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PCG, a second shot at riding 11->18+ on bankruptcy exit

PCG, a second shot at riding 11->18+ on bankruptcy exit
EDIT: JUDGE JUST RULED, DISMISSING ABRAMS MOTION, WE GOING TO THE MOON BOIIIISS, NO DELAYS ON EXIT!
Hey all, here to share the last chance you have at getting PCG cheap before all the catalysts the next two weeks make it run like Usain Bolt to the mid-high teens
This past week there’s been a few good posts on PCG—thanks u/veritasinvestments and u/hjkoivu. Credit to mgr4 and others who helped contribute to this DD through discussion and research
I’m sure most of you degenerates are too lazy to read them, much less figure out what’s going on, so feel free to skip to the tl;dr. But for those of you who care, here’s my take on things. I wanted to post because this is a rare good opportunity on WSB, and also because it needs to be explained more simply, with greater examination of the details, so that my fellow gamblers can understand.
I told people to buy PCG back in December almost six months ago https://www.reddit.com/wallstreetbets/comments/e7h72m/pcg_growing_more_and_more_likely_to_exit/ when it was under 10$ and looked like a potential bankruptcy exit was possible. It ran to 18$ by February on the idea that PCG would exit bankruptcy and made mucho tendies. If you played this and made money, great, if not don't fret, you got another shot rabbit, don't choke this time
Just this morning Barclays upgraded to overweight, earlier UBS upgraded to 15$ PT based on exiting bankruptcy likely
Today we got a once in a lifetime do-over thanks to COVID where we are at the final precipice of bankruptcy exit, its priced at 11$ (and rising with upgrades each week), the final votes are the next two weeks and things are all looking positive.
TL;DR PCG going towards 20$ by end of June, Shares = free $$, 5/29 calls near 14.50/15 are high risk targets, 6/19 calls towards 15$ are less risky and mucho money, september 20C are free money, buy, sell on run up next 6 weeks and IV spikes
PCG - A Load of Hot Shit
PCG is a CA power company that did a bunch of naughty things and some homes / people burnt up (CA is a tinderbox come summertime). This resulted in PCG having to account for huge insurance claims, which obviously sent them into bankruptcy. The share price understandably plummeted:
https://preview.redd.it/4vir721wnxy41.png?width=773&format=png&auto=webp&s=a0c47db89008359b791a0d1765969f4c52d4a433
Now, the more observant among you may also note rather large spikes in volume in Jan 2019 and December / Jan 2020, followed by the share price rising significantly. What caused these spikes, you may ask? Well, the chance that PCG could come out of bankruptcy in a manner that would be beneficial to the shareholders of PCG’s equity. However, both times the plan was delayed, resulting in lower confidence and the share price dropping.
Clearly, if these had been actual exits, PCG would have skyrocketed—we’re seeing the price hit $17-20+ on proposals and rumors alone. That’s because PCG is monopolistic in California, and would be an absolute beast given two things: 1. It could exit on semi-favorable terms and 2. It could ensure, in some way, that it wouldn’t get fucked over by a fire yet again through enforcement of measures to reduce risk (and a nice tidy 20B+ wildfire fund that the state provides to help utilities reduce the burden of paying for fire liabilities).
Simply look at the following screenshot of its income statement these last few years, and imagine what it would look like if “unusual items” (give you one guess as to what those are) were removed:

https://preview.redd.it/i2r4y3vxnxy41.png?width=660&format=png&auto=webp&s=d86e04b205546dcce59fcc720a0ab11bce57082d
Good news, degens! The bankruptcy exit plans are underway again, and they do the two major things mentioned above. PG&E is allowed to remain solvent and continue generating huge revenues ($4.3 billion + in Q12020 and even more in Covid times as people stay home). Second, assuming PG&E exits by June 30th—a provision designed to help speed the process along—they’ll have access to $20+ billion in protection from a CA fund for future wildfire liabilities. So why will the bankruptcy exit occur now, when it didn’t in the past? Well, as Sir John Templeton once said when noting the four most promising words in investing, “This time it’s different!”
A Phoenix from the Ashes
For detailed past context on this whole process, read this article, it's great https://www.ft.com/content/582dd6e7-2ea5-4520-ae4c-d50c00c3799e
Here’s a timeline of the bankruptcy exit process. The two key dates are today, the 21st, and the 27th, which are when the victims' votes and the CPUC approval vote will be in, respectively, and when judge will confirm bankruptcy exit plan assuming everything positive. I’ll explain these terms soon, but just know that if both of these pass, PCG will almost certainly exit, resulting in mucho (California term) tendies when judge confirms bankruptcy exit:
https://preview.redd.it/mz45y0uynxy41.png?width=257&format=png&auto=webp&s=fbd24b8306a61de087f8d2a2c87f7686fbc7edb8
What are the chances of these votes passing? I’ll address the CPUC vote first. The California Public Utilities Commission is basically in charge of regulating utilities like PCG and therefore of approving bankruptcy exit. They are influenced mainly by their commissioner and by the governor. Gov. Slickback (Newsom) has already approved of the current proposal, and will urge the CPUC to approve it. In fact, the previous Gov. was largely ousted in part because of how he handled the PG&E situation. The CPUC commissioner also approves, and CPUC members are doing everything they can to see that this passes, including waiving a $200 million fine against PG&E. They’ve essentially approved already. Basically, if the people vote yes, CPUC will vote yes too.
And the people of California have been voting overwhelmingly in favor of the plan—we’re talking around 97+% of the votes that have been cast are “yes” votes. The plan needs only 2/3rds of those who bother to vote to vote yes. Further, the votes mentioned below account for a huge portion of those who can possibly vote (~70k max claimants and far fewer than that will vote). If you aren’t grateful for me wading into 60 pages of legalese to find this, fuck you (and yes, I didn’t just trust the seeking alpha article).
https://preview.redd.it/cl9loyn0oxy41.png?width=470&format=png&auto=webp&s=8465086d456c2e93fa6ba22128a8892fa5a526b9
Additionally, in this video, a lawyer representing several thousand more claimants mentions that his clients' votes are overwhelmingly in favor of the plan.
There’s only one issue in all of this, and it’s not even a real problem. A man named William Abrams is essentially alleging that a small proportion of the votes are invalid for conflict-of-interest reasons; Abrams wants these votes to be thrown out or wants the lawyers involved to initiate a re-vote with more disclosures. The WSJ picked up on this, causing algos to drop the PCG share price earlier this week.
The motion can be read here and is, in my opinion, largely BS. This is true on a purely mathematical level. From what I understand, the total debt owned by wall street firms is around $20 million dollars out of a $100 million credit facility. This hardly seems a conflict of interest when the facility is fixed-rate, and the creditors to Mr. Watt’s law firm have no say over him. Further, Watts’ law firm may make up to $1 billion from settlement, which is not considered by the court to be an issue (after all, contingent settlement fees are what align clients and attorneys’ interests, allowing victims to get compensation in the first place)! The $20 million pales in comparison and is a red herring.
Abrams actually has an alternate motivation himself: to get PCG to admit liability for the Tubbs wildfire, which destroyed his home. This is blatantly obvious when you consider the letter he filed to the court in August of last year. Abrams has a totally understandable motivation, but his claims are not legally legitimate. Further, he’s positioning himself as an advocate for victims, whereas in reality he’ll be screwing over the only company which could provide them with remuneration, as well as causing payments to be delayed by years and years.
Take a look at the response which was filed to Mr. Abrams’ motion: short, no-BS, and compelling. It doesn’t seem like the big boys think he’s worth worrying about.
Also worth noting is that the Judge, Dennis Montali, really wants this thing to go through. He’s taken Abrams’ claim “under advisement,” which essentially is necessary for PR and optics, but is largely ceremonial. If he was keen on delaying the vote he’d have done it at the hearing on the 12th. Since then he's moved forward with confirmation protocol and vote staying same. Consider the advise, dismissed.
Lastly, Governor was supportive if the CEO steps down as well as the BoD is replaced
https://www.wsj.com/articles/pg-e-ceo-to-step-down-after-tumultuous-year-11587564703 is stepping down mid-June, his job was to navigate bankruptcy exit, he's done that, time for new CEO
BoD is being replaced except 3 people https://www.wsj.com/articles/pg-e-promises-board-shake-up-as-it-pursues-californias-approval-on-bankruptcy-exit-11580535837
So who else knows this?
I’ve done enough DD for you already. Go look at the involved players betting on an exit: Centerbridge, Elliot, Apollo, etc. Serengeti Asset Management is a bankruptcy focused hedge fund that often profits when firms exit bankruptcy, and they have nearly 10% of their portfolio in PG&E. More will pile in once the bankruptcy exit is confirmed, and still more when the company emerges from bankruptcy (many institutional investors have mandates to hold off until such things happen). There's over 80% tute ownership, billions in a company in Ch11 currently. What happens when they exit and have liability protection for future fires and can truck on to a proper PE valuation? Big money inflow is what
Further, dark pool data shows buying at every slight dip:
https://preview.redd.it/uvvz2062oxy41.png?width=1879&format=png&auto=webp&s=155826b7029b6a00e31046a96e8d36a9aa0c0f5e
For Dark pools, read this article https://www.investopedia.com/articles/markets/050614/introduction-dark-pools.asp
Because of the aforementioned issues, PGC’s stock price has been depressed. While I’m not going to lie and say that I could accurately value it going forward, I will note that a ~3x NTM PEG is standard for utilities. If you want to compare metrics further, Edison International is the closest peer at 2.7x. In any case, the process of PCG’s depressed stock price recovering towards a more normal ratio should begin this month, and rapidly accelerate. I’ve seen longer term targets from $15 (UBS just raised their target to this, and they’re definitely still being conservative because of the hearing) to $25+. See below for a lazy comp set, and mess around with the numbers yourself:
https://preview.redd.it/dmsdj9t3oxy41.png?width=788&format=png&auto=webp&s=154ca45cd6aa48f03f8ae8d0e1b9398afd1c6540
There are two bear theories that are uncertain.
  1. Fires can happen in summer. If this happens PCG sells off just by fear of fires. My play involves selling before end of june on run up and then just wheeling PCG. Definitely not holding through entire Summer
  2. August 29th according to settlement plan is when PCG must deposit settlement money which is half cash and half issued as new equity. How much dilution will occur is uncertain as it must add up to 6.75B, but the idea is that this is undervalued and will normalize to 20s when exiting bankruptcy and be less dilution than expected. It'll get into a trust that sells shares in 18 months to return victims money.
Ultimately, the point is that smart money is betting on this play. Because we’re all single minded degenerates, that might be a turnoff, but it’s a vital piece of the puzzle.
There are other attractive things about PCG, too, particularly in this environment: it’ll actually be helped by more people staying home, it has no chance of falling in recession as utilities are safe havens (and this is massively undervalued), etc. But I’ve written enough. I’d encourage you to do your own research, and to look into all these interesting points.
TL;DR for you illiterate fucks.
PCG go up. Call good. PCG May 29th $15 Call (13-14.50 if you want to play it safer), June 19th 15$ Call, Sept 18th $20 Call. Enjoy IV kicks along the way up until the ruling on the 27th.
Also literally first time in 2 years Barclays made it a Buy vs a Hold
https://preview.redd.it/6lnbmpjfvxy41.png?width=765&format=png&auto=webp&s=49cf278e2dcd7477a8a460cf45f5a1e7bf6bd179
My Positions http://opcalc.com/7Pz
I hope to exit some of it near term positions around 14$ next Friday else on IV spike near judge ruling, depends how catalysts make it run next week
https://preview.redd.it/m5bwoaw4oxy41.png?width=1603&format=png&auto=webp&s=9d65fcf5a11308b985a9761e62db24dd39f712b9
I also have around 90K in shares on PCG
submitted by cpgupta561 to wallstreetbets [link] [comments]

Script for "History of the entire world I guess" by Bill wurtz

hi, you're on a rock floating in space. pretty cool, huh? some of it's water. fuck it. actually, most of it's water. i can't even get from here to there without buying a boat. it's sad. i'm sad. i miss you. HOW DID THIS HAPPEN? a long time ago... actually, never. and also now. nothing is nowhere. when? never. makes sense, right? like i said, it didn't happen. nothing was never anywhere. that's why it's been everywhere. it's been so "everywhere," you don't need a "where." you don't even need a "when." that's how "every" it gets. forget this. i wanna be something. go somewhere. do something. i want things to change. i want to invent time and space. and i know it's possible because everything is here, and it probably already happened. i just don't know when to start. and that's exactly where it started. big bang— pause woah. i paused it. i think there's a universe now. what's it made of? quarks and stuff. ah, that's a thing! in a place! don't like it? try a new place, at a different Time™. try to stick together, because the world is gonna get bigger and emptier. but it's not empty yet! it's still very full, and about a kjghpillion degrees. about no seconds later great news! the quarks are now happily married in groups of three, called a "proton" and a "neutron." and there's something else flying around that wants to join in, but can't cause it's too HOT. ten minutes later great news! the protons and neutrons are now happily married to each other! some of them even doubled up. about 380,000 years later great news! the electrons have now joined in. congratulations! the world is now... a bunch of gas in space. but it's getting closer together... ten million years later and it's getting closer together... 500 million years later and it's getting closer togeth—star is born it's a star new shit just got made! some stars burn out and die. bigger stars burn out and die with passion! and make some brand new way crazier shit. space dust! which allows for newer and more interesting stars to be made, and then die and explode into even crazier space dust! so now, stars have cool stuff around them, like rocks, ice, and funny clouds, which can make some very interesting things. like this ball of flaming rocks, for example. meteor hits earth holy shit, we just got hit by another ball of flaming rocks. and it kind of... made a mess. which is now the moon weather update: it's raining rocks from outer space. weather update: those rocks might've had water inside of them and now there's hot steam in the sky. weather update: cooler temperatures today and the floor is no longer lava. weather update... it's raining. severe flooding alert, the entire world is now an ocean. volcano alert. that's land! there'slifeintheocean what? something's alive in the ocean oh, cool. like a plant, or an animal? no! a microscopic speck. it lives in the bottom of the ocean and eats chemical soup, which is being served hot and fresh, made from gnarly space ingredients left over from when it was raining rocks or whatever. microscopic speck asexually reproduces oh yeah, and it can do that. reproduces three more times it has secret instructions written inside itself telling it how to build another one of itself. so that's pretty nifty, i would say. tired of living at the bottom of the ocean? now you can eat sunlight! using a revolutionary technique, you can convert sunlight into food. taste the sun! side effect, now there's oxygen everywhere and the sky is blue. then the earth might've been a snowball for a while. maybe even a couple of times. it's a sponge... it's a plant... it's a worm, and some other types of weird strange water bugs and strange fish. it's the Cambrian explosion: "wow, that's animals and stuff" but we're still in the ocean. hey, can we go on land? NO why? the sun is a deadly laser oh okay. not anymore, there's a blanket now the animals can go on land. come on, animals, let's go on land! "nope, can't walk yet." "and there's no food yet, so i don't care." 100 million years later okay, will you learn to walk if there's plants up here? "maybe," said some bugs. and fish. fish gasps for air five million years later okay, so i can go on land, but i have to go back in the water to have babies! idea: learn to use an egg. "i was already doing that" use a stronger egg. put water in it. have a baby, on land, in an egg. water is in the egg. baby, in the egg, in the water, in the egg. works for me. bye bye ocean 50 million years later and now everything's huge. including bugs. wanna see a map of the land? sure. Permian extinction oh, fuck, now everything's dead. just kidding, here are the survivors. keep your eye on this one, because it's about to become 75 million years later the dinosaurs. here's another map of the land. yeah, it broke apart. don't worry about it, it does that all the time. here comes a meteor. meteor strikes and the dinosaurs are gone it's mammal time, here come the mammals. look at those breasts. now they're gonna dominate the world, but one of them just learned how to grab stuff. and walk. no, like, walk like that. and grab stuff at the same time. and bang rocks together to make pointed rocks. "ouch" and set things on fire. "yeouch" and make crazy sounds with their voice: "gneurshk" which can mean different things. that's a human person! and now they're everywhere. almost. ice age! what? you can walk over here? cool. not anymore well i guess we're stuck here now. let's review: there's people on the planet. and they're chasing their food. fuck it. time to plant some grass. look at this. i get to control the food now. now everyone will want to be my friend and live near me. let's all build houses, except mine is bigger because i own the food. this is great! i wonder if anyone else is doing this. tired of using rocks for everything? use metal. it's underground. better farming was just invented in a sweet dank valley right in between these two rivers, and the animals are helping. guess what happens next? more food. and more people, who came to buy the food. now you need people to help make the food and keep track of the sales. and now you need houses for people to live in and people to make the houses and now there's more people and they invent things which makes things better and more people come and there's more farming and more people to make more things for more people and now there's business, money, writing, laws, power, Society coming soon to a dank river valley near you. meanwhile, out in the middle of nowhere, the horse is probably being tamed. why is all my metal so lame and lumpy? tired of using lame, sad metal? introducing: bronze. made from special ingredient tin from the far lands of Tin Land. i dunno, my dealer won't tell me where he gets it. also, guess what? egypt meanwhile, out in the middle of nowhere, they figured out how to put wheels on a horse. now we're getting somewhere. also, china and did i mention indus river valley civilization society count: 5 ... norte chico the middle east is getting more complicated. maybe because it's in the middle of the east. knock knock, er, clop clop. it's the... people with the horses? and they made an empire. and then everyone else copied their horses. greeks! ah look, it must be the greeks! er, a beta version of the greeks. let's check in with the indus river valley civilization: they're gone. guess who's not gone? china. new arrivals from india... maybe it's those horse people i was talking about... or their cousins or something... and they wrote some hymns and mantras and stuff... you could make a religion out of this. there's the bronze age collapse. now the phoenicians can get down to business also, can we switch to a metal that's a little easier to find? thanks. look who came back to israel, it's the twelve tribes of israel. and they believe in God just one though, and he's got like a ten-step program. here's some huge heads. must be the olmecs. the phoenicians make some colonies. the greeks copy their idea and make some colonies. the phoenicians made a colony so big it makes colonies. here comes the assyrian empire. never mind, it's the babyloni— media—it's the Persian Empire: "wow, that's big" enlightenment ah, the buddha was just enlightened. who's the buddha? this guy, who sat under a tree for so long that he figured out how to ignore the fact that we're all dying. you could make a religion out of this. oops, china just broke. but while it was breaking, confucius was figuring out how to have good morals. enlightenment ah, the greeks just had the idea of thinking about stuff. and right over here, alexander just had the idea of conquering the entire persian empire. it's a great idea. he was... great. and now he's dead. hopefully, the rest of the gang will be able to share the empire evenly between them. knock knock, it's chandragupta. he says "get the hell out of here. will you get the hell out of here if i give you 500 elephants? okay, thanks, bye" time to conquer all of india er most of india but what about this part? that's the tamil kings. no one conquers the tamil kings. who are the tamil kings? merchants, probably. and they've got spices! who would like to buy the spices? "me!" said the arabians, swiftly buying it and selling it to the rest of the world. hey, china put itself back together again, with good morals as their main philosophy. actually, they have three main philosophies: confucianism: have good morals taoism: go with the flow legalism: fuck you, obey the law out here, the horse nomads run wild and free, and they would like to ransack your city. nomads ransack china let's check the greekification levels of the greekified kingdoms: greekification overload. bye, said the parthians. bye, said the jews. hi, said the parthians, taking over the entire place. heyyyyy, said the romans, eating the entire mediterranean for breakfast. "thanks for invading our homeland," said the jews, who were starting to get tired of people invading their homeland. "hi, everything's great," said some guy who seems to be getting very popular and is then arrested and killed for being too popular, which actually makes him more popular. you could make a religion out of this. want silk? now you can buy it from china. they just made a brand new road to the world. conquers vietnam or you can get there on water "sick! new trade routes!" said india, accidentally spreading their religion to the entire southeast. hmm, that's a good place for an epic trading kingdom. there goes buddhism, travelling up the silk road. i wonder if it'll reach china before it collapses again. remember the persian empire? yep, said the persians, making a new one. axum is getting so powerful, they would like to build a long stick. has anyone populated madagascar yet? let's do it together. china is whole again... ...then it broke again still can't cross the sahara desert? try camels. "hell yeah! now we've got business," said the ghana empire, selling lots of gold. and slaves. "hi, i'm a member of the roman empire, and i was wondering is loving jesus legal yet?" "no" "actually, okay sure," said constantine, moving the capital way over here to be closer to his main rival. don't worry about rome, it won't fall. it's the golden age of india there's the gupta empire, not chandragupta, just gupta. first name chandra. the first. guess who's in rome? barbarians. what's a barbarian? "non-romans," said the romans, being invaded by non-romans. r.i.p. roman empire. actually just half of it, the other half is just fine, but it's not in rome anymore, so let's give it a new name. the mayans have figured out the stars oh, and here's a huge city, population: everyone. the göktürks have taken over the entire eurasian steppe. great job, göktürks. how's india? broken. how's china? back together. how's those trading kingdoms? bigger, and there's more of them. korea has three kingdoms. japan has a kingdom, it's the sunrise kingdom. intermission deep in the arabian desert, on the top of a mountain, the real god whispers in muhammad's ear. so, he goes down to the cube where everyone worships gods and he tells them their gods are all fake. and everyone got so mad at him that he had to leave town and go to a different town. you could make a religion out of this, and maybe conquer the world as well. the roman empire is long gone, but somehow the pope is still the pope. plus, there's new kingdoms all over europe. i wonder if there's room for moors. here's all the wisdom. in a house. it's the baghdad house of wisdom! just in time for the islamic golden age! "let's bring stuff to the coast and sell it, and become the swahili on the swahili coast," said the swahili on the swahili coast. remember this tiny space you have to go through to get from here to there? someone owns that now. wanna get enlightened in the middle of nowhere? the franks have the biggest kingdom in europe, and the pope is so proud that he invites the king over for christmas. "surprise! you're the new roman emporer!" said the pope, pretending to still be part of the roman empire. then the franks broke their kingdom into what will later be called france and not-france. the northerners, er, just "norse" if you don't have much time, are exploring. they go north, from the north to the northern north. and they find some land— two types of land!— and they name them accordingly. prankd they also invade some other places and get called many names, such as "vikings." there's the rus! the kievan rus! are they vikings? "i don't think so," said the kievan rus. okay, fair enough. the pope is ready to make some more emperors of the roman empire. the holy roman empire! it's actually germany, but don't worry about it. new kingdoms—CRISTIANIZE ALL THE KINGDOMS!! which brand would you like? "mine's better" "mine's better" "mine's better" "time to conquer england," said william. it's a bird! it's a plane! it's the seljuk turks! "aah!" said the byzantine empire, who's getting so small and almost doesn't exist anymore. "we need help!" they need help! so they call the pope. "hey pope, can you help us get rid of the seljuks? maybe take back the holy land on the way? come on, i know you want to take back the holy land." "yes, i do actually want to do that. let's do a crusade." crusade! they did many crusades. some of which almost didn't fail. but at least the italians got some sweet trade deals. goodbye mayans. hello toltecs! goodbye toltecs. hello mississippi! look at those mounds. there's the pueblo. i always wondered how to build a town in a cliff. guess who's here? khmer. where? here! and pagan is there. vietnam unconquered itself, korea just became itself, and japan is so addicted to art that the military might have to take over the government. china just invented bombs, and typing. and the mongols just invaded most of the universe. nice going, genghis! i bet that will last a long time. some of the islamic turks were unaffected by the mongol invasions because they were busy invading india. is it tonga time? i think it's tonga time. i just figured out where the swahili gets all of their gold. look at this chad! it means "lake." there's an empire there! right in the middle of africa! the king of mali is so rich, he's going on tour to let everyone know. "wow, that guy's rich," everyone said. the christians are doing a great job reconquering iberia, which will soon be called spain and not-spain. please remain christian. we will check in later to see if you're still christian when you least expect. whoops, half of europe just died. ming! china's back, yay! hey, khmer. time to share. new kingdoms, here and there. oh, look who controls all of the islands. it's the mahajapit. majahapit. mapajahit. mahapajit. mapajahit. ma-ja-pa-hit? oh, italy's real rich. time for them to care a lot about art and the ancient classics. it's kinda like a rebirth. here's a printer. let's make books! so you think you can conquer the byzantine empire? yep, said the ottoman turks. nice job, ottoman turks. oops, you missed a spot. don't forget to ban europe from the indian spice trade. "what? that's bullshit," said portugal, spiceless. "well i guess we'll have to find another way to india" "wait!" said christopher columbus, probably smoking crack. "if the world is round, let's go this way to india." "nah, don't worry, we already got this," said portugal. so chris goes to spain. "hey spain, wanna hire me to find india by going around back of the world?" "no" "please?" "no" "please?" "wtf" "no" "please?" "...okay" so he sails into the ocean, and discovers... more ocean. and then discovers the indies, and japan! let's draw a line to decide who gets which half of the world. the aztec and the inca empires are off to a great start. i wonder if they know that europe just discovered their continent. the hapsburgs are marrying into so many royal families, they might have to start marrying each other. move over, lithuania, here comes moscow. ivan wants to make russia great again. move over, timurids, maybe go invade india or something. persia just made persia persian again. let's make it the other kind of islam. the one where we thought the first guy should've been the other guy. hey, christians! do you sin? now you can buy your way out of hell! "that's bullshit. this whole thing is bullshit. that's a scam. fuck the church. here's 95 reasons why," said martin luther, in his new book which might have accidentally started the protestant reformation. "you know what would be magnificent?" said suleiman wearing an onion hat. "what if the ottoman empire was... really big?" which it is now. "what if russia was big?" said ivan, trying not to be terrible. portugal had a dream that they controlled the entire indian ocean, including the spice trade. and then that dream was real. and spain realized that this is not india, but they pillaged it anyway. "damn," said england and france. "we gotta start pillaging some stuff." then the dutch revolt, and all the hipsters moved to amsterdam. "damn," said amsterdam. "we gotta start pillaging some stuff." question one: can you get to india from north america? no, but at least there's beaver. question two: steal the spice trade. that's not a question, but the dutch did it anyway. and sugar... guess where all of the sugar is made? in brazil! stolen! in the caribbean! and it's so goddamn profitable, you might forget to not do slavery. the next thing on russia's to-do list is to get bigger. britain and france are having a friendly discussion about who should control the entire world. more specifically, ohio. then it escalates into a seven-year discussion, giving prussia a chance to show austria who's boss. but what about britain and france, did they figure out who's boss? yes they did! it's britain. guess who's broke? also britain! so they start taxing the hell out of america. "fuck you!" says america, declaring their independence and fighting for it, and france helps them win. now france is broke, and britain will have to send their prisoners to a different continent. wait, if france is broke, why do the king and queen still wear such fancy dresses? "let's overthrow the palace and cut all their heads off!" said robespierre, cutting everybody's heads off until someone eventually got mad and cut his head off. you could make a rel— no, don't. haiti is starting to like the idea of a revolution, especially the slaves, who free themselves by killing their masters. "why didn't we think of this before?" wait, who's in charge of france now? "me," said napoleon, trying to take over europe. luckily, they banished him to an island. but he came back! luckily, they banished him to another island. there goes latin america, becoming independent in the latin american wars of independence. britain just figured out how to turn steam into power, so now they can make many different types of machines and factories with machines in them so they can make a lot of products real fast. then they invent some trains. and conquer india and maybe put some trains there. "hey, china!" said britain. "buy stuff from us!" "nah, dude, we already got everything," says china. so britain tried to get them addicted to opium, which worked, actually. but then china made it illegal and dumped it all into the sea. so britain threw a hissy fit and made them open up five cities and give them an island. britain and russia are playing a game where they try to stop the other person from conquering afghanistan. also, the sultan of oman lives in zanzibar now: "that's just where he lives." india just had a revolution, and they would like to govern themselves now. "nope," said britain, governing them even harder than before. incoming telegram: HI I JUST SENT YOU A MESSAGE THRU A WIRE technology is about to go crazy! the united states finally figured out whether slavery is good or bad. it's bad, they decided, and then they continued manifesting their destiny, which is to kill the rest of the natives and take their land and maybe kick out the mexicans too. "i know! let's rape africa!" said europe, scrambling to see who could rape it the fastest. they never got ethiopia... britain and france are still hungry. they never got thailand... the united states ran out of destiny to manifest, so they're looking for more: hawaii! cuba! wait, spain controls cuba. well, blame something on them and go to war! what should we blame on spain? u.s.s. maine sinks "let's blame the maine on spain." so they blame the maine on spain. now we're in business. to celebrate, they kick panama out of panama and make a canal, connecting the two oceans. britain just found oil in the middle east. it makes cars go... china is so tired of being bossed around that they delete their old government and make a new, stronger government, which is accidentally weaker and is controlled by a guy from the previous government. europe hasn't had a war since the last war, so they start world war one. look at those guns! it's gonna be a great war, so great we won't need a second one. after it's over, they blame germany. russia went on strike, and the workers overthrew the government. now, everyone's paycheck is the same. communism in the soviet union... the arabs revolt and britain helps. now the ottoman empire is gone, so we can give the jewish people a place to live. hopefully the arabs won't mind. "let's cut the cake!" said sykes and picot, carving up the remains of the not-so-ottoman-anymore-empire. except turkey! turkey makes a brand new turkey! and then the saudis conquer arabia. it just seemed like the right thing to do. phone rings hello? yes, it's the 1920's calling. let's get to a car and drive to a party and listen to jazz on the radio and go to the movies. the economy is great and it will probably be great forever. just kidding. germany's back, featuring hitler, the angry mustache model, and he's mad at the jews for existing. japan is finally conquering the east, and they're so excited, they rape nanking way too hard. they should probably just deny it. hitler's out of control, so the international community tackles him and tries to explain to him why killing all of the jews is a bad idea. but he kills himself because they could explain it to him. that's world war two! bonus round! pacific showdown united states vs. japan FIGHT!! united states drops two extinction balls on japan FINISH HIM! let's unite all the nations and have some world peace! seems legit. "hi, im gandhi, and if britain doesn't get the hell out of india, i'm going to starve myself in public." britain leaves "wow, that worked?" bonus! now there's pakistan. actually two pakistans, one of them can be bangladesh later. the jews and the arabs finally figured out which one of them should live in the holy land. "me!" they both said at the same time. let's divide up the lands so we're both happy. SIKE! they both get angrier! look out, china! there's a new china in china. what's on the menu? communism! no thanks, said the other china, escaping to an island. i wonder which one is the real china...? there's the korean war. korea versus korea! nobody wins, then its on pause forever. let's meet the sponsors. oh, it's the two global superpowers. they're having a friendly debate over which economic system is good and which one is an evil virus of satan. and they both have atom bombs. FIGHT!! wait, no, that would be the end of the world. let's just keep it cool and spy on each other instead. and make sure we have enough atom bombs. "i'll race you to space." united states plants a flag on the moon now let's make more countries fight themselves. europe is tired of pillaging other continents, and the continents they were pillaging are tired of being pillaged. so here's a new map with new countries. now you can't tell who they're being pillaged by. the united states finally decided whether racism is good or bad. they decided it's bad, and the world agrees. south africa might need another minute to think about it. let's check the world population! woah. okay. technology is better too, that might keep happening. the soviet union decides to relax a little, and accidentally falls apart. europe makes a union, so now they can all use the same money. except britain, because they don't feel like it. let's check the mail... surprise! it's on the computer! whoops, someone just attacked america. i bet they'll remember that. phone call! surprise! it's in your pocket! wanna learn everything? surprise! it's on the computer! now your phone's a computer, which is in your pocket! whoops, the economy just crashed. don't worry, the big banks won't fail, because they're not supposed to. surprise!... flying robots. with bombs. wanna print a brain? some people have no friends. some people have no food. the globe is warming, and the ocean is full of plastic! "let's save the planet!" said everybody, not knowing how. "let's invent a thing inventor," said the thing inventor inventor after being invented by a thing inventor. that's pretty cool. by the way, where the hell are we? thanks for watching history i hope i mentioned everything
submitted by Temnelc to copypasta [link] [comments]

This game's sleazy monetization is trying to toy with your brain. Don't fall prey to it.

I get the game is F2P, and I understand they have to make money. At first, I was pretty disappointed about bundle prices because I believed (and still do) that they were too high. I get their tactic here, it's to target the wealthy, and hopefully, down the line, small fries like the major player base will get a fair deal. It isn't only the bundles which target the wealthy, however. To preface this, I will say also that no western, successful F2P game has pay-to-win.
This game has the sleaziest monetization of any F2P I've ever played. I thought it would get better over time, but my hope has dwindled after Joe Lee's (RiotSWAGGERNAU7) statement regarding the battle-pass in Ask VALORANT #1. I would also like to say that managing monetization is this man's job. If you're going to get mad at anyone, get mad at the greedy guys at the top, not at him or the revenue team.
No VP in the battle-pass. Interesting strategy. Here is what he had to say.
Our goal is that when you buy a battle pass, you buy it for the total value of it rather than buying it as a way of getting enough currency to buy the next one. We want the battle pass to be the highest value product we offer as well as a compelling experience...
This statement seems pretty genuine, but when you actually view the battle-pass beyond its face value, what they have done is pretty manipulative, and such manipulation is further demonstrated in the second half of his statement (which I'll cover after).
Here is an image of VP and RP prices (I am in Australia, so prices will be different and the VP in each may be different, but the manipulation is a constant).
Radianite points (RP) is the second of two paid currencies, I'll call it semi-premium because of their absolutely insulting prices, but I would also like to say you can earn a considerable amount in-game (that however, does not detract from its egregiousness). You have to buy VP first, and of course, they made it so you can't buy exact amounts, you've gotta use the packs. They also put these little "-x%" next to each tier of RP because oh boy, if it wasn't a steal already it's gotta be a steal now. /s It is insulting. 10 RP goes from around $10AUD to $15AUD, so you're pretty much best case scenario paying 10 bucks for an upgrade for a skin you've already bought (the upgradeable skins on their own btw, are $30AUD). Explained succinctly and pretty much perfectly by u/schemeKC, "Radianite is priced astronomically high to artificially inflate its perceived value". That's where Mr. Lee's statement comes in.
Mr. Lee wants you to buy the battle-pass for "its total value". And jeez, the battle-pass must be good because of all that juicy Radianite which boosts its perceived value a fuckton. So after you finish the BP, you've got a nice amount of skins (none of which can be upgraded with RP). You've got this pile of RP leftover and it is just staring at you. The only way to use that RP though, is to spend even more money. Other F2P games give you premium currency for BPs months on end for free, and this game strips that away so you could be spending $10 every act, then coerces you to spend even more because of the RP you've been given. The way this statement was delivered to try and convince you that you were getting a good deal, now shows that this isn't something under the rug (to be felt not seen), it has been said by a real person. Any goodwill has been thrown out the window, and the player's intellect has been insulted. I hope that wasn't his intention, but that is exactly how it came across imo.
VP can only be bought in really inconveniencing amounts, a tactic mostly used in mobile games but hey, it's 2020. Small indie dev needs to survive right? /s It is annoying for every player, and these tiers are worse than any F2P game I've ever played.
If I wanted to buy 20 RP, I'd need to buy the 2175 VP pack and that would roughly equate to $15AUD per 10 RP. You can only use RP on paid skins (there are barely any free skins anyway). But let's say I want to buy the big boy 80 RP pack, ooh what value and it's 40% off! I would need to buy the 5800 VP pack for $80AUD and that would be around $10AUD per 10 RP if I were only buying RP. I need to buy another bundle to get an upgradeable skin, that sucks! I'll get the 1025 VP pack for $15 so I can buy a prime classic. That's $95AUD you've paid to get and upgrade a single skin (I'm not counting the RP you get for free for the purposes of demonstrating the confusion they have imbued within this model).
This is a small demonstration of obfuscation. The system is designed to make you pay more and more and more until... oh. I still have some VP left, and I can get another skin! Let me pay just this little bit more. I think my bank balance might be negative. A single prime skin without any of its variants is at least $30AUD unless you buy the big boy bundles, but then you've obviously spent more than 30 bucks. It is designed to confuse the player into purchasing the highest value pack so they don't have to think, and if I'm being honest I haven't seen mobile games this cunning. This is malicious, and kind of impressive in a super fucked up way.
The second half of his statement talks about the future of Radianite, and again, further attempts to display that "it's a great deal!" The revenue team wants RP to be "the evolving currency of VALORANT". They want this overpriced, huge pile of inflated pixels to be the next big thing. The RP you got for free can't be used for free, and honestly with the way this monetization is panning out I don't expect it ever to be used as such (despite what's said in the next few sentences, we've seen in the past a number of popular suggestions being thrown to the wind).
An auto-renewable battle-pass in any game is designed to respect the player's time. If I see a game I love with an auto-renewable pass, actively rewarding me for spending time with the game after a one time purchase, you'd better bet your top dollar I will spend more. This system does not respect your time, it constantly probes you to spend more and more. Riot obviously didn't design this system with morals in mind, and there are certainly way more subtle additions that I didn't catch.
So pretty much, this package has overpriced bundles and skins, psychologically manipulative RP, layers of obfuscation for all monetization - but hey, it's F2P! People who pay, they're suckers. Let their wealth be sapped for trying to support the devs. obligatory /s
For a developer that has such strong ties to its community, these sort of manipulative business practices sour our perception. Even EA, after the Battlefront 2 fiasco completely removed loot-boxes and to a further extent, even microtransactions from everything but their sports games and AL. They tried to improve their reputation by investing in more indie devs and actually supporting them. Riot has done nothing.
I know this post won't make them change their system. We have seen that they closed the door to the battle-pass changing after huge community outcry, and haven't at all changed the scummy Radianite, in fact, they've stated they are going to double down. But if we double down on our critique of the system we can be sure they will at least discuss it down the line. Your voice matters, probably not as much as your wallet though haha. Safeguard that shit from exploitation.
If and when you decide to purchase something here, a good question would probably be whether this company actually respects your purchasing decision. As it stands, my feet are firmly glued to the "no" side of the fence.
tl;dr - the game uses shady microtransaction design to confuse and fool players, then asks them to spend more money after stripping away common features of an established battle-pass model, completely failing to respect/reward their consumers' money/time.
submitted by IllumiMahdi to VALORANT [link] [comments]

I've a 100 Euro bet on with my friend that he won't complete this game in 3 days. >>>Day 3<<<

Death Count: 242
Iudex Gundyr - Defeated
Vordt of the Boreal Valley - Defeated
Curse-rotted Greatwood - Defeated
Crystal Sage - Defeated
Deacons of the Deep - Defeated
Abyss Watchers - Defeated
High Lord Wolnir - Defeated
Old Demon King - Defeated
Pontiff Sulyvahn - Defeated
Yhorm the Giant - Defeated
Aldrich, Devourer of Gods - Defeated
Dancer of the Boreal Valley - Defeated
Oceiros, the Consumed King - Defeated
Champion Gundyr - Defeated
Ancient Wyvern - Defeated
Dragonslayer Armour - Defeated
Lorian & Lothric
Soul of Cinder
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Welcome back, Unkindled Ones, for the grand finale. I will be updating the key highlights as we proceed throughout the game over these next few and final hours, as well as the death count. To make things easier to follow, I will have (updated) to the left of the most recent text below. The times I update may not be 100% accurate, but fairly close.
For anyone who doesn't know what this is all about, check out the link below.
https://www.reddit.com/darksouls3/comments/heepr2/ive_a_100_euro_bet_on_with_my_friend_that_he_wont/?utm_medium=android_app&utm_source=share
For anyone who missed the events of Day 1, check out the link below.
https://www.reddit.com/darksouls3/comments/hg43r5/ive_a_100_euro_bet_on_with_my_friend_that_he_wont/?utm_medium=android_app&utm_source=share
For anyone who missed the events of Day 2, check out the link below.
https://www.reddit.com/darksouls3/comments/hgqdbm/ive_a_100_bet_on_with_my_friend_that_he_wont/?utm_medium=android_app&utm_source=share
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11:00 - Once again, I must apologize for the two day break in between. Here in Ireland, 364 days of the year are cold and wet, even when it's dry, so I sure as hell wasn't missing out on an opportunity to make the most of that one day that contained a sweltering 8°C (46.4°F for our American friends) heat wave. The deadline will be @ 1:00am as we started an hour later than originally planned. Weapon update: Lothric Knight Sword & Shield. Let's get into this.
11:10 - She bangs, she bangs, oh baby. When she moves, she moves, I go crazy. 'Cause she looks like a Hungarian belly dancer but she slices you up like a chicken in a rotisserie. Like every Outrider Knight in history.
11:44 - She prances elegantly across the room with the natural grace of the Ballerina that she is, executing a faultless arabesque and flowing like water over a smooth river stone, leaving her onlooker mesmerized and in awe, wondering who this pulchritudinous Dancer is. Their eyes meet for the first time. His heart begins to beat faster and faster, reaching dangerously high levels, on the verge of exploding in his chest. He gasps, almost forgetting to breath. It feels like he's being consumed by the gaping mouth of a great ocean. She advances toward him, one foot in front of the other. Controlled movements, never withdrawing her eyes from his. She's a hair's breadth from him now. He's never witnessed such magnificence. His lips part, words ready to escape to ask this enchantress her name. She slowly lifts her elongated fingers to his mouth, as if ready to hush his eager lips. Then she stabs him in his face and he dies.
12:29 - It could be the rustiness after taking a two day break or it could just be the encounter itself. He's struggling with this one, a lot. Her movements are off-putting and he's finding it difficult to understand her attack patterns.
13:05 - We're at a standstill here folks. Although progress is being made, it's not being made quick enough. Every death is costly minutes lost and the clock is ticking. 15-0 Dancer.
13:58 - And that's all she wrote. This Dancer was clearly not made for the stage. She suspends her head in shame as she is jeered off the platform after failing to impress the judges after 20 attempts.
14:05 - He's swung a sharp left and has decided to make his way to the Consumed Kings Garden in hope of defeating two bosses consecutively in quick succession. Time is his greatest enemy right now. To stand a chance of making it through Lothric Castle and the Archives, he'll need to do this with haste.
14:39 - The Pus of Men are misunderstood lovable abominations that only desire love and affection. With their mahoosize claw like appendages reaching out for a friendly handshake, they find themselves being set ablaze yet again by another terror-stricken, mismatched armour wearing dingbat.
15:04- The lift shortcut has been activated. It's time to meet Ocerios and baby Ocelotte, wherever he is.
15:54 - "Ahh, you ignorant slaves. Finally taken notice, have you? Of the power of my beloved Ocelotte, child of The Joy and The Sorrow." There's more than meets the eye(or lack of them), with this scaleless, clammy, staff weilding naked Wyvern-man. After consuming copius amounts of cocaine in phase 2, which would explain his dillusions, he begins bouncing off the walls on all fours like the absolute mad man that he is. Unleashing a plethora of swipes, bites and tail whips, he's establishing just why he has King in his name. He's certainly no push over so far and it shows.
16:33- The Consumed King has been dethroned. The key to this encounter was using his shield to absorb the barrage of blows in phase two. He's ready to make his way to the Untended Graves to face Gundyr for round two. I have shown him the secret passage as he'd have no knowledge of how to get there otherwise. But first we're going to take a short break. Be back soon.
17:12 - After spending months training away in a Muay Thai camp in southern Thailand, the Tin-Man has returned with seething vengance on his mind. Displaying a whole new moveset of quick dodges, open handed bitch slaps and a roundhouse kick that would give Chuck Norris a run for his money, this herculean trash can is here to pick up todays garbage.
17:47 - When his eyes glow red, he means business. These newly learned attacks are proving to be more than a handful right now. He's barely been able to secure one successful hit during Gundyr's second phase onslaught. He's in trouble with this one. Will his first boss encounter with Gundyr also be his last?
18:50 - Round 13: With a quick left jab to the midsection, followed by a right uppercut to the big man's chin, Gundyr finds himself face down eating dirt. He'll have to hang up his gloves after this one.
18:55 - With four bosses remaining, he's decided to go on a Wyvern hunt in Archdragon peak. He wants to get this one out of the way so that he can soley focus on the remaining two areas. Seeing as he has absolutely no idea how to get here, I'll show him the way...of the Dragon.
19:16 - He traverses across the grey expanse of stoney peaks, breathing in lungfuls of crisp frigid air. Step by step, he meticulously picks out his footing placement amongst the coarse, uneven, rocky terrain. He sees a white marbled mausoleum in the distance, it's a welcomed sight indeed. The conception of a place to rest his beaten and broken body gives him purpose to push on. He forces his weary legs to take another step. Almost there. Suddenly his body is met with an icey chill as a great shadow looms above. A low hiss resonates, causing the ground around him to tremble. Enter: Ancient Wyvern.
19:40 - After quickly learning that his sword attacks only tickled the serpentines scaley hide, he navigated his way around the rafters and delivered a deadly plunging attack to the Wyvern's cranium, casuing instant death. Back to the Bonfire.
19:45 - My personal favourite area of the game that also happens to have my personal favourite boss encounter. Lothric Castle can be a fairly time consuming place for new players to navigate their way around, and time is something he is very short on right now. With little room for error and three difficult encounters remaining, this might come down to the wire.
20:30- Subsequent to being toasted like a marshmallow outside of the castle, he made his way to the right sided entrance where he fought his way through an ambush of Hollow Assasins and proceeded to free the corrupted parasitic Wyvern from eternal torment.
21:23 - His second meeting with the Boreal Outrider Knight went scantly better than the first. Much emphasis on the word scantly. He traded blows with charged up super Knights within the castle walls and found himself passage toward the Archives, only to be stopped in his tracks by a formidable foe.
21:35 - The sky shone bright with a brilliant ember red glow. The Pilgrim Butterflies glided amidst the clouds, as if swimming upstream like Salmon in the fall. The beauty of it all was short lived when pulsing waves began to emanate from their frail wings in the direction of a heaped metallic pile of dismantled armour below. One by one, the pieces began to build upon themselves, until there stood a ten foot hollow behemoth weilding a lightning infused Greataxe and a mammoth sized shield, almost as tall and wide as the hulking brute iself. It found itself at the mercy of its new masters. Obeying. Under submission. Ready to kill.
22:27 - 8 shield bashes to the face later, he got the upper hand and melted down that armour into a brand new teapot. With the clock against him, he's heading into the final area of the game.
22:39 - Thousands upon thousands of old paper creations, stacked upon one another. I doubt you could even imagine it. He stands in awe, marvelling at the vast repository of books surrounding him. So much wonder, and knowledge, and secrets... oh the secrets, hidden away between their covers, like two forbidden lovers. In the far off distance, he hears echoing, an old familiar cackling, resounding in his ears. It can't be. It can't... Two ice cold frostbolts to the side of his head quickly remind him that the Witch Bitch is still very much alive and kicking. Welcome to the Grand Archives, my man.
23:25 - After turning himself into a human candle, he proceeded to make his way through the Archives whilst being groped by Cursed Claws, pounced on by more Hollow Slaves, and impaled by lumbering Gargoyles. Harry, Ron and Hermione won't make his final hurdle towards the Twins an easy one.
23:47 - Incest is best. A motto held dearly by these two edgy teens. A brotherly love like no other, the Twin Princes. These guys gave me absolute hell on my first playthrough and I expect they will do the same here. While it is possible to take down two more bosses within this time 01:00am time frame, it's highly unlikely.
00:00 - One hour remaining.
00:10 - 7 deaths in quick succession has given him insight as to what to expect from this encounter. The unpredictability of Lorians instant teleportation and double horizontal slashes is proving difficult to read, with a follow up combo catching him off guard every so often, resulting in a quick death.
00:30 - "This spot marks our grave. You may rest here, too, if you like." He may have no choice but to take Lothric up on his kind invitation. 30 minutes to go with phase 2 only being reached once. He's accepted defeat at this point but is still giving his all for the remaining time left.
(Updated) 1:00 -And that brings us to the end of our journey, Unkindled ones. Sadly, the Princes could not be taken down but I'm sure with a few more attempts, that'll change. Although he's failed to meet the requirements for this bet, he can hold his head up high because that was a damn good valiant effort. He's experienced his first taste of Dark Souls and he isn't leaving dissapointed.
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To those who are wondering if he actually enjoyed playing the game or was doing it for the money? The cash was a big incentive in the beginning, there's no question about that, but he thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish. He does plan on completing the rest of it within the next day or so, as well as attempting the Nameless King. He will then do a second playthrough, playing at his own pace. He may have lost the bet but the world of Dark Souls has won him over. As for the 100 Euro, well, I didn't accept it and I never planned on doing so, and I know he would have done the same thing. A pint will suffice when we're out some night. I just wanted to introduce my friend to this phenomenonal game and for him to experience how amazing it is, and I've done that. That's enough for me.
To you guys and girls, thank you for joining us on this journey these last few days. I hope that you enjoyed reading my commentary as much as I did writing it. It's been a blast. Being new to the Dark Souls community myself and Reddit in general, I've gotta say that I'm loving the highly entertaining posts and the community itself. I'm not sure if I'll do something to this extent again, as it's left me mentally broken, but I will stay active. So keep it up everyone, and most importantly, stay safe.
submitted by Seefy8 to darksouls3 [link] [comments]

I've a 100 bet on with my friend that he won't complete this game in 3 days. >>>Day 2 <<<

Death Count: 160
Iudex Gundyr - Defeated
Vordt of the Boreal Valley - Defeated
Curse-rotted Greatwood - Defeated
Crystal Sage - Defeated
Deacons of the Deep - Defeated
Abyss Watchers - Defeated
High Lord Wolnir - Defeated
Old Demon King - Defeated
Pontiff Sulyvahn - Defeated
Yhorm the Giant - Defeated
Aldrich, Devourer of Gods - Defeated
Dancer of the Boreal Valley
Dragonslayer Armour
Oceiros, the Consumed King
Champion Gundyr
Lorian & Lothric
Ancient Wyvern
Soul of Cinder
I will be updating the key highlights every few hours as we proceed throughout the game over the next 2 days, as well as the death count. To make things easier to follow, I will have (updated) to the left of the most recent text below. The times I update may not be 100% accurate, but fairly close.
For anyone who doesn't know what this is all about, check out the link below.
https://www.reddit.com/darksouls3/comments/heepr2/ive_a_100_euro_bet_on_with_my_friend_that_he_wont/?utm_medium=android_app&utm_source=share
Day 1: https://www.reddit.com/darksouls3/comments/hg43r5/ive_a_100_euro_bet_on_with_my_friend_that_he_wont/?utm_medium=android_app&utm_source=share
Day 3: https://www.reddit.com/darksouls3/comments/hikegq/ive_a_100_euro_bet_on_with_my_friend_that_he_wont/?utm_medium=android_app&utm_source=share
GMT+1 Standard Irish Timezone for people wondering.
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10:05 - Welcome to the Catacombs of Carthus. A place that brings your Necrophobia to life and induces fear and trepidation, and then that fear quickly subsides once you realize the skeletons can be killed with one swing of your weapon.
10:33 - Grave Warden Skeletons are posing to be a minor issue as their sporadic circus clown like movements maneuver back and forth within the confined walls, difficult to block and counter.
11:02 - Approaches a disarticulated skull chalice sitting ominously on an altar surrounded by candles. I better touch it.
11:23 - High Lord Skeletor, Bearer of Gucci's Finest Jewellery. With the exception of exhaling a thousand years worth of bad breath as his most devastating attack, he had little else to offer and was sent back into the darkest depths of the Catacombs.
11:30 - It's back to the shaky bridge where he will descend into the Smoldering Lake. It was agreed prior to this play through that he will need to reach the ballista before taking on the Old Demon King.
12:10-"I thought the Giant is friendly now. What's with the spears?" No my friend, you seemed to have irked a different one today. As he tries to wade his way through Dark Souls version of the floor is lava, arrows rain down. With a giant Carthus Sandworm to the left and Great Ember Crabs to the right, he searches hopelessly for an opening.
12:31 - It seems that I'm not the only one who struggled terribly in this area. If it's not the Basilisk's overwhelming you, it's Knight Slayer Tsorig crushing you under his Fume Sword. And if it's not that then you're being set ablaze by Smoldering Ghru's orbs or knocked off the platform by a Black Knight. He's about half way through the area now. Huge improvement in playstyle regarding stamina management and timing attacks properly.
13:13 - The recent quarantine period has affected not only man, but Demon as well. This paunchy behemoth has clearly devoured one too many souls in the last few month's and it shows. Nothing a bit of exorcising can't fix. What he lacks in pace, he certainly makes up for in raw strength. This fire-breathing, meteor calling, club stomping grandfather still has quite a bit of fight left in him and isn't willing to accept his place in a nursing home just yet.
13:45 - With two excruciatingly close previous attempts, I can't see this one lasting much longer. Currently the Old Demon King is 8-0. Weapon update: No changes. Lothric Knight Sword and Grass Crest Shield. He will more than likely be using this sword for the duration of this play through.
13:55 - The last demon in existence has been banished from the world after the 10th attempt. He now ventures forth to Irithyll of Boreal Valley. A place that is the very definition of "looks can be deceiving."
14:15 - After the claustrophobic confined spaces of the Catacombs, to be met with this visually stunning scenery is a welcomed contrast. The beauty of the aquamarine filled sky speckled with star dust, the ever glowing crescent moon, the waves of the aurora washing over you, bathing in its beauty…and then he's ambushed from behind and torn apart by a Croco-dog.
14:47 - Pontiffs Knights are dishing out a world of hurt right now. It could be a while before he reaches the Swordmaster himself.
15:33 - The moment he has definitely not been waiting for. He's now ready to face off against Pontiff for the first time. Irithyll so far has made him a bit shaky and has poured doubt over his ability to play. It's not the right place or time for this to happen. This could go either way.
17:17 - Progress is being made, but just barely. Pontiff's wicked fast erratic combos are causing problems. With 12 deaths on the cards and no phase 2 yet in sight, he has hit his first major road block. We're going to take a short break. He needs to decide if he will go to the dungeons to gain a few levels and come back, or tackle this one head on.
17:43 - And we're back. I've got to admire this one's perseverance. He feels he's capable of doing this and has decided to get straight back into it. Round two.
18:05 - "You've got to be kidding me. Now there's two of them?". He took the words right out of my mouth. Phase 2 has been revealed.
18:52 - breaking news Extensive damage was caused to the interior of an Ithryllian church today after a confrontation between two men turned into a violent brawl. Witnesses say that one man was beaten down 28 times before crushing the others skull in with a charity box. The congregation will certainly not be too thrilled about this.
19:21 - The dungeons, where a medley of terrors lurk around each corner. Whilst he was still zoned out and discombobulated from the previous fight, a Reanimated Corpse's high pitched scream brought him back to reality and almost made him jump out of his skin. It was a joy to behold. More joy was had after watching greedy guts chase the shiny object glimmering in the distance, only to be pushed off the top dungeon floor by yet another Reanimated Corpse. Say what you want about these guys, they are the true underdogs of Dark Souls, if you ask me.
19:55 - Have you ever had a peace sign cattle-prodded onto your buttocks? If not, get in contact with a Jailer today. With your HP bar being reduced to 1 inch, size certainly does matter here.
20:21 - He's escaped the hellish dungeons and will now make his way to the Profaned Capital where Yhorm, the not so friendly Giant, patiently sits on his throne.
20:39 - The Monstrosity of Sin has brought a whole new meaning to the term fisting. He's found out the hard way that's it's not a good idea to take on more than one of them at a time.
21:01 - Quick progression is being made through the Capital with minimal deaths. Lost time needs to be salvaged after the Pontiff encounter.
21:20 - Fee, fie, fo, fum, I smell the blood of an Unkindled One. I wonder how long it will take for him to figure out that the Storm Ruler exists. Because I for one have never heard of such a thing.
22:04- After spending over 40 minutes before figuring out there's an easier way to damage Yhorm than poking his toes with a sword, he cut that bean stalk down with ease using the Storm Ruler. Two Lords down, two to go. On route to the legendary city.
22:41 - As he tiptoes across the rooftops, Silver Knights take aim, nock their Greatbows and let loose a flurry of devastating blows into the unsuspecting victim, sending him plummeting towards his impending death.
23:04 - He's made it to the majestic Anor Londo, on the hunt for another skull souvenir to decorate Firelink Shrine with.
23:51- The Spider Monkey has been euthanized and a path has been cleared to Aldrich. With a can of Cillit Bang in his off-hand, he's ready to remove this mass of putrid sludge.
00:19 - He tells me Aldrich has been his most enjoyable encounter so far. Even more so after I explained the events that had once taken place in this very room. He's made it to phase 2 each time with relative ease but the swooping scythe attacks and barrage of arrows are proving to be problematic.
(updated)01:06 - Another Lord of Cinder bites the dust. Making use of bug pellets for phase 2 made this encounter much easier for him. After almost getting a kill on the third attempt, it took another 6 to make certain of it.
And that will be all for tonight, ladies and gentlemen. Tiredness has taken hold of the both of us. He can no longer play competently and I am finding it difficult to string a proper sentence of the English language together. With that, I bid you farewell and goodnight.
Unfortunately, the third and final day will need to be postponed until Tuesday GMT+1 11:00am as we are both busy and will not be home for the next two days, so apologies for that. As usual, keep an eye out for the above title ending with Day 3.
The Dancer awaits.
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I Read It So You Don't Have To: Little Kids, Big City (by Alex McCord and Simon van Kempen)

Inspired by the overwhelmingly positive response to my previous 'book report' on Ramona Singer's Life on the Ramona Coaster (seriously, thank you all -- truly supporting other women 🙏🙏), I decided to try my hand at writing up yet another of the embarrassing number of Housewives books in my personal collection: Alex McCord and Simon van Kempen's Little Kids, Big City: Tales from a Real House in New York City with Lessons on Life and Love for Your Own Concrete Jungle.
After reading just the title of this book, I'm already exhausted. It's pretentiously long and awkwardly phrased while somehow still managing to be entirely devoid of meaning. In other words, a perfect encapsulation of Simon and Alex. The summary on the back cover describes the pair as the "breakout stars" of RHONY, an assessment that I would charitably call 'debatable,' before going on to inform me that I can look forward to "informative and often hair-raising stories of life in the urban jungle," and that "Alex and Simon use their own hard-won experience as a springboard to discuss a host of parenting topics." I anticipate that this content will be quite useful to me, the guardian of four cats that I spoil endlessly and treat like my actual children.
One of the pull-quotes on the back cover allegedly comes from our very own Bethenny Frankel. I say 'allegedly' because I refuse to believe that the following passage would ever come out of Bethenny's mouth (or keyboard or whatever):
Alex and Simon don't take themselves too seriously, which seems to be essential to parenting. Their fresh 'he said, she said' perspective on parenting is both humorous and insightful!
Please, take a moment and do your very best to picture mention-it-all, betting-on-horse-races-at-age-five Bethenny unironically using the phrase "fresh 'he said, she said' perspective." To describe Simon van Kempen and Alex McCord. Right, didn't think so.
My experience reading Little Kids, Big City started on an unexpected high note when I opened the front cover to find that my copy (purchased used through Better World Books for the low, low price of $5.31 with shipping) had been signed by Ms. you-are-in-high-school-while-I-am-in-Brooklyn herself, Alex McCord! Truly a gift I do not deserve. Samantha and Debbie (whoever and wherever you may be), thank you for your service. I am forever in your debt.
Unfortunately, as would soon become painfully clear to me, after starting off on such a promising note, I would have nowhere to go but down.
The book, which is written in alternating passages from Alex and Simon, begins its introduction with a chronicle of Alex's "fashionably nomadic" early adulthood. Ever the proto-edgelord, she recalls, "I did all those things our mothers warned us about and had fun doing them." We switch to Simon's perspective to hear the deeply embarrassing story of the couple meeting through a dating app while Simon was on a business trip in New York City. No, there is absolutely nothing embarrassing about meeting someone on a dating app. But there absolutely is something embarrassing about using the profile name "Yetisrule" to meet someone on a dating app. To clarify, this was apparently Alex's username, and I remain hopeful that we will get a more thorough explanation of her connection to the elusive Yeti as this book continues.
Alex tells us that, while she and Simon hadn't initially planned to have children, they eventually started to have "clucky feelings." I have never heard this phrase in my entire twenty-five years of life, but based on context clues and also a Google search, I learned that it means they wanted to have a baby. Don't worry, though! As Alex tells us, "You can be eight months pregnant and wear a leather miniskirt." Personally, this is life-changing news -- I had always believed that I couldn't have kids unless I was willing to compromise my 90s goth aesthetic! Maybe I'll rethink this child-free thing after all.
The next bit of advice seems like it actually could potentially be sort of helpful. "No one is a good parent all the time -- nor is anyone a bad parent all the time," they reassure the reader. "You can become a parent without losing yourself." Unfortunately, as soon as I catch myself nodding along, the modicum of goodwill I'd built up is promptly trashed by a gag-worthy line from Simon: "If you take nothing away but a wry smile after reading our little tome, then we've done our job." I immediately vow not to smile until I'm finished reading this book. Excuse me, this little tome.
The book starts in earnest with Chapter 1: "Does a German Shepherd Need a Birth Plan?" To be perfectly honest, I was not expecting a riddle at this juncture, but I am nevertheless excited to hear Simon and Alex tell us "why childbirth is not an intellectual activity." First, however, we get a passing reference to "Park Slope, home of the ParkSlopeParents.com message board made famous in 2007 with a so-ridiculous-it-got-headlines discussion on gender-specific baby hats and where feminism can be taken to extremes." And despite the lame alarmist allusion to ~*XTREME feminism*~, this line did manage to lead me down an interesting Internet rabbit hole, so thanks for that, I guess?
Jesus Christ, I am on PAGE 4 and I am already so done with Simon. Presented without comment:
With the Park Slope OB-GYN, we had the first sonogram and saw the little blip on the screen -- our child-to-be. They say seeing is believing and as nothing was happening inside me, seeing confirmation on the video monitor that indeed my spermatozoa had penetrated and infiltrated one of Alex's ova made me aware that my days as a footloose and fancy-free guy might be coming to an end.
Y'all, I am currently working on my PhD in Molecular Biology. Which, if you were not previously aware, gives me the authority to decree that Simon is never allowed to use the word "spermatozoa" ever again. And so it is.
I was about to say that Alex's passages are at least more tolerable, but it appears I spoke too soon.
The stats they quoted referenced a 40 percent cesarean section rate in the city, and I wonder how that can be acceptable? Are we heading toward Brave New World, where babies are scientifically created in petri dishes and gestated in artificial wombs? Oh wait, we're already there. Are we heading towards a Wall-E existence, where we ride around in carts everywhere and do nothing for ourselves so that our bodies break down and we're all fat, oozy blobs drinking protein from a straw? Somebody slap me, please!!
Truly, Alex, it would be my pleasure.
As a Type-A person, just reading the story of Alex's first pregnancy and delivery gave me anxiety. She says that she just never really "felt the need to establish a birth plan" and that she "gave in to any craving [she] felt." Don’t worry, though -- "If I had suddenly craved chalk, ecstasy or Elmer's Glue, I'd have thought twice." I feel like there is some symbolism here to unpack (Could the Elmer's Glue be a metaphor for the childlike spirit of connection and unity???). Simon describes himself as "a learn-on-the-job guy" and tells us that he and Alex "failed to attend the last couple of [birthing] classes as by then we both just wanted to let instinct take over when the time came." As someone who has never trusted my instincts even once in my entire life, I cannot relate.
Twelve days after his due date, baby François is born. Except it turns out that he actually was born right on time, but Alex "didn't keep regimented track of [her] periods" and miscalculated. What a bummer that modern medicine hasn't advanced to the point where doctors can guide you about that sort of thing.
I don't even know what to say about this next bit, but God help me, I still have 215 more pages of this book to go.
Although the final stages of labor were very, very painful, I [Alex] never used our code word (tin can) for "game over, give me drugs." I definitely recommend using a code word, because it was kind of fun to scream, "I want drugs, give me drugs" through a contraction and have the midwife, nurse and Simon all know I wasn't serious. Once he [François] was finally out of my body, I experienced a tsunami of endorphins that was almost orgasmic, and I understand completely the stories other women have written about ecstatic birth. Simon was sitting behind me at the point of birth, and later when we untangled ourselves he discovered he'd actually ejaculated though hadn't felt any of the normal lead-up to that. It may seem distasteful to some, and definitely neither of us was thinking of sex at the time, but with the rush of emotion and my lower nerve endings going crazy, it's not too far a stretch to say that it's a profound experience.
Johan is born two years later, although it's unclear from the text whether either parent reached orgasm during the event.
The chapter ends with a top-ten list entitled "10 Things We'll Remember That Happened During Pregnancy." These include useful tidbits like
  1. Best advice I heard: men's genitals grow and change shape regularly, then go back to the way they were before. Don't worry about your female delicate bits being able to retract.
Which is…a lovely sentiment. But one that is slightly undermined by phrasing the first part in the grossest way possible, as well as by the use of the phrase "female delicate bits." I do like the idea that they "retract," however, because I think it's very cool to imagine the vagina as an SUV sunroof. By the grace of God, Chapter 1 comes to a close.
In Chapter 2 (titled "No Sleep 'Til Brooklyn, What's My Name Again? and Who is This Alien?" -- seriously, were they padding their word count with chapter titles?), we get more questionable parenting advice from the McCord-van Kempens. They glibly dismiss concerns about co-sleeping ("Simon and I both slept with cats and dogs our whole lives without squishing them"), which I honestly would be more annoyed about if I hadn't immediately gone on to read Simon's account of "the midnight race to the 24-hour pharmacy to buy a breast pump as Alex's breasts were seemingly engorged with too much milk and she thought they were about to explode and fly off her chest." As it stands, I'm truly too defeated to care. Again, just to be perfectly clear: no shade to having issues breastfeeding, all shade to using the word 'engorged.’ And also for giving me the mental image of Alex's breasts desperately struggling to flee from her body (though to be fair, who could blame them?).
Proving that she does not inhabit the same world as the rest of us mortals, Alex tells us that she expected that her state of sleep-deprivation as she raised two young children would "spur [her] creativity with graphic design." For some reason, this does not seem to be the case. Alex is puzzled.
Finally, we've come to this chapter's top ten list ("Top 10 Memories of Random Things We Did While in the Post-Birth Haze"). While these lists have so far been utterly irredeemable, they also mean the chapter is coming to a close, so I can at least take some solace in that. This particular list ranges from the irritating…
  1. We subversively took sleeping babies to as many non-child-friendly places as possible to prove the point that children can be seen, not heard and not bothersome, such as dinner at the Ritz in London, the Sahara Desert, shopping on Madison Avenue, Underbar in Union Square and film festivals.
…to the truly unnecessary.
  1. While changing François' diaper on day one or two, we both stood mesmerized by the changing pad as meconium oozed out of him. It was really the most bizarre and fascinating thing I'd seen to date.
With the couple's general backstory and credentials now under our belts, Chapter 3 ("The Screaming Kid on the Plane is NOT Mine! (This Time)") focuses on advice for traveling with children, which Alex admits "can be a complete pain in the you-know-what." I cannot describe the rage I feel at the fact that she has -- in no fewer than 50 pages -- forced me to read about both her newborn son's excrement and her husband's ejaculate, but cannot bring herself to use the word "ass." Alex, we're really far beyond that at this point, don't you think?
Not to be outdone, Simon shares a conversation he had with François that is remarkable not for its content, but for the fact that one of Simon's nicknames for his son is apparently "F-Boy." Thanks, I hate it.
This chapter's list ("Alex's Top 10 Travel Memories") includes the entry:
  1. Both boys charging down Saline Beach in St. Barths like something out of Lord of the Flies.
So, like a horde of primal sadists? I'm wondering if Alex and Simon have inadvertently confused Lord of the Flies with the hit 2007 reality show Kid Nation. I really hope that's what's going on here.
Chapter 4 ("'Mommy, Johan is Gone!'") promises to teach us how to handle accidents. I'm not sure how comfortable I feel taking emergency advice from the authors of this particular book, but (in large part due to the fact that I have slept since reading the previous chapter, giving the pain a chance to dull somewhat), I am willing to at least hear them out.
After relaying a story of François needing emergency surgery after a foot injury, Alex tells us that at one point, she and Simon realized they had spent "nearly $5000 on Indian takeout" in the past year. For the mathematically averse, this works out to a monthly budget of roughly $100 worth of Indian food per week, making my quarantine Uber Eats habit seem downright quaint by comparison. The chapter-ending list walks us through the "Top 10 Things We Do in a Crisis," and fortunately, the tips seem pretty benign.
  1. Knowing what calms the children down, such as making silly faces or reciting Shel Silverstein poetry backwards.
Wait, hang on. What?
reciting Shel Silverstein poetry backwards
I'm sorry, please forgive me if I have missed some recent, paradigm-shifting development in the field of early childhood education, but what?? As in, "ends sidewalk the where?" "Sdne klawedis eht erehw?" I am truly befuddled.
Maybe the next chapter ("'Is Today a Work Day or a Home Day, Mommy?'") will have some applicable wisdom for me, as I will, in fact, be working from home every other week for the foreseeable future. And, I cannot stress this enough, I am a psychotically overinvested cat mom. Alas, we are instead treated to an unnecessarily detailed breakdown of how important it is to delegate, and specifically that Simon cleans up vomit and Alex cleans up "feces in the various forms that come out of children's bottoms at appropriate and sometimes inappropriate times such as the middle of Thanksgiving festivities." As if we needed another reason to consider Thanksgiving problematic.
The chapter takes a brief commercial break…
When an everyday product can do double duty such as Dawn Hand Renewal with Olay Beauty, a dish soap that seals in moisture while I'm tackling cleanup, sure, I'll buy it.
…before closing out with a list of the "Top 10 Things We Do Because We Were Here First." I am happy to confirm your worst suspicions and tell you that item number one is indeed "Have passionate sex."
In Chapter 6 ("I Saw Your Nanny…Being Normal?"), I find myself actually sympathizing with Alex for the first time in this book. Which is mostly just because the chapter starts by talking about all of the awful, catty parental competitions that seem endemic to a certain crew of white Manhattan moms, and it makes Alex come off at least slightly less irritating in comparison.
That is, at least until a few pages later, when she starts to complain about a previous au pair:
She was sullen, melodramatic and kept a blog about how she hated Americans, hated France, hated us and the children but loved New York. I think she must have thought we were idiots, and when she asked us to leave early we were only too happy to get her out of our home.
I would love to meet this woman. I think we could be great friends.
This chapter's list is even more difficult to parse than previous ones, because while it's titled "Top 10 Things Caregivers Have Inadvertently Done to Amuse, Annoy or Thrill Us," it's not at all clear which descriptors apply to which points. When a babysitter "accidentally used a household cleaning wipe when changing a diaper," were the McCord-Van Kempens amused? Annoyed? Thrilled? The world may never know.
In Chapter 7 ("'Putting To Death Is Not Nice,' a Duet for Two Boys and A Guitar"), Alex and Simon share some of their hard-earned childrearing wisdom with us. Which basically amounts to Alex telling us that, while normally misbehavior from the kids incurs a warning followed by a time-out, she has also developed an ingenious new strategy where she actually steps in to intervene when the stakes are higher. Let's listen in:
A third permutation is when there's a behavior that has to stop immediately, say if Johan has a big blue indelible marker and is running through a white hotel suite. I swoop in and grab the marker as to risk a three count [warning] would be to risk decoration of the sofa.
Take the marker from the toddler immediately instead of trying to reason with him? Groundbreaking.
Side Note: At this point in my reading, I am incredibly satisfied to report that I have discovered my first typo in the book, and in one of Simon's sections no less! ("These toads secret [sic] a poison…"). This is wildly pedantic of me and proof that I am a deeply sick person.
We run though a list of "Top 10 Things We Never Thought We Would Have To Explain" ("10. Why hot pizza stones do not like Legos.") before moving right along into Chapter 8, "Don't Listen to the Well-Meaning Morons." Strangely, I have a very vivid memory of Alex saying "I have a chapter in my book called, 'Don't Listen to the Well-Meaning Morons" in some distant RHONY episode or reunion. I guess she was telling the truth.
The chapter opens with a series of passages in which Alex and Simon respond to various comments that have been made about their parenting over the years. I think this device is supposed to be a bit of lighthearted snark on overbearing strangers, but instead just comes off as weirdly defensive and passive-aggressive. A few examples:
"My daughter is perfect. Her table manners are excellent, she never speaks unless spoken to and we've always had white sofas at home since she was a child, with no staining."
-A woman with one preteen daughter, no sons
Your daughter sounds boring. I wouldn't want my sons to date her..
Zing!
"Why are you outside?" - A bagel seller in Montreal, in February
I'm hungry and the stroller is well protected under the plastic cover. Johan is warm and cozy, the others are asleep in the hotel and I'm going stir-crazy. Is that enough, or should I buy my bagel from someone else?
Got 'em!
"Excuse me, your baby is crying." -- Someone said to Simon as they peered into the stroller to try and determine the cause of said noise.
You don't say! Do you think, you stupid idiot, that I don't hear that? Do you think I think it's just loud music? Do you think I don't want him to stop and that I like it???
Sorry, did I say 'passive-aggressive'? Let's change that to just 'aggressive.'
But despite bristling at being the recipient of unwanted advice, far be it from Alex to shy away from giving her opinions on the shortcomings of other parents.
There was a mom at another table who wore all black and told her hyperactive daughter that they had to have a family meeting to decide what to do next. The type of woman who might ask her daughter to "process her feelings" about which color to choose. The type of woman who wanted make [sic] a big huge hairy deal about including her daughter in the decision-making process and "negotiating" the next best step for the family to take in the pottery shop. Pardon me while I shoot myself.
I'm sorry, but I just cannot respect this take coming from a woman who calms her sons by reciting comedic children's poetry backwards.
We next learn that there are "many websites out in cyberspace," some of which offer child-rearing advice. Simon summarizes their useless "vitriol" as such:
They say that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, whereas for the 21st century surely hell no longer hath fury, as it's all been hurled at the belittled and scorned Internet mom.
I'm honestly not entirely sure what this is supposed to mean, and my confusion continues all the way through this chapter's "Top 10 Ways We Make Ourselves Feel Better When It's All Getting To Be Too Much." We begin reasonably enough…
  1. Check to see whether the person offering advice has children. How old are they?
  2. Do they have a point? Are they right? It is entirely possible.
…before quickly losing all sense of self-awareness and flying completely off the rails.
  1. Will we ever see this person again? If not, can we get away with unleashing our fury on them? Note, if you're reading this and decide to try it for yourself, go big or go home.
The last few chapters have been a bit Alex-heavy, but never fear -- Simon pops back up in Chapter 9 ("If I Wouldn't Eat That, My Kid Won't Either") to tell us a charming story about how the family refers to his Bolognese sauce as "Dead Cow Sauce," and this is because his children are incredibly enlightened and understand the circle of life and where food comes from. Or something along those lines.
This chapter also provides a lot of really incontrovertible proof that, even though you may swear that your kids say the most hilarious things all the time, you are wrong. I love kids. I can play cool aunt with the best of them. But this "recipe" for "Johan's Concoction" tries so hard to be cute and funny ("whisk violently -- making sure to spill a little out of the top") that I could barely stifle my groans. For anyone who happens to frequent RebornDollCringe, I am strongly and inexplicably reminded of Britton.
A list of "Top 10 Things We Don't Like About Children's Restaurants" culminates with
  1. Where would you rather be? A bistro devoted to race-car driving, with 1950s toy cars on the walls, or T.G.I. Friday's?
Excuse me, ma'am, you must be unfamiliar with the concept of Endless Apps®.
The title of Chapter 10 is "You'll Give in Before I Do!" and although the subtitle lets me know this is referencing "the art and warfare of bedtime," it's hard not to take it as a personal taunt from the authors. Most of this chapter is just transcriptions of 'cute' things François and Johan have said to try to avoid going to bed, but we do get this gem:
Slaying the dragon is our family euphemism for using the toilet (drowning the dragons that live in the sewer) and is fun for the boys to talk about, though probably not forever.
Before giving us a chance to adequately process this revelation, Alex goes on to reflect:
Hmm, perhaps I should delete this -- I don’t want obnoxious classmates getting hold of this book in 10 years and asking the boys if they need to slay the dragon in the middle of geometry class.
Alex, I assure you, you truly have nothing to worry about. Any self-respecting bully will be far too focused on the fact that Simon ejaculated at the moment of his son's birth to pay this comparatively trivial factoid any attention.
The authors shake things up and end this chapter with lists of both "Top 20 Bedtime Stories" and "Top 10 Lullabies," both of which are thankfully inoffensive.
In Chapter 11 ("Children Like Shiny Objects"), we follow Alex and Simon as they purchase the townhouse we see them renovating on RHONY. Although other (read: lesser) parents might store breakables out of reach or limit children's toys to playrooms and bedrooms, Alex and Simon were blessed with two boys whose aesthetic sensibilities are already quite developed:
One kind of funny thing that I noticed recently is that the toys the boys tend to leave upstairs in our red and black living room often tend to be red and black as well. I'm not sure whether that's intentional, but it's funny that the room always seems to match regardless of its contents.
The list of "Top 10 Craziest Places We've Found Objects" is mercifully absent of any orifice-related discoveries.
After reading just the title of Chapter 12 ("Raising Baby Einsteins"), I'm bracing myself for the self-satisfied smugness to come. This preparation turns out to be duly warranted. Baby sign language is dismissed as "a scheme dreamed up by ASL experts who wanted to sell classes to easily influenced new parents," Mommy and Me classes are "not really for teaching anything," and we learn that Alex and Simon have instituted a bizarre family rule that "if a talking toy came into our house, it had to speak a foreign language or speak English in an accent other than American."
We learn that Simon apparently does not know what antonyms are (for the record, Simon, the word you're looking for is homophones) and that New York City is replete with "wailing, nocturnal, type-A obsessed harridans willing to sleep with persons not their spouse if they think it will help their child get into THE RIGHT SCHOOL." Uh, yikes. After a tediously long description of François' pre-school admissions process, Alex informs us:
As a former actor, I've always gotten into play-acting and dressing up with my children. Perhaps a little too much. But I've taken the opportunity to show off a few old monologues, complete with bounding around like a puppy. If you have knowledge, why not share it? If you happen to know Puck's speeches from a Midsummer Night's Dream by ear with tumbling and staged sword play, why the heck don’t you share that with your boisterous boys, who love it and run around shouting, "Thou speakest aright!"
I am suddenly compelled to call my mother and thank her profusely for never making me put up with anything like this. Maybe I'll also get her thoughts on one of the tips listed in "Top 10 Favorite 'Developmental' Things To Do": "if they want something that you want to delay giving them, make them ask in every language they can before giving in." To me, this seems like an effective way to encourage your children to learn how to say "Fuck you, mom" in French as early as possible.
In Chapter 13 ("Urban Wonderland"), Alex and Simon promise to share their unique perspective on "taking advantage of raising a child in the urban jungle." But mostly, we just get a rant about how everyone thinks their kids have weird names, and that makes Simon mad. This chapter's "Top 10 Reasons New York is the Center of the Universe to a Kid" list reminds us what truly matters: "there are more songs with NYC in their titles than any other city."
Immediately after telling us how great it is to live in a city (excuse me, urban jungle), Alex and Simon switch tack and spend Chapter 14 ("'Daddy, a Cow! And It's Not in a Zoo!") expounding on the importance of exposing kids to nature. Sounds great, I'm on board. Unfortunately, we almost immediately take a hard left turn into a story from Simon's childhood where he and his brother are "befriended by this old guy, Dick, who lived on the outskirts of town in a small tin shed." We hear that Dick "occasionally pulled out an early Playboy magazine back from the days when the lower regions were airbrushed out," and that "there had been pretty strong rumors of pedophilia," before promptly returning to the main narrative with no further explanation. I can only describe the transition as 'jarring.'
I can tell how exhausted I am at this point in the book by how hurriedly I skimmed the list of "Top 10 Differences We've Noticed Between City Kids and Country Kids." To be honest, I'm almost annoyed when a particularly bizarre quote manages to catch my attention, because that means I have to think about it for the full amount of time it takes me to transcribe from the page. I'm beginning to think that my initial hope that I could glean some useful cat-rearing advice from this experience may have been overzealous.
Chapter 15 ("You're Such a Great Parent, You Should Be on TV (LOL)") is the only chapter to directly address the family's time on RHONY. It starts with this (attempted) comedy bit in which Alex and Simon pretend to be hilariously self-aware and self-effacing (Alex: "Look up 'Mommylicious' in the dictionary and you will see a photo of me in a ball gown, breast-feeding an infant while making Osso Buco and directing carpenters to build a bookcase for my Dickens and Shakespeare."). This posture would be infinitely more believable if I hadn't spent the previous 205 pages watching these two take themselves deadly seriously.
But rather than share any juicy behind-the-scenes tidbits (or, indeed, convey anything of substance at all), Alex and Simon spend exactly 3.5 pages blustering about how it wasn't harmful for their children to be on TV before giving us a list of "Top 10 Hilarious Things The Boys Have Done While Filming or at Photo Shoots." Spoiler alert: none of them are 'hilarious.'
Chapter 16 is literally titled "The Light at the End of the Tunnel," which makes me feel like this whole experience may have just been Alex and Simon playing some sort of twisted game with me. Alex tells us this is "the chapter of hope," but given that she then tells us about a time when she "spent one full hour discussing why magic markers cannot be carried around with the caps off, particularly in a hotel suite with white couches and walls," I'm not sure exactly where this hope is coming from. Also it seems like this markers-in-a-hotel-room thing happens weirdly frequently. We are then treated to Alex and Simon's "Top 10 Moments of Getting It,'" which includes
  1. Apropos of nothing, Johan said, "You give us time-outs because you are teaching us to be good grown-ups."
This is a thing I'm sure Johan said completely organically and not in response to hearing his parents say "we're giving you a time-out so that you learn to be a good grown-up" approximately seven zillion times.
This brings us to the book's Epilogue (a mercifully short two pages) featuring the line "If you made it to the end of this book, we salute you." Honored to accept this hard-earned accolade, I can finally close the book and start figuring out a way to erase the memory of Simon busting a mid-childbirth nut from my aching brain. Wish me luck!
submitted by efa___ to BravoRealHousewives [link] [comments]

I've a 100 Euro bet on with my friend that he won't complete this game is 3 days. >>>DAY 1<<<

Death Count: 73
Iudex Gundyr - Defeated
Vordt of the Boreal Valley - Defeated
Curse-rotted Greatwood - Defeated
Crystal Sage - Defeated
Deacons of the Deep - Defeated
Abyss Watchers - Defeated
High Lord Wolnir
Old Demon King
Pontiff Sulyvahn
Yhorm the Giant
Aldrich, Devourer of Gods
Dancer of the Boreal Valley
Dragonslayer Armour
Oceiros, the Consumed King
Champion Gundyr
Lorian & Lothric
Ancient Wyvern
Soul of Cinder
For anyone who was following my previous post on Wednesday, I will be updating the key highlights every few hours as we proceed throughout the game over the next 3 days, as well as the death count. To make things easier to follow, I will have (updated) to the top left of the most recent text below. The highlight times I update may not be 100% accurate.
For anyone who doesn't know what this is all about, check out the link below. https://www.reddit.com/darksouls3/comments/heepr2/ive_a_100_euro_bet_on_with_my_friend_that_he_wont/?utm_medium=android_app&utm_source=share
Day 2: https://www.reddit.com/darksouls3/comments/hgqdbm/ive_a_100_bet_on_with_my_friend_that_he_wont/?utm_medium=android_app&utm_source=share
Day 3: https://www.reddit.com/darksouls3/comments/hikegq/ive_a_100_euro_bet_on_with_my_friend_that_he_wont/?utm_medium=android_app&utm_source=share
GMT+1 Standard Irish Timezone for people wondering.
()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()
9:55 - We begin. Character creation finished. He's playing it safe and has gone for a Warrior class and has chosen a Life Ring as his burial gift. He tells me he will pump most of his points into leveling vigor, endurance and strength for this play through.
10:10 - He's hit his first speed bump and died twice to the Crystal Lizard before killing it. On route to Gundyr.
10:40 - Fourth times the charm. After dying to Gundyr's snako form 3 times, he made use of his Firebombs and is now on the way to meet the Fire Keeper for the first time.
11:15 - If there's anyone who knows how to get under a new player's skin, it's crazy naked katana man. I can already see the frustration starting to sink in. I think he's beginning to see the monumental challenge that lies ahead.
12:01 - High Wall of Lothric is currently handing out free ass whoopings and my friend is the lucky winner. Although he has died quite a few times, I'm starting to see improvement. He's beginning to use his shield properly and the timing of his attacks and dodges are getting a lot better. He realizes his playstyle so far has been too eager and hasty, so he's playing with more caution.
12:43 - Vordt is down. After being surprised by Vordt's quick change of pace in phase two, he came back for the second attempt more prepared and downed him with ease.
13:35 - "Who the fuck is throwing these spears down here". I intervened after watching him wander around like a lost sheep for the best part of an hour. It became slightly painful to watch. I've given him my first and last tip on how to operate the lift to the giant. Weapon update:Broadsword and kite shield.
14:15 - Hacked and slashed and cut down to size to be used as firewood. Cursed-rotted Greatwood posed little threat and was taken down on the first try.
14:38 - The Boreal Outrider Knight is always there to keep players smugness in check after becoming too cocky from one shotting the previous boss.
15:17 - Hears thumping sounds in the distance. Getting closer, closer, closer. Thud thud thud thud THUD! I hope you enjoy seafood.
15:36 - He's struggling with this area a lot. Lycanthropes, Giant Crabs, the Black Knight, the two npc's outside of Farron Keep. It's been quite a messy affair so far.
16:15 - It's an encounter you breeze through or struggle with. With 7 deaths and counting at the hands of Crystal Sage, right now he's the latter.
16:40 - The Wicked Witch of the West has had a bucket of water thrown in her face and Dorothy breathes a sigh of relief. Even though he's hit a road block in the last couple of hours, he's enjoying the game immensely. That adrenaline rush and exhilarating feeling after defeating a boss you've been struggling with is unlike any other, and he's just had his first taste of that.
16:58 - A lung full of fresh air and some contemplation is in order after these last few hours. We'll be back shortly, ladies and gentlemen.
17:32 - And we're back. Weapon update: Lothric Knight Sword and Grass Crest Shield. He's chosen to take the path to the Cathedral rather than tackle the swamp first. Despair awaits.
18:00 - Whilst maggots were feasting upon his skin and his torch was tucked comfortably away in his inventory, he couldn't understand why his health was depleting for no reason. A good friend would have probably explained to him why. But I just sat there. Smiling.
19:05 - It's like he's reliving my nightmare all over again. I remember my first time traversing through this area. It wasn't pleasant. Losing my balance on the rooftops, being sliced and diced by Grave Wardens, receiving an uppercut from a Giant as my first friendly welcome to the Cathedral, having Hollow Slaves fall upon my head, sluggishly dragging my feet and rolling, covering myself head to toe in Giant's excrement. I don't envy anyone who experiences this for the first time.
19:40 - "Shame on you, you greedy guts. Thought you could outwit an onion?" Thankfully, after poking away at the Giant's chained ankles for the best part of 10 minutes, there wasn't anything too dangerous lurking below as the bridge began to lower.
19:55 - Here in Ireland we're a bit funny about priests. So to be trapped in a room with several of them at once... It's a bit unnerving to say the least. He'll want this encounter to be over and done with as soon as possible.
20:03 - Countless Deacons lay scattered around him, wide eyed and still. This one was over as quickly as it began.
20:07 - Poison, poison and more poison. What a wonderful time we're going to have. cues Swamp Thing music
20:45 - Trudging through the endless wetlands, growing confused and disoriented whilst searching for the first of 3 ritual fires to burn. We've all been there.
21:32 - As he ascended his way to the top of Mr.Wolf's not so huffed and puffed and blown down house, he did not expect to get clobbered by a Stray Demon's over-sized club. With his attacks being as slow as the grotesque monstrosity himself, he was dispatched of quite easily. Now with the lookout being free from danger, he can scan his surroundings for the one remaining ritual fire.
22:03 - After being very vocal about how much he detests this area, the three fires are burning. And that only means one thing.
22:39 - clang clang clang The sound of steel on steel indicates there's nothing good that awaits him behind the double wooden doors. He pushes it open only to be greeted by pointy hatted men stabbing each other in the abdomen. This one is going to be rough.
23:30 - The Abyss Watchers have proven to be his biggest obstacle yet. With over 13 hours of gaming done today, bloodshot eyes are begging for rest and a lapse in concentration levels has resulted in inevitable death. He's struggled to cope with the quickness of the Watchers sword movements and double teaming efforts, but has managed to transition into phase 2 a few times.
(Updated) 00:03 - And there it is. After 90 grueling minutes and 15 attempts later, determination and presistance pays off and awards him with his first cinders of a Lord.
Someone is in need of a well needed rest so he can wake up and experience the anguish all over again tomorrow. Thank you to everyone who has joined in today. We'll be back again tomorrow @ 11am GMT+1. Look out for the same title as above ending with Day 2.
Goodnight, Unkindled ones.
submitted by Seefy8 to darksouls3 [link] [comments]

Let's talk about the mind tricks and psychological warfare being waged by cheaters, hackers, and RMT vendors in Tarkov, and what we can do about it. This is a long post, but Tarkov is worth it, and a TL;DR is provided at the top.

Edit: There's obviously big money at stake as I started receiving death threats the moment this post hit the front page on hot. Be careful with your personal info and probably best to avoid commenting here if you have doxxable details on your reddit account. Stay safe, it's just a game and not worth it.
TL;DR:
  1. Tarkov is a crazy wild game with a bunch of people running around trying to do weird things. Remember that bizarre outcomes are just as likely (if not more) to be happenstance than suspicious behavior. Don't let others gaslight you into thinking every encounter is a hacker or cheater.
  2. Cheat sellers, RMT vendors, and their customers, all want to push the narrative that rule-breaking is far more common than it actually is, and that the game developers are ruining the game so you may as well just hack/cheat yourself to level the playing field. It's great for business as a seller, and it helps rationalize malicious actions as a customer. Spreading paranoia, mass outrage, and undermining the developers are CIA-level tactics to sow chaos and anarchy that benefits bad actors at the cost of everyone else.
  3. The best thing we can do is silence attempts by bad actors and focus on productive, positive discussions in Tarkov and let BSG (who are the only people who can do anything) do their jobs. They spend 65% of their resources on crushing bad actors and their profit margins, so this isn't an issue that's flying under their radar. As a community, the best voice we have against malicious behavior is deafening silence to starve it of attention and free publicity, minimizing the chances that they can sow enough fear and angst to radicalize players to get more customers.
---
First off, the point of this discussion is not to debate how prevalent cheating in Tarkov is. This sub already has more than enough speculation on that topic and as you read further along you'll see that letting fear and paranoia fester is exactly what bad faith agents in Tarkov want.
Wherever you have competition, you're going to have cheating. Whether it's Tarkov, Olympic sports, or the stock market. As long as there is competition, there will always be someone who looks to gain an unfair edge, and it doesn't even matter if it's something as mundane and trivial as online chess, there's always going to be that guy who runs their opponents moves into a grandmaster-level AI because their enjoyment comes from that win at any cost.
However, despite the fact that bad faith competition exists in nearly every facet of life, it seems like the Tarkov community is far more paralyzed by fear, anger, and suspicion than any other competitive forum. Why is this?

  1. The game design makes it exceedingly difficult to discern bad faith actions from legitimate play. A naked level 1 with a TT pistol can accidentally get a lucky hipfire shot that instantly kills a fully kitted veteran who is highly skilled in the game. The incredibly punishing nature of the game also makes it so that deaths are highly impactful, which makes it difficult to "let go" of trying to figure out what went wrong. All put together, it means that players are forced to simply accept highly punishing deaths without being given any insight or explanation on how they were killed. 20 headshots with an R99 SMG in Apex Legends is incredibly obvious aimbotting. But in Tarkov, the fight is over with just 1, which leaves a lot of unanswered questions with no satisfying answers.
  2. Because the shared raid map system that Tarkov uses, players have a wide variety of objectives that lead to very differing goals, resulting in bizarre interactions where the original intentions of other other players is unclear. Someone who's hiding in a raid to wait for the violence to die down could be stumbled upon by some other person who is completely lost trying to find a quest objective, or wandering around exploring an obscure area trying to find easter eggs. From the vantage point of the hider, it seems suspicious they were hunted down by someone who had no reason to legitimately to hunt in the location that they were. In other words, players will frequently run into other players acting in inexplicable ways that can be easily misattributed to malice when it was just as likely to be happenstance.
  3. The lack of SBMM (skills-based matchmaking) means that all players are drawn from the same pool when forming raids. This means a complete new player to FPS genre entirely could be running face first into the most skilled players in the entire game. When the competition spans the entirety of the skill curve, it's incredibly difficult to know what is going on because player actions are often contrary to expectations of others. Chaos makes it easy to be suspicious about bad faith play because nobody is acting "logically" from each perspective. Naive players may charge in aggressively in silly ways that end up working by sheer luck that more experienced players will assume would only be as a result of unfair information. A very high skill player can take fights that they win with superior mechanics that most would assume you would only engage because of unfair aim.
The point is, this game is designed to breed suspicion, paranoia, and fear. Which is great in one way, because it's what makes it so exciting and fun to play. However, when channeled in the wrong way, is a serious problem because it's exactly what bad faith actors want.
Let's think about various actors in Tarkov, and ask the question, "do they want people to believe that rule breaking is more or less prevalent than it actually is?"

CHEAT SELLERS: MORE

Because the narrative is, everyone is cheating, the game is unfair no matter what, every raid you load into has someone that is map-hacking, every fight you take is against someone who is aim-botting. Therefore, you should consider picking up some little helpers yourself to make it fair again, or be a naive idiot that willingly plays at a disadvantage while everyone else is using hacks.
The idea that literally cheaters and hackers are infesting every single raid is probably the best possible sales pitch a cheat seller could have. The few instances of cheating leads to fear and paranoia festering, prompting more people on the fringe to consider cheating themselves, leading to more cheating, more fear, more paranoia, more business.

RMT VENDORS: MORE

Because the narrative is, this game is filled with cheaters anyway, half the lobby is people who bought stuff with mom's credit card, and Nikita is setting out to personally reduce your happiness in life and the game is unrewarding and unplayable for a normal legitimate player that doesn't hack or make a full-time job out of Tarkov. Why bother doing all the pointless stupid grinds while you're dying 50 raids in a row to hackers or someone who bought all their gear with their credit card, when you can just buy a few little cheeki Roubles from the side and get to having fun in the game?
Negativity and toxicity toward both the existence of other bad faith players, as well as toward the game design itself, is inherently the best possible environment for a thriving RMT system. This is especially perfect for Tarkov because unlike other MMORPGs, it's much more likely that incremental changes will be more brutal rather than having power creep / loot creep / money creep, which fuels despair and more interest in RMT.

CHEAT/RMT USERS: MORE

This one is simple. If they can convince everyone that it's more common than it actually is, the more they can rationalize their own behavior. It's not that bad, everyone else is doing it anyway! Besides, it's not even that big of an advantage, some other cheaters cheat even harder! Some of you may have seen a recent thread where one individual texted "lmao I'm gonna turn off cheats for this group though, cuz these guys play legit."
As if playing legit was actually the minority situation for a massively mainstream FPS game.
Zzz.

THE AVERAGE PLAYER LIKE YOU AND ME: ?

It is human nature to rationalize defeat. When you face down failure with no explanation on why like in Tarkov, it's tempting to blame cheaters, hackers, etc. Different games often have different ways of rationalizing defeat. In team games like Overwatch or League of Legends, teammate-blaming is common to offload the burden onto random strangers. In solo matchup games like Starcraft II, race balance is often used by players who are frustrated that they lost. What's even more, these other games do an excellent job of explaining where you could have done better, but players will still look for ways to blame someone other than themselves. It's no surprise that in Tarkov, fear and suspicion of bad faith gameplay exists.
The problem is, if we allow ourselves to be tempted to err toward the side of suspicion, to blame negative outcomes on the belief in rampant cheaters, hackers, etc., then we are aligning ourselves to the same narrative that bad faith actors like cheat sellers and RMT vendors want to push. We allow ourselves to be corrupted with the idea of "this game is bullshit, everyone else in the game is not playing fairly, why do I even bother trying?"
This is a dangerous mindset because it fuels a toxic narrative that "this game is never going to be fair to me, the devs don't care, the game is becoming less and less fun for me, I should just quit if I'm not going to cheat myself."
Let me be clear, I'm not saying that toxicity itself will convert an entire playerbase into cheaters. In fact, I think it has a minimal impact at a high level perspective because there just aren't that many people that are willing to traverse to the disreputable ends of the internet and take risks just to gain some internet points. However, even a 1% cheating rate to 3% cheating rate is a 300% proportional magnitude in the profitability of selling cheats or RMT vending. And more importantly, it significantly damages the enjoyment and integrity of the community at large.
You can see clear evidence of bad faith actors in this subreddit. There have been several threads in this subreddit just in the past few days that have reached the front page claiming 1) false bans are rampant, Nikita should just let RMT be 2) hello I am bob, I am hacker all day, you should hack too because literally it's everywhere you don't even KNOW, btw PM me for cheap hacks 3) xyz devs are ruining the game, why stop RMT/hacks, just let it go, you're DESTROYING THE GAME, STOP DOING THAT BSG!.
I'm not going to say any individual thread (even though many examples have been debunked) are complete bullshit. I'm just going to say that the narrative of these threads is completely aligned with individuals who are lobbying to protect their interests in making a profit out of bad faith play.

What can you do to stop this?

It starts with the self.
Encourage productive discussions, positive mentalities, and discourage DESTRUCTIVE SPECULATION and toxic attitudes.
BSG has shown an exemplary degree of interaction with this community. Always wait for an official response before jumping to conclusions.
--
BSG spends 65% of its resources fighting cheaters and RMT and is a developer that has shown endless passion and commitment to its install base. As beta players that are trying to help them develop the best possible game, the best voice we have against bad faith actors in the Tarkov community is deafening silence. Starve them of attention, free marketing, free publicity. Demonstrate that just because they can infect one player, that will not tilt the hundreds of legitimate players into letting themselves surrender and be infected themselves.
submitted by aerodreamz to EscapefromTarkov [link] [comments]

A retirement bonus with a catch.

Another recent TFTS post reminded me of this gem.
Back when I was in college, I had a job as a part-time PC tech for a rather large regional IT contractor in the SF Bay Area. One of our bigger contracted clients was a large medical nonprofit, "MedGroupCo", that we maintained with a bi-weekly maintenance contract. Every two weeks or so, we'd send a handful of techs out to do a quick sweep for problems, tune-up their printers, and perform rotating scheduled maintenance on some of their leased PC's and networking equipment. They had more than 600 computers spread across several medical campuses, along with dozens of shared laser printers and associated network closets. We had a solid maintenance plan in place to keep up with everything and they'd been a happy client for many, many years.
One day, out of the blue, MedGroupCo's CTO "Tom" called us up and asked to renegotiate the contract. The medical group was having financial problems and had just gutted his IT budget...he couldn't afford us any longer. After a long sit-down with our sales and support people, we placed the client into a new and cheaper contract. Rather than visit every two weeks, we'd shift them onto a semiannual maintenance plan. We'd come out twice a year to do regular maintenance, and all other calls would be handled on an on-demand basis. Equipment failures would be covered under the lease warranties, but anything beyond that would involve a per-call support charge. The maintenance visits would be more disruptive and require a larger number of techs, but the overall contract cost was substantially lower. "Six figures annually" lower. We warned them that moving to an on-demand based support model would be a bit of an adjustment. Because we'd been visiting every two weeks, the client had never used our ticketing system before. Their employees usually just jotted their computer issues down on a piece of paper and taped them to the sides of their monitors, knowing that we'd be by within a couple of weeks to get them fixed. We emphasized to the client that this might be an employee training issue, but the CTO insisted that he could get his users trained to use the new ticketing system and that it wouldn't be a problem.
Fast forward five months.
Our department manager had started to plan the first of MedGroupCo's semiannual maintenance visits and opened their ticket history to see whether they'd been having any recurring issues that might need special attention. Nada. And by "nada", I don't mean "No recurring issues". I mean no issues at all. The company hadn't filed a single ticket. That was...unlikely. At a minimum, they should have statistically had at least a half-dozen PC crashes during that period, and their printers should have required some maintenance. In hindsight, the manager later admitted that we should have followed up with the company sooner after the contract switch, but we had a LOT of clients and support was spread across several teams, so nobody had noticed that one of our biggest clients hadn't logged a single ticket. Because MedGroupCo hadn't logged any complaints, there was a general assumption that the client was submitting tickets and that they were being handled by one of the other teams.
Our department manager, worried about the discovery, called up their CTO's office and asked for Tom. He was even more worried when the receptionist responded with, "I'm sorry, but Tom retired three months ago. Would you like to speak with our new CTO Dave? Can I ask whose calling? Please hold while I get him on the line."
After a long time on hold, the receptionist came back on with a curt, "Dave isn't currently available to speak with you and he said that we no longer do business with your company. Can I take a message?"
What? We just signed a five-year, $3+ million contract. You bet we'd like to leave a message.
CTO Dave called us back the next day. He dove right in and wasn't kind: "Your company violated our contract and we fired you. When I was hired, we had more than 50 computers that weren't working at all, nothing had been maintained in months, and our printers were a disaster. Every single user had support requests that had never been addressed. This was the most unprofessional thing I've ever seen...you completely abandoned us and we've contracted with CompetitorCorp for our maintenance from now on."
What again?!?!? Our support manager patiently explained to their CTO that we hadn't abandoned anything and that we had a signed contract stating that we'd only be doing onsites every six months. As for their claims that we'd failed to support them, we pointed out that the company had never logged a single support ticket. We'd have happily fixed anything they requested, but they'd never asked. The new CTO, looking over a freshly emailed, newly scanned copy of the current, signed contract, was dumbfounded. He'd never seen it before. He'd...have to call us back.
Two days later, our company leadership, CTO Dave, MedGroupCo's CEO, and a bunch of lawyers sat down for a meeting. Apparently, MedGroupCo had a "cost savings benefit" they offered to their employees. If you find a way to reduce operating costs, the company will credit the first-year savings to the employee as a "bounty". Literally, if an employee found a way to save the company a million dollars a year, they'd give the employee a million dollars. I'd want that deal! CTO Tom wanted that deal too. As it turned out, there had never been any budget cuts. Tom had simply known his retirement was approaching and renegotiated the contract to shave nearly a quarter-million dollars off MedGroupCo's IT maintenance contract...neatly pocketing that quarter-million-dollar "bounty" for himself as he headed out the door.
This deception left MedGroupCo in a tough position. They still had four and a half years left on their five-year, $3+ million contract with our company. And they'd just signed a new five-year, $4 million contract with CompetitorCorp. Both contracts were binding. MedCoGroup was stuck.
Because they'd been a customer for so long, our CEO had a bit of sympathy and made them an offer. He'd allow them to end their contract for $1 million, on the stipulation that they sign an agreement to rejoin our company when their 5-year contract with CompetitorCorp expired. He even sweetened the deal by offering to credit the $1 million to their new contract when they returned. They'd been a profitable customer for a very long time, and he was willing to take a short-term hit in exchange for getting them back in the future. MedGroupCo loved the offer and would have signed the agreement right there, but one of our managers picked that moment to bring up another issue by asking, "Did your contract with CompetitorCorp include equipment? Because if you're not under contract with us we'll need to retrieve all of our leased computers, printers and networking equipment."
Alas, CompetitorCorps's agreement DID include hardware. And printers. And networking equipment. They'd already swapped everything out with shiny new hardware maintained under CompetitorCorp's own leases. And what had CompetitorCorp done with our hardware? As the story was later told, CTO Dave had told them, "They abandoned the equipment...just wipe it and send it all to the dump."
And with that, a $1.4 million dollar equipment loss fee was tacked onto that $1 million buyout, which was promptly refused by MedGroupCo's CEO. The lawyers on both sides went to work feverishly pointing at various clauses in the contracts, trying to negotiate higher ground and paint themselves as the victims in this debacle. Lawsuits were filed. Countersuits were filed. Law enforcement was called in to investigate. Newspapers ran stories about the mean IT company that was trying to fleece money from the poor, poor doctors. And, in the end, MedGroupCo cut us a settlement check for $2 million.
And CTO Tom? Last I heard, he was enjoying his retirement. He was never arrested, charged, or sued for his role in any of it.
submitted by codefyre to talesfromtechsupport [link] [comments]

A PC-User's Purchase "Guide" (it's not...just the ramblings of an idiot) to High Quality Audio on your system.

Hello friends, today I'd like to talk about an aspect of our glorious systems that get overlooked a lot: our audio experience on our battlestations. Thanks to paoper for formatting. Again disclaimer that I am an idiot, so take this post with a grain of salt. Better info and more accurate info from people way more knowledgeable than I am is readily available from /audiophile /budgetaudiophile and /headphones, this is just a start-up guide for the beginner.
NOTE: The monster I gave birth to has become too long. I felt that instead of a short list of things to order, I needed to give context as high fidelity is really all about what sound is like in your experience. Also a fun read if you are interested. Feel free to skip to the actual list (ctrl+f active speakers, passive speakers, headphones, subwoofer, amplifier)!
I have limited the price range of the products, because this is after all just food for thought and not even a proper guide; real audio purchases will require elbow-grease and research from your end to see if the product's sound signature will match your preferences in music and sound. If your product is not here, do not worry. I have put in products that I have had experience with and those that were recommended by multiple reviewers I hold in high regard (with the exception of a 2.1 system you will see later), and I had to consider the endless number of headphones/speakers vs the ones that are worth your hard-earned cash (and products vs how they compare to my current setup which includes both "high-end" and budget options).

Introduction

I've been building systems for myself and others since I randomly took a buildapc course in middle school (currently 28) and enjoy music very much (I grew up on linkin park, dre, biggie smalls, 3 6 mafia, tupac, ac/dc, red hot chilli peppers am fond of electro and dubstep and various genres of music). I have 2 decades of experience playing saxophone, clarinet, and the electric guitar, and have performed in jazz bands, rock bands, and an orchestra. My ear is highly trained from raw musical performance and not just listening to speakers from home, as well as having the nuance to differentiate between good speakers. I have owned many many forms of audio gear (instruments, speakers, headphones, studio monitors).

So wtf is this?

So occasionally while answering questions on this subreddit (mainly on why new builder's systems aren't posting, or what components they should get, or just mourning with fellow builders for systems that have passed on as well as celebrating the birth of new systems and fellow pc builders who take their rite of passage of building their own system with their own two hands) I would come across the occasional "what speakers/headphones are best under $xx" and with the state of pc products being "gaming rgb ultimate series XLR" or w/e, it's hard to discern what audio products are actually worth your money. Note that if you are using just "good enough" cheap speakers, any of the speakers/headphones on this list will blow your mind away. Get ready to enter a new world of audio.

Why should I bother getting better speakers/headphones?

I have owned $20 logitech speakers, I currently own $1500 speakers. I have owned varying levels of headphones. The first half-decent (to my standards) speakers I had was a hand me down stereo set from an uncle. This thing was massive, but this thing was good. It's difficult to explain to you the sensation of music enveloping you with great speakers. Speakers are meant to reproduce sound, as in the sound of the instruments in the song. So great speakers and headphones can literally make you FEEL the music like at a rave or a concert or performance in the comfort of your home. This is why Home Theaters were so popular in the 80s/90s.
Upgrading will GREATLY enhance your music, netflix and gaming experience. In fact with passive bookshelf speakers, you can not only use them for your desktop setup, but also chuck them together with a tv and you've got a fine starter home theater system in your hands. You can even upgrade down the line incrementally, one speaker at a time, to a 2.1, 3.1, 5.1, 5.2, 7.2 Dolby Atmos Home Theater Setup where your movies make you feel like your in SPARTAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA.
I currently live in a small apartment with my TV right next to my battlestation, and when i want to sit down on my couch and watch TV, I simply move 1 speaker from my desk to next to my TV, turn my AVR on and I have an easy 5.1 home theater in my tiny apartment. Move the speaker, revert back to 2.1 (or 5.1 if i choose to but i dont because of badspeaker placement when I'm sitting at my desk) amazingness at my battlestation. Consider this an investment into massively improving your experience of playing video games, watching netflix, or listening to music. You think those 4k graphics and ULTRAWIDE monitor is giving you more immersion in your game? Shit...having great speakers or headphones can make you feel like you're IN NORMANDY BEACH DURING THE FUCKING LANDINGS

General considerations (or feel free to just skip ahead to the list)

Now, I totally understand using simple logitech speakers due to budget/space/easy-access from best buy or not knowing about the wider audio world. So I am here today to give you a perspective on what audio components are TRULY worth your hard-earned cash. I have owned $20 logitech speakers in college, I have owned guitar amps as well as studio monitors/other speakers ranging from $100-$1500. Do know that all of this information is readily available in /BudgetAudiophile /audiophile and /headphones . I am merely condensing all of it into a single list, and attempt to sort of explain it to the pc builders, or just an idiot rambling.
If you would like more information on specific speakers, I would check out reviewers on youtube like zerofidelity, steve guttenberg, nextbigthing (nbt) studios, and thomas and stereo. For headphones, metal751, innerfidelity, Ishca's written reviews, DMS.
Z reviews is okay and he reviews everything from amps and dacs to speakers and headphones, but he gives 90% of his products good reviews, and has affiliate links to every single product he reviews....so you see where my dislike of him as a reviewer comes from. He is still an expert audiophile , he just chooses to not use his knowledge and ramble on in his videos, plus the shilling. Great place to start for audiophiles, as he is still a professional. I just think many move on to other reviewers.
Also with speakers, speaker placement is extremely important. Get those speakers off your desk and the woofers/tweeters to your ear level NO MATTER THE COST. Stack boxes/books, buy speaker stands/isolation pads from amazon, at worst buy yoga blocks from amazon. Put your speakers on them, get ready for even better audio.
General rule of thumb: dont buy HiFi at msrp. There are ALWAYS deals on speakers/headphones to take advantage of at any given time (massdrop for headphones, parts-express, accessories4less, crutchfield, adorama, Sweetwater, guitar center, etc). Speakers will get cheaper over time as manufacturers have to make room for new products/refreshes of the same models just as with headphones. If theres a particular headphone model you want, check to see if massdrop has it (website where users of the website decide what niche products the website will mass order, and both the website and you the users get reduced pricing).
Now this list is just simple guide. Obviously for $150 budget, theres probably like 10 different speakers to choose from. You will catch me repeat this many many times but sound is subjective, I don't know what genres of music you enjoy and what sound signatures in headphones/speakers you would prefer (warm sounds? bright? aggressively forward? laid back sound signature? importance of clarity vs bass?) So consider this list with a grain of salt, as this is after all, the ramblings of an idiot on reddit.

Categories

So I will be splitting this list into 4 categories:
And before I start, bass depth and low end does not fucking equal bad boomy bass. I absolutely detest low quality boomy bass like in Beats headphones and general "gaming speakers" or w/e. Also the budetaudiophile starter package is the dayton audio b652 + mini amp combo from parts-express. All the speakers that were considered were basically compared to the b652 before making it on here (and whether they justified the price bump over the b652)

Active vs. Passive (crude explanation)

So when a speaker plays music from your pc, the audio is processed by the audio card on your motherboard, which is then sent to the amplifier where the signal is amplified, and then finally is sent to be played on your speakers. Active speakers like logitech speakers that have a power cable running from the speakers directly to the wall socket have built-in amplifiers to power the speakers, whereas passive speakers require a separate amplifier to amplify the audio signal and feed the speakers power. Active vs passive, no real difference as both types of speakers will have good audio quality depending on how they are made and which ones you buy, but in the ultra budget section of speakers (under $300) actives tend to be cheaper than their passive counter parts. This is due to the manufacturer cutting corners elsewhere.
Take for instance the Micca MB42X passive speakers($90) which also have a brother, the Micca PB42X ($120) powered speakers. Same exact speaker, but built in amp vs the amp you buy. Obviously the mb42x will sound marginally better purely from the virtue that the amplifier is not inside the goddamn box. But the mb42x + amp + speaker wire will probably cost you anywhere from basic $130 to $200 with difference in amplifier and whether you use bare speaker wire or banana plugs/cables. Cabling aesthetics and management will be greatly affected, with sound quality affected to a lesser degree, or more (but at what cost?). Amp choice to be explained later.
Now generally speakers should be recommended based on your music/audio preferences and tastes as speakers and in a larger part, speaker brands will have their own unique sound signatures that some will love and others will hate as sound is such a subjective experience. But since this is meant to cater to a wide audience, note that my list is not the ALL inclusive, and again is only the ramblings of an idiot.

BLUETOOTH SPEAKERS

If you want to add bluetooth capabilities to your wires active or passive speakers, simply buy the esinkin W29 wireless bluetooth module, plug your speakers in, connect to your bluetooth on pc/phone/w/e, enjoy.

ACTIVE SPEAKERS

Simply connect to your PC or TV via 3.5mm (or the occasional usb).
Note: you may experience a hissing with active speakers that may annoy you to no end even up to the $400 mark. This is a result of the amplifier being built in to the speaker in close proximity, as well as sometimes the manufacturer cutting corners elsewhere. Passive speakers do not have this unless you buy a really shitty amp. Note that while bigger woofer size does not necessarily indicate better quality/bass, this does more often than not seem to be the case as manufacturers put bigger woofers on the higher stepup model.
Note that while I have included 2.1 systems here, I would always recommend you get good bookshelves first, save up money and buy a subwoofer separate.

Example options

PASSIVE SPEAKERS

These speakers will require you to buy a separate amplifier, as well as separate cables. But the passive route allows you to have a modular audio system that allows you to upgrade parts as you go along in your life (yes I said life for once you dip your toes into high fidelity, you will get hooked onto a great lifelong journey searching for the perfect setup), or even just add parts in altogether (like having a miniamp on your desk for your passive speakers, having a separate dac or bluetooth module for your speakers so you can connect the passive speakers via USB or bluetooth wirelessly, stacked on top of a headphone dac/amp combo, stacked on top of a preamp, etc). Amplifier list to follow later.
Passive speaker specs to pay attention to will be their impedance (measured in ohms) and their sensitivity (measured in xx db/1w/1m). Speaker ratings in wattage are measurements of how much power can be driven to them (higher watts, higher volume...once again crude explanation). A 20 watt x 2 channel amp (measured in 4 ohms) is enough to power 4 and 6 ohm speakers rated at 100 watts to moderate/decently loud listening levels on your desktop. Now the sensitivity thing. A speaker with a rating of 85db/1m/1w means it will produce 85 decibels of noise at 1 meter with 1 watt of power. Now this not linear....to make the same speaker go up to 90 decibels may require 10 or 15 watts of power depending on other variables. Depending on how loudly you play your music and what impedance/sensitivity your speakers have will result in your choice of amplifiers. More on this later.
The thing about passive bookshelf speakers are that you can use them in your desktop setup, AND with your TV as a legitimate starter 2.1 home theater setup (which you can upgrade to 3.1, and then 5.1/5.2, just buy a used receiver from craigslist for 50 bucks, ez)

What you will need for passive setup:

Note that passive speakers and amp require you to purchase speaker wire separately (fairly cheap) and strip them (youtube video will guide you, very easy). Or if you like clean cable management and easy setups, banana plug cables from amazon will set you straight, and while these banana plugs and cable are nice and PURELY OPTIONAL, they will add up in cost as your buy more of them for frankenstein 2.1 cabling. Also a 3.5mm to rca cable will be required. The connection will be your pc -> 3.5mm->rca->amp->speaker wire-> speaker wire->speaker. (replace speaker wire with banana plug if going that route). Subwoofer connection will be explained in subwoofer section.

Example options

AMPLIFIERS

Okay here is where we need to get into specific numbers. Active speakers have built-in amplifiers so they are exempt. But passive speakers will require separate amps and so you will need to pay attention to certain specs. In speakers you will need to pay attention to their impedance (measured in ohms) and their sensitivity (measured in xx db/1m/1w). The typical mini amplifier will be class D (small form factor amps for desktop use) and their wattage per channel will be usually expressed in 4ohms. Take for instance the popular SMSL SA50. This is an amp that delivers 50 watts to its 2 channels, rated at 4 ohms. Speakers will have impedance of 4, 6, or 8 ohms usually. 50 watts at 4 ohms can be 25 watts at 8 ohms, but is probably more like 20 watts at 8 ohms, refer to product specs for specific wattage ratings at specific ohms. Speakers with high sensitivity (85-95 db/1w/1m) that have 6 ohm impedance are easier to drive with lower wattage.
But here's the thing, an the smsl sa50 will not deliver 50 CLEAN watts. Somewhere in the 30-40w range distortion will start to appear. But for reference, 30 clean watts is enough to drive sony cs5s to uncomfortably loud levels in an apartment (the whole apt, not just your room) so listening on your desktop, you only really need 10-15 clean watts (only after turning up your preamp input to maximum volume, which in this case is your youtube/windows10 volume level). Do note that if you have the space, a used $60 AV Receiver that will just shit out watts and have 5.1 surround will be the best, but these things are massive.

Example options

If you need more watts than the AD18, you're gonna need to get a class a/b amp that just shits out watts for cheap, or get a used av receiver. If you want a new one, the best budget option is the DENON AVR-S540BT 5.2 channel AVR from accessories4less.

SUBWOOFERS

Good subwoofers are expensive, and cheap subwoofers will hurt your listening experience rather than improve it (muddy boomy shitty bass). Your best bet may be to simply find a used subwoofer from craigslist or offerup, just dont get the polk audio PSW10, this is a very common sub you see on the 2nd hand market, because it is a shitty sub and so people get rid of it. Now as to whether you need a subwoofer. If you are in a dorm, don't get a subwoofer. Because.... if you live in a dorm, do not get a fucking subwoofer. Now if you live in a small apartment, fear not, proper subwoofer management will save you noise complaints. A good subwoofer will produce good quality low end you can hear and feel without having to turn up the volume. You want to look at the subwoofer's lowest frequency it can go to. That will show you how "tight" the bass will be. Now, low volume levels on a good sub will produce that bass for you without vibrating your walls (though subwoofer and speaker isolation as well as PLACEMENT (refer to the sub-crawl) will do more for getting the most sound out of your speakers without having to turn up the volume....and just turn off the sub after a reasonable time)
Now as to how to add a subwoofer to your system will depend on what setup you have and the available connections. If your speakers or amplifier has a subwoofer output, simply connect that to your subwoofer, set the crossover freuency (the frequency at which the subwoofer will start making sound) to 80hz, or lower depending on how low of a frequency our bookshelves can go down to.
If your speakers/amp do not have a subwoofer out, you will need to find a subwoofer that has high level speaker inputs. You will need to connect your bookshelves to the speaker outputs on the subwoofer via speaker wire/banana plugs, and then run speaker wire/banana plugs from the subwoofer input to your amplifier, ending with rca to 3.5mm connection to your pc.

Example options

HEADPHONES

Okay, I keep saying headphones and not headsets right. But you ask, Kilroy, you're an idiot. You're posting on buildapc for PC gamers and builders but you're talking headphones and not headsets. How idiotic are you? Pretty big, but friends hear me out. Now I used to live in South Korea, where PC Bangs (internet cafes) set the nation's standards for computers. All the places had to get the best bang for the buck pc gear to stay in business and remain competitive (all 100 computers at these places had like i5-6600k and gtx 1080 in 2015 or something I don't remember, along with mechanical BLUE SWITCH FUCCCCCCKKKKKKKK (imagine 100 blue switch keyboards being smashed on in a small underground area in Seoul) keyboards and decent headsets.
So I have tried MANY MANY different headsets, here is my conclusion. Just get proper headphones and get either get an antlion modmic, or V-MODA Boompro mic both available on amazon. (short list of mics later) or get proper headphones and usb mic. Okay, I have seen the headphone recommendation list, and the only one I would give any (if at all) weight to in the usual pc websites that our subreddit goes to, is the list from rtings. These guys mainly measure monitors and tvs (very well might i add) but the writer for their audio section is lacking it seems.
Please dont get Astro AXX headphones or corsair rgb xxxxxx w/e. Please for the love of god, take your good hard earned cash and get yourself a NICE pair of cans my fellow PC users. The mic part is secondary as GOOD headphones will forever change your PC using and music listening experience FOREVER
The TWO EXCEPTIONS that I have observed to this rule are the Hyperx Clouds and Cooler Master mh751/752.

Example options

Now obviously, there's other choices. A metric fuck load of them. But I had to account for how much you should be paying (price range) for upgrades in sound quality and performance.

Example options (Wireless headsets)

Okay. Wireless headsets, now let's think why do you need a wireless headset? Do you want to walk around your house while on discord? Maybe you want to keep the headset on while having to afk real quick for a smoke break or whatnot.

HEADPHONE AMP/DAC (digital to analogue converter)

My knowledge/experience with headphone amps and dacs are...extremely lacking, I'm more of a speaker guy. But, here is a list for you guys.

MICS

Other mics? Yes, but are they worth the extra $$ for marginally better audio recording? You decide.

Concluding remarks

Cool. Stay safe in these dark times brothers. Have a glorious day.
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