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submitted by UpDown_bt to BitcoinMarkets [link] [comments]

# /r/Peloton Pre-TDF Survey 2020

Gentlemen, Ladies and those otherwise addressed - we know you've been waiting for a good thing, and the survey results are finally ready!
The answers were collected from you all during August 2020 with 1428 unique replies. That's a participation of 0.5% of all subscribers! That's really not too bad, when you keep in mind how popular these kind of surveys are. But we here at /peloton want to show you that this is all about presenting the information in the subreddit to cater better to our audience!
Updated after a few hours to include some more historical data the final edit that for some reason wasn't copied properly
Year 2013 2014 2015 2016 2018 Mar 2018 Aug 2019 2020
Results 2013-06-12 2014-06-25 2015-08-07 2016-11-17 2018-03-06 2018-08-20 2019-07-22 2020-10-12
Replies 351 598 1395 892 630 928 986 1428
Without further ado, let's get cracking on the response

You and Cycling

1. Where do you live?

Country 2015 2016 2018 Mar 2018 Aug 2019 2020
USA 32% 28.3% 22.84% 25.32% 20.23% 24.59%
UK 18.6% 17.6% 14.70% 20.13% 15.48% 14.80%
Netherlands 6.4% 9.4% 11.50% 11.58% 10.01% 11.01%
Germany 3.73% 3.4% 4.95% 6.39% 7.84% 6.65%
Denmark 3.9% 3.6% 4.31% 3.79% 7.64% 5.79%
Belgium 3.8% 2.7% 8.15% 3.57% 5.78% 5.36%
France 2.01% 1.08% 2.88% 2.27% 5.26% 3.50%
Canada 4.9% 7% 6.39% 4.22% 4.95% 4.50%
Australia 5.2% 4.7% 3.83% 4.00% 4.33% 3.93%
Slovenia 0.73% 0.32% 1.30% 1.14% 2.14%
Norway 2.58% 1.8% 1.60% 1.95% 2.58% 1.86%
Sweden 1.08% 1.09% 1.44% 1.41% 1.75% 1.43%
Ireland 1.00% 1.09% 1.44% 1.19% 0.72% 1.36%
Portugal 1.65% 1.8% 2.40% 1.52% 1.34% 1.14%
Italy 1.45% 1.44% 0.65% 1.03% 1.07%
Largely the same picture as ever, with the US leading the way, the UK in second and then a sliding scale of Europeans countries. Slovenia continues to pick its way up the pile for obvious reasons!
World Map to demonstrate

2. What's your age?

u17 17-19 20-25 26-30 31-35 36-40 41-50 51+ Total
2015 2.22% 12.04% 41.51% 24.66% 10.68% 4.87% 2.94% 1.08% 1395
2016 1.5% 8.9% 40.8% 24% 12% 5.4% 5.2% 2% 887
2018 Mar 1% 7.1% 33.5% 27.4% 16.2% 7% 5.7% 2.1% 617
2018 Aug 1.7% 9% 33.9% 26.4% 15.5% 7% 5% 1.5% 905
2019 1.5% 6.6% 33.2% 27.5% 16.4% 7.1% 5.8% 2% 972
2020 1.3% 6.8% 31.7% 28% 16.6% 7.2% 5% 2.5% 1420
Pretty much the same as last year, with the usual reddit demographics of majority 20 somethings dominating.

3. What's your gender?

'13 '14 '15 '16 '18 (1) '18 (2) '19 '20
Male 97.2% 97% 94.9% 93.4% 93.3% 93.6% 95.1% 94.9%
Female 2.8% 2.7% 4.8% 5.3% 5.3% 5.4% 3.7% 4.8%
Other - 0.33% 0.29% 0.78% 0.76% - -
Non-Binary - - - - 0.64% 0.99% 1.2% 0.4%
More normality here for reddit.

4. How much of the men's season do you watch/follow?

Type March '18 (%) August '18 (%) 2019 (%) 2020 (%)
Grand Tours 84.7 92.0 90.2 87.3
Monuments 79.1 74.9 79 75.9
WT Stage races 67.4 62.4 70.5 71.7
WT One day races 73.3 59.8 62.3 60.7
Non WT Stage races 32.6 16.7 17.4 25
Non WT One day races 34.8 13.7 17.4 20.7
Literally everything I can consume 35.9 18.1 21.1 27.1
Whilst GT following may be down (somehow), all the lower level stuff is up, which makes sense considering how desperate we have been for any racing during the season shutdown.

5. Do you maintain an interest in women's professional road racing?

Do you maintain an interest in women's professional road racing? '19 '20
Yes 49.8 49.2
No 50.2 50.8
Still very much a half/half interest in women's cycling on the subreddit.

6. How much of the women's season do you follow?

The following is true for the half of you that follows womens cycling.
How Much %
Just the biggest televised events 63.15%
Most of the live televised/delayed coverage stuff 29.08%
All televised racing 5.09%
Down to .Pro & beyond 2.69%

7. How long have you been watching cycling?

How Long %
Under a year 2,95%
1-3 years 19,50%
4-6 years 19,85%
7-9 years 14,10%
10-12 years 13,81%
13-15 years 7,15%
15-20 years 10,73%
20-25 years 6,17%
25 years + 5,75%
Simplified the years a little this time, but whilst we have a fair number of newbies, most people have picked the sport up since around 2013/14.

Sporting Favourites

8. Do you have like/dislike feelings about WT teams?

Once more, 14.4% of people really don't have feelings on the subject.
Of those that do:
AG2R Astana Bahrain Bora CCC Cofidis Quick-Step EF FDJ
Like 352 213 127 770 156 116 847 724 423
Meh 775 620 773 415 889 896 310 448 700
Dislike 52 356 263 31 112 141 71 37 53
Karma 300 -143 -70 739 44 -25 776 677 370
Israel Lotto Michelton Movistar NTT Ineos Jumbo Sunweb Trek UAE
Like 135 364 517 231 101 304 925 279 383 118
Meh 740 764 626 646 931 414 282 805 765 734
Dislike 302 40 52 326 121 562 53 97 42 331
Karma -167 324 465 -95 -20 -258 872 182 341 -213
So, the most popular team this year is Jumbo-Visma, followed by Quick-Step & Bora-hansgrohe. Least popular are Ineos & UAE.
As per usual, no one cares about NTT & CCC, with nearly 81% of users rating NTT as meh. Pretty damning stuff.
Lastly, we have the usual historical comparison of how teams have fared over time, normalised to respondents to that question on the survey.
Things to note then, firstly that the Astana redemption arc is over, seeing them back in the negative, maybe Fulgsangs spring issues helped aid that? The petrodollar teams of UAE & Bahrain are stubbornly negative too, with Israel keeping up the Katusha negative streak. Meanwhile, at the top end, EF & Jumbo go from strength to strength, whilst some others like Sunweb are sliding over time - their transfer policies no doubt helping that.

10. Do you ride a bike regularly?

Answer 2018Mar 2018Aug 2019 2020
For fun 61.5% 63.4% 59.9% 62.9%
For fitness 59.3% 59.6% 54.8% 59.8%
For commuting 46% 46% 45.6% 40%
For racing 20.6% 20.6% 15.9% 17.7%
No, I don't 14.2% 12.9% 14.8% 13.6%
Still a fairly small group of racers out of all of us

11. Out of the sports you practice, is cycling your favourite?

Yes No
58,29% 41,71%
A new addition to the survey prompted by a good point last time, just over half of us rate cycling as the favourite sport we actually do.

12. What other sports do you follow?

Sport #
Association Football / Soccer 50.78%
Formula 1 35.81%
American Football 26.27%
Basketball 22.46%
Track & Field 17.58%
Esports (yes, this includes DotA) 17.30%
Rugby 14.27%
Skiing 14.12%
Ice Hockey 13.63%
Baseball 12.15%
Motorsports (Not including F1) 10.59%
Cricket 10.52%
Tennis 9.53%
Chess 8.97%
Triathlon 8.69%
Biathlon 8.12%
Snooker 7.06%
Golf 6.92%
Swimming 6.85%
Ski Jumping 6.78%
Climbing 5.72%
Martial Arts 5.65%
Handball 5.44%
Darts 5.01%
Speed Skating 5.01%
Football always tops the charts, and Formula 1 continues to rank extremely highly among our userbase. Those who have a little following below 5% include Sailing, Fencing, Surfing, Boxing & Ultra-Running.
Other cycling disciplines
Sport #
Cyclocross 22.10%
Track Cycling 14.34%
MTB 8.97%
BMX 1.20%

13. Out of the sports you follow, is cycling your favourite sport?

Yes No
61.79% 38,21%
Good. Makes sense if you hang out here.

Subreddit stats

14. How often do you participate in a /Peloton Race Thread whilst watching a race?

2015 2016 2018Mar 2018Aug 2019 2020
I always participate in Race Threads during races 2.8% 2% 2.2% 4% 2.5% 3%
I follow Race Threads during races 41.7% 36.7% 38.1% 42.1% 42.5% 38.9%
I often participate in Race Threads during races 16.8% 19% 16.5% 18.9% 15.2% 13%
I rarely/never participate in Race Threads during races 38.7% 41.3% 43.1% 35% 39.8% 45.1%
Slightly less invested than before, reverting back to an older trade.

15. How do you watch Races?

Method 2018Mar 2018Aug 2019 2020
Pirate Streams 62% 46.5% 50.2% 47.9%
Free Local TV 55.7% 64.5% 59.6% 53.9%
Desperately scrabbling for Youtube highlights 37.9% 30.2% 28.2% 24.9%
Paid Streaming services 32.3% 35.4% 38.3% 46.3%
Year on year, paid streaming services go up - the increasing availability of live content legally continues to improve, and so do the numbers on the survey.

16. Where else do you follow races live (in addition to watching them)?

Type 2018Mar 2018Aug 2019 2020
/Peloton race threads 86.2% 83.4% 80.2% 76.9%
Twitter 30.5% 34.7% 33.3% 38.3%
PCS Liveticker - - 30.2% 32%
Official tracker (if available) 24%
The Cyclingnews liveticker 26% 23.5% 21.5% 18.9%
Sporza (site/ticker) 1.89% 9.5% 10.8% 10.8%
NOS Liveblog - 6.8% 7% 9.2%
Steephill 0.52% 13.5% 10.2% 8.2%
/Peloton discord 6.5% 5.4% 7.5% 7.2%
Other cycling forums 15.1% 8.1% 7.6% 7%
feltet.dk - 2.2% 5.4% 5.2%
Facebook 3.8% 5.4% 4% 4.2%
BBC Ticker - 3.5% 2.1% 4.1%
DirectVelo - 1.3% 1.6% 1.8%
Non Cycling Forums - 1.3% 1.2% 1.2%
/cyc/ - 1.3% 1% 0.6%
/peloton IRC ~0 0.8% 0.4% 0.5%
The PCS liveticker continues to have a strong following, whilst the cyclingnews ticker slowly slides into less usage over time.

17. Do you use /Peloton mostly in classic reddit or redesign when on the desktop?

Type 2018 Aug 2019 2020
Classic 75.1% 67.2% 46.2%
Redesign 24.9% 32.8% 53.8%
Time to abandon ship. The end has come.

18. With what version of reddit do you browse the sub?

Version 2019 2020
Official App 17.9 31.1
Desktop Classic 37.8 25.8
3rd Party App 18.3 17.2
Mobile Web 12.4 14.7
Desktop Redesign 13.7 11.2
Phone browsing is very much in vogue.

19. How did you find the sub?

How %
Through other forms of reddit, f.e. /bicycling 48.33%
Too long - can't remember 38.65%
Google search 9,11%
My friend told me 2,28%
I wanted to talk about my exercise bike 0.78%
Twitter 0.5%
Lantern Rouge Youtube 0.28%

Other bits and bobs

20. Did you think back in March we would see any more racing this year?

Yes No
52,81% 47,19%
Despite the threat, we have seen racing again

21. Will we manage to fulfill the rest of the UCI calendar without further Covid-19 issues postponing more races?

Yes No
25.3% 74.7%
Sorry to you 25%, Amstel, Roubaix & a bunch of other races have falled foul of COVID-19 related cancellations.

22. When did you become aware of Alexander Foliforov?

When %
Before the 2016 Giro 3,25%
22nd May, 2016 15,55%
On /pelotonmemes in 2020 21,13%
Who? 60,07%
If you didn't know of the man, watching him demolish the Giro field in 2016 on the stage 15 ITT should help to gain understanding

23. Who will win the 2020 Tour de France?

Rider %
Roglic 52,12%
Bernal 16,57%
Pinot 9,24%
Dumoulin 7,9%
N.Quintana 2,82%
Pogacar 1,41%
Richie Porte 0,35%
We can safely say that most of us were wrong about this one.
That's not a lot of confidence in Richie Porte either, the man who was to finish on the third spot of the podium. Alexander Foliforov (0,23%) had just a tiny number of votes less, and that man wasn't even in the race.

24. What for you was the defining cycling moment of the previous decade?

We had a lot of brilliant suggestions, but these were the clear five favourites when we tabulated the results.
Honorable mentions go to the Giro 2018, which had Tom Dumoulin winning, and of almost identical fascination to many of you - Tom Dumoulin going on someones porta-potty in the middle of the stage.
Little bit of recency bias perhaps, but that's better than ignoring that this was for the last decade and firmly insisting Tom Boonens 2005 WC win was the biggest thing. Special shoutout to almost all the Danes present in /peloton who voted for Mads Pedersens WC win last year. It's an understandable reaction.

25. Any suggestions for the Survey?

New Questions
We promise to feature one of these suggestions in the next survey
Suggestions
We will try to implement this. But it will also skew results.
About the Survey
The subscribers are torn on Women's cycling, nearly a 50/50 split there as the survey showed - The moderators at /peloton are firmly in the "more cycling is better" basket, and we will continue to get as good coverage of womens cycling as possible.
Are you trying to give the moderators PTSD? Because this is how you give the moderators PTSD.

26. Any suggestions for the sub?

ALSJFLKAJSLDKJAØLSJKD:M:CSAM)=#/()=#=/")¤=/)! - Your moderator seems to be out of function. Please stand by while we find you a new moderator
The Weekly threads are great for these types of questions, where several people can contribute and build up once it is understood which information is relevant.
Our experience is that "limited" will never be so, if we're going to moderate it fairly. Moderating is not a popularity contest, but believe it or not, we're actually trying to be as fair as possible. and for that, we need rules that are not subjective. Unless you have a stationary exercise bike.
All of these are good suggestions, but remember that all of you can also contribute - The mods are sometimes stretched thin, specially in the middle of hectic race schedules. It's easier if one of you has a way to contact a rider or a person of interest and can facilitate the initial communication.
We've worked on this! The Official Standard is now as follows: [Race Thread] 202x Race Name – Stage X (Class)
This sounds as a nice community project for the after-season, and hopefully many of you subscribers can contribute.
Come with suggestions on how to tidy it up!
We have chastised all the mods. They are now perfectly trained in gender-neutral pronouns. Be well, fellow being.
If we can implement this for hard liquor, you know we will.
The spoiler rule is one that is discussed frequently - in general - some users absolutely hate it, but a majority love it. Perhaps we'll include a question in the next survey to see how this divide is exactly.
We actually do - whenever there is a matter of life or death, we think public information is more important than a spoiler rule. But at the same time, we try to collect all the different posts into one main thread, so to keep things focused and letting very speculative posts meet with hard evidence from other sources.
This is a tough ask of the internet. While we can agree that voting should be done accordingly to what insights they bring, not subjective opinions, it is very hard to turn that type of thinking around. We can ask of you, our subscribers, that you please think twice about hitting that downvote button, and only do so because of you think a post is factually incorrect, not because it differs with your own subjective opinion.
That's the primary analysis of the survey! Feel free to contribute with how you experience things here!
submitted by PelotonMod to peloton [link] [comments]

The classic WSB story - lost it all.

Going to keep this simple. EDIT: this isn’t simple and I should write a short story on this.
I am generally risk averse. I hate losing $100 at the casino, I hate paying extra for guac at chipotles, I will return something or price match an item for a few dollars of savings. I am generally frugal.
But, I somehow had no issues losing 10k in options...
How I started
I remember my first trades like they were yesterday. I was trading the first hydrogen run-up in 2014 (FCEL, BLDP, PLUG) and made a few hundred dollars over a couple weeks.
I quickly progressed to penny stocks / biotech binary events and general stock market gambling mid-2014. I was making a few % here and there but the trend was down in total account value. I was the king of buying the peak in run-ups. I managed to make it out of 2014 close to break-even to slightly down.
WSB Era
March 2015 was my first option trade. It was an AXP - American Express - monthly option trade. I saw one of the regular option traders/services post a block of 10,000 calls that had been bought for 1.3 and I followed the trade with 10 call options for a total of $1300.
I woke up the next day to an analyst upgrade on AXP and was up 50% on my position. I was addicted! I day-dreamed for days about my AXP over night success. I think around that time there was some sort of Buffet buyout of Heinz and an option trade that was up a ridiculous amount of %%%. I wanted to hit it BIG.
I came up with the idea that all I needed to reach my goal was a few 100% over night gains/ 1k>2k>4k>8k> etc. I convinced myself that I would have no problems being patient for the exact criteria that I had set and worked on some other trades.
Remember, the first win is always free.
I was trading options pretty regularly from March 2015 until August 2016. During my best week I was up 20k and could feel the milli within reach. I can remember the exact option trade (HTZ) and I was trading weeklies on it.
For those who have been in the market long enough, you will remember the huge drawdown of August 2015.
I lost half my account value on QCOM calls (100 of them) that I followed at the beginning of July and never materialized. I watched them eventually go to 0. It was another 10,000 block that was probably a hedge or sold.
In August 2015 there were some issues with China and all of us woke up to stocks gapping down huge. Unfortunately my idea of buying far dated calls during the following days/weeks after the crash went sideways. I quickly learned that an increase in volatility causes a rise in option prices and I was paying a premium for calls that were going to lose value very quickly (the infamous IV crush).
I kept trading options into the end of 2015 and managed to maintain my account value positive but the trading fees for the year amounted to $30,000+. My broker was loving it.
I tried all the services, all the strategies. I created rules for my option plays: 1. No earnings 2. Only follow the big buys at a discount (10,000 blocks or more). 3. No weekly options 4. Take profit right away 5. Take losses quickly 6. etc.
I had a whole note book of option plays that I was writing down and following. I was paying for option services that all of you know about - remember, they make money on the services and not trading.
I even figured out a loop-hole with my broker: if I didn’t have enough money in my account, I could change my ask price to .01 and then change it to market buy and I would only need to accept a warning ⚠️ for the order to go through. I was able to day trade the option and make money, who cares if I didnt have enough? After a few months of this, I got a call from my broker that told me to stop and that I would be suspended if I continued with this.
By the way, I was always able to satisfy the debit on the account - so it wasn’t an issue of lack of funds.
Lost it all. Started taking money from lines of credits, every penny that I earned and losing it quicker and quicker.
I was a full on gambler but I was convinced that 8 trades would offset all the losses. I kept getting drawn in to the idea that I could hit a homerun and make it out a hero.
I eventually hit rock bottom on some weekly expiring FSLR options that I bought hours before expiration and said to myself - what the f are you doing? I resolved to invest for the long term and stop throwing tendies away.
The feeling was reinforced during the birth of my first born and I thought - what a loser this kid will think of me if he knew how much I was gambling and wasting my life. It was a really powerful moment looking at my kid and reflecting on this idea.
I decided at that point I was going to save every penny I had and invest it on new issues with potential.
Fall 2016
TTD, COUP and NTNX IPO ‘ed I decided I was going to throw every dollar at these and did so for the next few months. I eventually started using margin (up to 215%) and buying these for the next 6 months. They paid out and managed to make it over 100k within the year.
The first 100k was hard but once I crossed it, I never fell below this magic number.
2017 - I did some day trading but it was mostly obsessing over the above issues. I did gamble on a few options here and there but never more than 1k.
2018 - SFIX was my big winner, I bought a gap up in June 2018 and my combined account value had crossed 400k by August 2018. I was really struggling at crossing the 500k account value and experienced 3 x 30-40% drawdowns over the next 2 years before I finally crossed the 500k barrier and have never looked back.
I still made some mistakes over the next few months - AKAO & GSUM come to mind. Both of these resulted in 20k+ losses. Fortunately my winners were much bigger than my losers.
I thought about giving up and moving to index funds - but i was doing well - just experiencing large drawdowns because of leverage.
2019 big winners were CRON SWAV STNE.
2017 / 2018 / 2019 all had six digit capital gains on my tax returns.
At the beginning of 2020 I was still day trading on margin (180-220%) and got a call from my broker that they were tightening up my margin as my account was analyzed by the risk department and deemed too risky. Believe it or not this was right before the covid crash. I brought my margin down to 100-110% of account value and even though the drawdown from covid hit hard, I wasn’t wiped out.
I stayed the course and bought FSLY / RH during the big march drawdown and this resulted in some nice gains over the next few months.
I am constantly changing and testing my investment strategy but let me tell you that obsessing over 1 or 2 ideas and throwing every penny at it and holding for a few years is the best strategy. It may not work at some point but right now it does.
I still day trade but I trade with 10k or less on each individual position. It allows me minimize my losses and my winners are 1-7%. I am able to consistently make between 3-700$/ a day on day trades using the above strategy. I still take losses and still dream about hitting it big with an option trade but dont feel the need to put it all on the line every month / week.
I finally crossed into the two , club. I know people are going to ask for proof or ban but I am not earning anything for posting and the details about some of the trades should be proof enough that I kept a detailed journal of it all. I have way more to write but these are the highlights.
Eventually I will share how I build a position in a story I love. I still sell buy and sell to early but I am working on improving.
TL:DR - I gambled, lost it all and gambled some more lost more. I made it out alive. I have only sold calls/puts lately.
The one common denominator in all successful people is how much they obsess over 1 or 2 ideas. Do the same. All the winners on this sub have gone all in on one idea (FSLY / TSLA ). Stick with new stories or ones that are changing and go all in...wait a second, I didnt learn anything.
submitted by jojo2021 to wallstreetbets [link] [comments]

Subreddit Demographic Survey 2020 : The Results

2020 Childfree Subreddit Survey

1. Introduction

Once a year, this subreddit hosts a survey in order to get to know the community a little bit and in order to answer questions that are frequently asked here. Earlier this summer, several thousand of you participated in the 2020 Subreddit Demographic Survey. Only those participants who meet our wiki definition of being childfree's results were recorded and analysed.
Of these people, multiple areas of your life were reviewed. They are separated as follows:

2. Methodology

Our sample is redditors who saw that we had a survey currently active and were willing to complete the survey. A stickied post was used to advertise the survey to members.

3. Results

The raw data may be found via this link.
7305 people participated in the survey from July 2020 to October 2020. People who did not meet our wiki definition of being childfree were excluded from the survey. The results of 5134 responders, or 70.29% of those surveyed, were collated and analysed below. Percentages are derived from the respondents per question.

General Demographics

Age group

Age group Participants Percentage
18 or younger 309 6.02%
19 to 24 1388 27.05%
25 to 29 1435 27.96%
30 to 34 1089 21.22%
35 to 39 502 9.78%
40 to 44 223 4.35%
45 to 49 81 1.58%
50 to 54 58 1.13%
55 to 59 25 0.49%
60 to 64 13 0.25%
65 to 69 7 0.14%
70 to 74 2 0.04%
82.25% of the sub is under the age of 35.

Gender and Gender Identity

Age group Participants # Percentage
Agender 62 1.21%
Female 3747 73.04%
Male 1148 22.38%
Non-binary 173 3.37%

Sexual Orientation

Sexual Orientation Participants # Percentage
Asexual 379 7.39%
Bisexual 1177 22.93%
Heterosexual 2833 55.20%
Homosexual 264 5.14%
It's fluid 152 2.96%
Other 85 1.66%
Pansexual 242 4.72%

Birth Location

Because the list contains over 120 countries, we'll show the top 20 countries:
Country of birth Participants # Percentage
United States 2775 57.47%
United Kingdom 367 7.60%
Canada 346 7.17%
Australia 173 3.58%
Germany 105 2.17%
Netherlands 67 1.39%
India 63 1.30%
Poland 57 1.18%
France 47 0.97%
New Zealand 42 0.87%
Mexico 40 0.83%
Brazil 40 0.83%
Sweden 38 0.79%
Finland 31 0.64%
South Africa 30 0.62%
Denmark 28 0.58%
China 27 0.56%
Ireland 27 0.56%
Phillipines 24 0.50%
Russia 23 0.48%
90.08% of the participants were born in these countries.
These participants would describe their current city, town or neighborhood as:
Region Participants # Percentage
Rural 705 13.76
Suburban 2661 51.95
Urban 1756 34.28

Ethnicity

Ethnicity Participants # Percentage
African Descent/Black 157 3.07%
American Indian or Alaskan Native 18 0.35%
Arabic/Middle Eastern/Near Eastern 34 0.66%
Bi/Multiracial 300 5.86%
Caucasian/White 3946 77.09%
East Asian 105 2.05%
Hispanic/Latinx 271 5.29%
Indian/South Asian 116 2.27%
Indigenous Australian/Torres Straight IslandeMaori 8 0.16%
Jewish (the ethnicity, not religion) 50 0.98%
Other 32 0.63%
Pacific IslandeMelanesian 4 0.08%
South-East Asian 78 1.52%

Education

Highest Current Level of Education

Highest Current Level of Education Participants # Percentage
Associate's degree 233 4.55%
Bachelor's degree 1846 36.05%
Did not complete elementary school 2 0.04%
Did not complete high school 135 2.64%
Doctorate degree 121 2.36%
Graduated high school / GED 559 10.92%
Master's degree 714 13.95%
Post Doctorate 19 0.37%
Professional degree 107 2.09%
Some college / university 1170 22.85%
Trade / Technical / Vocational training 214 4.18%
Degree (Major) Participants # Percentage
Architecture 23 0.45%
Arts and Humanities 794 15.54%
Business and Economics 422 8.26%
Computer Science 498 9.75%
Education 166 3.25%
Engineering Technology 329 6.44%
I don't have a degree or a major 1028 20.12%
Law 124 2.43%
Life Sciences 295 5.77%
Medicine and Allied Health 352 6.89%
Other 450 8.81%
Physical Sciences 199 3.89%
Social Sciences 430 8.41%

Career and Finances

The top 10 industries our participants are working in are:
Industry Participants # Percentage
Information Technology 317 6.68%
Health Care 311 6.56%
Education - Teaching 209 4.41%
Engineering 203 4.28%
Retail 182 3.84%
Government 172 3.63%
Admin & Clerical 154 3.25%
Restaurant - Food Service 148 3.12%
Customer Service 129 2.72%
Design 127 2.68%
Note that "other", "I'm a student", "currently unemployed" and "I'm out of the work force for health or other reasons" have been disregarded for this part of the evaluation.
Out of the 3729 participants active in the workforce, the majority (1824 or 48.91%) work between 40-50 hours per week with 997 or 26.74% working 30-40 hours weekly. 6.62% work 50 hours or more per week, and 17.73% less than 30 hours.
513 or 10.13% are engaged in managerial responsibilities (ranging from Jr. to Sr. Management).
On a scale of 1 (lowest) to 10 (highest), the overwhelming majority (3340 or 70%) indicated that career plays a very important role in their lives, attributing a score of 7 and higher.
1065 participants decided not to disclose their income brackets. The remaining 4,849 are distributed as follows:
Income Participants # Percentage
$0 to $14,999 851 21.37%
$15,000 to $29,999 644 16.17%
$30,000 to $59,999 1331 33.42%
$60,000 to $89,999 673 16.90%
$90,000 to $119,999 253 6.35%
$120,000 to $149,999 114 2.86%
$150,000 to $179,999 51 1.28%
$180,000 to $209,999 25 0.63%
$210,000 to $239,999 9 0.23%
$240,000 to $269,999 10 0.25%
$270,000 to $299,999 7 0.18%
$300,000 or more 15 0.38%
87.85% earn under $90,000 USD a year.
65.82% of our childfree participants do not have a concrete retirement plan (savings, living will).

Religion and Spirituality

Faith Originally Raised In

There were more than 50 options of faith, so we aimed to show the top 10 most chosen beliefs.
Faith Participants # Percentage
Catholicism 1573 30.76%
None (≠ Atheism. Literally, no notion of spirituality or religion in the upbringing) 958 18.73%
Protestantism 920 17.99%
Other 431 8.43%
Atheism 318 6.22%
Agnosticism 254 4.97%
Anglicanism 186 3.64%
Judaism 77 1.51%
Hinduism 75 1.47%
Islam 71 1.39%
This top 10 amounts to 95.01% of the total participants.

Current Faith

There were more than 50 options of faith, so we aimed to show the top 10 most chosen beliefs:
Faith Participants # Percentage
Atheism 1849 36.23%
None (≠ Atheism. Literally, no notion of spirituality or religion currently) 1344 26.33%
Agnosticism 789 15.46%
Other 204 4.00%
Protestantism 159 3.12%
Paganism 131 2.57%
Spiritualism 101 1.98%
Catholicism 96 1.88%
Satanism 92 1.80%
Wicca 66 1.29%
This top 10 amounts to 94.65% of the participants.

Level of Current Religious Practice

Level Participants # Percentage
Wholly seculanon religious 3733 73.73%
Identify with religion, but don't practice strictly 557 11.00%
Lapsed/not serious/in name only 393 7.76%
Observant at home only 199 3.93%
Observant at home. Church/Temple/Mosque/etc. attendance 125 2.47%
Strictly observant, Church/Temple/Mosque/etc. attendance, religious practice/prayeworship impacting daily life 56 1.11%

Effect of Faith over Childfreedom

Figure 1

Effect of Childfreedom over Faith

Figure 2

Romantic and Sexual Life

Current Dating Situation

Status Participants # Percentage
Divorced 46 0.90%
Engaged 207 4.04%
Long term relationship, living together 1031 20.10%
Long term relationship, not living with together 512 9.98%
Married 1230 23.98%
Other 71 1.38%
Separated 18 0.35%
Short term relationship 107 2.09%
Single and dating around, but not looking for anything serious 213 4.15%
Single and dating around, looking for something serious 365 7.12%
Single and not looking 1324 25.81%
Widowed 5 0.10%

Childfree Partner

Is your partner childfree? If your partner wants children and/or has children of their own and/or are unsure about their position, please consider them "not childfree" for this question.
Partner Participants # Percentage
I don't have a partner 1922 37.56%
I have more than one partner and none are childfree 3 0.06%
I have more than one partner and some are childfree 35 0.68%
I have more than one partner and they are all childfree 50 0.98
No 474 9.26%
Yes 2633 51.46%

Dating a Single Parent

Would the childfree participants be willing to date a single parent?
Answer Participants # Percentage
No, I'm not interested in single parents and their ties to parenting life 4610 90.13%
Yes, but only if it's a short term arrangement of some sort 162 3.17%
Yes, whether for long term or short term, but with some conditions (must not have child custody, no kid talk, etc.), as long as I like them and long as we're compatible 199 3.89%
Yes, whether for long term or short term, with no conditions, as long as I like them and as long as we are compatible 144 2.82%

Childhood and Family Life

On a scale from 1 (very unhappy) to 10 (very happy), how would you rate your childhood?
Figure 3
Of the 5125 childfree people who responded to the question, 67.06% have a pet or are heavily involved in the care of someone else's pet.

Sterilisation

Sterilisation Status

Sterilisation Status Participants # Percentage
No, I am not sterilised and, for medical, practical or other reasons, I do not need to be 869 16.96%
No. However, I've been approved for the procedure and I'm waiting for the date to arrive 86 1.68%
No. I am not sterilised and don't want to be 634 12.37%
No. I want to be sterilised but I have started looking for a doctorequested the procedure 594 11.59%
No. I want to be sterilised but I haven't started looking for a doctorequested the procedure yet 2317 45.21%
Yes. I am sterilised 625 12.20%

Age when starting doctor shopping or addressing issue with doctor. Percentages exclude those who do not want to be sterilised and who have not discussed sterilisation with their doctor.

Age group Participants # Percentage
18 or younger 207 12.62%
19 to 24 588 35.85%
25 to 29 510 31.10%
30 to 34 242 14.76%
35 to 39 77 4.70%
40 to 44 9 0.55%
45 to 49 5 0.30%
50 to 54 1 0.06%
55 or older 1 0.06%

Age at the time of sterilisation. Percentages exclude those who have not and do not want to be sterilised.

Age group Participants # Percentage
18 or younger 5 0.79%
19 to 24 123 19.34%
25 to 29 241 37.89%
30 to 34 168 26.42%
35 to 39 74 11.64%
40 to 44 19 2.99%
45 to 49 1 0.16%
50 to 54 2 0.31%
55 or older 3 0.47%

Elapsed time between requesting procedure and undergoing procedure. Percentages exclude those who have not and do not want to be sterilised.

Time Participants # Percentage
Less than 3 months 330 50.46%
Between 3 and 6 months 111 16.97%
Between 6 and 9 months 33 5.05%
Between 9 and 12 months 20 3.06%
Between 12 and 18 months 22 3.36%
Between 18 and 24 months 15 2.29%
Between 24 and 30 months 6 0.92%
Between 30 and 36 months 2 0.31%
Between 3 and 5 years 40 6.12%
Between 5 and 7 years 25 3.82%
More than 7 years 50 7.65%

How many doctors refused at first, before finding one who would accept?

Doctor # Participants # Percentage
None. The first doctor I asked said yes 604 71.73%
One. The second doctor I asked said yes 93 11.05%
Two. The third doctor I asked said yes 54 6.41%
Three. The fourth doctor I asked said yes 29 3.44%
Four. The fifth doctor I asked said yes 12 1.43%
Five. The sixth doctor I asked said yes 8 0.95%
Six. The seventh doctor I asked said yes 10 1.19%
Seven. The eighth doctor I asked said yes 4 0.48%
Eight. The ninth doctor I asked said yes 2 0.24%
I asked more than 10 doctors before finding one who said yes 26 3.09%

Childfreedom

Primary Reason to Not Have Children

Reason Participants # Percentage
Aversion towards children ("I don't like children") 1455 28.36%
Childhood trauma 135 2.63%
Current state of the world 110 2.14%
Environmental (including overpopulation) 158 3.08%
Eugenics ("I have 'bad genes'") 57 1.11%
Financial 175 3.41%
I already raised somebody else who isn't my child 83 1.62%
Lack of interest towards parenthood ("I don't want to raise children") 2293 44.69%
Maybe interested for parenthood, but not suited for parenthood 48 0.94%
Medical ("I have a condition that makes conceiving/bearing/birthing children difficult, dangerous or lethal") 65 1.27%
Other 68 1.33%
Philosophical / Moral (e.g. antinatalism) 193 3.76%
Tokophobia (aversion/fear of pregnancy and/or chidlbirth) 291 5.67%
95.50% of childfree people are pro-choice, however only 55.93% of childfree people support financial abortion.

Dislike Towards Children

Figure 4

Working With Children

Work Participants # Percentage
I'm a student and my future job/career will heavily makes me interact with children on a daily basis 67 1.30%
I'm retired, but I used to have a job that heavily makes me interact with children on a daily basis 6 0.12%
I'm unemployed, but I used to have a job that heavily makes me interact with children on a daily basis 112 2.19%
No, I do not have a job that makes me heavily interact with children on a daily basis 4493 87.81%
Other 148 2.89%
Yes, I do have a job that heavily makes me interact with children on a daily basis 291 5.69%

4. Discussion

Child Status

This section solely existed to sift the childfree from the fencesitters and the non childfree in order to get answers only from the childfree. Childfree, as it is defined in the subreddit, is "I do not have children nor want to have them in any capacity (biological, adopted, fostered, step- or other) at any point in the future." 70.29% of participants actually identify as childfree, slightly up from the 2019 survey, where 68.5% of participants identified as childfree. This is suprising in reflection of the overall reputation of the subreddit across reddit, where the subreddit is often described as an "echo chamber".

General Demographics

The demographics remain largely consistent with the 2019 survey. However, the 2019 survey collected demographic responses from all participants in the survey, removing those who did not identify as childfree when querying subreddit specific questions, while the 2020 survey only collected responses from people who identified as childfree. This must be considered when comparing results.
82.25% of the participants are under 35, compared with 85% of the subreddit in the 2019 survey. A slight downward trend is noted compared over the last two years suggesting the userbase may be getting older on average. 73.04% of the subreddit identify as female, compared with 71.54% in the 2019 survey. Again, when compared with the 2019 survey, this suggests a slight increase in the number of members who identify as female. This is in contrast to the overall membership of Reddit, estimated at 74% male according to Reddit's Wikipedia page [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reddit#Users_and_moderators]. The ratio of members who identify as heterosexual remained consistent, from 54.89% in the 2019 survey to 55.20% in the 2020 survey.
Ethnicity wise, 77% of members identified as primarily Caucasian, consistent with the 2019 results. While the ethnicities noted to be missing in the 2019 survey have been included in the 2020 survey, some users noted the difficulty of responding when fitting multiple ethnicities, and this will be addressed in the 2021 survey.

Education level

As it did in the 2019 survey, this section highlights the stereotype of childfree people as being well educated. 2.64% of participants did not complete high school, which is a slight decrease from the 2019 survey, where 4% of participants did not graduate high school. However, 6.02% of participants are under 18, compared with 8.22% in the 2019 survey. 55% of participants have a bachelors degree or higher, while an additional 23% have completed "some college or university".
At the 2020 survey, the highest percentage of responses under the: What is your degree/major? question fell under "I don't have a degree or a major" (20.12%). Arts and Humanities, and Computer Science have overtaken Health Sciences and Engineering as the two most popular majors. However, the list of majors was pared down to general fields of study rather than highly specific degree majors to account for the significant diversity in majors studied by the childfree community, which may account for the different results.

Career and Finances

The highest percentage of participants at 21.61% listed themselves as trained professionals.
One of the stereotypes of the childfree is of wealth. However this is not demonstrated in the survey results. 70.95% of participants earn under $60,000 USD per annum, while 87.85% earn under $90,000 per annum. 21.37% are earning under $15,000 per annum. 1065 participants, or 21.10% chose not to disclose this information. It is possible that this may have skewed the results if a significant proportion of these people were our high income earners, but impossible to explore.
A majority of our participants work between 30 and 50 hours per week (75.65%) which is slightly increased from the 2019 survey, where 71.2% of participants worked between 30 and 50 hours per week.

Location

The location responses are largely similar to the 2019 survey with a majority of participants living in a suburban and urban area. 86.24% of participants in the 2020 survey live in urban and suburban regions, with 86.7% of participants living in urban and suburban regions in the 2019 survey. There is likely a multifactorial reason for this, encompassing the younger, educated skew of participants and the easier access to universities and employment, and the fact that a majority of the population worldwide localises to urban centres. There may be an element of increased progressive social viewpoints and identities in urban regions, however this would need to be explored further from a sociological perspective to draw any definitive conclusions.
A majority of our participants (57.47%) were born in the USA. The United Kingdom (7.6%), Canada (7.17%), Australia (3.58%) and Germany (2.17%) encompass the next 4 most popular responses. This is largely consistent with the responses in the 2019 survey.

Religion and Spirituality

For the 2020 survey Christianity (the most popular result in 2019) was split into it's major denominations, Catholic, Protestant, Anglican, among others. This appears to be a linguistic/location difference that caused a lot of confusion among some participants. However, Catholicism at 30.76% remained the most popular choice for the religion participants were raised in. However, of our participant's current faith, Aetheism at 36.23% was the most popular choice. A majority of 78.02% listed their current religion as Aetheist, no religious or spiritual beliefs, or Agnostic.
A majority of participants (61%) rated religion as "not at all influential" to the childfree choice. This is consistent with the 2019 survey where 62.8% rated religion as "not at all influential". Despite the high percentage of participants who identify as aetheist or agnostic, this does not appear to be related to or have an impact on the childfree choice.

Romantic and Sexual Life

60.19% of our participants are in a relationship at the time of the survey. This is consistent with the 2019 survey, where 60.7% of our participants were in a relationship. A notable proportion of our participants are listed as single and not looking (25.81%) which is consistent with the 2019 survey. Considering the frequent posts seeking dating advice as a childfree person, it is surprising that such a high proportion of the participants are not actively seeking out a relationship. Unsurprisingly 90.13% of our participants would not consider dating someone with children. 84% of participants with partners of some kind have at least one childfree partner. This is consistent with the often irreconcilable element of one party desiring children and the other wishing to abstain from having children.

Childhood and Family Life

Overall, the participants skew towards a happier childhood.

Sterilisation

While just under half of our participants wish to be sterilised, 45.21%, only 12.2% have been successful in achieving sterilisation. This is likely due to overarching resistance from the medical profession however other factors such as the logistical elements of surgery and the cost may also contribute. There is a slight increase from the percentage of participants sterilised in the 2019 survey (11.7%). 29.33% of participants do not wish to be or need to be sterilised suggesting a partial element of satisfaction from temporary birth control methods or non-necessity of contraception due to their current lifestyle practices. Participants who indicated that they do not wish to be sterilised or haven't achieved sterilisation were excluded from the percentages where necessary in this section.
Of the participants who did achieve sterilisation, a majority began the search between 19 and 29, with the highest proportion being in the 19-24 age group (35.85%) This is a marked increase from the 2019 survey where 27.3% of people who started the search were between 19-24. This may be due to increased education about permanent contraception or possibly due to an increase in instability around world events.
The majority of participants who sought out and were successful at achieving sterilisation, were however in the 25-29 age group (37.9%). This is consistent with the 2019 survey results.
The time taken between seeking out sterilisation and achieving it continues to increase, with only 50.46% of participants achieving sterilisation in under 3 months. This is a decline from the number of participants who achieved sterilisation in 3 months in the 2019 survey (58.5%). A potential cause of this decrease is to Covid-19 shutdowns in the medical industry leading to an increase in procedure wait times. The proportion of participants who have had one or more doctors refuse to perform the procedure has stayed consistent between the two surveys.

Childfreedom

The main reasons for people choosing the childfree lifestyle are a lack of interest towards parenthood and an aversion towards children which is consistent with the 2019 survey. Of the people surveyed 67.06% are pet owners or involved in a pet's care, suggesting that this lack of interest towards parenthood does not necessarily mean a lack of interest in all forms of caretaking. The community skews towards a dislike of children overall which correlates well with the 87.81% of users choosing "no, I do not have, did not use to have and will not have a job that makes me heavily interact with children on a daily basis" in answer to, "do you have a job that heavily makes you interact with children on a daily basis?". This is an increase from the 2019 survey.
A vast majority of the subreddit identifes as pro-choice (95.5%), a slight increase from the 2019 results. This is likely due to a high level of concern about bodily autonomy and forced birth/parenthood. However only 55.93% support financial abortion, aka for the non-pregnant person in a relationship to sever all financial and parental ties with a child. This is a marked decrease from the 2019 results, where 70% of participants supported financial abortion.
Most of our users realised that did not want children young. 58.72% of participants knew they did not want children by the age of 18, with 95.37% of users realising this by age 30. This correlates well with the age distribution of participants. Despite this early realisation of our childfree stance, 80.59% of participants have been "bingoed" at some stage in their lives.

The Subreddit

Participants who identify as childfree were asked about their interaction with and preferences with regards to the subreddit at large. Participants who do not meet our definition of being childfree were excluded from these questions.
By and large our participants were lurkers (72.32%). Our participants were divided on their favourite flairs with 38.92% selecting "I have no favourite". The next most favourite flair was "Rant", at 16.35%. Our participants were similarly divided on their least favourite flair, with 63.40% selecting "I have no least favourite". In light of these results the flairs on offer will remain as they have been through 2019.
With regards to "lecturing" posts, this is defined as a post which seeks to re-educate the childfree on the practices, attitudes and values of the community, particularly with regards to attitudes towards parenting and children, whether at home or in the community. A commonly used descriptor is "tone policing". A small minority of the survey participants (3.36%) selected "yes" to allowing all lectures, however 33.54% responded "yes" to allowing polite, respectful lectures only. In addition, 45.10% of participants indicated that they were not sure if lectures should be allowed. Due to the ambiguity of responses, lectures will continue to be not allowed and removed.
Many of our participants (36.87%) support the use of terms such as breeder, mombie/moo, daddict/duh on the subreddit, with a further 32.63% supporting use of these terms in context of bad parents only. This is a slight drop from the 2019 survey. In response to this use of the above and similar terms to describe parents remains permitted on this subreddit. However, we encourage users to keep the use of these terms to bad parents only.
44.33% of users support the use of terms to describe children such as crotchfruit on the subreddit, a drop from 55.3% last year. A further 25.80% of users supporting the use of this and similar terms in context of bad children only, an increase from 17.42% last year. In response to this use of the above and similar terms to describe children remains permitted on this subreddit.
69.17% of participants answered yes to allowing parents to post, provided they stay respectful. In response to this, parent posts will continue to be allowed on the subreddit. As for regret posts, which were to be revisited in this year's survey, only 9.5% of participants regarded them as their least favourite post. As such they will continue to stay allowed.
64% of participants support under 18's who are childfree participating in the subreddit with a further 19.59% allowing under 18's to post dependent on context. Therefore we will continue to allow under 18's that stay within the overall Reddit age requirement.
There was divide among participants as to whether "newbie" questions should be removed. An even spread was noted among participants who selected remove and those who selected to leave them as is. We have therefore decided to leave them as is. 73.80% of users selected "yes, in their own post, with their own "Leisure" flair" to the question, "Should posts about pets, travel, jetskis, etc be allowed on the sub?" Therefore we will continue to allow these posts provided they are appropriately flaired.

5. Conclusion

Thank you to our participants who contributed to the survey. This has been an unusual and difficult year for many people. Stay safe, and stay childfree.

submitted by Mellenoire to childfree [link] [comments]

Greed is Subtle

The morning alarm woke up Ghen. With an annoyed sigh, he stretched out his arm and silenced the foul-sounding chirps. Slowly sitting up in bed, he let out a deep yawn and got to his feet.
Running a couple of chitinous fingers along his antennae to stimulate them to life, he made his bed and then went to his closet. Today was a work day, so he needed his suit. Once the pants were on, he stretched out his wings so that he could button up the shirt, then relaxing them once all the buttons were secured.
Dressing for the day was done, now for the morning meal. Entering his kitchen, he took out the chilled leftovers of the evening meal last night and popped it into the radiator, first defrosting and then slightly cooking it.
During that process, he also fished out a ceramic cup and placed it in his brewer, serving himself some synthesized caffeine. His idle thought led him to being amused that, when eaten directly off a plant, it has a concentration that could kill him three times over. But after going through some refinement and roasting, all it does is make him hyper.
Once the meal was put together, his plate of heated leftovers and a cup of almost-piping-hot cup of Xia's, he took his time to enjoy it. His communicator vibrated. When he looked, he found it was from his boss.
"Hello?" Ghen answered.
"Ghen, the meeting's been moved up to a few minutes from now." His boss, Xkik, announced. "Apparently higher up has something important they want to say. We have a terminal ready for you, I'll message the login details."
"Wha-, what's so important?" Ghen asked in bewilderment. "Did a water line rupture or something?"
"No, nothing like that." Xkik replied with a slight chuckle. "It's actually about the rumors we've been hearing. That human corporation wanting to acquire us? That's what they're talking about."
Ghen could feel everything inside his thorax drop to the floor. "That must mean it's true then, right? Did we get sold off by the Queen to this company then?"
"Show up to the meeting and you'll get your answer." Xkik said simply. When he finished, Ghen got the notification on his communicator. There's the login details, allowing him to remotely attend the meeting. "They're about to start, hurry up."
Once Xkik disconnected, Ghen worked fast to login and set up the remote viewing. Once everything was done, his screen started transmitting the meeting room. It was already packed. And off by the main board, he saw his answer. There was a human, resting against the wall on his two legs. Standing right in the center of everyone's view was the coordinator, Tizx, watching the clock periodically.
As soon as the meeting's start time was reached, the coordinator began. "Alright everyone. I realize that this was rather short notice, so I want to say how appreciative I am that you made it. Now then, let's just get right to it. For some time now, many of you have been hearing rumors that a human corporation has been interested in us. Why? We never really knew. We're just an organization responsible for finding, extracting and providing water to the colony here all under the direction of the Queen herself. Well, as of now, I have the answer for you. Why don't I let Ryan say that?"
Stepping back, Tizx motioned for the human, Ryan, to take over. With a nod, Ryan practically bounced over and then took the position. "Good morning to you all. I hope my Zazk is passable, heh. Anyways, the answer to those rumors, is yes. Terran Galactic Company is indeed interested in you all. Which now leads to me. I'm here to announce that, effective yesterday evening, this water company is now a subsidiary of Terran Galactic Company, under the name of Zilia Water Delivery."
Many other sub-coordinators broke into hushed conversation, no doubt speaking their thoughts with each other about this move. Ghen could only wonder if this was even a good thing. What will the humans do? Will he still have his job? Will he have to learn how to deal with the ruthless humans?
"Now, I am well aware this is quite the...uh, change." Ryan continued. "That's why I'm happy to inform you that, no, nothing negative or detrimental will happen to you. You just have new people to answer to. Operations will continue as normal, everybody here will still keep their jobs. The only real change any of you will personally experience is that Coordinator Tizx here will now report to someone else. On behalf of the Terran Galactic Company, we are extremely excited and are looking forward to working with you all. Thank you for your time."
A week later.
At least Ryan wasn't lying. After the initial shock wore off, things went back as they normally did. There were no terminations, no reductions in annual pay or anything. Nothing really changed. At least until this new meeting was called. Ghen was at the worksite this time, so he took his seat and watched as, once again, Ryan led the meeting.
"Hello again, everyone!" He said cheerfully, his Zazk noticeably improved. "I hope I didn't end up looking like a liar, right? Everything's still normal, all that?"
All the zazk in the room confirmed, providing comments to their pleasant surprise as well as lingering thoughts.
"Awesome! Awesome." Ryan said jubilantly, his fleshy mouth revealing his bone-white teeth. "Now then, you're probably wondering why I'm here again, right? Well, I got another fantastic piece of news for you all! Two, actually. I'll start with the first: Zilia Water Delivery has just completed its IPO. The company is now publicly traded!"
Ghen and the others voiced their confusion, having no idea what in the name of the Queen Ryan was talking about. What was Ryan talking about? What's an IPO? And why exactly is being publicly traded such a significant thing?
"Oh, you guys don't know any of that?" Ryan asked in surprised confusion. After everybody confirmed, he let out a quick huff as he began his explanation. "Well, to begin, IPO is short for Initial Public Offering. Basically what that means is that, before today, Zilia was privately held. Only certain individuals could buy and sell shares here. But now that we're public? Literally anyone can buy and sell shares in the company, hence us being publicly traded."
"Uh, what's a share?" Ghen asked, still completely lost.
"Oh, boy..." Ryan muttered under his breath before returning to his peppy image. "To simply put it, a share is short for having a share of ownership in a company. When you buy a share, you're buying a piece of ownership, and when you sell, you're selling that amount."
"So wait...if someone buys a share, they're a co-owner then?" One of the other team coordinators asked.
"If they get enough, yeah." Ryan nodded. "You need a lot though, and that really depends on the company. If I had to give an answer though? I'd say usually you need to have a lot more shares than a lot of people combined to be officially a co-owner, but we call that being a majority shareholder."
"And how do we do that?" Ghen asked, now growing curious but still not understanding why such a concept exists.
"Simple. Buy shares." Ryan said simply. "And that leads into the second piece of awesome news. Zilia's corporate has a product in mind, a premium-package of water delivery. Instead of the usual water that you pump out, filter and ensure its potable before delivery, with the premium package, not only will you get that, but you'll also get all of the required nutrients and vitamins the zazk body requires! And they feel you guys have the best expertise and understanding to pull it off! So, here's what we're offering as a good-faith bonus: A 25% increase to your annual salary as well as being given stock options."
Ghen wasn't sure about the second part, but the salary definitely got his attention, as well as everyone else's. Although his job was considered to have a good pay, Ghen isn't going to say no to a higher salary. In fact, he's been focusing his work on getting a promotion so he can come home with even more credits in pocket.
"What do you mean by stock options?" Ghen asked after some time.
Ryan let out that smile again, the one that revealed his teeth. "If you choose to transfer over to the new group, you'll be provided 50,000 shares in Zilia itself. Why's that awesome? Let me walk you through it. Right now, our last closing price per share was 3.02 credits. And if you have 50,000 shares during that time, you're sitting on 151,000 credits, if you cash it out immediately."
"And why shouldn't we?" One of the coordinators demanded in an ambiguous tone.
"Because the price per share changes a lot." Ryan explained promptly. "When we got done with the IPO? It closed at 2.73 a share. Right now? My money's on the closing price being 2.99 a share. However, we are extremely confident in this premium package being successful. If it does? Well, my bet is that the share price will skyrocket to 3.12 a share. If you hold those shares and the price gets to what my bet was? You'll instead get 156,000 credits. Just by holding onto them, you just made an additional 5,000 credits!"
"And what if we have more shares?" Ghen questioned, now getting excited at the prospect of free money.
"Even more money!" Ryan laughed a bit. "And don't forget about dividends, but that's for another time. The premium group is gearing up right now, we just need the workforce. If any of you wants in, I'll be back tomorrow with all the forms needed to make it official. Take the day and tonight to think it over, yeah?"
Everything else melted into a blur. Ghen was practically on autopilot that whole day. Was this the secret to the humans' incredibly massive economy? How so many of them have amassed so much money out of nowhere? All you had to do was just buy this share out of a company and you get more money without even working?
As soon as he got home, Ghen knew what he was going to do during the night. After feverishly looking through the galnet, now having the human race connected to it, he looked and gathered up as many books that were translated into zazk as he could find, all talking about the human economic system. The last time he undertook such an intensive study was during his primary education phase.
And during his search, he even found forums on the galnet that were completely dedicated to the human's economy. All of them talking about strategies on what company, or stock, to pick. How to analyze a company's performance to determine if it was worth the money, or it had potential to grow over time. And that was when he discovered the humans found another method to the extremely simple buying and selling process. There were humans and some other immigrated aliens who made five times what Ghen could receive over a simple month just by watching the share prices during trading hours, and then buying and selling them at the proper times.
Ghen's mind was just absolutely flabbergasted. He thought it was just some strange concept only aliens could make, but no, not with the humans. They've practically made their economy into an art or a science. No, not even their economy. Everything. If humans can see a way to make money off of it, they'll do it. And if there isn't, they'll look for a way.
Healthcare was monetized. Galnet services, transportation, shopping at the store, they even made all of their utilities into profit-oriented companies.
And it was there that Ghen paused, the realization slamming into him. Everything was monetized. Which means, if you don't have the money for it, you're not getting it. Right? Are the humans truly that ruthless? So obsessed with making money? To the point that they're willing to deprive their own people of the absolute necessities if it's a source of credits?
Ghen let out a scoff. There's no way. Nobody is that cruel and callous. He's never been to the United Nations. He can't rely on what a bunch of random people on the galnet says. He decided that from here on out, he'll only go as far as saying that humans are a little obsessed with credits, nothing more.
...
There he was. Ryan, sitting in the office provided to him. And there was a rather large line leading to him. Looks like word got around. Although, the line wasn't as large as he expected it to be. Maybe the others thought it was just a ruse? That there's no such thing as making free money by spending it on such a made-up concept?
Ghen only knows that, if it is a ruse, it's an extremely elaborate one, where all of the humans are in on it. And he believes that's just extremely ridiculous. At the end, if he's unsure, he'll just take the transfer for the very real increase in his very real salary. And although he spent a very good chunk of the night reading up on how humans do things, he's still going to play it smart. He'll leave his 50,000 shares alone and see where it goes from there.
"Good morning sir." Ryan greeted warmly once Ghen took his seat. "Now, name please?"
"Ghen." He answered, barely keeping his nerves down.
"Alright...and what's your position at this location?" Ryan questioned after scribbling on his form.
"I monitor the pumping stations near the extraction sites." Ghen explained, staying on point. "To be more specific, I check to see if they're in need of maintenance, as well as reading the flow rate that's determined by the calculators installed there. If there's too little for what's needed, I pump out more. And if there's too much, I pull it back a little."
"Nice...and how long have you been doing it for?" Ryan complimented with a nod.
"As of tomorrow, ten years." Ghen replied, voice quickly changing to minor awe once he realized that fact.
"Excellent. Do you have anyone in mind you'd like to replace you here?" Ryan questioned after another scribble. "If you don't have anyone, you're free to say so."
Ghen took a moment to think it over. A bunch of names went through his mind, but one stuck with him. "Tilik. He's just been accepted here, but he's learned quickly. Very attentive and he always catches something subtle. I think he'll do really well in my position, even better actually."
"Tilik, really?" Ryan questioned with a little shock, going through his completed forms. Ghen felt a short sense of panic in him. Did something happen, or was Tilik actually transferring? His answer didn't take long to reveal itself. "Right, Tilik was actually one of the first people to want to transfer here. He's actually requested to be part of the testing teams specifically. Do you have a second choice?"
"Um...no, actually." Ghen replied, feeling a little ashamed. "Tilik was my only choice, to be honest."
"Hey, don't worry." Ryan said assuringly with his hands raised. "Nothing wrong with that. Sometimes, there's just nobody up to snuff, right? 'Kay, so, last question. Is there anything specific you'd like to do when given the transfer?"
"If you need someone monitoring new pumps, I'd be happy to do that." Ghen stated.
"So basically same job but with better payoff, am I right?" Ryan grinned. "I hear you. Sometimes, we're just not paid enough for what we're doing. I know I think that sometimes. Uh, our secret, yeah?"
"Yeah, our secret." Ghen nodded, thinking it'd be better to have friendly relations with the human, just in case.
"Awesome. Back on topic, that's it." Ryan announced, placing the form on his pile. "We'll give you a call when you're accepted."
"Oh, uh, that's it?" Ghen questioned with a shrug in shocked surprise.
"What, expecting a question like, why do you want to transfer?" Ryan chuckled a bit as he leaned in his seat. "You can bullshit all you want, but we both know the answer. Sweet money and stock options. Not saying that's a bad answer of course, just that it's pretty obvious."
"I suppose it is." Ghen commented, realizing the point. "Also, you mentioned this...dividend? Is that for Zilia shares?"
Ryan laughed a little bit before nodding. "Yep, announced before I came here. About 0.43 per share. Want to know why that's awesome? Instead of waiting for the proper price to cash out your shares, now? The company pays you for each share you hold."
"A...Are you serious?" Ghen demanded, flabbergasted.
Ryan nodded with his now-trademark grin. "Dead serious. If you get the transfer, and get those 50,000 shares? A little head math...right, if you hold onto those, in addition to your salary, you'll now annually be paid 21,500 credits, if you keep it at 50,000 shares. Only you can decide to sell or buy shares."
Ghen just stood there silent and motionless, no idea of whether to believe it or not, to which Ryan just laughed. Once he walked out of the room, he managed to snap back to reality. Again, just focus on the very real pay-raise. He'll deal with the other parts later.
After he returned to his spot, he spotted Tizx approaching by his desk. The coordinator seems to be as casual as always.
"I saw you in that line a bit ago, Ghen." He said as he leaned on the desk. "Guess you're really taking that human's word?"
"I mean, I don't know about all this share business or what not." Ghen began with a shrug, his tone sounding a little defensive. "But I mean, having a bigger salary? Course I'm going for it when I can. And if all this magic credits turn out to be real? You realize we can live like the royal servants, right? Get the best cars, the nicest food and all that?"
"I'd be very careful, Ghen." Tizx warned in a sudden shift in tone. "Don't trust those humans. The way they just...obsess over money? Come up with more and more insane ways of getting credits? I don't know, it just makes my wings twitch."
"You think this is a bad idea?" Ghen asked with a little surprise at the change-in-demeanor.
"I think you should be careful, with the humans, and with what you're saying." Tizx replied, straightening his posture. "I wouldn't put it past those Earthmen to backstab you if it gets them a few more credits. And we all know how the royal servants get if any of us lowly commoners start thinking we can break into their circle."
"I hear you, I'll be on my guard, promise." Ghen stated with a nod. With a confirming nod of his own, Tizx returned back to his duty, walking past Ghen's desk.
Several weeks later.
Everything became so much better. Ghen got the transfer. He didn't need to relocate to a new residence either. And after he was walked through into learning how to manage his stock account, and seeing that new form of payment in his hands, he already felt as though he made the best decision. But it was only when he decided to take those shares more seriously that he became privy to what he was given. After receiving the dividend payment, and actually seeing it was real, valid credits after transferring it to his main bank account, all he could describe was the most powerful high he ever felt.
While his first thoughts were to buy himself a royalty-class car, some nicer furnishings for his home, or even a better home entirely, he ended up going the smarter route.
After going back to his stock account, he discovered that Zilia's shares rose to about 3.22 credits in price. Knowing that this was the easiest money he could ever make, he took all of his dividend earnings and bought more shares in Zilia, bringing him to owning 56,891.
And from his new regional coordinator, a human named Dylan, tomorrow is the grand release of the premium package. For just a monthly rate of 14.99 credits, the tap water will now include a sizeable portion of all nutrients and vitamins required in the zazk physiology. Still, Ghen has to admit. He's not entirely sure why anybody would want such a thing, if they'd even go for it. But, as long as he's practically swimming in easy credits, he won't pay much attention to it.
And just like when he was intensively studying the basics of how the human economy worked, he barely got any sleep. His mind was constantly thinking about the things he would buy. Or rather, what other stocks to put his credits into. Even now he can still hardly believe it. Just spend your money on some, make-believe thing and, if you wait long enough and picked the right stock, you'll get more than you spent back?
His mind even wandered onto what human colonies, or even their homeworld, Earth, was like. If everybody was making so much money, what kind of things would they offer? What kind of ridiculous service or product or item can you get? He's even debating on joining some forum and just asking around. Explain how he's new to how humans do things and was wondering what he should expect if he's successful.
By the time he felt like he can go to sleep, the binary-stars of the system were rising from the horizon. After getting out of his bed and changing to clean clothes, his mind returned onto what-ifs.
What if he bought better clothes? He's had his eye on that human brand of luxury clothes, Tessuti di Venezia, that's been all the rage amongst the royal servants. Or maybe he can go on vacation and just check out Earth for real?
It was a short ride to his workplace from his home. After getting stuff his stuff and preparing to walk through the doors, he heard the roar of a car grow louder. When he looked, he saw the sleekest and quite possibly the coolest looking car he's ever seen. Each time the engine revved it would startle him, both from how harsh it sounded as well as just how intense it sounded. And after it parked, he saw the doors pop out and then slide along the body back. And there, he saw Tilik, the seat literally turning and extending out a bit before he got off.
As soon as he saw Ghen staring, he struck a rather prideful pose after putting on his lab coat and then sauntered over to Ghen.
"What do you think?" Tilik said, without any doubt inviting praise or compliments.
"D...Did you actually buy that?" Ghen asked, unable to tear his eyes away from the car.
"You're Queens-damn right I did!" Tilik laughed happily. "Thing takes off like a starship, has temperature-controlled seating, all-in-one center console, barely any bouncing on rough roads. Hoof, best decision I've ever made!"
"How much did that thing cost?" Ghen asked after letting out an incredulous laugh.
"Five million credits." Tilik replied, earning an absolutely shocked stare from Ghen. "And thanks to the incredible salary I have, in addition to all these shares and dividends, I'll pay back the credits I borrowed in no time!"
Ghen needed a few moments before he could speak again. "All I've been doing is buying more shares."
Tilik laughed and then patted the now-envious monitor's back. "Smart man. I got a little carried away, yeah, but not anymore. Any spending credits I got, going right back to investing. That's what it's called right, investing?"
"Yeah, it is." Ghen nodded, feeling a fire light up in his thorax. "And also? Today's the day that the premium water thing is being released. Here's hoping it starts out well, right?"
"Oh it will, trust me." Tilik chuckled as they both began making their way inside the workplace. "Lots of research, lots of study. By the Queen, so much of it...it'll make your head spin."
And after hearing that, Ghen had a moment of realization. "Hey, Tilik? How did you get such a nice position anyways? Weren't you just studying under me before the humans came along?"
Tilik let out a sigh after opening the door. "I'll be honest, I never wanted your job. Not because it's boring or terrible, just...I didn't suffer so many sleepless nights in the science academy just to be a glorified button pusher. This is what I've always wanted. Doing science, solving problems rather than just applying the solution, you know?"
"Wait, you got an academic certificate?" Ghen questioned, completely floored. "How did you end up beneath me then? I should've been answering to you!"
"Simple." Tilik gave a heavier sigh. "A royal servant was asking for the same job I was. Take a guess at who got it."
"Ouch. Good thing the humans came along when they did, yeah?" Ghen was taken aback. He never heard anything about a servant taking a job at his place. "Looks like you're proving yourself to be well suited."
"By the Queen, of course I am." Tilik nodded. "Like I said, I nearly broke my wings through so many nights, got certified top of my class, all just to get pushed to the dirt because someone who was born into a particular family wanted the same thing I did? I know I'm smarter than any of those empty-skull servants back in the Center. I know that, whatever, uh...corporate? Yeah, whatever corporate wants out of science, I will xeek give it to them."
"Well, let me know how things go in the lab." Ghen said, admiring his drive as they neared the main office floor. "Because this is where the button pusher needs to go."
Tilik let out a laugh as he nodded. "Hey, how about we meet up at Queen's Fine Eatery tonight. I'll pay, yeah?"
Ghen, at first, wanted to admonish him for choosing such an outrageously expensive place to go. But he quickly realized that, he truly is good for it, thanks to the humans. "Well, hey, if you're paying for it."
...
It was a fantastic opening. After being told what news sites to keep in mind for stocks, he first heard it from Dylan, and then got more detail on Business Today. There was such a massive demand right from the start that Zilia needs to increase extraction just to meet it. But what really got his attention was the effect it had. Zilia Water Delivery's share price just blasted off. After seemingly holding steady at about 3.15, by the time he got home and logged onto his account, it already reached 7.04 a share. The calculator on his account told him that he got a value-gain of 54.26%.
Never in his entire life had he felt such...joy. With all of the shares he currently has? He's sitting at 400,512.64 credits. He knows that it is woefully pathetic compared to what the royal servants have just in their pockets, but the fact that he has such money, just by owning some intangible concept? Why even work at Zilia? Why doesn't he just sit at home, figure out what companies to invest in and make his money that way?
What's even the point in working a real job, getting a pathetic pay when you can just take the money you have, determine where to spend it, and get triple back? All just sitting on your wings at home, researching?
He was so wrapped up in his excited high that he completely forgot he was going to meet Tilik at Queen's. After quickly and haphazardly putting on his nicer clothes, he got to the place only a few minutes late.
Tilik was there by the guide, no doubt having been waiting for him. As soon as he strode up, Tilik's wings stiffned out some. No doubt he must've seen the numbers as well.
"I can see your wings, Ghen." Tilik began with an excited chuckle. "Made some serious credits?"
Ghen let out an incredulous scoff, struggling to find the words for a moment. "Incredible. All I'm going to say."
"Likewise." Tilik chortled some before nodding to the table guide. "All here. Table please?"
"Right this way, sir." The guide said politely. It was a short walk, travelling between round tables. The vast majority were populated by zazk, but Ghen was surprised at seeing a few humans here as well. No doubt corporate workers checking out the local food. He did spot them having bowls filled with some kind of mass. Some were brown, others white with what looks to be black specks on them.
They arrived at their table. A rather nice one, affording a view out the windows into the busy colony streets. Once Tilik and Ghen settled in, the guide handed out the menus.
"May I suggest our rather popular option for tonight?" The guide began. "Human ice-cream. Ingredients sourced from Earth itself. Very cold, but incredibly sweet, and coming in many flavors. The most popular amongst us is called vanilla-bean. The vanilla itself soaks in the cream for much of the process, and then the innards sprinkled on top of it near the end. Rumor has it that the Queen herself has demanded personal shipments of such a treat straight from the home of vanilla, an island on Earth named Madagascar."
Ghen didn't even spare a single thought. "Vanilla bean ice cream then, please."
"Same." Tilik seconded when the guide glanced to him. With a slight bow, the guide proceeded to ferry their orders to the kitchen. Thankfully it was just a short wait before the guide returned, carrying a large plate containing bowls of ice cream. Ghen could feel the saliva on his mandibles as the bowl was placed before them. He could just feel the cold air around that glistening mass of sugary goodness. The white snow decorated with the black dots of vanilla bean.
Once the guide left them, Tilik and Ghen both dived in at the same time. As soon as the ice cream entered his mouth, touched his tongue, he exploded in incomprehensible bliss. The sweetness, the smooth and creamy mass, even the taste of vanilla he wasn't sure about was just absolutely delightful. It was so overwhelming that his entire body limped, slumping in his seat as he was forced to ride on the surging tide of joy and happiness sweeping over him.
Tilik was no different. He too was taken completely by the effects of the ice cream, his wings fluttering some against the seat. Ghen could hear some noise. It was the humans they passed by. They were chuckling, grinning, and glancing over at them discreetly. Unlike the two zazk, the humans seemingly just enjoyed the ice cream as if it was just another nice dessert to them. Or perhaps they couldn't allow themselves to succumb to the high?
And as soon as the wave of indescribable bliss and happiness subsided, Ghen knew. He just knew. This was the life. He wanted this. The ice cream was just the beginning. So many things denied because he didn't have the credits, or worse, not the blood. Because he was just a drone in the great Collective, even if he had the credits, he wasn't allowed because of what caste he was born in. That fire that sparked in him when he saw Tilik's new car? It exploded into a raging firestorm.
And when looking into Tilik's eyes, Ghen could see the same. He was on the same page as Ghen was. Both of them were sold. They have the credits. And the humans? If you can pay for it, they'll never discriminate. All they cared about is if you have the money.
And by the Queen, Ghen and Tilik will endeavor to amass as much credits as physically possible.
The rest of the night faded into a blur. A blur that evokes only one thing. Bliss. It was only when he walked through the door of his pathetic hut that Ghen's mind snapped back to focus. His mandibles felt sticky. And he felt a weight in his stomach. How much ice cream did he eat? Whatever it was, he ate such volume that the lower-section of his throax extended and rounded out, visible even under his shirt. He felt something odd in his pocket. It was a receipt. 43,000 credits for ten bowls of vanilla bean ice cream. Was that ten bowls for both of them? Or individually? Ghen didn't care. He's good for it.
Returning back to his calculator, he acted upon the decision that he had made at that eatery. He's acquiring as many books about investing and stock trading as he could find, frequent and study all the discussions and arguments presented by other like-minded individuals such as he, all to ensure he can live the good life. And he had a very good feeling Tilik was doing the exact same thing.
Well, first, the gurgling in his stomach, as well as the feeling of something rising demanded his attention. Looks like he'll need to take the night off to let his stomach get back to normal.
Three Years Later.
Ghen looked out beyond the horizon, seeing the colony that he grew up in. On the far side was where his old house was. With only a simple robe on, made from the finest silk from Earth's nation-state of China, he relaxed in his seat.
It was a long road. Stockpiling credits from pre-existing investments and from subsequent pays, he and Tilik made it. From having only half a million in assets and cash, now transformed to over eight-hundred million. And now, his call contracts on American Interstellar? They've just announced a breakthrough in their next generation of warp drives, reducing the speed coefficient even further, resulting in far faster travel. And with that, their stock price climbed sharply.
Another hundred million credits in the bank. Soon, very soon, he and Tilik are about to become the galaxy's first zazk billionares. But that's not enough. There are many humans who are billionares. Only those he can count on one hand are considered trillionares. He's going to break into that circle. He and Tilik.
Looking beyond the colony, he saw the abandoned building of the workplace he transferred to when the humans arrived. Turns out, the reason for such a high demand was that the humans also slipped in sugar to the tap water. As soon as that broke, many influential royal servants demanded investigations and outright banning of Terran Galactic Company's influence over the former government division. Zilia's stock price plummeted. But thanks to an advance tip from his human coordinator, Dylan, he and Tilik made a put contract. And that's where they struck gold, as the human saying goes.
Dylan warned that if they were citizens of the United Nations, they'd be investigated and convicted for insider trading. But, since they weren't, and the Collective were only just introduced to capitalism, there's no risk at all. Now the colony is going through a withdrawal phase, Zilia has been dissolved and reformed back as a government division and are currently at work re-establishing the standard, plain water delivery.
"Well, shit." Tilik muttered as he walked up to Ghen's side, taking well to human speech. "Looks like you win. American Interstellar's announcement really was a good thing. There goes a million credits. Ah well, the Royal Shipyards will make it back for me soon."
"Oh? Did they just go corporate?" Ghen asked curiously, glancing to Tilik.
"Hell yeah they did." Tilik chuckled, sitting down. "Queen and her retard servants fought it hard, but Royal Shipyards is now officially a human-style corporation. And, to a surprise to all the xenophobes in the galaxy, they're already being offered contracts for ship production. That'll raise the stock price pretty good."
"What's that human word...?" Ghen muttered, already having a reply in mind. "Dick? Yeah, calls or suck my dick, Tilik."
Tilik roared in laughter. "Already made them. Forty credits a share by this day next month."
"I have half a mind to go thirty." Ghen chuckled. "Either way, until then, I heard from Dylan that he knows a guy who knows several prime human women who happen to be into zazk."
"You're interested in women?" Tilik said as his wings fluttered. "With how often you tell me to suck you off, I'd have thought differently."
"Oh, I always thought it was you who was into men." Ghen responded dryly. "Just wanted to be a good friend, you know? Considering how you never seem to make it past, Hey sweet thing, I'm rich you know."
"Oh, go fuck yourself." Tilik countered with a little laugh. After he stopped, wings stiffened, he looked to Ghen. "So, know any royal servants we can put the squeeze on for more revenue streams?"
"I got just the one." Ghen nodded, sitting up. "Fzik. He's been fighting to control the ice cream trade. Worried it's a corrupting influence. Got done talking with the human CEO of Nestle earlier. If we clear the way, he'll know how to squeeze a little more gains in stock price when he makes the announcement."
Tilik's wings stiffened even more, signaling his approval. "Alright, time to throw some credits around, yeah?"
AN: Sorry for the period of no updates. College is starting up, lots of stuff to clear and work out. Not sure why but I just got a bug up my butt about incorporating money and the stock market into a short. Here it is. Sorry if it seems abrupt, character limit fast approaching. Let me know how you guys think about it!
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Passed OSCP - My Experience

Originally, I was leaning against doing an obligatory post-OSCP Reddit post because I didn’t want to come across as another “look at me - I passed OSCP!!” cringeworthy OSCP Oscar speech, but I decided to go ahead and do one because my experience was perhaps a little unique and answers the much-asked question “can I do OSCP without experience?”.
A quick background to add context…
I’m 31 years old and my employment history is a mixture of sales, graphics, and media-related job roles. I felt discontented for a long time earning (barely) living wage in job roles I had little passion for. Anyway, to cut a long story short, I decided to quit my latest sales job in November last year (2019) to pursue a career in cybersecurity/infosec. I didn’t know what ‘TCP’ or ‘UDP’ was, and I’d never heard of ‘Kali’ or how to run a VM, but I was convinced that this would be the career path for me.
Anyway, I went through Security+ and C|EH from November to March and, just as I was going to start applying for Security Analyst type job roles, our friendly neighbourhood Coronavirus came along and shut down the economy. Even though I had no intention of doing OSCP for another year or two, I thought it was a better option than twiddling my thumbs for a few months, so I decided to sign up for PWK labs and have a crack at it.
Fast-forwarding to yesterday, after a few brutal months and an incredible experience, I finally got the OSCP “you have successfully completed” email.
Apologies in advance for the essay but I just want to go through my journey for those of you that might be in a similar position to the one I was in - limited/zero IT experience and feeling intimidated by the dreaded OSCP mountain.
My journey…
In the weeks leading up to the wait to start my 60 days PWK material and labs, I went through The Cyber Mentor’s Practical Ethical Hacking Udemy course and then went on a Hack the Box rampage, so, by the time my lab time started, I felt like I was in a pretty decent position.
Unfortunately, because I was a naïve idiot, I tackled the labs straight away and went through the PWK PDF casually on the side. This was a big mistake and something I would definitely change in hindsight because it cost me 5 easy points on the exam (I thought I could smash through the PDF exercises during the last week of labs but this didn’t prove to be enough time).
In 60 days I ended up rooting around 40 machines - I didn’t bother going for the networks because it didn’t apply to the exam and, although valuable real-world experience, I didn’t want to get distracted and flood my brain with even more information when it wasn’t going to be relevant for my mission.
One big thing that I did get right was note-taking. I can’t express enough how valuable it is to take detailed notes and build your own cheat sheet library. After every machine I rooted, I did a walkthrough on OneNote and added any new tools/commands to my cheat sheet library. This not only saves precious time in the exam, but it helps you build your own knowledge instead of relying on other people’s cheat sheets without really understanding what you’re doing.
After my 60 days had finished, I spent 1 month on TJ Null’s OSCP Hack the Box list and IppSec’s video walkthroughs. I also can’t stress enough how valuable this learning methodology is. My only regret is that I rushed through it. I’d already booked my exam 30 days after lab time, so I ended up jumping through walkthroughs when I got stuck on boxes instead of exhausting all options. This was another naïve idiot mistake on my behalf and something I would do differently in hindsight. There’s a difference between “trying harder” and “trying harder, but in a smart way”. I was putting 10+ hours in every day but I wasn’t always being efficient with my time. I’d definitely recommend seeking hints and tips on boxes but only after you’ve exhausted all options first, something which I didn’t always do.
Anyway, my first exam attempt came around towards the end of July. Was I ready? No, but I had delusional confidence in myself that has paid off for me more often than not, so I was hoping it would pay off for me again.
My first exam was brutal. I sat in my chair for a total of 23 hours and 15 minutes, with only 3 short 5-minute breaks to get food to snack on. My VPN was shut down after 24 hours and I had a total of 65 points, which I’d been stuck on for the last 8 hours of my exam. I got the BO, root on one of the 20-point machines, root on the 10-point machine, and user on the other 20-point machine. I just couldn’t get root on that last machine.
I was pretty devastated because I’d put my heart and soul into Sec+, C|EH, and OSCP for 7 straight months and I wanted it bad. But my delusional confidence wasn’t enough.
After listening to depressing Taylor Swift songs for a few days (joke), I decided to book another exam in, 4 weeks after my first attempt.
This time around, I decided to go through Tib3rius’s Linux and Windows Privilege Escalation courses (they were great) and go back over some of the HTB machines. I honestly felt at this point that there wasn’t much more study material that I could go through.
2nd exam came up and it was an almost minute-for-minute repeat of the first exam. BO done, 20 point rooted, 10 point rooted, but could only get user on the other 20 point. 65 points again. This time I ended up listening to Taylor Swift + Lana Del Rey.
I was pretty adamant that I could do this and that I was very close, so I sent Off-Sec an email explaining my situation and they were kind enough to allow me another exam attempt without waiting 8 weeks - I booked another exam in 2 weeks after my second attempt.
This time, my preparation was entirely mental. In both my prior exams, I was sat on my chair for over 23 hours because I was flapping around aimlessly like a headless chicken, desperately firing off exploits that I knew wouldn’t work on the other 20-point machine. So, I went into the 3rd exam determined to go at a slow and steady pace, and not let the 24-hour timeframe pressure me into a wild goose chase.
Miraculously, it seemed to work. After 14 hours, I’d done the BO, rooted both 20-point machines, rooted the 10-point machine, and got user on the 25-point machine. 85-ish points in total.
The point of this story is to get across to people that you need to try simpler, not harder. I perhaps failed my first exam because I’d not gone through Tib3rius’s Priv Esc courses, but I failed on my 2nd 100% due to mentality. There was no skill-level difference between my 2nd exam and 3rd exam.
I’ll finish off with my recommended learning methodology and exam tips (for people with limited/zero IT experience):
. The Cyber Mentor Practical Ethical Hacking Udemy course (usually on offer at $14.99-ish)
. Tib3rius’s Linux and Windows Privilege Escalation course (usually on offer at $12.99 each)
. Try Hack Me OSCP Learning Path (I would recommend doing this before HTB - it is $10 for 30 days)
. PWK labs (I personally don’t feel more than 60 days are required - unless you work full-time)
. TJ Null’s OSCP Hack the Box list ($10 for retired HTB machines - very worth it)
. You should be ready for the exam
Exam tips:
. Become proficient with Nmap but use an enumeration tool like nmapAutomator for the exam
. You will need to understand what bash and Python scripts are doing (you don’t need to be able to write them from scratch)
. Don’t be tempted to use a fancy BO methodology for the exam, stick with PWK’s methodology - it works (some of the others don’t)
. Play around with various reverse shell payloads - sometimes a bash one-liner won’t work so you need to go with Python. Sometimes Bash, Python, and netcat won’t work, so you need to understand what alternatives you can use in that scenario
. Get into the habit of reading service manuals. In all 3 of my exams, I came up against machines that had services I’d never even heard of. Fortunately, I’d got into the habit reading service manuals, otherwise, I would have skipped over the services and got lost down a rabbit hole
. Get into the habit of exploiting conventional services in unconventional ways. Just because an SUID binary isn’t on Gtfobins, it doesn’t mean that you can’t exploit the SUID binary in an unconventional way. Again, get into the habit of reading manuals to understand what services do
. Become familiar with Burp Suite. Many exploits won’t work in the way you might expect them to, but they will work if you run them through Burp. Or, at the very least, you’ll be able to understand why they’re not working. This issue came up in my last exam and I would have been completely lost if it weren’t for Burp
. Take breaks if you get frustrated - this is said over and over again by people on this subreddit and it’s an absolute must. The 20 point machine that I couldn’t root after 8 hours on my 2nd exam was on my 3rd exam (thanks Off-Sec - I know you tried to fu*k me with that), but I was able to root it within 1 hour on my 3rd exam, simply because my mindset was different at the time.
. Trust your gut - by doing PWK and HTB machines, you should develop a gut feeling of when you are in a rabbit hole and when you’re on the right track. I ended up rooting over 100 machines before the exam (albeit with plenty of hints and tips) and it helped me develop a good gut feeling. I can’t explain why but there were times in my last exam where I knew I was in the right area even though I wasn’t able to enumerate the specific service version. This feeling simply came from experience. I’m sure many of you watch IppSec’s videos and wonder “how the hell does he know to do X or Y?”. I used to wonder this all the time but after going through dozens of machines, I finally got it. It comes down to experience. Try to do as many machines as you can before the exam to build that gut feeling, and trust it in the exam.
. Embrace failure - this is perhaps the most important thing that I can say. OSCP is a difficult journey and many people fail multiple times before passing. And you know what? That’s okay. It’s okay to fail. It’s how you react to failure that counts. I’m not particularly smart but I embrace failure and I know deep down that I will keep trying until I pass. I was prepared to take the OSCP exam 1000 times if I had to, I was never going to let the exam beat me. I suggest you approach it with the same mentality and not let silly pride prevent you from having a go at it.
One last thing! Join a solid Discord community. This journey has been amazing since day one and a big reason behind that is the amazing online community. I was very active in an HTB community and ended up talking to several people who were going through OSCP at the same time as me. This was honestly such a massive help to me because I didn’t know what the hell I was doing when I first started!
Sorry for the massive rant - I just see so many people on here treating OSCP like an unsurmountable mountain. It’s not. You can do it!
submitted by TheCrypt0nian to oscp [link] [comments]

Help with RAID 6 recovery

Back around 2008, I built a machine with a 3ware RAID controller, and set up 15 1TB drives in RAID 6.
At some point in maybe 2010, I had 3 (or maybe only 2) drives fail due to (most likely) overheating. I was unable to rebuild the array at the time, even with swapping out the failed drive/s. I don't remember the details.
More than a decade later, I still have all 15 drives, in a box, labeled with their order, and the original 3ware controller, and a desiccant pack.
I have no idea if the drives still work, but I am finally ready to try to recover the data from them, assuming they still work.
After a bit of duckduckgo-ing, it appears that I really only have 2 options - use recovery software or use a recovery service where I ship out my drives. The data on these drives, while nice to have, is not worth me sending them to a 3rd party. I am, however, willing to spend a little money on the recovery software if I need to.
Based on my searching, it appears that there are 3 viable options: * https://www.diskinternals.com/raid-recovery/ * https://www.stellarinfo.com/article/raid6-data-recovery.php * http://www.freeraidrecovery.com/
The Diskinternals solution looks like it may be the easiest, but I'm not sure what to expect when I actually try to use it.
The Stellar one looks good as well - it has instructions with screenshots and I was able to find a video of someone actually using it. But it needs some technical parameters that I have no idea how to retrieve - maybe I could hook up the old controller and read them by accessing the controller from the bios? I will try that once I'm ready to get my hands dirty.
The ReclaiMe one appears to be easy and free, claiming that it will automatically determine the parameters that Stellar expects you to supply. Seems too good to be true, especially as a free product. Their site and their claims make me not trust them...
So to get started on this project, the very first thing I want to do is take some kind of image of each of the 15 drives. Do any of you have recommendations for the best way to do this? The first step in Diskinternals instructions (which are on this separate page for some reason - https://www.diskinternals.com/raid-recovery/raid-6-data-recovery/) list creating a "binary image" of the disk/s. Once I do this, then do I need to mount it somehow? Do I need some separate program to do that in Windows? I know that I can (and will) look this up, but taking an image of known corrupted drives for the purposes of RAID data recovery with specialized recovery software seems to be a pretty special case, and I want to make sure that the image I take is what will be needed to attempt the recovery. I don't know how many times I'll be able to read from these old drives.
I did a little searching before posting this about disk imaging/cloning - it seems like I need an image, not a clone. Clonezilla looks like the best option (and I've used it before). I've heard good things about Acronis, but their new pricing model turns me off. Most of the alternatives to Clonezilla (Acronis, Paragon, Macrium) don't have technical-enough language to earn my trust. I also took a look at isobuster, because that's a program I already have, but it looks like its ability to take raw images does not include HDDs.
A quick search of datahoarder using the search term "raid 6" didn't bring up any posts that had addressed this scenario - most were about swapping/rebuilding.
Any help, guidance, insight, etc. is appreciated. Thanks!
submitted by brainthinks to DataHoarder [link] [comments]

CMV: Proportional Representation (PR) is the Superior System

It is more fair

I was inspired by the American elections on this one. That's because hearing Trump complain about election fraud seems rich considering he would not have come close to beating Hilary or Biden in the last two elections without the Electoral College system (in both instances he lost the popular vote).
Of course, the Electoral College system is law, so gerrymandering cannot legally be "fraud" but come on - if a candidate wins the popular vote they should, morally speaking, win the presidency. The Electoral College system is even worse than British First Past the Post (FPTP) it seems, as a party that wins the Electoral Colleges still does not necessarily have control over the senate.

It reflects the voting majority better

Here in UK recently we had an election where the Prime Minister won an 80 seat majority the size of which he would never have gotten with proportional representation. While Johnson would have always stayed on as PM, he would not have had a "democratic" mandate to push through the policies he wants to: a hard Brexit, Americanising the Supreme Court, questionable Civil Service reforms (Cummings) and the Internal Markets Bill to name a few. That's because a stronger Opposition under PR would have opposed a lot of this.

You get more local representatives that may reflect your point of view

I have heard it said that FPTP returns you a constituent politician that can dedicate themselves to representing local issues. But with PR there may be several local representatives in population dense areas that reflect different political perspectives. So if you have an issue you think a socialist would understand better you can contact them, or if it was a conservative or a liberal you wanted to talk to, you'd be more likely to have those options as well.
Obviously in some communities, you might find there wasn't as broad an array of representatives. However you'd have a better shot at that under PR as well as a wider choice of representatives to talk to even if they are from the same party.

It is just as "stable", if not more so

First, I disagree with the premise that opponents to PR subscribe to that a constitution is stable if it does not require a coalition government and government can more easily enact policies in accordance with their voting base (and get those through parliament). Firstly, "more stuff done" is not better: quality, not quantity.
When we had a minority conservative government before 2019 I actually thought parliament were doing a good job of scrutinising and making amendments to Brexit legislation so that the country could come to a positive consensus on what would be a stable result. Being able to rush stuff through parliament just leads to chaotic mistakes like the Iraq war, where Blair was able to rush a decision to go to war even though the decision was very popular among the public at large.
Would he have been able to do this under a proportionally representative parliament? Also would Cummings have as much sway in bullying his vision for the country if parliament was proportionally representative? Neither of these seem likely. The other objection related to the point about is that FPTP means the largest group can get their voice heard whereas with a coalition government the negotiations result in a compromise that represent no particular group.
But actually PR just treats what the majority want a lot differently. For example if 40% of people want a No Deal Brexit but 60% of people are divided between Remain and Soft Brexit, sure the largest minority group wants a hard break from the EU. But it would seem that the majority of people (60%) would prefer to at least remain in a customs union with Europe. So FPTP has a twisted idea of what it means to represent the majority.
The idea that it would be less stable and more democratic to force a vision through parliament that most people don't want because ideology exists as a spectrum rather than a binary categorisation seems perverse. If a National Unity Government was strong enough - necessary in fact - to face Hitler, it seems that coalition governments should be able to fare well enough during times of lesser crisis.

It won't particularly lead to racist parties forming, or it might but it is not that substantial

So, with the vote split between two large parties partially "left" or "right to the Overton window people will generally vote for centrist governments, or centre-right if you consider UK and America are to the right of most other countries. This doesn't really give much breathing space for racist parties in general as racist parties tend to have radical ideologies that deviate far from the centre-ground.
But with proportional representation, people no longer consider voting for a party that deviates too far from centre a "wasted vote" since those parties now have a legitimate shot to either get into power, or simply to veto government. Whereas before, they would be stealing votes from a mainstream party closest too them, enabling the party you hate most to get in, now that doesn't matter because your favourite party can form a coalition with the enemy of your friend (whether in power or opposition).
Or they can form a coalition with your enemy, softening the blows and impacts of that party's policy making. This can lead to authoritarian and racist parties forming, some say. But the thing is firstly, racist parties can get in power even with FPTP.
For example, when the Reformed National Party won most of the seats in the 1948 FPTP election leading to apartheid South Africa (1). The Nazi Party had actually arrested all of the Communist deputies and changed the rules to make it easier to pass the Enabling Act in 1933 (1), thus making the system less proportionally representative.
Meanwhile, Karl Popper has this to say about tolerating (or not tolerating) intolerance in modern democracies:
Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.
More relevantly to my argument, he says:
as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be unwise.
I extend an interpretation of this (my words, not Popper's) to mean that it could be prudent, even on a political level to occasionally hand the racists a platform so that we can debate and repudiate their ideas. Whereas complete suppression can occasionally lend credence to the idea that a person's logic is "irrefutable" and that is why their expression has been muted. Letting the racist party's a small portion of politic representation to refute their ideas can quash such a notion.
And besides, we can defeat racist parties through legal mechanisms to defeat or obstruct them when their policies become too extreme. For example, the British National Party (BNP) "gained all the borough council seats in parts of Burnley despite getting nowhere near a majority of the vote" (1).
However, the BNP were also obstructed by legal democratic mechanisms when a court ruled the party was legally required to allow ethnic minorities membership in the party, thus morphing the whole focus. Popper sort of makes a similar argument to this as well though neither of us have outright claimed racist or anti-democratic authoritarian parties should be banned entirely:
[W]e should claim the right to suppress [those who are intolerant] if necessary even by force; for it may easily turn out that they are not prepared to meet us on the level of rational argument, but begin by denouncing all argument; they may forbid their followers to listen to rational argument, because it is deceptive, and teach them to answer arguments by the use of their fists or pistols. We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant. We should claim that any movement preaching intolerance places itself outside the law, and we should consider incitement to intolerance and persecution as criminal, in the same way as we should consider incitement to murder, or to kidnapping, or to the revival of the slave trade, as criminal.
I'm not saying that there is no threat from racist parties under PR as quite a few European proportionally representative democracies have them. I am just saying that the threat is firstly exaggerated and secondly we are not exactly protected from them by FPTP either. Could you imagine how bad it would be if a country were facing the same instability, economic depression and racial divisions as a country like Germany during the Weimar Republic but instead of a PR democracy, a racist anti-democratic government were able to gerrymander constituencies to their benefit through FPTP? (1)
___________________________________________

Resources

(1) Electoral Reform Website: "Did Proportional Representation put the Nazis in power?"
submitted by data_rights to changemyview [link] [comments]

OBLIGATORY FILLER MATERIAL – ESCAPE FROM STALAG SULTANATE, Part 1

That reminds me of a story.
“HELLFIRE AND DALMATIANS!” I shouted to no one in particular.
“What’s the problem, dear?” Esme asks in that way she has of telling me to calm down without having to say it directly.
“This bloody fucking country. A day late and several dollars short.” I fume. “Can’t get a new liquor license because of the bloody COVID. Can’t go to a hotel bar and have a snort because of the bloody COVID. Can’t even slip across the border to Dubai and soak up some room service and buckets of complimentary cocktails because of the bloody COVID.”
Yes, the Sultanate of Oman, in its infinitesimal wisdom, has traditionally followed other GCC countries by at least three months in making any sort of proclamations regarding this latest bugaboo: the hideous, deadly, itchy, loathsome, and possibly serially bent, noxious, pandemical COVID-19; aka, this pandemic’s entry for flu.
Their response is one of immense knee-jerk without first having thought of the consequences.
“Bloody lockdown, 2100 to 0700. What is this, the whole fucking country’s been bad and now being sent to bed without any supper?” I wondered aloud. “Idiot benchodes.”
Even Esme couldn’t come up with a rejoinder to that.
“Plus they close all the bars. And all the hotels. And the fucking bottle shops. It’s not enough that these fucking Muppets jack the ‘sin tax’ on booze and cigars by 100%, now they’re not even legally available.” I swore.
Of course, once you’ve spent even a small portion of the time that I have in the Middle East, you have your connections. Your system. Your access to the seedy underbelly of any society; the venerable Black Market.
Jesus Q. Christ on toast with baked beans, fried tomatoes, black pudding, and mushrooms, I could get most anything in the Middle East, be it legal, shady, or just plain illegal. However, before you all recoil in horror that the venerable Dr. Rocknocker dabbles in the prohibited, just remember: the ends always dojustify the means.
“I'm telling you, Esme dear; this Gulf story is getting too complicated. The weasels have started closing in.” I complain to Es as she hands me a fresh drink.
“Do you think…?” Esme asks expectantly.
Esme is more than ready to go. I’ve used this place as a base of operations for years whilst I wear out the Omani legal system suing those asswipes that think just because they’re local and I’m a kafir, they’re immune to the law.
I’ve spent a long, profitable and time-consuming period of the last few years proving them wrong.
But, time was marching onwards. I agreed with Esme, we’ve milked this particular cash cow dry. It was time to hitch up our bootstraps, call it a day, and get the hell out of Dodge.
But not before I took care of a few loose ends.
Now, the country had recently lost its venerable Sultan, who croaked back in January of this year.
Sultan Qaboos was a good egg, friend to expat and local alike. Did a shitload of good for this benighted Middle East sandpit. Dragged it kicking and screaming out of the 12th century into, well, not exactly the 21st, but a whole hell of a lot closer.
He realized that he needed revolutionary, not evolutionary change in the country. By revolutionary, he needed American, British, Canadian, and the like Western Expats here to do the heavy thinking and lifting and Eastern Expats like Indians, Bangladeshis and Nepalese to do all the scut work.
Yeah, I know. That sounds racist as fuck, but sometimes that’s the way the ball bounced.
Simple evolution of society where Omanis graduated the local equivalent of grade school, through high school, into University, and finally into Entry level jobs in the oil and gas industry wasn’t going to cut it. Took too long and the country needed a serious cash flow now.
So, that’s what he did. And it worked a treat.
Then he died.
And his chosen took over.
Except his chosen was pretty much antithetical to everything the previous and very revered and successful, Sultan wanted.
Soon, there are 100% ‘sin taxes’ aimed directly at the western expats. Tourists included.
Then there’s quotas and ‘Letters of No Objection’, which are impossible to get so that the Eastern Expats can’t switch jobs.
Then, there are Sultanic proclamations of new taxes on tourists, new taxes on fast food, new taxes on this, that and the other. Then there’s, in his own words, “Oman is for Omanis”, blatantly ridiculous and xenophobic Omanization, and the general swipe at all expats.
“GET OUT.”
This was the clear message of the new sultan.
He wanted to take over and possibly nationalize all the oil workings in the country.
Ask Venezuela, Iran, and Myanmar how well that worked out for them.
Then he wants all expats out on their asses. He wants Omanis to take over all the jobs, even though they’re nowhere near educated nor experienced enough for the positions. Then take up the massive GDP slack in lower oil production and oil prices with tourism.
Given everything else, that last line should be enough to get him off the throne.
He’s fucking nuts if he thinks people are going to want to cruise or overland anywhere near a place where foreigners are seen only as a cash supply, are despised, and would welcome these all new 100% tax levies.
Be that as it may, Esme and I decided that we have had enough of 135O F summer temperatures, virtual house arrest under the guise of a COVID lockdown, and idiots who were the only ones stupid or twisted enough not to vamoose when the great, big bloody letters were clearly written on the wall.
But, there was the physical act of getting out of the country.
Now, I had plenty of strings which I could pull, but I decided I’d start low and save those until we really needed them.
So low, in fact, we went to the US Embassy in Muscat.
“How low can you go?” reverberated through my head.
What a haven of sad-sacks, flubadubs, and third rate hobbyists.
Was either Esme or I surprised that when we finally secured an invitation to the embassy, that required a bit of string-pulling with the ex-Ambassador to Oman, now in Kabul; that besides the peach-fuzz faced Marine guarding the place, we were the only Americans in the joint?
“This is American soil!” I laughed, as I pulled out a huge Cuban cigar and was immediately told to extinguish it. “We’re as American as apple pie and napalm! We file our fucking 1040s every April; I pay my fucking long-distance taxes and demand US assistance to vacate this gloomy place of sandy, sweaty, sultry Sturm und Drang!”
“Shut up, Rock”, Esme chided me, “They don’t understand English. Much less, the florid English the way you trowel it on.”
“Fuckbuckets”, I remonstrated. “Here I had memorized the whole Patrick Henry speech he made to the Second Virginia Convention on March 23, 1775, at St. John's Church in Richmond, Virginia. Troglodytes. No admiration for the classics.”
“Rock, dear?” Esme noted, “It’s almost 1100 hours. Best to get to our appointment.”
True, our appointment was slated for 1100 hours. But around here, anything starting within three hours of the stated time was considered close enough.
We dragged ourselves, none too cheerfully, to the waiting room. Once we pried open the door, there was the usual “If you hear a high pitched wail, hit the deck” signs, and other things one could do while kissing one’s ass goodbye if there was a terrorist attack, we had a whole new slew of bullshit with which to deal.
“Social distancing. 6 feet. Or if you’re from Baja Canada, 1 cow’s length.”
“Must wear a mask. Bandanna, bandoliers, and large-caliber weapons or sombrero optional.”
“No sitting. Faux Naugahyde seats are too difficult to sterilize. You must stand at attention, do not talk amongst yourselves, and remain patient until your number is called.”
“Well, fuck!”, I snorted quietly, as I raised my first secret flask in rapt attention to our old glory of red, white, and blue.
“Good thing they didn’t say nothin’ about getting a load on. If I’m going to be treated like cattle, I’m going to at least have something to chew on in the process.”
“Oh, lord”, Esme grumbled, “You didn’t bring that Japanese Rye Whiskey with you, did you?”
“ルハイム”, I said, which is Japanese for “L’chaim”!
“Oh, hell”, Esme grinned as she borrowed my flask, “This is going to be a long day.”
I began to protest but remembered that I was wearing my Agency-issued field vest. I must have had at least 5 or 6 more flasks lurking around in those pockets somewhere.
Funny aside: they don’t bother with my going through an X-ray machine nor do they confiscate my phone, radio, knives, nor other field equipment when I go to the US Embassy.
It took them almost two solid hours last time, and by the time they got to my Brunton Compass, emergency flasks, a few spare blasting cap boosters, and saw the label sewn into the back of my vest, they decided they’d just send Rack and Ruin some evil Emails and let me pass unmolested.
“I’ll drink to that”, I say as I raise a flask as the locals raise an eyebrow. “Courtesy of Atheists International. We’re here for your children…”
The collective gasps and growls indicate they weren’t happy with me or my betrothed.
“Don’t care, Buckwheat”, I smiled, “Never did, never will. We’re out of here for good. You can curse my name all you want then. But, then again, why you standing in the American Embassy trying to get a visa to visit the land of the great evil empire?”
All the locals and most of the Eastern Expats crowded into a corner as far away from us as they physically could.
“BOO!” I snickered over a shot of Wild Turkey 101 Rye.
“Now serving number 58! Number 58!” came the call over the tannoy.
“Look at that”, I remarked to Es as I stashed both our flasks, “It’s only 12:35. Record time.”
We both shimmy into the glass-fronted and presumably bullet- but not C-4 resistant- glass.
We pick up the telephones there and acknowledge that we are who we said we were.
The East Indian fella, one Harsh Talavalakar, behind the multiple layers of glass asked us why we were here.
“Didn’t you read the appointment card?” I asked, “We’re here to have Uncle Sam get us passage out of this sordid and sultry place.”
“You are American citizens?” he asked, vacantly.
“That’s what it says on appointment cards and these here blue passports,” I replied.
“Well, how was I to know?” he scoffed, returning to his half-consumed powdered sugar doughnut.
“Maybe read the appointment card and see that we are US Citizens here on the behest of Ambassador Bethesda Orun?” I replied.
“Like I have time to read everything that comes across my desk”, he scoffed again.
I tapped on the glass to make certain I had his full attention.
“Look here, Herr Harsh. I’m not sure how you got this job at the American Consulate but want to be very clear with you. My wife and I are residents of this place for the last 20 years. We’re American citizens of very high standing and have more high powered connections than an Arduino in a nuclear power station. We have direct connections with Langley, Virginia and if you want to retain your cushy job, you’ll put down that fucking doughnut and pay very rapt attention to the two Americans standing here who are getting more and more irritated with some Indian benchode that doesn’t think he has to really do his job. You savvy? You diggin’ me, Beaumont
I guess the benchode got his attention. The two scowls he received from Esme and myself sort of cemented the idea that we’re not too pleased and not with to be trifled.
“Yes, sir?” he said, “And ma’am”, as Harsh quickly corrected himself as the doughnut disappeared.
“We want out. Gone. Vamoose. Outta here. AMF. You got me?” he nods behind the shatterprone glass.
“Now I know the borders are sealed and the airport’s closed, but fuck that. We want out and we want gone for good. I can’t make that much simpler or clearer. Get after it, son.” I said, as seriously as I could.
“Well, sir”, he began, “ The airport’s closed…”
“Are you deaf or born stupid and been losing ground ever since?” I asked, rhetorically. “I know that. We all know that. My HAT knows that. So, what devious little plan does the US Embassy have in store in just such an unsavory situation?”
“Well”, he chokes a bit, “There’s this unofficial lottery where America citizens are issued random numbers and if their number comes up, there are seats made available on special clandestine charter flights.”
Considering that Es and I are some of the last American citizens left in the country, I thought our chances might be pretty good.
“OK”, I said, “Let us have two of your finest numbers.”
“Yes, sir”, he said, “That will be US$500 total.”
“Excuse me?” I said.
“Oh, yes”, he smirked, “US$250 per number. Chances are you’ll never be called, but with these numbers, at least you stand a chance.”
“OK”, I said, “Forget the numbers. I want your name and operating number. I’ve got a report to file that’s due in Virginia before breakfast.”
“Oh, sir”, he smirked more, “I cannot release that information. Thanking you. Now be having a good day.” And he slammed the supposedly bulletproof shield between himself and Es and me.
“Bulletproof? Maybe. Nitro proof? No fucking way.” I groused as I fished out a couple of blasting cap superfast boosters.
“Calm down, dear”, Esme smiled to me as we walked out, “When he wasn’t looking, I took his picture, got his operating number, and full name. In fact, I think I got some information on where he lives…”
In the cab on the way back to our villa, I reviewed and confirmed Es’s subterfuge. Flasks number 6 and 8 needed serious replenishment by the time we arrived home.
“That’s fucking right, Ruin.” I yelled over the phone, “We need extraction. And now. Along with our personal effects and a few hundredweight of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ boxes of stuff we need to be transported.”
“Well, Rock”, Agent Ruin replied, “That’s a tall order. Usually, extraction is for one person and the stuff they’re wearing. Tell you what. Let Rack and I work on it for a week or so. We’ll arrange transport of your personal effects, then we’ll see about getting you and Esme to Dubai. At least there, you can order a plane. Hell, knowing you, you’ll get Tony Stark to fly in and provide door to door service. Sit tight. We’ll be back in touch.”
“Good!” I say as I slam the phone down. With these newfangled cellphone telephone instruments, they lack the same sort of satisfying “KER FUCKING CLANG” the old landlines used to have.
“Es!”, I yelled, “Start packing. We’re due out of here within a week.”
That meant we needed to do some packing triage:
• Things going home with us.
• Things being shipped.
• Things being sold.
• Things being left behind.
• Things no one was about to get their furry little mitts on.
“Oh, fuck!”, I startled. I had just remembered the John Wick-ian stash of various explosives, and adjunct materials I had buried in the basement. Obviously, I couldn’t take it home with me, I couldn’t sell it, and I sure as festering frothing fuck wasn’t going to leave it here.
I needed to call one of my more shifty and swarthy friends and arrange for passage out to the deep, dark desert. Around the area where the new sultan had opened a couple of brand new landfills.
Looks like I was going to expand them a few meters once we disposed of the few hundred kilos of accumulation I attained over the last few years.
See, I’m a packrat. I never leave nor toss anything that might be convenient. Might have a benefit. Might prove to be useful sometime down the line.
So, I’ve accumulated a bit of kit.
Like…well…a few hundred sticks of Du Pont 60% Extra Fast Dynamite. A couple dozen spools of Z-4 Primacord, in various degrees of fullness. A shitload of C-4; enough bricks for a Floydian wall. A couple, well, a dozen, well, two dozen cases of binary liquid explosives. Hey, this stuff is hard to come by…
Continuing, several thousand blasting caps and superfast flash blasting cap boosters. Some mercury fulminate. Some nitrogen triiodide. A couple tens of pounds of PETN. An equal amount of RDX. A few Erlenmeyer flasks full of shit even I’m not certain of what it is…
Oh.
And a few kilos of freshly decanted, raw nitroglycerin; packed in sturdy wooden boxes lined with new fuzzy lamb’s wool.
Not that much. Just 10 or 12 kilos.
Yeah. I can’t leave that here. Even a small accident with this stuff would lay waste to not only our villa; but my landlord’s villa with whom we share a common wall.
Besides, as Omanis go, my landlord was the only dishdasha dressed denizen for which I had any respect or admiration. He was a good guy. I needed to return his villa at least in some semblance of what I received when we first rented from him.
So, I had to dispose of many, many billions of kilojoules of potential energy. I needed to do this out in a distant and far away from prying ears and eyes regions and I needed a truck to haul this stuff out to the range.
To be continued…
submitted by Rocknocker to Rocknocker [link] [comments]

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