I created an account several days ago, but suddenly I can't access the site anymore. It's been like this for days and my money seems to be gone... This is the address I'm trying to use: http://fogcore5n3ov3tui.onion/
Sorry in advance if this is the wrong place to post this. I'm a first time bitcoin buyer trying to access bitcoin fog but the address does not seem to be working. I am wondering if this is just me or if there is an ongoing problem, or change of address? I am, of course, using the tor browser and other .onion links seem to be working fine for me...
Can any of you get to the bitcoin fog website? i made a withdrawal last night and can't get to the website today for some reason.. Please let me know if you can connect to it http://fogcore5n3ov3tui.onion/
Warning long. Deviated to show my use of different opioids to compare then. Skip to the end for a quick dosage guide for high-moderate opioid tolerance for someone who's never done anything stronger than Mboxs back in college before presses. I have an opioid addiction that comes and goes depending on if I'm Kratom. I live in a state where kratoms illegal. I'm moving to Chicago for access to kratom and weed. I've been dabbling with opioids since middle school and never had an addiction until I quit alcohol in 2017. I'm three years sober off that and I've been hooked on Tianeptine Sodium twice since that. At 3gpd my WD was bad but not terrible like people have reported. This was mainly due to helper meds. As of now I'm cycling 2map, Ethyl-Tianeptine-i and O-DSMT. Some side effects and long term dangers of 2map make me wanna remove it. I'm gonna try my hardest but now it's hooks are in me. The first part is to show my personal knowledge of Tianeptine dosage. I've personally been using this product sparingly since I discovered it in March. More often recently as part of the cycle. It's billed as 5x stronger. It easily feels like 6x because of my medium tolerance and the doses it takes for me to get effects. For chronic pain, addiction, I recommend getting the solution for ease of dosing it's 30mg 750mg with 1ml=25mg. I've read it's less serotinergic than Tianeptine Sodium. That checks out. I still recommend cycling with O-DSMT, or if you're on something like Etazene to keep you well until your Etazene arrives. Personally I'm hoping to flood myself with 25x kratom extract when I move to Chicago in a week so I don't have to keep swapping out opioid/mu agonist RCs, but you do you. Since my tolerance is a bit jacked, the dosages and effects seem more like 6x, but it may be 5x and just hits harder and makes the pain go away. I jacked myself up straining hastening to finish an art project in an awkward position, right before packing and moving heavy boxes. I also have chronic pain and would use kratom and RCs to manage strain at work since 2017. When working at a soul food restaurant I occasionally would be gifted perc 5s and 7.5s from the best cook so I could keep up. I would still fall behind from pain, also pregaming with gabs, and taking 2map (90mg oral capsule) before and during work. Part of this for mood, since I had specific work stressors working with felons at an affordable fine dining establishment deep in the giant hood in a poor ass city--as the only white boy. Crazy shit would go down--wanna know, ask in comments, digressed enough, a few white girls worked there too but 90% ghetto black folks. Cooking at the deli was less stressful (Covid switch) was mainly 2map (50mg before and on break) gabs, and Canadian NSAIDS with methocarbamol. I had been mainly off of Tianeptine Sodium during this period due to cost and extra serotinergic action. Ethyl-Tianeptine-i is less serotinergic, in a similar way that O-DSMT is less serotinergic than tramadol. We need PKs only FFS it'll automatically help mood. So Tianeptine Sodium since 2017. I've used kratom since 2012--i have chronic gout pain and cheat because beef and shellfish trigger it but are delicious. If clams and oysters count as shellfish I cheated yesterday without thinking. I think it does from pain. I was dosing 2map pretty often before lunch hoping my Ethyl-Tianeptine-i would arrive saving my last 50mg 2map dose in case it didn't arrive. Took it immediately after lunch as that all over pain was returning. So back to dosing. 25mg=1ml and it's 5-6x stronger than sodium. I don't ever take as little as 1ml and I don't divide mls until the bottom of the bottle. For my high--moderate tolerance to PKs I took 2ml--50mg (250--300mg sodium equivalent). Pain returned 4hrs later and took night meds (1mg kpin 600mg Gabs 5mg Olanzapine) along with 3ml--75mg (375mg-450mg) and got pain relief and the calming warmth. 3hrs later it was late and I wanted to go to sleep so I took 4ml with 300mg F-Phenibut. I regret that because I only got 4hrs sleep and woke up in a P-but fog and have been having sleep issues. Couldn't get back to sleep, fog disappeared with 10mg Adderall and 50mg N-methyl-cyclazodone which also motivated this post. Seeing Dr. soon specifically for liver and kidney function and to establish PCP in Chicago. As for cost, a bottle is very affordable. I always get F-Phenibut or N-methyl-cyclazodone to hit $50 and free UPS delivery. With rewards program and Bitcoin discount it's kicked down to $38 with the bonus chem. I need that delivery because it's one day as I'm somewhat local Tl:Dr Major takeaways. It lasts an hour longer than Tianeptine Sodium, it's less serotinergic, making it more appealing and cleaner, and with more traditional effects. Quick guide for those currently on RC Opioids 25mg--too mild 50mg--mild/moderate 75mg--high--moderate 100mg--high If no tolerance then divide all these by 2. Don't take this as gospel YMMV. Edit: I'm not sure I oversold it or not. It had the "Everything Hurts" pain under control until I took 40mg Adderall 50mg of N-Methyl-Cyclazodone then 20mg Dexedrine and of course all my muscles hurt like hell. Didn't wanna keep redosing it. Naproxen doesn't touch it. Instead when I took a 75mg dose I also took a half-o of kratom. Did that 2hrs ago and I feel great. Good combo. Boosted mood too, which is weird because Kratom has some antagonists in it. I think it's because since I've been on these I haven't had any Kratom at all so the tolerance to the plant dropped to zero.
I started my career in November and investing February 5th, 2020 - my strategy as a once peasant Mexican
My history investing in college and my first month investing in February:
Learned about miners and blockchain validation with a chemical engineering friend before the rally.
Bought XRP at $.15 and $.25, sold at $3.28 (I valued at $4 or $5 dollars MAX in 10 years if blockchain found adoption)
Bought AMD after the rally at $11 because it was ridiculous how much cost efficiency they had introduced to the market to poor people like me unlike NVIDIA products which always seemed far removed and discouraged me.
I started with Panasonic because I had missed out on the window to invest in Tesla at 200-300 range. I believed Panasonic to be similar to AMD's relationship to bitcoin; while all eyes looked at the shiny object, I looked at the boring parts that built it.
The market crashed, so I DCA'd aggressively and controlled my emotions through out. I was more concerned with my performance to commitment rather than my returns at the time. I did well.
My investments in March 19 was SQ and Lyft
My Strategy now that I have income
I bought up to 5,000 dollars in stocks ranging from FANUC (industrial robotics) to DENNYS (logistics/real estate)
I trimmed down to $2,300 but will rapidly rebuild with a different approach:
I'm buying 1 stock in the company before making any further developments with. Following this, I will purchase ETFs in sectors that I want to see develop in the next 5-15 years. I will buy 1 stake into these ETFs and combine it with my 1 stock purchase to create the necessary offset.
For example, I bought 1 stock of Texas Instruments for $109 followed by a purchase in SOXX ETF for semiconductors, which has the largest ETF allocation to Texas Instruments. I will apply similar logic to companies like Facebook, Paypal, etc.
I do this "1 chip" start in multiple industries because I want to pick some arbitrary point in time but I have a lot of industries & ecosystems that I would like to reasonably participate in. This will still cost a lot of money to start off with and buys me time to study company numbers and outlooks.
My current market sentiment
I consider where you start on a graph as somewhat arbitrary and see the current market stability as somewhat of an exercise in game theory and rowing a boat throat a thick fog. I believe it's optimal to row cautiously forward and to not stay still. With cautious rowing, you'll be able to react appropriately if you are suddenly met by a waterfall or a path with clearer vision.
I value customer service a lot. Back in 2011 I would have said that investing in Blizzard was a good idea simply because they brought their servers down for 8 hours every Tuesday for almost a decade. They did this to ensure higher quality server maitenance in an era where online gaming was unknown territory. If I were to pick an airline, this would be my center of focus. This often means I need to participate in the market in order to invest in it. This is why Netflix beat Blockbuster in the early game and why Disney may win in the late.
I am `BEARISH` on Amazon in the long term. I believe that slowly, but surely, the market will consume Amazon's hold on its markets. I don't believe Amazon will maintain the status quo on cloud computing due to the quality of its competitors. I absolutely LOVE Google Cloud Platform and utilize Firebase real-time database very often. Microsoft has made some extremely important acquisitions recently in Github and NPM. I wonder often how rapid Amazon systems will become maintenance and legacy based systems of a previous era of cloud software utilization.
I'm currently building an edtech platform where the system records students effort in various ways and translates that effort into a donation pool. Teachers are provided a platform to share resources and utilize analytics. This is all done in real time with Google and Facebooks frameworks for frontend and Backend development.
I have suspicions about Amazon will struggle internationally. I don't know if Amazon will penetrate China the way China does, or if it will succeed in locations south of Mexico against things like Mercado Libre
I have suspicions that tech platforms will soon integrate in a meaningful way with financials. As in, the virtualization of stores and forwarded payments in places like the Facebook(Visa) Market Place, Twitter(Square) payment sending, Paypal(honey) & Amazon purchasing, Gaming credits, etc.
I am `bullish` on Facebook. Facebook is utterly invaluable and scales globally. The reason it's adopted in Mexico, for example, is because it's cheaper and faster than other services. They also service millions of developers with React and its growing development ecosystem. They provide a standardized marketting platform for small businesses on Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp, and soon to be JIO. I would not be surprised if they soon enter the fintech sector.
I am `bullish` on Paypal. They are seemingly repeating their previous success by servicing large online commerce that are upgrading their systems. Honey/Paypal will scrape coupons for Amazon and force organizations like Visa to compete with real-time financial services.
I am `bullish` on cloud software and networking. I think CDNs and dedicated services for Cybersecurity will maintain. Sure Google provides these services but things like Cloudflare and Fastly have dedicated solutions to fast image processing, DDoS protection, and more that other platforms may not be able to allocate their resources to. Cloudflare has an enormous network, and Fastly provides a great system for you to enjoy content like Reddit. I think it's hard to miss the mark here - the highway of the internet is going to get faster and more assets will be maintained in the server's space - the ecosystem must grow with it.
I am EXTREMELY BEARISH on Beyond Meat. I've been vegetarian for 10 years. IT'S BAD. WE HAVE NOTHING ELSE TO BE EXCITED ABOUT AND WE'RE NOT USED TO HAVING ATTENTION. VEGETARIANS ARE LYING IF THEY SAY IT'S AMAZING. IT'S LITERALLY DOG FOOD
I am `BULLISH` on the long term development of Mexico. I think companies like Kansas City Southern that services Mexican-American relationships will grow well in the long run.
I am `BULLISH` on Apple and Adobe. Amazing products.
CURRENT HOLDINGS (ordered by priority & checkup time):
GOOG & AMZN exposure through tech ETFs ::: priority FB NVIDIA, AMD, Intel EXPOSURE through semiconductor ETFS ::: priority Texas Instruments PAYPAL, MERCADO LIBRE, SQUARE exposure through fintech ETF ::: priority PayPal Environmental Services exposure through Sanitation ETFS ::: priority Waste Management Adobe and AutoDesk exposure through cloud software ETFs :: priority Adobe Nintendo exposure through gaming ETFS :: priority Nintendo Cisco exposure through cloud networking and edge computing ETFS Cicsco, Fastly, Cloudflare, etc TELECOM networking ETFS :: priority TMobile Manufacturing technology, industrial sectors, and robotics exposure to Fanuc, ABB, Siemens, Sherwin-Williams, VW, GM, Nissan, Toyota, Panasonic, Healthcare services ETF :: priority Cigna FB -- LONG PAYPAL -- LONG TEXAS INSTRUMENTS - LONG MSFT -- LONG APPLE -- LONG ADOBE -- LONG DISNEY - LONG BITCOIN - LONG TMOBILE - 2 YEARS VISA -- 2 YEARS JPM -- 2 YEARS TWITTER -- 2 YEARS SQUARE -- 1 YEAR LYFT -- 1 YEAR FASTLY -- QUARTERLY CLOUDFLARE -- QUARTERLY 1LIFE MEDICAL -- QUARTERLY FIVERR -- QUARTERLY DRAFT KING -- QUARTERLY YEAR + CHICAGO POLITICS GROUPON -- SPARE CHANGE JAR
Reactive Abuse - Why you should know about it (LONG personal story of abusive relationship within)
I just learned this term today and I felt like Andy crawling out of the pipe full of crap and being washed by the rain in the movie Shawshank Redemption. So, if you've ever been in an abusive relationship and questioned whether you did anything wrong, I encourage you to read this and research reactive abuse. (https://breakthesilencedv.org/reactive-abuse-what-it-is-and-why-abusers-rely-on-it/). My ex and I were together for almost 3 years. He was amazing when we first met. Very active, friendly, outgoing, ATTRACTIVE, all things I'd always wanted in an SO but couldn't really find in a bundle. Until we moved in together. 5 months into dating, he tells me he'd struggled with addiction in the past (cocaine & adderall) but that he'd been clean for a year. I was taking diet pills to suppress my appetite (legitimately prescribed). He knew & it hadn't been an issue. Anyway, I get to work one morning and notice the bottle, which I kept in my car, had 2 pills left. There should have been at least 15. It never occurred to me to suspect him, but eventually I texted him to ask if he knew what happened. He immediately apologized, cried, basically didn't let me react and got super mad at himself. I learned later that this is actually a manipulation tactic: they're so hard on themselves so that you end up feeling bad for them & consoling them. It worked on me. That day, he buys a lockbox so I can keep the pills and I start using it. Well, 2 weeks later I have to go out of town for a week. He asks me if he can drive my car while I'm gone because his was broken and he was in the process of buying a new one. I say yes. He drives me to the airport but I end up forgetting my pills in my car (stupid, I know, but it was like 4 am and I hadn't slept well). I call him to tell him, because the last time he told me that he didn't think I'd notice the pills were gone. In my mind, I'm thinking "if I tell him, it will help him stay accountable". We talk throughout the trip, I check in on him via phone, all goes well. I get back home and the pills are gone. Again. I'm pissed at this point, and we get into an argument. But this time around, he's mad at me. He says it's my fault for leaving them out and how could I be so irresponsible and jeopardize his recovery? At this point, I kind of back off because I start to feel guilty. From then on, whenever the pills were brought up in an argument, he'd always blame me for it, and was super dismissive, like "yeah, yeah, I stole your pills, big deal, it was your fault anyway". Living together was rough, because he was FILTHY. I'd seen his place before we moved in (he lived with roommates), and he was very respectful of their mutual spaces & kept them clean. I think he felt like because he was dating me and we were a team, he could drop the ball and I'd be there to pick up the slack. Or say I was being too demanding. It was getting so bad that we would fight nonstop--I mean, he'd leave dishes in the sink for days, food on the floor, beer bottles everywhere, spit bottles (he dips) everywhere. He had a mole on the back of his neck that he picked until it bled. Well, there was blood everywhere--his clothes, the brand new couch we bought together, doors, walls, pillows, comforter. When I got mad, he'd just shut down and leave. I'd thought it would be a good idea to get a credit card and add him as an authorized user, because he had bad credit from not paying a CC that he forgot about. We agreed that we'd only use that card for mutual expenses, like bills or groceries. Well, he ended up putting 2k on the card ($600 alone were for a suit for his brother's wedding, $100 were for bitcoin), which really screwed with my credit score. Every time I asked him about the money, he'd get mad and yell, telling me he'd "pay me back when he could" and how heartless I was being because I knew he didn't have the money and was stressing him out. For reference, I am all by myself and have no family. His family is rich (like, trust fund rich) and his grandfather paid for college & first car for all his grandkids (also for their first HOUSE). I know that doesn't mean that he'd feel comfortable asking his family for money, but he also knew that I couldn't afford to not pay my CC bill--and his family could have helped him. I had no one to help me. Anyway, we started getting into these fights late at night, after he'd been drinking. Here's where the reactive abuse part comes in. On several occasions, in the middle of a fight, he'd cross some serious lines--making fun of my mom for having an abortion, calling her a whore, threatening to have me deported (I'm an immigrant), telling me that the reason my father was/is emotionally distant is that I'm so broken that not even my parents could love me & everyone will leave me, etc. Now, at first, it would just wound me. These were things shared in confidence, and he used them to attack me. After the arguments were over, he wouldn't even apologize. His reason? OF COURSE I should know that he didn't mean those things, and I obviously had to know that he was sorry. Well, after a few of these I started to get angry and used his own trauma to hurt him. I'm better at it than he is, so my words usually cut him more deeply than his cut me. At that point, he'd usually start recording (or make me believe that he was recording) and then threaten to send the recording to my boss and friends. I snatched his phone from his hand once, and ran to the door. He pinned me by the throat until I gave him the phone back. He's 6ft and muscular, so I couldn't move or breathe. Within 30 seconds, he denied choking me and has yet to acknowledge it (it's been almost 2 years since). Instead, if I ever brought it up, he would get FURIOUS with me for "making things up" and "gaslighting" him. At some point, a few days after that incident, he said something about my mom and I was so mad that I slapped him, twice. (He kept taunting me to do it again, but I was able to get ahold of myself and stop.) I said a lot of screwed up things about him and his family, and I truly regret saying them. After the fog had cleared from each argument, though, he'd deny whatever awful things he'd done or said to me, and instead focused on what I had done or said, calling me the abuser. I always felt like I couldn't really hold him accountable without acknowledging that I had abused him, too, and I felt like the shittiest person. I thought, well, since I also said some screwed up things to him, this is my fault too. What I didn't realize is that when I lashed out, it was in response to him and it was when I felt trapped or cornered and needed a barrier to protect me from his insults. I still wish I hadn't stooped to that level, but I understand now that reactive abuse is a thing that happens, and that abusers will use that against you to convince you that you're to blame and manipulate you. It was like dealing with Bruce Banner and the Hulk. Banner is not a bad person, and if he could just be that way all the time, then he'd be a good partner. But he randomly and often has "Hulk episodes", so I know it's not healthy or safe to try to make that work. He's been completely out of my life for a month now, but I know his reddit username and occasionally look at what he's posted (he doesn't know mine). The other day I saw that he replied to someone on AskMen about disclosing past trauma, and he went on and on about how his ex (me) weaponized that trauma and used it to hurt him during arguments. He got a lot of sympathy points and comments, and the whole time I kept thinking of what a huge bully he was to me and all the emotional damage he inflicted. And the worst part is that I bet he genuinely believes he was the victim, because being the victim means he doesn't have to apologize, change or fix anything about himself. In conclusion, reactive trauma is a thing, and now I feel like less of a monster, and less guilty (though not less sorry) for the way I acted in that relationship. I hope that knowing this helps me heal and move on, because that shit is hard.
NoSleep. Ironically, I am posting this to NoSleep. You are here to read stories so scary that they will keep you up all night, I am here because I can’t go to sleep. I haven’t slept in 3 days, and I can’t even remember the last time I got real sleep. The kind where you go to sleep and stay asleep. The kind where you naturally drift off to a relaxing sleep and not your body forcibly shutting itself down against its own will. So I am sorry if I ramble some, but I can’t help but laugh at the irony of this being on no sleep. Is that funny to you too, or just to me because I am too tired to be rational? Every teenager thinks they have insomnia because they stayed up too long playing video games 2 nights in a row and fell asleep in class, then they sleep for 15 hours straight on the weekend. I was like that once. Life must be tough with that sort of insomnia. I have real insomnia. The kind where people think you are insane, and to be honest, they aren’t wrong. I have had it since I was in college, but it has only gotten worse and worse. I can't even remember the last time I slept. Wait? I told you that already. I’ve been to a sleep specialist. I’ve been on every sleeping pill you can think of. Melatonin, no caffeine, no naps, Ambien, Sonata, Lunesta, silenor, antidepressants, Seroquel, Ativan, benzos, you name it, I have taken more than they recommended. Still no relief or sleep. I know, you are not reading this to read the ramblings of a madman who hasn’t slept in days. You are here because you want a scary story. I’ve got one for you. I think it is real. To be honest, when you haven’t had a real night's sleep in months, dreams and reality start to become one big blur. The truth is, when you are as desperate for sleep as I am, you will do almost anything to get even 1 night of real sleep, no matter how crazy it is. The story starts about 6 months ago, maybe? It was still winter and the virus was not a big deal yet. I remember that much for sure. At this time, my insomnia was at the worst it had been in a few years. I remember I had been up for 4 days straight. When you hit this point, you become jittery. You know when someone has had too much caffeine and they sort of shake uncontrollably. Eventually, lack of sleep does the same thing, my whole body feels like it is trembling, my teeth feel like they are chattering even though they are resting as normal, my hands can’t even hold my phone still. Then there is your mind. You get Brain Fog. At first, it feels like you have been driving on the interstate for 10 hours and can't see or think straight, then you get a second burst of energy and feel great. Most people crash at this point. If you stay up, things that don’t make sense start to make sense. Last is paranoia and anxiety. Every shadow has something lurking in it, ready to jump out and take you. TV or Radio starts to talk to you. You go on Reddit but every story is the same, like god playing a trick on you. You get anxious, praying for sleep, knowing the anxiety is keeping you up even longer. You start to ramble like I am doing again right now. Okay. I am gathering myself now. I had been up for days when a commercial came on for an over the phone psychic reading. If a doctor couldn’t help, maybe a spiritual advisor could. No, I didn’t need a psychic, what I needed was a hypnotist. You have seen them before, they can just snap their fingers and you fall asleep instantly! This is the answer to all of my prayers. It was a scam. They had me lay down and close my eyes, then they softly started talking while I tuned out. When I woke up, she said when I go to sleep at night to relax and listen to a youtube channel that softly plays music and tells you to relax. It didn’t work at all except that every time I listen to soft background music I get the strong urge to make a grilled cheese sandwich, which is weird because I had not had one since I was maybe 9. I think she just hypnotized me to crave grilled cheese. She probably invests in the Big Cheese Industry and makes money by making people crave grilled cheese. What a waste of money. So much for that idea. The next night I still couldn’t sleep. I decided to watch my feel-good movie: Back to the Future. During the movie, Marty goes back in time to 1955 and there is a part where a song comes on, you hear the unmistakable BUM BUM BUM BUM BUM BUM BUM BUM BUM BUM BUM BUM BUMMMMMMM! MR. SANDMAN! BRING ME A DREAM! (That song will be stuck in your head for the rest of the day. I’m not sorry.) When I heard the song, I started to boil over in rage. Maybe it was from the lack of sleep, or maybe I am just insane, but I picked up the remote and threw it into the LED screen breaking the tv. I screamed, “THAT IS THE MOTHER FUCKER WHO HAS CURSED ME! THE FUCKING SANDMAN! I AM GOING TO FIND HIM AND KILL HIM!” This went on for longer than I am willing to admit, but you get the point. The Sandman was my enemy. The one who is supposed to deliver us into sleep every night had decided to stop visiting me. What had I ever done to him to make him skip me every night not allowing me to sleep? The Sandman was to blame. The Sandman was going to have to answer for these wrongs. I was determined to find a way to confront him and give him a piece of my mind. I just had to figure out how the hell you could find or trap it. At this point, I don't care if The Sandman is God himself, I was going to find him.. I thought about it for a while and decided based on movies and books, the way to call a god to you is to summon it. Sounds simple enough, Let’s do it. Another long story short, putting candles in a circle and yelling I SUMMON YOU SANDMAN! Doesn’t work. Again, I was back on the internet looking for someone to help me. After talking to someone I was given the email of an African Witch Doctor named Mrs. Fatima. I emailed her and she agreed to help me if I send her bitcoin. She even offered to come out for more money, but screw that, I can do it myself. Why the hell does everything have to be so difficult? Can’t people just take a credit card like the rest of the world? Always extra steps for some weird-ass digital currency crap. Screw it, I am willing to try anything at this point. I sent her the bitcoin. Whatever the hell that is. It is expensive, I can tell you that much. After she got the money, she replied to my email with detailed instructions and a warning. She could help me summon The Sandman, but advised against it. Summoning a dead person is dangerous, summoning a demon is disastrous, summing a God is deadly. I thought about it for less than a moment and decided to do it. What is the worst that can happen? I die and am in an endless uninterrupted sleep for eternity? Sounds like heaven to me. Under her instructions, I waited until 2 am the following night. You can do it anytime, but the barrier between the spirit realm and the mortal world is the thinnest in the early morning hours when people are sleeping. She advised to go somewhere secluded like in the middle of the woods since it would be desolated and more likely to work. I am doing it in my bedroom, it gets the same amount of girls in it as a desolated forest. Lucky for me, I also need the blood of a virgin, so I got that covered too! Just joking, I don’t need blood. The first thing I needed to do was draw a large circle in chalk. The circle had to be complete and above all else, not broken. The circle is the doorway between realms, if it was not complete it would not work. It also acts as an invisible wall to keep the spirit contained once you summon it. Keep the circle complete at all times. I drew a circle on my hardwood floor. Easy. The next step was to light 5 red candles drawing a pentagram star. They have to be red because the devil is red and we are practicing devil magic, that’s my explanation, not hers. Inside the circle, I was to fill it with sand. If you are summoning The Sandman, you need sand? That was all I needed. Some chalk, candles, a secluded spot, and sand. I was closer than I thought earlier. Next, the hard part, summoning a god. The first step is to clear your mind and meditate. Most people have a hard time with this, but I have been meditating for years. They said it would help me sleep, it doesn’t. Don’t waste your time. The next step is to concentrate on the circle, opening the pathway in your mind. Like imagining it disappearing or opening it like a door? When your mind is clear, envision the one you are summoning. Do I just imagine what I think he looks like in my head? It’ll have to work. When you feel the energy start to peak, only then can you summon the spirit into the realm. Call out to the spirit you desire and demand it’s presence. Do not ask. Demand it. This is your world and you must stay in control at all times. If you give up control, the spirit will be able to take control and possibly hurt or kill you. If you do everything right, you will have summoned the spirit. Let’s do this. I have a bone to pick with that asshole Sandman. The circle is drawn, the candles are lit, and sand is in the circle. I turned off the lights for good measure, it wasn’t in the instructions, but it makes for a better dramatic effect. I closed my eyes and cleared my mind. I imagined the circle in my mind as an empty white space, a void, a door, then I imagined a portal like in the video game with a blue glowing loop. Next, I imagined The Sandman. Was he a human figure who carried sand, or a God made of sand? I kept trying back and forth, and everything in between before I finally settled on a spirit outlined in the sand. I held my concentration on The Sandman and the opening of the portal. It felt like nothing was happening when suddenly everything changed. My eyes were shut but I could feel the energy start to build in the room. It felt like a strong storm was blowing on the outside of the house. I couldn’t physically feel the force, but I could feel the pressure growing and growing. Finally, I felt the energy reach its crescendo like something was trying to push itself through the circle into my room. It’s time to open the gate. “I OPEN THE PATHWAY AND DEMAND YOUR PRESENCE SANDMAN! THE DOOR IS OPEN AND I ORDER YOU TO APPEAR BEFORE ME! I felt resistance trying to pull energy back from the door, not wanting to obey. “SANDMAN! APPEAR BEFORE ME NOW!” The energy in the room seemed to explode out of the circle. I opened my eyes to see the sand turning in a tornado inside the circle high above my head. I gasped in shock, wondering if I was dreaming. This couldn’t be real. Suddenly the tornado dissolved and the sand formed into a figure with red eyes staring down at me. “WHAT MORTAL DARES TO SUMMON ME!” He roared. “WHO HAS MADE SUCH THE MISTAKE TO SUMMON A GOD!” I may have made a mistake. The thing is, spirits and especially Gods, do not like it when mortals summon them. They have to come if you summon them, and that pisses them off. They are over there doing ghost and god stuff and get interrupted by people who can’t even walk through a wall. So if you do ever try this, just expect the ghost or demon or god to be in a pissy mood when they come. It is understandable when you think about it. I looked up at the god, not backing down, and responded “I did.” Sand swirled around The Sandman as he looked at me in disbelief. “You are The Sandman, right?” I yelled at him. “You are the god of sleep, the god of dreams, right?” “I am,” it growled. “Then why the fuck can I not sleep?” I said. “It has been years and I am stuck awake for days at a time. Why have you done this to me?” A deep laugh came from the circle. “You think I care about you, mortal? Do you think I waste my time on someone as insignificant as you or your kind? I am a god. A GOD! I don’t have time to waste being here talking to you. Release me!” “I am not going to release you until you give me what I want.” The sand settled down and it was quiet. I waited for it to respond. “You want something from a God? What do I get out of the deal? What do you have that I could possibly want?” “Give you something?” I asked. “You are the asshole who won’t let me sleep.” “I am feeling generous. We can make a deal,” it said. “I will give you the ability to sleep anytime you want” “What is the catch?” “Ahhh! The catch. Smarter than you look.” He said. “I am the God of Sleep and Dreams. You can sleep, but I will control your dreams.” ”Can’t you do that anyway?” You are the God of Dreams” “Do we have a deal or no? Answer me before I change my mind.” Damn it. I know he is playing me as a fool. Fuck it, I’ll solve my sleep problem now and worry about the catch later. “We have a deal, Sandman.” “A deal it is” he laughed. “Anytime you wish to sleep just say Mr. Sandman, Give me a dream.’ And you will be asleep in less than a minute.” “You gotta be kidding me.” “My game. My rules.” He said. “Now release me.” “You are released.” “See you in your dreams!” The energy that had filled the room evaporated into thin air, the sand fell back into the circle, the candles went dark, and The Sandman was gone. Was that real or am I hallucinating again? And damn! What even happened there? I was ready to cuss him out and he somehow took control of the encounter. Shit! Mrs. Fatima warned me it could be deadly if he took control. Then again, he made a deal and I can finally sleep. What is done is done. I blew out the candles and decided to put our deal to the test. He will allow me to sleep anytime I want, real sleep, he will just be controlling my dreams. I’ve had nightmares, what happens in the dream world is all a dream. Nothing can hurt me there. Right? It was 4:15 am. I turned off the lights, turned the fan on high, and put on some calming music and prepared to lay in bed awake for hours on end. I said the magic words As soon as I closed my eyes, I was out like a rock. The dream started. I was back five minutes earlier saying “What happened in the dream world is all a dream. Nothing can hurt me there, right?” There was an echo repeating the same phrase back to me. That isn’t a good start. I laid down in bed, just like before and closed my eyes trying to sleep but this time no sleep came, like always. I sat there for hours trying to sleep. I meditated, listened to calm music making me crave grilled cheese, and tried to will myself to sleep. My dream self was exhausted and on the verge of tears from being unable to sleep. The Sandman’s idea of a joke is to give me insomnia in my dreams so I couldn’t escape it. Funny joke, but as long as I wake up refreshed I don’t care. I looked at the clock and it was 7:45 and the sun was up or would be if I didn’t have the windows blacked out. Too exhausted to get up I laid in bed and prayed for sleep. A moment later, the red candles flickered to life in a star pattern, the room went cold, then the sand started to swirl up into the air. The Sandman appeared in the circle. My body stiffened, I couldn’t move a muscle, not even to close my eyes. Is this what sleep paralysis feels like? I thought back to my email with Mrs. Fatima and remembered as long as the circle was complete he would be stuck inside. “That is only true when you’re awake. You’re in my world now,” he laughed as he floated across the circle to my bedside. “You brought me to your world, now I have you in mine. A deal is a deal.” Ah shit. I knew taking his deal was a bad idea. Never negotiate with a god. You will never come out ahead. I tried to answer him but I was still paralyzed. “Do you know the legend of The Sandman? The original story? The real story?” He stood over me. Everyone knows the legend. He comes at night, sprinkles sand in your eyes so you will sleep well and have good dreams. You wake up with sand in your eyelashes. “Wrong!” He yelled. “That is a story told much later after I left the mortal world to stop people from fearing me. You are about to find out the real legend of The Sandman. I laid in bed unable to move, my eyes held open by some imaginary force, staring at him in fear. He held out his hand in front of my face and blew. I felt the wind on my face followed by the sand. The awful awful sand. Unable to close my eyes the sand blanketed my eyes. I could feel every grain of sand stick to my eyes. Finally, I had control of my eyes again and started to blink uncontrollably. Each blink the sand grinded deeper and deeper into my eyeballs and eye socket. Each blink felt like shards of glass cutting my eyes. My eyes became watery and started to tear up but it wasn’t tears but blood leaking down my face. The pain engulfed my face but I couldn’t move, only involuntary blinking trying to clear the sand from my eyes. Each blink the sand cut farther and farther into my eyes. The pain became excruciating like someone had stuck a red hot fire poker in each eye. I wanted to scream out but nothing else worked on my body. Then the pain disappeared. I assumed I had blacked out or went unconscious but that doesn’t happen in dreams and I wasn’t that lucky. Instead, I felt a weird sensation on my eyeballs then the feeling of water being poured into my eye. When it stopped, my vision started to appear again, blurry at first but clearing. I could see a sandy palm and fingers like I was being carried in The Sandman’s hand. “The legend of The Sandman isn’t that he comes to put sand in your eyes to help you sleep, he comes to put sand in your eyes to steal eyeballs of kids who stay up too late.” He said. “I’m making an exception for you.” He opened his palm and I could see my lifeless body, still in bed, not moving, the face covered in blood with empty holes as eye sockets. I am seeing myself from my own eyeballs. What the fuck, even for a dream this is fucked up. Luckily the pain had stopped, for now. “Do you know what happens next in the legend? Do you know what I do with the eyeballs I steal” He asked like I could to respond. I didn’t know the answer but I knew I was about to find out. “Right you are. Close your eyes, It’’s a surprise.” He laughed. “Get it? You can’t! You have no eyelids. Hahaha” Excuse me for not thinking the joke is funny, being the butt of the joke. “He pointed my eyes toward the moon and asked, “Do you like The Dark Side of the Moon?” What the hell does the Pink Floyd album have to do with anything? Who doesn’t like it? “Great. Let’s take a trip there. You’re dreaming so we can be there in, what would you say, a blink of an eye?” Fucking funny. A moment later, we were on the dark side of the moon. It looked like the moon, but dark. He walked into a crater and I started to hear cries. Not like human cries, more like an animal cry. Not just one animal but a bunch. The cries got louder and louder. Even in a dream, I knew something bad was about to happen. We finally arrived at what I would call a nest. Not your typical earth nest, but an enclosure that held a bunch of giant ugly bird-like featherless babies. Not dinosaur big, but big enough. Each bird-like creature was lifting its beak up in the air crying for its parents to bring it back food. What the fuck kind of food was available on the moon or in space is beyond my understanding, but that’s exactly what my eyes were seeing. “After I steal the eyeballs, I bring them back here and feed them to the birds. In your world, you may throw bread out to the birds for a treat. In my world, I feed them your eyes.” Fuck. Can I wake up now? I really don’t feel like being eaten by a giant alien baby bird thing. “The legend says I fed them to my children, but that is the part they got wrong.” He said. “Sweet dreams, prince.” He tossed my eyes into the air into the waiting mouth of one of these creatures. I saw it’s beak close as my eyeballs exploded into a gooey mess. The dream ended and I woke up in a panic. I tried to open my eyes but they were sealed shut. I lifted my hands, happy I could move again, and felt my eyelids crusted over with sand. I cleared them the best I could but needed a warm compress to clean all the salt out. When I finally opened my eyes, they hurt. Everything had happened in the dream, but somehow my eyes felt sore. I thought back to what I said and heard in my dream, “It is just a dream, nothing can hurt me there.” It is true, I wasn’t really hurt, but I’ve never woken up feeling pain I got from a dream. What is going on? Still, If I dreamed, that means I slept! A nightmare isn’t so bad if I get real sleep. The dream felt like it lasted hours, a few more nights of this and I will have a somewhat normal sleep schedule and feel rested. I looked at the clock to see it was 4:30. I slept 12 hours and 15 minutes. Amazing! I opened the door to my room and walked into the kitchen and it was still dark. That can’t be right. It should be 4:30 pm, the middle of the afternoon. Did I sleep for 24 hours straight? I looked at my phone and saw the date. My heart dropped. I had only slept for 15 minutes. It is like dreams take place in another dimension where time doesn’t exist. The Sandman was able to torture me for hours in dream time while allowing me to sleep for a few minutes. I cried. Seriously, I cried like a baby. He held up his end of the bargain, I can fall asleep any time I want to, except now I am afraid to go to sleep. Everytime I fall asleep, he takes me away to his realm and gives me nightmare after nightmare. Every dream is one where he does something horrible to me and my dream self feels every bit of excruciating pain. And he never allows me to sleep more than an hour at the most. I eventually accepted my fate. He is going to torture me, but it is all a dream. I will wake up feeling mostly normal. Then things changed. It is like he knew I had stopped fighting, so he found a new way to hurt me. Instead of hurting me in my dreams, he started to make me watch him hurt people I loved in their dreams. I didn’t think it was real until I heard from my sister about how my niece has been having terrible nightmares and refusing to go to sleep. When she described her dreams, I already knew, because I was there too. That has been my life for the past however many months. Instead of trying to take medicine or listen to music or having The Sandman put me to sleep, I try to use my insomnia to stay awake for as long as my body will withstand it. I drink coffee and energy drinks, I take adderall, but eventually sleep always comes, even if for short periods. No matter how hard you fight it, your body will always sleep, and the Sandman will be there waiting on me.
Part 1 “Huh, they’re really going at it, aren’t they?” Saale said, looking towards the bedroom. Karl and Maarja were rustling around in there, too drunk to contain the volume of their passion. The two of us sat around and tried to do anything but listen. Saale and me started off as strangers that night, but we ended up being the last people standing. It was the biggest party of the summer and we were the only lucid survivors. We were holding hands. “Heh, yeah,” I replied. She squeezed my hand. I squeezed back. We started off the night rambling about everything and anything under the sun, but now conversation had run out. All we had was nervous eye contact and hand squeezing; both of us were too scared to take the next step. “I am very drunk,” I said, giving myself plausible deniability. “Me too,” she said. Her hazel eyes held on to mine; C’mon, you’re the guy, make the first move. “Want to dance?” I suddenly blurted out. Saale cocked her head to the side, “Do you have music?” She squeezed my hand again, hard, a look of mischief spread across her face. Maarja howled in the other room. “Yeah, definitely,” I fished out my Sony Erickson and searched through the fourteen-song library for something that wasn’t ska music. I found that one Rolling Stones song. We got off the couch and wrapped our arms around each other. The music came out of the flip phone with the orchestral quality of a potato and the sounds from the bedroom were considerably louder, but we didn’t care. We just wanted an excuse to hold each other. It wasn’t really dancing. We were just hugging each other while stepping from side to side. The anticipation was electric. She whispered something in my ear. I pretended not to hear and moved closer to her. Our lips brushed against each other. We kissed. It wasn’t the booze, it wasn’t the dope, it wasn’t the hormones. There was something else in my blood in that moment. A surge of electricity so powerful that to taste it for just a single second made life worth living. The universe focused all of its attention, all of its beauty and washed it over our moment. We laid down on the couch. Scratching. Suddenly the soft sounds of her breath were overpowered by scratching. I pulled back. Saale looked at me with those heart-melting eyes, “What’s wrong?” The scratching grew louder, more furious. Claws, I could hear claws. She said something else, but I couldn’t hear her by then, the scratching had grown deafening. Saale looked up in horror. Fabric ripped. I woke up. Fritz was right by my head, his long tail resting inches from my face. I watched him in a daze. He was furiously digging at the upholstery. There was a sizable hole there; the rat must have worked at it for the whole night. His little body dug with desperate energy, trying to make the opening as big as possible, yet after a couple of seconds he stopped. Fritz shoved his head into the hole and his whole body went limp. His furry frame rose and fell with effort as Fritz breathed in as much of the couch as he could. I grabbed him by the nape and took him out of the couch. The creature was nothing like the animal I held the night before. Fritz’s head had lost most of its fur; all that was left was tufts of gray fur that splashed over his irritated skin. He snapped at me, or at least tried to. His jaw was heavy, his eyes barely stayed open. I placed him on the floor. As soon as he was on his own feet he fell over. After a couple lethargic seconds he stumbled to his paws and crawled beneath the wardrobe. Karl walked out of the bedroom. He stopped when he noticed I was awake. “James, which tie seems more formal?” Karl looked like a madman; he was wearing superman underwear and a fancy white dress shirt that barely fit around his paunch. In each hand he held a black tie. I was too disoriented to tell the difference. “I don’t know Karl, they both look pretty similar to me.” I said. Karl looked down on the ties. He raised each one of them to his face for a closer examination. Finally, after some thought he nodded, “I think you are right James. These ties do look identical.” He retreated back to the bedroom and emerged with only one tie that he started putting on. “Oh, also, good morning friend,” Karl added as an afterthought. “Good morning Karl,” I replied. “James! Don’t enable him! He’s just being nervous about meeting my parents,” Maarja yelled from the kitchen. “Nothing to be scared of Karl. You know my parents are cool.” “Your parents are most definitely not cool. Your father is a very scary man and your mother is a very angry woman.” Karl protested. He looked over at me, “Right James?” Maarja peeked out of the kitchen. I had only seen Maarja’s father once. It was during Maarja’s high-school graduation. She had managed to sneak me in so I could attend the after party. I remembered seeing him across the hall, watching his daughter get her diploma with that emotionless scowl that fathers raised behind the iron curtain have perfected. Her dad bore a striking resemblance to Karl, he was a big dude, but where Karl carried a lumberjack beard Maarja’s father had a simple moustache. Maarja’s father also had scars. Even at a distance you could see them, a face covered in splotches of red as if he had experienced some great horror at a young age. “Your mother is a pretty angry woman Maarja,” I said. Maarja scoffed. “If you piss her off she is. Point is: Karl shouldn’t be scared. My parents like him.” “No they don’t,” Karl protested. Maarja rolled her eyes. “You want coffee James?” she yelled from the kitchen. “Sure,” I said. I tried sitting up, hoping to lose a bit of my drowsiness but something was wrong. I fished my left hand from under the couch. Somehow, as I slept, I clawed my index finger into the stuffing of the couch. It took effort to take it out; it was as if the upholstery had wrapped itself around the finger. Maarja brought me my coffee and said something about how they were going to a nearby restaurant for the lunch but her words fell on deaf ears. I was completely focused on my pointer. The skin around it was an unhealthy red. It was cold to the touch. All the feeling in the finger was gone. I could move it, but the movements were sluggish, it was as if the finger was in a deep sleep. As Maarja and Karl got ready I tried to assess how damaged the finger was. I didn’t snap out of the mystery until I heard the front door slam shut. I wasn’t alone though. ‘Quit worrying about your finger Tiger, you just slept funny. Think about more pleasant things.’ The voice in my head slithered back, ‘Remember how soft Saale’s skin was? How sweet her perfume smelled as you two made love?’ I laid back down and ran my hand across the couch. For something so old it was so remarkably smooth. Fritz was suddenly back by my head. He ran towards the hole that he had worked on prior and started clawing at it again. He tore at the threading frantically. He wanted to be back inside of the couch, he needed to be back inside of the couch. I reached out to pick him up but reconsidered. ‘Leave him be Tiger, he’s just enjoying himself.’ My hand fell back to the firm cushioning of the couch. ‘That’s a good boy,’ the voice said, ‘Now where were we? Ah yes, Saale, what a girl, huh? Remember how good it felt to wake up next to her?’ I did. I remembered. It was, after all, on that very same couch that I woke up next to Saale for the first time. It was the day after the party, when I woke up I nearly jumped out of my skin. It took me a second to realize where I was, that there was a beautiful woman on my arm, that I had made love to a alluring the stranger the night before, yet when the thought set in a wave of bliss washed over me. A gentle morning light was coming in through the blinds, the birds outside chirped peacefully and Saale snored. ‘Her half open mouth, those tiny sounds, so vulnerable, so romantic.’ Then the door opened. ‘Oh Tiger, you don’t have to think about that part.’ Then the door opened and Maarja’s mother came in. The woman did not like me to begin with, the couple of times that we had met she regarded me with absolute disdain. Maarja even admitted it; her mother didn’t want her daughter hanging around with strange foreigners. As soon as Maarja’s mom saw us she started screaming. ‘Oh come on Tiger, you don’t have to think about arguments right now, think about the good times-‘ Her yelling woke everyone up. As me and Saale were frantically putting on our clothes the bedroom door flew open and Maarja started yelling at her mom. I didn’t understand a word to it, but Maarja’s mom seemed to have it really out for me. She kept on pointing. She kept on screaming and pointing at me… or was she pointing at the couch? ‘Oh come on Tiger, there’s other memories to go back to, remember the first time that you and Saale-‘ We ran out as soon as we had enough clothes to be decent. Salle and me left the argument behind. Maarja’s mom didn’t chase us, but we ran for a couple of blocks anyway. We moved through the morning streets, giggling. After Saale nearly got hit by a tram we finally stopped. For a second we stood there, slightly hung-over and out of breath. We kissed. “She seemed really angry, what was she saying?” I asked. “This is not a whorehouse, my daughter will be no madam!” Saale yelled, mimicking Maarja’s mother’s voice. We laughed, but then Saale frowned. She was beautiful even when she was confused. “To be honest though, she seemed a bit more angry about that couch being in the room. She kept on pointing at it asking where they had gotten it, saying that it was meant to be burnt years ago-“ ‘STOP THINKING ABOUT THIS TIGER’ the voice thundered through my skull, ‘IF YOU EVER WANT TO BE HAPPY AGAIN, STOP THINKING ABOUT IT!’ The voice was no longer flirty. Darkness loomed within it. My mind cleared in fear. I looked to the side; Fritz had made progress with the hole. He was hallway inside and still digging. His tail and hind legs stuck out of the hole, his enflamed testacles pressed against the side of the couch. With a couple more frantic movements he squeezed himself inside. The rat was gone. ‘Wondering what he’s doing Tiger?’ The couch asked gingerly, ‘He’s floating in ecstasy, oh yes, he’s experiencing pleasure you couldn’t even begin to comprehend, unless…’ Fabric groaned as the hole that Fritz had dug expanded. I could see the stuffing, it heaved up and down as if the couch was breathing. The hole was big enough to fit my hand. ‘C’mon Tiger, you know you want to try.’ I extended my hand; there was something from the couch that called to me, something stronger than me. Beads of perspiration streamed down my forehead. My clothes were soaked with sweat. As my fingers approached the gaping hole I could feel a glint of electricity in the air. The universe turned its eyes on me and beckoned me towards the maw. VRRRR! VRRRR! I snapped out of it. My phone was ringing. It was Maarja. “James, goddamn it, why don’t you pick up your phone? I’ve been calling you for like five minutes,” she talked in an angry whisper, “Look, my parents decided that they wanted to come over to the apartment. My mom would flip if she knew you were staying with us. I need you out of the house right now.” I jumped to my feet. The last person I wanted to see right now was Maarja’s mom. “Okay, I’ll be out in five.” “Not good enough! James! We’re almost there. Just get out! Please James, the lunch went really well, please don’t let her turn today into an argument,” Maarja pleaded. I quickly put on my shoes and dashed towards the door. I didn’t realize I forgot my coat until I was outside. The cold wind blew through my sweaty t-shirt. “Are you outside?” Maarja whispered. “Yeah, right at the front door.” “Okay, get out. Right now. We’re almost there. I’ll call you when the coast is clear. Sorry. Love ya!” click. As I reached the end of the block I could see the four of them walking towards the apartment. Karl and Maarja’s dad were engaged in a passionate conversation. Maarja and her mom followed them, quietly smoking. I sped out of sight. I was freezing, a wet t-shirt in the Estonian winter felt like a death sentence. In my attempt to find a semblance of warmth I went over to the bus station and got onto the first bus that stopped. I nestled up next to the heaters and immediately felt better. The plan was to warm up, maybe dry off and then go find a mall to kill time in. That plan fell apart very quickly. The bus drove for a bit before I realized where it was going. For a second I considered getting off, but it was too cold for me to be roaming the streets, or at least that’s what I told myself. I took out my iPod and scrolled over to the Rolling Stones. The bus rode out to Saale’s neighborhood. I returned back to Maarja’s apartment way after sundown. The day was a blur. I remembered running out of Maarja’s apartment. I remembered getting on the bus and riding over to Saale’s place. I remembered what happened at Saale’s but everything else was covered in a thick mental fog. The vodka helped with that. I had spent my last remaining cash on a bottle of good old 79% memory wipe. It helped me cope. It also made the Estonian winter more bearable. “James! Honey! Where were you?” Maarja was outside having a cigarette when I stumbled to the house, “I’ve been trying to call you all day. Are you okay?” there was a hint of a drunken slur to her voice. “Phone’s out of battery,” I mumbled as I walked up. “Are you okay?” she repeated her question. I shrugged. “I think I need a hug.” “Ah darling, come here,” Maarja said as she wrapped her arms around me. She was wearing one of Karl’s huge jackets. It wasn’t until I was embraced in its warmth that I realized how cold I was. “Want to talk about it?” “No.” I didn’t. All I wanted was to just be blindly told everything was going to be okay. I wanted assurances that I wouldn’t feel like this forever. I needed to know that I would get over Saale. Yet Maarja just sighed. “I know it’s hard James. When you’re ready to talk about it I’m here for you.” she sighed again, I could smell the booze on her breath, “Thank you for leaving the house when you did. Things… didn’t go very well.” She let go. I was back in the cold. “What’s wrong?” I asked. Maarja took a long drag of her cigarette. Her voice grew heavy, “My dad was really interested in Karl’s Bitcoin stuff and he wanted to see his computer. Me and my mom were finishing off our cigarette outside and…” Maarja’s eyes drifted towards the night sky and fluttered. She was trying not to cry. “Maarja? What’s wrong?” I asked. She cleared her throat and composed herself. “My mom found out about the couch and she got really pissed. She thought I burnt it after that one house party. I just didn’t want to throw away a perfectly good couch but... Yeah. We have to burn it.” “Burn the couch!? Why?” I gasped. “There’s some ugly history behind it,” her voice grew faint, “I don’t really want to talk about it.” It felt like the final bit of stability in my life had crumbled away. I had to drunkenly hold myself up against a lawn chair, “When?” Maarja shrugged. “Now is a good time as any I guess, we can just drag it out into the backyard, grab some lighter fluid and torch it. Don’t think anyone is going to mind.” She was wrong. I would mind. My fists tightened. An inarticulate rage boiled in my blood. I wanted to hit her so bad, but instead I begged. “One more night,” I said, “Just one more night with the couch. We can burn it tomorrow; it’s New Years right? What a way to end off the year. We could have a little bonfire in the evening.” “James,” Maarja sighed, “Honey, you can stay here, at least for a couple of days. We’ll move some pillows around and you can sleep on the floor. We’ll hang out tomorrow and it’s going to be great but my mom was really insistent on the couch. I promised her I would-“ “Please, please, don’t get rid of the couch,” I begged, “Just one more night. Just one more night on the couch where I can think back to my memories of Saale. I’m desperate Maarja. While your parents were visiting I went over to Saale’s place. I got into her apartment block. I knocked on the door. I knew she was there Maarja, I could hear her walking up after I knocked. When she looked through the peephole she completely ignored me. She just stood there like I didn’t exist. I called her Maarja, I called her phone and I could hear it ringing in the other room, I called until my goddamn battery ran out, but she never picked up. I traveled half way across the continent on my last dime and she wants nothing to do with me Maarja. The love of my goddamn life won’t even answer her phone. All I have left is that couch. All I have left are those memories of that first night. Please, Maarja, one more night on the couch.” The words came out with chest-tightening force. Each sentence made me grow weaker until I was barely able to talk. My face was streaked in tears, my nose was running all over my face; I looked like a complete mess. Maarja wrapped her arms around me just as tight as she had in the airport. “Okay James, one more night,” Maarja said, “I am sorry you’re going through this. I wish we could help.” We stayed in the hug for what felt like an eternity. I wanted to let go, to pull back and be cool about everything. But I couldn’t. The warmth under that jacket, Maarja’s arms around me, it all just felt safer than the world outside. “We both need some sleep,” Maarja finally whispered. Karl barely noticed us when we walked into the apartment. He was sitting on the couch stuck in deep thought. When I saw him an unexplainable pang of jealousy ran through my body. Me and that couch had something special going on. I cleared my throat. Karl jumped up in surprise. “James! You’re back. Where were you? We were worried about you!” Karl said. “I went to Saale’s.” “Oh,” He dropped his eyes away from me, not knowing what to say. He looked over at Maarja, “You have told James about what happened with your dad?” “Something happened with your dad?” I asked. The question seemed stupid and irrelevant. Maarja stared daggers back at Karl. She spoke slowly, with a hidden force beneath her words, “I have told James that my mother was very angry about the couch. We have decided that he will sleep on the couch for one more night and then we will burn it tomorrow. Does that sound okay?” Karl furrowed his brow. “Yes,” he finally said. He stood in the doorway of their bedroom, leaning forward, as if he was about to say something else but then Maarja cut him off. “We should all get some sleep.” “Yeah,” I said, sprawling out onto the couch. ‘Welcome back Tiger,’ it whispered to me ‘Did someone have a rough day?’ The voice soothed the pain in my chest, the world started to become more manageable. Karl and Maarja went off to bed without saying much. There was something up, something that they were in disagreement about but it was none of my business. The couch kept me company. ‘It’s all going to be okay, you’ll see’ The couch whispered to me in its silky voice, ‘You’ll get over her, you’ll find someone better than Saale and in a couple of months you won’t even remember her. You’ll forget all about the relationship all together. But you know who’ll remember? She’ll remember Tiger, oh yes, Saale will be thinking about what an idiot she was to let you go-‘ The light in the bedroom was off, but I could hear Maarja walking around calling out for Fritz. She peeked her head into the living room and asked me if I saw him. I told her I didn’t. She gave up and went to sleep. ‘Don’t think about the rat.’ The hole that Fritz made into the upholstery was gone; there wasn’t even any sign of scratches. The whole couch, in fact, looked to be in better shape. The stains had completely disappeared from the couch, loose threads were nowhere to be seen, the floral print had taken on a colorful shine. ‘STOP IT.’ The voice hit my mind like a blunt object. A fog covered my thoughts, everything felt so impossibly distant. But beneath that fog was a gentle tone of sweetness, ‘Come on Tiger, let’s just enjoy this night together, huh? Lay here with me and let’s just bathe in each other’s company.’ The couch gently shuddered like a tantric massage chair. I heard the groaning of fabric. The place where Fritz had been digging spread apart to reveal a hole; beyond the upholstery was stuffing, it pulsed with fleshy energy. The couch trembled with anticipation. ‘Touch me Tiger, you know you want to.’ I reached out as electricity flowed through my body. The universe turned all of its spotlights on me. The mind fog thickened into a blanket of ecstasy and wrapped me up. All other thoughts disappeared. My soul danced to the chaotic tune of life. I was trapped in a wave of orgasmic rapture. ‘Doesn’t that feel so good Tiger? Isn’t this just exhilarating? Well don’t you worry. We can do this every night. Don’t listen to anyone else. Nothing will get between us, it’s you and me Tiger, it’s you and me and no one is going to stop us. We’ll make sure of that.’ For a split second it felt as if my finger brushed against something rough. I pinched at the object. It felt like a tail. Yet then, as if the gentle stuffing of the couch were a throat, the tail got swallowed deeper into its innards. ‘I love you,’ the couch whispered. The room smelt like floral perfume. I could hear a dog barking outside. I was covered in sweat. “I love you too,” I whispered back. I drifted off to a deep sleep. -MJL (Next part)
I've reached the extent that I think I can tell this story. This is my experience with the cult
Introduction I am hesitant to begin writing about these memories, and for two reasons. The first is out of fear - fear of retaliation. You see, I was taken advantage of by a cult that I escaped a few years ago in the summer of 2018. I wasn’t involved for long - ten months - but that wasn’t the end of the cult’s influence on me, as they cleverly had a previously unaffiliated visitor contact me and try to bring me back during the period afterwards. I believe they are still keeping tabs on be covertly, but this may just be my paranoid nature. For nearly the entire first year afterwards, I was always looking over my shoulder to see if I was being followed. They definitely have an interest in roping me back into the fold, as you will see how sociopathic these people are. I’m still traumatized, and although I have healed a great deal from these trials, there is still lingering conditioning that causes me panic attacks and anxiety, which exemplifies my schizoaffective disorder. I attribute much of the reason I’m houseless now to the combination of my mental health and trauma caused by this group. The second reason I am hesitant to begin writing is also out of fear, but this is instead a fear of not being able to deliver on my promise to expose this cult. I know I have the ability to write about my account, but will it be good enough? Will I be throwing these words into the electronic ocean like so many others with little effect on the world? I feel that no matter how hard I try, I will be unable to capture the cult’s devious acts in such a way to convey what it was like for me, a vulnerable individual, to be slowly turned into an obedient slave. Inadequacy. This is an important piece of my psychology. After watching my mother decay and die for the first nine years of my life, followed by being raised by an abusive, narcissistic father, I have a profound feeling of inadequacy ruling me. I never feel like I am good enough; that I have to self-sacrifice - to the point where I believed I had to be as good as Jesus Christ - in order to achieve a passable level of human adequacy. The cult took advantage of these feelings in spades and left me a shell of who I was previously. Fortunately, the period of houselessness that has extended the last year or so of my life has been a radically transformative period where I feel able to step out from barriers that previously trapped me. I feel freer than I ever have been, and to be honest, I owe a lot to the cult for pushing me to my breaking point and learning where my boundaries are. In fact, I don’t believe I could have stepped away from the denial of having a feminine side if it weren’t for the ridiculousness of how far I was pushed. Now, I stand strong, ready to accomplish this mission life has presented me. It is my basic civic duty to tell my story and warn the public about this group and others who prey on vulnerable individuals in an unstable socioeconomic period. They deliberately attract people who are vulnerable for personal or financial reasons. For instance, there was a flat-earther from Belgium who was here illegally that got roped into our group by being attracted to the messages of sovereignty and their abundance of kooky new age beliefs. They even tried to get me to recruit more members using the same strategies they hooked me with - which is standard cult behavior. This leads right into how I got involved with the cult in the first place. Part of it is my fault, as I was young and naive. I still am, but now I have the wisdom to not throw myself out there for any group to start manipulating. There are many people who can be drawn into their preying behavior, and it is important that I elaborate on how easy it is to get duped, so others don’t follow in my footsteps. As you will see, the group was bizarre in many ways. I want to start off by saying that I did not join an organization of pee-drinkers who practiced blood-magick on the side of Main Street. Instead, I started working for a nonprofit that promised to change the world, and appeared to have the ability to do that. The weirdness grew exponentially over time, gradually as they conditioned us to accept their way of life. On my own end, I wanted to join an intentional community; one where everyone involved works towards a singular end as one unit. I longed for the camaraderie and an alternate way of life. I wanted something different than what - as the cult called the common culture - “The Matrix,” or “Babylon” offered. There are such communities, but because of devious groups like this, everyone needs to be cautious when attempting to find them. I still seek to find or create an alternative lifestyle for myself where I can live amongst my brothers and sisters away from the mass-produced consumer culture of the world. It’s been a hell of a journey, but I am happy where I am now. If anything, the group taught me that self-love is our first love; if the gardener does not take care of themselves, then who takes care of the garden? With my efforts to find such a community as I wanted, it was inevitable that some group would have sunk their teeth into me. I am grateful that I was able to recognize the far-flung insanity that I was trapped in and escape. Now I just need to focus on recovering and helping others who may be searching for the same things I am. Chapter 1 It all started early in 2017. I was working on reverse networking, like trying to place a letter on someone’s shoes to let them know I exist. I was hoping to find a project I could use my skills as a writer and juggler by broadcasting who I was on our small online community, The Shrug Life Syndicate, on Reddit. I was so desperate to find such a community that fit my ideals and goals that I didn’t even conceive that someone could be watching in order to learn about me. They first posted a link to their site on our community’s board, when they were still going by the Awakening Sovereignty Collective. To best understand how I perceived them initially, you have to understand that I was lost in what we at the Shrug Life Syndicate call the synchronicity slip stream. An aspect of my schizoaffective disorder, I often get lost in various series of synchronicities that form a coherent narrative that compels me to behave differently than I otherwise would. It is an amazing feature of my mental health for creativity and finding alternative solutions to problems, but it can be debilitating when trying to fit in to the normal world. When the ASC posted, I believed applying on their website was the obvious thing I should do in order to accomplish my cosmic mission. Well, nothing happened at first, and I forgot about them until several months later until I received an email stating I was hired. This came after a series of strange tasks from anonymous accounts that seemed to be tests to see if I was as capable of a writer as I portrayed myself as being. I remember one test was to see if I could write a sales pitch for “Unicorn Poop,” an edible snack with a humorous twist. I don’t have any proof that these two events are connected, but it definitely tripped my radar as odd that they happened one after another, and nothing ever came from the sales tasks. Having passed their tests, I began working with them online. It was a slow process, as there wasn’t a lot of work right out the gate, but there was a lot to learn. Their websites were many in number and often confusing. I had difficulty navigating them and almost quit trying within days of getting started. I remember crumbling back into my addictive nature one night as the wailing cries of depression came roaring back with my initial perceived failure. If I were not partially psychotic, believing the universe was guiding me to the salvation I sought, then that would have been the end of it. Many other people seemed to have given up while I was still new to working for them. If I were to guess, I would say that this was deliberate on their part in order to weed out only people like me, who were in some way desperate to be a part of the group. With only a small number of desperate people finding their way into the clutches of these people, it must be easier to control them as well. The ASC promised a new way of life for anyone seeking it. They claimed to be a planetary alliance that was helping ecovillages, nonprofits, conscious businesses, and individual change agents. They were working on a cryptocurrency and software suite that would help communities better serve the world. This was at the peak of the bitcoin bubble, where many people unfamiliar with cryptocurrencies were trying to get in on the hype. They touted a number of figures and claims which ultimately turned out to be false or otherwise misrepresentative of the truth, but in the moment I believed everything they were shoveling. It was easy for them to sell the idea and project as they were all natural sales personalities. I attended a lot of meetings, particularly with the writer’s team, and started to get to know the people behind the project. In the moment, they appeared to be down-to-Earth and relatable, but highly conscious individuals who really cared about the world and were motivated to do the work necessary to make the changes needed for the planet. In hindsight, they really only cared about money, and were playing a part to catch people like me. The leader was named Dakota, if that was his real name (I believe most of the main group had adopted a second name to hide who they really were). He was a young man claiming to have graduated high school at ten, and he founded a company known as STADA which was facilitating much if not all of the software needs of the ASC. He was brilliant, but I believe most of his brilliance was self-generated through his ability to sell himself as more than he really was. He always acted like a millionaire who was going to change the world, which made it easy for him to sell the project to people like me. The co-leader was named Lila. She was a cheerful person who always had something positive to add to the conversation. While working with her, I found this to be a powerful part of her personality. It was hard to say no to her, as she had a motherly vibe and she strategically would ask you to do things that left you feeling compelled to help her, for the good of the project. She first won me over by claiming to run a retreat center for circus skills. I only heard of this in the beginning of my journey with the group, so I believe it may have been a bogus means to shift my opinion of them. The leader of the writer’s team was named Teahna, who was beautiful and knew how to use her womanly charm to influence others. She seemed to be new to the project as well, having recently written her first book, and my time working with her online seemed to be a learning experience for both of us. I believe this was also planned, so that I would have some support learning what I was supposed to be doing on the various websites that seemed to pile up more and more as time went on. The work was easy at first. There were no assignments or anything like that. It was all pile work - as in, just grab a shovel and get paid for what you move. As a writer, I naturally gravitated to the writers team’s tasks, but I also helped with the education team and the core tasks of the group. Mostly I wrote articles and website content for them, but I also wrote fake twitter bios, social media posts, and began working on their constitution/manifesto before arriving at their headquarters. I was making good money, both in real dollars and their own cryptocurrency, Equality Keys. They claimed we could trade their currency for real money at any time, which turned out to be a lie. They often only let us exchange it at certain times at a reduced value. But, I was naive enough to believe that the numbers on my screen were real and meant I was doing good. It wasn’t long before I earned upwards of thousands of dollars worth of their currency, which was promised to rise in value as the project continued to grow and evolve. After a few weeks working with them, they began toying with a name change to Earth Nation. I believe this is a key part of their method of staying under the radar. By changing names and projects frequently, they never gather enough clout to be exposed as the charlatans that they are. They would later create a new project known as Earth Cycle, and there was a tentacle organization we got hooked into after our stay with the main group called Lovecycle. In regards to the latter, I will never forget the name Lovecycle, as that is when the bulk of bizarre and traumatic events occured. This is around the same time that my girlfriend at the time began helping out as well. We worked together as a writer and artist combo, and they were initially excited to have another person joining to help. There was some friction though, such as bluntly being told they had no need for an artist at this time after they welcomed her onboard, and there were moments where it seemed like they did not want her to be a part of the project. As they turned her and I against each other much later in our odyssey with them, I think this must have been deliberate to sow the seeds of conflict between us. Again, this is classic cult behavior. I regret bringing her into the whole thing, as she is no doubt as traumatized as I am. What really allowed me to lose myself in the hope of the project was the possibility to do exactly as I dreamed: travel with a caravan, juggle at festivals, help sell whatever my girlfriend and others made, and write gonzo journalism about what Earth Nation was doing. One of the main draws of the group was that they advertised in the meetings about how they had a proposal system, where anyone could come with their plan and it could be voted on to be given resources. They were interested in my idea (how much of that was just gaslighting me to believe I’ve found the perfect gig, I don’t know), and wanted me to do some journalism about my experiences moving to their headquarters just outside Eugene, Oregon - on the other side of the country. My girlfriend and I were ecstatic at the idea of starting a new life on the west coast. It was the dream we both shared, to abandon the broken world we knew and join something better. We began preparing for the move, sold all of our stuff, and eventually took off from the airport with only three bags to our name. It was a leap of faith, and we were never happier to embrace our dreams and begin to live a much more interesting life. Chapter 2 We left on October 25th, about a couple months after I first began working for the ASC. It was an amazing trip that we thought would represent our rebirth. I remember arriving at the airport feeling as though I was leaving a part of my past behind. I felt a wave of solemn emptiness and fear over this, but I have since learned such feelings are common with change of this magnitude. Mostly, I felt joy that a new chapter of my life was unfolding before my eyes. It was a time where it seemed like we had infinite potential right at our fingertips. Who knew what would actually go down over the coming months? We were grateful for the opportunity and happy about the change. My girlfriend even changed her name to Awen to start over fresh as a new person. I still stuck with my birth name, Gregory, but eventually I would start going by the name Rory after having been pressured to by the group. I remember looking out the window while Awen took pictures of everything we flew over. It was a trip in itself to see the world from such an angle. I was amazed at the number of wind farms in the middle of the country. Likewise, the closer we got to our destination, the more mountainous the ground beneath us became. The change in scenery would pale in comparison with the change in the culture of the west coast - one of the main reasons I now consider Portland my new home. Landing in Eugene’s airport, we were regaled with Ducks memorabilia. This was a pleasant surprise, as I had forgotten that this was where an old hero from my track days, Steve Prefontaine, used to run. This made me feel hopeful while waiting for Teahna and Prism, the leader of the educational team. I remember pacing the entrance hall of the airport with a giddy smile stretching from ear to ear. This was it, I told myself: I had finally found my new home. After a long day of airline travel, we were eventually picked up in Prism’s van. We were met with hugs and smiles, which rejuvenated us after the natural stress of the trip. We chatted the entire way back to Triangle Lake, where their headquarters supposedly was. Both Awen and I were antsy while being shaken back and forth while sitting on Prism’s bed for the duration of the drive. I distinctly remember the beautiful colors of the autumn trees as we drove past. This last little bit of our trip took roughly forty-five minutes, but it felt like we were pulling up to the headquarters in an instant. I caught a glimpse of a sign as we pulled into the long driveway: Circle of Children. This would be where we stayed for the first two months. The area was gorgeous. Giant trees covered in green moss extended as far as the eye could see. With the abundance of fern-life, it reminded me of a Jurassic paradise. Out the cracked window of the van, I could hear tree frogs chirping in harmony. It was certainly something out of another world compared to the east coast. We stopped in front of the main office - the only building with wifi. If I were to graph the amount of access to the internet we had across the ten months we were involved, it would have a steady, negative slope. Of course, while being conditioned by the group, it was barely noticed, as we grew less dependent on the internet as time went on. We were never barred from the outside world - in fact we interacted with it regularly - but the idea of leaving was made so impossibly far outside the bounds of possible choices through a long series of scripted events. Which is why the entire beginning of our stay at the Triangle Lake Convention Center seemed like something out of a fantasy paradise. Everything, from the overarching narrative we were fed, to the day-to-day interactions, was designed to win us over, gaslight us, and manipulate us emotionally by using our traumas against us. In the aftermath of the whole escapade, I learned that this is the type of manipulation that cults use to prevent members from seeing reason while keeping them docile, obedient work horses for the greater project, whatever it may be. It is clear to me now that Earth Nation and all tentacle organizations are a purely criminal enterprise - a money-making machine for those at the top of the hierarchical pyramid. Even though we were supposedly a DAO - a decentralized autonomous organization - there were clearly people who were centralized leaders profiting from everything the group did. And everybody played their roles well upon our arrival. We were greeted with another barrage of hugs as we got out of the van. Everybody was excited to finally meet us in person, as were we to meet them. We chatted with Dakota and Lila for some time outside of the office. They were the exact same as their online personas. In the moment, this gave us a sense that these people were genuine, but in hindsight it serves as a reminder that anyone can create a convincing character and play them whenever they want - even if they choose to never take their deceptive masks off. We were then shown where we would be staying. Up the hill and to the left we drove until we were in front of Carmen Hall. It was a quaint dorm-style lodging with a large common area and a small kitchenette. Many nights were spent in the common room with the others who were staying in the building. Because we were a couple, we were given the largest room with its own bathroom. That’s another thing that changed in a downward slope: our living quarters. Over the course of the ten months we were with them, we were downgraded from having our own space, to sharing space, to living in a tent. And again, because of the conditioning, we were fine with the change. Sometime during the early evening, we went back down to the dining hall and kitchen which was across the way from the main office. Here, we met a variety of characters, including Tuva, a humble appearing guy with a large social network he brought with him to the project, and Daniella, who would turn out to be mommy dearest as she was the sole woman controlling us for the majority of our adventure on the west coast. A Brazillian native, she was as good of a manipulator as she was a cook, and we all enjoyed a wonderful meal on our first night in Oregon. Before the night was up, we went behind the kitchen to smoke with a man named Grizzly; a wild looking man who mostly kept quiet but had a mouth to use if he needed it. It was the first time we smoked in Oregon and it felt liberating to finally be in a legal state. But, as freeing and fun as being able to smoke whenever we wanted, I believe the abundance of weed we were constantly fed was a means to keep us docile. Daniella always made sure we had some weed, and would frequently smoke with us. I feel I would have been able to say something as things changed if I were not dependent on the constant stream of marijuana. Afterwards, we went back to Carmen Hall with a couple of members who also stayed there, and Daniella performed a pendulum reading for me and my girlfriend. Holding a crystal on a chain, she “read” the direction it spun as she brought it up in alignment with our chakras. She was spot on and I wanted to say that she had excellent observation skills, but I kept my mouth shut. I didn’t want to offend anyone’s beliefs, especially my girlfriend who considered herself a mystic and bought into the act. That night we cuddled in our room, smiling as wide as our mouths could. We had done it - we successfully started our new lives and were going to be a part of something we still had yet to fully comprehend. Everything was new and exciting, and while we were overjoyed, we were glad we had each other because things were still scary. If only we had known then how scary things would become. Chapter 3 The next morning, we showered, dressed, and went down to the kitchen. There was a slight fog in the air, and we saw a family of deer in a clearing off the road. We would see this family of deer several times during out stay at Triangle Lake, which greatly enthused my girlfriend. She said they were a symbol of wisdom, and must be a good sign as we continued to be indoctrinated by the new age beliefs of the group. We were early, as our daily meetings were at ten and that is when most people started to show up at the office. But Grizzly was there, as he stayed at the nurses station that sat next to the main office. He offered us some dabs, which just further enforced our belief that this was a great group to be a part of. He also offered me a metal six-shooter pipe, which proved to be the main piece I would smoke out of for the entirety of our adventure. Breakfast consisted of whatever we could scrounge up. There was a huge walk-in freezer in the kitchen that hosted tons of food when we first got there. There were also a wide selection of dry foods such as figs and nuts. That whole selection would dwindle over time, as the group got everything as donations, usually by soliciting the local food pantries and the Eugene mission and much was close to their expiration dates. It was common to open the freezer and find something moldy. This was the first time I really interacted with Doran. Doran looked a lot like me - complete with similar beard and glasses - but had shorter, curlier, and darker hair. It was joked that “I was another you.” He appeared to be a really kind-hearted person, and we frequently went to him with problems. This is likely planned as well, to have someone to vent the frustrations we were experiencing as the project transitioned to something different than what we signed up for. I opened up to him before I did with other members, even asking for relationship advice as they tried turning Awen and I against each other between, and received what I now consider a long-standing act of being a good ear with standard advice from the group. Still, he was funny and I enjoyed making strange mixtures of food with him. As it neared ten, we shuffled to the office to have our meeting. The office had two rooms, and we were all huddled in a circle in one of them. This was nice during the coming months as it was also the only room with the heater. These meetings proved to be a main means to program us, as there were many exchanges that could have only been scripted. We would often talk about one thing, but there would be a subtopic that was teased that would change the meaning of the whole meeting in the context that I heard it. Often there would be some crosstalk in the kitchen beforehand, or something during the day that warped my understanding of what was said We were required to work thirty hours a week in order to receive our basic income of two hundred dollars a month, as per our agreements before moving to the headquarters. However, it wasn’t long before they duped us by saying the basic income would be used to cover our time staying at Triangle Lake. We weren’t able to fight it, because our tongues were tied by the desire to fit in and be accepted by the group. The ways that they changed things were gradual and deliberate, so that you would never really feel like you were getting taken advantage of. It was just a change, which was alright, because there was a world to save and we were the group who was going to get it done. That was one of the major ways they were able to get away with a lot of the back-pedaling of agreements - they would always have new, unexpected surprises waiting for us. It was gradual, but they introduced several new elements of communal living that required us to sacrifice more of our money and autonomy. They did this by having so-and-so nonchalantly bringing up these concerns in the meetings, then downplaying the resulting effects as something that should be expected, then agreeing with Dakota or Lila. Keeping track of my hours was a joke. For everything I did, I was told I should have taken less time in order to do. The criticism I received came tongue-in-cheek and constructive at first, but steadily devolved into a series of harsh critiques that would leave me distraught and unable to think clearly. I was still unmedicated back then, and my emotional state was as turbulent as a hurricane. They did similar things to my girlfriend, as Lila took her under her wing, treating her as her child in order to take advantage of her own trauma she had with her mother. If there was one thing these people really excelled at it is control. They figured us out quickly and efficiently and then used our traumas against us. Our second night there consisted of an informal group of the residents who stayed at Carmen Hall staring into each other’s eyes and then saying out loud what we felt at that moment. I remember staring at Daniella, who was a silhouette with the lamp directly behind her, and asking for healing. Something about the way she stared at me seemed to provoke a sense of trust and I felt that she would be able to help with a lot of the problems. That’s one way they won over us and got us to do whatever they wanted. They are experts at gaining people’s trust and then they take advantage of that fact. Through these scripted and planned events they were able to warp our realities to the point where we were already robotic slaves right off the bat. We certainly were eager to earn their approval and work our way to a position where we were seen as valuable members of the project. One of these planned events was Kukui’s birthday, which was just a few days after we got there. Kukui was a groundskeeper who had previously lived in Hawaii and was joked as being a ginger Jesus. He was an incredible person who really cared about the Earth. I have no idea if he was part of the manipulation or if he was there on similar beliefs that this was a group doing immense good in the world. Early on during the night’s preparation, Dakota and Lila walked up to us and asked if we wanted to go out to eat with them. This struck us as odd that they would abandon Kukui on his birthday, but we didn’t see it as too weird at the time. We struck up a conversation, where it was revealed that Dakota had two EBT cards from different states. One big hook they sunk into us was the idea that it was us versus the government. They managed to convince us that the institutions of the world were parasitic - which they usually are - but did it in such a way that made us feel like we were in a spiritual war against the bad boogie men of the world. And they managed this by gradually exposing us to more and more deliberate acts of defiance, in order to manifest our own sovereignty against the parasitic government. It’s what led to us accepting some of their more diabolic schemes. For instance, there was talk about building a village in Ava, Missouri, moving all their people in, and then taking over the mayorship. They chose Missouri for this plan due to the different building codes of the state. In the moment, this seemed like a brilliant plan for expanding the influence of Earth Nation, but in hindsight appears to be a dystopian means to increase their power and continue taking advantage of people. These were little seeds they planted that made us more comfortable with doing certain things that we otherwise wouldn’t. Awen was particularly uncomfortable with many of the things we did, but eventually they did get her to help out with their schemes. By keeping us under fear and gradually conditioning us, they were able to make us obedient as we were always looking out for our immediate survival. Fear. That is an emotion I am now excessively familiar with as a result of this cult. While I have battled paranoia all my life, they took those primal emotions and twisted them to the point that I had no idea which way was up. Each day gradually became a battle while being on high alert, as I constantly scrambled to overcome whatever artificial set-backs were planted in my way and keep up with the workload that was presented to me. My first exposure to this form of emotional manipulation came during Halloween. The night began jovially as Doran wore a plastic bag as a costume and invented a new dance that we all participated in. Daniella was preparing a large meal in the kitchen while we helped and played in rhythm to one another. The dinner we shared was only part of the night’s events that would change my life completely. After dinner, Awen and I went back to our room and talked about what we wanted to do that night. The rest of the group was still down at the dining hall and preparing for a fun night of festivities. Awen was not opposed to me going, but she was and still is a pagan and wanted to celebrate her ancestors as per the tradition of Samhain. I debated spending the night with her, but the opportunity to spend time with these new people in our life made me curious as to what they would be doing. I will also admit that I was much more controlled by my addictive nature and was excited to drink with them. So down I went. As I entered the dining hall, I saw that they were drinking tequila and generally having a great time. Naturally, I joined in and took a shot. Jovial times were had, and some time later I was offered another shot, but I did not see them pour this one. This turned out to be a crucial mistake on my part as I would find out that there was something else, something with psychedelic qualities, in the drink. It was not LSD, as I am familiar with the effects of that drug, so I am at a loss for what it could have been. As the night went on I began to feel funny. It wasn’t until we were in a smoke circle that I began to notice something was wrong. I had trouble forming words and when Grizzly asked me a question all I could muster was a “hi!” This tripped me up and I went inside to go sit down. This is where my memory starts to get fuzzy. I was mostly left alone as I sat cross-legged on a mat on the floor, but eventually there were three other people sitting around me, with a bottle placed in the center of us. I remember Prism and Josh, a carpenter who was doing some work on the buildings at Triangle Lake, were two of the people surrounding me, but I don’t remember any of the conversation they were having. I just remember getting really spooked at that time and tried to leave. I don’t know how long it took me to get back to Awen, but I do remember the headlights of a vehicle coming down the hill as I was going up. It was late by the time I made it back in into Carmen Hall, which suggests that I have no memory of what happened after the apparent spin-the-bottle episode. My memory starts to get better as I remember lying there with Awen trying to articulate what was going on, but my words just spiraled into incomprehensible nonsense. She was worried for me, just as I was worried for myself. The next morning continued on as if nothing ever happened, but I was emotionally jostled for the next few days. Nothing was ever said about what happened the night before, and a part of me was terrified that something happened Because my mother had AIDS, and that is a terror I still battle to this day, I obsessed over the idea that Prism, who was HIV positive, may have done something with me. I’ve since been tested and everything’s fine, but for a while I was terrified that I was raped. Was that a rational or irrational fear? I’ll never know. What I do know is that they took advantage of my perturbed state by subtly twisting the knife in the following days with their synchronous set-ups, making me feel guilty that I did not choose to spend time with Awen that night, and thus making me work harder than ever before. Chapter 4 in comments
Earlier than normal college move out plus more to come?
So due to the pandemic I was not fully able to dive this year's move out. As students were given 3 days to move out starting Sunday. The result was all 3 of those being hectic and also Monday and Tuesday workdays. So instead of trying to dive an active situation(turns out I should have) I got up 2 hours before work to do a quick college dive in heavy snow and fog, lovely. I missed the really expensive stuff it seems. All the textbooks and tech were already cleaned out. I did get away with a decent clothes including the most comfy sweaters, Varsity sweater, hard to find hippie clothes, and an exact black baseball jersey as one I already own but larger and thus actually fits better, so big plus to find the exact favorite shirt but better fit. This weekend is the last of the month and when I'd believe all the off campus apartments are moving out. So a 2nd chance at the TV, laptops, computers, textbooks, etc. Another note of interest is that the location around 60 miles only having 1 case at the time and still very low infection so quite safe atm. One of the towns I dive is over 10 cases so no longer going there. All the 2nd hand stores are closed and could be closed for a while. So the quality of the dumpster loot will be considerably higher, which sucks when a diver doesn't get to it in time. I'm probably going to see the return of leather jackets, suits, helmets, sports stuff, electronics, etc. So when the inevitable happens at work At least I will see an uptick in my finds. My covid strategy is to "quarantine" the items in my storage unit until ready(a day or so for clothes, 2 weeks everything else). using tubs to directly place items in, using gloves and masks, visiting low or zero infection areas. Here are some examples with generic names. North town: infected with 14 cases, will avoid(highest) My town: 6 cases, caution, easy mode only, no digging, just plucking. East town: The town with the college/university. only 1 case South town: No cases, however a reservation on the way is considering lockdown to protect it's members and it would mean going around said area. Tiny towns: towns with maybe 1 or 2 dumpsters in the whole place, there are two of these. The rez: once again, lock-down likely with gates and roadblocks. Why look closely at case numbers. If ever you see numbers increase suddenly and then stop, that is a warning sign that an apartment building is infected, meaning there is a higher chance of the virus in apartment dumpsters. Retail ones are the most risky. Small residential alley and street bins are generally fine though i generally don't pick those because you got thousands of them and maybe a few of that will score. Interestingly is that too many people still try and dump their "donations" at 2nd hand stores even though they are closed. So raiding the likely lost(because of weeks/months in the rain) stacks of boxes and bags that pile up behind the sally an isn't a bad idea. I worked at one in 2008 and 90% of the stuff that got left on the weekend in the rain ended up in the garbage. I have been diving every odd time for the last 5 years, more as something to do then a necessity. Inspired by youtube divers like MomtheEbayer, Omargosh, Vidvulture, Befkast, Taco stacks, and others. One thing is clear, the global pandemic may cause me to have a lot of time on my hands, trading bitcoins, learning languages, and of course some dumpster diving(provided there is no hard lockdown) It has resulted in me almost never needing to buy clothes, save on building materials for projects like my RV trailer deck, workshop(supposed to be my dining room lolz) table. Perhaps I will snap some pics of my finds from time to time.
Establishing a smart contract commercial scenario: Chainlink, Zk-Snarks and sharding technology work together to make the ultimate killer
This text was translated from Chinese, open following link in Chrome and translate to see all images: https://bihu.com/article/1242138347 EDIT: found an English text with pictures: https://medium.com/@rogerfeng/making-smart-contracts-work-for-business-how-chainlink-zk-snarks-sharding-finally-delivered-8f268af75ca2 Author: Feng Jie translation: Liu Sha “The highest state of technology is to integrate into the various scenes of everyday life, to fade away from high-tech outerwear and become a part of everyday life.” – Mark Weiser People in the future will not even think that smart contracts are "innovative." By that time, smart contracts would permeate every aspect of life, and people couldn't even imagine what the era of non-digital currency would look like. Later historians may divide human business history into two eras, the pre-smart contract era and the post-smart contract era. After all, digital money has brought unprecedented changes to the nature and patterns of business practices in the real world. An anonymous member of the Chainlink community once said: "Smart contracts can change the DNA of the business." Of course, like all the technological revolutions of the past, smart contracts also need to reach a "tipping point" to truly achieve large-scale applications. So we need to ask ourselves two questions:
What exactly is this so-called tipping point?
As of August 2019, have we reached this tipping point?
To reach the tipping point means unlocking the ultimate nirvana of business. Tipping point We can think about this issue from the perspective of mainstream companies. Imagine what a perfect smart contract platform should look like. What characteristics should this platform have? Or what features must be possessed? To reach the tipping point, you must establish a public chain with the following four characteristics:
In addition to the cryptocurrency, the transaction can also be settled in mainstream legal currency and comply with the regulatory requirements of financial markets such as ISO 20022.
Achieve scalability without sacrificing decentralization or security, that is, solving the "impossible triangle problem."
Connect the external data under the chain, that is, solve the "prophecy problem."
Now that we have Chainlink, zk-snarks and sharding technology, we have reached this tipping point. Next, let's explore how this ultimate nirvana is actually made. Our discussion will be mainly from the perspective of Ethereum, which is still the top smart contract platform for community size and mainstream applications. So what about the private chain? Before delving into it, I want to take the time to solve an unavoidable problem. The mainstream view has always believed that the private chain is a more suitable solution for the enterprise. Therefore, we first dialectically analyze the two advantages and two major drawbacks of the private chain. Disadvantages
Centralization leads to relatively lower security
It's not surprising that IBM and Maersk's blockchain freight alliances have a hard time finding customers who are willing to join. How can other freight companies be willing to let their biggest competitors (Maersk) verify their trading data? Only madmen dare to do this.
The staking of the horses occupy the hills:
This problem is even more serious than centralization. John Wolpert, co-founder of the IBM blockchain, wrote an excellent article called Breaking the Barriers to Realize Security: Why Companies Should Embrace the Ethereum Public Chain, which he covered in detail in the article. If every company builds its own private chain, it will lead to chaos in the mountains. Today's B2B ecosystem is very complex. Imagine the innumerable private chains of the world intertwined to form a huge "spider web." This is not only cost-effective, but also not scalable. The starting point of the blockchain is to break down barriers instead of building more barriers. "One day, one of your big buyers called you to ask if you want to join their private chain. You promised. The next day you received a call from the wholesaler to ask you the same question. Then came the supplier, freight. Business, insurance company or even bank, and each company may have several private chains! Finally you have to invest a lot of time and cost to operate dozens of blockchains every day . If there are partners to let you join them at this time The private chain, you might say "Forget it, or fax me the order!" ”—Paul Brody (Ernst & Young) “Every time you connect two private chains through a system integrator, you have to pay a lot of money .” Advantage
Scalability: With the Ethereum public chain implementing fragmentation technology, this advantage is rapidly shrinking.
Privacy protection: At this stage, the classification of public chain / private chain is actually not very accurate. The Aztec , Zether, and Nightfall protocols (both based on the zk-snarks protocol) effectively provide a "private chain model" for the Ethereum public chain, allowing it to switch between the public and private chains. Therefore, a more accurate classification should be the alliance chain and the public chain.
By 2020, the label of the public chain/private chain will gradually disappear. The public and private chains will no longer be two opposing concepts. Instead, the concept of publicly traded/private transactions and confidential contracts/open contracts is changed, and the scope of these transactions and contracts varies according to specific needs, either bilaterally or multilaterally or even publicly. All in all, the private chain has two major drawbacks compared to the public chain. Not only that, but the two major advantages of the private chain are also rapidly disappearing. “Technology will evolve over time, so there will be a variety of solutions to solve existing problems. Ultimately, the public-chain platform will have the same performance, scalability and data privacy as the private chain, while at the same time ensuring security and Decentralized." Feature 1: Privacy protection (predictive machine and public chain privacy) Enigma founder Guy Zyskind once joked in his MIT graduation thesis that smart contracts can only become commercially valuable if they become "confidential contracts." He later proposed that zk-snarks and Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) are the most promising solutions. He said nothing wrong. What is zk-snarks ? Zk-snarks is a zero-knowledge proof mechanism (ZPK). So what is the zero-knowledge proof mechanism? In short: a zero-knowledge proof mechanism allows you to prove that you own certain information without revealing the content of the information. Vitalik Buterin explained this concept in detail from a technical point of view in an article published in 2017. Hackernoon also wrote an excellent article explaining the concept in an easy-to-understand way with the example of a five-year-old child and Halloween candy. What is the trusted execution environment? The trusted execution environment lets the code run on closed hardware, and 1 ) The guarantee result cannot be tampered with 2 ) Protecting absolute privacy, even hardware running code can't get confidential information. The most well-known trusted execution environment is Intel SGX. Chainlink has established a partnership with Intel SGX after acquiring Tom Crier. Ernst & Young released the Nightfall agreement on Github on May 31, 2019. A well-known accounting firm with a history of 100 years will choose to add privacy features to the public chain instead of developing a private chain. This is a problem. Since then, the community has been actively developing on this basis, not only to improve the code, but also to develop a plug-and-play Truffle Box for those who are not good at writing code. Blockchain communities and businesses generally rarely collaborate, so these collaborations fully demonstrate the popularity of Nightfall. Prior to this, two zk-snark-based Ethereum public chain privacy protocols were introduced, namely AZTEC (Consensys) and Zether (Stanford, JPMorgan Chase). An obvious trend is slowly taking shape. In the field of oracles, Chainlink uses both zero-knowledge proof and a trusted execution environment to complement each other. Trusted execution environments guarantee data privacy, even for nodes that cannot access data (this feature is critical for bank accounts and API keys). Chainlink is still trying to implement a trusted execution environment, and nodes can access data temporarily, so authentication services are also needed. Although the credible execution environment is almost 100% foolproof, in theory, a strong shield has a spear that can penetrate it. Therefore, the team is currently trying to run zk-snarks in a trusted execution environment (Thomas Hodges mentioned this in the 2019 Trufflecon Q&A session). The combination of the two can form a very robust and complete system. The attacker must find a way to strip all the layers of an onion at the same time to make any effective attack (and it is already difficult to peel off a layer of skin). “Chainlink combines a trusted execution environment with zero-knowledge proof to build what we call a defense-in-depth system, which means they provide all the tools needed for smart contract developers, including trusted execution environments, multiple nodes, and Data sources, fine margins, reputation systems, asymmetric encryption, zero-knowledge proofs, WASM, and OTP+RNG, these features allow smart contract developers to adjust the confidentiality and cost of contracts based on specific budget and security needs. Machine, Chainlink and its four major application scenarios》 In the future, zk-snarks may be upgraded to zk-starks (a fully transparent zero-knowledge proof mechanism) that protects the system from quantum computer attacks. And the best thing about zk-starks is that it's more scalable than zk-snarks. In other words, it can better protect privacy, and the cost of gas will not increase. If you want to learn more about zk-starks, you can read a popular science article written by Adam Luciano. Feature 2: Scalability (scalability of predictive machines and public chains) To understand this problem, we can make an analogy like this: A public chain is like a large enterprise, and every employee (ie, a node) must attend each meeting (ie, confirm each transaction). Imagine how inefficient this company is! Only customers who have a lot of money (ie gas fees) can get their requests to the forefront. And this is not the most serious problem. The most serious problem is that the more employees (ie nodes) who join the company, the harder it is for the company to function properly! In the end, the company not only failed to expand linearly, but also became smaller and smaller. Although this guarantees decentralization and security to the greatest extent, the price is completely abandoning scalability. There are various temporary fire fighting solutions, but no one solution can completely solve this "impossible triangle problem." For example, EOS uses the DPOS mechanism (share authorization certification mechanism), where only 21 super nodes (many of which are well-known nodes) are responsible for verifying all transactions. Sidechains (such as Bitcoin's Lightning Network and Ethereum's lightning network) guarantee scalability and decentralization at the expense of security. So how to use the fragmentation technology to solve this problem? Let's make another analogy: In reality, there is only one company that is not too much to ask everyone to attend all meetings, that is, small start-ups (that is, private chains that limit the number of nodes). In most cases, large companies divide employees into thousands of teams (ie, shards), and each team's principal (ie, the certifier) is responsible for reporting to the senior management (ie, the main chain). If people from different teams need to collaborate (and sometimes also), then they can collaborate by cross-shard receipts. If a new employee joins the company, the team can be re-segmented (ie re-sharding). This allows for linear expansion. In fact, the process of developing a start-up to a large enterprise is surprisingly similar to the process of Ethereum 1.0 developing into Ethereum 2.0. “The Ethereum 1.0 period is that several people who are alone are trying to build a world computer; and Ethereum 2.0 will really develop into a world computer.” Vitalik Buterin said in the first piece of the workshop. Since Ethereum was not originally built on the principle of fragmentation, it takes seven steps to achieve the goal (this is a bit like the word morphing solitaire game). The first step is planned for January 3, 2020. At the same time, developers can use many other blockchain platforms designed based on the fragmentation principle. Some platforms, including Zilliqa and Quarkchain, are already compatible with Chainlink. If you want to see more in-depth technical analysis of shards, check out an article by Ramy Zhang. In the field of oracles, Chainlink has the following two characteristics: 1 ) Use Schnorr threshold signatures to quickly reach consensus in a cost-effective manner. The next version of the chain only needs 16,000 gas. 2 ) We have previously discussed the need to use trusted execution environment hardware to ensure that nodes cannot access sensitive data. Since you have hardware in your hand, you can use it to do some actual computing work, so that you can properly reduce the amount of computation on the smart contract platform. "With the SGX system (Town Crier) and zero-knowledge proof technology, the oracle can be truly reliable and confidential, so the boundaries between the oracle and the smart contract are beginning to flow... Our long-term strategy... is to let The predictor becomes the key chain of computing resources used by most smart contracts. We believe that the way to achieve this goal is to perform chain operations in the oracle to meet various computing needs, and then send the results to the smart contract."Chainlink White Paper, Section 6.3 (26 pages) Of course, this “long-term strategy” has certain risks, unless Chainlink can implement a trusted execution environment and its service provider ecosystem can achieve a qualitative leap. However, the Chainlink team's vision is absolutely forward-looking: under-chain computing is a key factor in ensuring that blockchains are not dragged down by large amounts of IoT data. The Internet of Things has dramatically increased the current state of big data. At present, most of the data is still generated on the software side, and it is not real-time data, and most of the data in the future will be real-time data generated on the sensor side. One of the big drawbacks of real-time data is that it increases storage pressure. For example, Coughlin Associates expects an unmanned car to generate 1G of data per second. This means that the same car will produce 3.6T data per hour! The only viable solution is to do real-time analysis of the data, rather than storing the data first. In the Global Cloud Index: 2016-2021 Forecast and Methodology White Paper, Cisco predicts that more than 90% of data in 2021 will be analyzed in real time without storage. That is to say, the essence of data is that it can only exist in just one instant. The nature of the blockchain is not to be modified, so the two are as incompatible as water and oil. The solution is to analyze the raw data under the chain, extract the meaningful results and send them to the blockchain. The combination of fragmentation technology and trusted execution environment forms a new computing architecture, similar to the cloud computing-fog computing-edge computing architecture. It should be noted here that it is good to improve computing power, but this is not the main purpose of the blockchain. The fundamental purpose of the blockchain is not to reduce the original cost of computing and data storage. After all, technology giants such as Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Salesforce, Tencent, Alibaba, and Dropbox have built world-class cloud services. The centralized server wins high computational efficiency (but the blockchain will greatly improve the computational efficiency through fragmentation technology, and will catch up with it one day). The value of the blockchain is to reduce the cost of building trust. Nick Szabo calls it "social scalability" (this is a relative concept to the "operational" scalability we have been talking about). Vitalik Buterin also made it clear that the meaning of smart contracts is to accept small arithmetic delay penalties in exchange for a substantial reduction in "social costs." Alex Coventry of the Chainlink team once raised the question: "We have missed many opportunities for cooperation and reciprocity because we can't confirm whether the other party will fulfill the promise?" Is there any potential for data storage projects like Siacoin and IPFS? What about decentralized computing projects like SONM and Golem? Siacoin 's core value proposition is not that its computing efficiency is higher than traditional cloud services. The cost of computing is required to split, repeat, and reassemble data. And companies are more capable of buying the latest and greatest hardware than individuals. Siacoin's core value proposition is to process data in an Airbnb-like mode, so management fees will be lower than traditional models. It also generates additional social value, such as flood control, privacy and security, and anti-censorship. The same is true of Golem and SONM. Even with the most efficient protocol, it is inevitable that a small amount of delay will be imposed and fined to coordinate the hardware of different geographical locations. Therefore, under the condition that all other conditions are equal, the centralized hardware still has the advantage of faster computing speed. However, the core value proposition of the above project is to use the Airbnb-like model to reduce management costs. We must strictly distinguish between "social scalability" and "operational scalability", and the two cannot be confused. I will explain these two concepts in detail when I discuss "Magic Bus and Lightweight Library" later. Feature 3: Compatible with legal currency Most mainstream companies do not regard cryptocurrencies as "real currencies." In addition, even if someone wants to use cryptocurrency for trading, it is very difficult to actually operate because of its high price volatility. I discussed the “price volatility problem” in detail in Chapters 8 and 9 of the previous article. These problems do not completely erase the existence value of cryptocurrencies, because cryptocurrencies also have many advantages that legal currency does not have. I am just emphasizing what we need to know more about the comfort zone of mainstream companies. Chainlink acts as a universal API connector that triggers open banking payments. Chainlink is fully compliant with ISO 20022 and has established a long-term partnership with SWIFT (it is worth mentioning that SWIFT has not been updated for a long time and hopes to be updated after the SIBOS 2019 conference). PSD2 will take effect on September 14, 2019. All banks in the EU will all comply with this new regulation by then. In other words, the bank must put all account data in the "front end" and can be called through the API. The approved third party (ie, the Chainlink node) can trigger the payment directly without the payment service provider. Although the United States and Japan have not adopted similar laws, many banks still spontaneously promote the development of open banks. Banks open APIs to third-party developers to create new revenue streams and customer experiences that ultimately increase profitability. In addition, this will allow banks to better respond to competitors in the mobile payment and financial technology sectors in an APP-centric economic model. As this open banking revolution continues, Chainlink will connect smart contracts with the world's major currencies (US dollar, euro, yen, etc.). Only one external adapter is required to connect to the authenticated API. From a programming perspective, it is relatively simple to allow everyone in the community to contribute code to the code base (and thus achieve scalability). Chainlink has released adapters for PayPal and Mister Tango (European version of PayPal). Feature 4: Data connection with the chain Chainlink has been working on solving the "prophecy problem" and successfully succeeded on the main online line on May 30, 2019. Chainlink has made many achievements in just a few months. Provable (formerly Oraclize) was successfully used on the Chainlink node and finally settled the debate about whether the predictor should be centralized or decentralized. Synthetic Ether lost 37 million Ethercoins in a hack because it did not connect to Chainlink. Fortunately, the money was finally recovered and did not cause any loss. This lesson illustrates the importance of decentralized oracles. In addition, both Oracle and Google have partnered with Chainlink to monetize their API data and create a virtuous circle to capture the market opportunities that Facebook missed. There are new nodes coming online every week, and the network activity has been very high. The Chainlink team maintains a list of certified nodes in the documentation and Twitter releases. Twitter user CryptoSponge also set up a new development for the Tableau push update Chainlink team: Regarding the importance of the current stage in the history of blockchain development, Brad Huston summed it up very brilliantly: "The biggest problem with cryptocurrencies is to build bridges between cryptocurrencies, fiat currencies and big data. Chainlink is very beautifully narrowing the distance between the three. Now it can even be said: 'The bridge has been built.'" Magic bus and lightweight library Let's summarize what we discussed earlier. The real purpose of the blockchain is to reduce the cost of building trust and achieve "social scalability." Therefore, according to this logic, the main application scenarios of platforms such as Ethereum 2.0 and Zilliqa should be in the B2B field. I quote a sentence I wrote in a previous article: “My conclusion is: If the smart contract is successful, it will also succeed in the B2B field first.” The private chain itself is self-contradictory and destined to fail. It has led to the phenomenon of occupying the hills, thus increasing the social cost, which is in opposition to B2B itself, and ultimately it is self-restraint. ” Before the emergence of fragmentation technology, even simple games (ie, etheric cats) could not be smoothly run on the public chain, let alone dealing with complex B2B contracts and even changing commercial DNA. With the sharding technology, everything is ready. Despite this, we can't use Ethereum 2.0 as an all-powerful platform. Just now we said that although it is a good thing to speed up the calculation, this is not the real purpose of Ethereum 2.0. And before we also said that due to the irreversible modification of the blockchain, it is not good to deal with a large number of fleeting real-time data of the Internet of Things. In other words, we must be soberly aware that Ethereum 2.0 will not replace traditional web 2.0. Instead, we should make better use of the real advantages of Ethereum 2.0: “There is a new concept now, that is to think of the Ethereum main network as a global bus... We use the Ethereum 2.0 main network to treat various business resources as a working group on Slack: it can be easily built and integrated. And restructuring. The SAP inventory management system in your company, the dealer's JD Edwards ERP system, and the financial technology partner's tall blockchain system can seamlessly interface, eliminating the need to develop an infrastructure specifically for each partner." - John Wolper describes his ideal "magic bus" Ethereum 2.0 should be an integration center, not a data center or computing center. It should be a library built specifically to store B2B contract terms (to be honest, even with fragmentation technology, the amount of data is large enough). We should not expect Ethereum 2.0 to be an all-powerful platform, but rather develop it into a "lightweight library." If we reorder the pyramid model just now, the architecture of the magic bus is obvious: Of course, the positional relationship in the above model is not static. With the development of 5G technology, edge computing and IoT sensors, they may bypass the cloud to directly interact (or even bypass the fog end). If the collaboration between Iotex and Chainlink is successful, then the edge can interact directly with the trusted execution environment. Time will tell if Airbnb's shared data storage and computing model can make management costs lower than the current mainstream Web 2.0 model. Time will also prove whether the market really needs anti-censorship, anti-tampering, security protection and privacy protection. Do users really care about these social values and are willing to pay for them? Do they think these are just the icing on the cake or the most fundamental value? in conclusion Whether it is the battle between web2.0 and web3.0 or the battle between cryptocurrency and legal currency, one thing is beyond doubt: We have reached the tipping point, and the era of smart contracts with commercial value has arrived. In fact, the only problem at the moment is the time issue, and the main roadblocks have been basically cleared.
When will Ethereum 2.0 finish these 7 stages and be officially released?
When will Chainlink use a trusted execution environment on a large scale? If the cooperation between Intel SGX and Town Crier fails, what alternative plans are there? Will Chainlink communicate with other blockchain teams that plan to use a trusted execution environment (such as Dawn Song's Oasis Labs)?
At present, the main technical problems in the ecosystem have been solved, and now it is only necessary to recruit a group of enthusiastic developers to do the work of “connecting the line”. Digital currency has changed commercial DNA, and the future is full of possibilities. The only thing that hinders us now is our own imagination. The future is infinitely imaginative, and the future will be the world of developers. Dapps is already overwhelming. There is no doubt that we have found the ultimate nirvana. This text was translated from Chinese, open following in Chrome and translate to see all images: https://bihu.com/article/1242138347
Tier list for the new Ranked Patch! (write-up inside)
https://preview.redd.it/fc2n40ou0r831.png?width=458&format=png&auto=webp&s=8666c530b1216d43e9cc20f7d577f928ec32cee6 A quick stream of consciousness write-up for an explanation of tier list for the current Season 2 Ranked patch in Apex Legends. Mostly relevant in Diamond+ queues. Quick note: Most comps use Wraith and Wattson, plus a flex slot. For non-Wattson comps, usually Wraith and Pathfinder, with a flex slot (usually Bangalore) Wraith (S+): Always has been and continues to be a non-negotiable character in any meta. Portals allow for safe rotations without taking any poke damage or minimizing the amount of damage you take, helping massively with your shield cell economy, where shields are more valuable than bitcoin in high level play; portals also aid in being able to contest Game Packages safely if you are already playing within the safe zone; portals also aid in engaging into a fight while having an out from a 3rd party. Her hitbox is one of the smallest in the game, and combined with smart use of positioning, she can create a lot of space for her team when playing aggressively, while still being able to retreat safely to her own team if things are not going favorably. With the changes to fog mechanics ticking for up to 25 damage per tick in the endgame, her ghostwalk ability gains even more value than it already had previously, making Wraith deserving of being bumped up yet another tier, but let's not go there. Portal hopping in the end-game also has a massive value increase in terms of being able to avoid fog damage. TLDR, portal and ghost walk OP. Pathfinder (S): After the dreaded buggy hitbox, his mobility is still unparalleled to any other character, which makes chasing, flanking, disengaging, and solo play insanely strong. Pathfinder opens up a lot of angles to attack from, as well as makes securing high-ground much easier. Just putting a zipline to an opposing team on high ground causes a massive amount of pressure, even if you decide to never use it. While end circles are fairly predictable, every patch seems to change the way the circles curve to the end-game, which can throw off decision making depending on the playstyle of the group; this makes the value of his passive always relevant. There are also a lot of hiding spots that are only accessible to pathfinder which makes "ratting" for placement points a lot easier. Wattson (S): While its early to make too many concrete judgements, the value of Wattson is already easily accepted. With more LAN events on the horizon, Wattson will be a very good contender for one of the best characters in the game, due to the power of her ultimate. Once a Wattson is set up, it is near impossible to break her defenses, as the primary tool to push (grenades) is no longer usable. Her ultimate also saves on the shield economy when trying to gather information and poke, where disruptor rounds reign rampant. Wattson also opens up the option for more dangerous buildings and locations that are otherwise unusable without her. I predict that this character will make end-game circles far more dense and harder to maneuver in, since more spots will be available and defendable. Lifeline (A, down from S): Once a solid S tier character, she took a great hit in season 2 with her drone going out of commission in only two ticks of each fog. One of her great strengths in the previous patch was the ability to loot for long periods of time in the fog to gear up as much as possible, since she saved a lot of syringes for the group. She is also no longer able to outheal fog damage in the lategame. Nonetheless, she still has one of the smallest hitboxes in the game, as well as one of the best passives in the game. Her ultimate still has good utility, as it usually secures at least 1 purple armor throughout a match, as well as having the ability to create mobile cover to aid in controlling locations that might be difficult to hold without her. Her passive for 25% fast heal is also great for skirmishing to be able to create pressure much more often. Lifeline will still have a place in competitive play depending on a group's playstyle. Bangalore (A): With lifeline's popularity going down, Bangalore's power goes up, because less digital threats are being spawned off lifeline packages. Bang still has great dueling power with her passive, as well as the ability to escape from situations. One thing that is keeping Bangalore below S tier is the lack of team mobility and Wattson. While her air strike was once used in conjuction with portals and ziplines to create aggressive pushes and allow great bullying power, a Wattson secured on high ground completely nullifies that option. Nonetheless, her airstrike is still great defensive utility, which it was more commonly used for, as well as an anti third-party tool when engaging with another squad. Bangalore still pairs well with an aggressive style composition with characters such as Wraith and Pathfinder. Gibraltar (A, up from B): With the Gibraltar buff in a previous patch and the longbow/sniper buffs simultaneously, the viability of this character went way up from low tier to B tier. With yet another buff to his damage reduction, as well as the Disruptor Round meta, Gibraltar is worthy of being bumped up to A tier. His personal shield is not affected by the increased damage by alternator's hop-up, effectively taking an extra 5 bullets before dipping into your shields. His personal shield allows him to conserve shields and out-trade any sniper, including a Kraber. In addition, Gibraltar and Caustic are the only two characters who cannot be 1-shot in the head when wearing purple armor and helmet by a Kraber. Like Caustic, Gibraltar's value goes up the closer to endgame you get. However, like an issue with Bangalore, Wattson's ultimate is a direct counter to Gibraltar's ultimate, so the ability to bully people off high ground can prove to be difficult. His dome shield is a very useful tool in endgame situations that have little cover to guarantee that your squad will be the 3rd party. Gibraltar is very good at holding angles when set up in good positions and must be played around properly to fully gain value out of his kit; does not fit an aggressive playstyle. Caustic (A, up from B): With many similar reasons above, I'm bumping Caustic up a tier. Caustic as seen a lot of experimentation in higher level play by a fair number of teams. His ability to bully people out of buildings and take it for your own is unparalleled, except with Wattson in the picture. However, his traps are still a useful tool to push with against a Wattson as you can bypass the trophy system with these, as long as you have enough time to do so. Caustic also pairs very well with Wattson, creating an even more indestructible defense. Like Gibraltar, Caustic's value increases the closer he gets to endgame, where his ultimate practically guarantees victory. Octane (B, down from A): Some places on the map are now changed or completely inaccessible, causing me to bump octane down a tier or two. I previously underrated this character until Exko made a massive twitter post on all the tech an Octane can provide to allow your entire team to bypass certain choke points. With season 2 now in play, more things still need to be discovered before he is bumped back up a tier or two, since Pathfinder mostly fills Octane's role, but better in most cases. Nonetheless, he is great for aggressive compositions, and is a good skirmisher. Bloodhound (C, up from D): While bloodhound got a nice buff to his Scan ability, it wasn't enough to push him/her into viability. His passive is his most useful tool for playing edge in order to figure out if and where you are getting gatekept. Scan's most useful function is to scout buildings that teams may be playing quiet for cheese kills. At least Bloodhound isn't Mirage tier. Mirage (D): His invisibility mechanic and changes weren't enough. He provides zero useful utility to a team, other than to style and tilt an opponent. Sucks to suck.
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Why the blocksize limit keeps Bitcoin free and decentralized
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