actorartathleteauthorbizcrimecrosspostcustomerservicedirectoredufoodgaminghealthjournalistmedicalmilmodpostmunimusicnewsworthynonprofitotherphilpolretailscispecialisedspecializedtechtourismtravelunique

AthleteIamA wheelchair athlete AMA!

Dec 28th 2017 by HHegert • 14 Questions • 33 Points

Q:

how many push ups can u do?:)

A:

What was the status (class) of your dad before the October revolution? What were the contents of the messages he sent to people on the outside?


Q:

ATC checking in. I was 4 months into my training at Heathrow as a young trainee ATC when I walked back upstairs from a break and was greeted to the sight of the BAW 777 coming over the fence and crashing. I probably had the best view of anyone of your near death experience! Up in the tower at first we thought the pilot was being a smart arse and trying to do a short landing to come off at one of the early exits, then it dawned on the controller in charge of that runway that shit was about to get real. There’s a good YouTube video of the ATC tape of my former colleague doing a fantastic job of co-ordinating the emergency. In it you will even hear the pilot calling the mayday and uses the incorrect call sign, he used the call sign BA use in their simulator when they PRACTICE emergencies, so they literally went into “auto pilot” mode.

It actually was a blessing that the plane landed short of the runway and in the grass, which was soft from the perpetual English rain, as it’s believed the runway surface may have caused a fire on impact. Having low amounts of jet fuel left in the tanks after a long flight also probably decreased the likelihood of fire.

10 years later, I have never seen anything like it in my career as an ATC, and I don’t wish to. The whole tower staff on duty were deeply affected for days afterwards but everyone involved from ATC, pilots, crew, ground staff, emergency services did an amazing job and turned a potential disaster into a Very British Plane Crash which caused some minor disruption, some grumbling about delays, and was mostly forgotten by the media in a matter of days.

How did it affect you afterwards? I see your sense of humour is still intact but did you have any PTSD or similar? I’m sure I’m not alone as an ATC/Pilot that has dreams about crashes or emergencies, some of which are based on my memories of your crash.

Thanks for doing this AMA

A:

There’s always that kid showing up in your office multiple times a week. What does this adorable human say?


Q:

What was the reaction around the office once the news broke?

A:

Around a 100 should not be too much of a challenge on a normal day.


Q:

My father was a photographer which would be middle class. The messages he sent to his parents were about his wife and children - the usual stuff discussed between parents and children. He was never involved in politics which meant that he was not a member of the Communist Party.

A:

You probably had it worse as you could see how bad it was. I was listening to a show called what goes up might come down. Look it up, it's an after dinner speech by an ex ATC man.


Q:

I have a handful of "frequent flyers." When it comes to these kiddos, I try to play the long game. I chat with them in the hall and cafeteria, and make sure I get on a first-name basis with the parent(s). I see it as banking karma for when it comes time for tough conversations.

I spent my career in middle schools prior to this position, and I can say I was completely unprepared for the sheer quantity of birthday cupcakes and treats I get on a daily basis. Kids drop by my office all the time to give me a birthday treat. I have a few birthday presents (free book, bookmark, and pencil) that I hand out. I also ask about their birthday plans, gifts, meal, etc., to try and make them feel special on their special day.

A:

Most of my coworkers did not even know what net neutrality was. I was trying to educate everyone but I think I only reached a few people. There's a lot of internal propaganda about the subject which is the biggest reason why I left the company. We were literally asked to hand out fliers to customer with a little statement from Verizon with a header saying "Verizon supports a free internet" written at the top. That was the last straw for me.


Q:

How did you happen to be sitting in a wheelchair? Did you have an accident that put you there or were you born that way?

A:

As a history student, I've learned that there's many different explanations to why the Soviet union eventually collapsed. Whilst they probably all contributed, which do you find was the most decisive?


Q:

I was so glad to hear there was no fatalities in this crash, mostly due to the pilots expert crash landing. This is one of my favourite "Air Crash Investigations", did you see the episode?

The complexity of sequence of events that made the engines fail and the length the investigation teams went to try to reproduce the problem was good work all round.

edit: english

A:

I am in my 35th year of teaching at the elementary level and have had both wonderful and horrible principals, but have yet to have a principal ask this simple question of me, “What could I do to help you be a better teacher this year?” I am asking you, “What could I do, if I was one of your teachers, to help you be a better principal this year?”


Q:

Has that internal propaganda been anonymously misplaced somewhere on the web for us to read?

A:

Fortunately (And I say that, because it is much easier to be in this position since birth) I was born like that. I have Spina Bifida.


Q:

I think it was the spiritual crisis caused by discrepancy between the rosy propaganda and totalitarian reality that made the Soviet people lose faith in the system. I think there is a lesson in this for us.

A:

I didn't. Lots of people mentioned to me that they saw it but I kinda knew the ending.


Q:

That is such a fantastic question! Since I first started as an administrator, I send out an anonymous surey at the end of the year asking teachers what I've done well and where I should focus my efforts for the next year. Responses are generally positive, but they have really helped me hone my craft as well as identify areas that teachers fell I need to improve.

To answer your question: I truly believe that a good principal needs to be able to have his (or her) finger on the pulse of the building. Teachers can help do this by providing feedback and keeping communication clear. Share the good and the bad... Don't be afraid to share success stories about your students, or tales of woe and challenge. I appreciate these anecdotal bits, especially when I talk to parents. Also, I am always trying to predict the future needs of the building. I recognize that teacher have a unique vantage point. That's a huge asset for a principal.

A:

I honestly wouldn't know, but it got really bad internally. We were getting emails from the corporate office blatantly lying about Verizons stance on the subject. The attempted brainwashing was horrible.


Q:

Yes I do think it's better to be born disabled than having a sudden life changing accident. Good that you're pursuing a career and doing sports despite being handicapped. What sports do you do?

A:

Hi Anatole, thanks for taking the time to do this AMA. What would you say surprised you most about American culture when you came here, vs. what you had heard while you were in the USSR?


Q:

What freaks me out about a crash landing is being trapped in a burning aircraft by passengers gathering their luggage. What was your reaction to other passenger's instincts to gather luggage rather than self survival?

A:

Have you ever made Steamed Hams for your Super Intendent?


Q:

So what exactly, asking fir concrete examples, has Verizon done that is contradictory to their public statement supporting a free and open internet?

A:

Wheelchair racing & basketball.


Q:

The Soviet propaganda painted the United States as an almost fascist country where everyone was being exploited by the capitalists and wished they lived in a Communist country. One couldn't read Western newspapers or books and did not have any information about real life in the West. The fact that no information was available from the West did not give us an opportunity to compare the two systems. I did not believe them and, having studied in West Germany after fleeing the Soviet Union, already knew what democracy was all about.

A:

My friend and I shared a look of "Seriously?!" and then used their delay to get the hell off the plane.

I didn't even grab my jumper. January on a runway at Heathrow in a t-shirt is not a warm experience. On the plus side Russia and China was colder so I was somewhat acclimatised.


Q:

That's what I call hamburgers. It's a regional dialect.

A:

I don't understand what you're asking.


Q:

How do you find ‘disabled access’ where you are? Is it easy to get about, or are there lots of curbs and stairs or other obstacles in the way?

A:

How prevalent was petty theft in day to day life growing up within the Soviet Union. Not necessarily stealing from each other, but trying to steal from the regime? Did people often steal from each other, or was there more of a group mentality, of we're all in this together? Was there an element of needing to steal to survive, or live in otherwise unbearable conditions? Any information or perspectives you could give on the world of petty crimes would be interesting to me.


Q:

How were you reunited with all of your luggage? Did the airline gather it all up and put it on the carousel like normal? Was there much damage to passengers luggage?

A:

Hello and thank you for the AMA.

I am a 3rd grade teacher at a private school and I will soon be starting a job search for a new position. As a principal, I assume that you have hiring responsibilities and I was wondering if you could share any attributes you especially like to see in a job candidate. Any red flags I should make sure to avoid? Thanks for your time!


Q:

Of course, i will clarify. Your claim is that you quit because you were asked to hand out flyers implying thay Verizon supported an open internet. My question, is this, what actions has Verizon taken as a company that are contradictory to the message they are promoting. Are they throttling connection speeds for certain websites, forcing tiered service onto customers, blocking wesbites, etc.

Right now, youre argument is based solely upon your feelings, and not based on factual evidence. You feel they are promoting false information, without providing supporting data. Basically, im saying you quit your only job to virtue signal for meaningleas online points.

A:

The good thing is, I am able to get up and make a step here and there to up the stairs or over and around other things, but it could always be better.

Nowadays the law requires all the new buildings (renovated or built) to be as wheelchair accessible as possible, but there are still a lot of buildings with no (easy) access for a disabled person.

As far as streets and such go, going around is pretty easily accessible. Obviously it is better in bigger cities and almost nonexistant in the countryside, but it is getting better every year. We just have to make our voices heard and contact the right people who will look into these problems.


Q:

It depends on how you define "petty crimes". During the collectivization of farmers, theft from the collective farm of a handful of grain stalks needed for survival was considered a crime punishable by years of imprisonment. People stole because there were shortages of everything and among the population, stealing from the government was not viewed as a real crime. In general, petty crime was common.

Edit: People had to remove windshield wipers when they parked their cars for fear of them being stolen.

A:

Mine was flatter but intact.

It took a few days before they could extract it from the wreckage and send it back in a taxi.


Q:

First, thank you for all you do. Teachers - especially at the elementary level - have an incredibly difficult job!

I do all the hiring for my building. The job market is definitely in my favor, so I can afford to be picky. For example, I hired a probationary teacher over the summer and that one position had about 350 applicants. I usually look at the resume first to see what kind of experience the candidate has. I also look for some kind of spark - something that will set the person apart from everyone else. I want someone who can bring something unique to the school. I also focus on the cover letter. I view the cover letter as a subtle test to see if the person is articulate and literate. Don't waste time re-writing content from your resume. Instead, expand on some of your qualifications and experiences.

If you're fortunate to get an interview, answer questions honestly - nothing ruins an interview faster than catching a candidate talking out their ass. Also avoid speaking in generalities or theoretical best practices. You don't know how many times I hear candidates tell me they have a passion for teaching, or they love watching students success. These things should be a given. Instead, leverage your experience when answering questions.

Best of luck to you in your job search!

A:

Verizon has been "testing" throttling for a few years now. About a year ago Verizon started throttling the Netflix app in certain markets. While I can't provide studies or data proof, most of my decision is based in my understanding that Verizon is trying to mask their stance against net neutrality with that statement. Verizon has been flirting with heavy throttling ever since the came out with their newer unlimited plan and I have zero doubts that we will see some sort of plan in the near future with fast lane access to certain websites.


Q:

are there specially modded wheelchairs to use for sports/speed that people have considered banning for the advantage it brings?

A:

What is your favorite book from that giant shelf behind you in that picture?


Q:

You gotta be fucking kidding me. I lose my luggage in a regular domestic flight and the dude who fucking crashes gets his in a few days.

A:

Not the OP but i can help answer this. I’m currently in school to be an educator, and there are two sets of standards that students need to meet. The teachers themselves get to come up with the curriculum (assuming the school doesn’t come up with it for them) as long as they model it off of the state/national standards. They take standardized tests every year that their instruction culminates from. There are state standards and there are national standards. Technically, in most states the departments of education like to parade around the fact that they have their teachers and former teachers in the state help make the standards, but the elected and appointed officials often twist it to their points. This is even more prevalent at the national level, although the content area coalitions often lobby/argue against policy makers making the standards. Hope this gave you an understanding.


Q:

Verizon has been "testing" throttling for a few years now. About a year ago Verizon started throttling the Netflix app in certain markets.

So if verizon was throttling websites while NN laws were active, why do we need said laws? Its clear that either the laws were inept or didnt do what yourself, and many other uninformed individuals, claimed.

Verizon has been flirting with heavy throttling ever since the came out with their newer unlimited plan and I have zero doubts that we will see some sort of plan in the near future with fast lane access to certain websites.

Again, this is an argument made based upon feelings, not data or evidence. Its more virtue signaling.

Im getting the sense that you have no idea what the "Net Neutrality" laws did in practice and were brainwashed by reddits pro-NN bullshit.

A:

There are a set of rules that every wheelchair has to fall under in order to compete. For example, your wheels have to fit under a certain height; you cannot have any motors or other things built inside to give you an advantage.

Wheelchairs can be customized to fit your body size, length etc, but that's about it.


Q:

"The Black Book of Communism", Harvard University Press, 1999

A:

To be fair I actually got my friends luggage first but her clothes don't fit me so I swapped back.


Q:

Yeah, pretty much what Chambers said. =)

I try to think of it like a road map. The standards tell you where you want students to end up at the end of the year, but the curriculum is the route teachers choose to get to the destination. I offer input with respect to curriculum, but I don't have a need to control what or how something gets taught. It's more important for me that teachers work together to create a shared curriculum. I have 5 or 6 classes per grade and my expectation is that students receive a similar experience regardless of classroom. If I have a family with triplets and I put each in a different classroom, I feel it's imperative that they all receive a balanced educational experience.

A:

Regardless, my opinion was that Verizon was being misleading. I respect your desire for factually data but I simply don't have the means to provide it. I'd like to believe I'm well informed on the subject but if you say I'm wrong I'll have to do more research. Most of my decision was based on what I perceived to be happening and If I'm wrong and I quit for the wrong reason then I'll face the coming consequences. That being said the fliers were not the only reason I left the company.


Q:

Anatole, what do you see is the most ideal and fair system of government, and which countries have implemented that system of government the most faithfully?

A:

Wait, you swapped the luggage or the clothes!?


Q:

How does a public school work financially? I assume you get a budget from the city/state, but how is that amount determined (population, yearly negotiation, some success metric?) and is it earmarked for specific items, or do you have the discretion to prioritize?

A:

Did you have another job lined up, or are you just completely lacking impulse control?


Q:

I think it is democracy in which the opponents are not considered to be enemies, as we had it in the second half of the 20th century.

A:

Both.


Q:

Great question. Generally, money either comes from local taxes or state funding. The state releases its budget in early spring and that gives districts a head's up on how much they will receive. The remaining balance in the projected budget for the next school year either needs to be made up via an increase in local taxes, or it needs to be reduced. I'm over generalizing, but that's the jist.

At the district level, each building has a budget for supplies, equipment, etc. I have to meet with the superintendent in January each year to walk through how I plan to spend money. He primarily pays attention to the bottom line - my annual budget is around $85,000. If I want a big ticket item (like musical instruments, for example), I can budget for that but it means I may have to go light on another area. Costs for personnel, health insurance, buildings and grounds, maintenance, etc, is handled at the district level.

There are some years when the state funding comes up short and we simply don't want to put up a high local tax increase to vote. This is when programs and staff start getting cut. A few years ago, NYS passed a bill called the Gap Elimination Adjustment, or GEA, that caused havoc and decimated schools. We're finally now starting to get back to where we were before the GEA.

In addition, school receive special aidable funding for certain things like textbooks and communication services (this is a federal thing called E-Rate).

A:

I have an interview coming up but nothing solid. I have a big chunk of savings lined up though so I can get by for a month or two.


Q:

How do you think things would have turned out if Trotsky had been able to succeed Lennin instead if Stalin rising to power?

A:

How much did you get in compensation?


Q:

Wow. $85k is literally nothing. Based on NY averages that's <$150/student for the entire year! And, it sounds like the GEA hands NY public schools the short straw by law in budget negotiations.

Keep up the good fight and thanks for sharing! I had no idea (at least NY) schools were in this dire of straits.

A:

So, you decided to quit a job with no other offers and can get by for "a month or two". Do you not see how idiotic this is?


A:

I got;

A 2 week holiday anywhere in the world for myself and 3 friends with business class flights.

5 years of gold level membership in the executive club.

Most importantly I got to go down the evacuation slide.


Q:

Mind you, that budget is primarily for materials and supplies, etc. But it's still pretty tight. My district consists of four buildings and just under 2000 kids. The total annual budget is around $3.2 million.

A:

I appreciate the concern, but I am confident everything will turn out alright. My partner is still pulling in an income and I have a good support network in my family.


Q:

What would be your ideal method of governance?

A:

It's nice to see you have your priorities straight. ;)


Q:

What are some things the superintendent or the district do that really help you? What are some things they need to stop or ease back?

A:

Hello friend! I was a Retail Sales Consultant for AT&T for 3 years! A recruiter from Verizon contacted me on LinkedIn recently about a solutions specialist job. I left AT&T because of Wells Fargo type management and pressure to make unethical sales. I hear Verizon is similar so i turned it down. What was your experience like with Verizon?

I know this wasn’t what your AMA is about but I would like to know lol.


Q:

A civilized democracy.

A:

What's worse is the plane was listing to the right so the slide wasn't as steep as it should be. I didn't think asking to go back and try the other side was a great idea though.


Q:

My district is pretty small. The entire administrative body consists of 8 people, superintendent included, so I have a really good relationship with him. He's a straight shooter, and I appreciate that. What you see is what you get. He is really into the idea of shared decision making, so he rarely ever issues a directive without gathering our input first.

If I had to complain about something, it would be the lack of equity that happens between buildings. In most districts, the high school is the golden child. Understandably, districts are known for their HS programs, graduation rates, etc, so it's naturally the building to get the most attention (and money).

A:

The pressure is definitely there, I was with Verizon for quite some time and while the pay and benefits are fantastic but the emotional toll was heavy. Did the 80 year old lady really need a $700 phone and a Bluetooth speaker? Probably not, but your leadership team will always tell you that it's their money not yours but that excuse just didn't fly with me. I'm not going to miss the days of going home feeling guilty. That being said I don't want it to sound too dramatic or anything. Most days I would be genuinely helping people with issues and the like. It was the sales aspect I hated but it is to be expected in any commission based retail job.


Q:

Why wasn't Stalin assassinated?

What do you think of the Russian War effort in WW2

What do you think of Putin and his role in Syria?

What is a good book that provided a fair analysis of Communist Russia

A:

There there. There'll be other crashes, sweetie.


Q:

I once got In-school suspension in elementary school. There was this switch in the boys locker room that everyone tried to jump high enough to switch on. Little did we know it was a nono as it was a heater that was faulty. I told the truth and said "I tried to reach it, but I couldn't jump high enough." I'm not sure why I was punished me for merely attempting to do said act.

Do you ever get cases like this?

A:

So was that truly a wise decision? Like, did you have a backup job ready?


Q:

According to rumors, Stalin was assassinated by Lavrenty Beria who arranged for a larger than normal dose of blood thinning medication be given to him. Beria felt his life was threatened when Stalin was preparing another purge of the leadership.

I am not an expert in matters of the war.

As for the book question, my new book "A Brief History of Communism" analyzes life in Communist Russia.

A:

Fingers crossed.


Q:

I have ever suspended a student in grades 3-5. If I need to give a consequence it's almost always either a lunch detention (where the students eats alone in the main office or my office) or a phone call/conference with the parents.

I wonder what surrounding circumstances in your situation caused the principal to act the way he/she did. Sometimes it's a teacher who is looking for blood; sometimes it's a response from a angry parent; sometimes the principal is just having a really bad day. I try to stay consistent with consequences - I have my own internal barometer of what level of behavior requires certain consequences. I also try to be progressive with consequences. If that was the only time you were in trouble, I definitely would not have suspended you!

One more thing on the topic of consequences: I always try to phrase the conversation as a matter of cause and effect. That way the student recognizes that the consequence is because of the behavior, not because I don't "like" him.

A:

It may not have been a "wise" decision. But I stand by my choice. I have a few backup plans so I'm confident I will be okay.


Q:

What if any parallels do you see in Putin's increasingly autocratic government and the Soviet government?

A:

So where did you go??


Q:

I'm old enough to remember when principals still spanked kids at school. How would you feel if that was still a thing today?

A:

how many people quit with you? Do you think your quitting made a difference or was it just to show that you are pissed.


Q:

The fact that he is approved by 80% of the Russian population shows that because Russia never had a real democracy, an autocratic government is acceptable to a majority there and so is Putin's objective of restoring military power and influence in the world.

A:

Trans-Siberian railway from England to China.


Q:

Corporal punishment breeds resentment and doesn't address the root cause of the negative behavior. There is growing support for restorative practices (that's a fun Google search if you're bored) and it's something I'm starting to build into my routine when dealing with behavior problems. It requires a culture shift though. I have some teachers who want me to be the hammer - they don't understand the concept of using a negative consequence as a teaching tool. They just think I'm being "soft" on the kids.

A:

I was the only one in my whole district that quit to my knowledge. In the grand scheme of things it probably won't make a difference but I have to stand up to my beliefs.


Q:

Russia has never survived under a “democracy.” Without an authoritarian leader like Vladimir Putin, Russia would cease to exist and would split into several impoverished republics. It’s a nation that needs strong federal unified rule.

I’ve studied this subject for several years and I’ve written multiple papers about it. It’s evident in Russia’s history. The stark demographic and cultural differences that exist among her people makes the principle of “democracy” nearly impossible to implement and sustain.

A:

How was it? Would you recommend it?


Q:

What are your thoughts on 'zero tolerance policies'? Furthermore, why do schools do so much to avoid dealing with bullies

A:

What were your thoughts when you learned Trump’s staff selection included a Verizon Lawyer?


Q:

This is an accurate representation of the state of Russia.

A:

10/10 would crash again.


Q:

Zero tolerance policies were a knee-jerk reaction to growing systemic problems back in the 90s. In theory, they make sense; it sends a clear, unified message about what is acceptable and unacceptable in a school. Unfortunately, the world of students is filled with grey area that is not accounted for with zero tolerance. For example, last year, I had a 5th grade boy who brought in a lighter and a pack of cigarettes. A teacher spotted them and sent him down to me. The boy appeared genuinely confused and a quick phone call to home clarified what happened: the kid's dad had slipped on his son's jacket the night before so he could step out and have a quick smoke. The dad left his stuff in the jacket pocket. It really was a simple mistake, but if I were to follow zero tolerance, I should have suspended the kid regardless of the circumstance.

As far as bullying goes, it's definitely an issue in many schools and that's why it get so much attention. In NY, a law was passed in 2010 called Dignity for All Students Act (DASA), that legally requires schools to actively investigate allegations of bullying and document corrective actions taken. In 2012, DASA was expanded to include incidences of bullying that take place outside of the school day (cyberbullying, for example). This is a bit crazy because suddenly schools are responsible to address issues that take place at home, but alas, it's the world we live in.

Bullying is an issue, but it's also a buzzword. When I deal with allegations of bullying, I try to figure out who the word is being used by the student/parent. Sometimes kids are just assholes, but I wouldn't consider that bullying.

A:

We actually all got an email congratulating him on his appointment and also when he stepped down from his position. It was concerning to me when it first happened for obvious reasons. I still think he's being coached by Verizon employees. The way he's been acting trying to be "hip" is very similar to how the head of employee relations acts on internal videos distributed internally.


Q:

What party/ideology do you identify with in the US? What do you think about Bernie Sanders being painted as a communist for wanting to incorporate socialistic programs into our capitalist society?

A:

not flying again eh?


Q:

Sometimes kids are just assholes, but I wouldn't consider that bullying

So you consider students treating others like garbage and making their life miserable to the point where they don't want to go to school a non-issue?

A:

For those wondering, this is a low level position. Typically making ~$14/hr per google search, which is probably generous.


Q:

I am in the middle of the road between the republicans and democrats.

We should differentiate between Communism and Socialism. Bernie Sanders is not a Communist. I think he would like to see a system more like what they have in Sweden, which is a monolithic society and would not work here.

A:

That was the way out. The flight home from that was the crash. Two weeks of train travel without an issue. One lousy 11 hour plane ride...


Q:

Didn't mean to trigger someone. Let me explain further...

What you describe is considered a material incident (that's the official language from DASA), and would therefore be considered bullying. Here's a typical example and non-example:

Let's say a kid is constantly commenting on another kid's weight. Over time (days, weeks, months - it doesn't matter), this name calling and taunting causes the victim to avoid eating lunch in the cafeteria. This would be a clear example of bullying. The behavior impacts the victim and changes his/her own behavior.

Here's another scenario: Kids are in Phys Ed. One kid calls the other a fat ass. The victim tells the aggressor to shut up, and then the game continues. The behavior is inappropriate, yes. But it's not bullying because it didn't have cause a material impact on the victim.

Hope this helps clear up my previous response.

A:

I made significantly more than that. Most people will build a career with that job. Hourly was alright but we also made commission.


Q:

As a survivor of Stalin's regime, what would you say to demonstrate how bad it really was to someone who's romanticizing the communist ideology?

A:

I think the question was where did you go on free vacation anywhere in the world


Q:

for better or for worse, had any kids that stands out so much that you remember them?

A:

What would you say is some of the worst parts of working within a position where you have to deal with people's issues regarding products, plans, etc?


Q:

Stalin's regime caused the death of over 24,000,000 of his citizens. They killed my father and many others just for writing a letter to their family abroad. They starved millions of people during artificially created famines in order to force farmers into collective farms.

I would recommend reading "Gulag: A History" by Anne Applebaum.

A:

Yeah I got lost in the trail of replies. The compensation holidays were to Antigua and then India.


Q:

I've been able to stay in touch with a number of former students after they graduate (thanks, Facebook!). I've always gravitated to the kids who face an uphill battle. I root for the underdogs. For example, there is a boy who I had as a student when I was teaching 8th grade. Nice kid, but edgy. His father died of a drug overdose and his home life was kind of a mess. I didn't pity him, but I tried to empathize. I kept tabs on him when he moved on to high school and he ended up requesting me on Facebook. He joined the Navy last year and seems to be doing well!

As far as bad kids go, I occasionally hear of former students who have ended up in prison or do something stupid to complicate their lives. It don't get a vindictive or told-you-so feeling, but it's always a little sad to realize that we recognized the path they were on when they were younger and no one could do anything to change it.

A:

The sheer unwillingness most people have to solve their own problems. Most phones issues can be solved by turning off all apps in the background and doing a soft reset on the device. About 3/4 of the customers coming into a Verizon store can save themselves a drive and the hassle of having a sales rep try and sell them something if they just spent at least a fraction of their time and energy into learning how to do minor troubleshooting on the device the carry with them 24/7. I understand not being able to figure out plans and service issues but people with actual service issues made up a fraction of the customer base coming in to the store everyday.


Q:

Do you think that the hardships you endured are related to an inherent evil in Communism? Or is it that the people in power were corrupt?

What I mean is, do you think in a perfect world Communism would work and the problem is we are imperfect creatures, or is Communism evil even if it is implemented perfectly?

A:

Came here to ask about the slide.


Q:

I'm a currently in highschool right know and I know that you don't represent every principle ever but in general do you ever intentionally or unintentionally dish out biased punishments and do kids with larger misconduct records get larger punishment for doing the same thing then kids with less offenses?

A:

Nah that’s something they would like you to believe. The reality is that NN has been a fundamental part of ISP-related government policy since ISPs were a thing, but some ISPs were beginning to ignore that and use loopholes to throttle connections and be dickheads anyway. The 2015 policies only served to reinforce the laws and make the ISPs stop what they were doing, not introduce NN altogether


Q:

Considering that the same system in other countries like China, Cuba, and Cambodia led to the same results, it shows that it was the system that is incompatible with human nature. It couldn't be implemented in any other way. Powerful people in other ideologies are also corrupt and yet they did not murder millions of their own citizens.

A:

Sadly not as fun as I would have expected :(


Q:

I kind of mentioned this in another response, but the answer is sorta yes and sorta no. As a practice, I try to be consistent with consequences. I phrase conversations as a cause/effect scenario... "if a student gets caught throwing food, then that student will need to eat at a different table," etc.

Consequences are progressive in nature, so yes, a student with a long history of behavior issues may get a steeper consequence based on the cumulative past offenses. It may not be equal, but I feel it's fair. Repeat offenders are rare though with me. I usually work out a behavior plan with the teacher or parents long before it turns into repeatedly slamming the kid with consequences.

A:

Ha ha, about a week and a half prior to me leaving we had a meeting where they showed us a video arguing just that.


Q:

What is your opinion on educated people in America who openly support communism, as well as dictators and their dictatorship?

As the son of a Cuban whose family was prosecuted and killed in Cuba, it infuriates me to hear people who praise those like Castro. So many people see only what they want to see.

Edit: after some responses and questions I went to talk to my father about the family history. Turns out my direct family (grandfather, pregnant grandmother) left Cuba because my grandfather, a doctor, helped both Batista's men and the men they were fighting during a shootout. Batista put 500,000$ on my grandfather's head for aiding the others. They also disagreed with Batista and later Castro, who ran the rest of my family out of Cuba.

My father said to relay a few things, first that Batista was bad, no denying that, but Castro was worse in his opinion. Batista was a murderer, but he mostly just messed with the political class and left the rest alone if they didn't interfere with the money. Castro messed with everyone, and ran the country into the ground.

My grandfather, Maximo/Luly Viera, was smuggled out, while his cousin Mingolo was not. Mingolo was on Batista's bad side, so he was caught, shot 150 times, and thrown on his mother's front porch.

Edit 2: My father said to post, if communism was so good they wouldn't need fences and walls and machine guns to keep people in.

A:

Did they not let you have another go?


Q:

What do you usually do when you don't have a kid in your office?

A:

I think these people are not sufficiently educated because schools are not doing a good job teaching history. I wish history teachers themselves knew more about what went on. Those who don't know the past are liable to repeat it.


Q:

Something about it being too dangerous. Health and Safety gone mad I tell you.

A:

That's a hard question to answer because every day is really different. Let me try to outline the best I can:

7:30ish - Get to work. First thing I do in the morning is check absentee list and make sure we have enough subs. If we are short, I need to figure out coverage internally using teaching assistants or other teachers.

8:05 - 8:35 - Teachers need to be at school by 8:00 but students don't arrive until 8:35. This half hour is when I hold all my committee meetings. There is almost always one every day because we have committees for everything.

8:35 - 8:55 - I wander the halls and say good morning to kids as they arrive. I also duck in with teachers at this time and follow on anything that may have happened the previous day.

8:55 - 9:05ish - Morning announcements. I do these from my office but have a schedule for two students to come down every day and help read the pledge and any announcements. After announcements I usually do another lap of the building and duck in to any classrooms I haven't already seen.

9:00 - 10:00 - This is kind of unstructured time where I usually stay in the office and get caught up on things. This may include returning phone calls, working on my monthly report for the BOE, conducting observations, writing up observation reports, meeting individually with teachers, etc.

11:00 - 1:00 - The cafeteria serves lunch during these two hours. Classes get 30 minutes for lunch and they are staggered so the cafeteria always has around 90ish kids in it. I try to be visible in the cafeteria every day. Once a month, I also pull kids (our version of students of the month) and host a special lunch with them in my office.

1:00 - 3:00 - More unstructured time to get stuff done.

3:00ish - I do another lap into classrooms at the end of the day before dismissal. Band and chorus also take place at the end of the day, so sometimes I drop by and either sing with the kids or play along (I can play a few instruments well enough to keep up with the 5th graders!). I don't get to do that often, but the kids really like it!

3:15ish - Dismissal. I alternate between standing out with the buses and standing at the front of the building to move along kids who walk home. I tend to go up from more during this time of the year when snowball fights can materialize out of nowhere.

3:30 - 4:30ish - Go back to the office and wrap up any loose ends. There are also district-level meetings during this time 4-5 times each month.

This is a pretty mundane accounting of my day since it doesn't account for craziness that can pop up at any given time. Also, an explanation about observations: In NY, every tenured teacher is required to have an announced and unannounced observation annually. The announced observation must also come with a pre-conference and post conference meeting. I have about 30 teachers in my building, so that means around 90 pre/observation/post meetings. Unannounced observations do not need a pre and post conference, but they must be conducted by an administrator that does not work in the building. This means I need to travel to the other three buildings to do observations for teachers who are not in my building. I think I have about 30 of these to do this year.


Q:

Is it communism or dictatorship and lack of free speech that made life under Stalin so bad? Can you have a democratic communist country with free speech?

A:

Did you try to put on the oxygen masks? or did you just bs right out of there?


Q:

A Communist system cannot tolerate another political party or ideology. Therefore, perhaps only after they exterminate all of their opponents, they would accept "free speech" from their supporters.

A:

I almost did, the impact dropped them but something in my mind kicked in and reminded me that it wasn't going to be much use on the ground.


Q:

Hi Mr. Konstantin,

Thank you for making yourself available for an AMA. I stumbled late onto your AMA last year and commented on how influential your book was to me while I was in high school. Your grandson Miles came across my message on that thread and reached out to me last week that you'll be doing an AMA and again reached out earlier today to let me know it was up - thank you, Miles! This actually reminded me the book would be a great gift for my sister who is interested in studying 20th century history - I found the last hardcopy on amazon at the moment :D

I have a few questions if you are able to answer:

  • Are you still speaking at local schools on life in the USSR? Do you have comments from speaking with students/teachers on your life? You comment on how education does not sufficiently emphasize lessons from history, and I think hearing and seeing someone speak, or writing personal accounts, will likely always be a lesson that finds more connection than watching an aged documentary or reading from a dry school textbook.

  • Apart from writing, do you have other hobbies?

  • Do you think communist or other harsh political ideologies would be harder or easier to find root today compared to the early 20th century?

Thank you - best of luck to you and your family in your business and personal endeavors!

A:

But you can't assist others until your own mask is on!


Q:

Thank you for your message.

I am no longer speaking in schools, but I am still being interviewed occasionally in local libraries. I found that most history teachers I met are not knowledgable about Communism and therefore their students are not familiar with it.

As for hobbies, I try to follow scientific developments in all areas.

I think that with jobs being lost to automation and artificial intelligence it may become easier in the future for these ideologies to take root.

A:

I like to think I led by example and made my way swiftly to the door.


Q:

Do you think Troksky would have been able to bring about a more wholesome, successful, and supportive form of socialism than Lenin did?

A:

Anybody act stupid while evacuating, like trying to retreive thier overhrad baggage or was it all for the door


Q:

Since Trotsky wrote, "The Red Terror is a weapon used against a class that, despite being doomed to destruction, does not wish to perish," I do not think that his rule would be any more benevolent than Lenin's.

A:

Far far too many.


Q:

What do you feel about the current state of the American hard left? And the polarization of the political landscape in general?

A:

Were people panicked at all, or just sorta confused and shaken up?


Q:

I think that the hard left is balanced by the hard right and neither are compatible with democracy as we know it. This is the most polarized time in our history and I think this too shall pass.

A:

A mix of everything. I think confused and shaken up is the most common expression I saw that day.


Q:

Thank you so much for taking the time to do this! Your insights are fascinating and I'm definitely hoping to pick up your book soon!

Do you think there are any artistic/fictional representations of life under Stalin's regime that have a particular resonance with your experiences?

A:

did it crash when it was supposed to be landing at the airport, or during the normal flight?


Q:

Yes, there is a Russian movie with english subtitles that is called "Burnt by the Sun" which is available on Amazon.

A:

Right at the end. Another hundred meters or so and we would have made it to the runway.


Q:

How do you feel about all the memes and jokes about Stalin, Hitler, and communism in general? Are they offensive?

A:

Did this cause a fear of flying for you, or someone close to you?

Did you have a concern for your life?

Did the other passengers reactions make it harder to stay calm?


Q:

I am not familiar with memes, but I do not find these sorts of jokes offensive.

A:

No I still fly now whenever I can and look forward to it.

Not at all. I was oblivious to the whole thing so by the time I knew it could have been worse it was over so nothing to be scared about.

The other passengers stopping to get their bags before leaving just gave me a clear path to the exit so I didn't spend a long time stuck inside.

Edit:

My sister refuses to be on the same plane as me now. I like to think I've got a proven track record and everyone else is just untested.


Q:

I guess you figured "I've been in one plane crash, statistically, what're the chances it'll happen again?"

edit: yes, I know thats not actually how statistics work.

A:

There was a guy on the flight who claimed it was his 4th or 5th plane crash and had also been in a helicopter one.

I treat it as there's nothing I can do about it so why worry. Plus each flight includes an entry in the prize draw for more free flights.


Q:

Plot twist: that guy was the pilot.

A:

Nah the pilot was a guy known in the industry as Perfect Pete.....


Q:

Wow thanks for the answer! One more question if I may:

What did the process after the crash look like? You got off the plane. What happened then until you got home?

A:

We walked across the grass to a guy who was gathering up passengers without getting close himself. From there we were bussed to the terminal and had to chat with the police as they were immediately investigating it.

While I was chatting with them ("Are you okay?", "Yup", "Seriously?!") the border force were determining if we had the right to enter the country. I was lucky as I had my passport in my pocket. Those who didn't (like my friend) were asked questions to determine if they were actually resident in the UK or had permission to enter.

After that we were moved to the 1st class lounge to be held there till we were ready to go. Didn't stay long as they had cleared the alcohol away and turned all the TVs off.

After my friend and I met back up we got out and met up with her parents who had come to collect us and while walking back to their car a journalist for the BBC pounced on us in the car park for an interview.


Q:

What an eventful day. Shame the booze went(probably for the better now that I think of it).

Thanks for the answers!

A:

Well it gave me plenty to talk about on the date I had arranged for 2 days later. Certainly impressed her enough that she stuck around long enough for me to marry her.


Q:

Ahhh sounds like one if the 3 friends for the first class trip anywhere

A:

Business class. They reserve 1st class compensation for when they run out of tea on a British Airways flight.

And yes she loved the holidays. Sadly it gave her a taste for expansive hotels.


Q:

I've never understood it, I've always thought it would be a good deal to lose my luggage. In a crash. It's just a bag full of sudoku and twizzlers. But when I go to file the claim, suddenly my $500 designer bag was full of cash, new laptop, cell phone, and lots of expensive jewelry.

A:

I could easily have claimed for a new laptop and there would have been no questions asked.

Curse my honesty.


Q:

Did you get your bag back eventually? I would be scared of getting off without my phone / passport / wallet / medication at least. I guess all the other stuff I could replace easily.

A:

Passport was in my pocket.

Wallet was in my bag so I had to cancel all the cards in it.

Phone was an old Nokia brick so I left it at home.


Q:

As I recall from the news reports it had been a totally normal flight right up until the last few seconds.
1. When did you realize that something had gone wrong? 2. Describe the impact and the first few seconds following. Were people more stunned or was there a sense of panic?

A:

I figured it was a rough landing. I just wasn't sure how rough.

There was some sense of concern. I think if you could see out a window you would have had a much better idea what was happening.

There were some people crying once we got off the plane and there were the people who stopped to get their hand luggage and a few people shouting at the crew.

The cabin crew was fantastic they got us all off quickly and safely.


Q:

Wow. Just read the article. It seems like a the problem wasn't apparent until the very end of the flight. Did the crew have time to tell the passengers anything? Did you know the plane was going in for a hard landing before it happened?

Another question I had for any pilots or anyone with knowledge about aircraft: how would water get into the fuel lines? Isn't water a contaminant in a fuel system?

A:

We didn't even get a call to brace. I remember looking out the window (across 3 seats because I was in the middle block) thinking we were coming down a little steep. I also heard a motor adjusting something which could have been either the flaps or landing gear as the pilot was doing his best to get maximum glide time.

The sad truth is I thought we'd come down a bit hard and then gone off the side of the runway. It wasn't until we got the call to evacuate and I went down the slide to be treated to the view of our undercarriage in the distance and half an engine leaking fluid that I realised just how bad it was.

I was sitting 7 or so rows back from the wing exit and I was the second person down the slide.

In the distance there was a man in a high vis jacket waving for us to head that way so off I set. I was also motivated by the smoker who on getting out of the plane and standing next to the engine decided that then was the time to light up.


Q:

How was he not immediately suffering from a fractured skull?

A:

I'm not a tall man so my head doesn't reach the seat in front.

Now I'm sure the space between the seats has shrunk. Next time it happens I'll test it and let you know.


Q:

Would you credit your survival to the fact that you had your tray table up and your seat back in the full of right position?

A:

More that the person in front did. If that had been reclined I could easily have smashed my head into the back of it.


Q:

Would you credit the crash being caused by your cell phone not being in airplane mode?

A:

10 long years ago by phone was a Nokia brick that would have cost me a fortune to use overseas. That was sitting safely at home.

What's more likely was the terrible fruit machine game I was playing on the in flight entertainment that kept paying out so much I had already overflowed from the credit display and I was trying to see if I could wrap an integer value.


Q:

That was sitting safely at home.

Let's be real, it doesn't matter where a Nokia phone is sitting, it's always safe.

A:

No kidding I found it recently, battery still holds a charge.


Q:

What was the process for you like from landing to getting back home? More importantly did you get a lottery ticket on your way back?

A:

I actually wish I had. The guy in the bank suggested it, I was in there cancelling my cards as they were still in the plane.


Q:

How do people react when you tell them about this? Is it a lot of sympathy, or shock, or disbelief? Seems like such an interesting conversation piece.

A:

Depends on the person. Work colleagues who travel a lot are jealous of the gold card, now sadly expired. Most people start out concerned then get jealous over the holidays.


Q:

What did having the gold card get you?

A:

Use of the first class lounge and check in desk no matter what ticket class I bought. This along with the fast lane in security was what I used the most.

Priority upgrades though I can't say I ever got one.

Priority boarding. Handy when the flight is busy and you want to be sure you can stow your hand luggage but otherwise why would I want to see on a plane longer?


Q:

How was China?

A:

Freezing cold. I went to Harbin for an ice and snow festival, failed to order dumplings in a dumpling restaurant, tobogganed off the great wall and ate huge amounts of duck in Beijing.


Q:

Sounds chill.

A:

All terrible puns aside it was at times below -25C. At one point I thought the hotel bathroom floor had underfloor heating actually my feet were just so cold the tiles felt warm.


Q:

Before urbanization and all that harbin used to get a lot colder in the winter. My dad said when he was a kid it would once in a while hit -40. If you're peeing outside you would have to hit you pee with a stick just so it doesn't freeze while you're going at it. I spent a few years of my childhood in harbin. Really interesting place with a lot of Russian architecture. Too damn cold though.

A:

It was so cold that I didn't spend much time outside. I think it made it to -30C but my thermometer failed at -25. Really once it's that cold you stop caring.

I went to a dumpling restaurant to get warm food and not speaking Chinese they brought me a hand translated menu that they had laminated. Unfortunately it was in Russian so I guessed what to tick on it and got a selection of cold cuts.


Q:

Did you and the other affected persons got compensation from the air company?

A:

I managed to get 2 holidays out of them. I was travelling with a friend and I took her, her boyfriend and my significant other on my compensation holiday and she then did the same for me.

I also got a new camera and replacement mp3 player as mine were tragically "destroyed".


Q:

Do you have an opinion of the 10 passengers that decided to file the lawsuit a year later for $1 million each? Were you ever contacted about it?

A:

I was asked to be a witness for Boeing though it never went that far that they needed me.

I was perfectly happy with the compensation I received and while sure a big pile of money would have been nice I genuinely couldn't claim that it had such an effect on me that I would require that much money.


Q:

Do you use this story to get bumped to first class?

A:

I wish. With me frequent flyer card I'm sure it appears whenever I check in. I once got bumped to business on a flight to Texas which was great I was sitting there watching The Revenant and realised I had a massive grin on my face while Leo was being eaten by a bear. Must have been a little off putting for anyone walking past.


Q:

whats your favourite kind of soup?

A:

Tom Yum with mushroom.


Q:

Firstly this is going to sound weird but this is one of my “favourite” crashes. I for one reason or another enjoy reading up on plane crashes and I’ve always enjoyed the story of this one. Anyway my question is, what was your first thought after impact? Did you initially sense something was wrong or was there a sort of “holy shit we just crashed” moment?

A:

"That was a rough landing, did we go off the side of the runway?"

As it happens it's my favourite crash as well.


Q:

What was your reaction to looking at the plane when you got out?

A:

Well bugger me.


Q:

Very glad you made it through that traumatic experience. Did it go in slow-mo for you crashing? How fast did it feel? When you were falling, what were your thoughts when all of this was going on when you were going down? Are you more aware and safe how when you travel to fly? And lastly, did you see anyone overly panic or pass out through being scared or panic? Thanks.

A:

I always read the safety card and check where my exit is. And I do pay attention to the cabin crew when they do their safety briefing in case they sneak something new in I should know about.

Spoiler alert: They haven't yet.


Q:

When the plane was landing i assume you were sitting right? So does it hurt and how big is the impact to the insides of the aeroplane?

A:

For this one I have to assume it was about as gentle as it can be and still be a crash landing. I was sitting and wearing my seat belt. The most pain was from my hand being flung forwards into the seat in front.


Q:

Where did you go on your compensation holiday?

A:

I took my friends to Antigua. We learned to S.C.U.B.A. dive and drank a vast quantity to rum.

My friend took us on a tour of India.


Q:

How long were you kept in the airport afterwards? Did you need to be interviewed by anyone and how soon did the media try to get at you?

A:

It was a few hours to get processed past the police and immigration.

After that we got jumped on by the BBC as we walked through the carpark telling my friends parents about it.

I also got the local papers and the radio calling me from the next day. I'd love to know for sure where they got my contact details from.


Q:

Did you get your carry-on and hold luggage back?

A:

Yes it was all put in a taxi and sent back a few days later. They mixed my friends and my bags up so I did wonder where the lace underwear and bras had come from for a few minutes before my brain caught up.


Q:

What was the first thing your family said when you came back?

A:

I called in at my parents house on my way home and my dad greeted me with "Saw you on TV"

My sister had to be sent home from work because she was panicking having seen the news. It was a bit pathetic on her part because she didn't actually know I was on that flight she just assumed I was.

My cat just looked at me expecting food.


Q:

What was your first distinction that made you realise something was wrong?

A:

The grumbling noise of soil against the fuselage.


Q:

Did you rush to the slide to get away from the crash, or to go before the people who had peed their pants?

A:

Definitely to get to go first.