schools. I honestly think this helped a lot because my work experience is hard for an adcom to gauge how I'd do at coursework. · Demographs: US ORM Male Stats · GMAT Score (include breakdown!): 770 Q47/V48 (high point of my app) · Undergrad GPA: 3.27 (low point of my app, however in my undergrad I graduated with honors (top 15%) because my program is curved to a 3.0 with a narrow distribution). MBA Info · Goal of MBA: Transition into Financial Consulting in NY (accepted internship for this summer...supposedly). I really really also wanted to get out of the Great Plains career-wise, particularly to the Mid-Atlantic. (NY/Phila/DC) · Target schools: Rejected after interview at HBS, Admitted w/o $ at Stanford, LBS, HKS (MPA). Admitted w/ 50% at Wharton, Admitted w/ >50% at Fuqua, Instant Ding at Haas (wtf haas) and Sloan. Application Post Mortem I didn’t use a consultant and thought it was a great move for me. I have an untraditional background and mixed stats (GMAT/GPA split). I spoke with a few consultants and I felt they believed less in me than I did in myself. I did spend tons of time (months) building relationships with recent alums from the schools, finding them on linkedin, checking in over the months, and getting info about specific events and classes they enjoyed, and alumni activities they’re still involved in. Poured this into my applications, sent my essays to alums for feedback until they said my essays sounded like I was already a member of the community. Regrets and room for improvement:
I spread myself thin (8 apps) and applied all in R1. In retrospect I should have staggered my apps where I hadn’t spoken to as many alums and rushed the essays. Also I started with cities & schools that were prestigious without thinking about what I wanted to do in the long-term first. Could’ve saved myself time & effort on the front-end.
Didn’t practice interviews beforehand – I got better with time, but I stumbled over some obvious questions in my first few interviews. Really enjoyed Wharton’s group interview, even though it was the one I felt most worried about.
I didn't apply to CBS and Stern because I was worried about the Cost of Living. NYC prices just seem insane when my baseline has been $600-$800 for a 1-bedroom in my city. Given that I got more funding than expected, it may have been worth applying.
Decision Chose Wharton because I wanted NYC financial consulting and the branding+location+funding was impeccable. Felt terrible giving up Stanford because it had been my dream undergrad, but I knew I wanted to spend weekends in NYC during recruitment. Feel no regrets now, I made some friends at GSB anyway through the process. Philadelphia is a fun city for an MBA student. Really really fun. I also loved the culture at Fuqua and felt like I was drawn to the program above most others – but the distance from NY was a negative for me because it felt harder to justify recruiting there when I had no connection to the region. I’d recommend Fuqua to anyone else, they are amazing. Social I had a huge “imposter” syndrome starting school, especially when I realized I was the only one from the central US that's not-Chicago. My self-limiting hampered my early social life, and it’s my biggest regret. In retrospect, I should’ve spent more time just hanging out and going to all the bars/houseparties/nightclubs without worrying about class and recruiting for the first month. Even the Friday-Night boardgame crew was full of super-friendly extroverts who happened to be boardgame nerds. Professional Successfully recruited for Financial Services consulting in NY: · I messed up big on my early applications – didn’t emphasize my consulting-relevant strategy experience and my resume was too full of startup stats and funding milestones. Stupid to think that McKinsey recruiters would care about that for NY finance consulting. · Wish I had spent more time talking to current consultants / alum consultants like I did with the application process. In general I felt like I put extra effort into the MBA apps and coasted too much on the internship applications. I wish I would’ve spent time before the start of the MBA program talking to MBB and Big Four consultants in New York – it’s a great opportunity to say “hey I’m starting at [school] in the fall and want to work for your company in 2 years. What should I focus on doing?” · Recruiting for NYC was tough in general – I had lots of competition for MBB from others in my school who were coming from NY offices in other consulting jobs. I felt like I was one of the few who didn’t have prior consulting experience, and it made everything harder. In one interview I literally followed a Wharton guy who was from BCG NY Finance Consulting and was applying to Bain NY Finance Consulting…come on dude, leave some internships for the rest of us. · Didn’t get acquainted with the career office early on. Should’ve done that before I needed help. Regardless, got a consulting gig in Manhattan that pays really well, even if it's not MBB (~$168k/yr base). Dating Unique situation for me that I started dating someone the summer before my MBA who had recently finished Penn undergrad and was the only East Coast person in my Great Plains finance company. We hit it off well after I asked her a lot of Qs about Philadelphia and Wharton -- She’s moving back to Philadelphia and probably also surreptitiously influenced my decision to attend the school lol. Real Talk – dating in MBA programs is super-available, but remember that it’s basically a small insular community so everything you do will be quickly known by everyone else. I love hearing the grapevine gossip but I hate being part of it, so I probably wouldn’t date within my program. Financial Aid/Loans I was making ~$70k as the top-level analyst at my Midwest firm so no regrets whatsoever. Even when you try to tell people “hey, the Cost-of-Living in my old town meant I was basically making $100k worth of NY-money”, no one in NY would take me seriously pre-MBA. The location was probably the #1 thing for me, coming from so far away, and it would’ve absolutely been worth sticker price for me. Conclusion To atypical or non-coastal candidates – SPEND TIME TALKING TO ALUMS! This was by far the most important thing for me. I didn’t like the idea of working with a consultant because I felt my story wasn't typical and they wouldn't be used to it. That being said, I did have literally dozens of people review my applications. Feel free to ask me any questions!
2020.04.30 07:13 ZFusion12[WP] The most difficult part of being a Supervillian? Find love, not because other people won't like you, but because the stupid Superheros will swoop in and "rescue" your date every time, but this time you have a plan, and it's going to work.
Part 1 -- I kind of deviated from the prompt just a tad. Sorry for the length, I got a little carried away... Hasan Arya did not get nervous. He was the assassin known as sikin alzili in some circles, but more commonly referred to as The Shadow Knife. He was only loosely classified as a villain in that occasionally his contracts put him at odds with superheroes. While he was an assassin by trade, his jobs weren't just about killing people and, despite the occasional clash with the champions of justice, he did his best to actually avoid killing heroes. It wasn't even a question of skill so much as it was a matter of professional pragmatism--making it to the top of the heroes' shit list would be a sure way to hurt business. And while they found his job distasteful, there were usually bigger fish to fry in the form of some madman trying to levitate a bank away or something as equally as fool-headed. It did stroke his ego, however, to learn that the few times he happened to team up with a more grandiloquent villain (which was exceedingly, exceedingly, rare) it normally got every hero's attention. No matter what powerset a person had, if Hasan felt the need to step to them on the battlefield, he was well prepared. Hasan Arya was good at what he did. Some would say that he was pretty much the best. He'd murdered mob bosses, torn through countless goons, bested natural ability, scientific prowess, and meta-abilities of every type and flavor, coming out on top. He'd faced down man, alien, and even beings eldritch enough to be considered physical gods, and walked away with his life and adding theirs to his every growing tally. When Hasan Arya wanted to kill something, it usually died. And yet, as he spread out the blanket on the verdant carpet of the park, he realized that his hands were shaking. Because he was on a date. His first date in...well, forever. Ever since he was young and taken in by the Brotherhood of Sacred Darkness, there was little room for romance in his life. At first that wasn't a problem; romance and emotional connections were a burden, not a boon. Of the many teachings that he eventually eschewed from the Brotherhood, the lack of emotional connection was one that he actually agreed with. And yet, as he grew older he realized that he no longer got the same thrill out of his job anymore. After he cut ties with the Brotherhood to become The Shadow Knife, the Brotherhood tried to neutralize him. At first the attacks came almost daily but as time went on (and he continued killing everyone sent after him), it got to the point where they only really tried once a year, sent in the same way that some people sent Christmas cards--more as a course of action, but no real feeling behind it. It was...like a chore, but a chore that could kill him if he wasn't careful. Still, he wondered how long before his boredom allowed him to make a mistake. And then he met Tyson Black. Tyson Black helped to run a series of community-centric green houses. On the surface it didn't sound that impressive until you learned just how he was trying to leverage those green houses. They were a popular spot for kids to visit on field trips, learning about various plant life and the pollinators that helped the plants of the greenhouse flourish (bumble bees and butterflies, largely). It was a teacher's dream for didactic purposes, though some went so far as to make a volunteering event out of it, with the kids helping to harvest some of the fruit bearing plants, helped maintain and prune other plants, whilst even more learned about caring for bees and underlining how important they were to the ecosystem. The greenhouses produced enough produce to host a bit of a farmer's market, but their prices were much lower than many others. And even then, a lot of the food grew at the greenhouses went to help supply soup kitchens and food banks. Those who needed work could get a job at one of the greenhouses and make okay money and it was a popular choice for those who had to do community service--it wasn't so much a cushy job as, according to the grapevine, working for Tyson Black was great. He cared about the people he worked with, made sure everyone was treated with respect, and had little to no patience for nepotism. Although it wasn't within the bounds of his assignment, Hasan did a little more digging than necessary. Tyson started the greenhouse project after his grandmother--his legal guardian--had passed. She apparently had a huge life insurance policy and he was her sole recipient, over some of her still-living children and elder grandchildren. It caused an uproar in the family, apparently, but Tyson didn't seem balked by it. He sunk a good chunk of his own capital into buying a greenhouse and retrofitting it; it was sunny enough in the state of Arizona for it to get all of its power from solar panels. That, in itself, went a long way towards cutting down operating costs. The first greenhouse was a success and over time he sought to replicate his success, building three more. Each one wasn't just a greenhouse--they seemed to become integrated into the communities that they were built in. Locals got the most value out of the greenhouses and they seemed invested in their success. It made it a no brainer for politicians to approve grants for the place whenever they wanted some easily earned political goodwill. Tyson did nothing untoward or underhanded to secure funding and resources for his greenhouses; he was just really good at networking. It helped that no one had a bad thing to say about him. The newest greenhouse was even a bit of a partnership to test out water recycling methods that mimicked natural processes. Hasan was certain that there was something dirty about the guy, but there was nothing, nothing to suggest anything untoward about the guy. He even volunteered at some of the soup kitchens that his greenhouse delivered food to. If anyone was the living embodiment of a saint, it was this guy. It was no wonder that the person who took out the contract on his life was a party interested in buying up the land that Tyson's greenhouses was built on. Normally Hasan didn't care about why someone wanted someone else did, but as an assassin he knew just how rare someone undoubtedly good like Tyson was in the world today. Something about Tyson made Hasan want to turn over a new leaf. So....Hasan cancelled the contract and strongly suggested that Tyson Black was off bounds. It sent reverberations throughout the underworld because sikin alzili was nothing if not professional. Something like this was unprecedented. His former employer sent two more assassins after Tyson--neither were anywhere near Hasan's league and they were summarily dealt with. He sent a bag to the contractor with a sign that said 'Hands Off'; inside of the bag were, naturally, the chopped off hands on the failed assassins. (Hasan had a thing for puns, though that side of him was rarely seen). After that, the attempts stopped. What he did next was an even greater breach of his normal protocol. He visited one of the greenhouses. Of course it wasn't an accident that he managed to pick the exact greenhouse that Tyson was going to be at. Of course it wasn't an accident when he was right there to help Tyson out with a heavy bag of mulch. And they started talking and soon Hasan was volunteering there. He just loved spending time with Tyson; the guy could get so passionate about things. The way his eyes lit up whenever he talked about different irrigation systems, different methods for caring for plants, the benefit that bees had for society and how there should be a strong push to outlaw certain pesticides...he really cared about a lot of things and was doing his best to fight for those things that he cared about.
A top streamer’s big bet on a supposedly sureshot show appears to be in trouble. According to the industry grapevine, a streaming giant put down a sizeable chunk of cash while greenlighting a multi-part show envisioned as a spinoff to one of the country’s biggest box-office blockbusters. The show would explore the backstory of one of the film’s central female characters, revealing how she grew into the woman we meet in the film. Given the massive popularity of the film and the interest around the character, there was no reason to believe the show wouldn’t work. But turns out the delivered show has come in falling very short of internal expectations. According to well-placed sources, the big bosses at the streaming service were underwhelmed by what the producers handed over. Both content and aesthetic were not impressive, prompting them to ask for an overhaul. Problem is the show was filmed on massive, elaborate sets that have sincebeen dismantled. Also the actress hired to play the younger version of the beloved character from the film has become especially busy in Hindi films since. Still, one hears that the producers have put up smaller sets and intend to rely heavily on computer graphics and visual effects to expand on them. They’ve also appealed to the actress to give them dates for reshoots. The show is reportedly being rushed into completion, so the streamer can slot it for release at the earliest. It’s already been a few years since the release of the film that inspired it, and the streamer’s plans to cash in on the hype around the film may be quashed. Sources within the show’s production team are convinced, however, that the final product will be impressive. They blame the delay and reshoots on the fact that there were too many creative opinions in the mix and that the singular vision that powered the film was missing, given that the filmmaker was not involved with the show. But they’re confident the interest in the film and its characters should not be underestimated. Plus they’re saying the actress in the central role has done a solid job. We’ll just have to wait and see. Guess Karan Johar's show on Kareena Kapoor's character Poo of K3G for Netflix Netflix’s Baahubali: Before the Beginning with Mrunal Thakar . Based on the character of Sivagami Thanks to u/Bonnie23469 for correct guess.
2020.01.27 19:43 inimitable428My MIL is blaming me for ruining a family trip that hasn’t happened yet
Ok here’s some background info. My in-laws are wealthy white upper middle class who care only about appearances, private schools, country clubs, etc. My husband and his brother are not like this. My husband’s brother is a close friend of mine and he is married to my best friend so the 4 of us generally agree on most things. Then my husband also has a younger sister who is just like my in-laws and she married someone just like them. Just completely spoiled, entitled. She is by far the favorite child and the “princess.” Has her parents wrapped around her finger. We are all in our early thirties by the way. My husband and I are the only ones with children so far. We just have a 1.5 year old daughter. So my MIL announces a few months ago that she wants to take this big family vacation with all of us. She says just an easy beach trip (there’s a beach about 2 hours away from where we all live) or something. A few weeks ago I had to make some summer plans so I checked in with my MiL to see if we were still planning this trip. We decided to talk about it as a family when we were all getting together for a birthday celebration. So we did. And it wasn’t a long discussion. Just kind of decided when and where it would go. The only protest is spoiled SIL wanted to go to Florida but my in-laws said no because we would have to fly. We all decided on going to the outerbanks of North Carolina which is about a 4 hour drive away. It’s a pretty basic beach place. Lots of houses to choose from. The beach close by. Restaurants. Shopping. It’s nothing particularly special but it’s relaxing and the beach. And this is supposed to be quality time spent together. MIL asks who wants to plan it since she said she’s not good at that and my BFF (BIL’s wife) volunteers. The next couple days BFF and I did some research and BFF sent an email to everyone with some nice beach house options. My MIL responds that we now have to do 5 days instead of 7 because my FIL can’t miss work. Also she says the original dates we chose won’t work for her now. So back to the drawing board. Before we get a chance to find new options, MIL has now forwarded the family that spoiled SIL had sent her with a whole new option of a place 9 hours away that’s like a golf resort (the only person who plays is SIL’s husband). It’s so far away and the house in budget isn’t anywhere near the beach. We would have to take bikes which is impossible with a toddler or use the “complimentary car service” but then we would need to be lugging a car seat back and forth from the beach. The house was only 4 bedrooms meaning my husband and I would have to share with our daughter who goes to bed at 7:30. Then my MIL announces she will pay for it if we stick to a certain budget. She told BIL privately that she was paying because spoiled SIL “didn’t have any money” basically because SIL is super house poor after buying this dumb expensive house in this nice area to keep up appearances. At this point I realize she’s trying to control the whole thing by paying. The problem is my husband and I don’t care about paying for our own trip but we do care about the convenience of it all and this new option that SIL suggested wouldn’t work. But my MIL had clearly made up her mjnd and wanted to do what SIL wanted to do. So my husband called MIL and explained to her what our limitations were and why. Mostly we didn’t want to go anywhere more than 4-5 hours away simply because it’s very difficult to travel with a toddler ( or at least our toddler) for more than that. Also we would need a small room to put our daughter’s travel crib. It doesn’t need to be a bedroom but it needs to be quiet and ideally dark. He also expressed concern about being so far away from the beach. Just how difficult it would be to not be close to the beach and that we will be going back and forth frequently since our daughter will have nap time, etc. Husband asked what happened to the outerbanks plan and MIL said the beach “isn’t as nice” whatever that means. My SIL also called the outer banks “gross.” Which they are not. They’re just not fancy for the most part. So then in the interest of keeping everything transparent (because as you can tell there were a lot of side conversations going on) I wrote an email to everyone just relaying what the phone conversation went like. It ended with MIL saying she was open to more suggestions for places. At this point I was starting to think it was all going to fall apart (which I was apathetic about). So I send that email and include other options for beaches that aren’t the outer banks but are within 4-5 hours. We are lucky in that we have many options north and south of us. I didn’t get a response but BFF told that MIL called BIL all sorts of pissed off and said that I was “ruining” our beach trip and she didn’t know why “we can’t all get along” as if we were fighting? She said that we should just leave our child home so she can have the vacation she wants. Our child! Her only grandchild! And also keep in mind this was always presented as a family trip. Thankfully BIL came to our defense. SIL also called him to complain about us. She said if the trip is so long then we should break it up into two days. So four moderately long travel days over a 7 day vacation. It made no sense. They made it seem like I was the one trying to make everything difficult when I really just had some basic needs for traveling with a toddler. It also pissed me off that I was hearing about all of this from the grapevine. MIL never responded to my email even though she told my husband she would consider other places. So she basically told BIL that if we didn’t fall in line she would cancel the whole thing. Husband and daughter and I went away for the weekend and I guess she got some clarity because when I came back she had found a new option that hit all of our requirements. Amazing what can happen when you stop acting like a baby and just take the few limitations and roll with them. Also SUDDENLY my FIL could make it work for all 7 days. So what really irked me was that they tried to control the whole thing by paying for it. My husband shut that down fast and when they couldn’t strong arm us into it (my husband is generally a pushover with his mom but not this time) she totally lost her cool. And I hated that we were ganged up on as if we were purposefully trying to ruin everyone’s trip. But now we are going somewhere and we all had to compromise about certain things but the important thing is we have the bare minimum for what we need to travel with a toddler. MIL has already said we should plan a trip without my daughter for summer 2021 and I can guarantee you that won’t happen. First of all I might have another kid by then and also BFF and BIL will probably have one then. Thanks for letting me rant, Reddit. Edit: Just want to say thank you all for being so supportive. I feel so affirmed in my feelings! Glad to know I’m not alone.
2020.01.06 15:12 GavsterchiefI don't know what I should do at all.
This could fit under a few different flairs, but I think this one's best. My crush and I are both Juniors and attend the same high school, I met her through a mutual friend (who is one of my closest) of ours about a year and a half ago in 10th grade. I only get to see her in the morning at our little gathering table in the cafeteria (and that's only sometimes), and at lunch in the "learning commons", but we both have our respective groups we sit by. Other than that, we don't have any classes together, and I don't see her much at school besides during passing periods. Which, even then, I'm never able to talk to her because she's either far ahead of me, or I'm ahead of her (and I'm a nervous person with that, and don't want to intrude on conversations she's already having with friends on the way out of their classroom). We do talk nearly everyday, though it's through text most of the time. It's one of those odd relationships for me where I used to not like her all too much and didn't even contemplate any future with her. But now that I've actually gotten to know her more, I can't stop thinking about her and the possibility of being with her. I started to have feelings for her around second semester of our sophomore year (End Jan/Beg Feb), but I still mainly thought of her as just a friend, and the feelings were really basic/not nearly as developed as they are now. I did gain more interest leading up to summer break, but not enough for me to have a conclusive opinion on my feelings for her (most likely due to the amount of time I saw her, which wasn't much). What really did it for me though, was (surprisingly) summer break. I had decided to dedicate my time to gaining some community service hours working at my town's summer festival. It just so happens that she was working the festival as well, which I didn't discover until she went to cover my spot when I went to go on my meal break, despite having (and heavily analyzing) a paper with the names of everybody volunteering. Before that, I was under the impression that nobody I knew was working with me, and many of my shifts were alone anyways, but ended up (obviously) learning otherwise because I had never seen her actual first name (which is BEAUTIFUL btw)... Or last name. It was about halfway through my day (I was working 10 hours), and after seeing she was there, we spent all of our breaks together, whether it was just walking around the festival-ground, or us going to each other's station while the other was still working (we were both parking-lot attendants during this time, and the lots went dead for long periods of time, so it didn't really impact work at all). I remember one time that day, we both had an hour dinner break, and we spent the entirety of it just walking around talking to each other, it was really nice. The next day was more or less the same (with the obvious exception being me continuing to develop a larger and larger crush than the second before); we'd spend all of our breaks together and constantly talk about almost anything that came to mind, from her infatuation with Corgis, to our mutual appreciation for bad puns. The third (and final) day was a bit different though... It started out normal besides us working a different job at the festival (together) to start out the morning. Then, when we were on our first break, she decided to buy an ice cream for me since it was really hot out, so I chose an orange creamsicle. I was extremely grateful, and me being the person that I am, insisted that I reimburse her for the kind gesture, to which she kindly refused my offer. After our break, we both went back to business: parking lot attendant duty. I'm pretty sure I had a solo shift before our next one together, but that could just be faulty memory. Anyways, when we were together next, we did the usual back-and-forth never-ending conversation, and she ended up comforting/consoling me a great bit (I had lost a really good friend of mine to suicide just two days prior on the night of the first day of the festival, and I was probably still very noticeably hurt, despite not being able to shed a single tear), and gave me her number, telling me that I could text/call more about the loss since she knew him some too. With that out of the way, the real kicker in this is later on during the day (around noon), I was on a 2-hour break between shifts, and had invited friends to come over to the festival so we could all grieve together and reminisce on old memories of our beloved friend. I had a meet-up spot set up, and after about 15 minutes of waiting, I went back over to the lot my crush was at. I talked to her for a few minutes whilst simultaneously trying to get a response from my friend. She asked who I was trying to get a hold of, I answered, and she asked if he was [Name]'s friend, and after confirming, she gave me Name's number. I didn't think anything of it except for that it's a small world and didn't think she would even recognize the name I threw out. After successfully connecting, and meeting up with the group of friends that came, I discovered something... Name and my crush used to date each other, which made me feel incredibly awkward about the whole thing, especially since I had been becoming better friends with Name prior to the festival. So I spent a majority of my time internally sinking at my luck. After my friends left and I was on my next shift, she stayed with me on her break and we talked a bit more. On the next shift together, she asked me if I wanted to split a basket of fries with her, and of course, I obliged. She ended up staying 1-2 extra hours than she needed to to hang out with me some more (and get some more community service hours ofc), which was extremely delightful to say the least. I cherished every last second of it. Since returning to school, we've hung out once at my house, and that was when I asked her if she was going to homecoming. One thing that gets me, that's so incredibly small, is that she says "get together" instead of "hangout", I don't know why but I just get so giddy when she says that. We were gonna hang out again before winter break, but she had family coming over. I did get to see her yesterday while I was working though (I'm a tech associate at Target), and I got the chance to say hi to her a day before I would've been able to otherwise. The first time she caught me by surprise and all I could muster was a muffled "Hi", and a wave (my voice was just gone). The second time, I caught her off-guard and said, "Well howdy there [Crush's name]!", and her face lit up and had a big ol' smile. I haven't mentioned it until now, but she is the most beautiful woman I have ever met, both inside and out. She's really smart, funny, well-mannered, kind, helpful, encouraging, social, etc., and I just love her so much. She's the only person that I like and have ever liked. I used to be really insecure about myself and my body, but I've lost 50 pounds since summer, I've done a total character overhaul, and am confident as heck in myself now! I've told literally all of my friends, including the one that used to date her that I like her, and they've all wished me luck, which is comforting. My friend that used to date her told me in November that she wasn't looking for a relationship at that point, which has me kind of wary. So, I think she's probably heard it through the grapevine, but I still don't know what to do. I want to wait a little longer, but at the same time it's been getting increasingly difficult for me to contain what my feelings for her are, and I don't want to embarrass myself if she doesn't feel the same way towards me, it's still really hard to gauge whether or not she likes more or if I even have a shot with her. I WANT TO TELL HER SO BAD BUT I ALSO WANT TO WAIT, ITS SO TORTUROUS!!
Name: Naomi Himawari Name meaning: "Pleasant Sunflower" Nickname: Hime Alias/Bounty Hunter Code name: Flowers thorns Gender: Female Age: 21 Spices: Faunus Type: "unknown" Sexual orientation: straight Place of Origin: Mistral, middle class housing district 19 Relationships Mother: Sharan Himawari, 49 Lion Faunus Father: Jorge Castillo, 50 Panther Faunus Sibling: N/A Mentor: her parents and a bounty Hunter named Robyn Hill the 1st Children: Hannah Sapphire, 1 Lovers: Michael Maw, 25 Pets: Michael's pet Lion Aslan Teammates: Michael Maw Team name: HeadHunters Miscellaneous Theme song: Red-pieces (Added vocals cover) Song link: (https://youtu.be/JoOBla0hk44) Emblem: a stitched heart on a silver shield Occupation: Bounty Hunter Occupation status: Active Affiliations: Mistrialan Bounty Hunters Guild, Valen Bounty Hunters Guild (Transfer) Skills: Asset retrieval, VIP service, Hosting rescue, bounty recon services, Faunus Civil services (Lawer) Hobbies: Playing with Hanna, Going to the range, reading, singing Habits: always has a smile despite the situation being grim Addictions: her daughter Fears: Losing Michael and Hanna due to her jobs Soft spots: seeing the less fortunate smile after a mission complete Trinkets: her parents personal hand guns Weapons: Side arms: Mustang and Sally-Look likes Glock 19s that transform into Dust knives that are sheathed in her boots(10mm) Main weapon: White Witches Demise- looks like a IWI Negev that transforms into a Riot Shield and can fire rounds from a slot in the shield (7.62Nato) Semblance: From the Ashes-Ignites her body in the flames of the sun and turns her bullets into rounds that turn her enemies to ash but lasts only for 1 minute to conserve aura for firefights Personality: A sweet girl that the very definition of a Ganki girl, however its only a mask to hide what she feels because of her parents are disappointed in her choices but believes in what a king from a fairy tale says. "A King is the first one into combat and the last to leave, Laughing the loudest when times are horrid" Appearance: wears standard Valen bounty Hunters mask (looks like the Army of two Dead Space 3 mask), Atlas armored body glove, Black tight cargo pants with armored boots and knee guards, (Destiny 2 base Iron banner leg armor with armor skirt for Hunters), Atlas Marine Corp Gauntlets (ODST gauntlets), And Sappy Plate Carrier with Ammo pouches, Molly belt for Pistol ammo and tactical equipment, wears a black cloak Backstory: Naomi was born to two very high class Huntsman from Mistrals Huntsman Academy. And due to there reputation of being the best in Mistral they had High expectations for her to be a Huntress as well. However as she grew up. She was a tiger parented child into Huntsman training all the time. Often doing drills for hours on end. But she didn't want her life to be predetermined by her parents. She wanted to be a lawyer instead but her parents forbid her from pursuing anything outside of becoming a Huntress. So she did many rebellious things to spit her parents and take back control control of her life. She went out on dates with boys from her prep school, often snuck out to parties her friends were having that her parents forbade her from going to. However the biggest thing she did to spite her parents was dropping out of Mistral Academy when she was 15 despite being a prodigy and entering the academy at the young age of 14 and joining the Bounty Hunters Guild under the tutelage of Robyn Hill the First. A former Huntress turned bounty Hunter who as a stickler for telling people to fuck off when doing bounty missions. However Naomi impressed her enough with her combat efficiency that she trained her daughter Robyn Hill the Second (current day Robyn Hill from vol 7) alongside Naomi in the profession of bounty hunting. Mostly missions where killing is more often not advised. However Hill the Second left her mother and her friendship with Naomi to Mantel to start a civil rights group for Mantel Sovereignty. So Hill the first continued training Naomi and the two grew closer like that of a Mother and a Daughter. When she was 19 she was tasked to go on a Assassination mission along with Michael Maw who was 23 whom for all she knew was just a typical loner. And when Drunk can be a bit rowdy but not getting in people's way. On this mission they where to assassinate a Drug Lord and for the first time in her bounty hunting career what real horrors the world held. But due to her training as an assets retrieval specialist whom typical are charged with keeping there charges alive she was heavily against killing the Drug lord. However When they came across the Village who's people were terribly abused by the drug lord for forced labor she was still against Michael killing him so he can face Justice. But what he said in reply was what shocked her to her core. "Why should bastereds like him live while his charges continue to suffer and die?" At the very end she at first didn't want to see him again. Especially with how sadistic he was to the targets in question. However it was after a third mission that she started noticing something odd about him. His way if planning. His way of giving to others. There was a polar opposite to what he's always shown himself to be but one thing was clear. He was just another broken polarin need if healing. When they had another mission. Together because the Head of the Bounty Hunters Guild trusted Naomi to keep Michael on a leash with curtain Targets. She noticed more and more at how human he was when it came to being with people outside of the Citys like Vale. Of course she still thought of him as an asshole but he was slowly descending to madness. Mission by mission slowly losing his own humanity. And wether or not it was too late to keep him from falling into the darkest parts of himself and may be facing an early retirement. Was how he was gonna handle this target. As orders where to bring the target alive despite what the bounty said. If would be his ultimate test whether or not he still had a human being in that cold shell. When the raid was progressing Michael was showing signs of madness and insanity. But as they continued Naomi pleaded throughout the time that this was not him. the sadistic side of him can't be the real him. Yet he stayed silent occasionally letting off a creepy giggle as he executed the grunts if the drug lord. And when they finally got to the room where the Drug lord was he was on his knees begging to let him go. That he was just a shrimp of a much larger operation. Michael continued on as if he didn't listen. And all the while Naomi was horrified by what he says. Mostly how people like the drug lord doesn't deserve anything other then prompt execution for his crimes but as this drug lord screamed for help. Naomi stepped in getting him back to his senses bringing him down to earth. And so he was not entirely lost. After turning in the wanted drug lord to face charges. Michael wanted to thank Naomi for saving him from himself and they both drank very extensively. By the morning she and him came to and they both realized that they had done the nasty. Both thinking it was no big deal just simply got there cloths back on and decided to part ways till they met again. However she found put she was pregnant with his child after three weeks. She tried getting hold of her parents for some emotional support but they had forsaken her and officially disowned her. Her mentor was already dead. KIA on a mission. And Michael was no where to be found as rumors had it he was on an extended bounty Hunting mission. She felt so alone and the hormone fluctuations didn't help either. Then when she was about to make a decision on the baby. Michael came by her hide out that he knew of as she showed him it before and bad heard through the grapevine vine that she needed him for something. And came back as quickly as he could sense she was the only person he considered a close friend. She told hin how she had been disowned officially by her parents and that she was never welcomed under there roof and that they wanted no business with her child. Her mentor was officially KIA and he was the last person she could think of to te that she was pregnant. Michael actually lit up with excitement at that news but asked what she wanted. She wanted to continue her career as a bounty Hunter. But the baby would prove difficult and was thinking of doing the unthinkable. Michaels heart nearly sank at what she was planning depending on him. He told he rhed take care of the child so that she didn't need to sacrifice her career because a child was holding her down with that parental responsibility. But seeing as he willingly would have taken the child from her to lift a burden off of her shoulders. And he came to see her as fast as he could. She told him that maybe she wanted to still be with the child. And during the rest of the pregnancy. Naomi took online classes and passed the Vale and Menagerie Bar exams and was legally licensed to be a lawyer in Menagerie and Vale. And they made a plan on how to take care of the child. When there daughter was born Naomi and Michael never felt so much joy at the ball of innocence in there arms. Of course Naomis parents made a fuss about the child when they saw Michael and found out he was the father. However like before they told Naomi straight to her face she would no longer be welcome under there roof if she continued this path of rebellion. She of course told them off at how awful they had been as parents. And they left Sense then Naomi and Michael took turns doing a bounty Hunting job and taking care of Hannah. There little "Blue Graceful child" Currently she's in Menagerie with her daughter for a Case to have Illa Amolite plead not guilty for being an agent of Adam Toras
“Dead men tell no tales,” I silently repeated to myself. I had been grilled for hours, playing stupid only got me so far, which is to say it got me absolutely nowhere. But these pigs were getting tired, which meant they were getting sloppy. “Alright, McRae, we’re locking you in for the night. Maybe some sleep will help clarify your memory.” Their sweating, bloated faces all curled into grimaces of laughter, I imagined the slightly pained look was from that acidic sewer sludge they called coffee burning holes through their intestines. They grabbed me, yanked me to my feet, and pulled me into cell block C. C for c-ya. C for cyanide, only they didn’t know that. Dumb fuckers. The skinny one uncuffed me after they threw me in, the one that stank of skunked beer slammed the door. The woman above me rocked back and forth, a string of vomit staining what should have been a mattress near her face. I calmly laid down and wiggled the dime-sized piece of thick brown paper from the lining of my bra. I’d been carrying it for months: the patch. It had a code written on one side, in case safety was to be found. But this was the end of the line for me. I spat on the cyanide patch in my palm with my face down so no one could see, even in the dark. I let it soften some, then took a deep breath and swallowed it down. Waiting for the greatest embrace with the slightly burning, bitter taste dissipating down my throat, I thought back on what had brought me here. PART 1 “Yeah, whatchu need?” “Let’s go hunting.” Another text bubble appeared. Attorney Beth McKinney had always been passionate about her work in the legal system, from the first day of law school she showed a rare mix of sheer intelligence, creativity, and grit. It helped that she knew how to use her gifts. She had been practicing for nearly five years now, primarily in family law, although the cases she got from the Department of Social Services seemed to become more and more bleak. She wasn’t sure if it was her outlook that had changed or if they were intentionally tossing her the cases no one else could stomach. Either the clients were shit, the situation was shit, or something else about it was shit. Even when she won, the battle felt unwinnable. But it paid the bills, and she had more years of practice ahead. McKinney just needed the winning case for her to shine. Attorney Beth McKinney had a consult at 3 PM that afternoon. She’d heard the basics over the phone: her client had been called to assist with a family emergency a few states away three months prior and left her toddler with her cousin. Upon return, the cousin had bonded with the girl, even teaching her to refer to the cousin as “mama”. The cousin had told DSS that the mother was a drug user and had gone on a long bender, and that she didn’t deserve to see her daughter after what she’d put her through. The located the client and assigned her to McKinney for a consultation. It wasn’t that McKinney was forced to handle every case thrown at her, but unless the person in front of her was so reprehensibly vile she couldn’t represent them without bias, she considered it a challenge worth taking. The client arrived in that forced calm but visibly shaken state you see so often in family and criminal law. She divulged all the details to McKinney, including that her cousin had lost a baby years ago and helped take care of her daughter in the past. She knew she cared for the girl, but she didn’t suspect that she would actually try to steal her in plain sight. McKinney agreed. A few weeks later in trial, Attorney McKinney was working on a motion to dismiss a Termination of Parental rights petition against her client. When presented with the motion, Judge West took a 20 second look and denied it. McKinney tried to negotiate with her, but there was no budging. Apparently, this was what it took. McKinney silently exited the courtroom past 5 PM, which was a crime unto itself. The beginning of the end had begun. Beth had a live in boyfriend named JaDonathan, but we all called him JD for short. He was a nice enough guy, he knew she was stressed out and did the best he could to ease the atmosphere at home. He sensed that something was off tonight, though. Beth was quiet and sullen, and even when offered a glass of wine, she snapped at him to leave her alone. She headed toward their home office around 10 PM and locked the door. From there, the home office was turned into a detective zone. That’s also where I came in. I had helped her dig up some people who didn’t want to be found and discredited a witness or two in the time we worked together, even though we had been friends for much longer. I thought it was fun, she thought it was amusing, so it worked well. She also knew there was only one person who had the skills and single-mindedness to assist in what had to be done. “Are you at your laptop?” the message read. She gave me names and wanted short dossiers on each. Eduardo Cruz, Sam Smith, Susan Rinehold, David Dash, Courtney Jones, Stella Wingfield, and Kyle West. What she wanted was simple enough, I worked my magic and presented current addresses, dates of birth, and all the social media I could scour. She thanked me and ordered me a pizza. I didn’t ask for one, but it was a nice gesture for a broke-ass paralegal. PART 2 Beth didn’t respond for the rest of the night, but it was also midnight before we finished our “hunting”, I figured she wanted to weed through a witness pool or something. I went to bed and didn’t think much of it until I was at work the next day and hadn’t heard anything from her; we needed her in the office that day, so this was highly unusual. While waiting for the other attorneys to return from court, I tuned in to the local news. Around 3 AM that morning, someone had broken into the home of the Honorable Judge David Dash. He, his wife, and his young daughter were all found dead in their beds, killed by a single bullet to the head the next morning. Well, except for Christine, David’s wife. She presumably woke when her husband was shot, attempted to flee, and was hit in the arm before the gunman shot her in the throat. They were left to die with no trace of the intruder, except one clue: the letter “D” was written on their front door in blood that was later determined to have been from David Dash. The neighborhood was shocked, as security was always at the gate and they thought themselves immune from urban dangers. The story was still developing when the attorneys arrived; I was shook and glad to have some work to do while I cleared out my mind grapes. Later that afternoon, Beth sent me a text. She’d gotten her colleague, Attorney Belcher, to cover her caseload that afternoon so everything got continued. I set to work sending out the e-mails that would launch a thousand “why was my case continued?” responses from people who did not know how to use Google. She finally touched base with me again the next night around 9 PM. “One down, six to go.” “Don’t joke about that shit, especially over text.” “Not joking. Just the hazards of the industry.” She didn’t respond any further. The next morning I was sitting down with my coffee and makeup kit to get ready for work, when I saw several friends from law school and in the sidebar “trending” on Facebook indicating another break in at a different home. The Honorable Judge Sam Smith had been found dead, hanging from a noose in his own basement. He was a confirmed bachelor but also an esteemed member of his Mormon congregation, and was known to take a soft touch with domestic violence cases. Everyone was commenting on how shocked they were since he’d always been such an optimistic, helpful person -- two of my friends had even interned with him during our matriculation. A small laceration was found on his inner arm, but no other injuries were apparent. Again, on the front door, a letter had been traced in blood. “I”. It was identified as Sam Smith’s blood. I called into work that day. Something was going on, and I needed to know what before it went any further. I put on my comfortable clothes, pulled my hair back, and drove to Beth’s house to see what was up. JD’s car was gone, which was strange. He took contract jobs in California and Maine fairly often, but usually Beth drove him to the airport to save on parking. I figured he was running errands. I rapped on the door several times and heard Beth’s cats yelling at me, so I used the spare key. Once I was inside, I heard a “Well come the fuck in, then,” from the office room. I walked inside and there were maps, photos, social media names and printed off articles with red yarn, totally classic stalker style. “Aww, yay, Beth! You’ve gone crazy!” I really couldn’t think of what else to say. She was in similar attire as me, a dark hoodie and yoga pants with boots. There were bottles and bottles of disinfectant, latex gloves, and a few boxes of ammo strewn around the floor. Now, I’ve seen some ratchet decor in my day, but this was unusual, especially considering the carpet had been ripped up and folded against the wall. I didn’t even want to know about that part. It didn’t take a genius or even a law school dropout like myself to see what was happening, yet it was so surreal I wasn’t quite processing it. I also knew it was time to nope out of this whole mess, I wasn’t about to go to the police myself since I’d technically helped put this in motion. I also couldn’t fake anything about not knowing what was going on. I sent my boss a super apologetic email saying that I still had the flu. When he asked me about Attorney McKinney and if I’d heard anything, I said no, figuring she got the same flu I did. He seemed unhappy but convinced. I drove back to my apartment, loaded up some garbage bags with clothes, laptop, shampoo, all that fun shit, put my cat in his hated crate, and drove to my parents’ house across state lines. I watched the rest unfold over the coming days in the news and on social media. Every night, it was a new victim, on the last night it was two. First one dead: Judge Wingfield, overdosed on barbiturates, her partner had been out of town on business that week. But on her door was the unmistakable letter, “S”. The investigators found a laceration at Judge Wingfield’s wrist, presumably where the blood came from, since the sample from the blood on the door matched. Judge Jones: found dead on day 4. Throat slashed with a broken miniature pewter statue of Lady Liberty he kept in his office. “MATERIAL FACT?” was carved across the victim’s torso with the same instrument. Letter “M” scrawled on his door in blood. The mayor imposed a curfew, no one was to be out past 10 PM unless it was a medical emergency. Judge Cruz: found dead on day 5. Found electrocuted in his own bathtub from his laptop dropped in, and he was bound and gagged with his alma mater sweatshirt, Bierman School of Law. The letter “I” was scrawled on his door. His wife and daughters had come home to find him there, they had now left the state until a culprit was found. State police were actively investigating each neighborhood, but came up with nothing concrete; whoever did this knew how to cover their tracks. Judge West and Judge Rinehold, found dead together on day 6. Both dead, one from external bleeding, the other from a concussion. Their bodies had not been left like the others; after Rinehold was hit in the head repeatedly with what they believed to be a decorative gavel kept in the main room of the house, the authorities saw the extreme lacerations on West and the blood that pooled in the center of the bed. It was quietly known that the couple had been having an affair for years now, which may have explained why they were found duct taped to the headboard and mattress in coitus. Detective Vance had been assigned to the case, and believed that West had been duct taped while still alive; later testing determined West had opiates in her system at the time of death. West’s death may have been prolonged by the administering of the drugs by the attacker, since no trace of opiate pills were found in either victim’s home after they were searched. The authorities were reluctant to release the details of the case to the public for obvious reasons. On the door, two letters in blood. “S S”. PART 3 The town was in emergency lockdown mode by the evening of day 5. I was holed up far enough away to not be a concern, and since I’d left after day 2, I wasn’t a suspect regardless. My mother noted how quiet I was, and tried to ply me with wine. I appreciated the gesture, but she knew enough to tell I was working through something myself, and to let me be. I spent most of the days knitting and trying to escape into Lifetime movies between torturing myself with the local news. They had no leads yet, but it was only the first week with 7 different murders. This might take awhile, I thought. Judge West had been the one to refuse to dismiss Attorney McKinney’s motion, I remembered that. It made her “Extra Special Episode” death that much less deniable in my mind. Beth had lost it and had no intention of getting it back, she abandoned it like a half broken lawn mower on the side of county road 651. This wasn’t an unusual occurrence, Judge West was infamous for making things more difficult for defense. It made the coming days no less bizarre. Still, this was not my story to tell, only to watch and remember. Several other attorneys had been rumored to hold grudges against Judge West for barely looking through motions before dismissing or granting them, and taking her job a little too comfortably, so they were being treated as possible subjects by the police and rounded up for questioning. None of them were the killer, but their responses ranged from appropriate grief and bewilderment to outright anger at being accused. One attorney in particular, Paul Watson, gave an interview to WFMY News explaining the meaning of a dismissal as well as the termination of parental rights and try to bring the actual legal meaning to the audience. No law professors had been willing to speak about the topic out of fear of being the next target, but Attorney Watson felt it was his duty to the public to try and bring some clarification into seemingly senseless crimes. Beth didn’t care about any of that, fortunately for Attorney Watson. She hadn’t called me, but I knew someone would soon. I didn’t know why JD hadn’t, but then remembered I had unlisted my number from Facebook after some crazy bitch posted it on a craigslist w4m ad to get back at me for talking to her ex. The phone calls from pervs didn’t completely stop for months, and he didn’t have my number. I woke up the morning of day 7 and decided to take a walk with my parents’ dogs through the woods. I needed to piece this together instead of anesthetizing myself with television and wine. Attorney Beth McKinney worked hard, she always had, and her ability to empathize with her clients only enhanced her ability to win the sometimes unwinnable cases. She’d never been into violent movies or video games or serial killers and had no medical training, so how would she know how to even begin to pull this off? That usually fell into my jurisdiction, knowing which vein to nick to get the most blood, how much of a drug would put someone under and how much would kill them, the standard things you learn when you grew up working in a clinic and watching way too many horror movies and true crime documentaries. As of the morning of the 7th, no other murders had been committed, but the police were no closer to finding a prime suspect. Turns out, Judge West had a lot more enemies than people were aware of. Disgruntled defendants, annoyed attorneys, not to mention Judge Rinehold and West’s partners, respectively. Mr. West had been cleared, his alibi was crystal clear -- he’d been seen by at least 30 people watching the football game at a local sports bar the night of the gruesome murders. Mrs. Rinehold was out of town on business of her own at the time, and was only called home when the police had to inform her of her husband’s death. She had been contacted for interviews, but according to the online grapevine weaving its way between Facebook, local news, and Twitter, she’d left for her mother’s house in Philadelphia with the couple’s three young children after giving a statement to the police. Since all the murders were obviously connected, she had been cleared as a suspect and was free to leave. The dogs began barking in a frenzy and took off farther into the woods, pulling me out of my reverie and forward. They liked to do that when they saw deer because they are very aware of the Lyme epidemic, I presumed. It was starting to get darker and colder, damned daylight savings time. I turned back and made my way to the house, knowing the dogs would eventually follow my steps and outrun me back anyway. The sun had set almost completely by the time I got in, fingers and nose numb from the wind. I wasn’t too much closer to a conclusion, since my grand question was “why?” I knew what she was doing, objectively. I understood it, objectively. It was even kind of funny objectively. But people had died, some of them were good and others weren’t such good people, but they were dead and had families grieving for them who knew far less than I did. I hoped it stayed that way, should a family know their head of household was offed by a maniac simply due to the virtue, or lack thereof, of the profession? I didn’t think so, I wouldn’t have wanted to know. But everyone has their preferences. The why of it still consumed me, clinging to me despite whatever substance I threw at it. There was one understandable answer out of seven. The rest, well, maybe she snapped. Maybe she got a taste for blood or liked watching the life drain out of people’s eyes. Her choice to leave Rinehold and West for the end though, that was interesting. It was almost like she was gambling on getting caught, and if the authorities hadn’t gotten to her by day 6, it was their ineptitude and not hers. The families of the victims could direct their questions to the investigators, instead. It started to come together. My mother was on the couch when I walked in, enraptured by a live stream of breaking news from the town. Attorney McKinney’s client’s cousin was on WFMY, live, giving a breaking announcement. There was an Amber alert for the toddler, Baby Doe. The camera gave descriptions of the child and the vehicle of the biological mother, who they believed to have taken her. The cousin said through tears that when she’d arrived at the daycare, a new employee had looked at her strangely, and informed her that she’d already picked the girl up and signed off. The cameras were low quality and black and white, something eFax would have produced no doubt, but around 4 PM a woman with a May I Speak To The Manager hairstyle and the same stature as the cousin had picked up Baby Doe. They aired the surveillance footage and a sketch of the suspect. She may have chopped off her long copper hair, but it certainly looked like Beth McKinney from where I was standing. My family and I hadn’t been talking much at dinner. My stepdad always watched the news, and he knew something was wrong in town, but had assumed I’d come home because of the streak of violence. After a week though, I suppose he had to break his silence. My mother sensed that I knew a lot more than I was letting on, but seemed happy to keep me at home and away from the aftermath. “What do you think is going on in town? Any idea who it might be?” Someone had finally asked, and I was not ready to answer. It felt like I was being pushed toward a door of admission, which would have inevitably led to interrogation and probably my arrest until I started talking. I evaded the push, and turned the question around. “If I knew, I would have said something so I could go back to work and life could get back to normal again. Everyone knows it’s crazed biological parents that pull the Amber alert shit, but I can’t explain duct taping your victims together while bludgeoning one with a decorative gavel.” He looked down at his steak, declared it a bit too rare, and excused himself to remedy the immediate grave steak situation. “I just worry about that poor baby. The world’s gone crackers, when law enforcement can’t make any inroads for an entire week,” my mom lamented. I nodded in agreement. It was yet another night of vodka and TV, waiting to see what happened next, when I heard a car drive up. My mom was a light sleeper, so I padded downstairs to make sure the dogs didn’t wake up and lose their shit. They were starting to twitch their ears at the sound, so I patted them down and assured them there was no need to go into attack mode. I hoped, at least. I waited with them by the front door, both hands on the collar of each to keep them from bolting forward, watching a figure approach through the shadows in the headlights. It was Beth. Or the new Beth. The old Beth couldn’t come to my house right now, because she’s dead. Her hair was indeed reduced to a messy “May I Speak To The Manager” cut, her eyes red and skin sunken. She hadn’t been sleeping. Her eyes had a crazed glow to them -- her pupils seemed fully dilated, so light disappeared into darkness when you looked into them. I shooed the dogs back indoors, told her to turn off her headlights, and shut the gate behind me as I followed her to...a car. It definitely wasn’t her Camry. This thing was a piece of shit, I don’t even know if you could legally classify it as a car anymore. It had once been painted green, but sheets had peeled off, some rusted completely. This was the kind of car you could hotwire in a lonely parking lot off Gate City Boulevard and be totally in the clear because no one who owned it would care. There were NC plates, so bless the soul who left them on. I saw the padded bundle in the back. “Oh, you didn’t…” “I’m not THAT sick, come on Morgan.” Of course, she would never hurt a child. But I’d also never pegged her as a particularly creative murderess, either. The girl was just sleeping. I walked her out further from the house, under the wooden carport so no one would hear us speaking quietly. I had to hear it from her, the news and the social media theories and the homage Facebook groups started by teens wanting to be labeled as psychopaths had left me more fatigued than informed. The grass had started to crunch, which meant it was in the lower 30s outside. We could see each other’s breath. She pulled a joint from her coat pocket and lit it, passing it to me as the story unfolded, Beth smoothing out the missing elements to paint the full picture, straightening the tapestry painted with bloodied revenge I was expecting an explanation for what had happened in North Carolina, and why six had to die when it was one who put her over the edge. But she didn’t seem very interested in the past. Out of the groups calling the unknown killer a hero for sending the justice and legal system into a tailspin of chaos, most of them had contributed fractals or anecdotes to create a boogeyman. A large man wearing a mask made of someone else’s face who just loved to kill. A Nightstalker type who was just misunderstood, and lashing out at a system that had probably failed them as a foster child. It was all bullshit, a bunch of people wanting to be edgy by worshipping violence because they could put a body, an identity, to it. Turns out, Beth had been learning some new tricks. She got into the dark web, which opened up a new universe of possibility, both moral and in terms of problem solving. What was so wrong with taking one life in the name of justice? What was wrong with 7? None were truly innocent, not like the little girl bundled into the back seat; I’d told Beth to keep the motor running and keep out the cold. She’d seen the depravity of so-called “parents” and the people they let around their children. She had clients show up stinking drunk to court, still demanding unsupervised visitation with their traumatized offspring. She’d heard men lie and try to excuse advances on their stepdaughters. The people she’d found in this new universe weren’t looking for a god, they merely understood that sometimes extreme means were needed and that while her actions were worthy of respect, she wasn’t looking to be revered. Until she got a message from user darkcandy_27. It was from an individual on behalf of a group that had been watching Beth’s work, they had operatives all over the country that had been assigned to equip her vehicles with GPS (even the new piece of shit car) and take photos before the police arrived. But this wasn’t blackmail. This was evidence of her greatness, her willingness to inevitably sacrifice herself for a clean slate, reform from the inside out. She was their messiah. They told her about details the police couldn’t have known, like the $12,000 in cash Judge Smith had in his desk that Beth had taken while looking for the tie that would serve as his noose. Or that West and Rinehold had pleaded with Beth, having been caught mid-fuck when she made her way into the house. The things they’d said, and that they’d frantically apologized for. They had recordings of it all. But they hadn’t turned her in. What they had turned her into was a champion of the cause, a leader not afraid to stand up against an unfair system. Most of them were parents who had been wronged, in their own eyes, their children taken away. Some had not seen their flesh and blood for years. There was a compound in Virginia City, Nevada where a select few members could operate remotely. She had received a formal invitation to join them. “So why are you telling me this?” I asked. “Because you’re willing to hear the truth, you deserve to hear it. And we may never see each other again.” She had accepted the invitation and was making her way to Nevada. I was a pit stop of sorts. The wheels had been put into motion, and the story had to finish unfolding. I knew talking her out of anything was pointless, but that she would do her best for that girl. In the name of kindness, I made my way to the cellar door outside that led to our year-round food storage supply. I gave her a few jars of fruit, applesauce, whatever she and Baby Doe could both eat. Beth just smiled, and handed me an envelope. $10,000 was in it. I just looked up at her, what was this? “I only needed $2,000 to get where I need to go. The rest is to make sure you don’t remember anything about tonight.” She embraced me, freezing from the cold but still frantic, and I hugged back. Beth was my friend, and she had most definitely lost it. I was the only one who knew the story and still did not see a messiah. She put the car into reverse, causing the dogs to wake up and tear into a ruckus. Fortunately, Beth was long out of the driveway before I heard my mother shuffle around her room. I’d calmed the dogs down and gone back to the guest room. PART 4 One month later: Beth made her way to Virginia City, and JaDonathan filed a missing persons report. The police had gone through her home, it turns out JD had gone to stay at a hotel after the second night when it was clear something was wrong and Beth wasn’t coming back. He was still messaging her and checking in, he told her he had a job in Charlotte. She didn’t seem to care and stopped responding completely after day 5. Beth had swept her laptop and picked up a burner phone, but forgot that Google Maps was still active on the tablet she used to keep Baby Doe entertained. From there, Detective Vance traced backward toward the group that had taken Beth in. The building where they had set up shop was a nondescript office suite building, red brick, you would have figured a small accounting firm and dentist’s office was why cars were parked in the lot. From the inside, it was a fortress. The members had stockpiled ammo and employed some of the sturdier members as security near the entrance. There were about 30 people total. They had formed their own family, but there was no leader to bring about cohesion, which is why they fixated on Beth. Upon her arrival, she was greeted as the second coming, she and Baby Doe given white robes and wraps. The Holy Mother and her child. When a few citizens near the complex brought strange goings on to the attention of the police, they either assumed it was a brothel or a meth lab. When the local police were greeted by security, a shot was fired. It was from one of the windows above. More arrived, and the group was at a standoff. There were rifles and guns from every window, and every officer was drawn and waiting. SWAT arrived after about 11 minutes, which were almost as frozen in time and quiet as the deactivation of Donald Trump’s Twitter account, and shots rained down; several officers were injured and one was killed, but the complex was annihilated completely. Baby Doe had been spared, having been shielded by one of the members. One of the patrolmen that made it to the center of the complex said that Beth had stood up serenely, lifting her arms and empty hands, seeming to surrender. Her white robes against the sun through the windows behind her gave her an almost angelic quality. But then she raised her body in an imitation of Jesus on the cross, as she began to cough and blood dripped from her nose and mouth. She had taken a vial of arsenic tincture when the first shot was fired, and collapsed. Baby Doe was identified and transported back to the state of North Carolina. The media was in an uproar for weeks. I had counted out the money after the fact, and found a small piece of thick paper with numbers written on the back. After some of my own online research, I found out that these were cyanide patches, usually issued to high up government officials or members of organized crime units in case of capture. Sure enough, the officers’ tracing of Google Maps brought them to my house. I stayed upstairs while my parents tried to argue that they had no warrant, and they assured them that they would. My mom came upstairs, frantic, not knowing what to do next. I told her to let me go voluntarily. I tucked the paper into the lining of my bra and went willingly when they returned. The rest is history. I couldn’t smell the stench of the bed or the vomit of the woman above me, or hear the clamor in other cells. It was as though an icy hand had gripped my heart, and was slowly squeezing it to dust. Some stories just have to go to the grave.
2019.10.29 05:04 ginger_sproutI have what I need, and I am where I’m supposed to be.
Hi everyone! I was supposed to be doing the final court date today for my divorce, but my ex was MIA and hadn’t authorized his lawyer to sign for him, so I mostly spent the day hanging around my lawyer’s office waiting to see if he’d pick up his phone or answer an email so we could wrap this up. So we’re going to have to get another court date and try again. If I had the option of going back and spending my day differently I would take it, but it is what it is. The finish line is in sight, and at this point a couple more weeks doesn’t make a helluva lot of difference. And I’m an alcoholic. I happen to be in recovery, but I’ve certainly gotten drunk at inappropriate times and screwed things up in the past myself. I’m so grateful that I’m sober, and I genuinely wish him well on his path. I did have some time during the day to head over to the local AA service office to hit a meeting. I have to admit that I’m self-centered enough that I sorta assumed I would run into someone who I know at the meeting. Because it is, of course, all about me and what I’m getting out of it. No such luck, although it was an interesting meeting. We read the second half of the chapter on Step Twelve out of the Twelve &amp; Twelve. It’s a chapter that I’ve never read before, and it deals a lot with what life and relationships are like for people who are established in their sobriety and active in AA. There’s a lot of generalizations, but I got some useful points out of it. After the meeting I verified that the books in the bookstore were the still the same ones that were there last week and I decided on which Grapevine book I was getting. (I settled on Forming True Partnerships. It was a toss-up between that and Emotional Sobriety II: The Revenge Of Emotional Sobriety, but I’m still working through the first Emotional Sobriety book, so I’m saving that one for a later visit.) And by the time I came out of the bookstore the phone volunteers had changed shifts and I ran into a woman I know from my old Saturday morning women’s meeting. I find it extremely comforting to run into people who I know from AA meetings, it gives me a touchstone to anchor me on bad days, and it seems like I always run into people from the program when I’m having a rough time. Granted, I go to a lot of meetings and I tend to run into people at meetings, but I also have random encounters in the wild. I tend to isolate under pressure and it means a lot to me to know that people from my recovery support community are out there and that they’re there for me, they care about me. On Sunday my sponsor told me that she thinks I’m about ready to move on from Step Three. (That’s the one where you work on not being a total control freak about your life who’s trying to force everything to happen according to your own agenda of how you think things should be, and you accept that it’s easier to actually get help and try to work with life as it is, rather than trying to force the rest of the world to conform to your own version of reality. It builds on Step Two, where you accept that maybe you aren’t all-knowing and all-powerful and you need some help because you’re hella crazy.) Which means that I’m getting ready to move into Step Four, which is the one where you write down all of the crap that you don’t want to talk about or admit to anybody and then you look at how you were actually the one causing problems in your own damn life instead of blaming everybody else. It is the step that kept me at arms length from AA for quite a while. And I find that I am okay with the prospect of doing it now. For one thing, I trust my sponsor. We’ve been working together for a year now, and she has more than earned that trust. I know that she values and respects me. I know that she has my best interests at heart. And I know that she’s not going to ask me to do anything that she hasn’t done herself. I trust her guidance. She’s been sober for a long time. She has a practical, kind, humble, and enthusiastic sobriety. And she’s helped a lot of other women get sober. She knows what works. I also trust that she works a strong, spiritual program. We were barely two minutes into our conversation when she told me that her gut feeling was that I’m about ready to move on from Step Three. I had an intense week that I hadn’t had a chance to really talk with her about yet, and she knew before I’d told her that I was really feeling and experiencing the step. And I am. I wasn’t ready for it a day before, but I have come through it and learned the step. I’m living it. Not perfectly, and not all the time, but I have proof of it in my own life and in my own felt experience. I am different now from how I was when I started it. My sponsorship line works slow, I’ve been on this step for somewhere around five months. (I think.) It has frequently been frustrating for me to go that slow, but looking back, I can see the difference in how I view my life and how I live my life that has occurred over the course of doing this step. I can see it in my work life, my interpersonal relationships, how I go about my daily business, how I plan for the future and think about the past, and how I view myself. I have experienced a fundamental change. Life is better now, and if I keep going and doing what works, I get to keep this. Having a Higher Power in AA is not entitled bullshit à la The Secret). (The Secret is possibly going to make it on my Fourth Step Grudge List, but this is already long, and that’s a tangent.) Turning my will and my life over to my HP doesn’t mean that I get what I want. My divorce is not being settled to my advantage. I’m still working a job that I don’t particularly want to be at. And various other things in my life have not worked out the way that I would have liked since I started doing my Third Step. This is all fine. Things are how they’re supposed to be. I have what I need. I am growing. My life is not moving in the direction that I wanted it to move in, it’s moving in the direction that I’m supposed to be going in. Just because I’m not trying to micromanage the outcome and I don’t have any clue where this is going doesn’t mean that it’s not going in the right direction. I am where I need to be, and I know what I need to know. I trust that things will be okay in a deep and meaningful way, not in a shallow and unsatisfying way. I don’t need to control it, I just have to keep doing the right thing, as much as I can, and trust the process. I can let go. I hope that you all are well. If any of you made it this far, thanks for hanging in with me. I send you my love, wherever you are on your journey. You are where you’re supposed to be. It will work out. Keep going. Ginger_Sprout Out
2019.10.18 10:21 derkimsterOn This Date In California Weather History (October 18)
2015: Thunderstorms dropped very heavy rainfall in Death Valley. Scotty's Castle measured 2.72" of rain in roughly five hours. Major flash flooding hit the Grapevine Canyon area of Death Valley National Park . Mesquite Springs Campground and Grapevine Ranger Station were evacuated; eight vehicles full of visitors and three park rangers were stranded overnight near Ubehebe Crater. Trenches up to six feet deep were cut into Scotty's Castle Road. 24 power poles were downed. Mud and debris damaged or destroyed the water supply infrastructure, stables, visitors center, and the cookhouse. 2010: A National Weather Service Survey Team has determined that the storm damage in the Rancho Santa Fe Subdivision in Kingman, Arizona that occurred on 18 October between 445 pm and 5 pm was caused by an EF0 tornado on the Enhanced Fujita Scale. Damage estimates were consistent with winds around 75 mph. The tornado made two brief touchdowns separated by 1.2 miles in distance with two single family homes suffering minor roof damage. The tornado likely quickly generated on the southern edge of thunderstorms that were moving northeast to southwest across the area. The tornado formed on this boundary in the very lowest part of the thunderstorms and moved with the storms. 2005: Weak low pressure off the Southern California Coast entrained tropical moisture that resulted numerous rainfall report of 2.5"-3" of rain in the Kern County Mountains around Frazier Park from the evening of the 17th into the morning of the 18th. Heavy rainfall in the Kern County Mountains and Deserts led to flooding on the 17th and early on the 18th. On the Kern Desert Floor normally dry streams flash flooded affecting areas north of California City, including State Highway 14 near the intersection with Redrock-Randsburg Road as well as upstream, smaller roadways. Rainfall amounts reported in the Kern Desert included 2.37" and 2.55" around Rosamond, 1.83" at Boron, and 1.16" at Mojave. 2004: A significant early snowfall occurred in the Southern Sierra Nevada Mountains of Central California October 17-18. Precipitation amounts included 16" of new snow at Agnew Pass; 14" at Upper Burnt Corral; 13" at Green Mountain; 11" at Blackcap Basin; and, 7" at Farewell Gap (Tulare County Mountains). 1988: China Lake NAS reached 100° F for a high temperature. This is the latest triple digit high temperature on record here. 1969: Palomar Mountain ended a 163 day dry spell by recording a whopping 0.04" of rainfall. 1963: Strong thunderstorms hit the Twentynine Palms area. Flash floods and debris flows moved into several homes and yards. Roads were left impassable. 1949: Fresno recorded a low of 36° F, setting a record for the date. This was also the first of 5 days in a row with lows in the 30's, a record for the month of October in Fresno. 1946: The morning low temperature at Reno, NV was 19° F and 1" of snow fell there. 1920: 20" of snow fell at Tahoe City. 1893: San Jose had a low temperature of 30° F after seeing a low of 31° F the previous day. 1888: A strong thunderstorm produced extensive washouts along the railway between Yuma, AZ, and Texas Hill, AZ. Source: NWS San Francisco/Monterey, Hanford, Reno, Las Vegas, Phoenix, & San Diego
2019.10.16 17:41 sebastian80DJI Mavic self crashes into water - DJI customer service is not helpful at all and refuses to take responsibility. Don't know what to do, help!
I have purchased a few DJI drones/products and have never crashed or damaged one. My latest drone was the Mavic Air which I activated in Feb of 2018, so it was no longer covered by the DJI Refresh I purchased. I took my Mavic Air down to West West ,Florida. I made sure all the updates and latest firmware were up to date on the drone and controller. The drone software said it was ok to take off in the area I was going to film, so I took off close to the edge of the beach. After less than 2 minutes into the flight, it recognized the area as No Fly Zone and forced landed into the water. This should have not happened. If the drone had simply recognized the No Fly Zone, I would not have flown it. Or simply returned to the Home Point, it would have landed safely in the ground. I have the flight records to prove what happened to my drone. I have sent DJI customer service everything and just keep getting these long apologies but absolutely no solutions. They essentially are telling me to go buy another one at full price. In addition, the customer service rep that I chatted via text on their website said to ship the drone to them. Then another customer service rep, via email this time, says not to send it in because I will be charged for them just to look at it! No one had even acknowledged the flight info I sent in proving what I am trying to tell them. The drone self crashed due to no fault of my own. My case number is CAS-3552306-R9S9J2 and my drone has shipped to the location in Grapevine, TX where I was originally told to send it. Not sure if posting here or chatting with u/DJI_Support will help at all . I have purchased the Spark Fly More Pkg, Mavic Air Fly More Pkg, Osmo Mobile 1, and Osmo Pocket. If DJI will not do anything to help and simply tell me to "go buy another drone", I will never purchase another DJI product again. In addition, I will make my voice and frustrations heard on social media and anywhere else I can vent.
2019.09.25 22:08 charliejenkins4A Cliff Notes Summary of the First One Out Interviews
If you haven't had time to listen to seven hours of podcast interviews, or you didn't retain everything you heard, here are some key points. I didn't think to do this until just now, so I'll be posting it as a work in progress and updating it throughout the afternoon. That way more people will have a chance to read up before the premiere. Karishma Patel, 37, Personal Injury Trial Lawyer, Houston, TX -First generation Indian-American Her mom was as a legal assistant, and got her a filing job at her law firm when she was 14. "I didn't have other options. I was basically told I was going to be a lawyer and I didn't disagree."She has watched every season and regularly listens to RHAP. She sits close to the TV to study the inflections on people's faces when something is said to them, so that she can think about what that means. But, her parents and husband don't share her enthusiasm for the show. Asked if it's her dark pleasure she says, "It is completely bright. It is a beautiful pleasure of mine, but it is mine and mine only. I haven't been able to find people to share it with." -Doing the show has caused her conflict. "Not only is it not expected, it's not allowed. It's kind of like being a disobedient Indian girl. You're not supposed to be doing this. What you're supposed to be doing is having babies. But I don't care. I'm a risk taker. I'm here to prove to myself that I don't need to listen to anybody else. I don't need permission from anybody else. This is my journey and I'm going to take it. I hope that people watching out there can see that an Indian woman's value does not come from doing what she's told." -She doesn't currently have children, and she says she has some decisions to make as she enters a crossroads and the next stage of her life. -Her law firm told her they'll replace her if they're able to find someone, and she can have her job back if they don't. "I didn't flinch." -Her strategy is to be non-threatening and play a social game. She doesn't look 37, and she wants to use that youthfulness to be disarming. She wants to build relationships other people believe in. She defines success by other people vouching for her loyalty when they go off and have private conversations with one another. "That means I got 'em, because it's actually the other way around." Asked if she wants to find someone she can trust, "I'm not going to be capable of it. I'm too skeptical for that. I overthink things, so I'm not going to be able to trust somebody the way I want to be trusted... If I do, that's the end of my game." My take: Oh my God. Poor Karishma. Her story hurts my heart. She reminds me so much of myself in her isolation, her defiance and her deep feelings. I worry that her fear of trusting people could get in the way of her forming genuine bonds. But, there's nothing she can do. Society has made her the way she is. I hope she gets a lot of screen time so she can be a star of her favorite show. Missy Byrd, 24, Military Veteran/App Developer, Tacoma, Washington -Originally from Georgia. Her family was 'decently poor.' She played basketball for the Air Force Academy because she thought it was her ticket out. -She had a brain tumor. She stopped menstruating for a year and two quarters. "I'm not dating anyone but I have breast milk. I'm a literal cow... I would look down and my shirt would be wet, and I thought, 'Dang you're clumsy. I knew you were clumsy, but you're clumsier today than you were yesterday. But it was - it was - uhh - milk." She had crying fits. She developed a stutter and couldn't look at people. Doctors told her she was just stressed. When her dad died she couldn't process emotions normally. She was about to go to the French version of the Air Force Academy, École de l'air, after graduation but because of her mental instability she was removed from school. The military shipped her to the same Air Force base as Sandra (Fort Lewis.) "I don't want to be there. Super sad. Check into the post office - fuck this. Check into the dorms - hate that." The doctor there found the tumor. She got an MRI and all weekend she believed she might have cancer. Over the next year and a half she eliminated the tumor and the symptoms using vitamins. She enlisted and worked logistics. -She made a list of the things she wanted to do now that she was going to live. "The first thing was go see Beyonce. Beyonce costs way too much money for a normal person to go see, but if you've just almost had a near death experience you go see Beyonce, bro!" She was feet away. She drove across the country. She tried weed. -She had an idea for an app, but didn't even have the computer literacy to use social media. She found a veteran's association and asked if she could intern. "They said, 'No, you should build this out yourself. We want to work for you.' I said, 'No, the fuck you don't. Okay, lemme call my grandma.'" She wrote a grant proposal and won a $1,500 office space in the center of Seattle. "Just to do whatever I want. It was like a laboratory for a child. I had Play-Dough up there. I had a white board... Just mind blowing shit when I could have been dead." -She'd seen every episode of Survivor at least three times. She started watching because her Air Force Academy basketball team was getting decimated, and she related to Foa Foa getting decimated in Survivor: Samoa. She added the show to her list. Josh suggests, "The bugs are eating you because they want some of that magic." -She isn't going to tell people her story until she's in the Final 3. "That's that Final 3 magic." She doesn't want to overly rely on strategy. She doesn't want to win individual challenges. She to build a social game and find ways to relate to everyone. My take: She's so full of exuberance. There's not a negative bone in her body right now. She's too young and her life experience is too necessarily limited to talk around three years of her life. If she shares her story, the beauty of her perspective will cause everyone to fall in love with her and want her to do well. If she doesn't, people will sense that she's hiding a lot. I think she'll figure that out and course correct within the first day. Since she was at the same Air Force base as Sandra and she was a massive fan, does that suggest she knows her? Ronnie Bardah, 35, Professional Poker Player, Henderson, Nevada-Born and raised in Brockton, Massachusetts, 20 minutes south of Boston. They were the only Israeli family in town. 50% of the people in Brockton were from Cape Verde, and he considers himself an "honorary Cape Verdian." A couple of his friends were shot and killed at a young age. -He was a good kid and had a good heart, but he was always hustling. In Junior High he was flipping Oatmeal Cakes and Fudge Rounds for a profit. Slinging baseball cards. Both his parents gambled. They were always at the dog tracks or Mohegan Sun. He had his friend make him a fake ID and got stuck with the name Alaja Jones. He went by Al and started playing the casinos. Quit his job at Sears Automotive to play poker full time.-He played Atlantic City, Vegas, then internationally. He had his first big score in 2010 when he took 24th place in the main event for $320,000. Got to keep $150,000 after taxes. "Poker's a hard way to make an easy living. Lots of people try. We risk every day. You have to get to a point when you can manage your bankroll and I've never gone broke in the 16 years I've played." -In one of the most viewed poker hands of all time, he was bluffed out of a million dollar pot by a supermodel on a poker TV show filmed in Monaco. "She made a sick play. She had no idea what she was doing but all the stars were aligned."-He watched Borneo when it aired and got back into it when fellow poker player Anna Khait was on. He calls Jean-Robert, "kinda a lazy guy...He's really good at befriending multi-millionaires." "Anna Khait... is probably the least poker player out of all of us. She played for a couple years." "And then Garrett - He's a very, very smart, smart kid... Self-made millionaire. One of the very, very few." -He only drank water for 7.5 days and lost 25 pounds for his health and to get an idea of the conditions of the show. He thinks he'll thrive in the survival situation. "People like being around me. I like to fucking bust balls and joke." He thinks old school alliances are a good plan, but you have to adapt. He says that like in poker, Survivor players can have every advantage, but they have to really smell it. -He wants Vince out. "There's an Asian Zeke in there. What value does he bring besides ruining people and getting in people's heads? He's a liability in challenges. He looks like a little corn puff. We gotta get him outta here. Sorry to sound so mean but it's the truth." My take: Ruuuuude. He has no way of knowing how other people on the cast are talking in their interviews, and may assume the trash talk is standard. If he were playing on some seasons it would be. But, in this particular season it sets him apart in an unflattering way, and it seems a part of the tough persona he's built up to escape a scary situation growing up and enter a fantasy career. We'll see whether his tribe thinks he's a straight talking character or a jerk. Tom Laidlaw, Former NHL Player, Brampton, Ontario, Canada -He was with the New York Rangers for 7 years and the LA Kings for 4. Now he has his own podcast, True Grit Life (truegritlife.com). Does it with a friend, Kevin Allen, who writes for USA Today. Does motivational speaking. -Growing up on a dairy farm outside Toronto there was a pond to water the cows. It froze over in the winters and he'd play hockey because there wasn't much else to do. Went to Northern Michigan University - four year hockey captain, ranked #1 team in the country. Drafted as a 20 year old. "My buddy had a horse farm. We were cleaning horse shit out of the stalls. There were no cell phones back then. This is 1978. My father got a call at our farm house from the New York Rangers at the draft. Back then nobody went to the draft - it was just teams. They said I'd been drafted in the sixth round. He calls the farm house where I'm working. They bring me up. He says, 'Son, you've been drafted by the Rangers.' I said, 'Great. What do I do now?' He says, 'Finish cleaning the shit out of the stalls.'" -When he played intimidation and fighting was strategy. There were guys tougher than him, but he could fight and he could also play. Problem was, he fought a guy once, and from then on the guy wanted to fight him over and over. -Jerry Bruckheimer, big hockey fan, called the NHL and wanted to get some players on the Amazing Race. Tom had kept himself in shape, he had his passport. They ended up asking him about Survivor. He'd watched it before but not for a while. He wasn't so sure he wanted to play a game where you hurt other people, but friends helped him get his head around it. He was very impressed by Christian's toughness in the endurance challenge. To prepare for the show he studied how he reacted to different situations, how to control his heart heart, etc. He wants the mental challenge. My take: Tom really ticked me off when he spoiled a couple of outcomes of this season. That's a betrayal of the producers, his cast and the viewers. But, if that hadn't happened I would like him. He's an easy-going, charming guy. His life experiences are a bit different than anyone else who's been on the show, which is what you want. Vince Moua, 27, Admissions Counselor, Merced, CA -His family is Hmong. His parents lived in Vietnam in the destruction left by the war - dead bodies, guns, people who wanted to kill them. They went to refugee camps in Thailand. Then his dad became a Montana farm hand. He met Vince's mom in the US, but she came from the same place. -Vince is from small town Merced, California - the 209. Few people he knew went anywhere but the UC system and community college. He went to Stanford, one of only 7-10 Hmong. He realized the significance someone can bring to people from the same community. He tried to be pre-med but realized "no, not today." The issues of access he cared about came well before people got to the hospital. He ended up going with education. His mom was a teacher, "But when I was growing up she said, 'Yo, if you become a teacher Imma disown yo ass.' To all of us. But, that's always kinda been my jam." -He lived in South Korea for five years. He taught English in a town. Then in Seoul ahed worked with low and middle income students who wanted to study outside of Korea. -He's a Survivor superfan, who even mentions on his Tinder account that he plans to be on Survivor. His parents were worried about him doing TV because he's not out as gay to his extended family. He comes from a clan where his dad is the "top dog" and Vince is "the next top dog." In the Asian American/Pacific Islander community when you come out, it's your family who faces - in a sense - dishonor. For a long time he distanced himself from his family, hoping they'd all be less hurt if they found out and disowned him. He always tried to find friends who would be there for him should his parents not be. A year ago his mom asked him rhetorically if he was gay. "I was try'n to go around it. I was like, 'Gurl, you don't wanna know! Yo ass keeps asking!' But she kept asking, asking. So finally I told her 'Yeah, I am!' and she was crying. My dad was like, 'Oh, my son!'" But, Vince is fine with who he is and wants to show kids like him that "let's hope that it gets better." Now his parents just want him to win. -He'd like to play an old school strategy but "I'm not afraid to cut a bitch." With the tribe he's going to be Homeboy Vince from the 209, but when he talks to the camera he's going to tell people "Don't underestimate your narratives." This past year with Crazy Rich Asians, he wants people to know that there are some Crazy Hood Ass Asians. My take: What a character. Vince has a clear point of view - Hmong, blue collar, gay - which is unique to him in Survivor lore. Even though double minorities have sometimes had trouble fitting in socially on Survivor I think somehow he's going to pull it off. As unlikely as this sounds I could even see him being a Cochran-esque winner. Aaron Meredith, 36, Personal Trainer, Warwick, Rhode Island -He's very keyed up at Ponderosa. Rambling so fast it sounds like you're listening to 1.5x. He's read four books so far - Relentless by Tim Grover, Can't Hurt Me by Dave Goggins, Iron Cowboy by James Lawrence, Harry Potter. -He was an engineer at a building insulation plant. He was miserable, too antsy sitting at a desk. Couldn't focus. So, he drove up and down the East Coast popping kettle corn - from Maine to Florida - traveling with carnies. Bartended for a while. He'd played college football and baseball, lifted since high school, and he and his friends wanted to get "huge and jacked and ripped." The owner of the gym suggested he become a personal trainer. He ended up working mostly with middle aged women and it taught him empathy. Now he owns two women's-only fitness studios. He puts supportive women around one another and offers them the positivity to seek self-growth. -He's also a party boat emcee. Lights, DJ, bar, drinks. He's an extremely social person. -He'd first applied at 23 - 6 or 7 times over the years. He was in the mix for Cook Islands and David vs. Goliath. -He's been married 7 years and has a 5 year old son. His son is a huge fan of Survivor. Libby Vincek is his favorite player. Kara Kay was his next favorite. Aaron is already sure Molly will be his son's favorite. "He has a type. He He likes the attractive blondes. He says, 'I like them because they have a nice face.' I like mommy because she has a nice face too." The boy was very concerned about his dad going on the show. He said, "Dad, I don't want anyone to laugh at you and make fun of you." Aaron said he wanted to win. His son said, "But you might not win." When they watch the show he'll always ask, "Do they like him? Do they like her?" If Aaron is portrayed in a negative light he'll have to sit down with his son and talk. He doesn't want to play a deceitful game, but he will, because he doesn't care how he's portrayed. My take: His story about his son is one of my favorites from all these interviews. I hope he gets to work with Molly. His adrenaline is too high. I hope he calms down a lot when the game starts. But, someone so social and sweet hearted who can win challenges and take themselves to the end has got to be a contender to win. Chelsea Walker, 27, Digital Content Editor, Los Angeles, CA -Chelsea just took the cast photo and they put her in the third spot from the bottom, a good omen because a weird number of winners have been in that position. "Your girl's number three. I got this!" -She's a Jersey girl. She went to the University of Maryland. "I didn't do Survivor: Maryland or anything." She studied Broadcast Journalism. She knew the generic emails for NBC Universal and emailed random people until someone replied. Now she's been in LA a year. She did coverage of award shows. Now she works at IMDB, where she helps Kevin Smith with his show. She just interviewed people at SXSW. -She's been watching Survivor since she was 8. She's cried in every interview because this means so much to her. She's trying to explain that at the point she starts crying again. "It's been such a dream of mine and To be told no year after year after year - these past six years have been a total mindfuck. I've basically been called every single year. I've been to finals three times. Survivor is my one true love, but the one year they didn't call me I got really pissed off so I tried out for Big Brother. I ended up becoming the alternate and got my key being filmed and all of that crap. But I don't like that show anyway." -In September 2017 she was at a WeHo bar for her friend's birthday when, "Oh shit that's Jeff Probst." Her girlfriends all know she's obsessed, so she pulled the waiter over and asked what that guy was drinking. So, Chelsea sent another one over. "I told my friends, 'Take my credit card. Split the bill, because I can't come back after I do this. As soon as the waiter drops off the drink I'm like, 'Jeff, this one's on me. You can buy me the next one at finals.' And I just walked out of the restaurant... That was a big move!" They didn't call her again that year, but Jeff still remembered when they talked this year. -She's been working out at four different gyms - weights, pilates, yoga. Push ups. Memorized puzzles. Reading How to Win Friends and Influence People, which she keeps in.a Bible sleeve so people will think she's religious. She also carries Harry Potter because she would trust someone who read HP. She wants to keep it cool. Make one on one connections. Eventually find idols - and not tell anyone she has one - and make calculated moves. "I don't want to be a Jacob. No offense." My take: Hearing this girl cry from joy because she's so happy to be on the show makes me emotional. She's a real go getter. I wish I were that damn fearless. Truly, I wish I were more like her. I hope her pure zest for life comes across on TV and she doesn't get stuck with a purple edit just because of her age and gender. I also hope no one decides to get threatened by her as a competitive girl and vote her off premerge. I think she'll go far. Hope so. Dean Kowalski, 28, Account Executive, New York, New York -Referring to himself in the third person, "Dean is 28 years old. As we mentioned, he lives in New York and he prides himself on being a well rounded person when it comes to interests, abilities, personalities... If I'm listening to Drake and Lil Wayne, I gotta go home and cry to This Is Us.. I can play basketball but also think about our place in the universe." He likes to tag basketball courts with a peace symbol with a ball on it which he makes using a stencil. -He structures most of his interview with Josh around an Outwit, Outplay, Outlast format, explaining why he excels at each. -He grew up in an affluent suburb. His dream was to play in the NBA. He was 5"9 3/4, so he set his eyes on college basketball as a realistic alternative. In order to get looks from colleges he went to a school 30 minutes away - top five in the country, Nike would fly them around for games and give them free Jordan sneakers. He was one of only 4 white guys in the whole school and the only one on the team. He played with Kyrie Irving, the #1 overall draft pick. "My friend said you look like the Make a Wish Kid who just wants to be on the team for a day." He played at Colombia University, where he was co-captain his senior year despite averaging two minutes a game. He became a teacher, then did sales for a tech startup in New York. He now sells ads for Google. -He's a fan, but far from a superfan. He started watching Brenda's season. (He thinks it was Nicaragua, but it was actually Carmoan.) He works with a superfan who freaked out when they had a meeting at H&R Block with Carolyn Rivera and they went out to Bourbon Street with her. He kept watching for five years and thought he could do well. He hates when people are all talk, so he sent in a tape. For the video he interviewed random strangers on the street, who had never met him or seen the show, and asked them, "Why am I going to win it?" A barber, a construction worker. He's going to tell people he's in marketing, not sales - people have sales. My take: I'm just not that into him. Elaine Stott, 41, Factory Worker, Rockholds, NY -When Josh asks her not to touch the table she asks him, "You seen that Bart Simpson commercial, right? Don't touch my Butterfinger? I'm already hungry thinking about it." -"I had a pretty rough way to go growing up." Her single dad raised her and her three brothers. She was the youngest. "I was raised like one of the boys. Know what I mean? Daddy didn't know how to raise no little girl." He worked 16-17 hour days. The kids raised themselves. "When little children make their own decisions, they make poor ones." She was a hellion. -She's originally from Woodbine, Kentucky, Nick Wilson's hometown. Her god sister went to school with him and she knows him through the grapevine. "We rode on different sides of the track. 20 years ago he coulda been my lawyer, because I was on the other side of the law. I'm not bad. I've just done some things." Public intoxication several times. "I come from a dry county. It's like Footloose. We cross the state line to get a beer and when you come back you're in trouble." She stole a newspaper stand once and had to do community service. "I was a little bit mean." -She went to live with her grandpa and cleaned her act up, by which she means that she started smoking a little weed and playing sports - basketball, softball, track. She played softball and judo in college. "I couldn't do nothing real technical. We had Brazilians on the team who could do flying arm bars. But if I got these claws on you and got ya on the ground I'd waller you to death." In casting she put this guy Will in an armbar. She was gonna choke him but didn't know if she should. -When she graduated, her girlfriend was a college Freshman so she went to all the same parties and ballgames for four years. Then she realized she needed a job. Now she drives a Ford truck for a factory. She's been there 15 years. She works 12 hours, 7 days a week. -Growing up her mom "was always in my life in some sense. She'd never miss a birthday. She'd be homeless, but she'd still call." Elaine and her brothers bought her cars, and places to live, and got her jobs. "In a sense I've been mourning the loss of my mom my whole life." Once Elaine was homeless herself and there was snow on the ground. It was cold, and her teacher took her in. Gave her Christmas presents. Made her go to prom. Survivor was a thing they shared, and the teacher was gonna be Elaine's loved one. But within a one year period the woman lost her daughter, her husband, her dog and then had a stroke. Now "she walks like Frankenstein" and can't go. Elaine got Probst to talk to her, and she can't wait to watch. In October Elaine's biological mom went into a coma. She was on life support, but Elaine wouldn't unplug her. Her mom came out of it and seemed to be doing a lot better only to die very suddenly of a heart attack. -Her girlfriend and her girlfriend's two sons are gonna be watching. The 18 year old doesn't know because he can't keep a secret. The 13 year old helped her lose 20 pounds doing crossfit to come out here. She wants the money, but she really wants "some of that soul searching, that life adventure, that life changing - some of that. You know what I mean? Gimme some of that soup! Lemme eat some of that up! I want this show to build me up, because I feel like it can. I sure hope to hell it don't tear me down." My take: About 12 sobbing emojis in a row. She's my favorite. If she gets voted out premerge I'm going to go into mourning. And how can you not sort of expect that? I am going to be so upset if they just dismiss her because she's older and looks out of shape and sounds country. If that happens, I want another Second Chance season next year. Elizabeth Biesel, 26, Olympic swimmer, South Kingstown, Rhode Island -Josh says that Elizabeth was outright identified by one of the other contestants because they'd been watching YouTube videos about how to be a better swimmer. Others guessed she was an Olympian based on her rings tattoo. -She's from the Ocean State. They lived a block away from the beach, so they wanted her to take swimming lessons. She was a rambunctious child and swimming was the only way they could calm her energy. She started breaking records when she was 7 or 8. When she was 13 she made her first national team. At 15 she went to the Olympics. She got good early. Women peak around 22-23, and she ended her career at 24. You couldn't make much money doing it. She swam one of the longer, more grueling races, and her body said "no more." She listened to her body and retired. Some athletes lose their love for swimming because they're embittered by losing by 1/100th of a second, or they leave injured. She left on a good note. Still, if she could swim competitively for the rest of her life, she would. Now she doesn't know who she is or what she's going to do with the rest of her life. Every hour of the day used to have a purpose. Now her days are wide open. She can't keep eating 5,000 calories a day. "It's sort of like I'm mourning the death of Elizabeth Biesel the swimmer." -She was a Survivor fan as a kid because Richard Hatch was from Rhode Island. In her area "Every single household that had a television set was watching Survivor." When they asked her if she'd do the show, she felt pure joy. She said absolutely right away. She's excited about the competition of Survivor. No heated Olympic pools. You're stripped down to your core. She's amazed by the scope of the production apparatus. She's not a schemer. She wants to be a challenge beast - not the best woman but the best overall. She'd love to have a Wendell and Dom relationship with another woman. But, she wants to avoid the drama as long as she can. My take: Could Chelsea be Wendell to her Dom? She's so wholesome. She's just so "Olympics." I love her and everything she represents. I'd love to see her rocket through the swimming competitions, lapping everyone else. Go Elizabeth.
2019.09.19 00:37 SabatonBabylon[OC] The HEL Jumper [Chapter 2.20]
Book 1 of The HEL Jumper ----- PreviousFirstNext ----- "What is that saying among your people, Alice Winters? You are like clockwork?" Qul'Roth asked as the human joined him in his cabin yet again. "If I didn’t know better I’d say you’re beginning to like me, Qul'Roth. This is the fourth jump now and it's not like we have any time to talk on the bridge," Alice explained, wondering if their fourth exit from jump space would prove equally fruitless regarding the fate of the Lancer. The thought sent a sudden spike of anger through her as she sat down. "And would you change your damn view port already?!" Qul'Roth snorted in surprise and indignation. "I do not understand what this little screen has to do with anything, Alice Winters. I have accepted that engaging in conversation with you is beneficial to the Order, in terms of acquiring a greater personal understanding of your species and hopefully in convincing you that there is merit to our way of organizing society. None of that has anything to do with my viewport," the Ghaelen insisted, fixing her with a hard look. Alice matched it. "The black reminds me of my brother," she growled. "You have my sympathies, but we have been over this, Alice Winters," the Ghaelen replied diplomatically with a wave of his hand, his thin fingers almost brushing against the wall next to his desk. "So you have no desire to see anything else there yourself?" She pressed. "The only options are from Earth. The Order mandates I learn and understand your species and planet, not appreciate it." Qul'Roth inclined his head and scratched his antlers as Alice practically jumped out of her seat and shouted at the ceiling. "Cassia! Can you hear me?!" 'Good evening, Miss Winters. Is there something I can assist you with?' The pleasant, synthesised voice joined them in the cabin. Qul'Roth made another loud sound of displeasure, a sort of low pitched whine from somewhere the hollows of his skull. "What is the meaning of this? The VI is in here as well?" He demanded. Alice turned to him and rested a hand on her cocked hip. "Look Qul'Roth, I actually like you compared to the things I've heard about your species on the whole, but most of the humans on this ship think you're here to spy on us. You're being monitored, just like everyone else. This is a military vessel, after all. It’s a fact of life, at least for someone as important as you are. Now, Cassia, is there any way we can get the viewport in this cabin to look like Ghaela?" 'Processing query...that is not possible. That information is restricted.' "Is Admiral Kaczynski available?" Alice tried, waving a dismissive hand at Qul'Roth as the Ghaelen stood to protest. 'He is on the bridge but does not appear busy. Connecting you now…' After a moment Alice heard Natori's voice. "Hello Qul'Roth of Ghaela and Alice Winters of Earth," he said in his perpetually cheery tone. "Not you too, Admiral!" Alice laughed. "Listen, Qul'Roth still hasn't changed his viewport, says he doesn't like the Earth views. Think you can authorize release of whatever data on Ghaela is on Cassia's hard drives?" The cabin was silent for a long moment as Natori contemplated the most unusual request. "Cassia, can you synthesize the requested visuals? Out of respect to our honored guest I believe it prudent to keep those data banks restricted." The admiral's words seemed to mollify Qul'Roth, who sat back on his hind legs and contented himself to throw Alice an annoyed look at she occupied his time with her silly requests. He had enjoyed her description of himself as important, though. Cassia rendered her evaluation of the situation. 'Simulations complete. Shall I make them available for all cabins, sir?' "No, Cassia. Just the one. Alice, when you are done visiting our emissary would you please find me on the bridge? I would like to speak with you." With that order Natori disconnected and left the two of them alone. Alice looked down from the ceiling to find Qul'Roth gazing at a beautiful cityscape in his viewport. Towering structures intertwined with trees, grasses, streams, and rivers. She could see no Ghaelen, vehicles, or other specific tidbits that might provide insight into the Ghaelen way of life but the simulation seemed to prove effective enough. Alice walked up and placed a hand on his shoulder, causing Qul'Roth to recoil back onto his heels and stiffen his spine. She chuckled. "Sorry, didn't mean to spook you. You like it?" She asked with a knowing smile. He looked away. "It is nice enough, I suppose," he muttered. Alice frowned at him. "Why the long face?" Qul'Roth glanced at her with narrow eyes. Alice slapped herself in the forehead. "Ok, I didn't mean your actual face, just you don't seem happy. Do you miss home?" "I am here in service of the Order. Why would I miss it?" Qul'Roth asked dismissively. "Oh I don't know, because unless you're an unfeeling drone, people get homesick!" Alice shot back with fire in her eyes. "Why are you so damn afraid to admit you miss home?!" "Because that is unnecessary and would impede my ability to serve my people. It would be improper to allow myself to be occupied by such things as the beauty of my planet when I am here." "Oh for the love of...how many Ghaelen end up so far away from their planet? So what if none of the others get like that. You're allowed to, right?!" Alice pressed. Qul'Roth let out a deep breath. "Conversing with you is very tiring, Alice Winters. We have discussed this already." "And if personal wants mean nothing then why did you visit the hydroponics bay between now and our last conversation?" Alice asked with the cadence of a cat cornering a canary. "Because the Order demands I inspect this vessel and understand how our technologies are being used!" He spluttered indignantly. Alice grinned widely, baring her canines. Qul'Roth found it most unsightly. "I counted the number of arugula plants the last time I was there. Care to tell me why one was missing?" Alice inquired casually, turning from him and returning to the duffel that she'd brought along with her that day. From it she withdrew another bundle of healthy leaves, bound at the stems with a cloth tie. Alice watched Qul'Roth's eyes as they traveled from her face to her outstretched hand. "I already asked the Admiral and he says it's fine. I won't tell you how to do your job, Qul'Roth, but consider that indulging yourself just a bit might help with your work overall." "I accept this gift with gratitude, Alice Winters. However, you are wrong. The canticles are clear. Selfish want is the downfall of Order and the source of all conflict. Your people's history is full of the terror of the individual." Alice said nothing as she looked the Ghaelen over, internally wishing she could dissect his brain to figure out if there was any biological basis for his species' intense collectivist behavior. She thought Gerard would be more than willing to assist her. Alice allowed the thought to pass though, turning and collecting her bag. He's much more interesting alive anyway, she joked to herself, resting her hand on the smooth surface of the bulkhead next to the cabin's door. Alice looked over her shoulder and gave her interlocutor a measured farewell. "You're welcome, Qul'Roth. And yes, my species has done terrible things for personal gain or the gain of our clan. But we have also done great things, things that stir the passions of mind and body. Perhaps we can discuss that next time we meet? I’d hoped to stay here longer, but I should probably go see what the Admiral needs with me." "I am in agreement, for once. It would be unwise to keep your superior officer waiting. May your labors be in service of the Order, Alice Winters," Qul'Roth replied with a polite, deep bow that almost had his antlers touching his desk. "Enjoy your viewport, Qul'Roth." Alice cast a final wave over her shoulder as the door slid shut behind her. "No wonder so many in Alpha are fascinated by those guys," she murmured. "Now then, if I recall correctly the bridge is aft of here so…this way!" ----- A few minutes later Alice was standing before the Marine sentry outside the bridge of the Event Horizon. It felt like even after two months aboard the ship she was still seeing new faces, especially among the military. He nodded to her, his M-22 rifle held at ease. "Hi there, I'm Alice Winters! Admiral Kaczynski requested I meet with him?" "Yeah, you can go ahead in," he replied in a thick Scottish accent. "Say, aren't you that lass that took the piss out of Lipper a while back? Epic show that was!" "I uh...guess so?" Alice replied softly, tucking a lock of hair behind her ear. "He's not still mad about that, is he?" "Lipp? Nah, that lad's best and worst trait is that bull's head of his. But every so often it's nice to bring up 'beta boy', you know? Keeps his ego from getting too big his helmet won't fit. But I'm rambling on, won't take any more of your time. Head on in." "Yeah, thanks," Alice said politely, moving forward as the large doors parted and slid open, revealing the bridge. She thought it looked something like a mix between Houston mission control and a sports bar. Natori sat in the center, near the back wall in a slightly elevated chair with holo displays and monitors to each side, overseeing a wide arc of watch standers at their terminals where an immense number of switches, dials, and buttons made up the majority of the floor level technology. Above them all were large displays that broadcast whatever was most important to the captain or the Admiral at the time. They were currently cycling between various security feeds of the many laboratories and hangars aboard the ship, most of which were empty given the late hour. Alice thought the silhouettes of Swordfish zero-g fighters in their docking bays made for a good screensaver. Multiple personnel turned to look at her as she entered, further indication of another dull evening in jump space. Natori stood to hail her. "Miss Winters, a pleasure to see you. Thank you for taking the time to come this way." "It's no problem, Admiral. An order is an order after all. Busy night?" Alice asked, looking around the room. "Oh yes, as you can see we are occupied fighting off a whole lot of nothing here on the bridge. Cassia," he called. "Please notify me if there are any abnormal developments. Turnwell, you have the bridge." "Aye aye, Admiral," the first mate replied, standing from his chair to salute before returning to his station. Natori glanced at Alice. "Well then, now that my affairs are sorted, shall we?" He asked, leading the way to the doors on the other side of the bridge that led to an identical hallway to the one Alice had used to arrive. Less than a minute later they stood at the door to his personal quarters. Alice was surprised to find it was not much larger than hers, though she wasn’t surprised at how he’d furnished it. A large, modern bookshelf of curved edges and synthetic material stood against one wall, playing host to a collection of books new and old. Alice noticed what appeared to be several first editions among them, and further noted that not all were related to science or the liberal arts. There were more than a few fantasy and science fiction novels as well. Alice smiled to herself as she took in the rest of the room, finding a rug of bright colors and geometric patterns that evoked Natori’s African roots, a desk with a potted bonsai and multiple digital picture frames, and a neatly made bed. What held Alice’s attention, however, was a historical piece in a glass case that stood next to a terminal where Cassia was able to project a full sized version of herself when Natori had need of her. “Admiral, is that…what I think it is?” Alice asked with wonder, walking up to the helmet and breastplate. “That depends, Miss Winters. Do you think it’s the armor of one of the winged hussars?” “Vienna or another battle?” Alice continued eagerly, taking in the ancient armor from all sides. “Vienna indeed, Alice. Quite possibly the greatest military victory of my ancestral homeland…well one of them, at any rate. I suppose growing up in Marshall Winters’ home gives you an appreciation for these things?” “That and having a little brother who’s obsessed with military history,” Alice confirmed, stepping back from the display and walking to a chair clearly intended for guests, situated on the ‘visitor’s side’ of the desk. “May I?” “But of course! Do have a seat, please. May I offer you something to drink? I have water and…well, water. Don’t think we should be popping open any whiskey until we find the Lancer, hmm?” Natori asked conspiratorially with a nod at the footlocker at the foot of his bed. “Water is fine, Admiral. There’s no need to play host on a military vessel,” Alice insisted, seating herself and accepting a clear container with a nod. “Yes, I do suppose even for me the accommodations are a bit limiting. Ah well, I did make an effort to ensure my dwellings were not significantly in excess of anyone else’s. Sends the wrong message, don’t you think? To brass tacks then!” “This ought to be good,” Alice said quietly, earning a smile from Kaczynski. “There’s no need to act as though you know me so well, Alice! But seriously…you’re on a first name basis with a Ghaelen after less than two months and he allowed you to change something in his cabin? Do I understand the situation correctly?” While the question itself was phrased for levity, Natori’s tone was quite serious as he leaned forward and rested his arms on his knees. He had taken his desk chair and dragged it to the side so that the two of them could be face to face without any furniture between them. Alice nodded. “I didn’t think that was so strange. They prattle on about the Order and whatnot but even if there is some biological basis for Ghaelen collectivism he’s still out here away from the rest of his people. That’s got to change something. Besides, he keeps opening the door for me so he can’t hate me that much, right?” Natori leaned back and cradled his chin in consideration. “Yes…I suppose the evidence is clear that the circumstances do indeed change something. Either that or Qul’Roth is an anomalous individual to begin with. I will not give you any direct orders, Alice, but whatever compelled you to interact with him beyond a cursory introduction, please continue. One never knows when an amicable relationship with a Ghaelen could come in handy, for you personally or for all of us aboard.” Alice gave the admiral a quick nod. “I understand, sir. My interest is purely personal. I don’t intend to pursue a doctorate based on my interactions or anything like that.” “That’s all I can ask for, Alice. Now as long as I have you here, may I fulfill my promise to Marshall and ask how you are doing? I hear through the grapevine that you and my jumpers got acquainted?” “I…sorry about that,” Alice said sheepishly, the forces of time leaving her less and less proud of how she’d handled Lipper’s admittedly blunt attempt at courtship. “Oh?” Natori left it at that, seeing Alice’s face shift and fall. He allowed her to speak on her own time, watching as she collected her thoughts and made the decision to confide. Eventually she raised her head and replied to him. “I don’t think I’m handling this well, Admiral,” she admitted softly. “Can you elaborate on that statement for me, Alice? Cassia, please cease audio monitoring of this room.” ‘Yes sir, switching to video only for your cabin.’ “Thank you, sir,” Alice said, rubbing an eye. “I know I probably should have spoken to somebody about this before now but…it just didn’t seem right. I didn’t want to admit it and I hate the idea of being weak. Everyone’s suffering through jump space and boredom. But…it’s my brother. I know he’s probably dead and has been for some time. I’m not sure I’m ready to come to terms with that yet. The little shred of hope that he's still alive is tearing me apart.” Natori said nothing, unwilling to lie to Alice when his own evaluation of the situation aligned with hers. Alice continued though, deriving some comfort from his assurances of partial anonymity and finally allowing the dam to burst. “I was so excited to be on this ship, and I still am! But it’s been almost two months. I haven’t had any real work to occupy me yet. I’m sure your other crew is feeling a bit stir crazy as well, right? Jump then rest then jump then rest again. And at the end of every warp is another comm buoy that reminds me we’re closer to finding Russell’s grave. I could have told Lipper off and left it at that. He’s a bit of a buffoon but he’s clearly proud of his rank and achievements. First class of Beta Jumpers and all, something to celebrate to be sure. He just doesn’t know how to flirt with women. Instead I mocked him in front of everyone, even using my brother’s rank to embarrass him, which was the same damn thing I got mad at him for in the first place! That makes me the bad guy!” “I’ll be sure to add poor courtship skills to his next evaluation,” Natori cut in with a thin smile. Alice returned it but the cheer didn’t last long. “I appreciate the attempt at humor, but I’m constantly snappy and irritated, sir. I’ve always hated what the Ghaelen made us do to the pacified worlds, but Qul’Roth didn’t make those decisions and I don’t hate his species. I lost it on him today over his viewport of all things. Hell, the first time we met he said something about Russell and I just went off. I…I gave him a whole speech about the bonds of family and friendship winning a war between us! Seriously!” Alice lamented with her hands in the air, Natori’s shocked expression as he leaned back in his chair just confirming that she was fraying. “You…did what? Alice, I appreciate a flair for the dramatic as much as the next starship captain, but I haven’t watched anime since I was about forty.” “I KNOW!” Alice wailed before suddenly snapping her mouth shut and staring at Kaczynski. “Wait…what did you say?” “Nothing, nothing at all,” he replied, looking over at the plant on his desk. “No, I’m pretty sure you said you watched anime until you were forty,” Alice repeated with a raised brow. To her surprise Natori smiled at her. “A little tidbit about myself given as a proof of concept. Distraction works,” he replied. “Alice, I will not give you false hope regarding the Lancer. But the fact of the matter remains that we are where we are and we are traveling as fast as we can. I assure you that the jumpers and pilots are equally bored, but I will not risk spending more time in jump space than in real space. I would only do so in the event of a combat situation.” “I understand, sir. I wasn’t asking for any special treatment,” Alice clarified. Natori sighed and gave her a compassionate look. “Alice, you know that was not my accusation. But I would give you some advice, if you will hear it.” “Of course, sir.” “Burdens are easier when shared, Alice. Who you choose is entirely up to you, but I encourage you to confide in someone you can be closer to than myself. Surely you’ve met some trustworthy people aboard in your time here? For my part, I will attempt a landing at our first opportunity. The balls of rock and gas we’ve passed by so far have not been worth entering orbit for, but if the Lancer discovered anything worth peeking at I believe it would make sense for all of us to engage with it. I promise we will not loiter in any system until we find them. But as I believe I just demonstrated, distractions have their use in keeping us all well-adjusted.” Alice nodded a few times before pinching her nose and taking a deep breath. “Yeah…yeah. That’s probably a good idea. Would you mind if I take off for now, Admiral? I appreciate your concern quite a bit, but I think I’d rather be somewhere else.” "Of course, Alice. I did not have anything further I wished to discuss." Natori stood and walked her to the door of his cabin, bidding her farewell with as stern a look as she’d ever seen on his face. “My only order, Alice, is to visit the ship’s psychologist if your condition worsens even after exhausting the less extreme measures we have discussed. Our conversation today will, of course, be kept in confidence. But know that if you find yourself in hot water through your own fault I cannot pull you out.” Alice saluted him, earning a surprised but pleased smile and a salute in return. “I understand, sir. Any chance I could use the gym on this side of the ship since I’m already here?” “I believe there’s a punching bag in there, among other things. Be my guest, Alice. The trip via the pipes is quite short. Have a good evening now.” “Same to you, Admiral.” Natori watched as Alice walked down the hall and disappeared around a corner to head for the nearest tube station. He hung his head and breathed out through his nose, returning to his office. “Cassia?” He called out, sitting heavily in his chair and turning to gaze at his picture frames, his attention lingering on an image of his daughter. ‘Yes, Admiral Kaczynski?’ “I am authorizing surveillance of Alice Winters’ cabin on deck B-2, highest security. No one is to be able to view those logs.” ‘Yes, Admiral Kaczynski, activating audio and video surveillance,’ came Cassia’s dispassionate voice. Kaczynski pursed his lips in thought. “I am deeply sorry, Alice, but better safe than sorry. Wonderful machines, these VI’s…but sometimes I wish they’d stop and ask me if I’m sure.” ----- “Oh um…hi,” Alice managed, finding herself face to face with the last person she wanted to see upon entering the military fitness facility. It was a room designed to evoke the grit and toughness of a boxing gym back on Earth, all synthetic hardwood and mirrors, though with much better ventilation. To her relief, Sergeant Lipper proved leagues more professional than their first meeting, giving her a look of mild confusion as he sat upright on a simple bench made for only one exercise, the bench press. A couple of other crew were running and biking on machines, but the team of jumpers outnumbered them. All were looking at Alice, making her feel most uncomfortable and wishing she hadn’t tied her hair in a ponytail. She’d be playing with it if she could. “Miss Winters…was the civilian gym too crowded?” Lipper eventually asked. She shook her head. “No. I just happened to be in the area,” Alice mumbled, feeling her guts churn as he stood and walked over to her. The sleeveless shirt he sported was already damp with sweat. She began stuttering an apology but he beat her to it. “I believe we may have gotten off on the wrong foot back in the cafeteria. I was unaware you had family in the military. This is my squad. That’s Rex on the bench,” he pointed to the jumper who’d been spotting him before waving in the direction of the cardio equipment. “That’s Natalya over there on the bike. And of course you and Private Mendes are already acquainted, yes?” Mendes gave Alice a nod from a mat where he was stretching his hamstrings. She waved. “I’m sorry about the beta boy thing,” Alice whispered. Lipper’s brows rose on his head. “Care to make it up to me over dinner?” He asked confidently. “No, thank you,” Alice replied firmly, trying to keep any ill will out of her voice. Rex snorted from behind them as Lipper shrugged. “Ah well, can’t blame a man for trying with a girl like you. If you need something just holler. Or I suppose you could talk to Cassia,” he said in a peeved tone, waving to a corner where a holographic projector displayed the VI personality. “Why is she here?” Alice asked with genuine curiosity. Lipper shook his head. “Hell if I know. One of the Admiral’s little jokes, I’d guess. Don’t get too close or she’ll launch into a dissertation about how weight machines are worthless and so on and so forth.” Alice looked around and confirmed that there were indeed no weight machines present in the room. A large rack of dumbbells graced one wall next to the corner with the punching bag, while the rest of the space consisted of basic squat racks and benches, as well as the cardio machines, a few jump ropes, and medicine balls. “The annoying thing about it is that she's right. Free weights are the way to go,” Lipper concluded. “Yo Lipp, she turned you down already and I’ve still got my sets to do. Let’s go!” Rex called, causing his sergeant to roll his eyes. “Duty calls, as they say.” As Lipper turned from Alice with a wink she recalled the marine on the bridge. Yeah, bullheaded just about covers it but…at least the head jumper on the ship doesn’t hate me, she concluded, making her way over to a rowing machine and popping in her earbuds. After adjusting the resistance and tightening the straps over her feet she began at a leisurely pace, building up the speed and extension of her motions before she plateaued for about ten minutes. Following her warm up she stretched out her muscles while looking around the room. The differences between it and the gym at the fore of the ship were stark. She was used to the hyper-modern room full of equipment designed for a more casual user looking to retain bone and muscle mass in space; this was something else entirely. She could practically feel the testosterone seeping from the walls, but then again that was probably the point, the training of warriors. She glanced up to find Private Mendes watching her respectfully a short distance away, waiting for her. He walked over as she finished stretching her arms. “This may be presumptuous of me but you seem a bit lost. Can I help?” He asked. Alice debated her options, eventually dropping her shoulders in a frustrated sigh. “I honestly have no idea how this is supposed to work,” she said, looking to her right as Rex squatted an obscene amount of weight while Lipper spotted and encouraged him, slapping the soldier hard on the back after he grunted and racked the bar in triumph. “Like, how many pounds is that?” “Somewhere around five fifty or six hundred?” Mendes guessed. “Holy shit!” Alice yelped, covering her mouth as Rex looked over at her. “Uh…good job!” She called, shaking her head in embarrassment as he and Lipper had themselves a laugh. “So yeah, you don’t just squat six hundred pounds. There’s a secret, right?” “Well, yes and no. No secrets, but the form itself would be unintuitive to an initiate. Care to learn?” Mendes offered, keeping his arms across his chest. Alice met his eyes and they took the measure of one another. “For the sake of your sergeant’s ego, this isn’t a date,” she tried with what she knew was an awkward smile. Mendes returned it. “And for the sake of my ego?” He asked with interest. “I don’t know you well enough to say.” “Fair enough. Just squats then today? Or would you like to learn the bench press as well?” Mendes asked politely, motioning for her to follow him. “You guys done?” He asked of Rex and Lipper. “Damn Mendes, already?” Rex jabbed at him, punching him lightly on the arm and laughing as Lipper walked over to another rack where the bar was set higher for an overhead press. “Sod off, Rex.” “Man you’re no fun,” Rex declared, following Lipper and leaving the two of them to the squat rack. “Well, at least they racked their weights,” Mendes observed, directing Alice’s attention to the now empty bar. “Right, first thing’s first. Let’s talk about posture and form. The principle of any lift is simple, you want the weight over your own center of gravity at all times and you want to safely engage as many muscle groups as possible. I’ll spare you the nitty gritty but what that all translates to is as follows.” Mendes stepped under the bar and easily stood straight with it on his shoulders. He jerked his head at Alice to encourage her to stand at his side. “First thing is your feet. Heels even with your shoulders, toes at forty five degrees. Your knees will move out over your toes, giving your body plenty of room to squat low without jamming up your organs or pinching any nerves. Believe me when I say you don’t want a few hundred pounds pressing down on your femoral nerve bundles. Keep the bar over the arch of your foot as best you can the whole way down and up. Watch my spine and hips,” he said, squatting fully once to show her the motion. “Do your legs really need to be that wide?” Alice asked. Mendes nodded. “Yeah. You’ll see when you get under the bar. As you hit the bottom you’ll feel it here.” Mendes returned the bar and slapped the outside of his upper leg. “That tension is what you want, helps you drive upward with your hips and your glutes. Worst thing you can do is press up with your legs.” “Wait…what?” Alice replied in confusion, curious as to how a squat wouldn’t involve pressing with your legs. Mendes smiled at her. “Do you really want to know?” “Yes. I think if I’m going to get under that steel death bar I should know what I’m getting into,” Alice insisted defensively, earning a smile from her tutor. “Alright, don’t say I didn’t warn you. But basically it’s to save your knees. As you squat down the weight is borne mainly by your quads. If you don’t get your hips low enough, your hamstrings don’t engage and the ligaments of your knee come under a lot of stress. If you focus your energy on pushing up with your legs that’s what you’ll be doing. Instead you make sure your hips get below the knee, even out that load between the hamstring and quad. The real upward drive is going to come from the hip muscles. It’s probably better if you do it for yourself. Go ahead. That bar’s only forty five pounds,” Mendes insisted, adjusting the rack so that it was at an appropriate height for Alice. As she stepped up to the bar he stood facing her on the other side. “Ready?” “Yeah, I think so,” Alice replied hesitantly, feeling the rough metal under her fingers. “Should I have gloves or something?” “Nah, just gonna give you blisters. Now if you can you want a narrow grip. Yeah that’s good, just to either side of that smooth section in the middle. Let’s see if you can maintain that,” Mendes said, gently adjusting her thumbs to rest over the bar instead of under. Alice felt her face flush, but his touch was gone quickly as it had come. “Alright, now come under the bar…little lower, you don’t want it resting on your cervical spine. There you go. Probably feels a bit weird, right? It works, trust me. You want that bar resting on your muscle beds and not on your bones. Now when you lift the bar off the rack you’re going to do two things. Raise your elbows and stiffen your upper body. Proud chest and stand tall, right?” Mendes watched critically as Alice did as bade, making fine adjustments here and there before stepping back and allowing her to go through the full range of motion. “So…how was that?” She asked as she came back to a standing position, bar still on her shoulders. It was surprisingly light once she felt her hip muscles engage. “Not bad, honestly. Two things though,” Mendes instructed. “First is don’t look up at me, focus a few feet in front of you on the ground. It’ll help you keep your spine straight. You’d be surprised how much of a difference that makes on a deadlift. Second, don’t breathe out as you come up. It seems like a good idea now, but when you get to heavier weights it becomes very important that you maintain as much rigidity in your torso as possible. Holding your breath aids in that. Try it again,” he encouraged, nodding as Alice adapted to his feedback and did another couple reps. “Better?” She asked as she stepped forward and racked the bar, feeling a visceral sense of accomplishment at the sound of metal hitting metal. “Better,” Mendes confirmed, heading over to the weight rack and grabbing a couple of small plates. “Each workout you always start with the empty bar. Then add weight until you feel your form is about to go. Three sets of five reps at that weight is your workout, assuming you’re aiming to build muscle mass which, in space, you probably should be. Ready to give this a shot for real?” “Absolutely. Thank you, private. I’m sorry for taking you away from your workout,” Alice apologized, watching as the rest of his squad moved around the gym to their own rhythm. “Who says I’m taking a break? You’ll be spotting me next,” Mendes replied, grinning at the surprise in Alice’s eyes. “It’s an important skill to learn; you’ll see.” True to his word Mendes walked Alice through the finer points of spotting once she’d finished her own work set at eighty five pounds. She felt her ego shrink as Mendes piled a good hundred and fifty pounds onto the bar for his first warm up set. “Suddenly I don’t feel so accomplished.” “Are you a HEL Jumper?” Mendes asked. “No?” “Then don’t bother comparing yourself. The next time you’re in here, get to ninety.” Alice remained silent and nodded, watching carefully as Mendes went through his own exercises. She saw he stopped well short of Rex’s weight, getting a sneaking suspicion that Mendes didn’t particularly trust her for a heavy spot. She didn’t blame him. With little else to do, Alice took Mendes up on his offer to teach her the bench press as well, thinking her father might be more than a little impressed if she came home with that ability. As with the squat, Mendes’ explanation was thorough and instructive, showing her how to avoid wrist and shoulder injuries through proper form. After a couple sets Alice was performing well enough that Mendes struck up more casual conversation. “So you said you had a brother in Omega, right? First Lieutenant is something else. Which ship is he on?” Alice knew Mendes only brought it up because it was a point of commonality between them. She knew she couldn’t keep it bottled up forever. But she couldn’t talk to him about it. Not there, not him, not with Lipper and the rest all watching or listening. She felt her arms shake as she pressed heavily against the weight and set it back against the rack two reps early. “Are you alright?” Mendes asked with concern as she pushed herself out from under the bar and stood up, grabbing her towel and turning for the door to the women’s locker room. “He’s…he’s on the Lancer,” she managed, feeling a constricting pain in her chest as tears welled in her eyes. “I’m sorry!” She whispered, dashing out of the gym as the room fell silent in her wake. “You seem to have lost your partner. Need a new one? I can probably bench more than her,” Natalya said smoothly, resting a hand on Mendes’ shoulder. “Oh, do not look like that! How were you supposed to know, Mendes?” “That…would explain a few things,” Lipper admitted with a conflicted face as Rex let out a long whistle. “Damn, Mendes. You just fucking stepped in it, mate. You can join Lipper over here on her shit list.” “Fuck you, Rex.” ----- Alice slid down the tiled wall of the shower and curled her knees to her chest, sitting and crying as scalding water rained down on her. It didn’t deaden the pain at all, but it hid her tears. Her five minutes was up far too soon as the water shut itself off, leaving her a shaking mess as she finally allowed herself to grieve for her brother. The cold settled in soon after and forced her to her feet in search of a towel. “Keep it together, Alice. Please, keep it together,” she demanded of herself, drying her body as best she could before fleeing the locker room for the tube station. ‘Good evening, Alice Winters. How may I assist you today?’ Cassia’s cheery voice was the last thing Alice needed to hear at that moment. “Just get me as close as you can to the cabin of Yvonne and Gerard Dupuis,” Alice demanded, tuning out the VI as the pod arrived just as it always did. It was the first ride she could recall that felt utterly joyless. ----- “Well now, who might that be at this hour?” Yvonne asked her husband as a pleasant chime alerted them to the presence of someone just outside their cabin, well into the ship’s night cycle. “You didn’t invite anyone over, did you Gerard?” “No, dear. I was planning on reviewing the data from the latest trial group,” Gerard clarified as his wife stood from the small table in the middle of the cabin’s open space to greet their visitor. “Yes? Who is…oh la la,” Yvonne exclaimed, finding a wet-haired Alice Winters in front of her with red eyes and a slightly sweaty shirt under her Event Horizon jumpsuit. “Ma chérie, what’s all this about? Oh nevermind! Come in, Alice. Gerard! Locate the cognac if you would? It would appear the time has come for emergency measures!” The matron insisted, motherly wrapping a comforting arm around the young woman and leading her into the cabin. She steered her past the table and sat them both at the foot of the bed as Gerard finished rifling through a small cabinet and procured a bottle of amber liquid. “Oh my. Yes you may be right, Yvonne,” Gerard agreed as he finally got a good look at Alice. The geneticist pulled up a chair and sat across from the two women at a polite distance before snapping his fingers and standing again to locate glasses. He returned with a couple of clear plastic bottles meant for all purpose use within the cabin. “It’s no snifter but I daresay it will get the job done. Yvonne?” He asked, pouring a generous helping of the liquor and handing it to his wife, who offered it in turn to Alice. “I imagined wine,” the youngster tried, though her tone made it more than clear her head was somewhere else entirely. “Yes, that would have been ideal,” Gerard agreed. “But given the weight limits for crew cargo and whatnot we figured it would be best to maximize the alcohol to volume ratio while still being able to enjoy ourselves. Now, shall we drink or talk my dear?” “Or we can wait until you’re ready,” Yvonne clarified as Alice clasped her hands together in her lap. She took a heavy swallow and relished the burn. She'd never particularly enjoyed cognac. “Maybe I should start from the beginning…" ----- PreviousFirstNextSupport MeSwag ----- Own The HEL Jumper: Survive in the format of your choice: hardcoverpaperbackepubAmazon Kindle
2019.09.03 14:31 Dormin111Little Soldiers - Inside the Chinese Education System
I’m a typical SSC reader when it comes to education. I love Scott’s graduation speech, I think Bryan Caplan is right, and I actively participate in our semi-regular tradition of talking about howmuchschoolssuck. That’s why Lenora Chu’s Little Soldiers: An American Boy, A Chinese School, and the Global Race to Achieve was pure nightmare fuel for me. It’s a non-fiction account of an ethnically-Chinese, American-born woman following her multi-racial child through the Chinese school system in Shanghai. While we complain about our soft, liberal, decadent school experiences in America or Europe, tens of millions of Chinese kids are subjected to a school structure that seems purposefully designed to make everyone as miserable as humanly possible. Or at least that was my take-away. Lenora Chu has a kinder perspective on the system. Mostly.
Lenora Chu grew up in Texas as the only-child of Chinese immigrants. Her upbringing hits every stereotype of Asian parenting you can think of, except her father was the domineering one (as opposed to the usual “tiger mom”). Lenora was a perfect straight-A student with no social life. She wasn’t allowed to play sports or enter any clubs for fear it would interfere with schoolwork. She was forced to give up every weekend to study Mandarin with a private tutor. After begging her parents for a pet gerbil, they agreed to let her have one if she won first place in a regional piano competition like her cousin had. Lenora described the following months as the most intense period of study and practice of anything she has ever done in her entire life. She didn’t win the competition. She didn’t get a gerbil. Tense family relations grew testier as Lenora got older. By high school, she was having daily “volcanic” screaming matches with her father over everything from dating (“only at prom”) to Spring Break (“no”). Her only hope of future respite was college, but that turned out to be the final battle. The father wanted Lenora to go to an Ivy League school (she got into several) or to take the full-ride scholarship at nearby Rice University. Lenora wanted to go to Stanford to get away. After another colossal multi-hour screaming match, the father lamented, but only after shouting at his daughter that (paraphrasing a remembered quote) “if I’m going to spend this much money, you better make something of yourself.” And that Lenora would have to major in engineering. Fifteen years later, Lenora was a fairly successful writejournalist when she moved to Shanghai for her husband’s work, and brought along her three-year-old son, Rainey. This was in 2010, when Western people still thought China was cool. Everyone was talking about how China was going to become the next superpower, and so it was only a matter of time before it became liberal and democratic and chill. US-China trade was reaching new heights, tourists were flocking both ways, and rich Silicon Valley families were hiring Chinese nannies to teach their kids Mandarin. Lenora and Rob briefly considered enrolling Rainey in an international pre-school with a bunch of spoiled ex-pat kids, but then they (ie. Lenora) had a thought – why not go local? If Rainey is going to live in China for a while, shouldn’t he immerse himself in the local education system? It would be a fascinating experience for Rainey and allow him to understand his cultural roots in a most authentic manner! Fortunately, the family’s new apartment was right down the road from Soong Qing Ling, literally one of the best preschools in China. Unfortunately, it was also one of the most exclusive. Lenora attempted to walk up to the school’s gates and talk her way into a meeting with the principal 4+ times, but was always blocked by either a security guard or teacher. So Lenora called her husband to the task. Her tall, white-skinned, blonde-haired, Mandarin-speaking husband. He got a meeting with the principal on the first attempt. A month later, Rainey was admitted to Soong Qing Ling. Lenora’s decision to subject her son to a steroided version of the same culture and educational philosophy which made her childhood a nightmare is more than a little odd. A cynically-minded person might suggest that a career-writer like Lenora Chu may have been thinking about future book deals while trying to figure out her son’s future… but who knows. To her credit, Lenora constantly expresses doubts throughout the book over whether she made the right decision. She strikes me as deeply Blue Tribe in her sensibilities. She stresses that she wants Rainey to be creative, independent, a leader, and even rambunctious (all notorious failings of Chinese education), but she is also sensitive to her cultural heritage and wants her son to never lose sight of where he came from. So from the start of Rainey’s time at Soong Qing Ling, Lenora’s gameplan is basically: hope the Chinese education system supercharges Rainey’s discipline, math abilities, and obedience, while homelife counteracts bad effects and encourages all the soft, liberal values, hopefully resulting in a well-balanced child. It sort of worked.
Behind Closed Doors
During his first week at Soong Qing Ling, Rainey began complaining to his mom about eating eggs. This puzzled Lenora because as far as she knew, Rainey refused to eat eggs and never did so at home. But somehow he was eating them at school. After much coaxing (three-year-olds aren’t especially articulate), Lenora discovered that Rainey was being force-fed eggs. By his telling, every day at school, Rainey’s teacher would pass hardboiled eggs to all students and order them to eat. When Rainey refused (as he always did), the teacher would grab the egg and shove it in his mouth. When Rainey spit the egg out (as he always did), the teacher would do the same thing. This cycle would repeat 3-5 times with louder yelling from the teacher each time until Rainey surrendered and ate the egg. Outraged, Lenora stormed to the school the next day and approached the teacher in the morning as she dropped Rainey off. Lenora demanded to know if Rainey was telling the truth – was this teacher literally forcing food into her three-year-old son’s mouth and verbally berating him until he ate it. The teacher didn’t even bother looking at Lenora as she calmly explained that eggs are healthy and that it was important for children to eat them. When Lenora demanded she stop force-feeding her son, the teacher refused and walked away. A few days later, when Lenora dropped Rainey off, the teacher pulled her aside, away from the other students and moms. The teacher held back anger as she warned Lenora to never challenge her in front of others. She explained that nothing was more important for children than to respect their teachers, and that parents must support everything the teacher says. Though taken aback, Lenora apologized and agreed to this rule. But then she reiterated her concerns about having her son force-fed. In not so many words, the teacher responded that this is the “Chinese way” and if Lenora doesn’t like it, she should leave the school. Much of Little Soldiers consists of these sorts of anecdotes. Lenora will hear something strange from Rainey or an expat friend or a sympathetic local, and will opt to investigate, usually to find that the situation was even more bizarre (and usually terrible) than she thought. A few examples: One of Lenora’s local Chinese friends enrolled his son in a pre-MBA program. His three-year-old son. In a Masters of Business Administration program. Lenora asked what the kid learned at these classes, but didn’t get a clear answer. Rainey told his mom that one of the teachers always refers to him as “Little Foreigner” in class. Lenora was pissed off, but Rainey didn’t seem to mind. After Lenora noticed that Rainey became unusually quiet at dinner, he revealed that he was not allowed to speak during lunch at school. When Lenora asks a teacher why this is the case, she says that they are on tight schedules and if they talk, they won’t be able to finish their meals in the allotted time. Plus it’s dangerous for children to talk while eating because they might choke. After being passively-aggressively insulted by Rainey’s teacher because none of the child’s grandparents live in China, Lenora accompanied Rainey to “Grandparent’s Day” at school. There, Lenora watched as 30 three-year-old children are ordered to chant compliments to their grandparents in unison and then give them massages. Lenora finds out that Rainey is constantly reported to have “poor health” by the school. She investigates and finds that Rainey tells the nurse every morning at the daily health checks that he has a cough. Rainey eventually admits to his mom that he makes up the cough because it gets him a designation which allows him todrink more water than other students. A local friend tells Lenora that she should buy luxury bags (Coach, Gucci, etc.) for Rainey’s teachers as a sign of respect, or else they will act unfavorably toward him in class. But Soong Qing Ling bans the practice, so Lenora begins meeting teachers for secret rendezvous outside of school at night to make deliveries. At one point, Lenora mentions to a teacher that she is going back to the US for a few weeks to visit family. This teacher gathers half a dozen other teachers and together they write a list of luxury bags for her to purchase in America and bring back to China to dodge the notorious Chinese luxury import tax. By Lenora’s calculations, the average cost of these bags, even in America, is about one month’s salary for these teachers. Lenora ends up having a falling out with one of the teachers after being accused of inflating a bag’s reported price by $50. As Lenora hears more crazy stories from her son and friends, she keeps coming back to one question: “what does Rainey actually do in school?” Lenora tries to ask Rainey, but he always replies, “we sit still.” He also occasionally mentions painting and eating, but that’s it. So Lenora goes to Rainey’s teacher one day and asks to sit in on classes to observe. Lenora is told that this is not possible. So she asks if she can know a little more about what the school is teaching Rainey. The teacher tells her that she is already told everything she needs to know, and that this is the “Chinese way.” Since Lenora couldn’t get a look into Soong Qing Ling, she went to another local school and bribed her way into a classroom-observation post with some well-placed handbags. She discovered that Rainey was basically right. Chinese preschool really does seem to consist of sitting still. Unless given different orders, all students were required to sit in their seats with their arms at their sides, and their feet flat on a line of tape on the ground. This is not an easy task for three-year-olds. There were two teachers in the classroom with a classic good cop/bad cop dynamic. The good cop stood in the front of the room with the desks splayed out before her. She would give simple instructions like orders to get food, water, or sometimes paint, though usually she said nothing at all. The bad cop was another teacher who prowled the classroom. Any time she saw a student remove a foot from the line, move arms from his side, or otherwise deviate from the instructions, she would yell at the student to fall back in line. Lenora spent about a week watching tiny kids get screamed at for trying to get water, shifting in their chairs, or talking to classmates.
You can’t understand Chinese culture and education without understanding Confucianism. If the Western world is philosophically founded upon some mixture of Greco-Roman classicism, Judeo-Christianity, and Enlightenment liberalism, then China is founded on the teachings of Confucius. But to understand Confucianism, first you have to take a look at China. According to Malthusian population dynamics, a population can only reach a certain height given its available resources. The closer it gets to that point, the more vulnerable it becomes to population collapses, like famine or plague. Due to some combination of climate, food availability, culture, and maybe governance, China has historically been able to push its population closer to the Malthusian limit than any other region on earth. This has led to China always having massive populations and wealth, but also being more prone to population collapses. Chinese history is known for its dynastic cycles where ruling families united most or all of China for extended periods of growth, which then fall into stagnation, and finally collapse during cataclysmic eras of contraction. This reality has encouraged Chinese culture to favor stability as a primary aim. Confucius was a 6th century BC Chinese bureaucrat whose teachings stand as an explicit codification of how Chinese society should order itself to encourage stability. Essentially, Confucius envisioned all of society as an integrated family unit. At each level, the parents protect, foster, and teach children. To reciprocate, children honor and respect their parents. Once parents are too old to provide, they become dependents to be taken care of by their children. The multitude of obligations within this network is known as familial piety. Purely on the family-level, Confucius’s model is not too different from what we might find anywhere else in the world. But he introduces two major innovations to the formula. First, there is an extraordinarily strong assumption of obligation in the family. Families are the fundamental societal unit in China, not individuals. All (normal) individuals are ultimately loyal to their parents above all else, including their children and siblings, and especially over their spouses. From the moment an individual is born, until the moment his last parent dies, he is expected to be in their… I’m not really sure what the right word is. Service? Vassalage? Something like that. Even in the modern-day, strong familial piety is the norm in China. Most parents have direct control over all important aspects of their children’s lives. This control will lessen once a child is married, but will still remain strong until the parents die. From my personal observations, these controlled categories will include where a child goes to college, what he studies, where he works, who his friends are, who he marries, and where he lives (with his parents until marriage). Confucius’s second big innovation is that the family construct is abstracted to all of society. The government is parent to the citizen-children. Companies are parents to employee-children. And of course, schools are parents to student-children. At every level of society, there is a system of mutual obligation based on an exchange of nurturing protection for subservience. To Confucius, this structure was the only way to keep Chinese society stable at the high end of the Malthusian trap. If children were free to disobey their parents, citizens free to disobey their governments, apprentices free to disobey their masters, etc, then Chinese society would be pulled apart and chaos would reign. Only strict social norms enforced by authoritarian measures could keep China strong.
Once Lenora took a deep dive into Confucian philosophy, Rainey’s bizarre stories and what she had witnessed in the other school started to make more sense. The arbitrariness of teacher demands wasn’t a bug, but a feature. There’s a good comment here by u/staggering_god about how American classrooms are designed to teach students to become modern white-collar middle-class workers. In the past, young people might have to learn how to farm or fight, but now they must learn how to show up to places on time, sit still in an office, write summaries, etc. Modern school systems are at least good at testing these skills, if not developing them. The Chinese education system has a similar function, but with a different goal. Its concern is crafting Chinese citizens into good Confucians. Good Confucians obey orders from their superiors without question. They do not need to be creative or independent, only obedient. When Lenora sat in on a kindergarten class, she witnessed an art lesson where the students were taught how to draw rain. The nice teacher drew raindrops on a whiteboard, showing precisely where to start and end each stroke to form a tear-drop shape. When it was the students’ turns, they had to perfectly replicate her raindrop. Over and over again. Same start and end points. Same curves. For an hour. No student could draw anything else. Any student who did anything different would be yelled at and told to start over. The point of this exercise was not to teach students how to draw raindrops. Drawing raindrops is not an important life skill, and drawing them in a particular way is especially not important. Even the three-year-old students in the class seemed to realize this as many immediately created their own custom raindrop shapes and drew landscapes, all to be crushed under the mean teacher’s admonishment. The real point of the exercise was to teach students to follow directions from an authority figure. But more than that, the point was to follow pointless and arbitrary directions. The more pointless and arbitrary the directions are, the more willpower is required to follow them. Incidentally, Rainey was considered a terrible child by Chinese standards, at least when he first moved to Shanghai. Two ayis (maid-babysitters) refused to work for Lenora after spending 15 minutes each with Rainey because he refused to follow their precise directions. Rainey’s teacher often complained about his behavior, including his propensity to get up from his chair in class without permission and to use the playground slide head-first. In one ultra-serious parent-teacher conference meeting, two teachers told Lenora that they were gravely concerned by Rainey’s habit of riding other students like farm animals. Lenora failed to stifle a laugh.
Land of Loopholes
While the authoritarianism of the Chinese education system has a logic, it also clearly overreaches, even by its own terms. By Lenora’s analysis (which I fully agree with), China has an absurdly high number of overly-complicated rules governing everything. In any given venture, whether it be running a business, working at a company, or trying not to go to jail, the rules are so costly and byzantine, that no one can really follow them all, either because they can’t possibly know them all, or because following them would be so burdensome that they outweigh the benefits of the venture. As a result, everyone in China develops informal norms for subverting official rules. For instance, at Soong Qing Ling, students are strictly limited in how much water they can drink. Rainey cleverly figured out a way to game the system and get more water by faking a cough every day. Much of the corruption in Chinese society could also be framed within this paradigm. Lenora and most of the other parents gave “gifts” (ie. bribes) to teachers to ensure that their children got enough attention at school. Lenora also heard (and I have personally heard) of administrators at higher level schools holding student transcripts hostage until they get cash bribes. IMO, these are both terrible abuses of power, but they make sense within the logic of the system. Schools pay remarkably low salaries in China despite their great cultural importance, and nearly all parents are willing to spend a little extra to help their children. This creates a Moloch situation where if any one parent doesn’t “play ball,” she will be out-competed by others who will. And if any one teacher or administrator doesn’t accept “gifts,” he will fall behind in wealth and social status to somebody who will. Hence, an informal super-system of corrupt relationships (known as “guanxi”) begins to take precedence over formalized rules. This paradigm also explains the prevalence of cheating in Chinese schools. Everyone is taught that the official rules are more like loose guidelines. From my own experiences and what Lenora learns from her investigations, basically all Chinese students cheat, at least while they’re in China. They cheat on homework, tests, and everything else. It doesn’t matter if the school is terrible, great, or anything in between. The SATs and ACTs aren’t even administered in China (except Hong Kong) because cheating is so rampant. Lenora even witnesses Rainey’s teachers cheating, and not even at something that matters. Lenora and her husband attend a day-long athletic competition between all the classes in Soong Qing Ling. In one round, fathers need to pass the three-year-old students through their legs in a big line, like throwing children through a tunnel. In blatant violation of the rules, one teacher starts crawling into the leg-tunnel and pulling students through. Lenora watched in sheer incredulousness as this teacher and all the fathers triumphantly celebrated their victory, in an athletic competition for three-year-olds, at which they blatantly cheated. On the other hand, the flexibility of formal rules have their limits. If someone with real power wants to enforce a rule in china, he always can, even selectively or arbitrarily. This applies just as strongly to high-level party members in Beijing as it does to high-level administrators in schools. For instance: Rainey had asthma, and it got considerably worse once he moved to the notoriously polluted land of China. Lenora wanted to keep an inhaler nearby for Rainey to use in case he had an asthma attack. So Lenora asked Rainey’s teacher to hold his inhaler in the classroom. The teacher said they don’t keep medication in classrooms. They keep medications in the nurse’s room. On the other side of the school. Lenora explained that the medicine was safe, non-toxic, and easily stored. It would be no bother. The teacher said they don’t keep medication in classrooms. Lenora asked if they could keep the inhaler in the nearby coat room outside the classroom. The teacher said they don’t keep medication in coat rooms. Lenora explained that if Rainey had an asthma attack and didn’t get his inhaler within two minutes, he could get brain damage or even die. The teacher said they don’t keep medication in classrooms or coatrooms. Lenora scheduled a meeting with the nurse and principal. She asked them if they could keep Rainey’s inhaler in his classroom. They said they don’t keep medication in classrooms. Lenora repeated all her arguments. They said they don’t keep medication in classrooms. But they suggested that if Rainey has trouble breathing because of pollution, then he can sit on a tiny cot in the corner of the nurse’s room every single day instead of going outside for recess. Lenora was outraged. She said that Rainey shouldn’t miss recess. Then she played her trump card – “are you really going to let my son die over this silly rule?” The nurse and principal paused for a moment. Then the principal suggested that if Rainey’s health problems were so dire, he would be better off in a school for special-needs children. Lenora gave up. She let them keep Rainey’s inhaler in the nurse’s office.
In America, schooling is often considered a de facto form of daycare, especially in the younger grades. But Lenora quickly came to realize that having a child in the Chinese school system was a lifestyle. She was just as much a part of the process as the teachers at Soong Qing Ling. Or at least she was expected to be. On the first day of classes, the school principal announced: “At Soong Qing Ling, we don’t choose children… we choose parents.” And: “A child’s education should be a full-time job for at least one parent.” This was meant literally. Parents were given daily assignments by teachers, ranging from helping their children with homework, to gathering material for projects, and even to being used as free labor for school events. Everything was coordinated through WeChat, a phone-based social media platform in China that’s the equivalent of Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter rolled into one. All the parents of Rainey’s 30-ish person class were corralled into a single Wechat group which sent messages ringing in Lenora’s phone at all hours of every day. Every time a teacher made a demand of the parents, a conga-line of mothers would respond affirmatively at once – “Yes, teacher” “right away, teacher” – often with praise thrown on at the end – “you work so hard, teacher!” “you’re so amazing, teacher!” Lenora tells of the mother of one of Rainey’s classmates who worked her entire life to climb the corporate ladder at a massive firm. One day, the Soong Qing Ling teacher ordered the mother to attend a school event in the middle of a workday. At the same time, the mother had a meeting with her boss, one of the top executives in the company. The mother was so flustered, that she missed both meetings while trying to attend part of each one. In the aftermath, she was told by the Soong Qing Ling teacher that she should pull her child out of the school if she can’t come to events; and she was told by her boss that she will be fired if she misses another meeting. A few weeks later, the mother quit her job. This might be what I found the creepiest about Lenora’s experiences. It’s bad enough forcing children into kowtowing subservience, but grown adult parents were reduced to the same level. Lenora even had valid concerns that Rainey wasn’t being treated well because she had failed to pay adequate respects to his teachers: One week, Rainey came home every day complaining about his feet hurting. Eventually Lenora found out that Rainey wasn’t wearing the right fancy shoes at chorus practice every day. Rather than wear the shoes Lenora had bought him, Rainey’s teacher was forcing him to surrender his shoes to another student who didn’t have any, but whose mother (at least according to the grapevine) had offered generous “gifts” to the teacher. Instead, Rainey was wearing leftover school shoes which were at least two sizes too small. Eventually Lenora concluded that Rainey wasn’t actually being penalized by the teacher, but was merely collateral damage in the teacher’s attempts to repay favors to another student. Nevertheless, Lenora went on a mini-warpath at the school and shouted down the teacher until she let Rainey keep his shoes. https://preview.redd.it/20phoep7idk31.png?width=660&format=png&auto=webp&s=3704887f6c7011dd658c8088451bd0b5325957b3
Testing and Social Climbing
Why do students and parents put up with all this? Are they just brainwashed by an authoritarian culture and government? Probably yes, at least to some degree. But there’s also a rational calculus at play. Remember, China has always had an unfathomably large population. I’ve met Chinese people who describe themselves as having come from “small cities,” and then I google the city and see it has the same population as Los Angeles. With China’s recent economic boom, hundreds of millions of people have been lifted up to never-before-seen levels of wealth… but it’s also thrown people into never-before-seen levels of competition. There is an overriding sense amongst Chinese people that only the very-narrowest band of the highest achievers has a chance to rise above the masses. And only through education can they ascend to that echelon. For all the problems of China’s education system, it was at one point arguably the most meritocratic in the world. The Chinese Imperial Civil Service Examination System was probably started in the 7th century BC by the Sui Dynasty as a means of finding talented bureaucrats in the general population. It was perhaps the first open (to all applicants) and standardized test in the world. As the system evolved over the centuries, testing became an ingrained component of Chinese culture. Any male Chinese individual, from the lowliest peasant to the wealthiest noble, could register for an exam (or series of exams). If he scored well, he could climb into the well-paid, secure ranks of the provincial bureaucracy. If he scored really well, he could make it all the way to Beijing and join the aristocracy. Of course, it wasn’t easy – in 1850, only 1 out of every 6,000 test-takers made it to Beijing. But while countless European geniuses were born and then died in abject agricultural poverty, the best and brightest of China had a way to succeed, and hopefully make their country a better place while they did it. While the content and structure of the exam varied over time, core features always persisted. The knowledge body tended to be based on Chinese customs and esoterica, like memorizing poems and laws, rather than practical skills. Thus the ideal test-taker was not a genius who could seamlessly conquer any problem, but one who could focus his mind on prolonged periods (usually years) of study. Once again, the arbitrariness was a feature, not a bug. The modern manifestation of the Imperial Exam is the gaokao. This single test given during the last year of secondary school is the sole determinant of the vast majority of Chinese students’ abilities to get into a domestic university. Its subject matter is certainly more practical than the old exams - math, Chinese literature, and English – though probably still fairly esoteric by Bryan Caplan’s standards. Lenora stresses that though the gaokao is the flagship mega-test that everyone focuses on, basically all of Chinese education is a series of gaokaos. Students and parents believe that every homework assignment, quiz, and class test serves as a signal of a student’s ability in a giant country-wide competition to reach the top echelon of Chinese society. Every failure, no matter how small, sets a student back and jeopardizes his entire life. This is why one of Lenora’s friends enrolled his three-year-old son in a pre-MBA program. It’s also why virtually all of Rainey’s classmates’ parents thought Lenora was a horrible mother for giving Rainey “idle time” on the weekends instead of enrolling him in Chinese writing classes, English classes, piano classes, algebra classes, etc. All the parents believed that by getting their kids into these programs at this stage (barely post-toddler), they were getting a head-start, and that head-start would carry into primary school, then secondary school, then university, then work, then life. It was all about getting ahead. Lenora did her best to avoid the rat race, but found that it was too all-encompassing. At Soong Qing Ling, Lenora dreaded seeing the “Big Board” – a bulletin board hung up outside Rainey’s classroom where his teacher posted constant updates of students’ stats. Some of these stats were relatively innocuous - like the height and weight of every student - while other stats ranged from shoe size and blood type, to individual teacher’s comments on instrument playing (apparently Rainey had no sense of rhythm). Naturally, Lenora didn’t care about any of this stuff, but the other parents did. She watched mothers gloat over the physical prowess of their three-year-old children, take shots at each other over public admonishments, and generally make mountains out of utterly benign molehills. Lenora’s enduring shame was that Rainey was bad at playing the recorder. Despite getting stern warnings from the teacher and other parents, Rainey never improved, and eventually he was the only student left out of the class’s recorder concert in front of all the parents. Lenora realized that, again, there was a method to the madness. Soong Qing Ling was training students and parents to compete. A three-year-old who learns to compete over public displays of height, recorders, and blood types, will learn to compete over grades in the future. Parents who are ready to fight the same battles will drive their children into the fray for years to come. Everyone learned that they were at war, or rather, in a battle royale. Only the very best survive, and pre-school at Soong Qing Ling was just the beginning.
Even though Little Soldiers is a non-fiction memoir, it contains a major plot twist. After spending 75% of the book relentlessly complaining about her son’s Chinese education, with the occasional anecdote about how horrible her own culturally Chinese upbringing was, Lenora decides Chinese schools aren’t so bad. After a few years in China, Rainey changed. Though Lenora constantly worried if Rainey’s creativity and leadership potential was being snuffed out, she couldn’t help but be impressed by his emerging self-control. He could sit still for longer. He always greeted people politely. He finished eating his food. He asked permission a lot. Lenora didn’t realize what Rainey had become until she took him back to the US for a few weeks to visit family. There, the contrast between Rainey and his same-aged American counterparts become stark. Lenora’s friends’ kids ate junk food all day while Rainey asked for vegetables. They couldn’t read or do basic addition while Rainey was close to being bilingual and had started double-digit addition and subtraction by first grade. They wandered obliviously in their own worlds while Rainey’s Chinese grandparents were thrilled to receive respectful greetings every time Rainey entered the room. As Lenora explored Rainey’s potential education future in China, she found plenty of evolved versions of all the bad trends – arbitrary authoritarianism, hyper-competitiveness, tedium, etc. – but she also found much to like. There was a logic to it all. For instance, Chinese education is notorious for its emphasis on rote memorization – Lenora even watched three-year-olds being forced to draw raindrops one specific way over-and-over ad nauseum. But after talking to some Chinese teachers, Lenora came to understand that one cannot be innovative or creative without understanding the fundamentals of a given domain. Rote memorization may be boring, but it’s the most efficient way to learn key information which then can later be manipulated abstractly. This is the key to China’s success in mathematics, and why 1.4 billion people can learn how to read and write one of the most byzantine, arcane, ludicrously complicated writing systems on earth. And even a lot of the dumb rules make sense in the context of China’s sheer population. One teacher tells Lenora that she can’t let any random student stand up and get water whenever he wants because then all of the 20 students in her class will get up and get water whenever they want. Then there will be chaos! Rainey’s teacher uses the same rationale to stop Rainey from going down the playground slide head-first – maybe Rainey can do it safely, but can every one of the 25 other students? Though Lenora never uses the term, Chinese culture also seems to have a strong sense of “growth mindset,” which Lenora contrasts with the West’s emphasis on “talent” or “genius.” Virtually all Chinese parents genuinely believe that their children can rise to the top of their classes, or score high on the gaokao, or get the best comments on the Big Board. Every test, every tough subject, every challenge could be overcome… it was just a matter of discipline and willpower. Lenora loved this idea. She found it inspiring and wanted to inculcate the go-getter attitude in Rainey. She even found some studies from prominent educational researchers to suggest that growth mindsets really do encourage children to try harder and ultimately do better in classrooms. What really sold Lenora on Chinese education was that it apparently worked. At the time of writing the book, Shanghai was scoring first place in the world on the PISA exams, beating heavy-hitters like Norway and Singapore. Supposedly, education scholars and professionals all over the world were looking at China for wisdom. They all saw the bad, but they saw a lot of good too. Ultimately, Lenora concludes that she was too harsh on the Chinese education system. She says that the ideal system is the merger of the West’s individual-focus with China’s learning-efficiency. After much deliberation, Lenora decides to keep Rainey in local Chinese schools up until 6th grade, at which point the schoolwork and competitiveness become too severe and she promises to move Rainey to a Western-style school. She hopes that his dual-experience across the cultural spectrum will give him the ideal education that doesn’t yet exist in any single school.
As I said, I’m a good SSC-reader and Caplanite. So while I admire Lenora for her adventurousness, thoughtfulness, and diligence in trying to understand the Chinese school system, I can’t help but wonder… what if this is all just a giant waste of time? What if the potential of students is mostly innately determined, partially environmental determined by factors outside of institutional control, and only very-narrowly determined by environmental factors we can control? What if all the hair-pulling and arguing about rote-memorization, PISA scores, chair-sitting regulations, egg-eating, etc. is irrelevant because none of it will have a significant impact on students in the long run? Maybe that’s the case. I don’t know. What I do know is that I would never ever ever ever ever ever want to be in the Chinese school system. Nor would I want to subject my own (currently non-existent) children to it. But then again, I’m not a Chinese parent. In Shanghai, the financial capital of China, the average post-grad salary from a good school is around $1,000 per month. Shanghai may look like a modern first-world city, at least at its center, but most of even its educated population lives on developing world wages. And that doesn’t even count the roughly 1/3rd of its population which migrates from the inland to work in construction, sanitation, etc. for third world wages. Sure, there are the rich financiers and factory owners driving their lambos, but not many of them. Where any particular individual falls within this hierarchy basically comes down to one big test taken in high school… and if my child’s entire future as a migrant worker or lambo driver came down to that one test… yeah, maybe I’d be willing to make the first quarter of his life awful to improve his odds of climbing to the upper echelons. And besides, maybe there are gems of wisdom in the system. Perhaps children really can be taught to behave better or eat healthier food or whatever with the right training. Maybe there’s even a way to enforce these behavioral norms without making children miserable. Maybe. I guess I couldn’t help but come away from the book with a sense of depressing apathy. There’s so much effort put into education by well-meaning people, but a lot of it just seems to make children and parents hate everything. China apparently spent 2,700 years perfecting its education system, and this is the result… students being force-fed, parents shamed into kowtowing, and teachers corruptly abusing their power. Yes, there are good people in the system to, and apparently the children learn something and it does give some sort of order to society, but I really, really wish they didn’t have to this way.
2019.08.19 14:09 pegi3Interesting read on how Schumi's first retirement came about (Credit to Tom Rubython, BusinessF1)
(Credit to Tom Rubython, BusinessF1) The dramatic circumstances of the Italian Grand Prix and Michael Schumacher’s retirement will live on for a long time. After his rival was sidelined by a bizarre stewards’ decision, Schumacher won the race and then announced his retirement. But it was an amazing few hours, worthy of a scripted piece of drama. BusinessF1 retraced the moves that led to that startling finish. On Sunday 10th September 2006 at 3:25pm, precisely the same time as Michael Schumacher passed the checkered flag to win the Italian Grand Prix, the staff of Ferrari’s press supremo, Luca Colajanni, started handing an A4 sheet of paper to journalists outside the team’s motorhome. It was a one-page press release announcing the retirement of the most successful racing driver in history, a driver at the top of his game challenging for the world championship. Colajanni had been given precise orders by Ferrari chairman Luca di Montezemolo about just what he had to do and when he had to do it. It was strange timing, as Schumacher was about to make the announcement himself in the winner’s press conference after the podium ceremony. Normally press releases are handed out after an announcement has been made, or during it – but rarely before. It takes away the point. As so it turned out when half an hour later Schumacher found himself announcing what everybody already knew. The Ferrari team’s haste to announce its driver’s retirement was indeed bizarre. Colajanni had wanted to pre-empt the driver’s own announcement as if to make sure there was no turning back. Montezemolo had exercised a strong presence in the Ferrari garage at Monza Park all weekend. On qualifying day he hovered around the Ferrari motorhome waving away journalists’ enquiries about what was going on. On race-day he had arrived with John Elkann, the most senior member of the Agnelli family working at Fiat, and Sergio Marchionne, the chief executive of Fiat. He also had Piero Ferrari in his party. One observer was mystified at the presence of all these big guns and said: “It was as though Luca wanted reinforcements.” But reinforcements for what? It was soon to become clear. Although everything looked normal in the Ferrari garage and motorhome, underneath the surface a civil war was concluding, in Montezemolo’s favour. It had run all summer, but was finally coming to an end. All that Montezemolo now required was for Jean Todt, the team principal, and Michael Schumacher, the number one driver, to run up the white flag. In truth no one knew what was about to happen. Schumacher didn’t want to retire, at least not that day. And he thought he still retained enough power to get his way. But Montezemolo had long before given him a deadline of Monza and told him (expressly against Jean Todt’s wishes) that it was either driving alongside Kimi Räikkönen in 2007 – or retirement. In a previous age no one had dared tell Michael Schumacher what to do. He had been king of Formula One for 12 years and for half of them was easily the sport’s most powerful man, eclipsing even Bernie Ecclestone. Montezemolo hated this situation and had also come to resent Jean Todt’s role in the Michael Schumacher show. He took the Enzo Ferrari view that drivers were employees who performed at the behest of their employers. Todt on the other hand took a collegiate view; the top people at the team, including Schumacher, were his close friends and far from being his employees. But there is no doubt that this combination of opposing management styles got the job done. And for that reason each had tolerated the other. Only once before in the 11 seasons that Schumacher had been a Ferrari driver, in 1999, had Montezemolo insisted on getting his way. Officially, of course, none of the above occurred. The official line was that Schumacher had simply decided to retire many months before and that Ferrari had signed Räikkönen to take his place, end of story. In fact, Todt suggested anyone who thought any different was “stupid”. Everyone, then, is stupid. There was clearly tension between Todt and Montezemolo that weekend in Monza. On Friday and Saturday, there had been an uneasy peace as both men went about their business. Then, on race-day, with less than 15 minutes to the start, Montezemolo broke away from Ferrari on the grid and went up to Räikkönen’s car. He leaned over the cockpit and gave a thumbs-up sign, as if indicating that all was going to plan. It was a strange action to pursue with his team’s close competitor at Ferrari’s home race. After Schumacher’s race victory, Montezemolo was delirious with joy and, flanked by Elkann and Marchionne, in the full glare of television, he embraced Jean Todt and kissed him. But as Montezemolo kissed him Italian style and threw his arms around his shoulders, Todt quickly turned away. It resembled the scene in ‘The Godfather Part III’ when Michael Corleone embraces his brother Fredo whilst whispering his death sentence. Then it was Michael Schumacher’s turn. After being pecked by Montezemolo, he too resisted his boss’s celebratory embraces and looked blankly over his shoulder. For Montezemolo, as he embraced the two men he knew the press release signalling his victory was being handed out to journalists. It was now clear to insiders that Montezemolo had won his internal battle with Todt to turn Räikkönen’s option into a firm contract drive for Ferrari in 2007. And it was clear that Schumacher’s ultimatum of ‘Räikkönen’s or me’ had been ignored. It was a battle Montezemolo had been determined to win. Six years earlier, to give the team the very best chance of winning, he had wanted to hire Mika Häkkinen as team-mate to Schumacher. But he had been blocked by the twin powers of Schumacher and Todt. This time he was determined to prevail. He wanted Räikkönen, and if that meant Schumacher’s departure, then so be it. And he also made it clear he was not prepared to carry on paying Schumacher his US$45 million a year in his twilight years. In any case that money was no longer available, it had been allocated to Räikkönen in a deal skilfully negotiated by the driver’s manager David Robertson. In truth Schumacher was not simply being pushed out of Ferrari, he was not prepared to carry on under the terms that were being offered. So he reluctantly decided to retire. And in any event it was good timing – he was going out at the peak of his powers. Naturally, in the circumstances, the two press conferences, first for TV and then for the press were sad affairs. Schumacher was very morose. He clearly saw no happiness in retirement. But he played the company line and did not vent any feelings of being pushed out. That was not Schumacher’s way. And the timing of the press release before his own announcement had given him no room for manoeuvre. It was done on the express orders of Montezemolo to ensure that he, and not Schumacher, was setting the agenda. The sense of despair from Schumacher was obvious. He is the one driver on the grid who genuinely loves Formula One. He lives and breathes it. Whilst some other multiple world champions have rushed into retirement, he seemed set to drive on into his 40s. He was clearly not ready to retire after 16 seasons of racing, nearly double the average career span and equalling the career of Ricardo Patrese. But at the age of 37, he found, like many others, that as far as Montezemolo was concerned he was past his sell-by date. As Schumacher’s long-time manager, Willi Weber, woefully observed in a passing comment to a journalist at Monza: “Michael found he no longer has the power he thought at Ferrari.” So Schumacher’s retirement was just as controversial as his entry into the sport at the Belgian Grand Prix in first practice on Friday 23rd August 1991. The countdown for Schumacher’s demise had begun on 25th August 2005 when Räikkönen signed a one-year option which gave Ferrari the right, within a certain time period, to employ him, at a salary of around US$45 million, for three years from 2007 to 2009 with options to renew beyond that. The option price had never been confirmed but was rumoured around the paddock to be US$5 million. Everybody knew that the drivers’ market was headed for a shake-up in 2007. It became clear that the contracts of the three best drivers in the world, Schumacher, Räikkönen and Fernando Alonso were all expiring at the same time – at end of 2006. It was a unique event in Formula One history and meant that all three could be driving at different teams in 2007. In normal circumstances one or two of the top drivers might be out of contract at the same time, but never three. However, in truth nobody expected any of the three to move from their incumbent teams. Schumacher was an absolute fixture at Ferrari and showing no sign of retiring. Alonso was winning everything at Renault so why would he move, especially as Flavio Briatore, the Renault team principal, was his manager? And Räikkönen, despite coming to the end of his contract, had options for the future and really nowhere else to go. And that was how it looked in the summer of 2005 as Räikkönen’s manager, David Robertson, and McLaren Mercedes team principal, Ron Dennis, sat down to discuss the Finnish driver’s future. It was to be the first of the big driver negotiations for 2007. As far as Robertson was concerned, it was all going to be pretty straightforward. He couldn’t comprehend Räikkönen leaving. The contract was up but Dennis had options to renew it well into the future. These options all stemmed from the original contract Räikkönen had signed in September 2001. Dennis had paid a small fortune to secure Räikkönen’s services including a rumoured US$14 million to compensate Peter Sauber. It was a complex contract – two years (2002 and 2003) at a modest salary and then three years (2004-2006) for a much larger retainer culminating in the near US$45 million he was being paid in 2006. But Räikkönen was far from a free agent at the end of his McLaren contract. By all accounts it was at Dennis’s option to take up another three years if he was willing to pay an escalating salary. Dennis had security, but at a price. There is no way of telling what that price was but it was likely to mean Räikkönen receiving at least US$60-US$70 million a year by 2009. But Dennis, who had been bamboozled into agreeing the high price four years before in 2001, just before the 9/11 terrorist attacks when economic conditions had been very different, did not want to pay, although he still wanted Räikkönen to drive for him. By all accounts Robertson was somewhat surprised, even if he didn’t show it, when Dennis said he wasn’t taking up the option. Although there is no independent confirmation of this it appears that Dennis believed he could cancel the option, and thereby his commitment, and open negotiations with Robertson at a more sensible retainer. After all Dennis believed, and it certainly looked the case, that Räikkönen had nowhere else to go. It appears Dennis genuinely believed Robertson would simply agree a lower retainer, probably something nearer US$35 million. But it proved Dennis did not know the man at all. Robertson is an extremely shrewd individual. Even his critics say he can read the minds of team principals. He is believed to study their psyche in his spare time so that he can deal with them more effectively. In his short career in the paddock he has already negotiated with Frank Williams, Flavio Briatore, Ron Dennis and Jean Todt, and bested all of them. Anyone who has had negotiations with him of any kind is aware of his skills. As one associate says: “He is the sort of man, and this is not said impolitely, with whom one counts ones fingers after shaking his hand. He probably secretly relishes that reputation.” It is important to emphasise that at that stage of the 2005 season, in spite of Robertson’s reputation, Dennis thought he held all the cards. Räikkönen was dominating the latter half of the 2005 season and McLaren was the top team. Conversely Ferrari was in the doldrums – why would Räikkönen want to go there even if he could? And Renault was out of the equation. Everyone thought Alonso was a fixture at Renault. When Dennis let Räikkönen’s option lapse he knew, or at least thought he knew, that he could simply wait for Robertson to accept his offer. But Robertson sensed something different. He sensed discontent in the McLaren organisation, a sense of drift. He had picked up that Adrian Newey was leaving and that Nick Tombazis might do the same. He also thought most of Ferrari’s problems were tyre related and solvable; he knew that Ross Brawn and Rory Byrne had not suddenly become bad engineers. But Robertson kept his counsel with Dennis and said he would get back to him. Robertson considered his options and marched over to the Ferrari motorhome to get the lie of the land. He imagined negotiations with Todt alone would be a waste of time. So he sought to engage Montezemolo and Todt together. Again the wily operator had picked up their differences on his radar and thought he might be able to divide and conquer. He was absolutely correct. Whilst Todt was cool to the idea of hiring Räikkönen, Montezemolo was more than keen. But there were complications. Ferrari already had an option with Valentino Rossi and Todt doubted openly that Schumacher would want Räikkönen alongside him. But Robertson spoke privately to Montezemolo. Soon the two men agreed to sign Räikkönen to an option in Ferrari’s favour for a year, and to pay for the privilege. But Robertson was not out of the woods. At that point he did not think Ferrari would actually sign Räikkönen. But it was his leverage on Ron Dennis. Robertson made sure by judicious leaks to journalist friends that it got around the paddock about Ferrari’s option. Dennis’s bluff had been publicly called. And so matters rested, until the end of the season when Dennis heard on the grapevine that Räikkönen had signed for Ferrari. Although it was only an option he guessed immediately what was going on and decided he was not about to be kept on a string for a year whilst Ferrari decided his future. By then the situation with the third driver in the loop, Fernando Alonso, was becoming clouded as rumours spread that Renault would withdraw from Formula One at the end of 2006. One very highly placed pundit whispered in Dennis’s ear that he had heard this would definitely happen. As sad as that might be for Formula One, Dennis realised it was very good news for him. As the rumour gained currency, whatever its truth, it effectively put Alonso into play. Dennis made an approach for Alonso. He understood, as did everyone else in the paddock, that at around US$6 million a year, Alonso was underpaid. Dennis offered Alonso US$16 million a year. The timing of the move was perfect. At that point Renault’s prospects for 2007 were at their lowest and McLaren’s, after its storming season, at their highest. McLaren had also just announced it had signed Vodafone as title sponsor for 2007; it had more cash than ever. With all things considered Alonso’s manager Flavio Briatore had no choice but to advise his driver to accept Dennis’s offer. He knew Renault at that moment in time would not match it (although later the situation was to change). Dennis attached one condition to his offer – he wanted to announce it immediately despite the disruption it would cause to his existing drivers. Close friends say he was driven by a desire to get back at David Robertson and tell the Formula One world how clever he was. Alonso’s signing was announced to an unsuspecting world just before Christmas 2005. It caused a sensation, mainly revolving around Briatore’s position and the obvious conflict of interest. Briatore took it all in his stride. Interestingly he and Dennis came up with entirely different stories of how Alonso was signed. But by then it didn’t matter. After the ravages inflicted on his bank account by David Robertson, Dennis considered it a good day’s work to get Alonso for just US$16 million. But Dennis had seriously piqued his existing drivers and when they heard the news both vowed to leave the team at the end of 2006. They felt they had been double-crossed. Räikkönen’s position for 2007 suddenly looked precarious. Over at Ferrari, Michael Schumacher was as entrenched as ever and the Italian team had signed an option with Valentino Rossi for 2007, this one at the driver’s behest. If Rossi decided to take up his option there would be no room for Räikkönen. The situation was slightly complicated when Rubens Barrichello read the tea leaves and saw that he also would be out at the end of 2006. Honda was desperate to sign him and he negotiated a release from his contract to take a big money, three-year deal. To replace him the team signed Felipe Massa on a one-year contract as a stop-gap. Schumacher expected that it would be him and Rossi in the cockpit for 2007. But as 2006 began, Montezemolo realised he didn’t want that. Signing Rossi was Todt and Schumacher’s plan. He wanted Räikkönen, his man, in the car for 2007, and started scheming to get his way. It may seem ridiculous that Montezemolo had effectively to politic within his own company, but that is the way it was. Todt had made Ferrari his own fiefdom, much to the annoyance of Montezemolo. The two had already clashed earlier this year when Montezemolo wanted to take Marlboro off the car for 2007 and find a non-tobacco sponsor. Todt wanted to stay with an eager Marlboro. Montezemolo tried everything he could to find an alternative and even invited Sir Martin Sorrell, chief executive of WPP Group, the world’s biggest advertising agency group, to visit him in Maranello. Ostensibly he wanted to discuss whether WPP and its network of sponsorship agencies could help with finding a new title sponsor for 2007. But Todt found out about Sorrell’s visit. And when Sorrell arrived at Maranello, he did not meet with Montezemolo but with the Frenchman. Predictably the discussions went nowhere. Todt told Sorrell he already had a title sponsor for 2007 and asked him why he was there. Sorrell wondered that himself and the visit had effectively been a waste of his time. But as Sorrell was leaving, walking down the corridor on his way to Ferrari’s reception, Montezemolo jumped out of a door in front of him and ushered him into a small adjacent conference room. He asked him what had been discussed with Todt and when Sorrell told him, begged him to find an alternative to Marlboro. It was all over in 10 minutes and Sorrell left Maranello shaking his head at the shenanigans he had witnessed between the two men. Sorrell had no intention of wasting his time trying to find a title sponsor for a team that already had one. Todt had already told Sorrell he had done a deal with his friend Louis Camilleri, the chairman of Altria, the Marlboro parent company. Camilleri had agreed a five-year deal from 2007 to pay US$200 million a year. It was the biggest sponsorship deal ever in Formula One and an offer the team could not turn down. Montezemolo was in despair after the Marlboro deal was signed. It made Todt, now seen as a top rainmaker, even more powerful inside the team. In fact Montezemolo had begun to feel like a stranger in his own factory. Continually away on Fiat and Italian business, Montezemolo realised he had made a mistake when he had promoted Todt the year before to head the whole Ferrari car factory. He had expected him to fall flat on his face but instead he rose to the task and Ferrari, which had been in the financial doldrums, began a remarkable recovery under Todt’s stewardship. Montezemolo felt he had created a monster in Todt that he could no longer control. Although the two men had worked together for more than a decade, they were like chalk and cheese. Behind the rough exterior, Todt is a self-made, cultured man, an art lover with impeccable taste. In 2005 he had teamed up with Hollywood actress, Michelle Yeoh, got engaged to her and was in many ways beginning to outshine Montezemolo himself. By contrast Montezemolo is a proud aristocrat. A member of the Agnelli family by any other name, he is regarded within the Fiat empire as a marketing wunderkind. No one in Maranello can understand why the Todt-Montezemolo alliance has lasted so long. One observer said: “It is a mystery, Todt’s not Luca’s sort of person and vice versa.” It was never part of Montezemolo’s plan to get rid of Todt, he simply wanted to break up the Todt-Brawn-Schumacher alliance that so effectively controlled the team. And it appears that the battleground was drawn over Michael Schumacher, with both men determined to get their way. But Montezemolo was more determined. Montezemolo was not overawed by Michael Schumacher as so clearly was Jean Todt. That was shown in 1999 when the two men faced up to each other after Schumacher broke his leg at the British Grand Prix. Even after he had recovered enough to go testing Schumacher announced on Sunday 3rd October that he would not be fit enough to take part in the remaining two races of the year in Malaysia and Japan. After the accident Eddie Irvine had taken up the running for the world championship title and badly needed the help of a strong team-mate. But the last thing Schumacher appeared to want was his team-mate to win the world championship and he had clearly decided, with Todt’s collaboration, to see the last two races out. Irvine pleaded with Montezemolo to intervene. What happened next was instructive in the differing relationships Schumacher enjoyed with Todt and Montezemolo. On the afternoon of Tuesday 5th October 1999, Montezemolo rang Schumacher at his home in Switzerland to ask if he would change his mind and drive. But Schumacher’s young daughter Gina-Maria answered the phone and told Montezemolo that her Daddy was “getting out of his football boots”. Montezemolo questioned the little girl more closely and ascertained that she and her brother had been enjoying a rough game of football in the garden with their father. When Schumacher finally came to the phone, Montezemolo asked him if indeed he had been playing football. The German had no choice but to be truthful. Once Montezemolo heard that, he said to him that if he was fit enough to play football he was fit enough to drive in Malaysia and Japan. When Schumacher resisted, Montezemolo reminded him that he was being paid US$2 million a race and would do as he was told. Schumacher had no choice but to comply and on Friday 8th October the team announced he would indeed be returning for the last two races. The incident had been a lesson for Montezemolo, who realised that a secret conspiracy existed between Todt and Schumacher. He had run up against it before when he had wanted to hire Mika Häkkinen to partner Schumacher. Then Todt had told Montezemolo that Schumacher would not have it and would leave. In effect Schumacher was so powerful he could dictate terms and Montezemolo could not risk calling his bluff. But Montezemolo believed Schumacher would have stayed and was left smarting by his rebuttal at the hands of the two men. So when the chance came to sign Kimi Räïkkönen in the summer of 2005, Montezemolo was determined to grab it. After a poor season when the team had won nothing bar the controversial United States Grand Prix, Montezemolo sensed that Schumacher’s reign was coming to an end. He would be nearly 38 when his last contract ended in 2006. So when David Robertson came calling, Montezemolo was all ears. Robertson brilliantly played off Montezemolo and Todt against each other. According to sources at Ferrari, Montezemolo didn’t want to get into a situation next year where he was looking for a top-line driver and everyone was signed up. Montezemolo is in instinctive man and, as one person close to Ferrari observes: “He decided to put the bunsen-burner under the situation.” That person confirms that Montezemolo had been bitterly disappointed when he couldn’t sign Häkkinen and it had always rankled: “The aggravation with Todt has been there the whole time but came to a head at Monza. Luca had wanted to see Häkkinen in the other car. He believes it is 200 per cent about the drivers.” During the 2005 season Montezemolo decided he didn’t want Valentino Rossi even though he had a firm option to join the team. He persuaded Rossi not to take it up and stay in MotoGP. This decision upset Schumacher who could see what it meant. Rossi had had a programme mapped out to familiarise himself with the car prior to a 2007 debut. Schumacher said at the time: “We are sad not to see him here. I think he has a very high talent and could have done it in terms of driving.” Ross Brawn, the Ferrari technical director and a strong Todt-Schumacher ally was also upset and said: “We were very impressed with what he was able to do. It would have been very exciting. He was very impressive in all the running we did, otherwise we wouldn’t have taken him so seriously. It would have been a nice challenge to have. It’s a shame.” Rossi’s announcement fuelled speculation that Ferrari had already decided upon its 2007 driver line-up and that Kimi Räikkönen would be named as Michael Schumacher’s team-mate for next season. But by midsummer it was far from decided and a full-scale battle was going on inside Ferrari. There was a stand-off, which would continue until the deadline to take up Räikkönen’s option. Meanwhile, David Robertson was sensing that Ferrari might not take up Räikkönen’s option and that Schumacher would not drive alongside him. That prompted him to renew relations with Ron Dennis and make sure his options were still open there. But with McLaren’s 2006 car having flopped and the three top technical men, led by Adrian Newey, having left the team, conditions were totally different. So in May, Robertson started serious negotiations with Flavio Briatore to take Räikkönen to Renault. Robertson found a team principal who very badly wanted to do a deal. The downside was that the retainer was half what he had been getting at McLaren and half of what he had been offered at Ferrari. But against that was a very competitive car; in May it was the most competitive car. The negotiations were a surprise as Briatore had clashed with Robertson in 2001 and openly criticised him and his methods. But now the Italian turned on the charm offensive and entertained Robertson, and his son Steve, on his boat in Monte Carlo. He also introduced them to his ravishing new girlfriend, Elisabetta Gregoracci, and she worked her own charms on the two men as they toured the Renault team principal’s new yacht in Monaco harbour. Briatore was ready to forget the past if there was a deal to be done. And he badly needed the deal. By this time his position was very different to how it had been in December 2005. Now the future was clear and Carlos Ghosn, the Renault chairman, had made a long-term commitment to the team and even turned on the cash spigot. Briatore was able to offer Räikkönen a decent retainer, said to be US$21 million but with the added opportunity to accept outside endorsements, which could have been worth another US$10 million. The two men held detailed negotiations and Briatore personally spent a lot of time wooing Robertson. Later Briatore would angrily tell friends that he felt Robertson had been wasting his time and had been committed to Ferrari at the same time as he was offering Räikkönen to Renault. However, this was not the case. Robertson had been negotiating in the genuine belief that Ferrari would not take up its option because of Schumacher. All through the early summer, civil war raged behind the scenes at Maranello. But Schumacher found his power to get his way had gone. Montezemolo appeared not to care whether he stayed or went. At the German Grand Prix, which Schumacher won with Massa second and Räikkönen third, the Ferrari number one driver put on a very public show of affection for his team-mate and totally ignored Räikkönen. It was a classic Schumacher display: he was demonstrating publicly to Montezemolo how he wanted it to be and how good it could be. But Montezemolo was totally unmoved. In fact insiders say it hardened his resolve to dislodge the superstar. And in August, Robertson was proved wrong when Montezemolo signed the contract with him. No one close to Ferrari was surprised, as one insider says: “Luca, being the politician that he is, closed off every rat hole.” When Schumacher learned the news, he told Montezemolo he wanted until the end of the season to make up his mind about whether he would stay and partner Räikkönen. In the meantime, he didn’t want any announcement made about Räikkönen. But Montezemolo was not having any of that. He wanted the situation resolved and told Schumacher he wanted his decision by Monza, when he would announce Räikkönen. By then it appears Ross Brawn had also decided he would leave if Schumacher did. That news was leaked to journalists to pile pressure on Montezemolo. The writing was on the wall. Montezemolo had come this far and was not about to turn back. Montezemolo won the battle: Schumacher would not drive with Räikkönen and would instead announce his retirement. But the decision was very much against his will. He would have rather carried on with Felipe Massa as his team-mate. Now the seven times world champion, still only 37, has to decide what to do next and where life will take him. Meanwhile, none of the pronouncements so far can be taken for granted. Despite the 17 years since Enzo Ferrari’s death, Ferrari is still a very Machiavellian organisation and Jean Todt, predictably, is seething about losing this public battle with Montezemolo. He knows he will never have the same type of relationship with Räikkönen that he has had with Schumacher. Insiders, however, insist that Todt’s job is safe and that he has too many friends inside Fiat for Montezemolo to contemplate sacking him. And they add that Montezemolo, who is not regarded as malicious, genuinely doesn’t want that and knows Todt is the best man to run Ferrari. One says: “Whatever Luca is, he isn’t stupid.” But another outside observer says that Todt has been wounded by what has transpired and doesn’t believe the story is concluded, as he says: “Todt is the most malicious person on two legs and he will hold that against Luca.”
October 10, 2013 Dear Ms. Koenig, I received your letter today. Thank you for taking the time to write, and also for sending the stamp & paper. This prison does not allow us to receive those items, so it should have been mailed back to you. I appreciate your considering that I may have been low on supplies, but I am very fortunate to have family & friends that have always taken care to make sure I have everything I need. So I have no problem being able to correspond with you. My attorney Justin Brown wrote me last week regarding his initial conversation with you. He described the things you two spoke about, and he advised me that it would be a good idea to pursue this with you. I wrote him back that I agreed, and I intend to call him as soon as I can so he and I can discuss it some more. I did have some questions, but most were answered when I received your letter. It made sense that Rabia contacted you and sought your assistance.
Sounds like Adnan may have been a bit blind-sided by Rabia reaching out to Sarah. And that Sarah's first letter came as a surprise.
Aside from my mother & father, I don’t think there is anyone who has fought more to prove my innocence. For many years, she has urged me to contact someone from the media, but I have always been very reluctant to do so. The reason being that all the media coverage of the case has been negative, and I did not think any good would come of it. I understood that it would always be a gamble, because if the person did not believe I was innocent, then it would just be another negative report. However, Justin mentioned in his letter that you stated you would not do the story unless you believed I was innocent. And that really allayed my concerns.
Sarah Koenig told Justin Brown she would not do the story unless she believed Adnan was innocent.
I’ll be honest with you Ms. Koenig. After about 15 years of studying my case, I can’t point to something and say “This proves I did not commit this crime.” I could describe certain elements of the prosecution’s case that (to me) are pretty unbelievable. I’m not sure exactly what you do know about my case. You wrote that you had read some of the transcripts and spoke with several people involved in the case.
Who was Koenig talking to in 2013?
I don’t want to assume what you know, and I think this letter would end up a mess if I tried to explain the things that occurred in my case that prevented me from having a fair trial. I think the thing that frustrates me the most is the Timetable the State presented. Between Jay Wild’s several (completely different) statements and the State’s varying theories, it is not easy to piece together. But in the second trial, the Prosecutor (in closing arguments) summed it up using the records of my cell phone. Basically, they narrated a series of events (according to Jay Wilds) and pointed to an entry on the cell phone record at a certain time as proof of the event. Just as human DNA is used to place a person at a certain location, the cell phone records were used (to me) as a form of technological DNA to place me at a certain place and time. Which sounds pretty good, on the surface. But if you were to backtrack and trace the footsteps of the prosecutors theory, using the calls and times as a marker, I believe it is physically impossible for me to have committed this crime. Essentially, the theory was that I committed the murder by 2:36 pm on 1/13/1999. (Exact time placed on the phone cell) Now, school lets out at 2:15pm so that leaves 21 minutes. Which may seem like a long time, but it is virtually impossible if you consider the following facts: (1) The final bell rings at 2:15pm, but you can’t just leave and jump in the car. There are 1500 other students filling the hallways and stairwells of a four story building. (2) Students are not allowed to park in front of the school building. We had to park in the back. There were strict rules about that. The back parking lot of Woodlawn High School is enclosed within a bus loop (you could Google Map it.). At 2:15pm, every car in the back parking lot is encircled by a ring of buses loading up. You can’t leave until the buses leave. And they wait 10-15 minutes before they fill up and leave.
We have this map from Krista saying students were not only allowed to park there, but the upper lot was considered "Student Parking.”
(3) The route to the Best Buy parking lot (where the State eventually settled on as the murder scene) traverses several stoplights and major intersections. There are numerous school buses, and there is a large Social Security Building next door to the school. There is a ton of traffic at that time. Those intersections are packed. So even though the Best Buy is about 1-1 1/3 miles away, it is nowhere near a quick trip (at that time of day). (4) The state presented that the murder took place in the parking lot of the Best Buy. Now, please keep in mind that at the time, I was 17 years old, like 5’11”, 155 lbs. Hae was 18, 5’8”, 140 lbs. She was a big, strong and athletic girl. She was voted as one of the best field hockey players in all of Baltimore County, and she was a Varsity lacrosse player. How in the world, within a few moments (according to the prosecutor’s timeline) am I able to manually strangle Hae (sustaining no scratch marks, bruises, abrasions etc. on me) [in fact, forensic evidence was found on her body, and the State’s expert said in his opinion it did not come from me] remove her body from the car, carry it to the trunk, and place her in there, in broad daylight at 2:30 in the afternoon? And then I walk into the Best Buy lobby and call Jay Wilds and tell him to come meet me there? I asked Ms. Gutierrez over and over to please have someone try to prove that all this would be impossible to do in 21 minutes. But she declined to pursue it. And it has always bugged me for years, cause I am 100% sure that if someone tried to do it, it would be impossible.
Noted that the drive test in Serial podcast was suggested by Adnan, in his first letter to Sarah Koenig, in October of 2013.
Adnan never mentions the back way to Best Buy that allowed for a right out of the upper lot, and looks to have been perhaps more rural and faster than the route Adnan is describing. Adnan is telling Sarah, “Hae would have been trapped in the lower lot,” when he knows that Hae was in the upper lot, and they turned right out of the parking lot.
This is Adnan, in 2013, telling Sarah Koenig there was a pay phone at The Best Buy.
Hae's car had a rear seat pass through to the trunk. That's not an uncommon feature.
The defense didn't hear "dead by 2:36" until the closing arguments. So how could Adnan have been asking Gutierrez to do the drive test during trial prep? Don't you think that if Gutierrez had presented a drive test showing it wasn't possible by 2:36 that the State would have said, "We don't know the exact time. It's before 3:15."?
I’m not sure if you know anything about all this, so maybe it is confusing. I have a page with the phone records the prosecutor used, and also a page with the transcript lines to detail their Timeline (from the closing argument) It could really be confusing trying to get if from the entire transcripts, cause you’d be jumping back and forth. Justin did a really amazing outline of the trial transcripts as part of his transcript review for my appeal. I’ve always used my notes, but now I use his summary if I’m looking for something particular. I’m going to ask him if he will give you a copy, cause I think it would make it easier for you to find something in the transcript. I’m also going to try to send you a copy of the thing I have in case they may be helpful.
Again Adnan is saying the defense heard all this during closing argument but during trial prep, he told Gutierrez it wasn't possible.
Did the Justin Brown "summary” inform or drive Serial to such a degree that they relied on the summary over transcripts?
Ms. Koenig. I am not really sure what I should write you about. I guess it would be a really big help if you told me what you want to know. I do want to take some time and tell you about Hae & I. We met on the first day of 9th grade. We sat next to each other in Biology class. It was a tale of 4, and the 2 other seats were occupied by Irina and Emily. It was funny amongst us because Hae was Korean, Emily was Hispanic, Irina was Russian, and I was Pakistani. Things were cool, until we had our first quiz. It was basically a bunch of terms we had to memorize. So I memorized all of them, and got 19/20’s. Hae got 17/20, and Irina and Emily both got, like 15/20’s. Mind you, these are some really smart people, and I’m the dumb jock at the table. Anyway, they go off on me and said I must have cheated with a cheat sheet or something, cause no way could I have done better than them. Hae snatched my paper and compared it to theirs, and because we all got 1 of the same questions wrong, she concluded I must have copied off their papers. One of them said, “I bet you don’s know any of these.” I reply, “Go ahead and ask me.” Now, we’re getting kind of loud and of the class is getting involved, joining in. So they start asking me questions, “What is osmosis?, What does the suffix -ose indicate? etc.” I answer each one right, and the girls are groaning while a couple of guys are cheering me on. So finally they concede, and now we’re giving each other high-fives and making a big commotion. The teacher yells at us to be quiet, and when I turn around, I’m smiling from ear to ear. The three of them are glaring at me something fierce. And that’s how Hae and I first got to know each other. We became casual friends throughout our ninth grade year. We had some classes together, but outside of class we never socialized or saw each other. In our 10th read year, I didn’t see her and heard through the grapevine that she moved to California. She was back for 11th grade, and we had some of the same classes together. Close to the end of the school year, I asked Hae to the prom. She said yes, and we started spending time with each other afterward.
There are at least four version of this story.
Version 1: According to Hae's diary, she and Adnan are already a couple as the prom approaches. Hae's diary tells us that she and Adnan started dating about a month or so before prom and that even then, before prom, Adnan was moving too fast for her.
Version 2: Adnan told his attorneys that he never really noticed Hae, until he needed a prom date. And that Debbie suggested he go with Hae; and Debbie asked Hae on his behalf.
Version 3: Adnan wrote in Rabia's book that he was nervous to ask Hae: ... finally she was full on laughing as I stammered through my words. She broke in before I could finish, and I'll never forget what she said...
We would do teenager stuff. Go to McDonalds after school, go to movies, the mall, etc. We talked on the phone every night, late into the night. Neither of our families knew about our relationship (in the beginning). We became intimate very early on, and since we couldn’t go to either of our homes, we used to go to motels and spend the day there. It progressed over the summer, but it started to get difficult because of our families. We were both close to our families, and it was hard to keep it a secret. Both of us would get in trouble, and her mother made her stay in the city with her for a few weeks. So it wore on us both, but Hae took it really hard. Before our senior year, Hae decided to end the relationship, saying it would be better for us to not have to have problems with our families. I was upset, but I accepted her decision, and we remained friends. One night (about 2-3 weeks later) I was at a fashion show at UMBC. She paged me and told me she wanted to get back together.
Hae wanted to take a week break on May 15, 1998, before summer break. But within 24 hours she paged Adnan and said she didn't want the break.
So we dated for several more weeks, but the family stuff kept coming up. So she broke it off again at the end of October. I was upset again, but by then it was clear that it was really getting to be a mess with our parents. We remained really close friends.
Adnan is telling Sarah Koenig that the final break up was end of October when Krista and Debbie testified the end of the relationship was December 20.
After our relationship ended, we would talk to each other on the phone and still hang out at school. She started seeing someone at her job, and I was spending time with different girls. We were close enough and had the kind of friendship that she told me about getting in trouble for spending the night at her boyfriends, and I told her about hanging out with one girl while getting a phone call on my cell phone from another. (This was a few months after we broke up).
Adnan got his cell phone activated the evening before Hae went missing.
Hae was dead less than three weeks after she broke up with Adnan.
Hae was dead 13 days after she started dating Don.
Hae was dead 7 days after Adnan found out Hae was dating Don.
We were close enough that I could tease her about being “a hot Asian chick dating an older white dude” and she would tease me back about being a “Pakistani Gigolo” messing around with different girls at the time.
I have a hard time believing Hae appreciated being referred to as a stereotype, even as a joke. And Pakistani Gigolo feels like a handle Adnan would make for himself on reddit.
In fact, one of the girls whom I had spent the night with (the week of January 13th) was [name redacted]. Hae particularly teased me about her because she overheard [name redacted] telling someone in class that now I was no longer with Hae, she was going to try and hook up with me. I told Ms. Gutierrez about all of this, and I gave her the names of several of the girls so that she could call them to show I wasn’t some dangerous weirdo who was depressed or stalking Hae. But Ms. Gutierrez didn’t pursue it. And I think it would’ve been important to show at trial.
Gutierrez used Becky to show that Adnan had interest from other girls, and was not upset with Hae. Sorry Adnan, but that’s preferable to calling several girls to the stand to say, "I wanted Adnan, too, so he could not have been plotting murder during that time, as my interest in him would have prevented that."
A few weeks before she disappeared, Hae called me to pick her up from her job. Her car had broken down, and she asked me for a ride home. When I went to pick her up, her boyfriend was there, and we met.
Hae’s car accident was December 23. Hae’s first date with Don and the start of their relationship was January 1. At trial Gutierrez was able to confuse Don about this, but it’s in Hae’s diary. Car accident on December 23. First date on January 1.
So our friendship was enough that she felt comfortable calling me about 10:00 at night to take her home, even though her boyfriend was right there.
Don was not Hae’s boyfriend on December 23, and Adnan probably thought he and Hae were getting back together, as they had before."
A few days later, a couple of us wanted lunch from McDonalds, and I drove her car to pick the food up.
A few days after Hae’s car accident would have been the school break between Christmas and New Year's.
I mention these things to you Ms. Koenig so you can have an idea of our relationship and our friendship afterwards. I never, not one time screamed at Hae, threatened her, abused her verbally or physically, fussed her out, not ever. We had our disagreements and arguments, as anyone would. But I never did anything to make her feel afraid of me. More importantly, she never told anyone I ever did any of these things. Not one of her friends ever told anyone or came to court and testified that they saw anything like that, or that Hae said anything to them like that. And even more important, in her entire diary, she never mentions any of these things. And she wrote extensively about our relationship. Ms. Gutierrez had a copy of it, and it now is with the files at my parent’s house.
Were the files in Rabia’s trunk? Or Adnan’s basement?
I’ve watched a lot of TV over the past 15 years. I always try to catch the investigative news programs like Dateline, 20/20, Snapped, 48 Hours Mystery, etc. I’ve probably seen over 200 episodes with husband/wife, boyfriend/girlfriend cases. And while they all had different aspects, in almost every one where it was a case of “scorned love” (and not life insurance of affairs) there is always something where the dude has a history of violent/abusive behavior with the lady. Or she had told one of her friends that she was afraid of him or felt threatened. Especially if it was a younger guy. Whereas an older guy may have the presence of mind to mask his true intentions and bides his time, a younger guy would not have the maturity. I’ve never seen a story of 17-year-old guy murdering his 18-year-old girlfriend. I have seen stories of serious violence and abuse between teenage boyfriend/girlfriend, but there is always a history of abuse. A case that comes to mind is the Yardley Love and George Hughely case in the Univ. of Virginia. There was a history of abuse and she had expressed fear to many of her friends. My point is that I do not fit the pattern at all of any of these profiles, so either I’m the first 17-year-old guy in history who pretended to be my ex-girlfriend’s friend for several months after we broke up, apply to colleges, plan to graduate, work as an EMT, play sports in school, hang out and be intimate with numerous girls, and then all of a sudden, one day, out of the blue, decide to commit murder. I asked Gutierrez time and time again why she couldn’t emphasize this in her defense, but she said none of that stuff really mattered.
Three weeks after Hae broke up with Adnan, and thirteen days after she started dating Don, Hae was dead.
Hae was one of the kindest, sweetest, just all-around most beautiful people I’ve ever known. She treated me with all the love and respect in the world. I loved her when we dated for several months, and I loved her as a friend after that.
Hae and Adnan were a couple for nine months.
I never, ever would have wished her any harm nor did I have any desire to harm her. I had absolutely nothing to do with her murder. I mentioned in the beginning that i couldn’t really point to anything that said, “This proves I didn’t do it.” Well, I also feel that no one could point to anything in my case and say “This proves I did it.” And that is what frustrates me the most about working to clear my name: I have to disprove something that was never really proven in the beginning. According to the State, I committed the murder between 2:15pm - 2:36pm. When I was arrested, I received a letter from a girl named Asia McClain. In it, she mentioned being in the Public Library with her boyfriend & his best friend. And that she saw me and spoke with me between 2:20pm - 2:40 pm.
Asia’s letters do not say 2:20-2:40. Asia wrote that in an affidavit, after Adnan was convicted, and after Rabia and Saad showed up at her door.
I gave this to Ms. Gutierrez immediately, and requested she contact Asia McClain.
Adnan and Gutierrez did not know the state would say “dead by 2:36" until closing arguments. Going into trial, Adnan and Gutierrez did not know what time the State would say Hae was killed, and Asia had not yet said 2:20-2:40.
[Redacted period of time] later, I followed up with her about it.
My guess is the time is redacted because Adnan wrote something like “a few days later” which again, places this conversation about two months before Gutierrez was Adnan’s attorney.
She replied that she had checked it out, but nothing came of it. I questioned her again, and she told me it didn’t pan out, and we were moving on. I took her word for it. However, at the end of the trial, I found out she never contacted Asia McClain (through Rabia). When I confronted her, she said, “We have to focus on the appeal.” And remember I said about the timeline; that the State presented the cell phone records to pinpoint exact time? Well, at the exact time the Prosecutor said the murder was taking place, I was sitting in the library with Asia McClain and two others.
The redacted line is important because it establishes the time that Adnan says Gutierrez said she checked out Asia. This letter has been made public. This redaction can only be because something about it contradicts Asia, Adnan or both.
And at least she (at the time) was willing to come forward. But Ms. Gutierrez never contacted her. More importantly, Asia McClain mentioned she spoke to the librarian about security cameras. In 2010, Justin Brown contacted the Baltimore County Public Library people about it, and they sent him a letter stating the librarian said she remembered security cameras at the time.
Adnan is selling Asia pretty hard here.
I don’t believe it’s so far-fetched to think that if Asia McClain had testified at trial it would’ve caused a different outcome. And while we can’t say the security footage would still have existed from 1-13-99 to 3-2-1999 (the time when I told Ms. Gutierrez), at least she could’ve tried. But she didn’t, now who knows what could’ve happened.
Adnan is saying he told Gutierrez about Asia on March 2, 1999. Chris Flohr was Adnan's attorney on March 2, 1999. Yet there is no mention of Asia in any of Chris Flohr's notes. And if there had been, Rabia would have posted them by now. The earliest possible date for Gutierrez to be representing Adnan would be April 7, when her partner went to sit with mosque leaders, as they were vetting a few attorneys to be Adnan's attorney for trial. On March 2, 1999, it's unlikely that Gutierrez was even aware of the case.
The first time Gutierrez met Adnan face to face was April 16, 1999, when she first visited him in prison, and yet her partner has never been asked if Adnan gave them the letters that day. The following day, Gutierrez submitted an invoice for $50,000 for her services. Attached to the invoice was a defense recap of all the reasons why Adnan is innocent. Asia is not mentioned in the recap.
Adnan retaining Gutierrez was challenged by the State, and there was a hearing on July 23 about whether or not Gutierrez would be allowed to represent Adnan. That same day, the attorney Adnan had retained to fight for Gutierrez was successful, and Gutierrez became Adnan's attorney of record. July 23 is about four months after March 2.
I’m not sure if any of this is helpful at all. I don’t know exactly what you need me to do. I’m willing to answer any questions you have. I’m able to use the phone between 12-1pm in the afternoon each day. If you want me to call you, you just have to tell me which #. I spoke to a Lieutenant about the visit you mentioned. In order for me to have any visitor, I have to submit the full name and address that is on the visitor’s driver’s license. Obviously, I can understand you’d be reluctant to send me that information. It’s weird to even ask you something like that. I don’t know if they would make an exception because you are a reporter. You could call and ask. Other than that, I can’t do anything else. I’ve included a copy of the visiting form so you could see for yourself. If you do talk to someone, and they provide a solution, it would be best to write down their name and the day and time of the conversation. A lot of times one person will say one thing and you could drive all the way up here and still be turned away. Finally Ms. Koenig, I just want to say that if I wasn’t innocent, I wouldn’t waste your time. I wouldn’t waste Rabia’s time, Justin Brown’s time, or my parent’s time. I would not be sitting around and allowing people to waste valuable time and resources trying to help me. I had nothing [to do] with Hae’s murder. She was one of my best friends. I’m sorry this was so long and jumped from one subject to another. In the future I’ll try hard to make sure to keep it more organized. But if you decide not to pursue this, thank you anyway for the time you have spent so far. Sincerely, Adnan Syed Earlier version of a similar post.
2019.07.03 19:08 sumire1216New job, transitioning from PhD/teaching to academic administration
I have enjoyed hanging out on this board while I’ve been job searching, and thought I’d post now that I’ve accepted a job offer. Might be helpful to people looking to get into university administration, or PhDs looking for an alt-academia path. Mega details below. Tl;dr: Transition from self employment and history of college teaching to academic admin took 4 months. 34 apps, 3 interviews, 1 offer. Network, look into temp jobs, emphasize transferable skills. So I am mid-30s, living in a major metro area, with a PhD in a music discipline and a miscellaneous work history. Full time office job 4 years in undergrad, then grad school / teaching, then self employment (started an online business) for the last 3 years. Didn’t want to do the tenure track thing and am burned out by the stress and workload of self employment, so I decided to transition into academic admin. Job search: 4 months, 34 applications, 3 interviews, 1 offer. Almost all of my applications were at 2 universities, my alma mater and Uni 2. Did 1 application at a 3rd university for a job that was a particularly good fit (got the interview, no offer). Despite getting a 6 week temp job at Uni 2 through a staffing agency, I heard nothing on any of my job applications there. Almost all my coworkers there had degrees from Uni 2. Might have had better luck if I’d worked the connections I made, but I got a job offer before that point. 2 interviews at my alma mater, both after someone called/emailed the hiring manager on my behalf. (No connections at 3rd Uni.) My new position will be a managerial position in arts administration. Experience I emphasized: my office job, classroom management / knowledge of academic culture, customer service / financial management skills from my business. Things that were particularly helpful:
Networking: I majorly suck at this, but I did have 3 very helpful contacts working at my alma mater. Most of the people I talked to either went straight from graduation to working for their uni, or had a reference who got them an interview.
Temp job. Google or contact HR for universities you’d like to work at, and find out what staffing agency they use. The recruiters at the agencies my alma mater & Uni 2 use we’re actually great. I got a really good temp job; it helped my applications, and probably would have helped with networking if I’d been less shy about it.
Things I learned:
Man, there are a lot of internal hires. Of my 34 apps, at least 6 had internal candidates (found out after applying through my grapevine). Probably much more.
Once people get in, they tend to stay, and lateral movement is pretty easy. Some people I talked to had started out in positions they weren’t crazy about just to get their foot in the door, then got a different position after a year or two.
Universities hire slowly. Many places do these days, but man, unis can be slow. For the position I accepted, they indicated that they were looking to get someone in “pretty quickly.” From first interview (less than a week after applying) to start date, 7 weeks. Many people I talked to got interview requests 1-3 months after applying, then another 2+ months from there. Don’t count on it being a quick transition.
For the jobs I interviewed for, they didn’t blink at a 2 page resume, and they did actually pay attention to the cover letter. Academic culture, they don’t mind reading.
Hope all this helps someone out there. This board, resumes, and my career counseling center at my alma mater were very helpful resources. Thanks guys.
2019.06.25 23:53 badlydrunkboyTesticular Pain and Building Descent
I'm not sure if when you said 'I'd love to hear about that someday' you were being polite or genuinely interested. As it turns out, I've written quite a bit already (I've come back to these first lines), so I'm going to keep assuming you'll read on out of actual interest or inherent politeness. It was a while after the death of my mother that I heard her bad news. I'd known her six or seven years ago when I was a roaring success, and she was just an intern. She freshly lit, me soon to be burnt out. I'll be straight up and admit that despite failing the half-your-age-plus-seven rule by a year or so she made an instant impact on all four chambers of the upper chest organ. The kinda feeling that a long time passes before you even think about the lower organs (of which we'll get to later) because you're preoccupied with simply being in this person's company. You’re so besotted, sex would be an afterthought, like ‘Oh yeah we could do that couldn’t we?’ A year after my first panic attack, seven months after she finished her internship, and six months after I asked her out (it was a 'no') I became a sort of go-to person for depression-related discussions for just about everyone I knew who felt miserable for longer than they thought they should. Which included her. Our friendship over-coming its awkward romantic speedbump. After the attack (which left me temporarily paralyzed in a Sri Lankan hospital) I just sort of gave up on keeping up appearances and putting on a brave face, and became a cynically honest, slightly humorous guy who openly discussed mental health; an early adopter of frankness when long-term internal meh was being discussed more and more. I wasn't over-sharing this stuff, but if it came up I'd talk - gently reeling out truthful tidbits on therapists, anti-depressants, being depressed in general, and on occasion, if you felt the person was really in a bad way: the attraction of perhaps taking an eternal afternoon nap splashed across the street six floors below. The panic attack(s) had occurred because work had become a flow-chart where every course of action ended up with me being wrong. In hindsight, a predictable result when you make wild demands on colleagues such as treating your overworked, under-resourced department with basic professionalism and human decency. Or recommending compliance with outlandish concepts like fair compensation for time worked, minimum rest periods and, I don’t know, overarching company codes of conduct and ethics. (BTW: what I learned from the toasted-cheese meltdown that was my life from 201x to 201x was that if you want to act the hero, you better expect some enemies.) It slowly became common knowledge that I was not well liked in a workplace that could at best be described as a high school clique and at worst as a cult. So when she had work issues or when she was feeling down, she’d seek me out, and we’d sit and talk it over. She briefly associating with the enemy; risking potential and permanent demotion to ‘social leper’ levels of office popularity. She'd excelled enough to be given a freelance contract so her workload had increased. She’d told me she didn't (for reasons that cannot be understood) have many friends, and (for reasons that really cannot be understood) had been rejected by the object of her own affection of her own four-chambered organ. She even offered a little apology (for some reason) about having given a negative reply to my date request. That she now knew how it felt to have received a direct love-related-hit to the heart. I didn't tell her she was the first girl I'd asked out in years and that despite the heartbreak it had felt good. I didn't realize at the time she'd be the last girl I asked out up to and including today. If for whatever reason you're re-reading this in the future she's still probably the last girl I asked out. My general feeling on the thing was that I was just lucky to have met her. To be honest, there was a bit of a life-gratitude/appreciation feeling to having my heart broken by her. At least I had the opportunity. Not that I told her that. Thinking about it now, if I had asked her out a second time, around that time, there might have been more of a swing to at least a 'maybe.' My popularity levels in work were that of an ex-Nazi prison guard which didn't help, and I did not tick the 'he has his shit together' box that women like ticked. If I could have stopped drinking like a bag of unwanted kittens and lost a bit of stress-related weight, the sheepish ‘cocktails on Friday?’ suggestion might have even turned into a 'yes.' I'm going off course now, rationalizing to make myself feel better, but my point is: I looked forward to these times when she’d seek me out, and just sit there and eventually ask my thoughts on what was bothering her. By the time I was working my months’ notice, her mental health had taken an unrelated steep downward trajectory. She had a full-time job now, and responsibilities were out the penthouse roof above her busy desk. I wished I could give her some advice but having been eaten up and spat out by the machine I was hardly going to be of use. She was the only work colleague to go to my sparsely attended ‘get the fuck out of this country’ party, arriving extremely late in the night. The kind of arrival time that indicated this was a reluctant, 'I better go,' type last-minute decision. Really she was the only person I wanted there, and this must have become extremely clear to her (via my obvious unintentional and uncontrollable face-related elation) as she ended up staying till the end of the even sparser (is this even a word?) attended after-party. I spent most of the night trying to introduce her to my friends, so she'd maybe have a new group of people to hang out with to reduce some of her loneliness. I said the bit above about having no advice to offer but thought I'd go nuclear and in a subtle way address the tempting sixth-floor view of the street below that her (formerly ‘our’) employment offered. A view I'd considered many a time, I regret to say. I told her she was great and young and gorgeous (no romance in the air) and had a fantastic job and that her career would only get better and better. That future workplaces would not be as toxic as where she found herself. I looked around to see where I could make my exit so that she could mull over the shite I was about to say. She was looking at her crossed fingers resting on the table in a temporary low mood considering our serious conversation. Her head was down so I could only see eyelids when attempting eye contact; her eyelids being a good runner-up visual landing spot since her eyes weren't available. I told her I knew what it was like to want to exit that building as fast as possible. That getting outside felt like a huge weight off one’s stress-bearing shoulders. That the street outside solved a lot of problems. It could even solve all problems. I said to her: ‘Just remember, no matter how bad things are in work or in life: Always take the slower way out of the building.’ She looked up, and I gave her a glance as in 'do you get me?'. I wasn't sure if she did, or if my eyes/brows could even communicate that. I smiled to mitigate my seriousness and clarified: ‘It may be tempting to get to the street, and its release and escape as fast as possible...’ I stretched out the fast, ‘...but always take the slower way out of the building.’ I really wasn't sure if she understood, but that was enough action one way or the other. I stood up and looked at a friend and smiled back at her and left her to it. I thought she might keep in touch after I left the country, but I never heard from her again. I did from time to time subtly inquire from a friend how she was doing and heard various snippets of updates which I couldn't interrogate for fear I gave away a past romantic inclination. A year after I quit, a former colleague contacted me to say he was having similar problems with management. This came as no surprise as I was not the first. He would not be the last, I joked. He sounded upbeat and positive, and he was going to work it out and stay with the company that he (and I) still loved. Six months after that, his voice had changed dramatically. He said he was on anti-depressants and severely low and was going to quit. I joked: 'Broh no matter how bad things get, always take, etc..." and he laughed but again I wasn't sure if he got my subtle drift. Two years after I quit, he quit. He told me that once I’d been pushed out, he knew he was going to be management’s next target and he wasn't wrong. This got me thinking though, so I asked him now that he's gone, who will management’s next target be? He straight away said the girl's name and my heart, still apparently, surprisingly, invested, immediately sunk. Afterward, I really wanted to reach out to her and again offer some advice, but besides rehashing the pros of an elevatostaircase descent vs. the cons of a gravity-assisted descent, I had nothing new to add. It really ate at me though, this desire to do something for her. Knowing the forces that wiped me out, up to and including today, would take aim on her. Knowing there was a balcony to tempt her if she was tempted. You kinda have to think about these things from time to time I feel. ‘Who do I know who is most likely to relate to certain Japanese traditions?’ You mull it over, and you go 'yeah that person is down, but I think they're good,' and eventually you settle on some name from your past you may not have too much contact with who lost their job or relationship, and you reach out, and you're upbeat, and hopefully through that small interaction they keep ticking over. The people closest to them doing the relationship heavy lifting will catch anything else, and you never hear on the grapevine that that person died from a ‘sudden unexpected asthma attack,’ or from causing a delay to the evening’s commuter service. Anyway, I didn’t contact her. She was more than capable of looking after herself. It's taken a bit to get to what you actually wanted to hear more of. That is if you did or if you were just being polite. Either way; cool. I hope in some way it helps you, even though it maybe, probably won't. But anyway, you asked. So here goes. I sent a letter because I (clearly) prefer the slower forms of communication as well as building descent. Obviously, I don’t have a copy of the letter, so I'll do my best at the bits I remember and join the dots elsewhere. I had a bit of distance on my mothers’ death, and despite my life only getting worse and worse since I quit, I felt I could give some thoughts and help her in some small way. Work-related stuff I was useless at. This I might be able to help with or at least get a smile. I started: "I heard about your loss and wanted to say I'm sorry." I feel like having been forced to subscribe to a year's full of platitudes I've got good, genuine things to say to someone who's just lost a major part of their life. Maybe one day they'll become a cliché, and if they do, then I'd be happy in a way. When it becomes a cliché, somebody else can figure death out. I said: "I'm sorry this has happened." I said: "I'm sorry this has happened to you, and..." "I'm sorry this happened to them." I never understood amongst all the "I'm sorry for your loss," that I never heard "I'm sorry for their loss." The life they had that is gone. All the little bits of their memory now without access. Their inability to affect anything. I still can't figure out my thoughts on it, but it's about their inability to contribute, but that's not the word. I can't find the word. ‘Involved?’ To do something, that may or may not add anything, but is that person's wish. Not 'agency.' Those little things, just that little POV of time and location lost, and their inability to alter time and location now. People say the funeral is for the family. If you think that then you're really not getting the concept of a fucking funeral. That it is there for 'one' to feel better. Or is part of the healing process. Don't feel better, I say. Feel horrific. I say the way you should feel is if the same person being lowered in the coffin was still alive. Suddenly the funeral isn't 'for' the family, or for 'closure,' or 'tradition,' instead your focus is very much on the person where it should be. The terrible thing that's happened to this person. That is happening. I didn't say that in the letter. But with it in mind, I decided to basically mansplain how it feels to get kicked in the balls. Now I'd only heard of her loss a few months after it happened and had already lightened the mood in some intervening paragraphs. I didn’t want to bring her down any more than she was, and balls are unquestionably the funniest part of both human bodies. This might also be an excellent point to say a lot of the following I didn't write in the letter. I'm just expanding for your sake: lucky you. I told her I wanted to pass on some advice I’d been told that while not perfect, had on occasion, strangely provided some much-needed solace. ‘As with all advice,’ I wrote, ‘your mileage may vary.’ If it were a male friend, I'd just dish it out then and there as it was dished out to me, but as she was a member of the fairer sex, I'd need to let her know about some things that might not have been covered in her secondary school biology class. One thing she was aware of was that on occasion a man's balls get kicked. The kick/impact is usually sports related, but on occasion, it can happen in accident or aggression. It doesn't help that our species is hardwired to reproduce and the hardware for reproduction is external. One reason they developed this way was to keep them away from the body’s operating temperature. Sperm, I said, needs to be kept at a temperature a few degrees below the bodies to do their thing. If a human body were a fridge freezer, the only thing in the freezer would be, well, sperm. The nuts (I explained in a letter to a grieving woman), being exposed, needed protection, and for protection, the human body decided to give them a thin-ass layer of highly sensitive skin. You'd think there'd be some bone around them like there is around so much of the body but again to maintain that ‘just right’ temperature the balls need the freedom to move away from the body if they're too hot. So, then I tell this grieving girl about the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is the proverbial kick in the nuts to your body’s idea of pain. It's this one pathway that sends pain to every vital part of your body, and ingratiates itself by, at the worst moment --the crotch kick-- making them all hurt at the same time. What happens in the vagus nerve, does not stay in the vagus nerve. I tell the grieving woman. Evolution pretty much said: ‘Oh shit, these things are important; let's make them worse.’ But it knew what it was doing. For reproductive reasons, the balls needed to be weak, so their defense would not be bone or thick skin: it would be pain. They would be so painful that you'd use any other body part possible to protect them, or to be more accurate, to avoid the pain. I'm trying to give her a general idea of the all-encompassing agony one’s balls can produce. Not that she hasn’t already deduced this pain herself over the years. I was trying to be a bit of a raconteur. Trying to get a bit of a smile. Painting a picture of what it’s like rolling around on the grass, gently cupping your groin. People looking at you, feeling sorry for you. They may or may not know the pain themselves, but ultimately, at that moment, they don’t know what you’re going through. This sick inward feeling. The space extending a foot above your belt buckle becoming palpable in the worst possible way yet inaccessible to comfort. The holding of them offers mental relief, but it does nothing. It's a protective reaction: they shall not be hit again. You just have to pretty much lie on that ground (seriously doctors’ advice here) and suck it up. Which also helps now that I think about it - deep inhaling/exhaling will help one's sore balls. Keep breathing. And that's it. That's as far as the medical advice goes. Other than 'replacing lost fluids' as if that is ever going to do anything. There's nothing to do. You're stuck. There is no recourse. You’re just going to have to feel miserable for the time being. The pain is unbearable. There is nothing like it. But it will fade. This is something every guy knows, and now hopefully she did as well. Not that she probably wanted to know. It’s at about this point in the letter that I got to what you overheard and asked about, and I hope the above lived up to expectations, polite or otherwise. Anyway, after a good page and a half of maneuvering into my point -this big random thing about near-dick problems- I wrote: ‘Losing someone you love is a pain in the balls. But like a pain in the balls, it slowly, eventually, starts to hurt less.’ I was going to end the letter there, but since I just spent two pages talking about balls, I figured to hell with it and added: ‘And don't forget: Always take the slower way out of the building.’
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