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PoliticsWe are U.S. Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon and Nicole Gill of Tax March, Ask us anything about the tax scam!

Dec 12th 2017 by TaxMarchAMA • 22 Questions • 1349 Points

I'm Lane DeGregory, an enterprise reporter for the Tampa Bay Times. In 2009, my story "The Girl in the Window" won the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing -- and drew more than 1.5 million readers from around the world. I followed Dani as she learned to walk, use the toilet and eat solid food -- and kept up with her new family for the last decade. Recently I visited Dani in her new home.

Proof

Edit: Thank you all for tuning in and asking such great questions! I'm signing off for the night, but keep posting questions and I'll check back in the morning.

You can also hit me up on twitter @lanedegregory or email: [email protected]

And I'm starting a new podcast next Wednesday about reporting and storytelling, which will be aired on our website: tampabay.com ... so send questions or comments for that to: [email protected]

Thanks for reading!

Q:

Senator Wyden. Why does the Democratic party continue to fail in their messaging efforts? Is it a lack of money or ingenuity? The Republicans are continually feeding so much BS but the Dems keep failing in their efforts to call them on it.

A:

What else do you think can be done when feral children are discovered?


Q:

Hello! I immediately fell in love with APOPO as soon as I discovered you guys and I've been a monthly contributor ever since. Thanks for doing what you do.

1) Is there any way for a traveler to see your workers and rats in action? Perhaps a volunteer mission?

2) I requested hi-res photos of your trainers and rats in action to hang at my home for visitors to see in hopes of encouraging them to get involved. Your people totally hooked it up. Animal-lovers dig it, but since most people think rats are gross, what other ways would you suggest to help turn people on to your cause?

Thanks

A:

Is there any one case you think about more than others?


Q:

If your immortal soul had to be locked behind a lootbox or paid content, how would you design it?

A:

Any recommendations for a hockey player trying to improve stability on my outside edges?


Q:

Perfect reply.

A:

What is the most common misconception about wilderness survival that gets people killed?


Q:

While in Barcelona staying at a VRBO/Friendlyrentals unit, our (well-secured) room was keyed into the night before we were to leave and everything was taken except for our passports. Well over $5,000 in value.

Googling this, I found many other similar horror stories about the Barcelona rentals market.

How often have you run into this type of scam?

A:

What else do you think can be done when feral children are discovered?


Q:

Here's the thing - we've actually won the messaging war here. Only 25% of the population supports the bill. It's the most unpopular piece of legislation (besides the GOP failed attempts to repeal the ACA) in 30 years. We're winning the message war, and people hate this bill, Republican's just don't care what their constituents think or want. They're not in government for the people, they are in it for themselves and their donors.

A:

I think if the child protection workers had taken Dani away when they first visited her, when she was 2, then again when she was 3, or even if they had at least revisited her to do a welfare check, or insisted she be put in some sort of day care or pre-school, or visit a doctor, they would have had four extra years to help repair / heal her and make up for the severe neglect and malnutrition which have damaged her for life. I think, once Dani was discovered, that so many folks did so much to try to help her, I'm not sure how much more they could have done ... For that first year she was with the Lierows, she got every kind of therapy imaginable. But once they moved from Florida to Tennessee, and lost the umbrella of protection the Florida adoption folks provided, Dani's new parents stopped taking her to outside therapies and left her instruction entirely to the public school. So I don't know if more individualized speech / occupational / physical therapy would have helped from age 10 til 19 ... but it might have.


Q:

Thank you so much for the kind words. Yes, travelers can see our rats in action - most convenient is in our training centre in Tanzania or in our recently opened APOPO visitors centre in Siem Reap. Thanks also for promoting us with the photos! We appreciate any initiative which will support us, be it word to mouth, be it organizing a group or a visible event - sure everyone has skills to contribute. You can also adopt a HeroRAT which makes for a great holiday gift!

A:

Half a dozen. I transcribed thousands of cases but court officials get compassion fatigue just like medical/emergency officials and have to build up emotional barriers. Because I transcribed the official record I saw every picture and bit of evidence firsthand. Some of it was so traumatic it changed the way I look at other human beings.

One that stuck with me was a toddler who was beaten to death by her mother’s boyfriend for refusing to spell God. Another was an obgyn who sodomized his kid and was allowed to plead out to coercion so he could keep working to support his ex-wife “in the matter she was accustomed to”.


Q:

Cracks Knuckles Let's do this dance!

  • My soul is the chase prize in a lootbox, along with other, extremely valuable content (gotta be in good company after all). We'll call this box 'The Soul Box'.
  • You can't directly purchase The Soul Box from the store. It's a rare drop on a powerful, Dark Souls style boss monster. High HP, insta-kill attacks, very timing heavy, the works. We'll just call this 'The Boss Monster'.
  • The only way to fight The Boss Monster is with a Boss Fight Ticket, which is the rare chase prize in the 'The Wheel Game Loot Box'. A ticket cannot be obtained any other way.
  • The Wheel Game Loot Box can only be obtained by getting the Five Keys from the Wheel Game. It costs hard currency (currency bought with real money) to spin the Wheel. Getting the Keys is rare, spins usually get you lesser loot boxes. Each of the Five Keys is different, and you can get duplicates. This means that you could have 20 of the other Keys, but still need to get the Fifth Key, just to unlock one of the Wheel Game Lootboxes.
  • The Fifth Key is way rarer than the other Keys. Like, suspiciously so.
  • Keys can be redeemed for other prizes, like event-unique cosmetics, just for that added temptation. They look amazing.
  • The Wheel Game has a ridiculously long spin animation, with lots of flashing lights and grating music. Neither of those can be disabled. You must sit through it. Every. Single. Time.
  • That Boss fight? You can't save up tickets for it. You're not allowed to spin the wheel when you have a ticket (the button just greys out). This means that learning the fight patterns is extremely difficult, as you're looking at hours (and tons of money) between fights.
  • PvP is enabled during the fight against the Boss Monster. If another Player kills you during it, you lose the fight and they get half of the hard currency you spent getting the ticket. Prepare to get mobbed by griefers every time you get within a mile of that thing.
  • Did I mention that the presence of so many PvP players in the Boss Fight will cause terrible lag spikes during the fight? Because that's a thing.
  • The Boss Monster has an unskippable cutscene, every time you fight it. He wants to destroy the world because everyone is too sad. The voice acting is horrendous.

I think that covers everything... I'm feeling pretty good about the sanctity of my soul.

A:

Don't be afraid of putting on a pair of figure skates. I think they could really help.

Also, I do a lot of stability on the Bosu ball at the gym which might help.


Q:

nice try.

A:

It's just a day hike I don't need a survival kit or training.


Q:

ASHER: There were some examples but it was very rare.

A:

I think if the child protection workers had taken Dani away when they first visited her, when she was 2, then again when she was 3, or even if they had at least revisited her to do a welfare check, or insisted she be put in some sort of day care or pre-school, or visit a doctor, they would have had four extra years to help repair / heal her and make up for the severe neglect and malnutrition which have damaged her for life. I think, once Dani was discovered, that so many folks did so much to try to help her, I'm not sure how much more they could have done ... For that first year she was with the Lierows, she got every kind of therapy imaginable. But once they moved from Florida to Tennessee, and lost the umbrella of protection the Florida adoption folks provided, Dani's new parents stopped taking her to outside therapies and left her instruction entirely to the public school. So I don't know if more individualized speech / occupational / physical therapy would have helped from age 10 til 19 ... but it might have.


Q:

What can the average person do to help stop this? The GOP continually lies about this tax scam with zero consequences. Dems keep taking the high road which I’m all for, but what do you do when the other side literally can’t hit the bottom.

A:

How did you think about writing a series of stories about a subject who can't really communicate about herself? I think you did a fantastic job with the story, and everything I've read of yours, but even terms like a feral child, while certainly accurate, seem to speak to that issue being a tricky one to navigate.


Q:

are your humans assigned their own rat to work with, or do they rotate assignments?

A:

That second one seems like there's no clear winner, though I'm assuming he was paying child support here too.

The way things went, he gets to keep working, and there's an obgyn who is also a sex offender.

But the other way is like "Mom, why don't I get any presents on my birthday and christmas?"

"Because your father abused you."

"O...oh...okay"


Q:

A 12 year old Korean kid is going to have your soul by April.

A:

In the movie "Blades of Glory", there is a figure skating move there called the Iron Lotus.

If given the chance to team up with a robot skater with 0% chances of error, would you consider doing that move to get gold?


Q:

How do you handle what seems to be a majority of people's "fear of math" (for lack of better term) when incorporating math in your story telling?

A:

What are some general survival tips that everyone should know?


Q:

are there any characteristics to look for that decrease the chance of it being a bad experience?

A:

This was an amazing story and I particularly enjoyed the way you wrote about the relationship between Dani and her father. I really admire you as a journalist and was wondering if you could talk about how you became a feature writer and what this story taught you about reporting difficult enterprise stories?


Q:

You're right -- the GOP is pretty comfortable with lying. It's like they never learned basic rights and wrongs. The fight isn't over though, there is still a chance we could beat this thing and so making calls to your representatives, showing up at their offices, hosting and attending events in your area (visit NotOnePenny) are all still very important. And then we need to all work hard to hold those who vote for this terrible bill accountable and make them pay for voting for their donors not their constituents.

A:

When I set out to write Dani's story, I truly didn't know that she couldn't talk. It wasn't until that first day when I met her in person that I realized how lost ... or locked-in ... she was. So I had to shift my reporting perspective entirely and write the story through the perspective of her rescuers and new family rather than her own eyes. You're right: I always want to share the story from the main character's viewpoint. But that just wasn't possible for this one. I so wish I could have navigated enough to know what was going on in her mind ...


Q:

Usually they have their own rat, but for example when staff members take their holidays, their colleagues will be happy to take over. This also happens when rats move between countries - they will encounter new trainers.

A:

Exactly. Nobody won in that case.


Q:

My only weakness! How did you know?!

A:

Anything for the gold medal.


Q:

I find it's best to not tell them it's a math story! One great thing about math is that it's embedded in everyday life, so you can connect it to things that people already identify with.

A:

Always have a small, easy to carry kit that will get you through the night when going to the outdoors.

Always form an emergency signal as soon as possible in an emergency.

Get a wilderness first aid card.

Hydrate well before hitting the outdoors, it's better for every climate/altitude.

Take a class with me.


Q:

ASHER: My top tips are to only stay at places that have a shit ton of reviews, only stay at places that have a 5-star average, only stay with Superhosts. Don't stay with a host who has more than one or two properties.

You can read all 54 of my tips on my site here: https://www.asherfergusson.com/airbnb/#safety-tips

A:

Thank you! I was a news reporter for 15 years, working mostly in a small bureau on the Outer Banks of N.C., writing two or three stories a day for the Virginian-Pilot newspaper, covering cops and courts and zoning boards and hurricanes. In 1995, the paper's writing coach, Ron Speer, became my editor and started asking me to give him my notes before I started writing. That was terrifying. But it turned me from a reporter / quote stringer together to a writer. I knew the story. I didn't need my notes except to fill in the facts ... In 1998, the Pilot started a narrative writing team, led by a young editor named Maria Carrillo, and she picked me as one of four reporters to write narrative features. She sent us to conferences, gave us books and stories to read, and met with us weekly to talk about craft and ideas and edit each other. So that was the turning point from news reporter to feature writer. I came to the Tampa Bay Times (then the St. Petersburg Times) in 2000 to be a features writer and got the honor of working for fabulous editor Mike Wilson, who really helped me hone my craft and reach for harder stories. I got to work with him for 13 years! And now Maria Carrillo is my editor again! So I've been incredibly lucky to have worked for wonderful editors who let me talk about stories, characters, setting and theme ... and pushed me outside of my comfort zone to cover things I really didn't know anything about. This was the first long-form story I had worked on for more than a month. I spent 6 months reporting and writing, and had 24 other bylines during that time. So I learned you can do a difficult project while still doing dailies and weekenders .... and that it helps so much to break these big stories into chapters.


Q:

Senator Wyden and Ms. Gill,

What are the top three things that normal American citizens can do to stop this bill from going through?

Also, what is the best way to frame this bill to explain it so people who aren't as politically active or savvy can understand what is potentially about to happen? How can I get my apathetic friends to realize how badly this will affect them?

Thanks for your time!

A:

This was an amazing story and I particularly enjoyed the way you wrote about the relationship between Dani and her father. I really admire you as a journalist and was wondering if you could talk about how you became a feature writer and what this story taught you about reporting difficult enterprise stories?


Q:

Is there a registry or memorial of hero rats who have died in the service?

A:

Tacos of the fat? Count me in.


Q:

Upvote for Harold and Kumar reference.

A:

How many pairs of boots/blades to you have ready at any point in time? (Also, I absolutely love how you’ve spray painted the heels on your Pianos.)


Q:

What would you say to your students who are reading this thread?

A:

What's the biggest mistake people commonly make in a survival situation?


Q:

My friends and I were staying at a home in Nashville for a bachelor party. The owner was coming in to check on us throughout the week (totally understandable). But our third night there we noticed a camera in one of the bedrooms and asked him about it. He said he'd check on it the next day. While we were out getting lunch he stopped by and said there was no camera and he wasn't sure what we were talking about. We went back to the home and sure enough the camera was gone.

We complained to Airbnb and got no response or refund. The big fear that we had was that there were some provocative things happening in that bedroom that we wouldn't like the world to see (remember, bachelor party). If any of those videos were ever to be found somewhere online, do we have a legal leg to stand on in terms of suing the host?

A:

thank you for your reply! It's very heartening to hear one can make the transition from news to features. I will continue to follow your byline - wishing you all the best


Q:

Hi wildstaringeyes - the best way to talk about the bill is to tell the truth. Multiple independent experts have concluded that the bill overwhelming gives tax cuts to the wealthy and big corporations, and proof of this is that the tax cuts for corporations are permanent whereas those for individuals expire! The fact is, if you make under $200,000 a year, you are probably going to get a tax increase.

Please keep talking to your friends and family and urge them to take the time to understand the bill. Thank you for everything you are doing to stop the bill!

A:

Thank you! I was a news reporter for 15 years, working mostly in a small bureau on the Outer Banks of N.C., writing two or three stories a day for the Virginian-Pilot newspaper, covering cops and courts and zoning boards and hurricanes. In 1995, the paper's writing coach, Ron Speer, became my editor and started asking me to give him my notes before I started writing. That was terrifying. But it turned me from a reporter / quote stringer together to a writer. I knew the story. I didn't need my notes except to fill in the facts ... In 1998, the Pilot started a narrative writing team, led by a young editor named Maria Carrillo, and she picked me as one of four reporters to write narrative features. She sent us to conferences, gave us books and stories to read, and met with us weekly to talk about craft and ideas and edit each other. So that was the turning point from news reporter to feature writer. I came to the Tampa Bay Times (then the St. Petersburg Times) in 2000 to be a features writer and got the honor of working for fabulous editor Mike Wilson, who really helped me hone my craft and reach for harder stories. I got to work with him for 13 years! And now Maria Carrillo is my editor again! So I've been incredibly lucky to have worked for wonderful editors who let me talk about stories, characters, setting and theme ... and pushed me outside of my comfort zone to cover things I really didn't know anything about. This was the first long-form story I had worked on for more than a month. I spent 6 months reporting and writing, and had 24 other bylines during that time. So I learned you can do a difficult project while still doing dailies and weekenders .... and that it helps so much to break these big stories into chapters.


Q:

We had a ceremonial burial in Cambodia this year when one rat passed away due to illness. It was attended by all trainers in Cambodia.

A:

Phat Phrank’s breakfast burrito is the work of God. Big bacon pieces and crispy potatoes to offset that mushy texture breakfast burritos are always in danger of getting. The dispensary next door doesn’t hurt either.


Q:

True story: My dream is that, when I die, I'll have the time to say "<Cause of death>, my only weakness! How did you know?!" just to fuck with anyone who watches me die.

The more specific about the cause of death, the better.

Like, imagine if I got hit by a car. And there's this terrified student driver (who just hit me) and some EMTs trying to help my dying ass, and I just manage to wheeze out:

"A '97 Chevy Impala... my only weakness! How did you know?!" Then, just die on on the spot! Everyone would be baffled and traumatized for life.

It'd be awesome.

A:

Thanks! It's actually nail polish. Way easier than spray paint.

I always have two pairs just in case anything happens.


Q:

Homework is still due tonight. If you're not done, close this tab.

A:

Failure to make a signal of any kind. There's usually A LOT of people looking for you; helicopters, atv's, crews on foot, etc.


Q:

ERIN: That’s more of a legal question, and it involves several layers of legality. Full disclosure: I am NOT a legal expert, nor are Asher or Sheana. I do not claim to know the laws of every state or governing location.

  1. Some states in the US, for example, are one-party consent states. This means of the recorded parties, only one must consent (obviously the person doing the recording consents, so done and done). Other states may require majority consent, while still others require all-party consent.
  2. Some laws may differentiate between video-only, video+audio, and audio-only recording.
  3. Some legal proceedings may require the incident to have been reported to officers of the law, and may require certain types of and amounts of proof. Other types of infractions may not require such evidentiary support.
  4. If the cameras were disclosed, I seriously doubt there’s anything to be done about it
  5. If they were not disclosed, it may even depend on what was recorded? Hard to say.

Long story short, there are so many jurisdictional overlaps here that it would be hard to say for sure what legal protections there are, but it’s likely that the victim(s) of privacy-infringement in the context of hidden cameras would have some recourse.

In any case, you should absolutely take the matter to the police as soon as it happens and have full photo/video evidence.

A:

And you can try narrative techniques in news stories too ... even just a scene you witness, or a dialog instead of direct quote, or some sensory detail of smell or touch elevates news stories and helps transport readers there. Or try just a small narrative feature. My first attempts were mostly under 1,000 words ... I know that I could never write narratives if I hadn't covered news, on deadline, for all those years ...


Q:

I live in a district and state that is overwhelmingly pro tax scam, the great State of Texas. I feel utterly helpless, a lot of us here do.

Is there anything we can do beyond calling, emailing our congress people that are obviously beyond debating the matter?

A:

thank you for your reply! It's very heartening to hear one can make the transition from news to features. I will continue to follow your byline - wishing you all the best


Q:

I love APOPO! Thank you for doing this AMA. I have always wondered why landmines and TB? These are obviously worthy causes but how and why were they selected against the many other applications that the rats could have been trained for?

A:

What is your trick to stay sane in your line of work? How do you walk on the streets and not be paranoid about regular people around you, knowing so well what they are capable of?


Q:

Candy corn shaped anal beads that have been used three times... my only weakness! How did you know?!

A:

Mirai,

Thank you for doing this AMA and representing the US in the Olympics.

At what point did you know that you wanted to be an Olympic athlete?

Who is the Olympic athlete that you were most star struck when you met in person?


Q:

How did you go from hating math to being a math major and CS professor? (And why did you hate math in the first place?)

A:

What kind of signals would be good? I understand at some point a guy took out a large power line so they would have to send a crew out but I'm not sure how he did that and I also don't know what kind of signals would be good or how to make them.


Q:

put cameras on the doors and windows, disclose active monitoring of security cameras. being someones "house" having security system isnt skeevy. but nannycams in the house are.

A:

How did you think about writing a series of stories about a subject who can't really communicate about herself? I think you did a fantastic job with the story, and everything I've read of yours, but even terms like a feral child, while certainly accurate, seem to speak to that issue being a tricky one to navigate.


Q:

Howdy foolmanchoo! I know you feel hopeless. It's hard to keep fighting these terrible bills the Republican Congress is trying to push through. In Texas you actually have a lot of power. There are some really interesting congressional districts with members who are going to be in tight races next year and if they vote for a bill that harms their constituents (hint: it will) it's up to active citizens like you to hold them accountable. Keep calling your members, and make sure you talk to your family and friends across the state and educate them about the bill and encourage them to take action too. Thank you for keeping up the fight!

A:

And you can try narrative techniques in news stories too ... even just a scene you witness, or a dialog instead of direct quote, or some sensory detail of smell or touch elevates news stories and helps transport readers there. Or try just a small narrative feature. My first attempts were mostly under 1,000 words ... I know that I could never write narratives if I hadn't covered news, on deadline, for all those years ...


Q:

When we started my colleague Bart Weetjens got intrigued by the landmine problem and after an analysis immediately found that the detection of the landmines is the hardest part. Rats came up as part of a systematic study and brainstorm comparing possible detection techniques. After a feasibility study we moved to Tanzania where our University had a collaboration in the field of rodent research. However, Tanzania has no landmines, but is one of the high burden TB countries. Again - detection was the main problem, as 30% of the people dying from TB are never diagnosed.

A:

I had to actively fight to keep it from making me paranoid and avoidant. You see so many people testify that it trains you to better read people out in the real world. That being said it absolutely affected the way I look at others and how I raised my kids. It’s tempting to put up an emotional barrier and assume everyone is out to get someone but it’s ultimately not helpful.


Q:

The EMT vomits. The priest faints. The bank teller just wishes we would leave.

A:

Thanks for having me!

As a little girl I watched skaters like Kristi Yamaguchi and Michelle Kwan and wanted to be just like them. However, I didn't have a definitive moment where I decided I wanted to be an Olympic athlete. I've just always wanted to the best and I think becoming an Olympic athlete was a part of that goal.

Every time that I see Michelle Kwan, I'm awe struck because she is the epitome of a role model. She's always so nice to everyone and the way she conducts herself is something I truly admire.


Q:

When I was growing up, math seemed formulaic and uncreative. It seemed just like regurgitation: if I figured out how to e.g. add fractions, it would be the same method anyone else would use. In particular, I found calculus boring and resolved not to take any more after high school.

In college everyone was required to take one semester of math, so I took number theory, thinking it would be easy. Numbers are simple; how much theory could there really be? Under Jordan Ellenberg, it turns out, a lot. Jordan showed me the creative side of mathematics, and I was hooked! Meanwhile, I got rejected from the Princeton creative writing class.

A:

A large triangle, x, or sos on the ground, anything reflective, anything brightly colored, fire, and smoke. Thanks for participating. Symmetry, reflectivity, unnatural coloration, all catch the eye.


Q:

SHEANA: Yes, this study was focused exclusively on guest experiences, and only negative experiences at that. Because Airbnb is a two-sided marketplace (i.e., there are both guests who stay at Airbnbs AND hosts who offer Airbnbs) there is the potential for abuse on both sides. Your concern sounds similar to the finding here, that customer service was a frequent complaint among guests.

A:

When I set out to write Dani's story, I truly didn't know that she couldn't talk. It wasn't until that first day when I met her in person that I realized how lost ... or locked-in ... she was. So I had to shift my reporting perspective entirely and write the story through the perspective of her rescuers and new family rather than her own eyes. You're right: I always want to share the story from the main character's viewpoint. But that just wasn't possible for this one. I so wish I could have navigated enough to know what was going on in her mind ...


Q:

My parents neighbors adopted a couple of former "crib babies" from former soviet states when I was a kid. You could call them "feral" I suppose, they both seemed to make immense progress in the first few years, then regressed terribly right around puberty (back in diapers, stopped all speaking, etc). Is this common in these situations?

A:

Could you put tiny cameras on them with microphone/speaker/gps?


Q:

What was the Titan missile case?

A:

BROTHA I AM PINNED HEAH


Q:

Hi Mirai, what do you enjoy most about the competing having been in some of the top competitions in the world? Also what's your diet like during training season? Thanks and good luck on PyeongChang!

A:

What, or who, inspired you to become a writer? What about a computer science professor?

My boyfriend is currently studying computer science, he's unsure of what he wants to do quite yet but I think that's okay. He'll figure it out. What advice would you give to people who want to get into the computer science field? What about those who'd like to write a book?

How long did it take you to write the book for children?

By the way, thanks for doing this for us. I'm usually too shy to participate and ask questions but I decided to try today so I'm really sorry if one of my questions is too nosy or worded bad.


Q:

Local folklore says that even though the hunter started the campfire, it was a USFS helicopter that fanned the flames and made it spread. What eventually happened was that the hunter was held in jail for 364 days, the charges were dropped, and he was let go. The case never went to trial. Makes one wonder how the fire was really started.

A:

Where has your study been published - can you please share the DOI link? I can't find it on your website.


Q:

My parents neighbors adopted a couple of former "crib babies" from former soviet states when I was a kid. You could call them "feral" I suppose, they both seemed to make immense progress in the first few years, then regressed terribly right around puberty (back in diapers, stopped all speaking, etc). Is this common in these situations?

A:

That's so interesting ... and I don't know if it's common, but it seems so similar to Dani's situation ... puberty was really when she seemed to backslide ... I wonder what the correlation is there? How old were the children when they got adopted? From what I've heard, those Russian orphans were virtually feral ... so sad ... do you know there are volunteers in the neo-natal intensive care units of hospitals who just hold the babies so they'll get human touch from the time they're born? Those early connections seem to be so important!


Q:

Yes we can! We did an initial experiment some years ago in first study to use rats for search and rescue. Meanwhile the technology has evolved and we are talking with a Search and Rescue group as well as with engineers to develop the technology for this same purpose, using infrared cameras to find survivors, which would also have to include GPS and communication equipment, all in a small backpack. Currently we are testing a small electronic ball-pull switch around the neck to see if rats can give just an electronic response in situations where we could not observe their behavior.

A:

A series of depositions of engineers who worked on the titan missile.


Q:

Shit, now I'm afraid the Magpies are gonna steal my Soul Box.

A:

I enjoy challenging myself and trying to better myself in a high pressure situation.

During the season, I try to eat a balanced diet that includes lots of fruits and vegetables. I eat to fuel and have found that finding the right balance has been extremely important for my regime.


Q:

What, or who, inspired you to become a writer?

When I was at camp as a kid, we used to always tell ghost stories. But I didn't find them very scary. So I started to come up with my own. My whole cabin got nightmares.

How long did it take you to write the book for children?

We spent about a year on the initial draft, and then another year revising & getting it published. The most important part of writing a book is finishing it!

What about those who'd like to write a book?

As you can imagine, I was busy with many other projects during those two years. I think it's important for writers to have perspective on & experience in the world around them -- otherwise you just end up writing about writing.

A:

He wasn't charged, I believe, because he was without water for ten hours on a hot day before using his flare.


A:

That's so interesting ... and I don't know if it's common, but it seems so similar to Dani's situation ... puberty was really when she seemed to backslide ... I wonder what the correlation is there? How old were the children when they got adopted? From what I've heard, those Russian orphans were virtually feral ... so sad ... do you know there are volunteers in the neo-natal intensive care units of hospitals who just hold the babies so they'll get human touch from the time they're born? Those early connections seem to be so important!


Q:

How is she doing?

A:

Where do you get these rodents of unusual size? Florin?


Q:

Did you report any case where someone got away with murder?

A:

is there any literature or theory that is popular among f2p companies re: psychology of f2p and how to maximize profits along those lines, or is every company re-inventing the wheel from a behavioral psychology POV?


Q:

There is a guy here in Norway that has a tv show about driving to the olympics except that he doesn't have a license so he got to ask random people to drive his car to SK. Would you watch that?

A:

How can I stop my daughter from hating math?


Q:

What are your thoughts on the Primitive Technology guy?

A:

Fergusson himself is clearly biased into wanting to prove Airbnb and its support are terrible, because of his bad experience with the moldy Airbnb rental. There's no real scientific basis for this, but hey, it does give a nice infographic.


Q:

Hello Lane. My question, has anyone from the birth family or their neighbors ever indicate why Dani was neglected while her siblings were not? What ever became if her siblings?

A:

Here's a link to the most recent story that just came out. I visited her for her 19th birthday: http://www.tampabay.com/projects/girl-in-the-window/neglect-feral-child-ten-years-later/ Short answer: She didn't recover much over the last few years, in fact she seemed to have regressed a bit. But she's much more content, not running away or lashing out. She let me hold her hand. And she actually laughed, which made me so happy to know there's a bit of joy in her now.


Q:

Cricetomys or African Giant Pouched Rats are quite common in Sub-Saharan Africa, from East to West. One can see them mostly roaming at night, during daytime they mostly spend underground. However, we only train rats which have been bred in-house.

A:

It’s a very small percentage but yes. Usually jury error or a technicality. In Nevada it’s very hard to get out of a murder accusation but I once saw a woman who brutally murdered her husband with a hammer and was acquitted pretty much because she was a woman.


Q:

Reinventing the wheel, constantly. You would be shocked at how non-standardized the game industry is, from a development perspective.

Obviously, different kinds of games have different development needs, but even things as a simple as job titles can mean completely different things from company-to-company. Which is ridiculous and I think that'll need to change within the next 5 years.

At Kabam, we had elaborate spread sheets to keep track of all of our loot boxes and approximate "market values" for items. Still, sometimes things really came down to observation and the gut feelings you get from working on a game, 8 hours a day, for over a year.

A:

Yes, is it on Netflix?


Q:

Tell her that you hate math. Then hating math won't be cool anymore.

(stay tuned for more serious advice to come :) )

A:

Awesome. I just hope people realize that the footage is done over time, and those projects are done in half a day or anything lol. He's putting a lot of effort into those projects.


Q:

ASHER: I partnered with Sheana and Erin to remove my bias. If you read the paper you will see this:

The primary coder studied sample reviews and created a coding system to represent the seven most common complaint categories. A second coder also scored a sample of responses, and their agreement met the standards of interrater reliability (Cohen’s kappa = .82). Team members read the reviews and determined which category or categories each review fit into based on predetermined qualifying reasons or problems.

A:

Her siblings were much older, teenagers and young 20s, when she was taken. It later came out in court records that the oldest brother had urged his mom to take Dani to the doctor and put her in school. I think the mom had her husband to help raise the boys, and after he died she got pregnant on a one-night stand but didn't know the dad and didn't realize she was pregnant and was just in denial that she even had a daughter. Neighbors said she was seldom home, always playing Bingo at the Moose Lodge with a new boyfriend, so she either left Dani entirely alone in that awful room, or left her with her older brothers, who just seem to have ignored her. The youngest brother answered the door when we knocked in September, said he remembered it was Dani's birthday, but when I asked if he thought about her, or what had happened to her, he shut the door.


Q:

Hello Lane. My question, has anyone from the birth family or their neighbors ever indicate why Dani was neglected while her siblings were not? What ever became if her siblings?

A:

What's your favorite rat story?


Q:

details?

A:

[deleted]


Q:

What’s your most and least favorite jump, and what’s your least favorite move (rockers, brackets, counters, chocktaws)?

A:

I also “hated math” when I was in high school so I dropped it after I hit my requisite 2.5 years (I think I really just didn’t understand what its value was). I never finished algebra or took calculus or trigonometry. In college I was a political science major so I got away with only taking statistics.

Now I’m a lawyer and I realize that I probably would have been good at math and enjoyed it. In my line of work I can get by without it, but I deal with a lot of economics/econometrics expert reports and could add value if I understood the math.

Plus I want to exercise my formal logic muscles because they’re getting flabby.

What’s the best way to hop back into it? What websites/apps/etc. will not only teach me in an engaging way, but help me figure out where I should start?


Q:

How many times have you drank your own pee?

A:

This comment should be higher up. When questioned where it was published he linked his own site. I think this information is pertinent when absorbing information possible for possible bias, inaccuracies and lack of peer review.


Q:

I was not aware of this story. I just read what's posted on the website. This might be one of the most disturbing, yet uplifting things I've ever read.

This policy of attempting to keep a child with its parent(s), has this ever been revisited in this state? Is it like this everywhere? My parents were foster parents growing up and they cared for some kids in terrible situations. Nothing ever like this, but certainly prone to massive mood swings due to fetal alcohol syndrome and thing like this. In almost all cases, the children were returned to their mothers, except one where the child was adopted and another where she passed the age of 18 while living with my parents and continued to live with them after getting a job and paying rent.

A:

Her siblings were much older, teenagers and young 20s, when she was taken. It later came out in court records that the oldest brother had urged his mom to take Dani to the doctor and put her in school. I think the mom had her husband to help raise the boys, and after he died she got pregnant on a one-night stand but didn't know the dad and didn't realize she was pregnant and was just in denial that she even had a daughter. Neighbors said she was seldom home, always playing Bingo at the Moose Lodge with a new boyfriend, so she either left Dani entirely alone in that awful room, or left her with her older brothers, who just seem to have ignored her. The youngest brother answered the door when we knocked in September, said he remembered it was Dani's birthday, but when I asked if he thought about her, or what had happened to her, he shut the door.


Q:

Hehe...I will never forget the moment when we just started our feasibility study in Belgium, where a loose rat walked up to a heap of sand. What it didn't know but what I witnessed was a cat walking up the same heap of sand on the other side. They met each other on top of the pile...nose to nose..I thought damn, this is not good for ratty! But what happened, the rat blew its pouches and the cat ran off scared like hell.

A:

She hit him 50 or so times in the head with a ten pound post driver while he was sleeping and claimed battered wife syndrome but there wasn’t any evidence she was battered. She still walked.


Q:

Common truths? Hmm... here are some of the guidelines I remember using. Things will, of course vary between teams and companies.

  • Don't publish the odds, it causes more confusion than help. People will think that buying 100 loot boxes guarantees them a 1 in 100 drop, then get angry when it doesn't. That's not how statistics work.
  • Always make the minimum prize the same value as the lootbox cost. That way the player is never losing value for buying a lootbox.
  • The top prize (sometimes called the 'chase prize') has to be something that isn't available any other way. The event is centered around this chase prize.
  • Include several smaller chase prizes, like chase prizes from a few months ago, at better odds. This lets people who missed out last time have a shot at them.
  • Aim for lower lootbox cost when possible. Lower price means a lower barrier to entry.
  • Reward people for buying in bulk.
  • If you're going to do a big event, always give every active player a free lootbox. It feels nice to get presents, it increases player goodwill, and it gets otherwise ambivalent players excited about the event. It's also funny as hell when a new, low level player gets the chase prize in their free lootbox. Rare, but awesome.
  • You can piss the players off, or you can ask them for money. Doing both at the same time is suicide.
  • After every big lootbox event, there will be a 'hangover' where nobody wants to spend money. Make sure that your sales schedule accounts for this.
A:

My favorite jump is my double axel and my least favorite jump is definitely my triple salchow. Favorite move would have to be counter clockwise twizzles!


Q:

Great question! This is something I'm pretty passionate about.

In undergrad, my senior thesis was a book that would gradually introduce formal proof techniques to curious people with no more than a high school background, tentatively titled "Proof By Numbers". Princeton University Press was interested in helping me bring it to a wider audience, but then I left for grad school and didn't have time to go through their revision process. I plan to revisit that manuscript soon -- if you want to be a "beta" reader, please email [email protected] with "Proof By Numbers" in the subject line.

In the meantime, I'd recommend How Not to Be Wrong by one of my undergrad mentors, Jordan Ellenberg.

A:

Mine? Twice. My boyfriend's? Countless times.


Q:

ASHER: Since we are fully independent researchers we needed to start somewhere and Reddit is a great place for that. If there is anyone who would like to help us get the data peer-reviewed and published in an academic journal we'd love to collaborate.

A:

Yes, great question. When the child investigators first visited Dani, when she was 3, the state of Florida's policy was to do everything to keep the child with the birth parent. So they offered services to Dani's birth mom, including free child care, but she refused. And they didn't go back to check on Dani until a year later, when someone else called. Same scenario. I can't help but obsessing over what her life would've been like if they'd rescued her back then ... after the story came out, the policy was changed so that police officers have to accompany child investigators on cases where abuse is alleged. That way, if a truly criminal act has occurred, they can rescue the child and make an arrest right away instead of dragging out a long case plan to keep the child in possible peril.


Q:

Hi Lane. I greatly admire your work. As a young reporter trying to navigate my way through a narrative project, I've found myself overwhelmed and overloaded with notes and information. What's your organization process? You mentioned only using your notes to fill in facts. How do you do that? I tend to use my notes as a crutch and it becomes time consuming when I sit down to write. What does your writing process look like? Do you wait until you have all the material? Has it changed over the years? Sorry for all the questions. And if you have any tips on finding some of these great stories, please share! how do you balance life and work?

A:

How do you ensure that your rats stay disease free?


Q:

Wow sounds like you don’t have a dull day. That’s really interesting, and didn’t realise things like that could end in a re-trial.

A:

That's interesting -- nobody in any f2p company you've heard of has a psychology background?


Q:

We love your Miss Saigon free skate and your dogs!

Have you seen Miss Saigon on Broadway yet?

What has been the hardest part of getting your triple axel consistent?

As an avid Drag Race fan, what is your favorite season and favorite lipsync?

What is your favorite musical?

Is Michelle Kwan as magical as she appears to be?

A:

Can you tell us more about what it's like to work at IEX? As a quant for a fund that I assume is nonprofit what kinds of problems are you tackling? From what I know, most quants are trying to make more money for their firm.

How do you balance being a quant and a professor at the same time?

For context to others, IEX is a stock exchange founded by Brad Katsyuma to combat the exploitative methods of high frequency traders. He is the protagonist of Michael Lewis' Flashboys.


Q:

With a Sawyer squeeze, probably all the time.

A:

Has Airbnb contacted you regarding your research? Will you continue to investigate more Airbnb cases and have you considered expanding your investigations spectrum into other industries like Uber? What is is the most shocking case you stumble upon in your Airbnb investigation?


Q:

That's excellent news. I just sent your story to my mother. I'm sure she'll find it interesting and heart wrenching. Great job, by the way. You told this story the way it needed to be told. Still can't believe the birth mother agreed to an interview.

A:

Yes, my writing process has totally changed over the years. And it's quite different if I'm writing a news story, or on deadline, or only have one notebook of notes as opposed to the nine legal pads I had for Dani. So, since you asked: 1. I finish 90 percent of my reporting before I ever think about writing. Then I duck into a quiet cave, no social media, no phone, and read through all of my notes ... taking notes on the notes, so each big legal pad gets reduced to one page of notes, more like an index of what's in that notebook. 2. I make a list of characters, scenes and themes ... then a timeline / chronology of events. 3. I try to figure out what background / context I need to weave into the narrative, and which scenes I can turn into cinematic experiences for the readers. 4. I put away all my notes, in my car or kitchen, and take a shower, or take the dogs for a walk, or do laundry ... something to engage my body but free my mind. And I make myself think: What would it be like to be that person? Where would my story start and end? What's a good cliff hanger / question to end the first section? 5. I write the lead long-hand on a notebook that I keep in my bathroom, bedroom, glove box, kitchen sink ... I never sit in front of a blank computer screen without having the lead written already. 6. I make myself write in sections ... don't get up until you finish that Diet Coke ... forcing myself to keep typing until I hit that goal / prize ... I write without notes. I need to know where I'm going to end, even if I don't know where I'm going between the lead and the last line ... 7. After the story is done, I go back through my notes, and notepads, and fill in any details, numbers, things I have forgotten. And I make whatever other calls / research inquiries I need to fill in whatever holes I might have found. 8. I print out the story and take it outside somewhere, or into another room, and read it on paper with a pen. 9. I go back and make corrections, edits in the file. 10. I print it out again and ask someone to read it to me out loud. If no one is around, I read it out loud to my dogs, or record it on my phone so I can listen for rhythm, word choice, sentence structure, syntax, etc.

I write so much faster when I don't use my notes as an excuse to procrastinate. And I find my own voice so much more easily when I'm not just stringing together someone else's quotes.

My work and life are so intertwined, I don't know if that constitutes balance, but there isn't a day I'm entirely off work, not thinking about my stories, nor a day that my husband and kids don't creep into my work thoughts ...

As for ideas, see if this hand-out helps ... it has tips and a link to each tip that shows a story I found using that tip ...

Finding Story Ideas: Tips your editor won't tell you

Lane DeGregory, Tampa Bay Times

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing, 2009

FINDING FOLKS

1) Talk to strangers

    Be nosey, sit by the old woman on the swing, everyone has a story 

Pier singer Elmer Wright: “Still shining”

http://www.sptimes.com/News/040101/Floridian/Still_shining.shtml

2) Play hookie

    Roam aimlessly, let someone else drive, ride the bus, look around 

Cashier Michael Turbe: “A Father’s Day 41 years in the making”

http://tampabay.com/features/humaninterest/article623516.ece

3) Read the walls

    Check bulletin boards, buy bad papers, scour the classifieds 

Husband Mark Tanner: “Where did she go?”

http://www.tampabay.com/features/humaninterest/article706028.ece

4) Sit the bench

    Be a fly on the wall, eavesdrop at beauty parlors, eat lunch alone 

Anthony and Ryan Moran: “A brother’s bond”

http://www.tampabay.com/features/humaninterest/autism-cant-tear-twin-brothers-apart/948355

5) Make freaky friends

    Opposites attract, befriend photographers, use your friends and kids 

Carnival guru Ward Hall: “The last sideshow”

http://www.sptimes.com/2003/09/28/Floridian/The_last_sideshow.shtml

6) Get a life

Eat dirt at the drag strip, join bowling leagues, go to festivals 

Holocaust survivor Helga Harris: “Dear Friends”

http://www.sptimes.com/2006/11/16/Floridian/Dear_friends.shtml

7) Ignore important people

    See who's in their shadows, stakeholders, other ways in 

Miss St. Petersburg’s shopper Allan Brown: “The dresser”

http://www.sptimes.com/2003/06/22/Floridian/The_Dresser.shtml

8) Celebrate losers

    Dreams don't always come true, ask about failures, lessons learned 

Homeless artist Rick Lewis: “Homer’s odyssey”

http://www.tampabay.com/features/homers-odyssey-for-cartoonist-living-in-shelters-and-on-street-home-is/1254643

9) Wonder: Who would ever?

    Here's to you, Mr. golf ball picker-upper, Dirty Jobs, why you? 

Public health nurse Flo Concklin: “They call her Mama V”

http://www.sptimes.com/2002/03/30/Floridian/They_call_her__Mama_V.shtml

10) Hang out at bars (or coffee shops)

    Check out different dives, try a martini, always come back to Cheers 

Garbage truck driver Allen Smith: “Gone in a flash”

http://www.sptimes.com/2002/04/30/Floridian/Gone_in_a_flash.shtml

GETTING THE GOODS

11) Give everyone your phone number

    Keep in touch, don't dis PR people, ask what else is going on 

Russian pianists Alah Rozanovsky and Valentina Kits: “Music reunites”

http://www.tampabay.com/features/humaninterest/music-reunites-two-russian-piano-teachers-in-clearwater/1248680

12) Be late

    Old news is good news, it's easier after the arrest, whatever happened to 

Town Manager Steve Stanton: “His second self”

http://www.sptimes.com/2007/03/11/Northpinellas/His_second_self.shtml

13) Work holidays

    Relish rituals, find faith, new traditions, those who can't celebrate 

Foster kid Shane Sheil: “All he wants is a mom and a dad”

http://www.sptimes.com/2006/12/21/Floridian/All_he_wants_is_a_mom.shtml

14) Take stories no one else wants

    Make people care, write for other sections, find a new way 

High school senior Stacey Karavokiros: “Prom wish”

http://www.tampabay.com/features/humaninterest/article490129.ece

“A prom queen holds court”

http://www.tampabay.com/news/humaninterest/article499266.ece

15) Look for the bruise on the apple

    Ask uncomfortable questions, celebrate conflict, sucks for them 

Stunt man Evel Knievel: “A daredevil comes back to earth”

http://www.sptimes.com/2007/08/05/Features/Daredevil_Evel_Knieve.shtml

CRACKING THE NUTS

16) Lie on the floor, climb on the cabinets

    See stories from a new angle, seek new perspectives 

Drug court defendant Stacy Nicholson: “If I Die Young”

http://www.tampabay.com/features/humaninterest/a-young-woman-struggles-with-oxy-addiction-and-recovery/1206405

17) Listen to the quiet

    The sound of silence, what doesn't happen, questions not answered 

Hurricane hunk Jim Cantore: “The storm chaser”

http://www.sptimes.com/2004/09/20/Floridian/The_storm_chaser.shtml

18) Go along for the ride

    Invite yourself over, ask for photo albums, vacuum the scene 

Actress Michelle Dowdy: “Mama, I’m a big girl now”

http://www.sptimes.com/2005/webspecials05/big-girl-now/

19) Take small bites

    See a sliver of the big picture, shadows in the news, I can’t imagine 

Mom Cheryl Brown of Trayvon Martin’s neighborhood: “The Retreat”

http://www.tampabay.com/news/humaninterest/trayvon-martins-killing-shatters-safety-within-retreat-at-twin-lakes-in/1221799

20) Don’t be afraid of yourself

    Share your life, open up, tell stories, take risks, you are a character 

Tucker’s elephant flies out the window: “I brake for Bobo”

http://www.sptimes.com/2002/11/04/Floridian/I_brake_for_Bobo.shtml

Don’t be a snob. Don’t think you’ve heard them all before.

Help your writers take chances, surprise your readers with new lenses.

And remember, sometimes the best stories are in your own backyard.


Q:

We have daily visual checks of the rats, and weekly thorough checks by a qualified veterinary doctor. Being native to tropical climates, they are well adapted to the environment they work in.

A:

A lot of seemingly innocuous, random things can lead to a retrial. For example, saying the word “gang” in a gang trial. They are “youths” (yutes?) or you can call them by their official gang name ie “the crips/a crip” but the word gang is considered extremely prejudicial. Some departments are full of errors like this that lead to mistrial, ours was not. Our judge was a Supreme Court favorite because he was known for crossing every t and dotting every i.

Edit: I did have my dull moments, anything geology or construction related comes to mind. the words “soil sample” still send me into a coma.


Q:

While I'm sure some of my coworkers were psych majors in college, it never really came up. I've never seen (or even heard of, actually) anyone bringing in a practicing psychologist to work on loot boxes.

I don't think it'd be efficient to do so either. I feel like it'd be similar to bringing in an architect to solve a carpentry problem. Yes, they're in similar fields and there's similar study, but one is focused on the large scale problems and the other one is focused on the moment-to-moment problems.

A:

I just recently saw Miss Saigon on Broadway and it was amazing!

I've had all of my jumps for almost ten years now, so I've had time to get a feel for them. The triple axel is still a new jump for me, so it's been a little more challenging to conquer.

My favorite season of Drag Race is season 5 because I love all of the queens' personalities, but favorite lip sync has to be season 9 Shea Coulee vs. Sasha Velour singing, "So Emotional" by Whitney Houston. The rose petals were everything.


Q:

For a sample of the kind of work I do for IEX, you can see my recent whitepaper: The Evolution of the Crumbling Quote Signal

I try to balance work in industry and academia because I felt that staying only in academia was handicapping me in understanding real world systems, and I wanted to work directly on things that have a positive social impact.

In terms of time and energy, it is a difficult balance. I teach crypto at night.

A:

Sadly, they don't desalinate. I do recommend them for hiking though.


Q:

ASHER: Airbnb has not contacted us yet. We may consider researching other companies. What would be the most interesting is to build upon our Airbnb study by doing a similar study of hotels but that would require a much bigger research budget. The benefit would be that we could make a comparison of what's most likely to go wrong at an Airbnb vs hotel.

Here are some of the most shocking Airbnb guest horror stories we found on major news websites:

A:

I can't either! That's always so surprising to me. The folks I least think will agree to talk are often most grateful I asked! She kept thanking me for at least wanting to know her side of the story ... and she gave me a ton of court records and medical records that I wouldn't have been able to get because of privacy concerns. Just handed me this huge Hefty bag of documents and said, "You might want these. I don't know what's in there. But I don't need it back." A journalist's dream come true!


Q:

Really fantastic story. When you are hanging out with Dani, does it feel similar to interacting with an autistic person? (If you have experience with that of course) I ask because she seems to have a lot of the social features of a person with autism, but maybe less of the attraction to specific patterns and schedules that some autistic people have. There are some new innovative adult autistic communities being formed in California, and I wonder how dani might do in one of them

A:

What's the danger of the rats triggering the landmines and how do you mitigate that?


Q:

What's your average wpm?

A:

[deleted]


Q:

What song would you choose for a Last Chance Lipsync?

A:

I noticed that your TEDx talk uses the gruesome example of hiring assassins to showcase the need for encryption. I understand that the example is far removed from reality (need to replace the head of the Rabbithole IT department to save some kittens).

How do you feel about the stance of some governments against encryption, and the argument that citizens who have nothing to hide shouldn't be using methods that can prevent interception from law enforcement?


Q:

right. imagine if they did? you'd survive for months at sea in a dinghy.

A:

Sex offender. It's mind boggling that Airbnb does not vett hosts in any way. That is super scary.


Q:

So what was your approach to asking her for an interview?

A:

So I have interacted with a range of people with autism, and yes, Dani reminds me a lot of the most locked-in of those folks. She likes to spin and rock, twirl beads and socks, and repeat motions to self-soothe. And she seems to be able to completely disappear into herself, shutting out everything around her ... Being in the group home now seems to be a good alternative for her ... at least she has peers and 24/7 supervision and help ... I just worry that maybe she still has progress to make if she could be getting more or different kinds of therapy.


Q:

There is virtually no danger, since rats are too light to set off a landmine. However, demining is fundamentally dangerous work and we take every precaution to keep our rats and human staff safe. We follow strict safety procedures in line with international protocols. We’re aware that a problem could strike at any moment and we keep a trained medic on site at all times.

A:

225 was my average, 250 if we were hustling, 300 for 15 minutes was my record (in school). Fast talkers are worse to transcribe because they repeat themselves a lot and make a mess of the record.


Q:

I'd say that, on average, pay-to-win tendencies increase as a game's popularity goes down over time. When the game first starts out, balance and preserving the player ecosystem is everything.

As the game gets older, people start moving onto the next big thing, but a core sticks around. There's less of them, but they tend to spend more, on average.

As the game reaches it's final stage (sometimes called Farm Stage), a very small team is in charge of keeping the game on life support. They may love the game, but their development resources are tiny. The only thing they can do is fiddle with numbers. If you can't get your remaining players excited with new art, levels, or mechanics, what do you turn to?

The same items, but with bigger numbers.

Also, check out the Extra Credits video on Design by Accretion. It's a great insight for folks who aren't in the industry.

A:

Listen by Beyonce


Q:

In my opinion, encryption and related tools are incredibly important even to citizens with "nothing to hide."

Even if I don't have sensitive information in my communications, I may still want to access the internet in such a way that my view is not filtered and targeted to my identity or my location, for example. Frankly I am as concerned about companies on this front as I am about governments.

Mandating that all information flow must be able to be monitored and outlawing things like end-to-end encryption would make it impossible for people to access information in an unlinked and "neutral" way. Imagine a world where everything you can see is tailored to your identity and history - without you having any way of knowing that this is happening! We need to give people tools to control how they receive information, not just how they send it.

A:

they make hand held desal filters but they're like $700.


Q:

ASHER: In that case, the guy didn't show up in the sex offender databases so even if they did background check him they wouldn't have found him! :*(

A:

We just knocked on the door, told her we were writing about Dani, and wanted to talk to her to find out what had happened that led up to that day the investigators came ... It was a great lesson in just going for it, making sure everyone you're writing about at least gets a chance to have their voice heard.


Q:

Thank you for your answer! If you are interested, I would suggest looking into Sweetwater Spectrum adult autistic community in Sonoma CA. This type of community is expensive, but slowly gaining traction as the future of living situations for adults with disabilities. Of course this particular place will likely never be an option for Dani, but for me it gives a lot of hope of how people with disabilities will be able to live once we as a country start to realize that they deserve better than the bare minimum existence. (I have lots of experience with sweetwater and adults with autism so I can speak to its benefits)

A:

Is there anyway or plans to expand APOPO into other countries / areas that have mines?


Q:

300/60 = 5 words per second

Can people even talk that fast?

A:

What do you think about this whole "loot-boxes = gambling" idea?


Q:

If everything you drank and all your showers/baths could only be the same one temperature for the rest of your life, what temperature would you choose?

A:

Thanks for doing this!

How do you come up with ideas for new research?

How do you handle when a research project you spent a lot of time on fails to work?


Q:

I've never seen an AMA host answer this deep into a comment chain. Well done for venturing this far into the Reddit wilderness.

A:

What are your thoughts on the Adam Ruins AirBnb segment of his show? Does his claims hold any water?p


Q:

What are your feelings regarding Dani being so heavily drugged at all times?

A:

I wish there was a place like that where Medicaid would pay! Or that adopted kids with special needs could get free spots in places like that, like they do for foster kids who want to go to college.


Q:

We are currently preparing for operations in both Zimbabwe and Colombia. In Zimbabwe the rats will help save elephants, as the 37 km long mine belt we have been allocated, is in the midst of one of the largest trans-frontier wildlife parks in the world, and is actually a wildlife corridor. Colombia on the other hand, is littered with improvised explosive devices.

A:

People can’t really talk that fast, but they try. I had control of the record so I was allowed to tell anyone in court to stop or repeat themselves. Most people talk faster when they’re lying.

For stenography tests, the tester would mark a transcript to the words at five second intervals, then read it out loud timed to a stopwatch. Which comes out to about five words a second. It sounded like an auctioneer overdosing on adderall. This was 25+ years ago, it’s probably done differently now.


Q:

I have to admit, I'm of really mixed feelings.

Back when I was making them, the justification was:

  • The player always gets something from the box
  • They can't cash anything out for real money
  • The paid content will be grindable in a month or two

This wasn't just internal chatter, this constituted a legal justification in several countries that our games were available.

However, while those criteria take away a lot of the problems with loot boxes/gambling, I also used to be a customer support guy on those same games. I've seen players with lifetime spend counts of over $50,000 on those games. People spend a lot of money on hobbies, that's a given. However, that kind of amount starts to worry you a little. Is this someone who really loves our product, or are we taking advantage of a compulsion?

Still, I don't think classifying loot boxes as gambling is a good idea, because it's going to have huge unexpected side effects. If loot boxes in games are gambling, what about Magic the Gathering card packs (the original pay-to-win lootbox)? What about loot drops on monsters in an MMO? Legally defining a 'loot box' in a game is extremely tricky, especially because most lawyers and lawmakers neither know, nor really care how games work.

A:

Hot but not burning lava hot, so whatever tempurature that would be. Comfortable.


Q:

Failure happens a lot!

I like to have multiple areas of research going at once, which increases the chance of something working. It helps that cryptographers are unusually good at turning failure into results: when a system breaks, we all learn something. (when we fail to break a system, we're also happy, for different reasons!) Often, these failures lead to ideas for new research.

Also, I have a favorite boxing gym.

A:

Ha thanks!


Q:

ASHER: We have seen the video but we haven't gone through it point by point. If I recall, all his points are backed up by major news outlets but some of them might be out of date now. Overall he makes some very good points especially with explaining how Airbnb impacts housing markets.

A:

Yeah, not sure what to say about that ... it was hard to tell how much of her compliance was maturity / losing that urge to create conflict, vs. being medicated to the point of not wanting to lash out. I mean, if the meds help keep her calm, that's great. But it seems hard to know what's helping or hurting because you can't get her perspective. When we showed the USF psychologist video of Dani now, she nodded sadly and said, "That's the old Thorazine shuffle ... what everyone in mental institutes used to look like."


Q:

Wow. That was a tough read.

What was up with William? The first article briefly mentions that he's disabled and/or unable to care for himself. It said that was part of the reason they didn't want to adopt a child with such problems. But then it's not really mentioned again and he even helps with Dani. I also wonder why he hasn't seen his dad or sister in so long. That's really sad too. He seemed close to Daniel, like he was a pretty important part of her life.

A:

When the rats "retire" do staff adopt them?


Q:

Why don't you wear your wedding ring?

A:

What’s the most rewarding thing about being a game designer?


Q:

Any chance we’ll get the name of the restaurant to try some delicious sushi?

A:

Do you play vidya games?


Q:

I am a biologist working with anthrax ecology in the Namibian deserts. Sometimes I have American students, and they tend to bring just too. much. stuff. Like the safari tourists who all come in full khaki clothing to sit in their buses. We have to occasionally burn our clothes when they get too contaminated, so expensive "outdoors clothing" would be an intolerable waste of money on a researcher's budget. It is just working outside, and even the lions are almost never a problem as long as we work in pairs. How can we teach kids to freak out a bit less, and not see every contact with nature as a case of extreme survival needing expensive gadgets?

A:

I have found what appears to be a number of apartments in the same area run by one person or company under different host profiles.

Is this common? And is there a reason for this?


Q:

Thank you so much for doing this AMA. This is the first I have heard of this story, and I spent much of my time reading through tears. Your sensitive, even handed, and in depth treatment of this subject, and all involved, shows me that your Pulitzer was/is well deserved. Bernie is nothing less than amazing, and an example to us all of what unconditional love really means.

A:

No, there wasn't anything wrong with William. I'm not sure where that idea came from ... Dani's birth brother, who she seemed to be left with a lot, was in special ed. But William Lierow was fine, and a great help when she was young. It's my understanding that the divorce between Dani's adoptive parents was very acrimonious, lots of accusations being flung around, and William went to live with Diane, while Bernie kept Dani. Bernie said the last time he saw his son was at his high school graduation last year. I don't know why William removed himself so much from Dani, but I know she was a great source of angst and anguish for both parents, and part of the reason they ultimately split. But when they were young, you couldn't have asked for a better big brother than William. Dani was lucky to have him in her life.


Q:

No, we have our own retirement home for the rats. It are spacious cages in open air, but covered from sun and rain, where they have different levels so they can climb and have toys to play. We make sure they receive good food every day and live out their days in comfort with us!

A:

Not married now but the idea of something on my fingers catching on those metal steno machine keys at 225 wpm makes me want to cry. Not to mention the noise it would make. Tap tap tap tap tap. 8 hours of tiny taps. My judge could have murdered me in open court for that and gotten away with it.


Q:

Suspension of disbelief. When someone talks about your game, which is really just a bunch of blips on a screen, like it's something tangible and real.

No matter how big, visually stunning, or immersive a game is, there's still a huge gap between the game and reality. The space in-between has to be made by people. When their eyes light up and they tell you about the cool thing they did, or happened to them in the game, you can see a moment that was only possible when they put themselves in your game.

As a designer, you can never do that. You can never bridge that gap for them, but the player can do it themselves. It's rewarding. It's also extremely humbling, the first time it happens.

A:

Restaurant Kiyosuzu in Arcadia, CA. Be kind to my mom, her English isn't the best but that's how you know you're getting authentic sushi.


Q:

No, my little brother Pat (who's always had a dark sense of humor) beat me at Nintendo too many times when we were kids, and I lost the spirit.

A:

I would say put them through a basic field course first. Once they are i the field with nothing, they learn to appreciate how little they actually need. Thanks for participating!


Q:

ASHER: From our little look in Paris, London and New York City it is very common. Airbnb seems to be doing nothing to prevent these duplicate listings. If a host is legit they would list all their properties under one profile but if the properties are all listed under different host accounts they will almost always be connected to a scam. This is exactly how I got scammed in Paris and I consider myself a savvy user. I've successfully used Airbnb since 2012 until this past September when I had trouble two days in a row.

A:

Thank you for taking the time to read the story ... it was my honor to get to follow Dani's journey, and to reconnect all these years later.


Q:

What made you decide to write part of Dani's 10-year story from a first person perspective?

A:

how does rat sniffing and detection dffer from that of dogs? aren't rats at risk to contract TB because of sniffing?


Q:

Now that some countries are investigating loot boxes and possibly ban them, what are the possible alternatives to monetize players in video games? Also, thanks for the ama.

A:

We love Kiyosuzu (Pasadena represent) - best neighborhood Japanese restaurant and have been going for 10+ years. Everyone there is so very proud of you!


Q:

Hi! As a freshman CompSci major who also loves to read/write and isn't in love with math, I'd like to know in what other ways have you seen people blend the two besides writing for children?

A:

Good point. Do you have any good suggestions as to where I could refer prospective US students to go get some experience before coming over?

My problem is, I don't have the opportunity to teach basic field to American students, me being a Norwegian working in Namibia in this case. As we in Norway have conscription, and I spent some time deployed after that and work with some other ex-military colleagues from the Namibian and South African armed forces, I expect 25-year old grownups to have a decent amount of field experience before they come to work on my projects, but this is often not the case. So having somewhere for them to get a bit comfy before they come, so they don't burn themselves out unnecessarily just living in a comfy camp would be excellent.


Q:

I got my MBA in sustainable business and focused a lot of my work on the sharing economy. I found it to be a shame that companies like AirBnB and Uber have a fundamentally sustainable business models (on paper, it's to utilize unused resources), but have devolved into traditional mindsets of short-term profits. Particularly, I feel both companies have an arrogance about them when it comes to playing with regulations. I think OP's third findings address this - CEO Chesky hides behind the guise of neo-liberalism and innovation to circumvent what's best for society and ultimately, their own sustainability.

A pattern that I noticed between those two companies is arrogant leadership. It's reductive to say, but for the sake of brevity, both CEO's strike me as Silicon Valley fratboys. I think the curtain has fallen around Uber a bit, given all of their problems with sexism that I believe comes from a culture straight from the top.

Anyways, back to AirBnB's point, I think they have been repeatedly making the mistake of ignoring requests to sit-down with governments to talk about regulations. They have a good chance to pave their own destiny - one that would inevitably mean regulations that cause less profits in the short-term, but ultimately better in the long-term. I have no doubt that it's going to take a few more highly-publicized disaster stories before politicians decide to really crack-down on them. Going back to the Uber comparisons ...it has already happened to them. They are banned from a few major cities because they didn't bother to sit down at the table with the government before it was too late. AirBnB can be proactive about protecting themselves now, but they choose not to. Good though. I'm waiting for a better behaving replacement.

A:

Hi Lane. I greatly admire your work. As a young reporter trying to navigate my way through a narrative project, I've found myself overwhelmed and overloaded with notes and information. What's your organization process? You mentioned only using your notes to fill in facts. How do you do that? I tend to use my notes as a crutch and it becomes time consuming when I sit down to write. What does your writing process look like? Do you wait until you have all the material? Has it changed over the years? Sorry for all the questions. And if you have any tips on finding some of these great stories, please share! how do you balance life and work?


Q:

I love this question. Short answer: The editor-in-chief made me do it. I hate putting myself into stories, and seldom do it. But he felt like I needed to represent an "everyman" for the readers, show her through my eyes, which hadn't seen her in years. So that whole section was added in after the first draft, under pressure. At one point during the visit, Dani's adopted dad asked me to take her to the bathroom. Which I did. But it was weird having that scene, not knowing whether I should write it, not understanding why he didn't just take her himself ... but what are you going to say? No. I won't help her in the women's room? But I decided to downplay that interaction ... He wanted more of me than I wrote. But I didn't want to be in there at all! ... What do you think? Was it jarring to switch to first-person? Or did it somehow help elevate the interaction / observation for the reader?

A:

Both animals are so sensitive that we lack the analytical equipment to measure difference in sensitivity. Rats have more functional genes for the olfactory system than any other mammal. The difference comes in mainly that dogs are a bit more intelligent, can do more independent work - but are quite attached to their trainers. Rats instead like very much repetitive work and it takes less specialized skills to train a rat.


Q:

No problem!

You're certainly asking the right question. Games cost a ton of money to make, to promote, and operate past launch. AAA titles started getting into the loot-box thing because $60 per unit isn't enough to reliably recoup the $100+ million investment it took to make the game. You also need to pull a healthy profit, so you can have enough spare cash to start work on the next game.

However, the price of individual games can't really go above $60. Remember when it went up by $10? It was pandemonium, despite the ridiculously good fun/dollar ratio games provide.

A drink in a bar costs me $6 and gets me 1 hour of fun. A movie costs $10 and gets me 2 hours of fun. Wasteland 2 cost me ~$50 and got me over 80 hours of fun.

Still, people can't afford games being more than $60 right now (economy, etc...). I think micro transactions/opt-ins have a place in all of that, so that people who are really into the game can spend more to get more out of it. It just needs to be done elegantly, in a way that doesn't feel grimy and bad. Expansion packs are a perfect example of this.

Liked the campaign? How would you like more campaign, but in a different enough setting that it wouldn't have fit into the regular game?

Spoiler: I shell out for campaign expansions all the time. I love stories in games.

A:

Like!


Q:

I'm encouraged to see the explosion of apps & games written by young people. I'm not an app developer myself, but I think interactive storytelling is a growing opportunity to advance both technology & culture.

On a totally different note, I like seeing CS researchers try their hand at automating humor. For instance, my colleague Lydia Chilton has a paper on AI joke writing!

On an other other note, you can come hear me perform nerdy standup at Caveat's "Symposium" in NYC!


Q:

ASHER: This is really well said and is exactly our conclusion.

This is an excerpt from The Upstarts by Brad Stone:

…Chesky had subscribed to the purist’s view of online marketplaces: Users were supposed to police one another by rating their experiences. Untrustworthy actors would be drummed off the platform by bad reviews, rejected by the web’s natural immune system. It was a libertarian view of the internet and had the whiff of Silicon Valley snake oil. The prospect of a negative review is of little use after a serious breach of etiquette —or a criminal act. But because of their shared faith in the power of self-policing marketplaces, Chesky and his colleagues hadn’t made serious investments in customer service or customer safety. The fact that Blecharczyk, as well as the company’s controller, Stanley Kong, had been put in charge of customer service at a company now with over 130 employees while the other founders looked for an executive to run the department was telling. “We viewed ourselves as a product and technology company, and customer support didn’t feel like product and tech,” Chesky says. Source

This below text I've taken out of my article but furthers the points.

Here is a quote from a recent interview with Fortune on October 23rd, 2017 with Brian Chesky (Airbnb co-founder).

Interviewer asks: “You’ve also had your share of controversy and you’ve run into all sorts of challenges whether it’s safety incidents, legal pushback or discrimination. What of those has been hardest for you?”

Brian Chesky replies: “Well I think that the first one one was by far the hardest. The first big, big crisis or challenge we had. We didn’t have robust 24/7 customer support, we didn’t have a trust and safety team, we didn’t remove very many users and then a woman’s apartment got trashed and it was a huge wake up call. It told me that though our thesis was our community is an immune system, people didn’t want to wait for the immune system to kick in. That we had a responsibility to prevent these bad things from happening. It completely changed our model. Now we’re pretty hands on in managing the marketplace.”

When Chesky says “immune system” I believe he means that when Airbnb users go out and stay at bad listings they will then write bad reviews that will inform future travelers.

Are you kidding me, Mr. Chesky?!!

You’re expecting us, travelers, to spend thousands of dollars on a trip and then have our vacation ruined so that we can be part of your “immune system” in order for you to make more money at our expense?

This logic is ridiculous. I can see how an “immune system” works on websites like Reddit, Facebook or YouTube where inappropriate content gets flagged by users. But the stakes are low there since we’re separated from “bad people” by our computer screens.

With Airbnb, it’s completely different. Accommodation is the most important base need for successful travel and usually costs $1000s. An “immune system” in this case is just not good enough.

How do we know we’re not going to be staying with a convicted felon or sex-offender when you allow anyone to become a host? How do we know the place we’re renting is even legal? And after years of Chesky’s “immune system” being up and running, we’re still seeing hundreds of problems with false, deleted, censored, and untrustworthy reviews plus dangerous stays and hosts, so the immune system is obviously not working.

It is apparent that Chesky has had this idealistic view from day one. He didn’t think customer support was that important because the users would self-govern. This is total BS considering the fact that it wasn’t until August 2017 that they allowed reviews to be shared even if someone cancelled their stay or left early.

Those censored reviews are the most important reviews to create an effective "immune system" because if someone finds the place in that bad shape they have to leave it must be really bad. But of course, those bad reviews would have drastically reduced Airbnbs revenue because no one wants to stay at a place 3-stars... Seems pretty damn shady to me.

A:

Yes, my writing process has totally changed over the years. And it's quite different if I'm writing a news story, or on deadline, or only have one notebook of notes as opposed to the nine legal pads I had for Dani. So, since you asked: 1. I finish 90 percent of my reporting before I ever think about writing. Then I duck into a quiet cave, no social media, no phone, and read through all of my notes ... taking notes on the notes, so each big legal pad gets reduced to one page of notes, more like an index of what's in that notebook. 2. I make a list of characters, scenes and themes ... then a timeline / chronology of events. 3. I try to figure out what background / context I need to weave into the narrative, and which scenes I can turn into cinematic experiences for the readers. 4. I put away all my notes, in my car or kitchen, and take a shower, or take the dogs for a walk, or do laundry ... something to engage my body but free my mind. And I make myself think: What would it be like to be that person? Where would my story start and end? What's a good cliff hanger / question to end the first section? 5. I write the lead long-hand on a notebook that I keep in my bathroom, bedroom, glove box, kitchen sink ... I never sit in front of a blank computer screen without having the lead written already. 6. I make myself write in sections ... don't get up until you finish that Diet Coke ... forcing myself to keep typing until I hit that goal / prize ... I write without notes. I need to know where I'm going to end, even if I don't know where I'm going between the lead and the last line ... 7. After the story is done, I go back through my notes, and notepads, and fill in any details, numbers, things I have forgotten. And I make whatever other calls / research inquiries I need to fill in whatever holes I might have found. 8. I print out the story and take it outside somewhere, or into another room, and read it on paper with a pen. 9. I go back and make corrections, edits in the file. 10. I print it out again and ask someone to read it to me out loud. If no one is around, I read it out loud to my dogs, or record it on my phone so I can listen for rhythm, word choice, sentence structure, syntax, etc.

I write so much faster when I don't use my notes as an excuse to procrastinate. And I find my own voice so much more easily when I'm not just stringing together someone else's quotes.

My work and life are so intertwined, I don't know if that constitutes balance, but there isn't a day I'm entirely off work, not thinking about my stories, nor a day that my husband and kids don't creep into my work thoughts ...

As for ideas, see if this hand-out helps ... it has tips and a link to each tip that shows a story I found using that tip ...

Finding Story Ideas: Tips your editor won't tell you

Lane DeGregory, Tampa Bay Times

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing, 2009

FINDING FOLKS

1) Talk to strangers

    Be nosey, sit by the old woman on the swing, everyone has a story 

Pier singer Elmer Wright: “Still shining”

http://www.sptimes.com/News/040101/Floridian/Still_shining.shtml

2) Play hookie

    Roam aimlessly, let someone else drive, ride the bus, look around 

Cashier Michael Turbe: “A Father’s Day 41 years in the making”

http://tampabay.com/features/humaninterest/article623516.ece

3) Read the walls

    Check bulletin boards, buy bad papers, scour the classifieds 

Husband Mark Tanner: “Where did she go?”

http://www.tampabay.com/features/humaninterest/article706028.ece

4) Sit the bench

    Be a fly on the wall, eavesdrop at beauty parlors, eat lunch alone 

Anthony and Ryan Moran: “A brother’s bond”

http://www.tampabay.com/features/humaninterest/autism-cant-tear-twin-brothers-apart/948355

5) Make freaky friends

    Opposites attract, befriend photographers, use your friends and kids 

Carnival guru Ward Hall: “The last sideshow”

http://www.sptimes.com/2003/09/28/Floridian/The_last_sideshow.shtml

6) Get a life

Eat dirt at the drag strip, join bowling leagues, go to festivals 

Holocaust survivor Helga Harris: “Dear Friends”

http://www.sptimes.com/2006/11/16/Floridian/Dear_friends.shtml

7) Ignore important people

    See who's in their shadows, stakeholders, other ways in 

Miss St. Petersburg’s shopper Allan Brown: “The dresser”

http://www.sptimes.com/2003/06/22/Floridian/The_Dresser.shtml

8) Celebrate losers

    Dreams don't always come true, ask about failures, lessons learned 

Homeless artist Rick Lewis: “Homer’s odyssey”

http://www.tampabay.com/features/homers-odyssey-for-cartoonist-living-in-shelters-and-on-street-home-is/1254643

9) Wonder: Who would ever?

    Here's to you, Mr. golf ball picker-upper, Dirty Jobs, why you? 

Public health nurse Flo Concklin: “They call her Mama V”

http://www.sptimes.com/2002/03/30/Floridian/They_call_her__Mama_V.shtml

10) Hang out at bars (or coffee shops)

    Check out different dives, try a martini, always come back to Cheers 

Garbage truck driver Allen Smith: “Gone in a flash”

http://www.sptimes.com/2002/04/30/Floridian/Gone_in_a_flash.shtml

GETTING THE GOODS

11) Give everyone your phone number

    Keep in touch, don't dis PR people, ask what else is going on 

Russian pianists Alah Rozanovsky and Valentina Kits: “Music reunites”

http://www.tampabay.com/features/humaninterest/music-reunites-two-russian-piano-teachers-in-clearwater/1248680

12) Be late

    Old news is good news, it's easier after the arrest, whatever happened to 

Town Manager Steve Stanton: “His second self”

http://www.sptimes.com/2007/03/11/Northpinellas/His_second_self.shtml

13) Work holidays

    Relish rituals, find faith, new traditions, those who can't celebrate 

Foster kid Shane Sheil: “All he wants is a mom and a dad”

http://www.sptimes.com/2006/12/21/Floridian/All_he_wants_is_a_mom.shtml

14) Take stories no one else wants

    Make people care, write for other sections, find a new way 

High school senior Stacey Karavokiros: “Prom wish”

http://www.tampabay.com/features/humaninterest/article490129.ece

“A prom queen holds court”

http://www.tampabay.com/news/humaninterest/article499266.ece

15) Look for the bruise on the apple

    Ask uncomfortable questions, celebrate conflict, sucks for them 

Stunt man Evel Knievel: “A daredevil comes back to earth”

http://www.sptimes.com/2007/08/05/Features/Daredevil_Evel_Knieve.shtml

CRACKING THE NUTS

16) Lie on the floor, climb on the cabinets

    See stories from a new angle, seek new perspectives 

Drug court defendant Stacy Nicholson: “If I Die Young”

http://www.tampabay.com/features/humaninterest/a-young-woman-struggles-with-oxy-addiction-and-recovery/1206405

17) Listen to the quiet

    The sound of silence, what doesn't happen, questions not answered 

Hurricane hunk Jim Cantore: “The storm chaser”

http://www.sptimes.com/2004/09/20/Floridian/The_storm_chaser.shtml

18) Go along for the ride

    Invite yourself over, ask for photo albums, vacuum the scene 

Actress Michelle Dowdy: “Mama, I’m a big girl now”

http://www.sptimes.com/2005/webspecials05/big-girl-now/

19) Take small bites

    See a sliver of the big picture, shadows in the news, I can’t imagine 

Mom Cheryl Brown of Trayvon Martin’s neighborhood: “The Retreat”

http://www.tampabay.com/news/humaninterest/trayvon-martins-killing-shatters-safety-within-retreat-at-twin-lakes-in/1221799

20) Don’t be afraid of yourself

    Share your life, open up, tell stories, take risks, you are a character 

Tucker’s elephant flies out the window: “I brake for Bobo”

http://www.sptimes.com/2002/11/04/Floridian/I_brake_for_Bobo.shtml

Don’t be a snob. Don’t think you’ve heard them all before.

Help your writers take chances, surprise your readers with new lenses.

And remember, sometimes the best stories are in your own backyard.


Q:

Has she responded to music or art (drawing, finger painting ect) in any meaningful way? Is her dexterity advanced enough to the point where she could manipulate a brush/pencil or attempt to put together Legos or stack blocks?

A:

Are loot box revenues accounted for, or expected, when budgeting to build a game? As in, if they didn't plan on having them would they adjust the cost of the game up front?


Q:

hi mirai! i'm seeing miss saigon tonight and i'll be thinking of you! how is lexi? how the hell do you even own that many dogs and maintain your schedule? i have one puppy and i've missed the gym for a week.

A:

How many math classes did you take to get a CS degree? Would you consider a B.S. in computer science to be worth it?


Q:

That sounds like great fun! I'd love to participate in one of those.

And first aid and map navigation are crucial basics! Very useful!

But apart from that I was more thinking of simple everyday things like:

How to remember to fill the extra jerrycans of fuel and water before going out, but FFS don't tighten the lid in the cold morning so it bursts in the heat of the day. Calculate fuel for gravel roads correctly.

How to drive on gravel roads without fucking up your tires or tipping your car, and without shaking your kidneys loose, and watch out for those overloaded trucks.

How to maintain an old car so it doesn't break down on you. The closest triple A equivalent might be days away if at all.

It will break down sometimes nevertheless. How to make it still go to where you need. Or use a fucking VHF for when you absolutely can't.

Some spiders and snakes are venomous. Some are not. Don't freak out over the ones that aren't, you're not getting them out of the shower anyway.

There are snakes and scorpions. Bring your flashlight when you go out at night, and keep an eye on the ground for the darn puffadders, but otherwise learn that they aren't out to get you so relax.

There are occasional leopards. So have your kid make noise when he needs to go out at night, but remember they don't attack adults.

How to talk to people that don't think your own country is the best of the world. Most are still nice. Including the poor and black ones. Learn to recognize the exceptions to this rule without being scared to go out to the pub at night when we have some days in town!

When to shut up and GTFO. When to stand up and pick a fight. How to not get on the wrong side of the local police or other powers that be.

Learn how much food you need, and what will spoil before you can eat it, so you don't have to trek to the shop every week!

How to maintain your boots and other kit. How to not have your shit stolen.

Learn that jackals may have rabies, so don't feed them from your fucking table! And avoid feral dog packs. But don't kill the neighborhood stray -some kids love that dog and their mom may be manning the local Police checkpoint tomorrow morning...

Etc. etc.

A:

If I charge more, am I less likely to get a complaint? (cognitive dissonance)


Q:

Amazing, gut-wrenching story. What were your thoughts when you found out Dani’s adoptive mother had given up on her after 3 years? While I can imagine the difficulty of raising a child like Dani, it broke my heart reading that Diane never even visits Dani in her home.

A:

No, unfortunately she can't really even hold a pencil. A fork was about as good as it got ... So she never really played with legos or blocks or dressed a doll or even did peg puzzles ... I'm not sure about the music component ... I never heard any while I was with her either 10 years ago or now ... but she sure liked the metallic voice of that toddler helicopter!


Q:

Generally speaking, yes. Every company is different, but I worked in Free to Play and even when a game was in the planning phases, metrics were getting set. For example:

Servers cost $ a month, the team running the game costs $ a month (pay, health insurance, office space, etc...), and total cost of development for the base game is projected to cost $$$. The game's expected lifespan is X.

These costs together show the amount per month the game needs to pull in, in order to make a profit. You don't just to stay neutral, you need to pay back the development costs, and get enough money to pay for the next game the company wants to make.

A:

You're going to have a great time!

Lexi is doing great! Three dogs is definitely a lot but it was hard to say no when I knew they needed a home.

The puppy stage is probably the hardest since you have to potty train them and you have to let them out more often. Word of advice, puppies go through a serious chewing stage. I always have bones lying around so that they have something to chew on and don't chew something you don't want them to. Soup bones from the supermarket are great for them.


Q:

My first two degrees were in math, so, a lot! That's not a typical path, but it gave me a strong foundation.

I think CS degrees and math degrees are both valuable, and I encourage people to take classes in both.

A:

It would be simple for us to customize a course based on these needs. It's basic field stuff in austere conditions. One of our team is a certified snake handler (out of Australia no less) and we both have experience in Africa and other remote locations.


Q:

SHEANA: Great question (and I’m assuming you’re asking as a Host?). Unfortunately, the current study didn’t analyze any pricing data, so we can’t make any conclusions about Airbnb specifically. That being said, there is some evidence that pricing does influence perception https://www.vox.com/2015/5/20/8625785/expensive-wine-taste-cheap so it’s possible that could happen here as well to small some degree. I’d love to pull some data to look into this!

A:

That broke my heart too ... no matter what happened with her and Bernie, I'd hoped she still thought of Dani as her daughter ... but to tell the truth, when we revisited Dani after only those first three years, it was clear that Diane had all but checked out and left most of Bernie's care up to her, so I can't say that I was surprised ... just disappointed ... I can't imagine the sacrifice it would take to care for a child like that, knowing they'd never age out and be able to live on their own ...


Q:

What is her favorite food now?

A:

"Check it out if you're interested in rogue-likes/Japanese dating sims set in 18th century France."

Wouldn't it have been easier to just email that guy personally?


Q:

hi mirai!!! i've been a fan of your personality, your work ethic, and drive for success since your junior days! you're a big inspiration to me!

question: what do you see yourself doing/getting involved with after you finish your skating career? has any class at your college open you up to a new possible career path in the future?

A:

To a computer engineering graduate (bachelor's) with average mathematical knowledge, do you recommend MS in CS or is it safer to just go work in some coding job?


Q:

Can I send you some of our stretchy tactical pants to get your take on how they hold up? We're a family owned company, been making uniforms for public safety for 81 years. This is not a promo thing.

A:

Thanks! Maybe a future project. I asked as a potential host. I suspect that people that stay at the Waldorf complain as they feel entitled, but an Airbnb is different. I also wonder if people skip over the very low price option as it appears unfit for price alone.


Q:

Wow. That was a tough read.

What was up with William? The first article briefly mentions that he's disabled and/or unable to care for himself. It said that was part of the reason they didn't want to adopt a child with such problems. But then it's not really mentioned again and he even helps with Dani. I also wonder why he hasn't seen his dad or sister in so long. That's really sad too. He seemed close to Daniel, like he was a pretty important part of her life.

A:

She eats everything! Whatever is put in front of her. So fast you don't even know how she's already inhaled it. She seemed to love chicken fingers from Dairy Queen, and Bernie said she really lights up for spaghetti. She ate her birthday cupcake in a single, messy, delightful bite!


Q:

Would you believe I tried? I think I got caught in his spam filter.

A:

Thank you!

I'm going for a degree in international business and I'm hoping that my background in Japanese can open up some opportunities there.


Q:

If you have the option to work in CS, I usually say "take it". You will learn more about what you do & don't know, and what areas of study interest you. If you then decide to go back to school, you have that option.

Otherwise, I typically only recommend a MS in CS to those whose undergrad degree is in something else.

A:

wow that would be great! I love new gear, and all of my work pants must have stretch. please DM me here and I'll send a shipping address. If they're great I'll recommend them!


Q:

ASHER: Airbnb markets itself as a competitor to hotels. Its prices are in most cases every bit as expensive as a hotel, and they advertise that with Airbnbs you can count on amenities that you couldn’t easily find in a hotel. They also advertise that their Customer Experience team is available 24/7 to assist you. They position themselves as more than a cheap alternative, and many families use the site to find reasonable and comfortable accommodations for larger groups.

A:

No, there wasn't anything wrong with William. I'm not sure where that idea came from ... Dani's birth brother, who she seemed to be left with a lot, was in special ed. But William Lierow was fine, and a great help when she was young. It's my understanding that the divorce between Dani's adoptive parents was very acrimonious, lots of accusations being flung around, and William went to live with Diane, while Bernie kept Dani. Bernie said the last time he saw his son was at his high school graduation last year. I don't know why William removed himself so much from Dani, but I know she was a great source of angst and anguish for both parents, and part of the reason they ultimately split. But when they were young, you couldn't have asked for a better big brother than William. Dani was lucky to have him in her life.


Q:

but if these companions aren't feral, how can she ever know true kinship?

A:

When using sliced pancetta for antipasto, do you need to heat it up first or can it be eaten straight from the packaging?


Q:

Hey Mirai! Big fan of you these past few years, I watched you skate in person at Skate Canada GP last season! Thanks for doing this AMA! I have 2 questions for you.

I saw on USADA.org that you were one of the most tested figure skaters this year, do you think they saw videos of your 3A on social media? I hope you get +GOE on it soon ;D

Also this season has been pretty injury plagued for a lot of skaters due to a variety of reasons, how do you personally, as a skater who has been on the senior circuit for a long time, ward off injuries?

A:

What storytelling techniques are your favorites, for science?


Q:

What's the best pocket knife for under $20?

A:

What do you think AirBnB should be doing to improve their dismal customer service?


Q:

Thank you for answering and thank you for sharing her story.

A:

None of the many, many cases I've read about feral children have ever resulted in them being able to connect with anyone ... which is so sad.


Q:

Pancetta is a cured meat, so you should be able to eat it straight from the packaging safely. In the case of antipasto, I actually like keeping it cold, as it provides a contrasting temperature against the other dishes.

Food isn't just about flavor. Texture, temperature, spice, acidity, and color all have a role to play.

A:

I didn't even know that you could see how many times I was tested but yes, USADA can come test me to makes sure I compete clean at any time. Although it's sometimes inconvenient, I am open to testing at any time since I make sure I compete clean.

I make sure I get enough sleep in order to recover adequately and when going for difficult jumps, I'm not embarrassed to put in my butt pads. Safety first!


Q:

For young audiences, I like to personify abstract concepts as living, talking characters. We took this approach in Funville.

For older audiences, abstract concepts are more likely to become plot devices, with dramatic consequences. So in my TEDx talk, attribute-based encryption became "the safe way to hire an assasin".

Either way, it has to be funny.

A:

Not quite a pocketknife but the Mora Companion is razor sharp, made in Sweden, and will last you a lifetime. $12-$16 on Amazon


Q:

ERIN: We found that their customer service team is incredibly disorganized, unhelpful and even rude when something goes wrong. They don’t offer enough support for finding new accommodation and may leave their guests on the street to fend for themselves. They also don’t have any customer-facing support ticketing system, instead, they rely on all emails going through [email protected] which is a black hole.

To remedy these issues, it'd be ideal to:

  • Retrain all staff on high-tension call and problem-solving techniques, and have regular reviews to ensure that the trainings are being utilized and implemented successfully.

  • Be sure there is an effective support ticket system which includes call-logging, and which all Customer Experience Specialists have access to so that they can view past calls and current tickets, including who is helping the caller with existing issues. All photos, documents, and logged calls should be in the same place, and the support ticket system should also be customer facing so that this information is fully transparent all cases are logged in a history.

  • Designated calls to very specific, specialized teams so that each type of call finds the most experienced CES possible. Have a superior available to each team at all times to ensure swift assistance and the ability to escalate situations as necessary.

  • Make the Airbnb contact information more readily available on the website and mobile app, and in multiple locations available to both guests and hosts.

Above all, it’s absolutely crucial to execute reorganizations and re-trainings in one fell swoop, and to address this with existing Customer Experience Specialists as a sort of “new leaf”. Customer service and call centers are already infamous for having extremely high turnover rates, and Specialists with Airbnb have been quoted describing Airbnb Customer Experience as a terrible place to work because of the stress, negativity, and burnout. Approaching this as a fresh start will typically re-invigorate existing representatives, and often allows for almost immediate positive results.

These are just a few suggestions that we think will help tremendously. We obviously don't know the inner workings of Airbnb but through our research, we can easily infer that all these problems need addressing.

A:

Thanks for the great question, and reading about Dani. Like so many other folks, I had so hoped that they had rescued her in time to make up for the awful neglect ...


Q:

Dude I cannot believe I just found a DoA dev while scrolling down reddit! I had a great time playing it with my brother and some randoms on facebook. I remember getting out of school and opening the challenges prizes, checking with my brother who got better loot. Loved your game so much :).

Were you aware at Kabam of the amount of "cheaters"? Tbh literally everyone used add-ons and etc, how did you tried to fight against it? If I remember correctly there was a point at which players got kicked of the game for opening stuff too fast, being marked as cheaters, but that decision received a lot of hate for slowing down a core of the gameplay. In what ways did you have to change designer stuff, what did you learn from that?

A:

I'd seriously like to know how you manage your skating time with other things in your life like school and such?


Q:

How can Computer Science and other STEM majors attract more women?

A:

Good to know the morakniv I bought was worth it


Q:

Do you have any tips to help pick out AirBnB listings and avoid horror stories?

A:

Do you intend on writing a follow up in another 10 years?


Q:

Dude, you would not believe the meetings we had about add ons. The main reason we banned add on users was because the code in the add ons was complete amateur bullshit. The calls were so numerous and inefficient that it was slowing down the servers. The crazy part? People were even paying for some of these add ons!

An engineer and I were constantly pushing the idea that we should create our own add ons, that integrated smoothly with the code base, then sell them at a tiny price (like $0.99) and cut those guys out of their own market. The game would go faster, we'd make a little money and everything would be fine! Nobody would ever listen to us.

The way I see it, if people are trying to automate away a part of your game in order to have fun, something went wrong and needs to be fixed. The problem is justifying the cost of fixing it, to your superiors.

A:

Coffee. You're welcome.


Q:

For one thing, I think we need to push back against the myth that if you haven't started in computer science/STEM very young, you won't be able to keep up. Also, we need to do a better job of showing all students the role that STEM can play in domains they may already care about: like the role of mathematics in medical imaging, the role of computer science in disaster relief and response, the role of statistics in baseball, etc.

But actually we are starting to see more women in STEM majors in some undergrad programs these days, for example at Columbia, though this trend is far from universal. But retaining women in the academic pipeline and industry at large beyond that remains more of a challenge.

A:

Heck ya it was!


Q:

In my article, I shared 54 tips. These suggestions are based on my experience using Airbnb since 2012 and the collective experience of over 50 travel bloggers with a combined total of over 1200 Airbnb stays all over the world.

If we had followed all those tips we wouldn't have ended up at the moldy place in Paris or gotten scammed at the next place. And I believe these tips would make the likelihood of something going wrong to be less than 1%.

https://www.asherfergusson.com/airbnb/#safety-tips

A:

I hope so ... I'm definitely going to keep in touch with Bernie and see how he and Dani are doing ... and I'd love to reconnect with William and Diane one day! My youngest son is the same age as Dani so I think about his milestones, and where she could be if someone had found her sooner ... or her birth mother had only put a TV in her room!


Q:

Totally agree with you. I'm glad I found a cool dev open to talk about this matter and that even shares an anecdote, you made my day.

A:

Have you watched Yuri on Ice? If so, what did you think of the skate routines?

If you (or anyone else) haven't watched it, I'm linking to a video with two of the routines below. If you love ice skating, it's worth a watch.

https://vimeo.com/188403329


Q:

Can you sum up computer science in one sentence?

A:

How many pushups can you do?


Q:

[deleted]

A:

There is no doubt your story and your follow up made an impact on society. Everyone that reads it get the feels.

Do you think reporting tragedies like this, including the follow up which wasn't a happy ending for anyone as far as I can tell, make an appreciable difference in society? Does it raise awareness and make essentially good people better members for being more vigilant outside their own bubble of the world, or is it just limited to being better within their own bubble? (reporting more hinky things and potentially saving more children from fates maybe not as dire as Dani's, but still awful, on up to fates worse than hers, versus just making more of an effort with our own children.)

Is the latter good enough to make the world at large a better place in your opinion?


Q:

No problem! Glad I could help!

A:

Thanks, I'll check it out!


Q:

Computer Science is the study of what can & cannot be computed, and how efficiently. An example of something that cannot be computed is a one sentence explanation of computer science.

A:

About 70.


Q:

ERIN: I think it’d have to be a multifaceted approach. Airbnb’s idea is clearly a great one and we want to see them succeed - we just don’t want anyone to get hurt in the process.

  1. The first step would almost certainly be a customer service overhaul - without that, you can’t clean up your reputation or fix existing issues.
  2. The second would absolutely have to be better security and identity verification, along with address verification for listings to avoid scams and duplicate listings. In many countries, you can sign up to be a host within 10 mins and the only form of ID required is a phone and email. No background checks (unless they have the real name and date of birth of the host and you're a US resident). No proper screening either.
  3. Some sort of insurance might be nice? Or at least an optional insurance package that can be charged a little extra for or something.
  4. Airbnb ABSOLUTELY MUST honor its own policies and refund promises when they make them. This is a top customer service complaint. If they continue to take actions that seem to exploit their users, they’re going to have a hard time solving problems.

Does that answer your question?

A:

I think any time we can get readers to think, or feel, things that they hadn't considered, that's a breakthrough. So much news coverage happens after awful things that if we can at least raise awareness, or make neighbors look out for each other more, or remind law enforcement / child investigators to be more vigilant about follow-up responses, then it's worth it to share those stories. If the article incites change in laws or the way investigations are handled, even better. So many people responded to the story saying they were hugging their own children more tightly, being more grateful for rowdy bedtimes or spilled milk ... that's a worthy outcome in and of itself. My former editor, Mike Wilson, used to caution reporters against "emotional voyeurism," writing about tragedy just for the sake of showing tragedy. He believed that there needs to be a higher purpose for exposing such pain ... in Dani's case, sharing her story resulted in at least a dozen children getting adopted, so I think that's the best result I've ever had from any story!


Q:

Big picture question:

Do you perceive video games as an artistic medium? If so, does this necessarily mean that making a game with the intent to keep a company afloat is artistically destructive? If not, what worth do video games actually have?

A:

Do you think there will be a point in ladies skating where quads or triple axels will be a normal thing? I ask because of the crazy technical evolution in men's skating these past four years.


Q:

I'm not sure if you'll see this, but this AMA caught my attention because I'm studying Computer Science, and there aren't many women in this field, so I'm grateful I've found someone I can aspire to be.

What's some advice you'd give another woman trying to survive in this field? I'm so close to graduation, but I'm terrified of the real world setting, and that I'll get swallowed up in the male dominated field.

Also, I'm a CS tutor, and yet I struggle with math (I took PreCalc this semester and did horribly on every exam). How do I get better outside the classroom when I don't give a damn about math? I read your comments about applying math in a 'fun' way, but how do I get through boring coursework in the meantime?

A:

I can do 12.


Q:

[deleted]

A:

What made you decide to write part of Dani's 10-year story from a first person perspective?


Q:

I absolutely see games as an artistic medium of expression, similar to theater, film, or performance art. I was actually a Fine Arts major at university. One of the first people to recognize games as an art form was Marcel Duchamp (one of the founders of the Dadaist movement). He was an avid chess player, and said "While all artists are not chess players, all chess players are artists.”

The act of playing games can be seen as a kind of performance art, where you suspend your priorities in the 'real world', choosing to subsume yourself in an artificial one. How many times have you seen someone go utterly apeshit during a game of Monopoly? To them, in that moment, that game is more real than the actual world around them. If they win or lose, their material world is unchanged, but that means nothing to them. Those pieces of tin, card and paper are their world, and the injustice or triumph they feel is real, in their heart.

Those who make games construct these circumstances for such performances to play out. A painter cannot control the reaction to their painting, but they can influence it by painting a particular way. Game creators cannot control what our players do, but we can guide them in certain directions with mechanics, dynamics, and aesthetics.

I do not see art diametrically opposed to material profit. Some of the most profitable games have been the ones that have made us feel most profoundly. However, these paradigms do often come into conflict. A ceramic mug with a stupid Minions meme on it is still a sculpture, even if it's not a very good one. However, that mug and its replicas will probably sell more copies than the avant garde work of some person trying to convey the feelings of their latest breakup through abstract forms in clay. Which is better? Depends on what you want to accomplish. Is it artistically destructive for an artist to be able to pay their rent, buy groceries and pay for medicine? I don't think so.

I don't know if that actually answered your question. I'm sorry.

A:

Yes absolutely!


Q:

What's some advice you'd give another woman trying to survive in this field? I'm so close to graduation, but I'm terrified of the real world setting, and that I'll get swallowed up in the male dominated field.

First off, don't disqualify yourself from a game you want to play. If it turns out you can't do something, learn that the hard way. If you quit preemptively, you definitely can't do it. You don't have to commit to this industry (or any industry) for the rest of your life. The skills you pick up in tech will serve you well in whatever you decide to do. And there are lots of different kinds of jobs and different kinds of companies in this industry - it's ok to switch around until you find what suits you in a place with coworkers who don't suck.

A:

I love you.


Q:

What your describing is very fishy and I wouldn't stay in those places as they are definitely going to be connected to a scam. Do they have different price points?

In my video, I show the scammer who got us in Paris having four different listings within 6 weeks all with different "hosts". https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gAAQgP6Tg-4

A:

I love this question. Short answer: The editor-in-chief made me do it. I hate putting myself into stories, and seldom do it. But he felt like I needed to represent an "everyman" for the readers, show her through my eyes, which hadn't seen her in years. So that whole section was added in after the first draft, under pressure. At one point during the visit, Dani's adopted dad asked me to take her to the bathroom. Which I did. But it was weird having that scene, not knowing whether I should write it, not understanding why he didn't just take her himself ... but what are you going to say? No. I won't help her in the women's room? But I decided to downplay that interaction ... He wanted more of me than I wrote. But I didn't want to be in there at all! ... What do you think? Was it jarring to switch to first-person? Or did it somehow help elevate the interaction / observation for the reader?


Q:

How big is the target demographic for rogue-like Japanese dating Sims set in 18th century France?

A:

What's your most memorable competition experience?


Q:

Any advice for a computer science undergrad looking for internships/work?

A:

What are your thoughts on the show, Naked and Afraid?


Q:

Does Diane Lierow still visit Dani?

A:

According to our Kickstarter so far, around 646 people. We're also getting a surprising number of people for whom this is the first project they've ever backed. That signals to me that there's an opening in the market that isn't being met. People want to play something like this, it's just not being made.

Though, to be fair, 2 of those backers are my parents. Not sure if they count.


Q:

Vancouver Olympics! It's more than just competing. The Olympics are so much more and it's so exciting!

A:

Make sure they pay you in USD, not ETH.


Q:

Fun to watch, I understand that it's entertainment more than anything. I've worked with three of the women; Ky Furneaux (tough as nails), Anastasia Ashley (great and creative girl), and Manu Toigo (can probably kick your ass). Also one of the guys trolled me on instagram and challenged me to a jiujitsu match to decide who the best survival expert is. I like the women better.

A:

No, she hasn't seen her since the divorce a couple of years ago ... and she wouldn't talk to me about Dani for this story, citing legal concerns ... I told her I didn't care about the divorce, I just wanted to talk about Dani, but she and William both refused. Bernie has been Dani's only visitor since she moved into the group home in January :(


Q:

I think the model that Elder Scrolls Online uses of paying for cosmetics and content only is the fairest method. Would you agree?

A:

What is the name of your parents' sushi restaurant? I would love to -roll- on by for a visit!


Q:

Hi can you fill out my course equivalency form for Crypto? lol

A:

Do you find the show somewhat accurate?


Q:

Has she responded to music or art (drawing, finger painting ect) in any meaningful way? Is her dexterity advanced enough to the point where she could manipulate a brush/pencil or attempt to put together Legos or stack blocks?

A:

Sorry, I haven't played ESO (though a few members of our team are active players), so I can't give a detailed answer.

I definitely think that paying for cosmetics is a great way to go for online multiplayer games. It doesn't hurt the game, as long as your clever with the cosmetics (changing character silhouettes too much can cause confusion in PvP).

However, the cosmetics thing only works in online multiplayer. Single player games will need to find another solution.


Q:

Restaurant Kiyosuzu! Make sure you send me a post! I'd love to see photos!

A:

Your email has been queued.


Q:

I would say somewhat.

A:

No, unfortunately she can't really even hold a pencil. A fork was about as good as it got ... So she never really played with legos or blocks or dressed a doll or even did peg puzzles ... I'm not sure about the music component ... I never heard any while I was with her either 10 years ago or now ... but she sure liked the metallic voice of that toddler helicopter!


Q:

Thank you for your response.

A:

Ooh nice Deathly Hallows pajamas, what's your house?


Q:

What would you recommend for someone that wants to get into teaching CS?

I have a Bachelor's in Computer Engineering, a lot of software engineering and dev experience, and I've tutored in CS. I've also done technical training for junior team members at my current job.

I'd love to be a CS teacher, on the high school level—maybe even college, though I'm not so sure they'd take me seriously without a masters or PhD. I'm just not sure where and how to get started. I could take education classes, but my state (PA) doesn't have much in the way of certifications for computer science.

How did you get into teaching CS? Any words of wisdom for someone aspiring to teach CS?

A:

I've never heard of a "Survival School". What does this entail? Is there a curriculum? Grades/levels? How was this school developed? Grants? Funding? What does an entry-class look like? So many questions. I'm so sorry. But truly. I'm intrigued.


Q:

Dani's story stresses how vital the early development of a child is. Did covering this story change the way you interact with your own children?

A:

No problem! Thanks for asking questions, it wouldn't be interesting without people like you here!


Q:

Gryffindor

A:

In general, I do think we need to encourage more people with your kind of experience into the classroom. Unfortunately I'm not an expert on getting through state certifications. You may be better off working backward: find the schools or universities nearest you and ask them how you can pitch in.


Q:

We teach individuals and organizations how to respond to outdoor emergencies, especially in remote environments, as well as wilderness medical certification programs, and technical outdoor skills. I developed the curriculum myself based on my experience as a professional outdoor rescuer and wildland firefighter. I am a Search and Rescue Technician, Ropes Rescue trained, Swift Water Rescue Technician, helicopter host rescue trained, confined space rescue trained, former EMT, and I am working on the first national certification program for basic outdoor safety and survival. Here is my catalog https://www.californiasurvivaltraining.com/our-courses

A:

My boys were 9 and 10 when I worked on this story, so the younger one is the same age as Dani. I remember them telling me to stop hugging on them so much whenever I'd get back from a weekend away reporting with her ... So yes, I think I tried to insert myself into their worlds even more after spending time with a child who had been so left alone ... and I know that the detective who found Dani and rescued her quit his job and took early retirement so he'd have more time to spend with his young son, because he said he realized after interacting with her how vitally important those early years of interaction are! ... my sons are off at college now, becoming who they were meant to be on their own, and that's what had me wondering about Dani, how she's doing now that she's aged out of high school special ed and at the time in life when most kids start to launch into their own independent lives ...


Q:

What are games you have played that have inspired you to be a game dev?

A:

What's the process of choosing your music? Are you the one behind it, is it Tom Z., or Jeffrey? Also, how long have you been working on that Triple Axel? (Also, congrats on NHK! Slay at Nationals and PyeongChang! Love the Saigon free skate!)


Q:

Hello, Ms. Bishop!

I'm in a very similar circumstance to you right now - I've spent most of my teen life dreaming of writing, but now I want to be a cryptographist/infosec specialist.

My question for you: do you feel as if you approach what you do differently from your peers?

I'm taking a programming course in my high school right now, and oftentimes my solutions to assignments are vastly different from others in the class (who seem to have a much lower tolerance for varying approaches to similar but unique assignments). For example, we're currently making a program that determines end behavior of a polynomial - in approximately 200 lines of code, I check for degree (regardless of format - location of degree term doesnt matter), sign of the degree term, and error-check user input (of the polynomial). Many other students in the class are struggling to find the sign of the polynomial's degree term if the function is not written in standard form, and I think my writing background (and probably massive interest) are helping me a lot. There's not a lot of writers-turned-programmers that I know, so I'd be interested to hear what you think. :)

A:

Confined space rescue. That's gotta be the scariest position to be stuck in. Literally. Do you have any story's from people getting caught in caves or rocks or anything that either made it or did not? I hope most of your rescues have been successful but you must have seen some bad stuff. Not sure how much you're willing to talk about but I and others are interested in failures or body retrievals.


Q:

Wow. I knew there were bad parents that I would beat if I could...but this "mother" if you can even give her that title...she ruined Dani's life. Dani is gonna be dealing with this her whole life and as such the mother should suffer in every way imaginable. Screw being humane this "mother" doesn't deserve that. Now that Im done ranting, what is the extent of the charges if thats been made public?

A:

In no particular order:

  • Mechwarrior 2 - First thing I ever saved up for (I was 8, or so). From the moment I watched the first cinematic, something in me clicked. I knew that I wanted to make games.
  • Fallout 2 - First serious RPG I ever played. The idea of a super violent game where you could still talk you way out, absolutely blew my mind when I was a kid.
  • Planescape: Torment - Best writing in any game (personal opinion, obviously). Solidified my love of pacifist runs in any game that allows them. I legit teared up in a few places.
  • Final Fantasy 7 - My first JRPG, it introduced me to my love of playing as set characters in games (as opposed to build-your-owns). It just felt so grand. I'd never felt anything like it, at the time.
  • Dungeons and Dragons - I've been playing since 2nd ed, back when it was still AD&D. Tabletop will always have a special place in my heart, and is what first got me into writing for games.

Q:

I've been working on the triple axel for a long time, especially during the summer when we don't have to focus so much on working on programs. This summer was an extremely good summer for me!

Choosing music is a team effort. Jeff has to feel like he can create something special for me and I have to feel like I can listen to it everyday and perform it to the best of my ability. Tom also makes sure that it's music that the audience and the judges can relate to and will love.

A:

My writing background helps me intuitively find the simplest explanation that makes sense. I try to avoid over-engineering for the same reason I strive for brevity.

The best advice writers get is don't be afraid to "kill your darlings". A lot of engineers need to be told that, too.


Q:

The worst I've seen was a wrecked cattle carrier full of sheep. Detached from the truck and slammed into a hillside at 50mph. It was 90F+ out too. The extrication was some straight PTSD shit lmao. Sheep carnage.

A:

She has companions at the group home, at least ....


Q:

Great list of games. As a guy in my mid 30's I grew up on a similar stable of titles and in many ways it has influenced my gaming habits today. None of these (obviously) are pay too win or had micro transactions at all.

My concern, and I would guess the concern for many, is that there a time rapidly approaching where the only way to beat a game is through micro transactions. You've already seen this in online multiplayer titles (COD games, Battlefront Battlefield 2, destiny) where PvP is all but ruined when those who pay get an advantage. It's now entering the realm of AAA titles to simply finish the game. Shadows of War, for example, forces you to go through an absurd slog at the end during the "Shadow Wars" sequence that makes it almost impossible not to pay.

My question is, does it concern you that there won't be games like the ones you mentioned above because micro-transactions have simply made it too profitable to make a game that forces you to get good and win? Are F2P and Pay to Win games raising a generation of young gamers that will only know that and thus leaving our generation doomed to only play older titles?

A:

How do you feel about no NHL players being involved in the men's hockey tournament this year?


Q:

Thank you so much for the response! It's nice to feel a bit of vindication.

Followup question: what do you mean by "dont be afraid to 'kill your darlings'" in reference to programming/engineering?

A:

As someone who loves to learn and who has worked in curriculum development, I'm intrigued how your courses must/have to simulate different climates and terrain? How did you plan that? California must be a Godsend because it's such a diverse state (everything from sand dunes to National Forests to the Ocean) but still... What does your planning look like for these kinds of courses? Do you get feedback from others? Or are you kind of a trailblazer in your own right?


Q:

The industry is constantly shifting and I'm sure a new financial paradigm will show up to displace loot boxes. Will it be better or worse? No idea.

As for older styles of games, I don't think they're going away. Television didn't kill movies. Movies didn't kill theater.

'Old School' style, micro-transaction free, games will always be getting made, just maybe not with the same level of financial investment as AAA titles.

I thought the Isometric PC RPG was dead, but so many new, good ones have come out in the last 5 years that I haven't even had the chance to play all of them.

There hasn't been a AAA 2D platformer in forever, but indie studios are cranking them out at a rate faster than anyone could ever play them.

Will the younger generation play different games? Probably, but that's always been the case. Tastes change. I could never get into Undertale, and Friday Night at Freddy's feels moronic to me and I've never even played Minecraft, but that's what the next cohort was playing a few years ago.

The world changes, but rarely are art forms truly abandoned.

A:

Sad


Q:

Don't be afraid to:

  • Simplify your designs, eliminating things that you thought were clever but turned out to be less important.
  • Test your attack surface! Better for you to break your design than other people.
A:

I've done long distances survival "expeditions" in the various terrains I teach in, have worked in them extensively in terms of firefighting, guiding in parks, and natural resource rehab. I've been trained in environmental biology and high performance in extreme climates. The curriculum is based on what is most useful when you are out there with little to no gear, weak, and tired. Of course, the curriculum develops as my skill set does.

Yes, I am a bit of a trailblazer. We know of know other school with our diverse offerings and I can lead nearly all of the courses personally (with the exception of the counter custody/tactical stuff). There are many many many schools, like 20 in California alone- many of which simply copy me- the website, prices, all that stuff. I also no of no other civilian instructor/school that has worked this extensively with the military.


Q:

Luth, what was it like growing up in a small town, and having your big brothers best friend be so cool? Playing paintball in the jagged teeth with them, driving around in his "super cool" dodge stratus, and uhhh... yeah I got nothing else. Super proud of you buddy!!! Grats on the game and the AMA. Love ya dude!

A:

I know you travel a lot, but do you get to see most places that you compete in? If so, what has been some of the most memorable places? Thanks.


Q:

How did you find a publisher willing to sign you up when you had no background in writing?

A:

If I haven't overstayed my welcome, are there skills you haven't mastered that you're looking forward to? Like you said, your curriculum develops as your skill set does. That's an interesting challenge. Gives every day some higher stakes.


Q:

Love you too, bro!

A:

I got to go into the White house and shake Obama's hand. Wow, right.


Q:

We sent a draft to Natural Math and they liked it! I hope you do too!

A:

I need to up my jungle and arctic survival games.


Q:

Did you work on Realm of the Mad God, that Kabam acquired but sold off to DECA recently? If so, what was your opinion on the permadeath game which would encourage more players to buy the gear available for real money?

A:

I've been figure skating for close to 10 years now and I've gone through several rough patches that have made me want to quit skating all together. Have you ever gone through through something like this and what advice would you give to someone going through this as well?


Q:

How do you feel about Columbia's stress culture? Do you think the CS students are overworked?

A:

I have a question in hopes of being better. Can't hurt to ask someone who's life is survival training. I don't normally wear my disability on my sleeve (most people I meet are none the wiser) but I am Deaf with cochlear implants. In some ways I've turned this into a major advantage (I read lips proficiently and am always tuned into my surroundings and especially body language for cues) but... I'm Deaf. If I'm not fully focused on something, I'm oblivious. Any advice for my day-to-day life to be safer?

P.S. Hope you master the jungle and arctic survival games! I'd say have fun, but, yeah. Be safe.


Q:

I never worked on the Realm of the Mad God team, but I sat a few sections away from them a few years ago. They were fucking awesome.

I once walked by them having full-on meeting discussing the cost/benefit analysis of their team pooling their personal money, to have their team join a 'pie of the month club'. There were Powerpoint slides and everything. They knew how to have fun, but still get the job done.

As for permadeath, it was a fascinating decision to have permadeath in the game, and eliminating that would have destroyed Realm (permadeath was such a central pillar to their design). However, community management was a nightmare for them. Everyday, some high level player would die, lose a ton of stuff and go nuts all over the forums, which would make everyone else angry that someone is spamming and flaming everyone within 50 miles of them. I can guarantee you that they never wanted to kill players, just to reap a few extra dollars. The hassle was way too big.

For those wondering, I don't know if they ever managed to put PvP in there, but they really wanted to. The problem was making the server code reliable and exact enough for it. You can fudge numbers a little for PvE and nobody cares. PvP? With permadeath? It has to be utterly perfect, which would have required them to tear out and remake the netcode. That's too big of an investment and way too risky. What if they fuck up and break the existing game?

A:

Yeah absolutely! Not making the 2014 team was one of those moments for me.

I think about if quitting is something I truly want or it's a temporary feeling. I still love training even though I hate falling.


Q:

I do think students these days are overworked. It's not unique to Columbia or CS, but I think we as a faculty and institution in general should do more to give students better perspective & balance. 5 years from now, nobody will care if you got a B+ instead of an A-. But it doesn't always feel that way at the time.

A:

If it is affordable, there is a lot of great technology out there that may come it handy. Like the doorbells that are also cameras that show the person at your door on your phone. To be honest, this question is out of my league. Thanks and best wishes!


Q:

Why do you think that AAA game companies are rushing to monetize as much as possible when indie successes like Stardew Valley or Terraria can survive without putting in any monetizing elements in?

A:

Do you plan to continue competing after this season?


Q:

Are you self publishing through Amazon/Createspace or did you go the traditional publisher route?

A:

I'm going through your course catalog. Can I say because I'm seriously impressed with your course catalog and mission that I've noticed some grammatical errors? For instance, "Whether your an individual looking to avoid a group..." It's "you're". It's not a big deal and I know you're not a Writing Camp but it's imperative that you represent yourself well. No response to this required. Honestly, no action required either. If you're interested, you can represent yourself better.


Q:

Successes like Stardew Valley and Terraria are extremely rare. For a point of comparison, around 20 new games are released on Steam, every single day. Most of them will never make their costs back, even some of the really good ones will get lost in the flow.

Small indie studios go broke all the time, it's just that nobody notices.

Big companies need guaranteed wins, because they're answerable to their stock holders. It's why they go so nuts with marketing and finding a way to get a financial edge with every, single, little thing. Big ads? Go for it! Celebrity endorsements? Pile 'em on! Branded Dorritos? Sure!

Bigger isn't always better, but it's often more reliable. When you're making huge AAA titles, you automatically stand apart from the indie games, just with size and production values. Your competition shrinks massively, but the costs are enormous.

A:

Yes


Q:

We were published by Natural Math, and also did a Kickstarter for initial funding. So, neither solo nor fully traditional!

A:

dang it! thanks I'm on it. fixed it. the last thing i want on my site is the internets most hated grammatical error!


Q:

HI SENPAI ITS ME YOUR FELLOW EX COWORKER PLEASE NOTICE ME?

A:

Do you speak to your parents in Japanese or English?


Q:

Did you always want to write children's stories, or was there another genre you were interested in writing about growing up?

A:

I do a lot of multi-week motorcycle camping trips in the more remote areas of the western states. I carry a lot of the typical expensive outdoorsy gadgets that you'll find most yuppies have (InReach, jetboil stove, kurydan filter, tent, sleeping bag, etc), but is there anything really simple that you find people often overlook that can make a huge difference to survival or enjoyment of trips?


Q:

NOTICED!!!!

A:

It's a mix. When I don't know the word in japanese, I just substitute it with English.


Q:

Growing up, I was constantly writing murder mysteries. Even today, in most of my stories, someone dies. (except in children's books!)

A:

Don't do Inreach or Spot, do ACR. Even the Coast Guard uses them and no subscription needed. Also, satellite phone rentals and minutes are more and more affordable.

Making fire from scratch in foul weather is the most difficult survival skill. Not very many people carry a good accelerant. I recommend either esbit cubes, fast fire, or webber grill cubes. Wet fire cubes are also good but they come in smaller portions which mean shorter burn times. They all burn at over 1000F but the first 3 last for over ten minutes, wet fire averages around 5-6. Also, UCO stormproof matches only. Go for the titans if you have room. Once lit they can't be extinguished, they even burn under water. Forget fire steels. Thanks for your question!


Q:

What is your favorite loot box/crate opening animation?

A:

So excited for Figure Skating! Can you tell me what goes into the process or decision making for choosing your costumes? Good luck. We are routing for you!


Q:

Really appreciate the advice! I hadn't thought about fire starting stuff, definitely going to google everything you recommended and get something to carry with me.

I like the InReach not just for the SOS, but so my friends and family can track my progress on maps and for the bi-directional texting.

A:

Hearthstone packs. The Hearthstone team has that shit on lock-down so hard that I actually felt a little disappointed the first time I opened an Overwatch loot crate. It helps that the Hearthstone UI feels so tactile. It makes the cards and movements feel more significant than standard UI, that just looks like boxes and lights.

Also, flipping over the individual cards, one a time, with the different audio reactions/particle effects? Perfection!


Q:

A quick sketch and I talk to my dress maker about the concept I'm going for. Then bang, there's a dress at my door.

A:

they've failed me in the field.


Q:

Is consumer trust a calculatable variable when making games?

For example, if instead of loot boxes, you could just buy the outfit you want.

I feel that would produce consumer trust in your product, meaning more long term revenue, but less short term. Is this something that's accounted for when considering monetization of a game?

A:

I'm a sports psychologist who works primarily with professional baseball players. Would you be willing to shed some insight into your mental preparation techniques as a figure skater?


Q:

Everything helps in a survival situation. Being well prepared having basic survival knowledge is key but what i have noticed about survival training and information is that it's always based on having these survival items with you. My first question is how do you train to survive with absolutely nothing. Example ; you're hiking in the mountains of northern California in January. You fall into a fast moving river and lose everything now what? Question 2 is a person can be prepared with tangible items but is mental preparation just as important? The ability to handle violence or severe circumstances?

A:

You've really hit the nail on the head with a real problem in games (and in companies, in general). Consumer trust cannot be meaningfully quantified, so it's often left on the back burner. However, it obviously has real, tangible value.

EA and Nintendo could announce the exact same decision on the same day. People would hate EA for it, and love Nintendo for it. A few months later, a 'hot take' would appear on Twitter, pointing out the disparity, but nobody would care at that point.

So, even though consumer trust is real, and extremely valuable, it's undervalued because it can't be quantified. This happens elsewhere in business too. The sales team makes more money than everyone else because you can easily quantify the money they make for the company (how many units did they sell). But if the product wasn't as good, how would they be able to sell it? Surely the designers and engineers have an influence here, but you can't quantify it because the market is affected by a ton of intangibles.

The sales team makes more money because their value is obvious. Everyone else lags behind because it's easier to minimize their value.

PS: If you solve this particular problem, you'll win a goddamn Nobel Prize in economics. I'll also give you a hug, because I used to be a community manager and tried to argue this like, every other week.


Q:

I also work with a sports psychologist because I get really nervous before I compete. I find that focusing on my breathing really helps since I sometimes forget to when I feel so much adrenaline!

A:

That's one thing about my school that makes it fairly unique; we have minimalist training in actual wilderness environments (namely Alaska). We teach people how to survive with little to no gear. Understand, not everything is survivable. If you fall into a fast river in January, you'll likely drown from the soaked heavy clothing, or rapidly succumb to hypothermia once you self rescue. You have minutes to strip down and make a fire in freezing conditions before your brain switches off. You have to be lucky, in great shape, have close to dry weather, and lots of good accelerant and UCO matches immediately at your disposal, and be in an area with dry wood.

Mental fortitude is key. Anyone can build a shelter on a nice day with a lunch in their pack. It takes fortitude to do it with a fractured ankle while you're going hypothermic. The "I can, I will, I must" attitude and the ability to think critically and use your training in extreme circumstances.


Q:

What’s the worst thing about being an elite child athlete?

A:

Do you have any tips on dealing with feet/hands getting too cold? I find myself losing feeling in my extremities anytime I ice climb or even ski now.


Q:

Making tons of mistakes in the public eye.

A:

Get hand warmers. They are a game changer. I use them inside jackets and sleeping bags all the time too.

Also if you have yet to try smart wool socks, the heaviest weight and highest percentage wool. expensive but will last for years and years. They also insulate very well when wet, as sweat may be the issue there.


Q:

How do you feel about Surya Bonaly's backflip?

A:

What is the longest distance you've walked in a day?


Q:

Jealous

A:

Roughly 30 miles.


Q:

Can I do an AMA for the dog please?

A:

Other than you under cooking roots..... What's the downright stupidest thing you've seen someone do after or during one of your training camps?


Q:

Great idea. Let's make it happen.

A:
  1. During a crew hike we found two teen boys trying to catch a bear cub, they had it cornered. Talked them into stopping.

  2. A woman with a folding knife that didn't lock tried to carve a stick with it, backwards, aggressively. 8 stitches. She was a champ though and came right back and finished the course. I've actually done it too.


Q:

Is there a story behind your setup for the 3A?

A:

What is the most useful survival tip for beginners to know?


Q:

Get it done!

A:

Always have a small kit on you whenever heading to the outdoors. Have the minimal you need to spend the night. If you're not in an extreme environment (frozen or desert) that can be kept to 1lbs or less. The #1 killer is exposure so prep for it.

Fire: UCO stormproof matches & Wet Fire/Fast Fire/Webber Grill Lighter Cubes (all the sam material which burns at over 1000F for several minutes, the last two brands over ten min)

Water: Aqua Tabs and/or a Sawyer Squeeze

Shelter: Heat Sheet and nylon twine

There's more but it can depend on your climate, activity, and circumstances.


Q:

What is your favourite program that you have skated so far? And also, with the amount of musical theatre karaoke sessions in your instagram stories, what is your favourite musical? :D

A:

Do you have any knowledge of the Military's SERE school? How do you feel about it?


Q:

I love Broadway. I think Wicked and the Lion King are two of my favorites. Also, Miss Saigon was amazing. I just love them all.

I love Miss Saigon and I also loved skating to Pirates of the Caribbean.

A:

I taught a 10 day course at the USMC Mountain Warfare Training Center and have worked with SERE instructors from more than one branch. It's excellent training, wish I could get in on a course. We have retired instructors running a civilian version at our school. Thanks for the question!


Q:

Hello Mirai! My daughter would like to ask you what one piece of advice you would have for her to be just like you when she grows up (she's five and she's been skating for a year now)? Also, she's hoping that she can watch you on TV in PyeongChang!

A:

Can you professionally instruct me on how to survive for a week with nothing but a bag of lays sour cream chips??


Q:

As cliche as it is, as long as you keep loving the sport and believing in yourself, you're going to be golden!

A:

Step 1: Eat Chips, except 1.

Step 2: Use chip for fire tinder

Step 3: Boil water with a hot stone inside the bag to quench thirst from salty chips: https://www.instagram.com/survival_expert/

Step 3: turn the bag inside out to use reflective surface as signal to get rescued


Q:

I really want to get back into figure skating at 19 years old; what is the best way to do so, and what times do you consider the rink to be near empty?

A:

Step 4: jerk off a bunch


Q:

Skating is for all ages. Show up and give it a go. I'd say that during the day when everyone is at school is when the rink is at its emptiest.

A:

that's just a given with those greasy fingers.


Q:

I'm at a sushi place right now. What is your favorite sushi?

A:

How do you ensure that water isnt contaminated (wont give you bad case of the runs), since chlorine and iodine tablets aren't enough usually?


Q:

Blue fin tuna

A:

According to the CDC guidelines for backpackers pre treatment with chem tabs then >2 micron absolute filtration and you're good to go. This is why I love the sawyer squeeze and life straw gravity filters (they have pre treatment reservoirs). https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/drinking/travel/backcountry_water_treatment.html


Q:

Who are your favourite skaters to watch right now? What do you love most about the sport?

A:

What Survival TV shows are the most informative? And which are full of it?


Q:

I really like Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot's long program with the infinity arms everywhere. It is so cool!

A:

Sadly to say they are basically all full of it. All are staged, some claim for safety but it's more for skill, and they often portray methods that just don't work in real life. With one exception, Ray Mears and his stuff. I love that guy, he's a real legend. His episodes are real tutorials.


Q:

Hi Mirai! What are your dogs' favorite treats?

A:

Ray Mears is amazing. I've got all his books. I love how unpretentious and informative he is.l


Q:

They eat everything. I wish I could insert a laughing emoji here.

A:

100%. He's my favorite. I hope I can work with him someday.


Q:

Do you ever visit Japan with your family?

Best of luck with the Olympics.

A:

If you were in the movie Cast Away, how differently would you have handled it?


Q:

My parents spend a lot of time working at the restaurant, so I've only gone to Japan with both of my parents once, but I remember it fondly.

A:

I would have poked a hole in wilson and filled it with coconut guts... for snacking.


Q:

How are you managing the holidays given that Nationals is so early this year???

A:

This guy Reddits. Thanks for your time on this AMA!


Q:

Singing Christmas carols in the car!

A:

Thank you!


Q:

Did you start figure skating on your own? Did your parents ever put pressure on you to do well?

A:

Are you able to accurately predict who's going to fare best in a survival situation when you meet the people ahead of time?


Q:

My parents wanted me to be a golfer but they took me to the rink one day and I asked to be taken to the rink all the time.

Yes, my parents put pressure on me to do well, but I would equate it to expecting a kid to get good grades in school. (I like to think that I did both)

A:

I always say you can never predict how someone will act in an emergency. When we're operating field courses, sometimes the most unsuspecting people will dominate. Sometimes office social dynamics change after our corporate events, because of what it brings out in people. People always surprise me, I love people, I want them to survive.


Q:

Hi Mirai! Will you be going for 2 3Axels (one in combo obviously) in your Long Program? Rooting for you all the way! xo ♥

A:

Greetings from Down Under Sir,

Have you had any strange / freaky experiences you can talk about in any searches or your time in the field?

Thankyou in advance.


Q:

One for now. One step at a time :)

A:

One night two people woke up on a desert field exercise screaming from nightmares at the same time, on opposite sides of camp. Freaked everyone out.


Q:

What are your thoughts on sand?

A:

Growing up in Idaho I used to take flint and steel with me everywhere in the backcountry. It worked well for most situations outside of when it was wet and I didn't have anything dry on me... but best of all the thing seemed to last forever.

What's your preferred/recommended fire starting tool/method?


Q:

Love it

A:

There's plenty of great ways to start a camp fire, but for emergencies I only recommend:

UCO Stormproof matches combined with either esbit/fast fire/or webber fuel cubes.


Q:

Thoughts on Kim Yu-Na? Do you think she deserved a gold at Sochi?

A:

Quite an impressive biography. How can you make a simple fire with stuff you find in the woods ? I know its difficult but what would be the best way?


Q:

She's an amazing skater!

A:

Thanks! Bow and drill friction fire method. That's really the only viable way that's useful anywhere. https://www.instagram.com/p/Bb-OZvbjE9S/?taken-by=survival_expert


Q:

What would Brian Boitano do?

A:

Can you please tell me a funny story of something that happened to you? Would love to see everyone's reaction here. :-)


A:

I took the US Marine Corps lead survival instructor, and a Master Sergeant on a 3 day 40 mile backcountry hike, with no food or water and almost no gear (a knife/bottle/piece of string/filter, that's it- not even a med kit). The hike was mostly above 7000' and up to 10,000 at time. I was showing them how I do my expeditions after the 10 day course I taught at their base, as they wanted to learn more. Day 2 we cooked soap roots I harvested for breakfast. I under cooked them. I also ate the center. They felt a little queezy for a few minutes, but I puked bad, real bad, for about 5 hours off and on. I refused to end it or quit. I was so embarrassed. It happened at 9000'+. Step step puke step, step step puke step. Cleared up just fine though. In the end they were almost more impressed. Type 3 fun.


Q:

Hey Mirai! You're my top pick for the Olympic team; can't wait to see you in PyeongChang!

You've talked about wanting to push your technical boundaries. With the triple axel looking better and better at each competition, will we see a quad Sal/Toe attempt at some point?

Kind of related - are you more comfortable with toe or edge jumps?

A:

Have you ever worked with the USAF’s SERE? If you have, what is your impression with their overall skill?


Q:

Toe jumps.

If I can compete with the pole harness when I go for the quad, I'll consider it.

A:

That's the only one I haven't yet. I have worked with 2 or 3 of their EOD teams though, which are outstanding.


Q:

Hi Marai! Do you have a certain boot that you like? Harlicks are so sturdy, but they are so heavy and it's hard to point the foot. Any advice on choosing the right equipment and taking care of your feet (especially when breaking in your boots)? And best wishes during the the Olympic games in PyeongChang!!!!

A:

What would be in your terms, the easiest region/area to survive in? I live in eastern ky, spent many nights camping and many days hunting. I would assume a region such as mine would be very productive for survival. Abundance of easily made shelters with rock out cropping, caves, dense forests, and plenty of food sources with a relatively mild climate.

Also the hardest?


Q:

Right now, I wear Edeas and I love how light they are!

I have flat feet and find that the Edeas fit me really well.

I take a lot of baths in order to relax my sore muscles. Baths are great with 2 cups of epsom salts!

A:

Really if California was in the original shape we found it in, like say Alaska, it would be easiest. A Mediterranean climate that also has extensive aquifers filled by nearby mountains, with plenty of coast to fish and game to hunt is awesome. Really any place remote and wild is good. It still has life. Hardest... I'll say anywhere arctic.


Q:

Ahh thanks for doing this!!!! I’m so excited for the Olympics!

What are some songs on your pump up playlist?

Good luck this year!!!

A:

What is the worst situation you have been stuck in where your survival skills saved the day?


Q:

Waka Waka by Shakira!

A:

Gosh I can't really say I was stuck but this hurt really bad: https://www.mensfitness.com/life/outdoor/miles-to-nowhere-hiking-death-valley


Q:

What are your thoughts on the documentary, Icarus? The film highlights Russian stated sponsored doping and I'm curious how you feel about having to compete with athletes that have been using performance enhancing drugs for most of the careers.

A:

Oh wow. I've never been to death valley and even lived in California for about a year... I always wanted to go on a brutal march there.


Q:

I just watched it and would definitely recommend seeing it if you haven't already. I think it's insane that what started off as a documentary to see how doping could help an athlete ultimately ended in Rodchenkov in the Witness Protection Program. I also cannot wrap my head around the fact that there was such an elaborate plan at the Sochi Olympics and that they were able to pull it off.

At the end of the day, my responsibility is to myself and I can only control what I'm ingesting.

A:

Train and acclimate first. It can easily kill in the time of year I went. https://www.mmamania.com/2008/09/08/evan-tanner-dies-in-the-desert-seriously


Q:

Honestly, Death Valley is a must see

A:

Agreed, it is beautiful. Darwin Falls runs year long and fresh celery and watercress grows along the banks. Most people don't know there's a beautiful oasis there.


Q:

As a structural FF, what drove you to the insanity it takes to be a smoke jumper?

A:

Ha thanks. Helitack Rappeller actually, I slid down a rope. Grew up in abject poverty. For me it was just such an honor to have that title, to be able to make such a difference, and I've been into extreme physical challenges since I saw Jack La Lane on tv when I was 12. The opportunity presented itself, so I lept on it.


Q:

Hello, thanks a lot for doing this! I've always loved to go on long hikes and do outdoor activities, but never really looked into learning any sort of survival skills. Living in the UK, do you know if there are any courses that are similar to what you have to offer? I am sceptical of the few that I have found and not sure if they will actually teach anything that can be applied in real life scenarios or they are just there to make money.

A:

I would recommend ray mears. I think his schoo is called Woodlore. He is a legend. Thanks for participating!


Q:

I've heared that they are not comparable, but noone could explain why exactly, so can you explain why swiss army knives and leathermans are so different, while both are considered multitools?

A:

Leatherman implies pliers while swiss knives don't. Usually multi-tool is reserved for models with pliers.


Q:

Which celebrities have you trained? Been on television? Written any Survival Books? Ima big fan of Baer Grills and Less Stroud. Do you agree or disagree with their skills/training?

A:

Rob Riggle, Stephanie Beatriz, Mike Rowe, and The Golden God off the top of my head. I love Bear and he's very talented- but his stuff is all staged with a lot of help with outside experts. Les isn't too bad but I don't know about his bigfoot stuff lol. I've been on tv a lot, CNN with Mike Rowe's old show Somebody's Gotta Do It, CBS News, ABC News, KTLA, a bunch of news stuff mostly. A lot of publications as well, and some YouTube stuff like with the Try Guys. Book coming early 2018, DVD on wild plants available on Amazon "Off The Land"


Q:

By Golden God, do you mean Dennis Reynolds? Or...

A:

You know exactly who I mean. Is this not reddit?


Q:

Oh shit! How was it?

Are you his source for the dangers (implications) of sea travel?

A:

Hardcore dude. Highly motivated and intelligent. Very skilled. Insists on personal success. Great conversation.

No sorry lol!