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OtherI am a processor for Plastic Injection Molding AMA!

Jul 26th 2017 by AcesOverPacific • 15 Questions • 63 Points

UPDATE: I'll be going through this on an ongoing basis to make sure I answer as many questions as I can -- Feel free to post, and I'll get a response to you as soon as I can

UPDATE: Alright everyone, I need to get to bed, so I'm signing off for the night-- I'll be back on tomorrow to continue answering questions

Here is my proof: http://www.speaktogether.org/blog/my-reddit-username-is-mfworks

Here's the main page: https://www.congresswebhistory.com

Here's a little bit about the project: https://igg.me/at/browserhistory/x/16494183

And here is our other project for fighting the ISP law-- we've built a tool to opt your data out of collection by ISPs, and are building a legal fund to bankroll civil cases when those ISPs abuse your data:

https://indiegogo.com/projects/opt-out-your-browsing-data-so-isps-cannot-sell-it

Louise Matsakis also covers it really well here:

https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/7xp4gy/how-to-track-what-congress-is-doing-on-the-internet

twitter: @mfeldspeak facebook: https://www.facebook.com/speaktogethernow

Some background about me: I'm a 24 year old software developer in Research Triangle Park, NC. I founded Speak Together a year ago to build software to change the models citizens can use to reach out to their govt.

last year I got involved in the fight to repeal NC HB2 (the notorious anti-transgender bathroom law that was passed here in North Carolina) and quickly became jaded by how difficult and inefficient it was to learn about the activities of the state legislature and communicate at all with my representatives.

I found a few friends who had felt the same way as me, and we've been building software to try to make that process easier. One of them, violetnekos, is also on the ama.

Ask Me Anything!

Q:

Hello! I do quality control in a plastics extrusion plant in Kansas. Do you think we use the same kind of materials?

A:

What was it like to go from college humor to working on tv? Was the environment different did it feel strange?


Q:

Hi Tom! I think it's really cool that you are walking all around the world. What's the coolest piece of nature you've seen, and what's the coolest human-made structure you've seen so far? Do you have any plans related to this walk once you are done with it? Thanks!

A:

What are the most interesting insights you've uncovered by tracking our government official's browsing activities?


Q:

Some of the materials are the same. Some plastic grades are designed specifically for extrusion, some specifically for injection, and some can be used for both. As a general rule of thumb, extrusion grades can always be used in injection molding, but molding grades typically cannot be used in extrusion. We do some extrusion molding here too, but I'm not really involved in it myself.

A:

The main difference is that it is BIGGER and FASTER and MORE PRESSURE and oh yeah I guess it's just different in every way? But I am still working with all my friends from CH to make the show, which is really wonderful and a true gift.


Q:

Hey Debater3301!

The Paramo in Colombia between La Plata Huila and Popayan was gob-smacking. I felt like I was walking through the spirit realm for three days.

Then a few weeks later I came to Las Lajas Sanctuary which is like something out of LOTR. A river-spanning church which they light up at night. Just insane.

No plans just yet. Hopes sure, but trying to see this walk through first!

A:

Right now we are focused on testing the technical aspects of our tool and data management pipeline. We are trying to hit the sweet spot of a few different targets before we release it to the public: 1. The tracking code installation needs to be as simple as possible. We want to keep it to a piece of javascript code you can drop in to your frontend, with no server-side dev.

  1. It needs to be robust enough that it can't easily be disabled. This actually conflicts with our client-side only goals, because the more we allow for server-side implementation, the more it can circumvent methods to disable it.

  2. It needs to leave as minimal a privacy footprint as possible. We want to avoid sucking in any non-government data, and that means putting a lot of code in the tool that makes it bulkier and more vulnerable to disabling.


Q:

There's a business right next to where I work that's had a Now Hiring sign up for a plastic injection molder for like two years now. Will you just call them already?

In all seriousness, how does one get into that particular trade?

A:

How much say do you have in the topics that get covered in the show?

Also have you considered doing an episode on ruining cable companies? A lot of people are moving away from them lately, including me, but sadly that means I can't watch your show as often as I'd like.


Q:

How did Savannah fare in the desert? What was the greatest overall difficulty of the desert for you?

A:

Man these are fascinating problems to account for in designing your solution. Thanks much for your time in answering my questions.

The last big hurdle I can imagine you needing to overcome, which I think you've touched on a little, is how to deal with pairing down everyone's data into just the population your seeking to collect on. I imagine first you'll need to gather all data for everyone, which sounds scary if exploitable


Q:

I got into it by chance and fell in love. I applied at a temp agency for a different job that they never hired me for. A month later the agency called me and offered me an entry level position as a machine operator at a molding plant and the rest is history. I've always been into science and technology though, so that helps.

A:

I'm the creative head of the show, so I have final say on what topics go in the show.

We did talk about cable companies quite a bit in Adam Ruins the Internet! But that was mostly about net neutrality and cable consolidation.


Q:

Savannah did well in the desert. In north Peru it actually wasn't too hot, then in Lima I had her hair trimmed so she wasn't holding in too much heat.

The greatest difficulty of the desert was probably the solitude. There were times where I felt like I was going insane. My mind was as blank as the landscape. It seemed I thought every thought.

But at other times the solitude was magical. Like throwing my tarp under the stars at night and everything being perfectly quiet. Those were nice nights.

A:

Yeah we are basically parsing the data through a series of filters(which I won't go into too much detail on in specifics) but they basically go like this:

  1. Only federal ips(will link to them in a sec)

  2. Some low-tech solutions that we found to easily filter out non-gov data

  3. Some slightly-higher-tech solutions that identify data that definitely belongs to Congress/FCC/White House Administration

  4. Some classifiers that will be able to further segment the data the more we receive.


Q:

What are the biggest changes going on in your industry today? Biggest challenges?

A:

Adam, have you and your writers ever received information that contradicts what is on your show (obviously I mean verifiable evidence or data, not just rumors and theories)? And if so, will you guys do any update episodes where you correct any mistakes from previous episodes? I have nothing specific in mind, but I can't imagine your show does get its fair share of hate mail, and some of that might have some evidence.


Q:

Hey Tom been following for almost two years now, since you got savannah, really enjoyed your story so far. Will you come to the city of Nuremberg, bavaria, when in Germany? If so hit me up 😊 save travels!

A:

Have you encountered any suspicious activity in their browsing history?


Q:

Like many industries, automation is for sure the biggest changes in the industry. Inspection, part separation, packaging, everything is becoming automated. The biggest challenge with injection molding is consistency. There are so many variables to control for that shot-to-shot, and especially run-to-run variation can be difficult to control. The devil is in the details.

A:

Yep! We are doing an episode EXACTLY like this later this year! We have never claimed that the show is 100% right all the time -- we're fallible humans, so that's impossible. Instead, we try to be transparent about our process; and as part of that, this year we're doing a "corrections" episode where we fix some of our errors. Watch out for it, I think you'll like it!


Q:

I don't think I'm going to make it to Germany unfortunately. I will absolutely get there one day though!

And thanks for following so long! Glad you're enjoying it!

A:

I'm not really in a position to talk about the data we've collected so far, we're actually treading carefully around what/how we release the data we collect (1/?)


Q:

How superbly useful! Thank you :)

Is there a recommended material for the injection moulds (in general, for particular polymeres, etc. etc.) or is "the cheapest steel we could get our hands on" considered good enough in most cases?

A:

How are you going to ruin this AMA?


Q:

Greetings Tom!

Would you be so kind as to elaborate about the time a man woke you up with a machete in Honduras?

A:

Have you encountered any suspicious activity in their browsing history?


Q:

So I specialize in creating a process on the molding machine for the mold. The tooling department handles the actual manufacture of the mold itself. That being said, they use specific varieties of steel for the vast majority of molds (I believe H13 steel is the most common). For high-wear abrasive materials they will use stronger steel. R&D molds are normally made from aluminum, and if the part is especially low volume, we sometimes use that for production purposes as well.

A:

Probably by trying to answer too many questions too fast and as a result making poor word choices that obscure my intended meaning. Seems like the most likely culprit in this sort of format!


Q:

Yeah haha

So I was only in Honduras for five days. Every night but the last I slept in a hotel room. The last night there was nothing around, but I found this two story watchtower-type structure and decided that would be a good place to hide.

I hid my cart then climbed to the second story. All was well and the view of the valley below was incredible. As I started dozing off lights of a truck turned onto the watchtower. Then there were voices and someone coming up the ladder.

I stood. A second later there was a silhouette across from me of a man with a machete. A moment of quiet felt like a very long time, then the silhouette laughed and yelled down to his friend, "It's just a gringo!"

He stepped forward and I saw it was an older man. After rattling off the fastest Spanish I've ever spoken, he said I was fine, but that someone had stolen some cows the night before so he was on high alert. He unfurled this hidden bed and said he was going to stay the night.

I offered him oreos and went to bed figuring have a guy with a machete on my side meant I was safe for the night.

A:
  1. The more data we release earlier, obviously, the more Congress will be able to react to those releases and mitigate their exposure. Similar to how investigate journalists frequently operate-- if they find a potentially interesting story, they don't publish immediately. They'll keep pulling threads while staying low key to try to get as complete a picture as possible.

If we find an interesting trend in the data, and then release it immediately, we could be tipping our hand to Congress, early, and they can react and change their browsing patterns accordingly. So we're erring on the side of keeping our info quiet for the time being to try to gather as much unfiltered behavior as possible.


Q:

Looks like he's done but I can answer some, I'm an engineer at an injection molding plant, mostly automotive and municipal applications.

There's tons of different types: PC, PP, PBT, Acrylic, PEEK, PPO, etc etc. It all depends on the application. For example, we will use a clear polycarbonate for automotive lenses, and a black PBT for a basic bracket. Then there's different types of additives you can add, such as glass fibers or talc to further modify the properties.

Yes we recycle resin (known as regrind), but that's dependent on application and customer specs. Some customers may require 0% regrind, others may allow up to 25% (with the remainder being virgin/new material). Regrind is typically only used on parts that have no appearance requirements (e.g. bracket tucked deep inside your HVAC system somewhere), because they'll make the part look like shit. Regrind also decreases/compromises the performance of the resin, as you're using material that already has a heat cycle and contaminants. This is why regrind isn't (typically) used on parts that take structural loading, because it'll increase chance of failure.

We generally purchase our material from distributors or directly from the manufacturer themselves.

A:

Big fan. When will your show be available in other countries? I like supporting artists who make awesome content, but trutv is not in Canada, and I have not been able to find your show in iTunes etc.

So... please put your show in a place I can give you money for it


Q:

For Europe, do you intend to go through every country/how long do you expect this leg to take?

Been following along on Instagram!

A:

Have you encountered any suspicious activity in their browsing history?


Q:

What he said.

At our plant we mostly use ABS and Acetal (POM), but we use a wide variety, in fact, at the end of this reply I will provide a list of every type of plastic we use. These are only the "types" within each type we may have one or several grades of material and additives. So to give you an idea, we work with more materials than I can keep track of. If I'm going to create a new molding process from scratch I always print out the Material Data sheet for reference on the manufacturer's recommendations for material. We do use regrind material from scrap when possible, the rest we send to an outside company to be reprocessed. Reprocessed material can be purchased at a less expensive rate, in the past we have had non-critical products that used 100% reprocessed ABS mixed with regrind ABS. Most thermoplastics can be remelted and reformed several times before the quality diminishes enough to be excessively problematic. However, the real issue is that when you add regrind to virgin material it changes the viscosity of your plastic melt, which in turn changes your process. If the amount of regrind varies (as it inevitably will based on availability) your process varies, which is bad. We get our polymers from a wide range of sources, many plastics are patented by specific companies, so you must go through them to obtain the plastic you need. I only process, however, I was a material handler for about a year. The material handler is responsible for mixing additives to the material at the appropriate ratio, as well as drying the material to remove moisture prior to processing. We did not actually make the polymers themselves, all the plastic is purchased in a form ready for processing (other than combining colorants, slip agents, UV protection, etc).

Types of Materials we use:

Generic Symbol ABS ASA EBS ETPU EVA FPVC HDPE HIPS LDPE LLDPE MABS MBS OBC OBPA PA PA6 PA612 PA66 PBT PC PE PEI PMP POM POP PP PPC PPE PPS PS PTFE PVAL PVC PVDF RPVC SAN SMMA TP TPC-ET TPE TPO TPU TPV ULDPE

A:

In Canada I believe you can watch the show on Much!


Q:

I actually still not 100% certain on my route through Europe yet. Right now it looks like the UK, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Italy, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Spain, Italy, Slovenia and Croatia. I think that should be a little under a year. Unless I find a quiet beach town to stay at for a few months...

A:

"3." The issue with having raw data, and with releasing raw data, is that one we hit a critical mass, it gets frighteningly easy to "de-anonymize" the data. That is-- use it in conjunction with public domain info to start to build browsing profile, and attach those profiles to public figures.

Jessica Su, a computer scientist at Stanford actually did this with some sample data, and showed how easy it is to do-- http://randomwalker.info/publications/browsing-history-deanonymization.pdf

We don't want to release this data and then have the internet collectively weaponize this data against our representatives. So we need to be really careful with how we use it.


Q:

What size presses do you work with? We have between 20T and 610T, with the majority of our work going to the 140T and 200T presses.

A:

What hair products do you use and how does your hair stand so perfectly?


Q:

Just a heads up, look like the Algeria-Morocco border is closed: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Algeria%E2%80%93Morocco_relations

A:

What kind of porn are they watching?


Q:

We have several plants, but the one where I work the presses range from 25T to 400T. I would say the majority of our molds run in the 45T to 70T range. Mostly Nissei's and Arburg's with a smattering of homemade machines that are being phased out, a few Milacron's, Van Dorn's, and Sumitomo's. Nowaday's we only buy Nissei's though, everything else will eventually be phased out. At my location we have 110 machines total.

A:

At home, I use Imperial Gel Pomade (not sponsored, I swear!) and a blow dryer. But to get the height it is on the show takes an experienced hair stylist 25 minutes of work! You can't get that look at home, it takes an expert's touch. All part of the HOLLYWOOD ILLUSION!


Q:

Thanks for the heads up! I had a friend tell me the same a few months back. The plan is ferry to Spain then ferry to the other country.

A:

While the types of porn our representatives are watching is definitely entertaining, the real value from getting our plugin on porn sites(and we have it currently tracking on a few) is seeing if Congress or the White House is accessing porn while on the job at all.

Also, our goal isn't to "out" anyone for their sexual preferences-- however it would be interesting to see if their are distinct trends between Congress vs. The White House vs. FCC vs. the public at large, the last comparison of which is something really only the sites that are currently using our plugin can answer.


Q:

Sounds fun, how well does it pay?

A:

What was it like working with Jake and Amir?

Secondly, would you ever consider doing a behind-the-scenes episode about the show titled "Adam Ruins Adam Ruins Everything?"


Q:

Do you walk in silence or listen to music/podcasts/books on tape/etc?

A:

Isn't this mostly just tracking what underpaid interns are doing while they're supposed to be running to Starbucks?


Q:

There is a wide range from the basic starting mold setup technician all the way up to senior process engineer. The range in California is probably from $30,000/yr all the way up to $100,000/yr. These are just very rough estimates based on my experience, I'm not a payroll analyst.

A:

We have an episode JUST like this coming out this year! But it's called "Emily Ruins Adam Ruins Everything." Twist!!

Jake and Amir are great guys, but we haven't worked together all that much! I joined CH right after they stopped working full time in the office. Jake was in our Bathroom episode, though, and he was great!


Q:

I walk in silence a lot. I like walking in silence for about an hour in the morning. By then I've usually woken up even for music or a podcast. Then I'll probably listen to something for a few hours and stop when the sound gets annoying.

A:

Also, just because interns exist doesn't mean reps are immune from tracking. The irony here is that the ISP privacy law was based on the legal argument that ISPs are not utilities, and so are exempt from regulations that apply to utility companies.

If that's so, then congress should be able to work around having to use the internet (and being tracked on it) in the same way they expect us to, and not have it impact their job.

If they can't, then it's a pretty clear indication that ISPs are providing a public utility, and should have to safeguard our data in the same way utilities do.


Q:

I've made a few molds. I don't really know much about them though. It's not my expertise... I've just done a bit of everything machining wise and was just generally curious about the scope of work you do. The second question is because I thought China was destroying the mold making industry in america.

A:

Have you ever had any backlash from an episode?


Q:

Tom! I'm an avid follower on Facebook, and you've inspired me to do some long-distance walking myself - I want to walk across each of the 50 states before I turn 50 years old (my latest being Connecticut).

Have there been times during The World Walk where you've felt stuck uncertain, or in trouble? How did you cope?

A:

I was an underpaid intern on the hill, can you please delete by browser history.

Interns need some help, they are the ones opening up the Hustler magazine every month.


Q:

I've heard that issue as well. In my experience, you pay for what you get and the China mold quality isn't typically as good. However, I've also heard they are getting much better. Wouldn't surprise me in the least if it is becoming more and more problematic for American-based mold makers.

A:

We've had a few! Our piece on electric cars in "Adam Ruins Going Green" got some backlash from a writer at The Verge. We felt that the writer had misunderstood our argument in a number of ways, and wrote a response.

Our point was not that "electric cars are always bad" - it's that the amount you reduce your carbon footprint by buying one is extremely variable and often overstated, as is true of all "green products". Even though EVs are a good trend, we can't shop our way out of the climate crisis -- we need to take collective action at the national level.

That said, if people misunderstood the piece, that's partially our fault for not making our point clearly enough! Our research was solid, but our communication could have perhaps used some work. We talk about this further in an upcoming "corrections" episode we have comin' up this season. Look out for it!


Q:

Dude. That's an amazing journey! Mad respect. I'm 100% certain you'll reach you'll goal far earlier than 50.

The worst of my doubt came in South Peru and Chile. The desert was really wearing on me and I missed the hell out of my family. Every conversation I had with the locals just felt so pointless. There was never any thought of giving in though. I knew with enough time my mood would turn for the better, just a rough patch.

A:

Yes, we actually created a tool for just this purpose. email me at [email protected] and I can get rid of all your tracked data for you.

In a broader sense, this kind of participation from non-reps in Washington is incredibly helpful. One of the easiest way to improve the accuracy of our data is just to opt out all the interns that work there. If you are intern, hit me up at [email protected] and we can auto-filter out any of your browsing history.


Q:

Have you ever worked with cellulose acetate, PLA, or similar? If so, any observations?

How about supercritical CO2 as a foaming agent?

I'm interested in foam sheet extrusion for a novel product. Do you know any companies/engineers which design the extruder & die? I have a list of a few but I want to get as many quotes as I can, so I don't waste loaned money on useless equipment.

A:

What about "The Real Truth About Financial Aid"? Every other episode has been good, but that one [EDIT: ...video which was not an episode but which still featured you in character as the "Adam Ruins Everything" guy] stood out as more resembling shilling for FAFSA and/or the student loan industry than anything else.

Here's some of the commentary from the Reddit article about it:

Recently, CH posted a new episode of Adam Ruins Everything, the exciting, objective, unbiased show many people love. But something is strange in particular about this specific episode. It doesn't challenge any preconceived notions, nor does it even provide you any useful, or even new information. But it only does one thing, and one thing only...advertise.

The episode I am of course referring to is titled, "The Real Truth About Financial Aid." In the video, Adam expresses how signing up gets you "free money" for college, and everyone should do it. The girl in the video he is informing asks hand picked questions that desperately avoid Adam being forced to answer about Financial Aid in any negative or critical manner whatsoever. It's clear the video is aimed at high school students, trying to get them to sign up, because, as you can see scattered around the internet, college students are quickly calling out the bs the video presents.

EDIT: Thanks for the very straightforward and reasonable response!


Q:

Would like to do something similar, but I'm still young (16) How much has it cost you so far?

Also, do you miss home

Edit: Cheers for the reply, I guess I could do a smaller version, Thanks for your time talking about this, It has inspired me :D

A:

Will we track what interns are doing on their way to Starbucks? Yes, we will probably catch some of that. We have filters and can analyze the data to parse some of that out.


Q:

I have worked with some materials from Eastman that contain cellulose acetate. I haven't worked with PLA specifically. But I have worked with PET and Nylon which are both similar. All of these materials do not lend themselves well to easy processability. They are usually used when high strength is desired over very tight dimensional specifications or highly repeatable processes. Most of them mold at very high temperatures and are abrasive. Many times variations of these materials are glass filled.

I have only used a foaming agent once many years ago, to be honest I don't remember the type.

Unfortunately, we don't do any foam sheet extrusion here, and it is a completely differently type of process. Sorry, I couldn't be more helpful.

A:

Glad you asked about this one. This was not an episode of Adam Ruins Everything; it was a separate video I did for CollegeHumor that was sponsored by FAFSA. I am very careful about doing any kind of sponsored content, and turn almost everything down, precisely because I value the trust the audience places in me so highly.

In this case, I agreed to the video because: a) FAFSA is a non-profit government entity, not a for-profit corporation, b) there truly is no downside to filling out the FAFSA; all it does is tell you what grants and loans you're eligible for. If the video were trying to steer people towards those terrible private loans, I would not have done it. c) The folks at FAFSA's goal was to reduce the number of students who don't go to college because they don't know they're eligible for federal grants. Increasing access to education is an important cause for me, and I could stand behind the message, so I agreed to do the video.

NOW: I am well aware that the private student loan industry is a rapacious one, and that college financing is well and truly fucked in this country. And I am also aware that federal loans have their own problems well. And I regret that, to some members of the audience, this video made it seem as though I was unaware of that fact. To address that, this year we are doing a major segment on the student loan industry; it's in an episode called Adam Ruins College.

But, all that being said -- in researching that segment, we confirmed what we already knew. Even though the student loan system is terrible, filling out the FAFSA is the best first step towards avoiding the worst loans and reducing the amount you have to pay through grants. Every expert we spoke to said as much. The system is bad, but until it improves, you should still fill out the FAFSA.

That said, I very much regret that the video confused some folks; as a result, I've become even more careful about doing sponsored content. My first allegiance is to the audience and the truth, and it always will be.

Thanks for reading, and for watching!


Q:

You have time. :) I'd guess minus the Antarctica trip I've spent 12-14k a year. Sometimes I miss home, but when I get into wifi a good conversation is only a skype call away.

A:

step 1: you send a request to a web page that has one of these tracking scripts on it

Step 2: the server responds, and your browser then downloads the web page you are trying to view (including the plugin)

Step 3: the script then runs on your machine (within your web browser), and sends data about your browser (and cookies, and some other info) to another server that stores that info


Q:

What is your experience with quick mold change systems? How about magnetic clamping?

A:

As a teacher, I'd like to know what you and your team do to research before each episode. What advice do you have for students in locating good sources for their own research?


Q:

I've been following you for the last year, very inspiring!!! What's the biggest challenge in having Savannah with you? Also, what's HER biggest challenge? Thanks for doing this AMA! :)

A:

Will we track what interns are doing on their way to Starbucks? Yes, we will probably catch some of that. We have filters and can analyze the data to parse some of that out.


Q:

We have attempted a few quick mold change projects, all of which have ultimately been dropped. Although, this is still something we plan to implement in the future. We've mostly attempted custom-built in-house solutions that have not worked too well. In my opinion, using commercially available options with a quick clamp system would be best. We also experimented with a magnetic clamp on a 300 ton machine for about a year. It worked fine as long as the operators were properly trained (we did have a few incidents of the mold coming unclamped while running). However, they are very expensive and platens get damaged, meaning replacing platens for a magnetic clamping system can get very expensive. In the end, we decided not to pursue magnetic clamping in favor of quick clamp systems.

A:

Our research staff generally begins by doing a broad survey of the topic. Our usual M.O. is to find a main source we can use that we are sure will have done their own due diligence on the topic; for instance, the New Yorker has an famously great fact checking department, so if we base a story off a New Yorker article, we can be more sure than usual that it will hold up. Then we dive into that piece's sources, and try to learn as much about the topic as we can. Critically, we look for opposing views, to make sure the angle we're approaching a topic from doesn't conflict with a majority or plurality opinion in the field. And we run our episodes by the experts we have on the show, to make sure they think our argument is fair as well. As for advice for your students - I would say, try to stand on the shoulders of giants! Look for the publications that you know are going to be well sourced and fact-checked, start with those, and then dive deeper into the sources THEY use! And stay curious!


Q:

There aren't very many. Paperwork for crossing borders just takes a little consideration. And every once and a while it'll be hard to find a hotel to accept her, but in South and Central America I was always able to convince someone to let her in.

Her biggest challenge was Honduras I think. It was super hot and her paws cracked. I put antibiotics in the cracks and kept her paws in the booties for a few days. Since then though her paws have been like stones.

A:

In the same vein, our tracking tool has the ability to utilize unique info about each persons user-agent(among other techniques) to help weed out the interns from the administration

Beyond that, there are a suite of data analysis techniques that can further narrow the scope of who we are looking at.


Q:

Hey I'm late to the party but I have a question for you. I am a shift lead at an Injection Molding Plant that is currently tasked to come up with a central way to process. We are switching from "Black Magic Molding to Making the Molder understand what it is they are doing, and why they are doing it" My problem is I have a hard time convincing decoupled 2 molding is the way to go even though time after time I can produce robust, repeatable, and reproducible processes. Our sample tech doesn't even believe in the techniques.
I have taken a few RJG classes and really enjoyed them. I have also done Paulson to which I am not a huge fan of, but most of my knowledge comes from books, google, RJG, and a natural inquisitive knack for this field. I have been tasked with this because my troubleshooting is far more successful than most of my employees, and the Plant Manager is starting to see a difference. I trouble shoot all the “headache jobs”

So my question is, what are some things I can do to improve processing while making the old guys not rebel?? Also any tips on improving my processing knowledge?

Thanks!!!!!!!!

A:

Hi, Adam! Thanks for doing the AMA. The show is great fun - my kids and I watch it together.

Are there any topics you have chosen not to cover in an episode, and why?


Q:

You're in Dublin? Fancy a pint?

A:

Ah, maybe my question was unclear. I don't doubt that you can see that e.g. 1000 different people are behind one IP address, but how can you tell which are interns and which are members of Congress? Google analytics doesn't really know the answer to that either.

Cookies and browser fingerprinting can help you tie two different web requests to the same browser, but they don't tell you who is using the browser, right?


Q:

Hey Xcruciate, lucky for you I spend too much time on Reddit. Your problem is a pretty common one, and getting all the techs to adhere to certain way of processing is going to be a slow and arduous process. I've found that without an in-house, continuous training program, it's nearly impossible. You will have some turnover with technicians, so keeping everyone on the same page is critical. You have to get down to the details. For example, I would write a procedure for how to check you fill-only shot. If you have more than one type of machine or controller you will probably need controller specific instructions on how to check the fill-only shot. There are so many different ideas and ways on the proper way to check this, but the most important thing is that everyone is doing it the same way. How can you ask your tech's to verify the fill-only shot if they aren't checking it the same way it was done when the mold was originally qualified? So until these written instructions are in place and the tech's have received both classroom and hands-on training for them, you cannot hold them accountable for using a D2 process. Fill-only is a critical portion of D2 molding, so I would give a refresher course on this at least once a year. Once the tech's have all been trained and been given some hands on instructions, the process will need to be audited. We require our technicians to submit both a full shot and a fill-only shot to QC. They must also record the fill-only weight and full part weight to ensure they are within tolerance. This requirement helps to "force" the tech's to check their transfer position rather than just plugging in numbers from the process sheet. I have also found that providing process inputs on the setup sheet only serves as a crutch that helps prevent the tech's from actually learning how to process. Use a universal process sheet format that can be used on any machine. This type of process sheet only provides the process actuals (i.e. melt temp instead of barrel temps, fill time instead of injection speed, recovery time instead of recovery speed, shot volume by weight instead of shot size, and cushion position, pack pressure, etc). This forces the tech's to find the correct machine inputs in order to match the actual outputs. They will be required to think before they make changes and understand why they are making those changes. We constantly stress, actuals, actuals, actuals. You can give them the inputs for things like mold movements, ejectors, cores, etc. because these can be machine specific, and improper setup of those could cause mold damage. As for getting the guys not to rebel, that's a leadership thing, people will always resist change. Giving them a goal to pursue and where they can see how the new processing method gives results helps. We track our "first-pass yield" (basically how often the first submission to QC passes), and then create goals to improve. I would track that for a while to create a baseline. Let's say you do that and find out your current first-pass yield rate is about 60%. Now show the tech's how to match the actuals, and the proper way to start-up a machine so it is running to the established process. Once implemented, watch your first-pass yield start to climb. Make sure these metrics are very visible to everyone. If the tech's see more of their submission's passing inspection, and have to do less troubleshooting they will buy-in. Once you've done the training, and started doing audits, you must hold the technicians accountable. Undoubtedly, there will always be some hold outs, at some point accountability decisions will need to be made. Whether it is reassigning roles (maybe that person who refuses to process using the new method is only allowed to do setups, but not startups or troubleshooting). Finally, just a few more details I like to nitpick on because I feel they are important. I always emphasize on initial startup of a process you need to hit your target actuals exactly, even if this means using an odd number like 2.36 in/s for your inject speed in order to hit that .47 sec fill time right on. The tolerances around the target are for troubleshooting purposes only, don't just fall within the tolerances on startup, hit the actuals right on, this will give you the best first-pass yield and reduce scrap. Lastly, when checking the fill-only shot, they should always be checking their fill-time simultaneously. On first stage your first cavity to fill should be 98% full at transfer, but it needs to reach that point a specific rate (your fill time), getting that right is absolutely crucial, if you get that right. All you really need to do is add back your pack pressure and time as documented and usually that will get your pretty close to making good parts. Even if other actuals like recovery time or cushion are off a bit. D2 is all about getting that fill-only (first stage) just right. Save a gold "fill-only" shot when the mold is first qualified, or if it needs to be reprocessed for a steel change. This will help the tech's match the fill-only shot right on.

I know I said last few things, but I keep thinking of things to add as I go. Another thing I have found helps a lot, is understanding when NOT to process. Many times tech's spend hours troubleshooting what is a mold issue or machine issue. Teach them tricks, like if you have flash, check the fill-only, if the flash is present on fill-only, you can be sure it is a mold shut-off issue (probably due to mold damage), and has nothing to do with the process. If flash exists on fill-only, you certainly will never get rid of, or reduce, the flash once you pack it out.

If the Plant Manager is buying in, that is good news. If you can convince him to spend money on bringing in RJG to give them at least their systematic molding training that would help leaps and bounds. Gives the tech's a chance to ask all the questions and have an authoritative guide from an outside party who they will probably be more willing to listen to. The sample tech or any process engineers should receive this training as well. Even having some tooling guys or machine maintenance guys in the class doesn't hurt. RJG's decoupled methods have become industry standard for a reason, certainly someone in upper management can understand that.

For the record, I have taken some of Paulson's video courses, they are basically just a rip-off of RJG's techniques. The thing I don't like about Paulson is they mostly focus on basic troubleshooting (i.e. if there is flash reduce pressure, but that isn't always the case and you should understand why the flash is occuring before you make any changes), rather than proper startup and root-cause analysis of problems.

Feel free to message me if you have any more questions. I could go on and on about this stuff.

A:

Thanks for watching! That's wonderful to hear, it makes me so happy that kids and parents are enjoy watching it together! That's something we didn't anticipate, and it makes us super happy.

In our writer's room, one topic that has come up a few times that has really interesting stories attached is race. The history of the creation of the idea of "whiteness", for instance, is fascinating. After much discussion, however, we decided that because the topic was so important, and because we wanted to be sure we could do it right, we were going to save it for a future season. But we never say "This is a topic we would never do."; we say "This is a topic that we want to make sure we do justice to, so we won't do it rashly."


Q:

Always

A:

Yes-- which brings me to point 2:

  1. In aggregate, members of Congress are going to have different patterns of internet use than interns. As our data grows, this disparity should become more clear.

There are numerous techniques to be able to capture this trend, but I'll mention a few here, as well as some links to good descriptions of them

K-means clustering:

Decision trees: these would work insofar as we choose some function of the data(or metadata ) that correlates well with whether or not the user is a representative, and minimizing the entropy of that function. The tricky part is figuring out a function that would be an effective differentiator.

These are both techniques that can operate using only unlabeled data, meaning that we don't have any browsing history that we know comes from either an intern or a congressperson. Which segues into part 3

  1. If a representative (unlikely) or an intern(more likely) is willing to let us tag their history, we can use that data to greatly inform how we differentiate between interns and reps.

Ultimately, there is no surefire way to completely eliminate intern data. However there are a number of techniques we can is to narrow the scope of our data and ensure that our analytics are as targeted as possible.


Q:

I'm a (Black) macro social worker and future doctoral student doing diversity and inclusion related work at a major private university, and this is a subject I'm trying to create a 101 training for. People these days are becoming more aware of the social construction of race, but they don't really know this history behind it, and behind the creation of the idea of "whiteness". It's really really interesting stuff, and it makes it difficult to see the U.S. in particular quite the same way again.

A:

What is the most stunning photo you've captured so far?


Q:

You're designing your code to be portable so that other groups can also use it to increase transparency in regards their governments.

Have you had any conversations in regards how non-American implementations might differ? I'd imagine Germans, French, let alone Turkish, Chinese or Saudi Arabian implementations of this would provide different – uhh – insights.

Is what you're doing portable enough to work in more repressive nations? Not that the US is all that now (sadly), but I'd imagine Turkey would present very different challenges.

Are you planning on having some kind of starter pack for non-profits in foreign locales, both to run the analytics and also basics on how to reach out to their local journalists so news can get out for their findings?

PM me if you'd like some suggested articles on how journalists might protect themselves when they're in a hostile environment while they're doing their important work. The EFF, Privacy International and the Freedom of the Press Foundation are excellent sites with many resources, FWIW.

A:

I know, it's incredible stuff. I would love to do an episode on it sometime; but like I said, we just need make SURE we got it right, and with such a massive topic, that's timeconsuming.


Q:

Matter of opinion I suppose. For me it's a photo of an overturned humpback in Antarctica. It was grazing against our zodiac. I could have reached down and touched it.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BSQ5ZGdD3LC/?taken-by=theworldwalk

A:

Really, really cool question.

The code would be super easy to implement for any world government, and one of our hopes when we make it open source is that people can take it and modify it to those ends.

The key in our case(and govtrack's, and CongressEdit's) is that the WHOIS records of the IPs that belong to the House, Senate, FCC, and White House are in the public domain. I'm not sure if the same is true for other countries.


Q:

Hey Adam! I'd like to ask, how much has your life changed since the show started? Are there things you've had to give up or cut back on or do you still have a pretty "normal" life so far?

&

How does your sister feel about her TV counterpart?

A:

Do your feet hurt?


Q:

Are these people on "interesting" (cutting edge, hip, avant garde, risqué) sites a lot or are they checking AOL or CNN/FOX/MSNBC.

Are any of them (what ~%) researching policy positions in a meaningful way?

A:

I would not say my life is normal, no. The biggest change has been the schedule. We work on the show year round - even when I'm traveling out of the country, I'm working. The busiest I get, I'm shooting the show 13 hours a day, AND working on scripts, AND reviewing cuts of the show. It's pretty gruelling, and way different than being a sketch writer / cast member at CollegeHumor! It's worth it, though, I love making the show and I especially love being able to share all this information with everyone at home.


Q:

In the wrong shoes...so much.

A:

Getting our tool on major news sites is a long process that we are currently working through.

However, govtrack.us has some very informative policy and bill information, and publicly releases(some) of the real time data of what Congress is visiting on their site. Very cool way to see what bills congress is interested in on a given day--

Https://govtrack.us


Q:

Hey Adam! I wanted to say that I was a big fan of Olde English back in the day. "Arthur got a haircut" would play and be quoted constantly in my dorm room, and I loved Badminton and many others as well.

As for a question, do you ever work with the Olde English team anymore, and would you ever again?

Thanks for doing this AMA, Adam Ruins everything is wonderful.

A:

What are the best shoes you've found so far?


Q:

I have a lot of questions but I'll limit myself to two lol

What advice do you have for an aspiring data scientist? And what projects would provide proof to an employer that I can do the job? Thanks

A:

Thank you! Always happy when people mention Olde English. I work with the other OE guys on their projects (like Bojack), and they work on mine! Unlikely that we will ever do another project as Olde English, though. Have you checked out our movie?


Q:

Still Brooks Cascadia. They have a new Goretex version too which fit just the same.

A:

What advice do you have for an aspiring data scientist?

Most of the other data scientists I know are self-directed one way or another.

The first thing I did was get familiar enough with python that I wasn't tripping over my own code when I wanted to start working with data. I went through code academy's python course, then did some hackerrank data structures problems with python.

After that I went through and read about a lot of the basic DS implementations and did a version of my own. I started with probability and statistics, then went on and wrote a basic python implementation of nearest neighbor, multiple(and polynomial) regression, decision trees, a basic feed-forward neural net, k-means and hierarchical clustering and a few others

After that, I definitely recommend kaggle. I don't do a lot of competitive coding, but kaggle has a ton of open data sets so you can dive into a project about whatever data interests you. I did a couple projects on beer types and brewing distros, and now I'm working through the 2016 election data.

My biggest piece of advice would be not to sweat a lot of the more hyped stuff(neural nets, SVM, etc.) because 90% of the time you're going to be able to do really, really cool stuff really easily with way simpler DS solutions.


Q:

Hi, Adam. I love your show and I'd like to ask:

Where do you and your production team get your ideas for your shows?

Do you yourself know some of the information or do you just read it off the script?

What are some ideas you have for other shows?

Coke or Pepsi?

A:

Do you aim to grow a Forrest Gump beard?


Q:

I have a lot of questions but I'll limit myself to two lol

What advice do you have for an aspiring data scientist? And what projects would provide proof to an employer that I can do the job? Thanks

A:

Most of the facts we do on the show were things I had at least some knowledge of before we started researching; many are topics I feel passionately about. By the time we're done researching the episode, though, I know as much about the topics as I possibly can! After all, we just wrote an episode of TV about them!

Neither; La Croix. What can I say, trying to cut down on sugar!


Q:

I wish. My beard gets so patchy.

A:

I will continue to answer this question, but need to refresh the page real quick and make sure I'm answering other q's as well :)


Q:

Have you ever decided not to feature a topic for the show or include a specific fact because it conflicted with your personal beliefs or those of the executives?

A:

Wow. This is incredible! Do you have a smart phone or are you using maps?


Q:

No. Our executives' personal beliefs don't interfere with the show; they generally let us do whatever topics we want. As for my own personal beliefs: My goal in the show AND in life is to challenge my own beliefs as much as I can. So when a topic challenges what I believe, those are the best topics of all! That feeling of "What you think you know isn't true" is what the whole show is based on; so when I get that feeling strongly, then I know the topic is going to be great.

A:

Smart phone baby. And thankfully GPS works even without cell service.


Q:

Do you remember hosting Zombieville II at the Knitting Factory in 2007? I keep going back to look at the ticket stub because it looks like nearly everyone who played it eventually became successful. (Anamanaguchi, Reggie Watts, you, etc.)

Photo evidence

A:

How much of a language barrier have you faced while traveling? Has that ever caused much difficulty for you?


Q:

This is fascinating, I barely remember it!! Amazing that you have the stub. I'm gonna go search through my email archive and see if I can find more about it. I was just a little baby comedian back then!! I do love Anamanaguchi and Nullsleep and Reggie still!

A:

In Central America it was a little difficult. I was never completely useless in Spanish, but it was isolating not being able to connect on a deeper level with people. It'll be interesting in Africa, Eastern Europe and Asia where I won't have the time in each country to pick up much of the language.


Q:

Thanks so much for responding! Yeah, I was tabling for 8bitpeoples that night and it was a great experience. I miss the old Knitting Factory location.

A:

Hey Tom! I absolutely love all of the amazing photos you've posted on your Instagram as you've gone on your journey! That being said, which photo do you think is the best one you've taken so far, and why?


Q:

Cool! I just checked my email and apparently I bombed the show hard :)

A:

Oh man, that's a tough one. There are a ton of photos in Peru that didn't receive a ton of likes because they aren't classically Instagram beautiful, but which I just love because they capture the rawness and feeling of Peru.


Q:

Your recent pregnancy episode saved me. My girl and I are approaching our 30's and there's been a lot of pressure lately from many sides about "running out of time."

Thanks again. What was your favorite episode/topic to ruin?

A:

Has doing the walk impacted any of your relationships in any serious way at all? Can't imagine it'd be easy sometimes, being away from everyone for so long.

Love your page, cheers :)


Q:

I am so happy to hear that. Honestly, my favorite topics are the ones that bring people relief, and maybe change their lives a little for the better. So I think I can count this among my favorites!

A:

The Walk has been almost nothing but positive. I'm walking and turning over thoughts all day. I have a lot of time to appreciate everything my family and friends have done for me. Also, being away from everyone for two years made me appreciate them that much more.

And thanks! Cheers :)


Q:

Hey Adam!

I've been refreshing this page for a while now trying to catch you here haha

My questions

  1. You recently did a piece about how breastfeeding is a same as formula. I just had a follow up on this that isn't breastmilk better because it transfers antibodies and so builds up the immune system of the baby?

  2. Do you put milk first or cereal first?

A:

Hey Tom, been a fan since your last one of these!

Anyway, how well do you think you get to know a country and its people and culture by walking through it? Is it more in ways you wouldn't have expected? Less in any way than what you expect?

Thanks!


Q:

Based on the research we've surveyed, the benefits of breast milk vs. formula are very small. You can check our sources for the segment here.

A:

Glad to have you following!

I'd say much more than flying into a place then going to more touristy destinations. I'm forced to pass through all tiny one-horse towns. I eat at the typical restaurants all the other locals are eating at. In that way I think I get to know a country very well.

At the same time I don't think I get to know a country as well as if I were staying with a family. There is a lot to be learned from wikipedia, but I thinking having a local as a guide explaining the details would be ideal.


Q:

You didn't answer the fucking second question, Adam. Already ruined it...

A:

I see in your infographic that there was an attempted robbery in Panama. Where exactly was it and how did it happen? I currently live in Panama City and if you make your way back let me know so that I can walk with you for a bit. Definitely fascinated by your story!


Q:

Oops! I don't eat cereal. I eat oatmeal with soy sauce on it!

A:

Yeah, it was on my last day in Central America and I was just six miles from an AirBnb I had booked. I was on the outskirts of the city, probably a mile or two from the Bridge of the Americas. I knew for a while I was in a pretty sketchy area. I was hungry and tired though, and once I thought I was through the worst of it I stopped in a store to buy some breakfast. As I sat outside eating it I felt something cold on my neck. I glanced up to see a nasty, red-eyed guy holding a shiv. I jumped up. He came towards me and I backed into the shop. Savannah was tied to the cart. My backpack had my knife and mace and I'd taken it off, it was by my cart. I got backed against the wall. I was yelling at him, he was yelling "shutup!" in English at me. I remember looking for something to defend myself with and seeing nothing but bread around me. "There's nothing but bread!" I thought. Then suddenly the guy took off. I followed and there was a crowd outside. They pointed down an alley. The cops were throwing another guy against a wall and my backpack was laying on the ground (with my passport and Savannah's paperwork in it). The cops must have been there immediately because the whole incident only lasted a minute or so. Big props to those cops saving my butt.


Q:

Who is the most overrated person in history?

My picks are Freud, Columbus, and Nostrodamus

A:

This AMA is the first I've heard of you, but I'll be following your journey now:)

Do you believe that what you're doing would be safe for a female? Have you ever encountered a situation that has made you fearful?


Q:

You're going to really enjoy an episode we have coming up called "Adam Ruins What We Learned In School." Covers one of these three dudes. I won't spoil which!

A:

I've been asked this a few times and really I'm not sure. I think being a female is a very different experience than being a male. I know women have walked around the world before though. Polly Letofsky would be the one to ask!

https://www.pollyletofsky.com/

I've had a few scary encounters, but less than you'd imagine. Most people are good.


Q:

Whos your favourite member of the Wu Tang Clan ?

A:

What place has the best bathrooms?


Q:

You know, I'd be lying if I called myself a knowledgable Wu Tang fan but, hey, this is Ask Me ANYTHING, so I'll hazard an opinion. RZA.

A:

Machu Picchu. At least they did. I overheard a guide talking about the bathrooms and holy cow did those things have a view.


Q:

How do you come up with your topics?

A:

What is the most beautiful place you've been?

Also, your Instagram is the most amazing page on the internet.


Q:

We have a writer's room full of writers and researchers who are very, very smart and have absorbed a ton of information. We all ask them to pitch things they've learned that have blown their minds. After that, we run them down and research them, make sure they hold up, then put them in the show. That's about it!

A:

Yeesh. There are a lot of beautiful places. Lake Atitlan in Guatemala is breathtaking. The paramos in the Andes are surreal. The deserts of Perú and Chile were powerful and harsh. Antarctica was like being on another planet. Each has their own aspects of beauty.


Q:

Gun to your head, you have to tell a joke to save your life, what do you go with?

Edit- Yay first question! Been mashing refresh like crazy waiting for this!

A:

Hey Tom,

Has your adventure given you any perspective or clarity as to what you would like to do once you move onto the next step of your life?


Q:

My legit favorite joke:

ME: Oh crap, did you hear about that actress who just stabbed herself? I forget her name. Reese something... Reese... VICTIM: Witherspoon? ME: No, with her knife!!

Legitimately terrible but I love telling it.

A:

In a certain way yes. I know I want traveling to be a part of my life. But I'm still not certain where I'll wind up after all this. I enjoy photography, I think it comes somewhat naturally to me. But I also enjoy writing, and I don't think it comes naturally to me at all so I really enjoy the challenge.


Q:

Haha Yea I love it. I have heard this one before. I feel like they would spare you out of pity most likely. Thank you for answering my question, I tried to be a little different then the whole (I love your show, blah blah blah) even tho I do, and was on pins waiting for season two to start.

A:

I would like to hear about Savannah - specifically how would you describe your relationship with your canine friend after spending every hour of every day together? Is there some type of deep understanding or bond formed, do you communicate well? When Trek is over will you keep him/her?


Q:

Thank you for watching!

A:

Sav and I are totally synched up. She listens to my slightest command. She is exactly the dog she needs to be. When we're walking she is a trooper and sees each day through without complaint. When I rest, she rests. When I stand, she stands. At night she doesn't like sleeping in the tent (unless it's raining). She patrols the ground immediately surrounding me and barks if she sees something. When I wake up she's there to greet me outside the tent shaking with excitement. I'm protective of her, but also trust her. She could do all the walking without a leash, she'd stay right beside me if off it. I like to have her on the leash in case something startles her though. I'll have Savannah forever. Couldn't imagine it otherwise.


Q:

Do you correct people when misconceptions that you've discussed off air?

A:

What do your meals consist of? Do you keep a cooler of any sort on your cart? Did you ever have any problems in certain countries getting dog food for Savannah?


Q:

You know, after I've said something on TV, I feel like it's rude to go around repeating it in real life! Now that I'm interrupting people on TV so much, I'm a little more inclined to bite my tongue in IRL, ironically! :)

A:

If I don't come across any restaurants or small stores, a typical day would be a pbj or some sort of bar for breakfast, lots of nuts and snacks during the day, then two pbjs for dinner. I had my stove stolen in Guatemala and didn't get another until Argentina. In Argentina I started making a good amount of soup and pasta.

I don't have any cooler. And dog food has been incredibly easy to get a hold of. Even in the most remote towns there are dogs and dog food. Sometimes it was just a guy with a massive bag of dog food selling it in smaller bags.


Q:

Do you still play Binding of Isaac?

A:

Are you going to walk the Camino de Santiago? If you do I suggest walking the Camino del Norte along the northern coast - absolutely breathtaking views!


Q:

I do! On Switch, now.

A:

Thanks for the tip! The plan now is to follow the Eurovelos. This would mean walking along the south coast of Spain so I'd likely miss the Camino de Santiago.


Q:

Adam, what does Jon Wolf smell like?

Also, when did you decide that it was more important to correct people's misconceptions instead of just trying to be another Ryan Seacrest type?

A:

Among all the questions mentioned here, there's one that needs to be known by all: is Savannah a good girl? Do help me tell her that she's a good girl. 🐶


Q:

Honestly, it came out of trying to figure out how to engage an audience. It's HARD to be a Ryan Seacrest type, because it's hard to tell people why they should care about you rather than just any other dude on stage / screen. Once I realized that surprising the audience with information was really entertaining and engaging, I went with it! And of course, it helped that I've always been a super-curious person who's interested in this kind of knowledge!

A:

Who's a good girl?!


Q:

How do you cross the seas?

A:

Fly


Q:

Hey Tom. I've been traveling vicariously through you for years. Love your photography.

Just saw the infographic, awesome. You have so many insane sounding moments - "woken by machete", "stop robbery", "knife to the neck". Any chance of a book when you're done? And any chance you'd elaborate on one of those here?

A:

I'd love to do a book when I'm finished. Frankly I've been through so much I don't know how I'd fit it into a single book.

The "stop robbery" is in quotation marks for a reason. I asked a guy in Nicaragua if I could sleep at his brick foundry (basically he had a big outdoor oven and bricks lined up drying in the sun). He said yes. So I laid my tarp there and fell asleep. Around 4a.m. I was woken by a locked being banged around. I sat up and saw three men with a flashlight working on the storage shed lock. After some consideration, I decided I had to do something. The owner was nice enough to let me sleep there, I couldn't stand by while he got robbed. So stood, stuck forward a bit, then lit the three guys with my headlamp beam. My Spanish wasn't that great and they were far away so I couldn't understand them. Savannah kept by my side. I stood in silence, staring at them, knowing my poor Spanish wouldn't give me away as a gringo. They approached slowly and soon we could make out each other. We got talking and they said they were workers (coming to turn the bricks? I can't remember exactly). But a minute later I watched the lock open as a guy finally found the correct key. They thanked me for attempting to stop their "robbery" then I went back to sleep.


Q:

hey, i'm 18 and just failed at this in europe after 3 weeks. Although i met cool people and learnt a lot, not eating and sleeping rough in cities destroyed me. How the hell did you eat and sleep well enough?

A:

Yeah it isn't easy. After two years I'm pretty well trained. Just a matter of finding a good hiding spot and never sleeping in cities unless it's in a room.


Q:

Been following you for years now! Journey looks incredible! Thanks for sharing it.

Question: what's been your worst or craziest encounter with wildlife while on your World Walk?

A:

Thanks for following!

I haven't had any encounters too insane. The most memorable was probably in Costa Rica. I woke in my tent in a palm forest and when I sat up there was a tarantula on the other side of my bug net, literally an inch from my eye. In an instant I punched that thing as hard as I could and it went flying out of sight.


Q:

Hi Tom,

I am originally from Cherry Hill, NJ and have really enjoyed following your amazing journey! I love your photography and would like to know how to purchase some shots. Please let me know if there is anyway I could to do so in person in the South Jersey area. Safe travels!!

A:

Hey Kev!

I have some prints for sale here: https://society6.com/theworldwalk


Q:

Hi Tom! You're very inspiring. I love following you and Savannah and seeing all of your wonderful pictures. What kind of camera do you use to take your shots? Stay safe out there :)

A:

Thanks! Doing my best.

I use my Pixel when I'm lazy, and my Nikon D610 when I'm not.


Q:

Hey Tom, incredible story and your walk truly is inspiring!

Honest question though: why walking? I mean, you could do a similar trip by biking or driving and seemingly achieve similiar goals of living life to the fullest, so what made you choose walking?

A:

Initially it was actually just because I was in high school and had no money. I was looking for cheap ways to travel. Then the idea stuck in my head and I rationalized it, I suppose. I think it's a brilliant way to see the world though. You really get to know yourself and the places you pass through.


Q:
  1. What was the most boring section of the walk so far? The most captivating?

  2. What advice or wisdom would you give to someone who wants to do something similar?

  3. Can you sign my comment?

A:
  1. South Peru. So much desert. It was still incredible, just tough. And the paramos in Colombia. I was walking through there in perpetual awe.
  2. You can't walk around the world in a day. You can't plan a walk around the world in a day. It took me nearly twice as long to start this trip as the trip itself will take.
  3. Tom "the tall gringo with a dog pushing the baby carriage" Turcich

Q:

Hey man, Can you tell us more about your ayahuasca trip? Stuff like what the was setting like? what lead up to it? How did you go into it and what did you find at the end of your trip. Any great revaluations? Not many people have walked around the entire world, I can imagine it must have been an intense sprituital experience

A:

Sure. I have a friend who's been training to be a shaman and was living with shipibo indians working with ayahuasca traditionally for two years. I had a lot of faith that he'd do things in the purest fashion and when I arrived in Lima I was fortunate enough to find out he could get me in with a group who'd be dieting with the Noya Rau tree for a week. So I booked a cheap flight to Iquitos and met him there.

The meloka and our rooms were well out in the jungle. The entire experience felt very authentic and assured. I threw up too quickly the first two times to get much out of the ayahuasca. My body really rejected it. But the third time I held it down for an hour and a half or so. I saw myself from the outside a lot and in that way it was humbling. But mostly it was as though every thought was turned hyper visual. Every thought was like a movie. I didn't have any revelations. After walking for so long I'd already gone over all my memories hundreds of times.

The next morning though I felt a sense of awareness that I didn't realize I was missing. As though I'd been looking at the world with a sort of tunnel vision, automatically excluding a great amount. But that morning following the ceremony things were wide open, everything seemed possible.


Q:

How has the gear you're carrying with you changed over time? Anything you really needed but then realised you can do without?

A:

I had two goal zero solar panels for all of North America. They worked great because I was walking with the sun in front of me. Once I was in the southern hemisphere and walking south the sun was at my back so my shadow blocked the sunlight from the solar panels. I wound up giving the panels to a Colombian family then realizing I never really needed them, I could charge my battery when I stopped at restaurants or a hotel.


Q:

I've been following you and Savannah since one of your first AMA's. How do you think this experience so far has molded or changed you for better or worse? I think this European leg has got to be an exciting one for you. Be safe and have fun!

A:

I'm far more understanding of people in tough situations. Not everyone has had it easy, not everyone has it easy. There are a lot of tough situations to be born into. But irregardless of what a person has or doesn't have, irregardless of how they look, I start with the utmost respect for them.

I'm far less understanding of greed and corruption. One of the most profound lessons I've learned has been from crossing borders on foot. The only things that changes with a few steps is the government, but man how things can change with those few steps. There are so many good people in this world, it sucks seeing some of them without running water or working bathrooms.


Q:

How do you decide what route to take through a country? Are there particular cities you're trying to hit? What country are you most looking forward to?

A:

It generally involves looking at Google Earth first then asking locals what's best. I wanted to hit Lima because of a friend there, but generally I don't care much for cities. I prefer the small towns to the cities. Right now I'm most looking forward to Croatia.


Q:

How many pairs of foot wear do you expect to go through?

A:

Ooo baby. 60 pairs of shoes maybe?


Q:

How are you going to go from England to France, ferry or channel tunnel?

What's your favorite and least favourite local delicacy you have tried so far?

Have a great trip :)

A:

Ferry. The ferry accepts dogs so it should work well enough.

Most favorite: Papusas. Bar none. 25 cents and delicious.

Least: A particular Cuy I bought from an indigenous woman in Ecuador. Staring at that guinea pig's face messed with me for bit.


Q:

When you visit U.K. will you visit York? If so you have a room for the night

A:

I should be walking very near it at least! That'd be great, thanks! Stay in touch!


Q:

What places that you haven't visited yet are you most excited to see? And which places have so far been able to take your breath away?

A:

Croatia is top of the list right now. I have lots of family there and have heard it's a spectacular place.

When I first saw Lake Atitilan in Guatemala I literally screamed and whooped. Guards from a national park entrance came out and laughed at me.


Q:

Tom, this is fantastic and I wish you all the best. I walked the coast of California in 1995 (in a pair of Timberland sandals) and found, for lack of a better word, 'magic' happening after about my second week of walking. I'm extremely curious if you have had any meaningful experiences that just bear no explanation other than that "magical"?

I know, probably a subjective term, but an example: as I was approaching Big Sur I came across a book lying on the side of the road, wrapped in a plastic bag: a biography of Mildred Norman Ryder (Peace Pilgrim). If you've never heard of her, she walked the later years of her life in the name of peace. I still have that book today and the encounter was one of several on my walk which opened my eyes to the mere fact that there is indeed much more to this world than meets the eye.

Best to you, and keep on treading!

A:

By far the most magical thing that's happened on my walk was in Perú. I was mentally destroyed after being in the desert so long. I come to this middle of the nowhere restaurant and find on the wall an article of my hero, Karl Bushby. Then I get brought to the back by the owner and shown and note from Bushby nearly twenty years old. Our paths had crossed twenty years apart at this little nowhere restaurant. That certainly gave me the motivation I needed.


Q:

What has been your favorite experience so far throughout the whole trip?

A:

When my legs gave out on me at 15,000 ft in the Chilean Andes. I spent four days at 15,000 feet then had a terrible night of maybe two hours of sleep. The next morning I pushed my cart for about 10 minutes, then just collapsed into the sand. I laid there and laughed. I was only six hours from a town so I knew I'd make it. But I loved how great of an adventure I was having, how challenged I was by the walk.


Q:

Of the many places you have walked to. Which town or city outside the US could you see yourself living out the rest of your life and why?????

A:

I could easily move back to Colombia. Such wonderful people. Such beautiful landscapes. There's a sort of magic about the entire country which I would love to live in for a little while.


Q:

Whats the most beautiful thing you have witnessed?

A:

So many stars at once they felt like a weight on my chest.


Q:

What's your playlist look like?

A:

Good question. It varies a lot depending on mood. I swing between Tiesto's Clublife to Willie Nelson. My go-tos are Ray LaMontagne, Lana Del Rey, and Van Morrison. Lately I've been listening to A Bridge over Troubled Waters on repeat. Sooooo good.


Q:

Been following you for about a year now. Your pictures from South America and Antarctica were beautiful. Just one question:

Did you have to get a certain visa for walking in Europe? I know you can only spend 90 days in the EU within a 180-day span, so I'm curious if you found a work-around to that. Thanks!

A:

To the best of my knowledge there's a visa for mainland Europe, then separate ones for Ireland, the UK, and some other countries. I should be able to pass through France, Switzerland, and Italy fairly quickly. Then I'll have to walk from Spain to Croatia on what I have left of the 90 days. The countries are small, but I'll be cutting in close. Once I get to Croatia I'll receive a different visa.