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BusinessI'm Kenneth Lin, founder and CEO of Credit Karma. Yesterday we announced our truly free tax prep and filing service. AMA!

Dec 8th 2016 by CredditKarma • 66 Questions • 306 Points

Hello everyone!

I'm Patrick. For the last 10 years I've been going places and doing things, mostly by bicycle. It all started with a trip before university (which I should never attend, but I didnt knew that at the time), which kindled some love for the outdoors and adventure in me. I've since never stopped and accumulated a couple of interesting stories over the years.

After I finished school and did my military service, I did a 1-year backpacking trip round the world, then I started cycling, first in Europe, then through Africa to Capetown. I flew to India, walked barefoot for a month; hiked in Nepal to the Mt. Everest.

Then I did a 18 month tour through the Americas, starting in the south and cycling, hitchhiking and boating through every country in North- and South-America. I've seen the Easter Island, boated the Amazon river from Peru to the Brazilian coast, cycled through the jungle, hiked to the lost city in Colombia, before sailing to Panama and continued north till I hit Canada.

I've toured the Route 66, crossed the continental divide and survived even Detroit. :D

After that, I did a few more eccentric tours, like riding a road bike through the Sahara (Twice actually, once Egypt/sudan, once Mauretania/Morocco), or going through Russia in winter, cycling over the frozen lake Baikal. It was -45°c at night, which was a first even for me! I then reached China, had a look at Korea and Japan, climbed Mt.Fuji off season, before cycling the silk road back in summer, with a small detour into the Pamir mountains. With up to 50°c in Uzbekistan/Turkmenistan... damn, that poor bike had a lot to do that year.

This year I visited a couple of island states and other places by folding bike, even up to Darjeeling and Sikkim in the Himalayas; later on I solo-summited Mont Blanc, the highest mountain here in Europe.

In my down-time I love to play MtG, board games and video games. Currently the Gwent Beta... and I mod Dwarf Fortress, an awesome indie game with procedually generated stories. It's a bit hard to get into, but if you dare, have a look.

Now I'm preparing for next years trip. A bamboo bicycle tour through Westafrica. :) I'm working together with the YonsoProject for that tour, a Ghanian non-profit that helps education and developement in Westafrica. Among other things, they build Bamboo bikes, which are sold in Germany by MyBoo. Both MyBoo and Apidura helped me out with the gear for the trip; thanks guys for the bike and bags. :)

A couple of links:

  • Worldbicyclist.com, my website. Route and equipment info mostly. So far I've been to 141 countries... I really need to update that list. :D

  • My Facebook, with thousand of pictures, or if you like to follow me.

  • My Twitter, in case you like tiny updates from on the road.

My Proof: Expertly drawn Snoo, my bike and me.

More than anything else, I love helping people do similar tours and projects. Nothing is more rewarding than getting a message half a year later, telling me "I did this awesome thing, thanks to your help." Its the best. So, hit me with all the questions you got. I'm here to stay till they are all answered. :)

Cheers, Patrick

Edit: Thank you /u/somerandomwordss for the private message titled "Fuck you and your shitty nomadic way of life". It's always great getting positive feedback.

Edit: I'm heading out to a theater event nearby, which lasts about 5 hours. Do not worry, I'll be back and answer everything that came up in the mean time. :)

Edit: And I'm back. Lets continue :)

Edit: Its been 12h now. I'll take a break. I'm back tomorrow, read through the thread and answer the most thoughtful questions, and everything by people that need help with their own trips. Thanks guys! Lets keep going. :D

Edit: Alright, sleep well guys! It was fun :)

Q:

Is 2-factor authentication something that is on your agenda for Credit Karma? I love the site and would like to see that feature added for an extra layer of protection, especially now that you will be offering a tax option.

A:

What's the strangest thing you saw in the back of house areas?


Q:

Hey Chris, you seem very down to earth. How has Hollywood not ruined you yet?

A:

What was your reaction when Mythbusters Inc. told you they were downsizing. Did you feel blown to the wind or did you take it as an opportunity to do a new project?


Q:

Holy shit. This is amazing. Thanks for all your hard work. I haven't checked out the website yet, but just dream reading the short bio, it sounds like you (and APOPO) are doing amazing work.

My questions:

Which countries does your organization operate in? Are there some countries the rats work better than others in?

Also, they look adorable (and HUGE). How are they to work with and train? Do they pick things up faster or slower than other animals you've worked with and do you have a favorite? :)

A:

I ain't no gold digga, but how do you fund all this 'running amok' ?

Sponsorship? Inheritance? Savings?


Q:

Yes two-factor is on our roadmap. We have a number of new security features at launch including SMS verification.

A:

Oh my god I could go on for days about that. One thing that stands out was a special event where they needed 16 Mickeys all set out in various rooms and seeing all of them backstage was really weird.


Q:

never forget where you came from.

A:

Both.


Q:

Thanks! APOPO currently works in Angola, Mozambique, Cambodia, and Tanzania. We aim to start TB detection in Ethiopia and landmine detection in Zimbabwe next year.

We are focused on solving humanitarian problems in developing countries. TB detection works the same wherever we are in the world but landmine clearance is affected by the different environments. In Cambodia we have discovered that the surface tends to be rockier than in the sub-Saharan countries we have worked previously but the rats quickly overcame these new challenges.

The rats are truly a pleasure to work with (if you're lucky, you'll even get a sweet lick or two) and they are quick and eager learners. It's a bit difficult to compare how quickly they learn compared to other species because I've never trained any other animals to detect landmines or tuberculosis! Overall, I'd say they are pretty similar to a dog or typical labrat. I try to make it a point to not develop favorites, but because Nala was the very first rat I met when I arrived, I think she stole a special place in my heart.

A:

Bit of everything really.

I sold my MtG card collection when I was 18. That was 10k €. I saved the money from the military service, then I did that 1 year round the world trip with it.

Later I realized how much cheaper you can travel. For example if you bike and camp, you dont pay for transport or accommodation. I cycled half a year through the US and Canada, and I spend $0 on accommodation and $6 for transport; a bus through a tunnel that did not allow cycling.

Once I mad a website, I started to get sponsors. Free equipment, bikes, but no money so far. It does keep the spendings low, and after a tour I could sell it, if I like. Only done that once, a friend of mine bought one of my old bikes.

There was also an inheritance, but that was recently and I have not touched that money yet. It's on a bank, a rainy day fund, so to speak. I want to pay for my crazy tours on my own accord.

Besides that I do odd jobs (especially at the start, like working in hostels or on a cattle ranch in Australia); I program and write; and I have a Patreon for my Dwarf Fortress mod.

The most interesting bit is of course the fact that you can travel for almost nothing. $200-$300 a month are fine in almost any country worldwide, if you camp/couchsurf and hike/hitchhike/cycle. :)


Q:

NIST recently released a draft version of authentication guidelines and in it they stated that SMS-base 2FA should be banned for security concerns.

They cited that its not securely encrypted, is Credit Karma taking this into account?

A:

Do you prefer parents playing it straight or interacting with you "in character" so to speak?


Q:

It can be difficult to maintain relationships with people from a previous workplace. I'd imagine even more so for those in your industry. What previous collaborator, if any, have you spent the most time with after wrapping?

A:

hi grant, what multitool/knife do you always carry?


Q:

Are there many landmines with tuberculosis?

A:

How can one own 10.000€ worth of mtg cards, especially under the age of 18?


Q:

We have a dedicated team on security. I suspect they are ahead of your note. This is why I distinguished 2FA from SMS verification. We have a layered approach on security and security is our top priority.

I won't say any more on it as not letting the bad guys know what we do is part of that security.

A:

For the most part I appreciated when parents would stay in character. I hated when people would tell their kids "It's just a guy in a suit, don't be scared", which scares the kids even more. What I didn't like was when they would drill me with trivia questions and make me act out the answers. That used to be fun in the old days but toward the end we had to see as many guests as possible and there was always pressure from management to go faster and faster.


Q:

james gunn

A:

I started with a Leatherman Wave and had that for many years. Then I started carrying the Charge ALX because it had more tools like allen wrenches.


Q:

Please don't give them any ideas!

A:

Play on tournaments. Win cards/money, buy more cards. It helps that the cards get more valuable with time... I remember I got the power9 for about 1000 Deutsche Mark total. You know what they are worth now.


Q:

I realize you are offering a free service so you may not offer these features but I have to ask:

  1. Will you provide any kind of guarantees? Often tax filing software will provide accuracy guarantees so that any fees or interest incurred due to filing errors will be reimbursed by the preparers.

  2. Any kind of audit support?

And also:

  1. How do you envision this generating income for you? You’ve said before you don’t like when companies sell people’s data so you don’t do that but any general ways you will profit? It would be upsetting if the classic saying, “if it’s free you’re the product” were true here.

  2. One nice thing about the credit scores on credit karma is they not only provide your score but explain a little more behind it. What it means, what factors go into it, etc. This has really helped educate a lot of people (myself included) what credit scores are and some of the logic behind them. Will your tax software be the same? Will it explain how the tax brackets are broken down? Or what the difference is between capital gains vs normal income and how it’s taxed. I know in the US we constantly argue about tax policy and it seems like educating more people about how taxes work would be beneficial regardless of party affiliation. I guess I'm curous how much of an educational bend you've added?

A:

What is the weirdest request that a visitor ever asked you to do?


Q:

Hey Chris,

Who is your favorite actor?

A:

Congrats on the engagement, Grant!

Are we gonna see any new cool robots from you in White Rabbit? Looking forward to watching the show!


Q:

There are special cemeteries and memorials for dogs who do military work and such. Do you hope to see us give the same amount of recognition to specially trained rats?

A:

power9

what is this card youre talking about?


Q:

Most of the guarantees that we see in the space are the refunding of the cost of the software. If we follow that model, we would be refunding you $0 as part of our guarantee. In your question, you are implying quality. We are not going into this net new. We bought a company that has been providing taxes for 10 year and is white label provider for one of the major tax preparers online. As part of providing the service, we have to go through IRS and state certifications. Finally, I suggest you try our service against another major provider. You should get the same results. At that point, it is up to you whether you want to pay on that other provider or file with us for free.

As for audit support, we are still working through our features. We don't know if the audit supports that others market is valuable. We want to understand that aspect fully before we engage. With that said, we will have a full team of certified tax professionals who can help answer questions about our service (email, chat, phone). All for free, no upsells

I spoken about how we plan on using the data in another thread.

Edit: changed CPA to certified tax professionals but we have both.

A:

A guy once asked me to choke him for a picture (I didn't). That's a hard one because guests routinely do stupid weird things. I think the worst of them is when people bring their newborn infants to the parks and ask us to hold them for a picture. I can't see shit in Goofy let alone other costumes and I'm wearing giant gloves or paws or whatever depending on what character I am. Why would you let me hold your baby? Yeesh!


Q:

anna faris

A:

Freeze ray. Jousting simulator robot. And I might have made a flying hoverboard. But you know, you'll just have to see for yourself!


Q:

You’ll be pleased to know that our staff began the tradition of burying the HeroRATs that passed away in the early days. Our staff in different countries have different cultures and they each honour the animals that have passed in their own way. In Tanzania our staff will often sing a song or two whilst in Cambodia our staff they hand build wooden grave markers and take a moment of silence.

A:

Power 9 are the 9 best magic cards. The 5 moxes, the black lotus, the ancestral recall, the time twister and time walk: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Power_Nine


Q:

Ok thanks for your reply! I didn't mean to criticize your quality I'm definitely pleased with your credit score service and I had heard about your acquisition. More of a question about the guarantees I see on other tax software. Wondered if you'd provide the same.

What about my education question?

A:

Did you like Walt Disney World when you started this job? Do you still like it? What's your favourite thing at the parks that isn't around any more?


Q:

What is the most useless skill you have?

A:

Freeze ray? So you main Mei I take it.


Q:

Hello Dr. Fast, thank you for doing this AMA.

I've recently been reading more into APOPO and find it really interesting. I was wondering if you could explain more about the process of training the rats for detect mines and TB. I also have a few other questions.

  1. How do African giant-pouched rats compare to the type of rat that can be bought in a pet store, as far as training and intelligence go?

  2. Was any research done using different types of animals for detecting TB and mines? How did APOPO come to using African giant-pouched rats specifically?

  3. What other experiences have led you to working in this field?

  4. How much time do the rats spend out looking for mines or in the lab detecting TB?

  5. How accurate are the rats in detecting mines and TB?

Thanks again!

A:

moxen*


Q:

Don't worry, I wasn't offended:). Just trying to read between the lines. Regarding education, we won't have that level of content this year. It will much more about a simple and clean experience. We will incorporate more of the education into the product in future year. But I'm not sure that it would be as detailed as credit since tax code may change a lot whereas credit has been pretty steady.

Also thank you for being a member!

A:

Loved it then and I love it now. I would have to say the "Hidden Mickey" at the Disney / MGM Studios. The actual park used to make a giant mickey mouse when seen from an airplane. Echo Lake (where Gertie's is) made his right ear and the place where that horrible hat was made up the nose. All of the expansions tore it all to shreds though. :( There are a LOT of attractions I miss terribly though. Horizons was such a peaceful ride (and cool as shit) and Journey into Imagination with the original figment had so many amazing tricks in it. I miss Delta Dream Flight and Mr. Toad's Wild Ride a lot too.


Q:

rubiks cube

although it's not useless because i use it to help me run lines

A:

OH MAN I just made the connection. Overwatch wasn't as huge when we filmed this build earlier in the year. If we had done this recently, I might have gone with Mei instead of Doctor Horrible LOL


Q:

Thanks for your questions!

How do African giant-pouched rats compare to the type of rat that can be bought in a pet store, as far as training and intelligence go?

We follow standard learning & behavior procedures to train our rats, much like you might experience when training a dog. We start with clicker training where the rat learns that a click sound leads to a food reward by repeatedly pairing these two events. After that, we then shape the rats behavior by rewarding successive approximations towards the target by making the click when the rat does something close to what we really want. Finally, the rat learns that it will only be rewarded for performing that specific behavior (gently scratching for landmines or hovering over a sample for TB) in the presence of the specific odor we want them to detect (explosives or TB).

Was any research done using different types of animals for detecting TB and mines? How did APOPO come to using African giant-pouched rats specifically?

Mine Detection Dogs have been in use for decades but they are quite expensive and sometimes struggle in the hot and dry environments in Africa that APOPO was initially focused on. Our Founder, Bart Weetjens, had a background in breeding rats and during his research discovered an old article detailing how hamsters were successfully trained to detect TNT. From there, it was just a case of finding a suitable rodent in the region. As it happened, no more than two weeks later our Founder spotted a local man walking a Giant African Pouched rat on a leash which told us that these giant rats could be domesticated.

Some other great reasons why we selected rats was because they are easily trainable, cheap to maintain, easy to transport between locations, excellent sense of smell, highly resistant to disease and they are adapted to the environments we work in.

What other experiences have led you to working in this field?

I grew up surrounded by animals and enjoyed every minute around them. After earning my Bachelor's degree in Psychology with a Neuroscience Concentration, I then went to UCLA where I earned my Master's and Ph.D. While at UCLA, I had the great opportunity to work with pigeons and hermit crabs, in addition to rats. From there, I served as post-doctoral associate in a lab examining the neruobiology of smell in rodents. In the end, I think my whole life has actually led up to this particular work!

How much time do the rats spend out looking for mines or in the lab detecting TB?

Our rats spend less than an hour (about 40 minutes) a day in the field or lab to save lives.

How accurate are the rats in detecting mines and TB?

Our tuberculosis detection rats have increased TB detection rates by 40% in the clinics where we work.

Our mine detection rats have been proven to be at least as accurate as the approved internationally approved mine clearance methods. They are significantly quicker too as they only detect explosives and ignore scrap metal contamination which makes traditional demining with a metal detector so slow.

All of our research is peer reviewed and available online here - https://www.apopo.org/en/contact/press/publications

A:

Technically correct. The best kind of correct.


Q:

What is your credit score?

A:

Are the stereotypes about people who play different characters true?


Q:

Does your son still think you're a firefighter?

A:

You might want to let your netflix overlords know it isn't popping up in the new, recently added, or promotional spots. I only found it with the search.


Q:

Do the rats enjoy their work?

A:

Holy cow, I only just realized that you're Meph! What an all-around interesting guy you are!


Q:

It was about 810. I recently missed the first payment for the first time in my life and it dropped to 765. :(

A:

If you're talking about the "face" performers the answer is yes and no. Some of the break rooms are like the high school cafeteria where the "cool" princesses (elsa and anna) sit on one side and make eyes at the "old" characters (snow and poppins). It's really childish. Other face performers think they're on Broadway and demand respect and they hate not getting it. But those are extreme cases of a few bitches. For the most part the face performers are as much a character as any of us. Some of them are the sweetest people I've ever met in my life.


Q:

no he knows i'm an actor. But he thinks it's kind of stupid. haha! I suppose he's right!!!

A:

Doing press for a streaming show is very different from broadcast. With broadcast, they're all like "Coming soon..." "Coming real soon..." "Coming next week..."

With streaming, they don't want to talk about it until it's truly, actually LIVE on the site.


Q:

It's hard to speculate about what enjoyment is for a non-human animal, but if I may, I think the answer would be YES! The rats are always eager to work, they greet us and they willingly perform their duties. It is quite a sight to see a young rat in mine detection training "happily" following their trainer through the field after a session, without a harness or any leash! I think if the rats could wag their tales like a dog then they certainly would when they see us and go to work.

A:

Yes, I'm Meph. You know DF? :D


Q:

I am curious as to why Credit Karma focuses on the less used, and seemingly less valuable, Vantage model. Is it a cheaper resource as you won't have to pay for the FICO models or are you and your company seeing a trend away from those FICO models?

Great tool btw. I recommend your site for anyone trying to understand and dive into their credit profile.

A:

what were your coworkers like? is everyone filled with the disney spirit, or do people hate their jobs there like any other job?


Q:

To what extent would you consider Andy Dwyer to be based off yourself?

A:

I never heard of it until today on here


Q:

I reside on an island which is being overrun with invasive species. Since you are starting to move the rats into new territories around Asia, I am wondering if you spay/neuter them in case they get loose?

A:

So I get you don't spend much on your travels which is super cool. I guess I just wonder where you see yourself in say 5-10 years. Do you ever want to settle down? If you keep traveling and don't build up savings, what will you do for money later in life?


Q:

There are a few reason for this. One is that FICO is expensive and scores are a commodity. FICO also sells about three dozen variants. Which means even if we used them, the chance that the score you see on the site is the same as the one the lender uses is low.

Secondarily, the trend is to move away from credit scores in underwriting. Scores were great when banks didn't have statisticians or large data processing capabilities 1980-1990s. Today, everyone embraces big data. That means banks can compute their own risk score from the credit report. The score computed by FICO or Vantage becomes a smaller variable in the approval process.

I should also say scores still do matter for small banks which don't have the resources. Scores are also good for describing general risk. For example, you might describe the average score of your portfolio of loans to signal the relative risk.

A:

It's really like any other job. I went through phases myself. At first, every time I farted Pixie Dust ® would blow out of my butt but after several years I got kind of bitter. It was all management stuff though. On set I was fine and loved it but backstage stress got to me for a while and I was big on holding Disney accountable. After about 10 years though I calmed down. I loved every single minute while on set (for the most part) and some of my co-workers will be friends for life. You get out of it what you put into it.


Q:

Andy Dwyer is the personification of my comedic schtick. I have been making people laugh with that clown for years and years. Way before I ever did Parks and Rec. He not all of me. But I AM all of him, if that makes any sense.

A:

Exactly. It just became available today.


Q:

Great question! Yes, indeed! Our rats are spayed/neutered before they are transported to operational sites outside of Tanzania, although none have ever chose to run away.

A:

In 5-10 years I'd either travel some more or do more specialized expeditions. But in 20 years... no. Probably not.


Q:

First, thanks for Credit Karma. It's a great tool and I use it at least once a week.

What made you decide to launch it? How does Credit Karma generate revenue?

A:

Any good stories of playing Goofy around the time "A Goofy Movie" came out?

Bonus question: Have you ever met Powerline?


Q:

What would you be probably doing had you not become an actor?

A:

What do you think about the giant robot fight between USA and Japan?


Q:

Appreciated. Please give the rats a hug from me next time you see them. :-)

A:

If you were going to recommend ONE single (non-touristy) place that everyone should visit, where would it be?


Q:

I put it on the top cause everyone is asking :)

A:

Oh. My. God.

The first time some kid asked me to do the Perfect Cast I had no idea what he was talking about so I faked it. The kid didn't buy it but luckily I had an escort (that's what they called attendants back in the day) tell the kid that I already forgot it (which is bullshit if you watch the movie). They don't prepare you for details like that in training. You're just supposed to figure it out yourself. Never met Powerline unfortunately.


Q:

If I hadn't become an actor in the way I did. (being discovered by a director, plucked from obscurity, etc) I would have continued to pursue stand up comedy. probably would have tried to become an actor that way.

A:

It's going to happen. Just saw the guys last week and they're moving along. It's going to happen eventually.


Q:

Will do!

A:

If everyone would visit it, would it still be non-touristy? :P

A place I'd recommend to everyone... I'd go with Sudan. Or Iran. Because of the prejudices against them, the evil middle eastern countries; while in reality the people there are the most hospitable I've ever met.

They are curious and interested about foreigners, will invite you into their homes for dinner or tea; listen to your story and tell you of their countries.

It would help so much, with all that right-wing nonsense going about in the recent times.


Q:

Why are the commercials so cheezy?

A:

Hey there worst and best customer experience you ever had?


Q:

Are there any roles you regret taking/ not taking?

A:

What is your favorite car you have driven and what do you have now?

What would be some potential myths you would have liked to test if you would not have been under the constraints of a family friendly show, or in short what nsfw myth would you have tested?


Q:

How long does it take to train a rat?

A:

Even women?


Q:

lol. They are memorable and are slightly quirky. We like that and most of our users like that. But we understand it is impossible to get a creative that everyone loves.

A:

Ugh. Worst guest experience? It's a tie between having my life threatened at a Grad Night party one time and one time I had to tell a guest that their son was in jail for stealing from one of the stores and she did not take it very well. Best guest experience? I've got too many to mention. One that stands out is when I was working at Mickey's Character Spot at Epcot. There was an older gentleman that came up in the queue but didn't come see me, he just sort of stood in the back and watched me for a while. After about 20 minutes he came up to me and said "Goofy, I had a special friend that would want you to have this." In Goofy you have to look down in order to make it look like Goofy is looking at you so I couldn't see him but I heard him holding back the tears. He was shaking a bit but he gave me a hug anyway. I will never forget that hug. It was one of those hugs that last with you. He was crying in my arms. He had given me this which is a pin they give to family members or friends of POWs and MIAs. It's become one of my most prized possessions.


Q:

No regrets. Ever. They all led me to here.

A:

I used to have a Porsche Cayman. I miss that car. It never met a curve it didn't like at any speed. I miss my Toyota Tacoma truck. It was raised and had a lumber rack. I currently have a Tesla Model S. It's smooth and powerful, although a bit large for my taste.


Q:

Our rats typically reach accreditation standards within 9 months for TB detection and slightly longer for landmine detection.

A:

Yes. Foreign women are treated as honorary men; they'd even have more access than men, because they can enter the men and women areas.

For example I never met many Iranian women; not even when I was invited into a home, because they stayed in their rooms. A female traveller could meet them.


Q:

I have all my credit reports frozen. Will I be able to use your tax return service?

A:

my life threatened at a Grad Night party one time

This is reddit, you can't just leave it at that. we need details.


Q:

Could Johnny Karate beat Starlord in a fight?

A:

Do you have the autopilot?

Have you hacked the car in any way?


Q:

How are the rats bred? Do you pair them up with an eye toward any specific characteristics, or randomly? Is the breeding population separate from the working population? Any interesting / cute highlights from rat childhood?

As a rat owner myself I love APOPO and think your work is so awesome and cute :)

A:

Were there moments in your travels where you thought you would die? If so what's the strangest reason you would've died from in your travels?


Q:

As long as you can pass the knowledge based authentication questions, yes.

A:

My job that night was to check receipts at the door of the Emporium to make sure kids weren't stealing shit. One kid was walking out with a hat (he was a BIG kid) and when I grabbed it off his head he pushed me up against the wall and said "Touch me again and I'll fucking gut you". I just smiled and said "Be safe tonight".


Q:

Not alone. But with his band of child ninjas, it would be close.

A:

I tried an early version of autopilot. Decided I would wait for a later software update. I am happy with how the car works now. No need to hack it LOL


Q:

We first introduce the mating pairs to one another in separate cages positioned next to one another. If the two like each other, they will make soft noises and sort of paw at each other through the cage (sort of like they are playing patty-cake). After the rats have shown this behavior, we then release them together in a large cage where they have a clay pot to rest, wooden toys to climb on, and plenty of food to eat. We leave them together for 30 days before removing the male and then closely monitoring the female for signs that she might be pregnant.

Our breeding colony is housed in a quiet building at our main headquarters, separate from the rest of our rats.

I was incredibly fortunate to witness one of our newest HeroRATs being born just last week. For me, that was a particularly special moment.

A:

When I was young and stupid (now I'm older and stupid), I did climb free-solo a bit. My foot-hold broke off while climbing on a canyon wall in Jordan, near Petra. Luckily I didn't fall, because I had a good hold with both hands, but that was close; since it was almost 90m off the ground.

I wedged myself into a nook afterwards for 10-15mins, hands shaking. I didnt make the top, I climbed back down into the valley.

Strangest reason to die... eating fugu in Japan?


Q:

Will the software allow international student to file taxes??

A:

Any good stories about your magical moments? In 20 years surely you got some good ones...


Q:

Anna Faris from Scary Movie(s) or Anna Faris from The House Bunny?

A:

No need to hack it LOL

This is not the Grant I know and love.


Q:

ROUS's? I don't believe they exist?

A:

Was riding a bike under water as underwhelming as it sounds?


Q:

International students require 1040-NR which we won't support for the 2017 tax season.

A:

I have one moment that stands out above all the rest. I was waiting for someone to ask me this question. It's the reason I left a good job as a VIP Tourguide and moved to the Character Department.

I was working City Hall one day when two guests came in with two little girls. One was in a wheel chair and the other one looked like she had just seen death. Both were cut and bruised and the one in the wheelchair had her arm in a cast. The two women were actually nurses from a hospital and were asking for a refund on the girl's tickets, something we avoided doing at all costs. When I asked why they told me the story. The two girls were with their mom and dad at Epcot and on the way home they got into a horrible car accident. The mother was beheaded right in front of them. The father eventually died too but the two girls didn't know that yet. They were from overseas and had no money and no contact information for anyone they knew. They were bringing the tickets back to get the girls some much needed money to help get them back home. My heart absolutely sunk. If you had seen these girls you'd know why. They were truly traumatized. I refunded their tickets and got permission to be their private tour guide for the rest of the day (which they were not expecting). I walked them to the VIP viewing area for the parade which was as far as I could walk them in the costume we used to wear at City Hall. I had to leave them there while I put on my VIP costume. On the way down I pulled out every kid joke I could think of. I was a REALLY good tour guide (I helped write part of it) and I knew how to make kids smile. Nothing worked. These girls were too far gone for that. I left them at the bridge to go change, walked backstage and bawled my eyes out. I just had never seen something so horrible. I was truly affected and it was a terrible feeling of powerlessness not being able to fix the situation. When I came back I brought them to get ice-cream, take them on rides and stuff but they never smiled, not once. The nurses were loving it and were trying to get them into it but it just wasn't working. We went back to the bridge to watch the parade. It was there that I honestly saw true magic. Real magic, not bullshit. I had called the parade department to let them know what was going on and set up a private meet and greet after the parade. As the parade was coming around Liberty Square I told the girls that I had called Mickey and told them all about them. I told them that Mickey asked to meet them after the parade.

The little girl in the wheelchair smiled.

"Really?" she asked. My heart skipped. "Yes, really! He told me to tell you to look out for him in the parade and to follow the float back to City Hall."

The other girl smiled.

"You mean right now?" she asked.

It had worked. They were talking. Not laughing, but talking. It was the first time I had heard them speak. Every single parade performer came up to them on the bridge and told them to look out for Mickey. Every one of them told them that. When Mickey's float came up Mickey (who was attached to a pole at the top of the float) managed to turn her body sideways, look down at the girls and point towards Main Street. That was all it took. The girls were excited now. They had forgotten about death. They were lost in a magical world and I couldn't believe I was watching it unfold in front of my eyes. We followed that float all the way back to City Hall, singing "Mickey Mania" the whole way. Back then, City Hall used to have a VIP lounge behind the desk that was for privacy during difficult situations or to host celebrities. I took them in and showed them the book where all of the autographs were. They were eating it up.

The girl who was Mickey that day (K.T., I will always love you for this) got down off her float and without even taking her head off walked up to me backstage and said "Let's go." I walked in with Mickey behind me so I got to see the exact moment the girls met their new friend. They got shy but Mikey was in control now. Those girls met the REAL Mickey Mouse that day. Every single parade character stayed dressed to meet those girls. One by one they'd come in and play a bit then leave. We were in that lounge for over an hour. Mickey stayed in costume the entire time (which is hard to do after a parade). When Mickey finally said goodbye I had two excited girls on my hands that couldn't stop smiling. They talked and talked and talked. We had a wonderful day after that but what I remember most is when we walked by the rose garden, the older one said "Oh, my mommy loves roses! I mean..." and she stopped. I held out my hand and walked her to the gate, picked her up and put her on the other side and said "Pick one!" She looked happy as she picked out her favorite rose. She didn't say anything more and she didn't need to. I said goodbye to the wonderful nurses and the wonderful girls then walked backstage behind the train station. This time I didn't cry. It felt so good to be a part of that. I realized that as much as I liked helping guests at City Hall, the true magic of Disney was in the character department. I auditioned, transferred and never looked back. Thanks for letting me relive this. It was a special day for me.


Q:

Wow. that's a good question. like a kiss marry kill thing?

trick question. I'd marry and kiss them all. And I did!!!

A:

Though it is basically a giant robot, safety first!


Q:

Nice Princess Bride reference! We're big fans of the film, as you'd expect.

A:

Kinda. I was doing my wreck certification (PADI) and there was an old bike that someone had thrown away next to the wreck. I had to do several dives at the site, mapping the wreck (and learning how to use Nitrox), so I had some time to play around with the bike.

Its more like swimming and slowly falling over while trying to sit on a bike.


Q:

First of all, LOVE this service! Started using it a year and a half ago when I was trying to get a mortgage. It really helped me to see how things I did affected my score, and I closed this past August. My question is... never mind. I saw the answer in reading TFArticle. Ok, here's a question. Are there any plans in the works to get Experian as well? Not so concerned with getting the trimerge at this point, but it would be nice to get the whole picture. Thanks!

A:

how do you survive on really hot days?


Q:

Would you and Eminem ever do a song together?

A:

Hi Grant,

What was your favorite thing to explode?


Q:

Is there a possibility of training these rats to detect cancers?

A:

Do you ever get the urge to just sit inside for a week and read?


Q:

No plans at the moment. We have a number of initiatives that we believe will drive more value to our members. Like Tax!

A:

Practice actually. It was absolute torture the first month (and especially the first parade) but after a few months I got used to it and after a few years I would forget I had the costume on.


Q:

He's been after me for years to do a song. wait, no? he doesn't know I exist? Oh. well.... probably not. simply because he wouldn't do it. haha! But I'd buy his cologne if he had one.

A:

It's hard to say! Probably Homemade Diamonds. But each explosive is so different. C4 is really quick pop. ANFO is what you use to move big things. Gasoline makes pretty flames.


Q:

Absolutely! We already have initial discussions in the works to determine the feasibility, what types of samples (for example, urine or breath) would be best-suited, and what cancers might be best for our rats to detect. We are aiming towards cancers that currently do not have reliable or cost-effective screening techniques and for which life-saving treatment exists if only the cancer is actually detected.

A:

I do that now and then. For example the Shadowrun books and the Wheel of Time took some time to read... but thanks to my ebook reader, I can do that on tour too. Take a day or two off, read. Or in the tent, in the evenings.

I just finished Peter F Hamiltons Commonwealth Saga.


Q:

How do you gain revenue since you provide free services?

A:

Why did you quit ?


Q:

What is your favorite song to absolutely rock-out too? Favorite song to cry to?

A:

Hi Grant,

What is your favourite book? I'm trying to find a good book for my son


Q:

Have any of the trained animals accidentally set a mine off? Do they get a funeral?

A:

Kudos for getting through a Wheel of Time. I'd sooner get through a wheel of cheese, that series is so long. Sort of like Boatmurdered.


Q:

Added to top

A:

I was fired. To make a complicated story short, Donald Duck was, as usual, being a jerk and wouldn't leave my area because I had signed "Luv, Goofy" right over the bill of a Donald Duck hat. He threw a temper tantrum and as I was dragging him across the floor to get him back to his position a little kid ran out from behind the curtain at Pete's Silly Sideshow and we knocked her on her butt. The kid was fine and no one complained but Disney didn't really appreciate me dragging the costume on the carpeted floor so they terminated me.


Q:

To rock out to.... Pantera Vulger Display of Power To cry to... Pantera Vulger Display of Power

A:

How old is he and what are his interests?


Q:

None of our animals have ever been harmed in the line of duty. The beauty of the rats work is that they are actually too light to set off traditional landmines so their well-being is not threatened when they go to work.

Our rats always receive a local funeral. I've answered in more detail above.

A:

Now that I think of it, I didnt... I got book 1-10, which were all that existed at the time. I never finished it, reading the books written by the second author, after Jordan died.

Boatmurdered is cool, its what brought me to DF.


Q:

How often is my information sold to another entity?

A:

After 20 years, you were fired over that? Was it a full on fight lol?


Q:

What can we expect in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2?

A:

Grant, don't know if you'll read this but you're seemingly active. Thanks so much for all you did in my thrusters, I loved it!


Q:

How long do these trained rats live for?

How much does it cost to train a rat?

Do you grow attached to these rats?

How many rats have died from landmines and do they have a memorial?

Do you get to take the retired ones home and keep them as pets?

What was the most intelligent rat you ever trained?

Where would soldiers keep these rats when out in the field?

A:

You should finish wheel of time. Sanderson did a pretty damned good job with it.


Q:

Exactly never.

We only share information with partners with your consent. Examples: 1) If you want us to pre-fill an application. 2) If you want us pre-approve you for a loan.

A:

That's a long and painful story. Disney still has no idea the pain and trauma that caused. There were other reasons I think I was not brought back, one of them being terrible legal advise from a lawyer I sought out before my final arbitration. I was also sort of a whistle-blower and I think that played a big role.


Q:

bigger and better in every way

A:

OH "my thrusters" = "MythBusters" LOLOLOLOLOLOL


Q:

How long do these trained rats live for?

Around 7-8 years normally.

How much does it cost to train a rat?

Around $7,000 each which sounds expensive but they are significantly cheaper than the alternative solutions.

Do you grow attached to these rats?

Absolutely! Many of us are animal lovers and every one of our staff will have their favourite HeroRAT. They are fun, sociable, and inquisitive creatures meaning it is hard not to develop bonds with them.

How many rats have died from landmines and do they have a memorial?

Not a single rat has ever been hurt by a landmine. They are too light to trigger mines and operate under strict safety conditions.

Do you get to take the retired ones home and keep them as pets?

Our retired rats are kept with all of their other HeroRAT buddies rather than being separated. We don't tend to adopt them as we want to ensure that their years of hard work are thoroughly rewarded with expert care and mountains of great food.

What was the most intelligent rat you ever trained?

Intelligence can be a bit tricky to quantify. Because I've only been with APOPO a few months, I'm afraid I don't have any examples with our Giant African Pouched Rats. For me, it would probably be a lab rat that I worked with at UCLA. At first, she appeared to be learning more slowly than all of the others - until I watched what she was doing during her training session. Turns out she had learned the most clever solution to what I thought should be a chellenging task. After changing a few things in the cage to prevent her from doing her "little tricks" she quickly caught up to the performance of all of the other rats and even beat them to the finish line (meaning she mastered the task before everyone else). She was quite a special rat to work with.

Where would soldiers keep these rats when out in the field?

APOPO is focused on humanitarian demining in post-conflict areas and as such we employ local civilian staff to clear mines. Typically we will establish a small office and base for the HeroRATs near to where we are clearing mines.

A:

You think I can find a summary of the first 10 books somewhere? Its been 8 years since I read them... ;)


Q:

I love your website, but I ruined my credit by getting over extended, can you help me stop these constant calls from creditors.

On a side note, thanks for helping with taxes. As a small business owner it was shocking seeing I had to pay $800 tax on $8000 income in a year when companies like Yahoo, Apple, Facebook ect use off shore companies to get a refund. Do you think any of this is fair?

A:

What's the worst child/adult tantrum you've witnessed?


Q:

Hey Chris, big fan here! What do you miss most about working on Parks and Rec? What was the hardest part about working on Passengers?

A:

Hey Grant! I met you a few years ago after I had cancer. I was the dude who worked at reddit and came by to meet you and the rest of the build team. I gave you guys some reddit stickers, and you stuck one on the toolbox in the Mythbusters shop. You were super nice to me and said you hoped my recovery would go well.

Just wanted to let you know I'm almost 3 years in remission. :)

Hope you're doing well, too!


Q:

How did you get involved in this field of work?

A:

What's the best item/s that everyone should have if they want to travel the world?


Q:

You should never be harassed for collections companies. These are your bill: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0149-debt-collection.

We are a US based company and pay US based taxes. With that said, the issue you are talking about is a tax code problem. It needs to be fixed. Most people and companies don't pay more taxes than they need too. Until you fix the tax code, this will happen.

A:

I once saw an adult beat the absolute living shit out of a pre-teen boy on set as the Queen of Hearts. We're told never to interact when something like that happens so I had to leave. I've seen tons and tons of guests lose their shit in Guest Relations, particularly when it involved people not getting their way. I wish I had a camera sometimes. I would get so much delicious karma from /r/PublicFreakout


Q:

I miss the cast and crew. I miss my friends. I miss the commute. I miss the fact it was a steady gig, all comedy, and took me 7 minutes to get to work.

The hardest part of working on Passengers would be the schedule. There were only two of us primarily through the whole shoot and we worked incredibly long hours. I was homesick a lot of the time. It was a grind.

A:

Hey man! Congrats!! BTW I still have that Reddit sticker on my toolbox.


Q:

Thanks for asking the first question!

I have always loved animals and enjoyed learning more about them. While working on my bachelor's degree, I had a really outstanding professor invite me to join his lab where he was looking at how rats solve various problems to gain a greater understanding about the process of learning. After joining his lab, I never looked back!

A:

Passport, credit card, wifi-able device, ebook reader, a buff, your towel (never leave without your towel), notebook & pen, and a good attitude. :)


Q:

Just letting you know, I love your Android app. Thanks for the handy service.

What does it do with my personal info to be so useful and free? ;) You guys using Google's business model?

A:

Is it true that someone gets fired if two of the same characters appear in the same area of the park?


Q:

How has your past as an overweight, comedic character played influenced your growth as an actor, especially now that you're considered one of the sexiest Hollywood stars?

A:

Hey Grant 3 years ago when you did an AMA with Tori and Kari I asked you if you would build an Ironman suit and you replied with: EVERY. DAY.

So my question is, Hows your progress?


Q:

Are there any major differences between giant pouched rats and ordinary domestic rats, behavior-wise?

A:

What's a buff?


Q:

We are using Google business model. We don't sell or rent the information to anyone and we use it to help find the most useful loan or credit card for you. That simple.

A:

It would depend on the situation. I've met my double on set by accident a few times over the years (it happens to the best of us) but it was just that, an accident. The only way someone would get fired (I'm only guessing here) is if they did it on purpose.


Q:

no vanity in comedy understanding the element of my job in where I am a prop

i was confident and in good shape when i first came to LA but nobody would cast me in any well written roles. People assumed based on my looks i was an asshole and a one trick pony. I only auditioned to play the douchebag characters. my audition material would be like "Bradley, 24, you hate him immediately"

int. locker room. Bradley looks to our hero, squints his eyes, runs his hands through his thick gelled and frosted tipped hair and says, "Fuck you pussy."

that would be my audition. "Fuck you pussy." welcome to the OC bitch.

They never let me improv or do comedy. It wasn't until I built a shlubby exterior, which stood in stark contrast to my inner confidence that people gave me room to play. ,

A:

I built one of the gauntlets for a project I did with Mouser Electronics (for whom I am their "Celebrity Engineer" spokesman). It had a working laser that popped out the forearm and was able to pop a balloon across the room. So... pretty good so far.


Q:

I've only noticed very slight differences in behavior. Our African Giant Pouched Rats tend to be a bit more social with their human counterparts. That's not to say that domestic or typical lab rats aren't social towards humans by any means. Maybe it's more patience; the giant rats tend to be more relaxed and calculated in their motions. Perhaps it is driven by the underlying differences in life expectancy with domestic rats only living 3-5 years and giant rats living 8 or more years. Of course, there's the major difference of hoarding scrumptious food in their pouched cheeks (where they get their names) which domestic rats don't have the opportunity to try!

A:

a tube scarf, which doubles as almost anything... towel, bandage, hat, sun protection, wash cloth...


Q:

You got an avenue for tax preparers to help?

A:

What is the funniest thing you've ever seen someone dressed as their character say (Like someone in costume saying something that sounds ridiculous cause they said it in character)?


Q:

~15 years ago you were living in your van on a beach in Hawaii, jobless, listening to Dre's 2001 everyday.

Do you ever miss anything about those days? Simpler times, being able to go anywhere you want without fear of paparazzi, etc.

A:

Would you consider building a power assisted suit? Mini-electric motors, cables, carbon fibre and aluminum frame covered in level III/IV ballistic plates?

That'd be close enough wouldn't it? Also, a 50lb backpack full of LiPo's (or an ultracapacitor array)


Q:

This may sound dumb. BUT are the rats you work with smarter than the average rat? Bigger so I'm assuming bigger brains? If so wouldn't that make them highly intelligent?

A:

Hey OP, you can get small solar chargers for less than 30 bucks Canadian that power small devices. Hella recommend adding one to that list !


Q:

We are hiring 100+ certified tax professionals here for live help. That support will be free as well. We might create a knowledge base (content/help center) but the reality is people will want to talk to live people and we will support that.

A:

"I just farted" - Cinderella


Q:

That was such an amazing time in my life. There are elements I miss. Perhaps most of all, uncertainty.

A:

You... may be on to something there.


Q:

Good question! Yes, our rats are definitely larger than typically rats and also have larger brains. As a neuroscientist, I can tell you that a larger brain doesn't necessarily translate to greater intelligence. Intelligence is vey difficult to define, especially among non-verbal, non-human species. From what I've witnessed, our rats are very similar in learning abilities to other typical rat species. The biggest difference is their lifespan, which means that they have more time to learn more things over the course of their lives.

A:

Bike dynamos are a bit better; but I did try a solar charger on the silk road. They work great, if you have the space/time for them. :)


Q:

I'm going to be a little cynical here and say that nothing is free and free services always come with a cost, tangible or intangible. What are you (or your company) getting out of making it free?

A:

Where do you go in your career from here?


Q:

You're awesome man.

Got any guilt or just general thoughts for taking this sweet lead role in Passengers considering Keanu Reeves had been trying to get the script made for like 6-7 years?

A:

Hey Grant!! On a scale from 1-10, how excited are you for Rogue One!?!


Q:

So what does rat do when it finds a mine under sand or something? How can you tell it has found something?

A:

Excellent and inspiring work! I did a 2,700 mile bike tour this summer from Chicago to Portland. I found that I was burning so many calories that I had to eat nonstop. This was the biggest blow to my budget. What kind of meals/snacks do you eat to keep such a modest budget? Also, do you carry a stove and fuel? Thanks for the info and have a great upcoming tour; I am jealous.


Q:

Common question. I put it in the top cause I am not trying to dodge it.

A:

That's how this whole AMA started. I made a comment in /r/adviceanimals in response to someone who was frustrated they were 30 and making a career change. I'm 46 now. I have zero job skills other than making people laugh. I never thought I'd ever do anything else so I'm stuck. Maybe working with troubled teens or some other kind of service work. I just want to find something that gives me as much passion as Disney did, which is hard.


Q:

Keanu Reeves is awesome. John Wick is the shit. He's been killing it for so long. And hes a great humanitarian.

A:

1 MILLION. From the first moment I saw the trailer, it was like I was right back in my childhood. Plus, I've known John Knoll since I was at ILM. He's a good guy and he gets it. CAN'T WAIT.


Q:

We originally trained our rats to pause for a few seconds above the mine but if you’ve ever handled a rat you’ll know they don’t enjoy staying still! We now train them to lightly scratch above the surface of the earth. You can watch a video of exactly how it works here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UE94Sxp6mY8

A:

Hey, that question I just got. I'll copy the answer, hope thats ok. :)

Snacks, yes, a lot. And local foods. Eating in restaurants or street food is great in third world countries, in the first world I stick to supermarkets mostly. I do cook in hostel kitchens, if I have the chance, but I dont carry cooking gear while camping. Food is mostly selected based on calories... the more the better. Chocolate, chocolate milk, nuts, peanut butter, energy/protein bars, dates, avocados, that sort of thing. Fats, proteins. :)


Q:

is it really free? or is it one of those things where you spend hours only to get to the point where you get a pop up that says "now file your STATE taxes for only $29.99!"

A:

What is your favorite memory working there?


Q:

If you could have played any character from a film ever, who would you pick?

A:

Do you feel any schadenfreude since Tory Belleci will be doing an AMA on the 16nth instead of seeing the movie?


Q:

I'm a big fan of APOPO so thanks for doing this AMA. My question is what is next for APOPO? Are you going to train the rats to detect new things?

A:

Hey man ! I'm 19 and I've started saving up for a trip somewhere, I still don't know where, and this was one of my main questions. Was food covered by your $10k budget ? Have you ever worked in any of those countries you visited ? I'm super interested in all of that and will also look at your website when I get home.


Q:

Let me put it this way: Credit Karma does not have a merchant processing account. We can't even accept credit cards even if we wanted to. We have NEVER charged any user for our service. Tax is the same.

*Disclaimer: The company that we bought might have a merchant processing account but we are going to shutting that down.

A:

(sigh) I can't really figure that out. I've tried to answer that question a hundred times but I can never pinpoint a specific moment that stands out from the rest. I have a few tear jerkers, a few laugh out loud moments, and a few horror stories. One that does stand out was at Give Kids The World which is where all the Make-a-Wish kids stay when they come to Disney (truly a magical spectacular place). A woman came up with her son who was born with a birth defect that meant he had no muscles in his neck. He looked REALLY bad and his head had to be supported by his mom. This was a special circumstance. The kid's wish was to be held by Goofy. That's it. Just to be held. The mother told me that because of his "life problems" everyone is afraid to even touch him. She laid him very carefully in my arms (sitting on the ground) and let go. We rocked back and forth on that floor for what seemed forever. It was one of the times where I forgot I had the costume on and I just cried and cried. He was such a special kid. I'll never forget that.


Q:

Jim Preston Passengers Opens December 21st!!

Thanks guys thats my time.

A:

HAHAHA ALL PART OF MY PLAN


Q:

Absolutely! We have a very active and growing Research & Development department that is constantly exploring new avenues for our rats to use their amazing sense of smell in solving pressing global humanitarian problems. We have recently started a collaboration with the Endangered Wildlife Trust on a project that is funded by the US Fish and Wildlife Services to train our rats to detect wildlife and hardwoods illegally smuggled out of Africa in shipping containers. We are also exploring possibilities for the rats to detect food-bourne illnesses (such as salmonella), diseases in animals (for example brucella infection or bovine TB) and other human diseases (various cancers and even Alzheimer's). There's A LOT of potential for our sniffer rats to put their noses to good use!

A:

I did work a bit in Australia, they make it very easy for backpackers to get jobs. I think the minimum wage is $23 atm.

Otherwise you can go to Japan or Korea, to teach English.


Q:

Free for whom, with what qualifications, for how long, and under what conditions? State, federal, or both?

A:

Could you speak to people while in costume? Can you do a good goofy voice impersonation?


Q:

Will you and your wife ever do a movie together where you're both leading? I think you're both talented and would make an exceptional screen-team!

A:

I saw a set of pictures showing practical effects in Star Wars prequels.

Are you in this picture? How was working there?


Q:

What are the rats landmine detection percentage? If one rat cleared a field would you feel comfortable walking through it yourself? Do you overlap their clearance tracks for a kind of "two rat integrity?"

A:

.have language barriers ever posed a challenge? .in very remote areas of some countries, for example?


Q:

Free for all, with no qualifications, as long as we can see, federal and state. No hidden fees no upcharges.

A:

We are NOT ALLOWED TO EVER TALK IN COSTUME IN FRONT OF GUESTS. EVER. Backstage however, anything goes. I used to love telling dirty jokes to unsuspecting new hires. I do have a good Goofy laugh but it took me years to perfect.


Q:

yes we will!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A:

Yep, that's me working on a hangar bay. It was an awesome time in my life. Just wrote a post about it on the MythBusters Facebook page.


Q:

What are the rats landmine detection percentage?

All of our mine detection rats are required to pass blind tests at a 100% clip to become approved for detection purposes. There is no cutting corners when dealing with a life and death situation like landmines and if a rat cannot consistently pass the tests then they are not used in the field.

If one rat cleared a field would you feel comfortable walking through it yourself?

Absolutely. We return the land to local communities to farm, build houses, and to develop their communities, and we have no concerns whatsoever walking over minefields cleared by the HeroRATs. In over a decade of mine clearance, covering 26,000,000 m2, there has not been a single mine or device found in any minefield that APOPO's rats have cleared.

A:

Yes, especially in countries that have a language that has a different alphabet. Like Arabic or Chinese. That makes it extra difficult.

But often enough, smile and wave works wonders. And Google Translate. ;)


Q:

Ah my mistake. I thought it was related to Credit Karma.

A:

What is the weirdest story of one of your coworkers getting fired? What did they get fired for?


Q:

Im a huge PJ fan and loved that andy was also, was that your idea or the writers idea? are you a big fan?

A:

Hi Grant,

Congrats on your engagement! You seem to have a brilliant electrical and mechanical mind but something we do not see much of is your programming mind. Do you enjoy programming and if so which languages?


Q:

Does each rat have its name? How can you tell them apart?

A:

.do you speak any languages other than English?


Q:

We are not associated with Mint so you will have to ask them.

A:

Well, the worst I personally saw was in the 90's when Fantasyland Character Festival was still around which was the old queue for 20K Leagues Under the Sea. One of our greeters (that's what they called them then, they're attendants now) was a trans woman (that wasn't fooling anyone) and the police came and picked her up backstage. Evidently she was the father of a missing child and she was hiding out at Disney. Fucked up huh? There was also the infamous Michael Chartrand case who was the Tigger that felt up one of the guests. That was a really embarrassing blemish for Disney. It was on the front page of the Orlando Sentinel which is plopped down on everyone's doorstep at Disney (in the premium resorts anyway). He got his job back (there was a totally bizarre court case. His lawyer actually dressed up as Tigger to give the closing arguments) but he was fired a few years later for allegedly doing the same thing to one of the photographers.


Q:

love Pearl Jam! Growing up in Washington i have a very real connection to that music. I was at an impressionable time when it hit. So it will always have a place in my heart.

A:

Thanks! I usually leave programming to the end, since I find it pretty straightforward. I like it because it's pretty clean and easy to modify. Moving a hole on a piece of aluminum or re-soldering a circuit board is an extra level of pain in the ass. I can program most variations of BASIC in my sleep, and I'm reasonably good with C but I need to get better.


Q:

Every single rat has a name with most of them being named by our local trainers at our HQ in Tanzania. We have a few soccer players (Ramsey, Ozil, Drogba, Adebayor, Lukaku, Kompany, Mourinho, Wenger etc), some Star Wars rats (Skywalker, Han Solo, and Princess Leia), and some celebrities too (Jon Stewart, Taylor Swift, Malala).

Our rats either have their own home environment or share cage with another rat which are labelled. Each of the rats have their own unique markings, behaviours, and relationships with our staff and we don't normally have any problem telling them apart.

A:

Yes, German and Spanish. I can understand, mostly in written form, some French, Italian and Portuguese, but I can barely catch it when its spoken... pronounciation too different from text.


Q:

Do you smile in the costume when you're taking photos with other people?

A:

I'm going to make a change.org petition to make you fat again. Will you sign it?


Q:

Hi Grant,

How did you get started in hobby electronics and do you still find time to build personal projects and the like? If not, do you miss it?

A:

Oh man- can you post a photo of Jon Stewart the rat? Mr. Stewart (the human) is a huge animal lover and would probably love to hear he has a HeroRat named after him!


Q:

I have a dream of traveling the world, however I'm disabled (and 16). I don't want to let it stop me but I also can't walk more than half a mile without fainting (even with the assistance of my cane). Any advice for a sick kid who spends her time wasting away in the hospital?

A:

Almost every time.


Q:

my wife would! haha!

A:

When I started in hobby electronics, you had to subscribe to magazines for new project ideas, Radio Shack still had millions of electronics parts, and there was no internet. It was not as easy then as it is now, since there's a huge online maker community.

I have a personal shop where I make things for myself and friends. Recently, I made a Ghostbusters reboot pack scaled down for my friend's 6-year-old daughter.


Q:

We'll report back with a picture as soon as we can!

A:

yes, but probably not in a Reddit AMA. Get in touch with me with more info, and I can see what I can come up with. Write me an email, I'll PM you. :)


Q:

If Goofy and Pluto are both dogs then how come Pluto has to live in a dog house while Goofy plays golf with Mickey?

A:

Was it difficult to control the raptors on the set of JURASSIC WORLD? Did you have any prior training in order to not get hurt by them? It must have been pretty scary. Was it scary? I bet it was.


Q:

Shop tour?

A:

Do the rats get hurt when they find a land mine?


Q:

.what kinds of foods do you carry when you're on the road? .dehydrated, canned, snacks? .do you cook? .if so, how? (type of fuel, stove, pots, etc)

A:

Goofy is better at golf.


Q:

haha! Yes. It's amazing i made it out alive. The sequel shoots in a fewmonths. I already have nervous diahrea, diarreah, diarreeah, how the fuck do you spell that? anyways. Yeah. I"m probably gonna die on the sequel.

A:

I have a Ricoh Theta S 360 camera. I'll post some pictures later on my FB page!


Q:

Not a single rat has ever been harmed during our detection work. They are simply too light to set off landmines and operate under strict safety procedures to keep everyone safe.

You can watch a video of it here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UE94Sxp6mY8

A:

Wow, you managed to ask 4 questions that all have the same answer: No. No dehydrated food, no canned food, dont cook, no stove.

Snacks, yes, a lot. And local foods. Eating in restaurants or street food is great in third world countries, in the first world I stick to supermarkets mostly. I do cook in hostel kitchens, if I have the chance, but I dont carry cooking gear while camping.

Food is mostly selected based on calories... the more the better. Chocolate, chocolate milk, nuts, peanut butter, energy/protein bars, dates, avocados, that sort of thing. Fats, proteins. :)


Q:

What was the pay like? Must not have been too bad!

A:

Hey Chris! I've been a big fan of yours since Parks and Rec! Just a quick question, who did you have more fun acting as: Andy Dwyer or Peter Quill? Thanks for taking the time out to do this!


Q:

DragonCon again next year?

A:

Then it's a win/win for everyone :)


Q:

More on food: I feel like a lot of the culture you experience is through their cuisine, do you feel as if you experience local cuisine to its fullest, or do you strictly budget for calorie dense foods that sustain you while biking?

A:

Well, I had 25 years of seniority but only made about 15 bucks an hour. Because Florida is a right-to-work state the Union is pretty much impotent there. It's not like California, they get paid WAY more.


Q:

More fun? Andy Dwyer. We got to do whole scenes, over and over. It was more stage play. Lots of improv. Guardians of the Galaxy is so fun to watch, don't get me wrong, but making it can be excruciatingly slow and painstaking. When you have so many elements working at once, you might spend all day shooting a piece of the movie that will last 10 seconds.

A:

Possible! Unless I go back to Burning Man.


Q:

We try our best to treat our rats like the heroes we believe they are.

A:

I eat anything new at least once. I love japanese and indian and mexican food; and I agree that it tells a lot about the culture.

On the other hand, after a while you notice similarities. A german Grill, an American BBQ, a south-african Braai and an Argentian Asado... they are just different variations of grilled meat. ;)


Q:

What is your favorite Disney movie?

A:

Hi Chris. Would you be willing to play my wife in a biopic I'm shooting for myself? You would have to wear a wig and have sex with me.


Q:

i'm always amazed by your builds in mythbusters simple or complex. i always enjoy your work. so my question is at what age did you start building robots? what inspired you to build one? are you still creating battle bots?

A:

Aside from the trained rats, how are they viewed around Tanzania and elsewhere? Are they seen as pests the way they're viewed in cities in the West?


Q:

Which place had the best food?

A:

Tough call. I'm really partial to the Little Mermaid because of Ursula but I think all in all it has to be Ratatouille. That movie has some of my all time favorite quotes, especially Anton Ego's (sp?) speech at the end of the film. I also loved Dumbo (as racist as it was) but that's because Timothy Q Mouse is probably my favorite character of all.


A:

Started building when I was very young. LEGO is a tremendous tool. As I got older and more experienced, my access to tools got better, and the robots became more complex. Retired from BattleBots. Currently.


Q:

In general, I think Tanzanians also view the wild rat counterparts of our rats as pests. Interestingly, though, many local Tanzanians I've spoke with are very aware of the work our HeroRATs are doing and think it's amazing that the rats can do work that they themselves can't (have you ever tried to sniff out a landmine? LOL). Many of our rat trainers throughout the world shared this initial response, but once they started working with them, they realized just how delightful they are to be around. Each rat has its own personality and character and I think that makes them especially endearing to the people around them. Fortunately, our HeroRATs can serve as ambassadors for rats everywhere!

A:

It would be unfair to pick just one, so I'll give you three:

  • India

  • Japan

  • Mexico

:)


Q:

Is that dog in the picture a good boy?

A:

Hey Chris, you've inspired me to lose weight because funny guys can be sexy shirtless too.

So my question is: how has getting into shape changed your life? Also is having maintain your physique harder than losing the weight?


Q:

Hi Grant!

Long time MythBusters fan and have caught you speak at a couple cons!

My question is, do you enjoy playing any video games in your down time?

A:

What does an average day look like for you?


Q:

How different are the authentic foods in those places from the restaurants elsewhere?

A:

That's my dog Max (named after Goofy's son). He's a very good boy. :)


Q:

Funny guys can be sexy shirtless. But realness is more important. Exercising for health, overall physical and spiritual well being I highly recommend. Doing it to look good naked is cool, but hardly worth the sacrifice. Work on being funny before sexy. lots of women think funny is sexy anyway.

A:

Not much down time these days. I'm an old school FPS guy, using mouse and keyboard. Just started playing Overwatch. Currently, JunkRat is my favorite character to play. (But I'm trying to learn all the others too.)


Q:

I start the day at the landmine training field at 6:30am. We train the rats there until around 9am so the rats don't have to work in the excessive heat or sun of Sub-Saharan Africa. From there, I stop by our TB lab to check in on operations and oversee training of our young rats that have just joined the team. After lunch, I return to our main office where I monitor progress on our ongoing lines of research. Spattered throughout is answering emails, writing grant proposals to fund our work, and other general manager-type duties. One highlight for me is the time I spend in our breeding colony checking on our new arrivals.

A:

Extremely. I'm almost always disappointed if I try ethnic food in a country that has a "chinese restaurant" or "italian cuisine" when not in China or Italy.

Only exception is when its run by immigrants. In that case, go all in. Especially Indian food is often authentic.


Q:

What, exactly, is goofy?


Q:

Well hey, at least it's not Mei

A:

It's interesting to hear what is possible with these HeroRat's. In particular peoples relationships with these animals seems to be one of the more noticed aspects of these animals. Do you notice any of the rats more or less willing to perform as task for different people?


Q:

Are the adventures worth not making lifelong bonds with specific individuals?

My life has come to a point where I'm no longer happy. And have lost most of my lifelong friends due, I suppose to changes in my own attitude. So is it worth giving up on that to look at stuff I cant experience here?

A:

He's an anthropomorphic dog. Yes, we get that question a lot.


Q:

haha! That was during Everwood which we shot in Utah. I don't remember that shirt. I'm not BYU Alumni. I think that picture was taken at a fan signing event or something. That shirt must have been a gift or something. I honestly don't remember.

A:

Mei takes too long. I like to move around a lot.


Q:

Thanks for your question! Our rats are highly sociable animals who enjoy spending time with their human colleagues but they don’t form close bonds with specific individuals. They tend to love all their human buddies equally.

This is actually a major advantage as it means we can relocate our rats to where they’re needed without having to supply a specific trainer as well.

A:

I don't think those are mutually exclusive. You can have friends, family, girlfriend, even with adventures. But don't think that you'd automatically happy if you leave and run away from your life.

I see that a lot in outdoor/travel... people are unhappy with their life, think that going away would magically fix it. It does not.


Q:

What is the worst thing that you ever saw happen to a guest at Disney?

A:

Good morning from another PNW native (Tigard, OR)!

What was the most challenging aspect of working on Passengers?

Also, what's your favorite thing about the PNW?

Have a good one! -Alyssa


Q:

You should try Lucio then!

A:

Could you (would you) make it possible for rat training to be an at-home activity for regular people with some time to spare?

I'm retiring soon and this seems like a rewarding retirement hobby. Ordinary people train dogs for the blind in heir homes. I'd like to train rats to detect TB.

I took a couple behavior mod classes in college. The rats are readily available. I would need neutered TB samples, videos or written instruction on how to do the rat training -- and a way to find out where the trained rats are needed. Perhaps trained rats would go to a central clearing house so the quality of their training could be confirmed -- and the clearing house would distribute them?


Q:

We're getting the highlights of his bike journey. I'm sure there were days of rain, snow, hail, poor food and frozen extremities where he went "what THE FUCK was I thinking". But you get through those moments and enjoy the spaces in between. I tree plant in BC and thats my experience at life.

If you go into a travel situation thinking everything is easy, it's going to be fun and you'll never have a bad day, man you are wrong. Gotta be realistic and accept those shit days and keep on.

Personally the friends part of your question hits home, when you leave home for extended periods of time, your friends and family puts down roots while you're out chasing rides. I very much enjoy tree planting and traveling on my own because I feel free. And I've always made friends where ever I end up sleeping that night.

A:

Wow, I have so many... I've answered some of this in the comments above but one thing that stands out was an emergency park dump one Forth of July in '95. There was a weird power glitch and all of the attractions went down at the same time and had to be evacuated. When they do the Fire Code estimates of how many people can be in the park at one time it is assumed that people will be in the rides. The Fourth of July is one of the park's busiest days of the year. Everyone dumped into the common areas of the park and it became dangerously crowded. One guest freaked out and pulled out something sharp and started stabbing guests to get out. I had to bring a stabbed guest back to her hotel to get her ID so she could go to the hospital. I'd never been so thankful to get off the desk in City Hall. That was a nightmare.


Q:

hello!

Favorite thing about the PNW is the hard earned summers. Going to the river and floating down with some beers. I love when Mt. Rainier is out. I love the way everything and everyone slows down to feel the sun on their face when it first breaks in summer. Usually you've been through 100 days or more in a row of rain and mistiness.

A:

Lucio is so annoying hard to hit.


Q:

Thanks for your generous offer of support! I see a few challenges with your proposal but that's not to say they couldn't be overcome. We currently breed and train all of our rats at our HQ in Tanzania and it can be difficult to source African Pouched Rats in many countries.

If you have a genuine interest in pursuing this we have an open call for applications for new projects on our website.

https://www.apopo.org/en/contact/stay-in-touch/careers

A:

True.

I guess I could make a post just about the negative sides of travelling, maybe the cynics will like it. :D


Q:

In what ways have the parks changed during the 25 years you've worked there? Have you ever broken character while working as Goofy?

A:

Loved parks and rec, actually know Aubrey Plaza from summer camp(she was good friends with one of my sister's) Do you have a favorite moment of working with Aubrey?


Q:

What sort of things were you able to do on this new show that weren't possible on MythBusters? And/Or, how will White Rabbit Project be different from MythBusters?

A:

How does the rat learn to tell the difference between a mine and, say, a mine-shaped rock?


Q:

I see that you were robbed at gunpoint and bitten by/wrestled an alligator. Could you elaborate at all on these please?

A:

The parks have grown since I started (actually, there were only three when I started) but the real change has been in the management. They lost something when Michael Eisner took over. For example, the park used to close at 6PM on Christmas eve so that the cast could be with their families. They used to close the park and have Christmas parties just for us. We were allowed to ride the rides in our costumes and do things we wouldn't normally do for the day guests. They don't do that anymore. They're open until 2AM and open up early the next day. There's an atmosphere that's just gone now. The new management (I mean after 9/11 specifically) is very concerned about the bottom line (read: money). That's not just me being bitter, that's shown in everything they do. For example, there are very few (and I mean a handful) character managers that were actually characters. That used to be unheard of. As far as breaking character, only a few times when the circumstances warranted it. They were far in between. :)


Q:

I had the best time working with Aubrey. My favorite moments with her were when she would let her guard down, (it didn't happen that often) and I got to see what a sweet and caring person she is. It's not dissimilar to the April character.

A:

We are able to delve deeper into our stories. Also, we get to be "inside" of the re-creations. For example, I walk through a prison and ride in a helicopter as I talk about Pascal Payet, the guy who broke out of prison with a helicopter.


Q:

Good question! Our rats are nocturnal which means they spend most of their time in the dark. As a result, they don't have very good eyesight and rely more heavily on their sense of smell. They use this incredible olfactory abilities to sniff out the landmines, rather than looking for them. This means they really don't have much trouble telling the difference between an explosive device and say a rock. This is especially helpful because most landmines are buried below the earth's surface where they can't be seen.

A:

Can you remind me in a few days? Those are longer stories and there are... a few more questions I have to answer. I dont want to write a short answer now, which leaves out most of the details.


Q:

How did you manage the Goofy chuckles?

A:

How is Jennifer Lawrence?

What's your best memory of working with your mates in your movies and tv shows?

Top 5 movies and shows?

You're a very lovable actor and you've lost alot of weight! I'm trying to shave weight off too because of your change in GotG! Thank you!


Q:

Hi Grant, how is the new show going to be similar to and yet different from Mythbusters?

A:

I was reading above that these giant rats live for around 8 years. Are these rats retired at a certain age? Are there any giant rat adoption policies in place, or do they end up with a handler after their years of service?


Q:

How exactly does one bike across the Sahara?

A:

I loved every single time someone would try to do it. Only once was I impressed (I mean totally).


Q:

Jen is awesome. She's funny and cool. She's refreshingly tough. She's an amazing actor. It feels good to be around her.

Best memory? So hard to say. I've been at this for 17 years. It's a dream job. No question. There have been so many unforgettable moments. I love what I do for a living.

top 5? Also very difficult. Friday NIght lights Breaking Bad The Wire Game of Thrones Dual Survival

A:

White Rabbit Project will have me, Tory and Kari. We'll be building things, talking to interesting people, goofing off, and telling stories that are implausibly weird. Pretty much what you have come to expect from us. But the new show is slicker, prettier, the stories are bigger, and most importantly, everything on our show is based on fact. Unlikely historical events that ACTUALLY happened. Real cutting-edge tech that EXISTS or is about to exist. SCIENCE that is happening now. Interesting pop culture phenomenon.


Q:

We allow our rats to determine their own retirement timeline. They are normally enthusiastic and keen to start work when we arrive in the morning but when that is no longer apparent they are allowed to peacefully retire to a life of delicious food, play time with their rat buddies, regular health checks, and they are free from being woken up in the morning for work!

We don't tend to let others adopt the HeroRATs simply because we want to ensure they are treated like the heroes they are and receive the expert care they need.

A:

There are three paved roads through it. 2 in Sudan, 1 in Mauretania.


Q:

Ever bang someone in the costume?

A:

Since you and Jennifer Lawrence have a pretty similar sense of humour, there must've been some pretty hilarious moments on set of Passengers. What is one of the funniest (or embarrassing) moments when filming the movie?


Q:

Hi Grant!! Years ago,I remember you had trouble in Myspace probing you're real Grant,which I was touched.Now social media grew huge size,Do you have same passion to connect watchers?

A:

Do the trained rats interact with each other? Is it different from two pet rats interacting? Do they both know they're trained?


Q:

I used to be an adventurer like you, but then I took an arrow to the knee. How do you keep your knees safe?

A:

No, and contrary to popular belief there aren't many furries in the character department. I know there are a few (I knew one of them) but it's not something that's out in the open for sure.


Q:

We were sitting in our chairs waiting for the next shot and a big set light bulb exploded nearby and she screamed. high pitched. very feminine.

then she immediately looked over at me and said, "Jesus Chris! You scream like a woman! Did everyone just hear Chris?"

and for the rest of the shoot i couldn't convince anyone it wasn't me. I just had to own it.

: )

A:

Yes, of course! Through Reddit, Twitter and Facebook, I can reach out immediately and directly to fans.


Q:

Yes, our rats get to interact with one another, especially during their free-time in the play pen, but even in their home cages they can see, hear, and smell one another. Not much different from pet rats. You can clearly see which rats seem to have an affinity for one another, which ones just tolerate each other, and which ones would rather not have to "talk" (we try to move these ones apart as soon as we identify this behavior). I'm not sure how you would be able to determine if they somehow knew that they were both trained to perform a task. I don't really notice any hints of this, whatever it might be.

A:

Dragonbone greaves.


Q:

Are the Disney Corporation really as cold-heartedly capitalist as the adult me has been lead to believe?

A:

What Marvel superhero would Jennifer Lawrence absolutely destroy in?


Q:

Hi Grant, will we ever se Geoff Peterson ever again? I miss that lovable guy.

A:

Is APOPO training or working with any other animals?


Q:

Will you take me with you?

A:

Yes and no. Disney has lost their focus and the old Disney Cast Members that held those old company values have all retired but Disney is a great company to work for regardless. I can give you an example of how corporate Disney has taken over what I like to call Traditional Disney. The place where all of the characters used to break was called the Zoo. Everyone knew the characters as The Zoo Crew. If you wanted a character you either called the head room or the Zoo. It was a Disney tradition and everyone got a kick out of it. Then this guy named David (who was the Entertainment Vice President) came in and didn't think that sounded too professional so he changed the name to the Base. Eventually all the Zoo signs came down and were replaced. The Zoo disappeared and it got sterile really quick. We used to have nice big couches to relax on and David had them all thrown out and replaced by metal chairs. A part of the character department died that day. Anyway, they're way too concerned with "numbers" now. We used to just stroll the parks and play with people but in the end we were all held accountable to see as many guests as we possibly could during our sets. They HOUND you to go faster and faster. They figure 23 seconds (a number I pulled out of my butt mind you but I know it's under 30) is plenty of time to see a family of 4. I turned into an autograph machine towards the end but I always stayed true to my character. A lot of performers don't do that anymore. It's sad.


Q:

PUnisher!!!!!

A:

Geoff is safely in storage. All he needs is a battery charge and he'll be ready to go!


Q:

Not at this time, though part of our most recent project involves training our rats to detect illegally poached and smuggled animals. Quite frankly, we just haven't found anything that our rats can't do!

A:

yes


Q:

Hello grant. First congratulations on getting engaged. Second why is the netflix show called white rabbit? Also I will watch it soon. I'm in at work at the moment but is it available for us in Canada yet?

A:

Where is your camp located in Tanzania? Is it possible to visit it for a day or something, to learn about the project? I am currently volunteering in Tanzania and it sounds very interesting, thats why I ask :)


Q:

How do you get the money to do these things and also to make sure you have a home to come back to after? The flights, insurance, clothing...everything costs money?

A:
  1. Thanks! I was nervous, but we had a blast.
  2. White Rabbit is a literary reference to Alice In Wonderland. You follow him down the rabbit hole to the unknown. That's pretty much what we do on the show.
  3. WRP should be available to watch globally right now! Enjoy!!

Q:

Our HQ is on the campus of the Sokoine University of Agriculture in Morogoro. It's a beautiful part of the country.

We should be able to accommodate a visit but we recommend you email us first to ensure someone is there to show you around.

A:

Flights are few and far in between, usually 1-2 a year. Lately a bit more, due to island states I visited.

Someone already asked about the money, so here:

Bit of everything really. I sold my MtG card collection when I was 18. That was 10k €. I saved the money from the military service, then I did that 1 year round the world trip with it. Later I realized how much cheaper you can travel. For example if you bike and camp, you dont pay for transport or accommodation. I cycled half a year through the US and Canada, and I spend $0 on accommodation and $6 for transport; a bus through a tunnel that did not allow cycling. Once I mad a website, I started to get sponsors. Free equipment, bikes, but no money so far. It does keep the spendings low, and after a tour I could sell it, if I like. Only done that once, a friend of mine bought one of my old bikes. There was also an inheritance, but that was recently and I have not touched that money yet. It's on a bank, a rainy day fund, so to speak. I want to pay for my crazy tours on my own accord. Besides that I do odd jobs (especially at the start, like working in hostels or on a cattle ranch in Australia); I program and write; and I have a Patreon for my Dwarf Fortress mod. The most interesting bit is of course the fact that you can travel for almost nothing. $200-$300 a month are fine in almost any country worldwide, if you camp/couchsurf and hike/hitchhike/cycle. :)


Q:

I don't have netflix...can I borrow your username and password to watch this show?

A:

This is really cool work, but, because I can't resist a pun, and despite the fact that you are probablydefinitely way smarter than me, when was the last time someone told you to think fast?


Q:

How did/do you plan your itinerary through places?

A:

No. But you can join FREE for a month!


Q:

I actually love these Fast puns (which are probably as frequent as you can imagine) because Fast is my married name! Far more fun and exciting than Cardwell (my maiden name), though I doubt I would feel that way if I grew up with the puns.

A:

It mostly comes down to the seaons/weather and visa timings. I just look at a map, select all the places I want to see and try to combine as many of them with as short a route as I can.

Then it depends on the visa length (China for example gave me 2x 30 days, which is a joke, considering how large the country is) and the weather. The first 5 years I followed the summer, always switching between northern and southern hemisphere. That way I had no winter for 5 years and didnt need to change my camping gear/clothing much.


Q:

What format do you play most, and what's your favorite deck?

A:

Hello Dr. Fast, I haven't had a chance to read all the post so maybe you've already answered this but, how many rats are in your program? 8-)


Q:

Op is master of the travelling salesman problem

A:

Red Goblin deck. Overrun them. Or Red/Green or White/Black. Never Blue.


Q:

We have around 250 giant rats in various stages of breeding, training, operations, retirement, and research.

A:

Is that still unsolved?


Q:

Hi Grant!

My question is, how often did things go wrong on Mythbusters? What was the biggest build failure and how was it fixed?

A:

What do the rats get as a reward for finding a land mine?

What do you feed them?

Do you breed them?


Q:

Have your bikes had any mechanical break downs that were difficult to fix in precarious situations?

For instance, breaking a crank arm on Lake Baikal, and then having to repair in the field?

Also if you have broken pieces of your bike in distance parts of the world, how is it finding repairs in those distant places of the world?

A:

With MythBusters, we tried to fail often and early. Everything starts with a mockup or a small scale experiment. In ten years, we had very few mishaps happen, which is a very good ratio indeed.


Q:

Our rats get banana, peanuts or a peanut-paste for reward when they have correctly identified a known landmine or TB+ sample. Aside from these rewards, they are fed a variety of fresh, locally available fruits and veggies including avacados, watermelon, corn, tomatoes, etc., and even small dried fish the size of sardines.

All of our rats are bred at our main headquarters in Tanzania.

A:

I've had countless of small and large problems with my bikes, but not insurmountable. I had to replace the front hub once in Kenya, no fitting spare parts to come by, so I just build an entire new wheel made of cheap Chinese/Indian steel parts. :D

Finding repairs is easy, but finding the same quality is near impossible. I usually replace it with whatever is available.

In Guinea-Bissau I once ran out of patches for my tubes... the locals showed me a trick, they glued a piece of old tube on it, using tree sap! Not making this up.


Q:

Hey Grant do Jamie and Adam really not get along?

A:

How do you train and reward the rats to do this kind of work?


Q:

Have you ever tried to go back to normal ( non adventuring life)? If so how did you adjust to it?

I just got back from a big trip myself and I'm finding it difficult

A:

That's a common misconception. They don't "hang out" outside of work. But they respect each others' opinions and ideas and work together quite well.


Q:

I hope you don't mind a bit of cut and paste from a similar question above. If you have any follow ups I'd be happy to answer them.

We follow standard learning & behavior procedures to train our rats, much like you might experience when training a dog. We start with clicker training where the rat learns that a click sound leads to a food reward by repeatedly pairing these two events. After that, we then shape the rats behavior by rewarding successive approximations towards the target by making the click when the rat does something close to what we really want. Finally, the rat learns that it will only be rewarded for performing that specific behavior (gently scratching for landmines or hovering over a sample for TB) in the presence of the specific odor we want them to detect (explosives or TB).

A:

Yes, but never for long. A few months here and there. Its scary how easy you get back into it, at least for me. Gaming, watching Netflix, a daily routine... scary.

Once I notice that I take the western luxuries for granted, that I'm nice and rested in my comfort zone, I do my best to get away from it, out into the open world. ;)


Q:

What if one of them got really drunk and was thrown in jail. Would they ever call the other as their "one phone call"?

A:

I'm going to be honest here and say these rats terrify me. How do they get so big?


Q:

What has been the best meal you've had from any place you've been?

A:

No. However (and this goes for all of us) if we were ever abducted Taken-style, it would probably be Jamie. "I... uh... have a particular set of skills."


Q:

So sorry to hear this, I'm reasonably sure that if you met one in-person your fears would diminish! Our rats are an entirely different species (cricetomys ansorgei) than the common rat (rattus). This makes it sort of like asking how did the kangaroo get so big compared to the opossum. Our rats are still rather small in perspective to other mammals, for example, they're smaller than most cats.

A:

Probably any meal I've eaten when I've been really starving. ;)

Otherwise I'd go with takoyaki in Japan. I love those.


Q:

What if one of them got really drunk and was thrown in jail. Would they ever call the other as their "one phone call"?

A:

Have you had any particular favorite rats that stand out in your memory? Or rat-and-handler teams?


Q:

How many countries have you been to? Also, one that you are dying to go back to and one that you never want to see again.

A:

EDIT: He packed ONLY a chainsaw and a generator.


Q:

I've only been with the team for a little under 2 months now, so not much time to develop favorites. As I previously mentioned, Nala was the very first rat I met when I arrived so she's special to me.

A:

141 of 193 (according to the United Nations)

Japan I really want to see again.

Lebanon, not really. Worst experience I had there; getting robbed at gun-point.


Q:

Hi Grant, what is your favorite science fiction movie? Alternatively, do you have a favorite star trek episode? Can't wait to see you on White Rabbit!

A:

What are the three tools you brought with you that you were most thankful for? (like trapped on a desert island what would you bring?)


Q:

Hard to say. My top three are: Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan, Empire Strikes Back, and The Matrix. Fave Star Trek episode: Inner Light (TNG) with a close second Darmok.

A:

Thats two very different questions. :D

Tools I have with me, that I'm most thankful for:

  • Kindle

  • Chess board

  • GPS

Things I'd bring to a desert island:

  • Satellite phone

  • SPOT GPS tracker

  • water filter


Q:

Temba! His arms open wide.

A:

1) how do you keep your electronics charged? I did the Pacific Coast in 2010 and that was a big problem for me, and I didn't even have a smartphone yet!

2) you went to Japan, did you tour it by bicycle? I've looked into this and I'm told you simply can't ride a bike on many connecting roads, meaning you'd have to take a train between many locations.


Q:

NICE

A:

Dynamo on the bike charges most everything. Otherwise you could try a solar charger.

I did tour through Japan by bike. You are allowed to ride bikes there on roads, only highways are closed. Never heard about someone forced to take a train; although I once had to take quite a detour, including a hike up some stairs.


Q:

Hi Grant, what was the worst injury you ever had on Mythbusters?

A:

Have you ever been to Sri Lanka?


Q:

Thankfully nothing super bad. Which is pretty good considering we routinely worked with all sorts of explosive, large machinery, prototype robots, firearms, and flames. I think I sprained my ankle dropping down through a roof in my underwear on the safety mat that was supposed to protect me. (The underwear was because of trying to fool a thermal security sensor.)

A:

Yes, this year. Love the place, its like a tiny, much friendly, cleaner India. (sorry Indians)


Q:

Will you take part in this new Mythbusters project of finding new mythbusters?

A:

Did you see any places affected by the war?


Q:

No, that is a new thing, and I likely won't be participating.

A:

Hard to say, because I dont know how it was before.


Q:

Grant! My favorite mythbuster! I can tell a lot from a person from one question. What's your all time favorite movie? The one you can basically quote every line from.

A:

How did you decide where to go first and do you always travel alone?how long do you spend in each place you visit? Last question, how many places did you visit in the 1 year backpacking trip around the world?


Q:

I can quote three: Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Speed. (*Speed is because when I used to work at THX, we did laserdisc quality assurance, so I watched it like 25 times.)

A:

First trip I just got a world map and made dots on it. I want to see this, and that, and this place, and that thing. Then I tried connecting them with as short a line as possible. BAM! done.

I dont always travel alone, about 50/50.

Random... on average 2-3 weeks per country, but it differs much between places. USA, 4 months. Barely seen anything. Liechtenstein, 1 day. ;)

On the 1-year backpacking trip, I took trains through Europe till I hit the Middle East (Istanbul), went further by bus through Turkey, Syria, Jordan and Israel till Egypt. Then spend 3 months in South East Asia, 3 in Australia, 1 month in New Zealand, 1 month in the US and 1 month in Central America.


Q:

Hey Grant! If season 1 of White Rabbit project does well, can we expect to see a white rabbit project season 2?

A:

Do you have a family?

Do you have a stable place to live?


Q:

We can only hope! This sort of thing needs to gain momentum to signal to Netflix that people want to see more. So tell your friends!

A:

I have a mother, father and brother. I'm not married, if you mean that.

I live in Germany when I'm not on tour. So yes. :)


Q:

Hey Grant,

It looks like Kari and Tori will be doing AMAs later. What are you doing to ensure that your AMA has at least 40% more explosive power than Kari or Tori's AMA?

A:

What branch of the military were you in?

And also, have you ever been to Charleston, South Carolina?


Q:

ALREADY DONE.

A:

The nicely-named Special Security Squadron of the airforce; teamed up with the 702 Munitions Support Squadron of the US military.

Nope, no Charleston for me.


Q:

Hello Grant,

With all the media hyping it up, how frightened of the Y2K bug were you? Were you "Cool as a cucumber, or Hot like a Jalapeno"

A:

In your travels how many other professional adventures / DF mod programmers / Magic card collectors have you met? It seems like a pretty typical combo.


Q:

I bought a case of Ensure (you know, for nutrients) and took a bunch of cash out of an ATM. So uhhhh....

A:

One. Three times though. I first talked to him on the DF forums, then we were in Southamerica in Peru at the same time.

Later I bumped into him in Tunesia, he was staying in the same hostel.

Later the same year, I invited him to stay in my place in Germany; couchsurfing.


Q:

Have you ever had any safety concerns with any countries you were visiting?

A:

Just to be clear: Did I have concerns, or did anything unsafe actually happen?

I do a lot of research for each place before I go, so usually I'm very aware of both the risk and dangers and on how to avoid them.


Q:

Did anything unsafe happen? Sorry that was unclear.

A:

Well, I got bit by a crocodile, I got dengue fever, I got robbed at gun-point once... guess those count, right? ;)


Q:

I'm not a fan of the cold. If I also traveled the world and skipped the cold areas would I be missing much or could I just see more of the warm areas?

Sorry for the run on sentence.

A:

I think you are missing out. First of all because the places are different, but also because the experience is a different one. Sadly, cold usually also means less sunlight, more problems with your gear, higher prices for the equipment...

But if you avoided high mountain areas because of the temperatures, you were really missing out: http://i.imgur.com/DIfweOJ.jpg


Q:

Did you visit that super morbid forest in Japan?

A:

No. I knew about it, but its most likely just another forest. ;)


Q:

How does bamboo compare to carbon, chromoly or titanium frames?

Why not 2x11 seeing as how you already have the 105 shifters?

What groupsets have you used on your other tours?

A:

Bamboo is heavier, though more comfortable/flexible. Frame is thicker, probably more crash-resistant than carbon/aluminum, but not as much as titanium/steel.

Because I've never used the setup I'm using now. I've already toured with 3x10 and 2x10, 1x11 is new to me. I like trying new things.

I used 3x7, 3x8, 3x9, 3x10, 2x20, 3x2 (Brompton)... and I think thats it. Alivio, Shimano SLX, XT, XTR, Ultregra...


Q:

How did your subzero gear fit on your bike during the russia winter trip? Seems like it would be a lot of bulk.

What is the best way you've found to quickly study a foreign language?

A:

Here is the equipment for the Siberia tour: http://imgur.com/a/KLwb7

Best to move to the country where the language is spoken.


Q:

Is finding quality healthcare services often challenging, particularly in emergency situations (e.g., croc bite, dengue fever) or when in developing countries?

A:

Croc bite I treated myself. No medication exists against dengue fever, you just sit it out in a hotel room and wait.

I found medical care to be quite reasonable while on tour, but I never needed much of it to be honest. I did a Malaria test once in Malawi. Took less than 10 minutes and cost $3, so that was a good experience. It came back negative, too. :)


Q:

I'm going to lake baikal tomorrow. Any recommendations?

A:

Yes, ask the local authorities how thick the ice is and if its save to cross it. Any inlet from a river will be dangerous, because the water is moving and less ice forms.

Stay save and have fun :)


Q:

Cycling through the Sahara looks absolutely amazing. I'm sure you came upon valleys and mountains that have been seen by very few people, and are astoundingly beautiful. I admire your sense for adventure and wish I could do the same. Hopefully some day I will be able to do so.

You mentioned going on a ride through Africa. Where exactly do you plan to go, East or West Africa? What's the plan for travel, locations you specifically want to go to? I just think about how dangerous it must be to camp in a place like the Serengeti with wild, carnivorous animals and wonder how you would address safety? Have you ever felt like you were camping somewhere that presented wildlife danger, and what are some stories about that?

If there were a mountain you HAVENT climbed that is high on your bucket list, what would it be and why?

Any particularly good stories about women you've met along the way? Where did you think the women were most beautiful?

Good luck with your adventures. I will be following your web site, this is great stuff.

A:

Westafrica. Ghana to Ghana, a round trip, 6000-8000km, through Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali and the Ivory Coast. :)

Carnivorous animals are no trouble at all. They barely exist in Africa, because man killed most of them; except the few kept in National Parks. And those dont allow cycling/camping.

Trouble is Malaria. Traffic. Buses and trucks.

I have been surrounded by hippos once while camping: http://global-goose.com/bad-idea-camp-near-african-waterhole/ and other smaller encounters. Like the croc mentioned in the title, but that was my fault. ;)

Mountains on my bucket list: seven summits. I've only done one of them, but next year want to do a second one. So yeah, in the end I want to climb Mt. Everest too. :)

Haha, most beautiful women... how could I even start comparing? :D


Q:

Any regrets?

A:

Tons.

I need a time machine and live forever to see everything. Cant do that, most likely.


Q:

When traveling you say to camp for free. Where do you do this, as where I am from that is illegal and can land you a hefty fine or in jail or facing an unhappy land owner with a shotgun. How do you find spots to camp for free world wide?

A:

In most countries, no one cares. In some, its legal, some its illegal, but even in the illegal ones, the police doesnt do anything. If I'm spotted, which is rare, people usually talk to me, invite me.

Only once the police was called, because a dog wouldnt stop barking. That was in Argentina. What did they do? They drove me with their pick-up to their police station, told me that I can camp on their lawn.

Never met an unhappy land owner with a shotgun. If possible, I ask the owner first; or I camp on public land. I dont camp on other peoples private properties.


Q:

Are you saying you haven't been to Canada yet? You should come! We have a trail all the way across Canada, plus you can travel all the way across by canoe if you'd rather do that.

A:

I've been to Canada. Great lakes area, Toronto, Montreal... and the center, Alberta towards the rockies.


Q:

OP how do carry water on your trips? I really want to bike to BC next year from Ontario, but every small test trip I do is limited by water. Do you have a small bike trailer? Water purifying pills?

A:

I have around 3L of water on the bike; which is more than enough when you dont cook. Max was 15L, when I crossed the Sahara. No trailer, just more bottles. I have free space in the bags and usually about 20L of empty space in my backpack.

I did try different water filter systems (UV, pump, pills, drops), but I found them to be overkill. I carry a small water filter though, for emergencies: https://www.careplusshop.eu/de/wasseraufbereitungmini-wasserfilter-outdoor/?utm_campaign=shopping&utm_medium=cpc&utm_term=&utm_source=AdWords&utm_content=&gclid=CNjjzreP6tACFRW3GwodyvcGCg

but if you plan ahead, there is no need for it.


Q:

Did you try marijuana anywhere ?

A:

No.


Q:

What about chaffing ?? How do you deal with that?

A:

Mostly by ignoring it. If it hurts, it hurts. I do change underwear often, and make sure they have different cuts with the seams in different areas.


Q:

What were your favorite experiences with animals and people?

A:

The hospitality by people, especially in poorer and/or more remote regions. It is such a vast gap between the indifference of the western world and the behaviour of most people in developing countries. Thats the one thing I'm glad of the most, experiencing human kindness.

Animals... street dogs that adopt you, while you hike. So often I spend days, long, hard days hiking in tough terrain, just to have some dog come along. I always wish I could take them with me.

I also fed hyenas, played with tiger cups, walked with cheetahs, but all that more exotic stuff feels a bit forced. Its for tourists, in Cat sanctuaries and such.


Q:

How was Venezuela?

A:

Strange place. There was a black market for the money changing, so I couldnt use credit card or banks, except if I wanted to pay twice as much.

The favelas are worse than in Brazil (at least it seemed to me that way), and the government is weird. But the people were friendly, I was there close to christmas and ended up in several peoples homes, because they kept inviting me in. :)

Oh, and gas prices are a joke, something like 2-3 cents for a liter... its just that my bike runs on calories. ;)


Q:

Would you recommend going given the current situation?

A:

No.


Q:

I'm currently an American living near lyon, France for a year! Have any good stories from France? Also how do you have time to update your dwarf fortress mod everyweek?

A:

I can update it because I'm in the first world atm. Starting January, I'll have to put that on hold, Westafrica does not allow such luxuries.

France... yes! I've been there this year, climbed Mont Blanc. That was a blast, Chamonix is amazing! Go there, if you have any love for hiking, mountains, etc.


Q:

Do you maintain a home/apartment? What do you do when you end a trip? Where do you go?

A:

I currently sub-rent a room in a shared apartment.

Most of my stuff is in my mothers basement though. ;)