I’m a commentator for a tournament of nightmares. I’m not sure the participants are willing.
You’d think being a psychiatric ward for 38 months would be enough to deter a guy from ever going back to a sport that involves watching human beings at the height of their physical prowess beat the living shit out of each other. Sometimes regulated, sometimes not. But, here I am, fresh outta the loony bin and reading the most unusual advertising slogan I’d ever laid eyes on; “The most terrifying tournament has come around once again! Conquer your fears in theNFC*…* literally.” This was the business card that accompanied my black envelope as it was handed to me on the discharge ward by a well dressed and gangly fella with an uncomfortable wide smile. He didn’t say much of anything, just that his name was “Watson” before bowing and holding up the envelope. “Heh, like the butler, right?” I said, taking the envelope from his plasticine hands. His smile ripples across his face and he nods slowly, his perfect hair unmoving in the strong wind before he turns on his heel and walks back to the black sedan. The cold air chilled my bones, and I pulled the medical bracelet from my wrist, grimacing at the marks underneath before following Watson to the Sedan and hauling my luggage into the trunk before setting off, not knowing how I came to even be there in the first place. I guess right now, that doesn’t really matter. What matters is where I am now and what I’m doing. "blood strewn across the canvas, frayed brain matter sailing across my head and splattering against the wall, a woman standing in a pool of blood as the deformed creature twitches on the ground" My name is Sal “Motormouth” Sabotta, I’m a sports commentator by trade. Be it combat sports, pro wrestling, death-matches or martial arts tournament, I’ve done it all. I won’t lie; Work can be hard to come by. I’ve spent months struggling for rent and resorting to less tried-and-true commentary methods in order to survive. That has, at times, involved trying my hand at some of the more underground competitions; unregulated fights, sick, illegal games bet on by people on the dark web and worse… Things I’m not going to detail here. Things I’m not proud to have taken a hefty pay-check for from greasy, sweaty fucks in Armani tracksuits and stinking of cheap booze and coke all the way up to well-dressed bitcoin farmers in their 20s who probably own child slaves. In short, I’m no stranger to the grim underworld or the secrecies with which they conduct their work. I see money and an easy way to make it with my voice; I don’t ask questions. So when I received an email the day of my discharge from the hospital and I’m told “you’ll receive a letter from Mr. Watson, take it and follow the instructions to the venue. Pay up front as agreed.”, I don’t question it. Especially when the note is personalised, and the doctor says my medical fees were covered. We drove past numerous landscapes, vistas and neighbourhoods before veering off into an industrial estate and entering an underground tunnel. Half a mile in, Watson stops the car and peers back, smiling. He directs a thumb to the service door in the side tunnel and rubs his neck, a scar running from ear to ear. Was he a former fighter? Gangster? I sighed and got out, still in my medical gown and hauling ass to the door. It opened before I could reach out and a tall, muscular woman in her late 30s greeted me with a smile. She was imposing, powerful in her gait, a black eyepatch with several seals adorning the sides accompanying a thick scar down her face did nothing to stop her beauty. She wore a tank top with a black cloak with white fur on the tops and sleeves, a thick black chain clasp around the neck. I won’t lie; she looked badass. Terrifying, but badass. “‘Bout time ya showed up, Sabotta!” She grinned and put a cinderblock of a hand on my shoulder. I’m 5’10 and 180lbs, but she made me feel like a child in front of her. The power emanating from her fist was unbelievable. “C’mon, the trial match is starting and I don’t want no tourney without a broken in commentator! You gotta know the ropes of this place!” “You know your driver was standing right outside when I was discharged, right? Couldn’t think to give me an extra day or two to freshen up?” I frowned. This wasn’t normal protocol, even for back-alley promotions like this. She just laughed at me and slapped my shoulder. “The tournament waits for nobody, Sal. Times a-wasting.” The hallway is dimly lit and the sounds of a ruckus above us are as impossible to ignore as the sounds of thudding, screaming and snapping. As we pass several doors with one-way mirrors on the front panes, I hear sounds I could have never placed in the animal kingdom or otherwise; gurgles, clicks, grunts and even otherworldly whispers. “What the fuck is that? You guys doing animal fights down here? I mean I called a monkey fight once, but it’s not exactly… pleasant.” I shuddered, thinking of the violence chimpanzees can inflict on one another, let alone humans. She never stopped walking or staring directly ahead when she responded.“Those ain’t animals. Not by a long shot.” Before I can probe further, I’m hurried into a changing room and practically swept off my feet by her strength. I turn back and she’s already poking her head out the door. “You’ve got 5 minutes, get your shit and head up the left stairs, Watson will guide you.” She grinned, and I saw gold filings in her teeth that glinted as much as her bedazzled eye patch. “Ya came highly recommended… I expect good things!” I do as instructed and within 5 minutes I’m back in my commentary clothes; an open buttoned Hawaiian shirt with my old Hotel Inertia shirt underneath, skinny black jeans and shimmering black shoes. I found some old slick gorilla powder in my hair and dusted it up, opting for the dishevelled look as I knew I’d be sweating by the end of the ordeal. “You shouldn’t bother putting in so much effort, y’know. They’re not gonna care how good you look, only how well you talk.” Standing in the doorway was a woman in her 40s, dark-skinned and hair clad in meticulous dreadlocks, tied back into a large bun with a pair draped down the sides of her head. She held a thick book in one hand and pocketed a serrated blade in the other before motioning to me. “We’ll have to do the pleasantries on the way, the match is starting and you don’t wanna miss that. The commissioner isn’t the type you want to upset. Especially when you’re not here by choice.” I looked for a moment, dumbfounded. “I’m here because I was invited, already got my pay from the woman who let me in.” I shrugged, pocketing the envelope and getting my equipment from the suitcase. The woman gave a sad smile and shook her head. “Of course you’d think that. She likes it that way. Bet she didn’t introduce herself either, did she? C’mon.” I follow her down and after a few minutes we come to a fork in the hallway, an elevator system to our right and a stairway to the left. Dutifully, Watson stood patiently, still grinning and motioning us to go up. Once we’re situated in our booth upstairs, I set my equipment up and look down at the table, expecting a slew of papers and fighter information in front of me. I look to the woman to ask, but she doesn’t break her stare in the darkness, looking down at the arena floor some 100ft below us.“You won’t need that. Not for this match.” The lights flicker on and the enormity of this venue reveals itself to me. It’s a structure of imposing steel, dried blood, claw marks and other unknown substances that littered the 40ft wide circular pit the fighters contested in, a black lift on either side from the fighters corners that I can only assume ascended up from their locker room area. Around them were chain-link fences that rose up to the audience stands above, situating around 300 people across all four sides. At the very top sat our booth, the commissioner’s office directly opposite, the judges booth to our right and the fight analysts/medical area to our left. Standing in the centre with a spotlight over them was the commissioner, microphone in hand and an energy that was almost palpable. “Ladies, Gentlemen and Freaks of all kinds out there in the universe. I welcome you once more to the annual Nightmare Fighting Championship Tournament! It’s been a long year, but we have new blood to pit against our resident night terrors and some fresh fears to feast on the fortuitous soul that frolics into their den. As always, our contestants will be fighting for their freedom, a chance to get their wish or to fight for the ultimate prize.” The crowd cheers and the majority are hidden behind thick plexiglass and lighting, but I can see some have Karate Gi’s, weapons in hand and others with demon masks as they whoop and holler. The clientele here were, at least in my estimation, experienced. But I was feeling a lump in my throat at that one phrase The Commissioner so surreptitiously added in without issue; “As always, our contestants will befightingfor theirfreedom*”* I leaned to the woman next to me and as if she knew what I was going to ask; she put a finger up and shook her head. Eyes awash with fear and a grimness I had only seen on that of trainers who knew their fighter was not ready for the bout ahead. She pointed the finger down to my machine, then to the pit. Turning it on, I looked down as the commissioner began to talk, readying myself to commentate on whatever weirdos came up to battle. “But before we get to that, we have an exciting exhibition match for our loyal supporters who bankroll this event every year. Without you elite few, we could not do this. You are the pound for pound goats of support! Now, without further ado; let’s get this show on the road!”The rest of the lights clicked on and spun around the venue as they raised the profile of the bout, the elevators both whirring into action as the right one arose first. “In this corner, from the marionettes shop and accompanied by his Bunraku doll “Mr. Stares”, it’s the man who pulls the strings… THE PUPPET MAN!” Out steps a tall, thin Japanese man in full clown makeup. His head shaven save for two ridiculous strands of hair stretched out and fluffed up to their limits, like red antennae. His eyebrows large m’s that practically cover his forehead, the nose a completely vacant slot with a black hole drawn in and the mouth… the fucking mouth was nailed shut. Literally. Sharp rusted nails had been hammered down through the lips with such force that they’d bent. A sickening crimson red face-paint stretched across the entire bottom half of his face, making it seem far larger by comparison. He carefully held a small bundle underneath a sheet and bowed deeply to the audience before standing at his designated spot. “In the other corner, from the streets of god knows where and the womb of someone who misses him… "Hulked Up" Michael O’Donnell!” I watched with wide eyes and a stomach threatening to evacuate its contents at any moment as the smoke cleared and a boy no older than 17 rushed out, beating his chest and screaming to the crowd as if he was the Incredible Hulk. I don’t know if they drugged the poor kid, but he clearly had no idea where he was. “There are no rules, no referees and judges only exist in case of a draw or unclear victory. Our commentary team will take over and we wish you a phenomenal match.” She drools a little before she speaks again, looking up at me and winking. “Let’s make this a violent one.” She snaps her fingers and leaps for the fence, climbing up with ungodly ease before sitting on her makeshift chair in her office. I have no idea what I’m seeing but every cell in my body is urging me to run; I feel my knees tense and my frame rise ever so slightly before the woman next to me puts her hand on my thigh, pushing me down with great force. “You have a job to do, so do I. Trust me, you think you can leave but if you get out of this chair, not only will YOUR life end. Mine will too.” She unsheathes the serrated blade and looks at me with pity. “We both have a part to play here, so put the headset on and let’s do our job, no matter how hard it is.” Hands shaking, I pick up the headset and connect it to the portable recorder and take a breath. “I… I need your name. What is it you do?” I stutter, trying to calm myself. She hands me a bottle of water as the surrounding lights dim and the spotlight focuses on the spectacle below. “I’m Madame Nelle Lockwood, cryptid hunter and your co-host to guide you through tonight. Good to meet you, Sal.” - NFC EXHIBITION MATCH: "Hulked Up" Michael O’Donnell vs The Puppet Man w/ Mr. Stares “Welcome fight fans from around the world, god knows how you’re listening to this or WHY, but here we are. I’m your host Sal “MotorMouth” Sabotta, wishing this was all a bad dream. Joining me this evening is our cryptid specialist and all round badass Madame Nelle Lockwood. How are you doing, Nelle?” She looks at me with a bewildered look on her face before blinking and coming to her senses. “Uhh… good! All things considered… boy, you really have a professional knack for this, huh? I can see why Commissioner Alduin brought you in." “Ahh, yes. That’s right, folks! NFC Commissioner Alduin invited me here personally and our exhibition match proves to be… challenging. Let’s check in on the action below.” I look down and see The Puppet Man sat down and gesturing to the figure under the sheet, like he’s got a negotiation going on. The boy, undeterred and furious, rushes towards him and takes his back, slapping his head and even pulling on his hair with extreme prejudice. “Well take a gander at that, that kid has absolutely NO fear. When I was his age, I would have stayed FAR the fuck away from a nightmare spectre like that. But hell, this is all part of the show, right? Hope they’re paying that poor guy down there a sizeable sum to throw a fight to a child. What do you think, Nelle; is this the weirdest make-a-wish fulfilment task or what?” I look over to her, hoping she’d indulge me and that I could believe this was just going to end with a pissed off actor storming away when the child hit him too hard. But Nelle was scanning her now open book and looking for information on dolls. “He’s talking to his doll because it’s desperate to be let loose. He’s trying to bargain with it to spare him. This is the nature of the puppeteer and his master.” She pushes the book to the centre of the table and shows me a faded illustration of a pristine Bunraku doll; a kind of meticulously crafted Japanese take on the ventriloquist doll. The limbs are thinner and the face is more minimalist, but still no more frightening. “They usually have a symbiotic relationship, but it seems this one obeys the doll and will not want to face more punishment.” “What do you mean more punishment?” I ask, looking back down at the feverish puppet man as he tries signing frantically under the sheet, even putting his head under as the kid bites his arm and kicks him, screeching. “The nails, Sal. Those aren’t to silence him, they’re to punish him.” The rest happened in slow motion; the sheet fell down. The puppet man stood up and walked to his side of the fighters corner, facing the elevator and placing his face into his forearms as he shook. The boy followed to keep attacking, but with one swift kick to the midsection, the boy was propelled back to the centre of the pit where the doll sat. If there was a human face, I didn’t see it. Instead, I was staring down at a small wood carved spider, the head sporting black geisha hair and the makeup still present, but rows of sharpened black teeth protruded from the clicking mouth and two larger eyes jutted out from the base of the skull, smaller ones dotted closely around it. It was like seeing a puppet ogre spider. “Looks like The Puppet Man has let Mr. Stares out to say hi and I can certainly see why he was under that sheet, this one isn’t pretty folks! The face doth fit the name. The question is, what’s he doing to do ne- “I didn’t need to finish the question. My hands shook, and the world spun around me as this creature crawled towards the still wheezing boy with ungodly speed and perched itself expertly beside him. I don’t know if it was my eyes or the distance from where I sat, but this was NOT a small puppet. He was easily half of the boy’s height and that became more unnerving when he reared up on his back legs, the head clicking up and the raspy voice hissing out like a gas leak in a building. “Hey, hey, kid! Wanna make a deal?” The kid rubbed his eyes, seemingly realising where he was as he calmed down and an air of utter confusion around him. “If you let me be your new master and you promise to take care of me, I’ll let you go!” His head spun around and the jaw clicked ferociously as he giggled, extending out a clawed paw. “Whaddya say?” The boy, still confused, slowly reached out his hand and the moment immediately reminded me of a slew of nature shows I’d seen as a kid; where a predator waits until the prey is lulled before striking. I felt the chill up my spine as he extended his hand and grabbed Mr. Stares. In that moment, he leapt up the arm and bore his way into the boy’s mouth, down his throat and shredded his flesh. The sound was so horrifying, so visceral that it outshines any backyard stabbing, joint snap or broken nose. The boy didn’t even have time to scream, he simply looked up with tear-stained eyes as the puppet disappeared. Then he started walking without him realising. He looked down at his limbs, terrified, looked over at The Puppet Master, who still had his head to the elevator and pleaded with someone, anyone to help him. I looked to Nelle who refused to take her eyes away, studying the battle in an almost morbid scientific curiosity, detached entirely from the scenario. I couldn’t fathom how she did it, how she ignored this boy begging us to get him out of there. I wanted to. Every instinct in me as a fight fan and a decent human was to scream “STOP THE FIGHT!”. But clearly, when my own life is at risk and money is involved... I am not a decent human. Instead, with bile in my throat and a sweating forehead, I did my job. “M-My goodness! The P-uppet, I mean, “Mr. Stares” has BECAME the puppet master, surely the fight will be over with our young competitor incapacitated? What does our commissioner have to say about this?” She stared at me, her one eye gleaming and her face elated with the violence. “It ain’t over yet, church boy. We haven’t even seen the finale, have we Puppet Master?!” She laughs and slaps her knee, the puppet master sobbing as he sinks to the floor and she continues. “He ain’t done feeding, not yet.” The way she said that word “feeding” nearly made me lose what food I had in me. That was a young man, somebody's baby boy… “What does she mean by that, Nelle? What is the strategy to victory here?” Nelle looked down at her book and traced her finger across a passage before wiping her forehead and pushing the locks aside. If her composure wasn’t breaking yet, it would do soon. “This kind of parasitic doll feasts on its prey and targets non-essential organs first, controls the host with the neurotoxin in its tail and then, when it’s finally content, it gives the brain a second injection.” “What happens then?” I asked, my own professionalism hanging on by a fucking thread at this point. She shook her head and pinched the bridge of her nose.“I guess you’ll see in a moment, I sure as hell don’t want to. Not again.” Before I can prompt her further, the boy lets out an ear-piercing shriek and falls to his knees, gripping at his head before it turned red, then purple and finally an ugly shade of puce before… The sound of a watermelon hitting the ground from a great height is the best comparison you’re going to get without making me want to rush to the toilet to puke for a third time. But that’s what happened. His head burst and chunks of his skull, flesh and brain matter sprayed the pit and the walls, some hitting my desk and making me audibly shriek, much to the commissioner's delight. “HA! You didn’t run! I like you, Sal. You pass for the tournament!” She hauls her body up and slams down to the pit, applauding as the microphone descends from the heavens. “And your winner; The Puppet Man and Mr. Stares!” The crowd erupts with applause as the weeping puppet man pulls the blood-soaked puppet out, places him under the sheet and silently begins to walk back to the elevator while attendees clear up the boy’s corpse. “What… what the fuck IS this place?” I ask Nelle, pausing my recording. “This is where nightmares are kept and set upon mostly unwilling competitors for the world’s amusement. You HAVE done dark web fights before, right? Mafia snitches being put into lions pits, bum fights, addicts fighting women to score… this can’t be THAT unusual to you?” I stared at her incredulously. Was that even a question? “I did the dark web ONCE and it damn sure didn’t involve monsters!” She scoffs and closes her book, stretching before looking at me with contempt. “Oh, it did. Just not the ones you hear about in fairytales. Good luck with the selection process. I’ll be back for the opening round. Don’t try to run, they’ll devour us both in minutes, if you think this is the pinnacle of what lurks beneath this club, you're in for a rough night.” She sauntered off, leaving me deflated, sickened and terrified. Unable to leave and frustrated to the point of tears that I couldn’t express that concoction of emotions, I did what I always do; I regressed and pressed “record” on the device as Commissioner Alduin continued. At that moment, however, I was deaf to it all. The gravity of the situation had fully enveloped me… They weren’t kidding about the unwilling participants, I just didn’t realise I would be one of them.On every side of me sits men and women with a desire for violence that goes beyond the norm, beyond the sane and beyond the boundaries of humanity.Below me are an untold number of creatures rattling their cages and howling for blood. Across from me is a woman so powerful she could crush my skull beneath her boot with the utmost ease if it so amused her. That invitation was nothing more than my own ransom note in pretty colours and flattering platitudes. I was in a tournament housing nightmares incarnate. And it would only get more violent from here on out. - The opening round was a blood bath.
You've probably been hearing a lot about Bitcoin recently and are wondering what's the big deal? Most of your questions should be answered by the resources below but if you have additional questions feel free to ask them in the comments. It all started with the release of the release of Satoshi Nakamoto's whitepaper however that will probably go over the head of most readers so we recommend the following videos for a good starting point for understanding how bitcoin works and a little about its long term potential:
Limited Supply - There will only ever be 21,000,000 bitcoins created and they are issued in a predictable fashion, you can view the inflation schedule here. Once they are all issued Bitcoin will be truly deflationary. The halving countdown can be found here.
Open source - Bitcoin code is fully auditable. You can read the source code yourself here.
Accountable - The public ledger is transparent, all transactions are seen by everyone.
Decentralized - Bitcoin is globally distributed across thousands of nodes with no single point of failure and as such can't be shut down similar to how Bittorrent works. You can even run a node on a Raspberry Pi.
Censorship resistant - No one can prevent you from interacting with the bitcoin network and no one can censor, alter or block transactions that they disagree with, see Operation Chokepoint.
Push system - There are no chargebacks in bitcoin because only the person who owns the address where the bitcoins reside has the authority to move them.
Low fee scaling - On chain transaction fees depend on network demand and how much priority you wish to assign to the transaction. Most wallets calculate on chain fees automatically but you can view current fees here and mempool activity here. On chain fees may rise occasionally due to network demand, however instant micropayments that do not require confirmations are happening via the Lightning Network, a second layer scaling solution currently rolling out on the Bitcoin mainnet.
Borderless - No country can stop it from going in/out, even in areas currently unserved by traditional banking as the ledger is globally distributed.
Portable - Bitcoins are digital so they are easier to move than cash or gold. They can even be transported by simply memorizing a string of words for wallet recovery (while cool this method is generally not recommended due to potential for insecure key generation by inexperienced users. Hardware wallets are the preferred method for new users due to ease of use and additional security).
Bitcoin.org and BuyBitcoinWorldwide.com are helpful sites for beginners. You can buy or sell any amount of bitcoin (even just a few dollars worth) and there are several easy methods to purchase bitcoin with cash, credit card or bank transfer. Some of the more popular resources are below, also check out the bitcoinity exchange resources for a larger list of options for purchases.
Here is a listing of local ATMs. If you would like your paycheck automatically converted to bitcoin use Bitwage. Note: Bitcoins are valued at whatever market price people are willing to pay for them in balancing act of supply vs demand. Unlike traditional markets, bitcoin markets operate 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. Preev is a useful site that that shows how much various denominations of bitcoin are worth in different currencies. Alternatively you can just Google "1 bitcoin in (your local currency)".
Securing your bitcoins
With bitcoin you can "Be your own bank" and personally secure your bitcoins OR you can use third party companies aka "Bitcoin banks" which will hold the bitcoins for you.
If you prefer to "Be your own bank" and have direct control over your coins without having to use a trusted third party, then you will need to create your own wallet and keep it secure. If you want easy and secure storage without having to learn computer security best practices, then a hardware wallet such as the Trezor, Ledger or ColdCard is recommended. Alternatively there are many software wallet options to choose from here depending on your use case.
If you prefer to let third party "Bitcoin banks" manage your coins, try Gemini but be aware you may not be in control of your private keys in which case you would have to ask permission to access your funds and be exposed to third party risk.
Note: For increased security, use Two Factor Authentication (2FA) everywhere it is offered, including email! 2FA requires a second confirmation code to access your account making it much harder for thieves to gain access. Google Authenticator and Authy are the two most popular 2FA services, download links are below. Make sure you create backups of your 2FA codes.
As mentioned above, Bitcoin is decentralized, which by definition means there is no official website or Twitter handle or spokesperson or CEO. However, all money attracts thieves. This combination unfortunately results in scammers running official sounding names or pretending to be an authority on YouTube or social media. Many scammers throughout the years have claimed to be the inventor of Bitcoin. Websites like bitcoin(dot)com and the btc subreddit are active scams. Almost all altcoins (shitcoins) are marketed heavily with big promises but are really just designed to separate you from your bitcoin. So be careful: any resource, including all linked in this document, may in the future turn evil. Don't trust, verify. Also as they say in our community "Not your keys, not your coins".
Where can I spend bitcoins?
Check out spendabit or bitcoin directory for millions of merchant options. Also you can spend bitcoin anywhere visa is accepted with bitcoin debit cards such as the CashApp card. Some other useful site are listed below.
Mining bitcoins can be a fun learning experience, but be aware that you will most likely operate at a loss. Newcomers are often advised to stay away from mining unless they are only interested in it as a hobby similar to folding at home. If you want to learn more about mining you can read more here. Still have mining questions? The crew at /BitcoinMining would be happy to help you out. If you want to contribute to the bitcoin network by hosting the blockchain and propagating transactions you can run a full node using this setup guide. If you would prefer to keep it simple there are several good options. You can view the global node distribution here.
Just like any other form of money, you can also earn bitcoins by being paid to do a job.
You can also earn bitcoins by participating as a market maker on JoinMarket by allowing users to perform CoinJoin transactions with your bitcoins for a small fee (requires you to already have some bitcoins.
The following is a short list of ongoing projects that might be worth taking a look at if you are interested in current development in the bitcoin space.
One Bitcoin is quite large (hundreds of £/$/€) so people often deal in smaller units. The most common subunits are listed below:
one bitcoin is equal to 100 million satoshis
1,000 per bitcoin
used as default unit in recent Electrum wallet releases
1,000,000 per bitcoin
colloquial "slang" term for microbitcoin (μBTC)
100,000,000 per bitcoin
smallest unit in bitcoin, named after the inventor
For example, assuming an arbitrary exchange rate of $10000 for one Bitcoin, a $10 meal would equal:
For more information check out the Bitcoin units wiki. Still have questions? Feel free to ask in the comments below or stick around for our weekly Mentor Monday thread. If you decide to post a question in /Bitcoin, please use the search bar to see if it has been answered before, and remember to follow the community rules outlined on the sidebar to receive a better response. The mods are busy helping manage our community so please do not message them unless you notice problems with the functionality of the subreddit. Note: This is a community created FAQ. If you notice anything missing from the FAQ or that requires clarification you can edit it here and it will be included in the next revision pending approval. Welcome to the Bitcoin community and the new decentralized economy!
Blockchain, the amazing solution for almost nothing
Article from Jesse Frederik at the Correspondent Highlights: At its core, blockchain is a glorified spreadsheet (think: Excel with one table). In other words, a new way to store data. In traditional databases there’s usually one person who’s in charge, who decides who can access and input data, who can edit and remove it. That’s different in a blockchain. Nobody’s in charge, and you can’t change or delete anything, only view and input data. Nakamoto thought that everyone would be able to work equally hard to solve the puzzles. But some companies have exclusive access to specialised hardware, cheap electricity and space, which makes them much better able to fulfil this role. What was envisioned as decentralised has become centralised again, because of the advantages of scale. Out of over 86,000 blockchain projects that had been launched, 92% had been abandoned by the end of 2017, according to consultancy firm Deloitte. Firstly: the technology is at loggerheads with European privacy legislation, specifically the right to be forgotten. Once something is in the blockchain, it cannot be removed. For instance, hundreds of links to child abuse material and revenge porn were placed in the bitcoin blockchain by malicious users. It’s impossible to remove those. The presumed hackers of Hillary Clinton’s email were caught, for instance, because their identity could be linked to bitcoin transactions. A number of researchers from Qatar University were able to ascertain the identities of tens of thousands of bitcoin users fairly easily through social networking sites. Other researchers showed how you can de-anonymise many more people through trackers on shopping websites. The fact that no one is in charge and nothing can be modified also means that mistakes cannot be corrected. A bank can reverse a payment request. This is impossible for bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. So anything that has been stolen will stay stolen. There is a continuous stream of hackers targeting bitcoin exchanges and users, and fraudsters launching investment vehicles that are in fact pyramid schemes. According to estimates, nearly 15% of all bitcoin has been stolen at some point. Solving all those complex puzzles requires a huge amount of energy. So much energy that the two biggest blockchains in the world – bitcoin and Ethereum – are now using up the same amount of electricity as the whole of Austria. Carrying out a payment with Visa requires about 0.002 kilowatt-hours; the same payment with bitcoin uses up 906 kilowatt-hours, more than half a million times as much, and enough to power a two-person household for about three months. OK, so with bitcoin, banks can’t just remove money from your account at their own discretion. But does this really happen? I have never heard of a bank simply taking money from someone’s account. If a bank did something like that, they would be hauled into court in no time and lose their license. Technically it’s possible; legally, it’s a death sentence. Of course scammers are active everywhere. People lie and cheat. But the biggest problem is scams by data suppliers. (for instance: someone secretly registers a hunk of horse meat as beef), not by data administrators (for instance: a bank makes money disappear). A blockchain is a database – it’s not a self-regulating system that checks all data for correctness, let alone one that calls a halt to unauthorised building works. The same rules apply for blockchain as for any database: if people put garbage into it, what comes out is also garbage. Or as Bloomberg columnist Matt Levine wrote: “My immutable unforgeable cryptographically secure blockchain record proving that I have 10,000 pounds of aluminium in a warehouse is not much use to a bank if I then smuggle the aluminium out of the warehouse through the back door.” Data should reflect reality, but sometimes reality changes and the data stays the same. That’s why we have notaries, supervisors, lawyers – actually, all those boring people that blockchain thinks it can do without. But wasn’t that the whole point of blockchain, that you could do without these trusted third parties? So what are they doing here? If you ask me, they’re building a completely normal, run-of-the-mill database, but extremely inefficiently. Once you’ve cut through all the jargon, the report turns out to be a boring account of database architecture. They write about a distributed ledger (that’s a shared database), about smart contracts (that’s an algorithm) and about proof of authority (that’s the right to veto whatever is entered in the database). “I work with code, so people see me as a magician,” he said proudly. It was always rather surprising to him – a magician? He spends half his time yelling at his screen in frustration, while he programmes strips of duct tape to repair creaky PHP script from years and years ago. What Tim meant was that ICT is like the rest of the world – a big old mess. And that’s something that we – outsiders, laypeople, non-tech geeks – simply refuse to accept. Councillors and managers think that problems – however large and fundamental they are – evaporate instantaneously thanks to technology they’ve heard about in a fancy PowerPoint presentation. How will it work? Who cares! Don’t try to understand it, just reap the benefits! According to a recent survey carried out by consultancy firm Deloitte, 70% of business executives said they had a lot of expertise in the field of blockchain. The greatest advantage of blockchain, according to them, is its speed. That's a bit stupid, because even fanatics see speed as a problem, not a feature. This is the market for magic, and that market is big. Whether it’s about blockchain, big data, cloud computing, AI or other buzzwords.
Wandering From the Path? | Monthly Portfolio Update - August 2020
Midway along the journey of our lifeI woke to find myself in a dark wood,for I had wandered off from the straight path. Dante, The Divine Comedy: Inferno, Canto I This is my forty-fifth portfolio update. I complete this update monthly to check my progress against my goal. Portfolio goal My objective is to reach a portfolio of $2 180 000 by 1 July 2021. This would produce a real annual income of about $87 000 (in 2020 dollars). This portfolio objective is based on an expected average real return of 3.99 per cent, or a nominal return of 6.49 per cent. Portfolio summary
Vanguard Lifestrategy High Growth Fund $733 769
Vanguard Lifestrategy Growth Fund $41 794
Vanguard Lifestrategy Balanced Fund $78 533
Vanguard Diversified Bonds Fund $110 771
Vanguard Australian Shares ETF (VAS) $216 758
Vanguard International Shares ETF (VGS) $64 542
Betashares Australia 200 ETF (A200) $237 138
Telstra shares (TLS) $1 540
Insurance Australia Group shares (IAG) $6 043
NIB Holdings shares (NHF) $5 532
Gold ETF (GOLD.ASX) $121 976
Secured physical gold $19 535
Ratesetter (P2P lending) $8 998
Bitcoin $177 310
Raiz app (Aggressive portfolio) $17 421
Spaceship Voyager app (Index portfolio) $2 759
BrickX (P2P rental real estate) $4 477
Total portfolio value $1 848 896 (+$48 777 or 2.7%) Asset allocation
Australian shares 41.5%
Global shares 22.6%
Emerging market shares 2.2%
International small companies 2.8%
Total international shares 27.6%
Total shares 69.2% (5.8% under)
Total property securities 0.2% (0.2% over)
Australian bonds 4.4%
International bonds 8.9%
Total bonds 13.3% (1.7% under)
Gold and alternatives 17.2% (7.2% over)
Presented visually, below is a high-level view of the current asset allocation of the portfolio. [Chart] Comments The portfolio has increased in value for the fifth consecutive month, and is starting to approach the monthly value last reached in January. The portfolio has grown over $48 000, or 2.7 per cent this month, reflecting the strong market recovery since late March [Chart] The growth in the portfolio was broadly-based across global and Australian equities, with an increase of around 3.8 per cent. Following strong previous rises, gold holdings decreased by around 2.2 per cent, while Bitcoin continued to increase in value (by 2.5 per cent). Combined, the value of gold and Bitcoin holdings remain at a new peak, while total equity holdings are still below their late January peak to the tune of around $50 000. The fixed income holdings of the portfolio continue to fall below the target allocation. [Chart] The expanding value of gold and Bitcoin holdings since January last year have actually had the practical effect of driving new investments into equities, since effectively for each dollar of appreciation, for example, my target allocation to equities rises by seven dollars. New investments this month have been in the Vanguard international shares exchange-traded fund (VGS) and the Australian shares equivalent (VAS). These have been directed to bring my actual asset allocation more closely in line with the target split between Australian and global shares set out in the portfolio plan. As the exchange traded funds such as VGS, VAS and Betashares A200 now make up nearly 30 per cent of the overall portfolio, the quarterly payments they provide have increased in magnitude and importance. Early in the journey, third quarter distributions were essentially immaterial events. Using the same 'median per unit' forecast approach as recently used for half yearly forecasts would suggest a third quarter payout due at the end of September of around $6000. Due to significant announced dividend reductions across this year I am, however, currently assuming this is likely to be significantly lower, and perhaps in the vicinity of $4000 or less. Finding true north: approach to achieving a set asset allocation One of the choices facing all investors with a preferred asset allocation is how strictly the target is applied over time, and what variability is acceptable around that. There is a significant body of financial literature around that issue. My own approach has been to seek to target the preferred asset allocation dynamically, through buying the asset class that is furthest from its target, with new portfolio contributions, and re-investment of paid out distributions. As part of monitoring asset allocation, I also track a measure of 'absolute' variance, to understand at a whole of portfolio level how far it is from the desired allocation. This is the sum of the absolute value of variances (e.g. so that being 3 per cent under target in shares, and 7 per cent over target in fixed interest will equal an absolute variance of 10 per cent under this measure). This measure is currently sitting near its highest level in around 2 years, at 15.0 per cent, as can be seen in the chart below. [Chart] The dominant reason for this higher level of variance from target is significant appreciation in the price of gold and Bitcoin holdings. Mapping the sources of portfolio variances Changes in target allocations in the past makes direct comparisons problematic, but previous peaks of the variance measure matches almost perfectly past Bitcoin price movements. For a brief period in January 2018, gold and Bitcoin combined constituted 20 per cent, or 1 in 5 dollars of the entire portfolio. Due to the growth in other equity components of the portfolio since this level has not been subsequently exceeded. Nonetheless, it is instructive to understand that the dollar value of combined gold and Bitcoin holdings is actually up around $40 000 from that brief peak. With the larger portfolio, this now means they together make up 17.2 per cent of the total portfolio value. Tacking into the wind of portfolio movements? The logical question to fall out from this situation is: to what extent should this drive an active choice to sell down gold and Bitcoin until they resume their 10 per cent target allocation? This would currently imply selling around $130 000 of gold or Bitcoin, and generating a capital gains tax liability of potentially up to $27 000. Needless to say this is not an attractive proposition. Several other considerations lead me to not make this choice:
The problem may solve itself as portfolio grows - Growth and continued investments in the portfolio will tend to reduce the variance caused by gold and Bitcoin. The asset allocation targeting approach I adopt has seen continued contributions to equities, reducing the ability of these alternative assets to add to future variance.
Falls in Bitcoin or gold values will also solve the problem - Conversely, price falls in Bitcoin or gold will tend to reduce the variance issue, and such price falls have significant precedents, with for example Bitcoin holdings falling to a value of around $50 000 as recently as January 2019.
If neither of these happen, there may be bigger issues to solve - The only scenario where neither of these alleviating factors occur is should gold and Bitcoin continue to rapidly appreciate compared to other assets, in which case it is difficult to see the value of reducing exposure now.
Does Bitcoin even fit the asset allocation model? - Bitcoin in particular is not a well established or accepted asset class as yet, so it may not be appropriate to apply traditional allocation rules to it - it may be functioning more as a hedge or option against extreme states of the world. Linked to this is the high degree of volatility in Bitcoin. Adopting too tight a target on Bitcoin holdings would potentially see a need to buy and sell Bitcoin frequently, where my intention is to actually never purchase any more.
This approach is a departure from a mechanistic implementation of an asset allocation rule. Rather, the approach I take is pragmatic. Tracking course drift in the portfolio components As an example, I regularly review whether a significant fall in Bitcoin prices to its recent lows would alter my monthly decision on where to direct new investments. So far it does not, and the 'signal' continues to be to buy new equities. Another tool I use is a monthly measurement of the absolute dollar variance of Australian and global shares, as well as fixed interest, from their ideal target allocations. The chart below sets this out for the period since January 2019. A positive value effectively represents an over-allocation to a sector, a negative value, an under-allocation compared to target. [Chart] This reinforces the overall story that, as gold and Bitcoin have grown in value, there emerges a larger 'deficit' to the target. Falls in equities markets across February and March also produce visibly larger 'dollar gaps' to the target allocation. This graph enables a tracking of the impact of portfolio gains or losses, and volatility, and a better understanding of the practical task of returning to target allocations. Runaway lines in either direction would be evidence that current approaches for returning to targets were unworkable, but so far this does not appear to be the case. A crossing over: a credit card FI milestone This month has seen a long awaited milestone reached. Calculated on a past three year average, portfolio distributions now entirely meet monthly credit card expenses. This means that every credit card purchase - each shopping trip or online purchase - is effectively paid for by average portfolio distributions. At the start of this journey, distributions were only equivalent to around 40 per cent of credit card expenses. As time has progressed distributions have increased to cover a larger and larger proportion of card expenses. [Chart] Most recently, with COVID-19 related restrictions having pushed card expenditure down further, the remaining gap to this 'Credit Card FI' target has closed. Looked at on an un-smoothed basis, expenditures on the credit card have continued to be slightly lower than average across the past month. The below chart details the extent to which portfolio distributions (red) cover estimated total expenses (green), measured month to month. [Chart] Credit card expenditure makes up around 80 per cent of total spending, so this is not a milestone that makes paid work irrelevant or optional. Similarly, if spending rises as various travel and other restrictions ease, it is possible that this position could be temporary. Equally, should distributions fall dramatically below long term averages in the year ahead, this could result in average distributions falling faster than average monthly card expenditure. Even without this, on a three year average basis, monthly distributions will decline as high distributions received in the second half of 2017 slowly fall out of the estimation sample. For the moment, however, a slim margin exists. Distributions are $13 per month above average monthly credit card bills. This feels like a substantial achievement to note, as one unlooked for at the outset of the journey. Progress Progress against the objective, and the additional measures I have reached is set out below. Measure Portfolio All Assets Portfolio objective – $2 180 000 (or $87 000 pa) 84.8% 114.6% Credit card purchases – $71 000 pa 103.5% 139.9% Total expenses – $89 000 pa 82.9% 112.1% Summary What feels like a long winter is just passed. The cold days and weeks have felt repetitive and dominated by a pervasive sense of uncertainty. Yet through this time, this wandering off, the portfolio has moved quite steadily back towards it previous highs. That it is even approaching them in the course of just a few months is unexpected. What this obscures is the different components of growth driving this outcome. The portfolio that is recovering, like the index it follows, is changing in its underlying composition. This can be seen most starkly in the high levels of variance from the target portfolio sought discussed above. It is equally true, however, of individual components such as international equity holdings. In the case of the United States the overall index performance has been driven by share price growth in just a few information technology giants. Gold and Bitcoin have emerged from the shadows of the portfolio to an unintended leading role in portfolio growth since early 2019. This month I have enjoyed reading the Chapter by Chapter release of the Aussie FIRE e-book coordinated by Pearler. I've also been reading posts from some newer Australian financial independence bloggers, Two to Fire, FIRE Down Under, and Chasing FIRE Down Under. In podcasts, I have enjoyed the Mad Fientist's update on his fourth year of financial freedom, and Pat and Dave's FIRE and Chill episodes, including an excellent one on market timing fallacies. The ASX Australian Investor Study 2020 has also been released - setting out some broader trends in recent Australian investment markets, and containing a snapshot of the holdings, approaches and views of everyday investors. This contained many intriguing findings, such as the median investment portfolio ($130 000), its most frequent components (direct Australian shares), and how frequently portfolios are usually checked - with 61 per cent of investors checking their portfolios at least once a month. This is my own approach also. Monthly assessments allow me to gauge and reflect on how I or elements of the portfolio may have wandered off the straight way in the middle of the journey. Without this, the risk is that dark woods and bent pathways beckon. The post, links and full charts can be seen here.
READ ME: Part 1 READ ME: Part 2 It was a few days of me relaxing just taking in the mellow mood that our Cecily- turned sea creature left me with her musical talents. Cecily also gifted me with a relaxing feeling. It helped my anxiety in a way I can’t explain. I fed Doby, the fish I confiscated from the magical book, and bought him a new tank for my kitchen. I think he was another gift from Cecily. I was just happy I was able to put her soul to rest. I spent all that Saturday setting up the sea salt tank fit with plants. Typically, it took time to set up a tank, but I didn’t exactly have time to do that with Doby. I even got him a few companions to keep him company. Then a few days later, as I was feeding Doby admiring the new purple and turquoise blue decor, I felt a sudden need to cut my wrist. I felt like I was in a trance. I walked over to the kitchen, opening the drawer pulling out a sharp knife, I began slicing my arm. I didn’t bleed much, but I had this overwhelming, depressing feeling coming over me. Then I heard my television pop on all by itself. There was a news story about a young girl about sixteen years old that had gone missing. The report was dated three years ago. I knew then it was the book. Dropping the knife, I ran to get a paper towel and some alcohol to clean the wound I created. I heard guns firing lasers, and I saw a blue light illuminating from the book. I took a big gulp; what was I getting myself into? I opened the book to THE MURDER SHOW, which was the next story I was to read, and took a deep breath. I looked down and could see a tiny television featuring two teenagers playing a video game in a room. It was like I was watching a movie. One of them had short bleach blonde hair, the other had long black hair, and I recognized her as the missing teenage girl from the news that had just been featured on my television. Instead of reading this story, I was watching it. I was hearing her voice inside of my mind, or maybe it was out loud. I couldn’t tell anymore. I looked at the pages before me. They were turning on their own like an old fashioned picture book. I watched a girl as her eyes turned and faced me. She had black hair, dark eyes, and pale skin. She had a black t-shirt on with a ton of bracelets. Her thin face was pretty, but she didn’t smile. Instead, I could do nothing except listen to the story titled: THE MURDER SHOW My name is Andrea Becker, and as long as I could remember, I wanted to die. I know it sounds strange, but I looked at death as that permanent nostalgic return to your soul. I swear I’m not a freak. I know I look the part, don’t get me wrong. I am cliche for someone my age. Let me begin by telling you how it all began. When I was ten years old, my grandparents were visiting from out of town. My grandmother was taking a shower, and when she got out, she screamed for my mother as she was having chest pains. She fell over onto the bathroom floor. The EMT’s were there in record time; maybe it was slow- I just know it was all a blur. I watched them trying to bring my grandmother back. My grandpa wasn’t home; he had gone shopping with my dad and older brother. So, I had a front-row to the tragic end of a woman I had loved so much. Then I knew the exact moment she died. I saw her ghost or her soul, whatever you believe. It floated out of her body, and it LOOKED at me! My grandmother’s spirit looked at me and smiled. I knew then everything would be fine, but it wasn’t about me. It was about how at peace she was. I longed for that peace. I lost my grandpa a few years later, but my grandmother’s death stuck with me. I started reading everything in the end. I knew it wasn’t simple science like some claim. You do leave your body when you die. Where you go is anyone’s guess, I just know what I saw that day my grandma died. I had never considered killing myself. That was too weird. Then one day, my best friend, Carla, told me she liked to cut herself. She showed me her scars on her wrists. I was taken back by her self-harm. “What if you go too deep?” I asked her. “I have a couple of times, but I have gotten good at stitching myself up,” she smirked. “Doesn’t it hurt?” I asked her. “Yeah, but sometimes it is the only way I can feel things. I just feel like the world gets to be too much sometimes, and I want to escape it. I just don’t want to die.” That is when I looked at her. “I have always wanted to die,” I said tears in my eyes. “What you mean, like kill yourself?” “No, just be at peace.” “I feel at peace after I feel that rush. Like I get a rush from the pain for a second, and it makes me less - I dunno how to explain it.” “I get it,” I said, and my friend had become my best friend. I never told her, but I started self-harming after that. I had to know if it would give me the peace that I longed for when my grandmother showed me that look in her eyes. Like AT LAST, she could rest! Sadly, over the next few years, Carla and I stopped being so close. She started hanging with a posh stuck up crowd. I still craved death. There was little in common with the mean girls' squad. At seventeen, I had become close friends with a guy named Paul, whom I had a lot in common. We both enjoyed Mr. Fraziers English class, played tons of video games, and enjoyed hacking. Not like professional hacking, just silly stuff like the local website to our local pizza shop. We hacked into it to say that all the prices had been reduced to 99cents. Silly kid stuff. We were never caught. Then one day, Paul came over with two of his laptops. “I have to show you something.” He said to me, excitedly. “You ever been on the dark web?” I shook my head. “No way!” “It isn’t all weirdos; I buy stupid shit on there like electronics. Lots of black market stuff. It isn’t all organs and creepers doing things to people.” “You aren’t messing with those sites, are you?” I asked him, concerned. “No, I just found one, though. I can’t tell if they are serious. It’s called THE MURDER SHOW.” “What the hell, Paul?” “No, I have everything blocked. They can’t find us. I wanted you to see these comments. It freaked me out.” “You are on the DARK WEB PAUL!” I retorted. “Listen, just look at this. Can this be real?” I hesitated and then took his laptop and looked at the site. It was a chat room. I read a few of the posts they talked about murder and the best way to do it. Then I read on. Der786: YOU READY, RANDY? One poster asked. RANDY01: YEAH JUST DON’T HURT ME TOO MUCH. Another user name responded. Der786: YOU GET THAT INSURANCE FILLED OUT? RANDY01: MY WIFE WILL NEVER WANT FOR ANYTHING EVER AGAIN. What the hell? Paul grabbed the laptop. “They let themselves be murdered for entertainment.” “On purpose?” “Yeah, one guy had cancer and didn’t want to live anymore. It even says on the disclaimer that this is the Doctor Kavorkian of murder sites. It is all pity kills. They won’t do it to healthy, happy, or well-adjusted humans. You must prove you are worthy, and they will do the cleanup, so no one ever finds out.” “It is real. Turn it off, Paul.” “Sorry, I didn’t mean to freak you out. I just thought you would think it was at least interesting.” “It is scary and unfortunate if I’m honest.” Paul’s cell phone rang. “Sorry, mom, yes, I forgot. I’m with Andrea. I’m coming.” I looked at Paul, and he ran out and left. He was gone, and so I continued playing a new video game that I had bought with my allowance. I wasn’t paying any attention when I heard someone say, “I see you.” Huh? I said to myself. “You there! Girl with the black hair!” What the hell? Then I realized that Paul had left his stupid laptop on the floor of my bedroom, and it was still on that silly murder site! I peeked over my bed and looked down at the laptop, and just as I was about to close it, a man spoke again. “Don’t close it yet; you had to come here for a reason. Why don’t you tell me what brought you here.” “I- I didn’t. My friend found it by accident, and we weren’t interested in the site.” “That is okay, so you were curious. Can I answer any of your questions?” This was getting too weird for me. “I am good. I think I get it.” “Look, I get it. It’s real live dark web shit. I’d want to close the laptop and burn it too. Only I have seen you. How do you know I haven’t already tracked your address? How do you know I am not using facial recognition to figure out exactly who you are, Andrea Becker.” He said my name. How did he know my name? I was going to kill Paul. I picked up the laptop and looked at the man who didn’t look like your typical weirdo. He was sitting at a desk wearing a polo shirt. He had a friendly smile and kind eyes. Suddenly I felt comforted instead of creeped out, and I didn’t know what it was. “My name is Milton. I founded this site to let people let out a little bit of carnal steam. Tell me about yourself.” “This is weird. I don’t know you.” “Okay, I’ll begin. I’m married. I am a father of two kids. Jessica and Jenna. I work in management. This is just a side thing. I can assure you I am every bit as human as you are. So tell me, why do you wish to die, Andrea Becker?” At that moment, it was like he had spoken to my heart. No one had ever spoken so honestly to me before. It was like having someone see your soul. At that moment, I thought, this is fate. “Peace.” I found myself speaking honestly, and even if I regretted it later, I couldn’t help it. It was nice to see that someone could read my mind. At least it felt like that. “I think most of us who are empathic to the ways of the world feel the same way you do.” “Yeah, I guess.” I sat up straight and leaned into the screen on my laptop. I was beginning to feel much more comfortable than I had thought I ever would. It was strange to trust someone on the dark web like this, but there was something about this man. He had a hold over me. “Tell you what, we are holding an event tonight at eleven, and I hope you will log on to join us to see what we are all about. I promise it isn’t what you think.” “I will have to check it out,” I said, partially wondering if I wanted to have anything more to do with this man. The screen went black, and I shut Paul’s laptop. I decided to go downstairs to grab a wine cooler out of the fridge. It was almost ten o’clock, and my parents were asleep, so I knew I wouldn’t get in trouble. I drank the crappy drink, thinking long and hard about what had transpired and wondering if I wanted to know what went on in this so-called murder show. It was five till eleven, and my cowardice was in full force, so I turned on the television. “A WHITE VAN IS THE SUSPECT IN THE MISSING TEEN’S DISAPPEARANCE IN FRANKLIN COUNTY. WITNESSES SAY THEY SAW YOUNG JAMES MADISON TALKING TO SOMEONE DRESSED AS A CLOWN AS HE WAS ON HIS WAY TO SCHOOL FRIDAY MORNING…” I turned off the disturbing news program deciding I would see the big deal with this “murder show.” There could not possibly be any reason for this nice man I had talked to be part of some sympathy murder thing. The screen was still black, and then I saw a small room come into focus. The chat room was coming alive with flower emojis, and last-minute thank yous and best wishes from viewers who were donating bitcoin to the website’s owner. Then I saw a man sitting in a chair and typing away at his computer. Something oddly terrifying about it was because the viewers seemed to see it, but the man didn’t seem to have anything to do with the viewers as though he didn’t even know he was being watched. I watched as some of the viewers suddenly were also aware of this fact. RHONDA24: Do you think he even knows this is the last night on earth? Davtelly45: Nope, that is how it works. RHONDA24: I know, but I thought he would be more prepared. He has been with us so long here. Davtelly45: He will die soon, but he will be better off. RHONDA24: No more cheating wife, no more debt, and no more anxiety about what tomorrow will bring. Sassy-maria: I’m so happy for him. Davtelly45: Me too, girl. IVANfist: I hope this one is bloody, though. I like them with a little bit of gore. RHONDA24: I have to admit I do too. Maybe he will get slashed on the throat. Davtelly45: I just want our boy to be happy. IVANfist: Fuck that gore all the way! I read the chat, and then I watched as the man sitting at his computer seemed to be working on something very intensely. That is when I heard what sounded like a doorbell ring. The man everyone was watching got up, and walked away. I guessed to answer the door. Then I heard the sound of someone yelling. A man with a black mask on was soon dragging the man who had just been sitting at the computer into his office. “No, I have changed my mind! Please, I don't’ want to-” His throat was slashed in front of the computer. The slash was so deep it nearly decapitated the man who was only moments ago typing away at his laptop. I gasped, watching the scene unfold before me. Then the chat room exploded. RHONDA24: Bye, Randy. We will miss you. UNKNOWN: no, we won’t. Davtelly45: SO long, Randy. I hope you can now be at peace. UNKNOWN: Randy will never be at peace now. Hope he rots in hell. Davtelly45: WHo is this? RHONDA24: I will miss Randy, but anything will be better than dealing with a cheating wife, too much debt, and not knowing what tomorrow will bring. I long for my day to rest. UNKNOWN: You should just put yourself out of your misery. Davtelly45: Seriously, what the hell? Guy, this is pretty insensitive. We are celebrating the life and death of a warrior. There was some strange interference, and I shut off the laptop, unplugging it. I texted Paul to get his stupid laptop, and he told me he would be over tomorrow to get it. I was sick to my stomach. Had a real-life murder just taken place? I knew without a shadow of a doubt it had. I was paralyzed with fear and yet oddly jealous. I secretly wished I would be able to feel that peace that Randy felt. It terrified me, though, to no end. \*************** I woke up the next morning and prepared for school. I had strange dreams of the people on the computer screen. I had dreams of them talking about me the way they had Randy. I was sweating when I got out of bed, and I readied myself for school and what the new day would bring. Paul came over after school to get his laptop, and I made sure I didn’t mention what happened the night before. I just wanted that website out of my life. Paul seemed unphased by the fact I had his laptop. He had a few, so what was one going missing? Following that incident, I stayed off my computer as much as possible. Then I had to log onto my own laptop to finish a school project about two weeks later. When I logged into my email, there were many messages from a person that called themselves FALCON. “Andrea Becker, this is FALCON, Milton wanted me to let you know that he knows you logged on to watch Randy transition, and he wanted to see how you were since viewing our little show.” I deleted the messages. I didn’t want anything to do with these weird people. As I had this thought, I got an instant message from MILTON. Milton: Andrea, I am sorry you seem alarmed by Randy’s transition. Tell me, how did that make you feel? It is okay to feel scared, terrified, sad, angry, or all of the above. I looked at what he was typing, and that same sweet consoling man made my guard go down. I would have asked him how he got my email, but I already knew that if it were easy for them to get my name, how much harder would it be to get my email? Milton: Andrea? Me: Hello, Milton. I don’t know how I feel about what I saw. I don’t think I want anything to do with this. Milton: Andrea, talk to me. Me: I don’t know what to say. You killed a man. Milton: Yes, but he wanted it. We helped him transition. We can help you. I looked at what he was saying. I had wanted so badly to feel at peace and lose all of my earthly worries, but this was too much too fast. Me: I have to go to Milton. Milton: Andrea Becker, reconsider. You don’t have to participate, but we are people that understand you. I read your online diary, your poetry, and I know what you wish for. I was stunned and felt violated. How did they hack into my online diary? It was private thoughts on my blog site I never made public. I was terrified, and then Milton said something else that made me reconsider. Milton: I have seen your interactions with others. We have watched you interact with your friends. We know it wasn’t you that initially found our website. We don’t care. We welcome you. We only ask that you keep our little secret to help others like yourself, and like Randy. I don’t know what made me do it. I began to trust Milton. For the first time in my life, I didn’t feel weird about my feelings on death. These people seemed to understand. Me: I feel so weird talking about it. Milton: It is hard to acknowledge your feelings at first, but once you do, you will begin to understand. Me: Are there others like Randy? Milton: We try not to allow too many transitions at once. We give people time to mourn in our community after someone transitions. We have another coming up at the end of the month. This person has yet to be named.” Me: How does it work? Milton: We take a vote on who is next. Once the vote is in, the nominee gets contacted through a congratulations email to give them time to tie up loose ends. Then they are not told the day or time of their death. We feel that it would ruin the transition. Me: What if they change their mind? Milton: They are given no way to back out. It is in our clause. If you are on track for transition, which I feel you are, just being a part of our community is an agreement. You have already witnessed a transition - an illegal act. So you have already agreed to the clause. Me: What about you? Milton: What about me? ME: Can you transition? Milton: I will in time. My agreement was after my children will be old enough to understand. Once they are, then I will join others like Randy and you. “Oh,” I typed Milton: I have to go now; it was nice chatting with you. Remember, if you ever need someone to talk to, we are here. We understand how you feel. He logged off the chat, and I sat in front of the chat. Then another name popped up. RHONDA24: Hello, Andrea. I didn’t respond right away. RHONDA24: I just want to let you know if you ever need a friend. I am not much older than you, and I get how you feel. You can reach out to me. Me: Thank you. I have to go now. RHONDA24: Have a great evening, Andrea. I logged off the computer. ############# As time wore on, I realized that I enjoyed the community. I had made a few friends within the community. I had several bad days in the last month; one of them was that I had a falling out with Paul. He was angry with me for spending time online in the “transition” community as I had learned to refer to it as. The community helped me overcome some of my anxieties, so I didn’t think so much about dying anymore. If anything, I wanted to live because I felt relieved that I now had a group that understood how I felt. After all, they felt the same way as me. Then the day came out of nowhere. I was planning my graduation speech, as I had been elected by Mr. Frazier to give my class a short address. I typed, re-typing, and over-editing everything I was writing when I got a ding on my computer. My email popped up, and I recognized the email address. It was fromFALCON. CONGRATULATIONS ANDREA BECKER YOUR COUNTDOWN TO TRANSITION BEGINS 5-4-3-2- NOW. I gulped reading the email because I didn’t feel the way I had before. I didn’t want to panic. This had to be a mistake. I was no longer depressed; I had things to live for now. Why had they voted on me transitioning? I saw that Milton was online. ME: Milton? I think you made a mistake. I am the least qualified to transition. Especially that now I feel so much better! Crickets could have chirped from the computer. Instead of responding as Milton had hundreds of times before, he ignored me and logged off. This was a nightmare. I stood up, looking around my room. Indeed, I’d have time to graduate. I was at the disadvantage of being home alone. My parents were at some Union banquet because my father was on the teamster's board. I got up from my computer desk and locked all of the doors and secured the doors. I turned on the radio to think. There was a story on the radio about a White Van and how another child had been missing. Another witness saw someone dressed as a clown talking to the child. Ugh! Not something I needed to know to hear right now. I flipped the station to some soft music. Sarah Mclachlan came on, so I left it. I needed to think. I logged into the chat, and I could see all the congratulations Andrea comments in the chat. ME: Hey guys, I think there is a mistake. RHONDA24: Congratulations, Andrea! DAVTELLY45: I hope you have the best transition. UNKNOWN: I hope you bleed into the camera for daddy. ME: WHAT? Who would say such a thing? UNKNOWN: I can’t wait to cut you from ear to ear. RHONDA24: DUDE! Get out of here! I got a private chat request from Rhonda24. I accepted it. Rhonda24: Don’t sweat it, Andrea. The guy is some weirdo that has been harassing a bunch of us. We can’t block him. He has this crazy firewall system. Just please know how happy I am for you and how much I will miss you. I couldn’t think of anything else to say. I was about to log off when there was a bang from outside my house. Before I could do anything, a stranger wearing a black mask burst through my bedroom door. I stood in pure terror and shock. It was happening now! I did the only thing I could think of and grabbed the desk chair in front of me, and flung it at the stranger. He was tall, thin, and didn’t seem to have been prepared for my sudden means of survival. He lurched forward and grabbed me by the throat. I could feel his large hands trying to suffocate me. I looked over to the computer and saw it had popped back on - all on its own accord. A red light flashed on the screen. I realized I was being recorded for someone’s amusement. The darkness engulfed me in this very moment, and I sprung up, kicking the man in the groin. He growled in pain, and for a moment, I had time to run but not for long before the man stood up and shut my bedroom door so I had no means of escape. He pulled out a knife from behind him, and I looked around my room to find something else I could defend myself with. I saw a coffee mug, grabbing it and throwing it at his head. To my luck, he stopped to rub his head, and I barreled past him towards the door. Then I was caught off guard by a swiping of the knife to the back of my leg, causing me to scream in pain. I hit the ground, and he went for my throat with the knife. I rolled over quickly, causing him to stab the floor instead of me. I kicked him in the head this time as he struggled to get the knife out of the wooden floor. He fell to the ground, and for a moment, we both worked with the knife. Finally, I managed to grab it and stab him inside the chest. The struggle was over. Someone had transitioned tonight, but it wasn’t me. It wasn’t going to be me. I had far too much to live for. I took a deep breath and then took off the mask of the man. To my utter despair, it was Paul. How had Paul gotten involved with trying to kill me? It all made perfect sense now how they all had known so much about me. Still, Paul had been my best friend for years. I ran downstairs to find my cell phone and call for 911. The dispatcher said they would be sending for someone as soon as possible. I saw a large white truck coming towards my house, barreling down my street. I jumped into the road, flagging them down. There was something strange about the truck. I realized when the headlights were no longer blinding my vision that it wasn’t the ambulance. I backed up onto the sidewalk and continued to look down the street for the ambulance. The truck did something strange, though. They stopped in front of me back up, so my view down the road was blocked. A door to the back of the truck opened up. There were two tall men dressed as clowns. One had blue hair and a red nose with what looked like blood around his mouth and dirty teeth. He grinned big at me. The other had on a red and yellow wig with green makeup. He looked more sinister than the other clown. They stood looking at me, and then circus music began to play. I was annoyed by whatever joke they were trying to play, especially at a time like this. I could hear the ambulance now as it was making its way down my street. I tried to walk around the two stupid clowns. It was all so ridiculous to me. That is when one of them grabbed me. I screamed for them to let me go! I had to help Paul! Then the other one helped get me by the legs. Before I knew it, I was no longer breathing. I, Andrea Becker, died that night. I won’t bore you with the details. It was gruesome, and it was horrid. I have been missing for three years. I hope someone can see my story and relay what happened to me. I’d like my parents to be able to have peace. We all deserve some peace. I saw the book close on its own then. There were tears in my eyes as I read the last words of Andrea Becker. I wasn’t sure how I could help, but I went over to my computer. There were numerous reports on the sightings of clowns in connection to missing children. I decided to search for the area combining missing person cases from around the region. I didn’t know how I was suddenly able to hack into systems using multiple databases, but I was doing it. For Andrea Becker’s sake, I was doing it. That is when I found something very crucial. There were several sightings recently in my neighborhood. There were also six missing persons in a five-mile vicinity. I clicked, I typed, and I searched until I put the connections together. In all of the disappeared persons, there were three bodies found. One was of a seventeen-year-old female. I knew without a shadow of a doubt that it would be the remains of Andrea Becker’s young body. I forwarded the information to the detective working the case. How had they not put it together on their own, I had no idea. I did now have gifts now that helped me help those who could not help themselves. Later that night, there was a break in three of the missing person cases. No thanks to me. I was tired after Andrea Becker’s story. That book never rests, though. Last night in the middle of the night, I heard music coming from somewhere. It woke me from a dead sleep. I decided to find out what the matter was. It sounded like circus music. I walked into my living room, and parked in front of my house was a white van with clowns in the driver's seat. I stared at them for a long while and then opened my front door. Two maniacal clowns got out of the back, and as they slowly made their way towards my house, I let out a deep breath. Then I yelled. I was using my new found thunderous gift their windows to the van all burst. They both held on to their ears as though they were in pain. I had no doubt why they were here. I heard someone yell, “HELP ME, PLEASE!” It was a woman. I became momentarily distracted by the sound of wailing behind me. Sad, painful wailing. I looked away from the clown van towards the READ ME book on my couch. When I looked back toward the street, the van with the clowns was now long gone. I would see to it they were punished, but until then, I had other pressing business. I picked up the book, and inside it, I read the chapter to the next story. I was the Youngest Member of the Lunatic Asylum...
Since everyone fails, My Review on Buymoda, ModafinilXL, And Express PCT also some questions.
Don't really remember how to use reddit, had to login to an old account as I browse this thread daily almost entirely since March during covid times as all my previous orders were always like 2-3 weeks. Please give me a moment to figure out how to upload my tracking info photos or comment. Thanks
1 ExpressPCT, only just heard of them and used them recently, They have USA shop, UK shop, European, And international. They seem to always be out of stock for USA stock on modafinil which they have limited to (4) 10 packs of modvigil 200mg, what I've done is saved that link to my homescreen on phone and randomly check. For example last night they were in stock, this morning already out of stock.
Order from them for USA domestic (4) 10 packs modafinil 200mg (modvigil hab pharma) Ordered and paid via Zelle on bank app Order went through 8/14/20 friday evening arrived on 8/20/20 They always responded to me within the hour. Never got tracking number. Again ordered from them from their European shop on 9/3/20 for (30) 250mg nuvigil, tracking says it should arrive on 9/9/20, coming from turkey using fedex so well see lol.
2 Buymoda was unsure if I should make them 2nd or modafinilxl, As back then I always used afinilexpress until like 2019 started using modafinilxl and didn't have issues aside from Express taking 18+ days.
Regardless as covid pandemic I decided to use buymoda as I seen horrid posts on here about arrival times from other vendors. So on 5/18/20 I made an order for 100 modvigil and 10 free packets and I paid via paypal. Transaction was really smooth and easier than bitcoin for me. Received my tracking on 5/20/20 Probably checked track17 and parcelapp every day for damn near 16 days till I noticed it was on track and package arrived 6/18/20 even though it went through the Chicago blackhole. I don't know why but my tracking info stopped on 6/18 showing out for delivery. Now it says in transit for 118 days but that's not correct I got my package on 6/18. It leads me to believe that's the same for many others who are just hoping for a free reship.
3 ModadinilXL never had issues with them before pandemic aside from always ordering 100 pills using bitcoin and even with the express shipping pre covid times it always took 18-25 days, started to believe the Express shipping was just BS made me appreciate the old afinilexpress days of free shipping in 2 weeks.
Regardless made my order on 5/20/20 finally went through on 5/30/20 after multiple emails, Tracking didnt update till nearly arrived on 7/9/20 showing 25 days in transit, but technically it was over 30 days since I made the order. Also recently before using expressPCT I gambled a bit in trying FLModafinil using Kingthelamathus, I was ordering powder 2 grams for $25 and with shipping spending $35 and arriving at my doorstep within 1 or 2 days of order if before 12PM That shit was almost too strong, granted I've been using 2 200mg mods daily, I was filling a capsuls with what i expect was probably 200-300mg of the Flmodafinil, it was same effects of armo little stronger, when I stopped taking it due to receiving expressPCT order it made it so I had to take like 3 or 4 modvigils just to feel any effect. So I've been on a break not taking them for a week or two, probably won't use my armo coming in on the 9th till the end of the month to lower my tolerance. So that's my experience during pandemic times, my experience always on these forums etc. Reading everyone's reviews and everyone panicking, everyone questioning everyone's reviews and such, I had to login and post this. It's getting ridiculous. Especially the fact people posting about orders taking 3 months doesn't make sense, maybe they are hoping for a free handout from these vendors. Again I'll have pictures posted here within the hour of tracking
It's always about the present and never the future.
Well, it's that way for ME, anyway. My parents were so focused on my brother. He had to be "the best" in school, whatever that means. There was a student who did better than him academically. They made her out to be such a villain. They made my brother's eighth-grade teacher out to be a villain. I think she was related to the owner of a local Chinese eatery that I kept being taken to. Yeah, so they got to talk about his teacher each Friday I was taken to that Chinese eatery. I had done a lot of wandering in my youth. Whenever my parents were preoccupied being social, I'd wander. The Chinese eatery was pretty big, so I could wander around in there. I saw the first person win through Who Wants to be a Millionaire? during that wandering. Also, the XFL was on that TV. In fact, there was a lot of bumming around in TVs while I was stuck around my parents being social. I've never had interest in being social. Whenever my parents had guests over at the house, I stayed in my parents' room and watched TV in there. When I was taken to the house of the person who my grandmother got to know my old house from, I'd watch TV in there. When I was taken to the bank for so long, I'd watch TV in the conference room. Oh, that or Game Boy. Someone had a Game Boy, so I was holed up in their room playing their goddamn Game Boy and looking at his magazines. I was taken to a ski resort at the age of eight and I just wandered in there. I did wandering in parking lots. Every Saturday was a shopping spree that I was forced to accompany my family on, so I wandered in Sports Authority, Modell's, CompUSA, Staples, Circuit City, The Wiz, Motophoto, Jennifer Convertible, Lord and Taylor, Macy's, Sears, and Huffman Koos. I was forced to attend so many dinners at my parents' synagogue. I wandered during those, too. During my brother's swim meets and basketball games, I wandered. During his soccer games, I had wandered. My second grade teacher had recommended me for the Gifted Child Society. It often wasn't over when my class was over, though. My mother would sit in the cafeteria and listen to some really weird post-Columbine fear mongering and I'd wander. I'd watch TV whenever I went to my the houses of my parents' friends while they'd chit-chat. Also, my parents have this grand story about this birthday party for my father's friend's son. He was a year old. His grandparents were there from Nepal. There was this big cake fight and I was in a room upstairs playing Pac-Man on DOS. I wandered around the local mini-golf place, too. This push for my brother to be "the best" gave him problems, by the way. My mother was on the phone with his fifth-grade teacher at night and his teacher was crying. He was saying that "she only liked the suckups." His problems as an adolescent were very strange. I don't know if that's normal when I've just wanted to be isolated. I couldn't take it at the public schools. I've never been good at handling anything organized. Due to my reactions, I was sent to a special needs school. I was forced to comply being there. That place was an extension of my parents. I say that when my mother would have LONG conversations with my "teachers" on the phone over the weekend. Those were no "teachers." The place was a private hospital. With my brother, my parents were SO focused on the U.S. News and World Report "Best Colleges" list that's published each year. He was lucky. He got to leave to dorms while I was stuck around some stark raving lunatics. After he graduated, my parents paid for an apartment in Manhattan for my brother when he couldn't find a job. Also, he got to spend time away from their eye. I never had that. From the special needs school to the child study team at my high school...Well, one day, I couldn't take it so bad that I made my aide cry. Yes, my mother would have long conversations on the phone with my aide during the weekend. Some days, I just didn't want to return to that house and I'd get off the bus and and walk away from the house. My mother would keep yelling out the car window "Come on! Get in the car! Come on! Get in! Get in the car! Come on! Get in the car!" I was the anime freak, the Star Wars nerd, the Nintendo fanboy, a Pixar aficionado, Ace Attorney's biggest fan, and obsessed with Rugrats. Here's the thing, though. I never liked any of that stuff. It's even less that I had to cope. I was forced into stuff and I was always being watched. I was forced to be around the wrong people. I always got commentary. I was always made fun of. Ten years ago, I could barely speak. A few days ago, my mother told me that I have a greater command of the English language than my brother does. I don't want to deal with fiction. In more recent years, my brother would say things like "[My name] doesn't watch TV!" Yeah, after all the TV that I watched, I "didn't watch TV." I started doing things on my own at nearly the age of 21, but only because I had forced my way out of my family's ridiculous confines. All they could do was make fun of me. Nearing my 21st birthday, I did something with a group in Manhattan for my whole family to make fun of me upon my return home. I decided not to talk to them. My father had said "He'll talk to us in a few DAYS!" I didn't talk to them for six months. I made myself feel so sick dealing with that nerd culture stuff and forcing myself to be social. I needed something away from that house. I had used to drive. I'd drive away from my parents and they'd get so ridiculous about it. I couldn't leave the house without it having to have been something to panic over. My father is so damaged. He still gets those frights because "I would drive away and be away for hours" and that "I'd wait in parking lots and sometimes, leave at 6 am." They had no problems with my brother going away for days to so-called "parties." The one time I left for days, it was to BronyCon. It was all that I could've done "for days" away from that house. It made me feel so sick. I had returned for my parents to...nevermind. As for the title of this post, when I first took a class at my school ten years ago and my professor was talking about good money that I could make, my father had told me "DON'T WORRY ABOUT THE MONEY!" That's when his OCD obsession all my life had been money. It was demeaning, like "Don't have CHILDREN WITH HER!" from my mother to my brother was demeaning. They were talking about some peer of my brother's who had "a brother with a disability." My mother was always an expert in my brother's peers. I was in my mother's car hearing my mother talk about my brother's female peer who "was flat." Creepy... I didn't want peers, but I was forced into having the most inappropriate peers. It was always "how much money my brother was going to make," but as for me, why am I the only one ever talking about how I'll have a job someday? Why does my mother want me to shut up about that when I'm with my father? My brother would always talk about how my grandmother had said "You're going to need to manage his finances someday!" to him. I fought and I dug myself out of the hole that had been dug FOR ME to be where I am now. I want to drive again. I've been doing what I've had to do to repair my credit score so that I can finance a car. Yet, my mother is so against it. She panics over it when I talk about it. This isn't cool. I get to feeling unwell in this apartment being in here all day. My mother taking me out for drives does so much for me. I want to be able to do that myself. Why is that such an extravaganza? I don't love them. I used to be angry at myself for spending my Bitcoin...again...earlier this year. I can't blame myself, though. Despite all my goals for the future, my parents only focus on the now that's in their heads. I go CRAZY being in this apartment and my mother has the nerve to tell me "You don't like your apartment anymore? You used to like it!" and "What about your SCHOOLWORK?" I want a balance in my life. Why does my mother get agitated when I tell her that? When I spent that year trying to leave that house, my father had told me "Let's FACE IT! Who knows if you're ever going to make a decent living?" I'm leaving the country some day. It's not because I worship another country. I just want my own goddamn life that makes sense. The amount of crying that I did all my life wasn't normal. I'm just reminding myself that I need to not be swayed by them. They honestly love me, but they're fucking ridiculous and the ideas that they have about me are wrong. I'm sick of my mother telling me about "my crazy side" when I'm just trying to let out tension that builds up.
Updated list of Global Beermoney opportunities (+180!) - June 2020
Updated list of Global Beermoney opportunities (+180!) - June 2020
The current, and now previous, Beermoney Global list started nearly 5 years ago. It’s been updated and has grown over all that time, but it also became a hassle to keep current. It was time to build a new list from scratch based on my experience in the Beermoney world over all these years and all the contributions all of you have been making in this sub. The lists consist of opportunities that are available in at least one country that is not the US. This means there are sites which only work in Canada or the UK. There’s sites which are open to the whole world, but this does not mean everyone can really earn something on it. It’s all still very demographic and therefore location dependent. This list should give you a starting point to try out and find what works for you. I’m not using everything myself as I prefer to focus on a few, so not all are tested by me. They are found in this sub, other subreddits and other resources where people claim to have success. I’ve chosen the format of a simple table with the bare minimum of information to keep things clean. It includes a link, how you earn, personal payment proof if available and sign-up bonus codes if applicable. Some of these bonuses are also one-time use codes specifically made for this sub! For the ones I don’t have payment proof (yet) feel free to provide some as a comment or via modmail so others know it’s legit. I am working on detailed instructions for each method that I personally use which will include things like cashout minimum, cashout options, tips & tricks,... For now I’ve split things up based on the type of earning like passive or mobile. Because of this there’s sometimes an overlap as some are both passive and on mobile or both earning crypto and a GPT (Get Paid To) website. The lists are obviously not complete so I invite you to keep posting new ones in the sub, as a comment to this post, or in modmail. Especially if you have sites or apps which work for one single specific country I can start building a list, just like I did for The Netherlands and Belgium. If you recognize things which are in fact scams or not worth it let me know as well.
Get Paid To (Surveys, tasks, offers, videos, clicking links, play games, searching)
For The Netherlands there are a few very good options next to a bunch of ‘spaarprogramma’s. There ‘spaarprogramma’s are all the same where you receive and click a bunch of e-mails, advertisements, banners,... I advise you to create a separate e-mail address or use a good filter in your inbox as you will be spammed to death. I believe they can be a nice piece of beermoney but they take quite the effort.
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