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OBLIGATORY FILLER MATERIAL – Just take a hard left at Daeseong-dong…10

“Well, if that doesn’t throw the damper on things.” Dax remarks on our trip back down to the ground floor.
“Yeah. How rude. Up and deceasing your own self without bothering to tell anyone beforehand.” I noted.
“This is going to be a bloody balls-up. Trust me. This is going to be inordinately messy. A bog-standard botch job. A total dog’s dinner, just wait and see.” Cliffs adds.
“First, we have to contact IUPGS. Then what? Does Bulgaria have a consulate or embassy here? I wouldn’t think so…Then what?” I grieved. For once, I was rather low; both emotionally and on ideas.
“Let’s go back to the conference room and let everyone know. We’ll pull a brain session together. We should be able to sort out what needs to be done. The hotel already knows, so the state security forces also do as well. Be prepared for lengthy interrogation sessions, Gentlemen”, Cliff advised.
Back in the conference room, we relayed the sad information. All were taken aback and there were general notes of commiseration. However, since no one knew Iskren too well personally, it was more detached professionalism rather than overt weeping and wailing.
“Let us toast to our fallen comrade!” was accepted as both entirely appropriate and a damn good idea.
I got on the conference room phone and ordered up some more sandwiches, mixers, and bottles of booze. The moment was obviously structured that way, I reasoned.
We made our toasts to our fallen comrade and we had half a chalkboard filled with suggestions of what to do next.
The main consensus was: “Nothing.”
As in there was not much we could do. We were foreign nationals in a strangely foreign land. Our comrade was the sole member of his country, that is, Bulgaria, and the closest geographically we had aboard was Dr. Academician Ivan. No one wanted to loose Ivan on the DPRK security forces and have to deal with all that international fallout.
After some number of hours, after I suggested we all remain in the conference room as we’d (A.) be together, as in unity there is strength, (2.) we’d have each other’s backs when and if it came to interrogations, and, (iii.) this is where the free booze was.
Then there was a polite knock on the door.
I, as the den mother of this special education class, slowly got up and answered the knock.
It was a cadre of DPRK internal security forces, kitted out in their spiffy, tailor-made, and actually, quite smart-looking uniforms. Shoes and buttons polished to mirror-finishes, pants creases that could cut flesh, and enough polished brass to construct a spittoon.
“Hello? Yes?” I said through the semi-opened door.
“May we please come in? If the time is convenient.”, the head military type, very treacly asked.
“Of course”, I replied, “Please, do come in.”
Four of them entered as one. They did a quick-step, tight-march formation together and went to the head of the conference table.
“Good day, gentlemen. I am Colonel Hwangbo Dong-Hyeon of Internal State Security. First, we must offer condolences on the loss of your comrade. It must have come as a shock.” He intones.
There are mutters of “Thanks.” and “Damn right it was.”
“I have been entrusted to update you on the, ah, ‘situation’. First, Dr. Iskren Dragomirov Dinev, recently deceased, has been examined by the best medical practitioners in the country. He was obviously a foreign national and state guest, and we do not wish this to be a cause of suspicion or mistrust, especially during this auspicious Festival season.” He asserted.
We listened with rapt attention.
“I am authorized to tell you that it does not appear that the late Dr. Dinev expired of any untoward circumstances; or ‘foul play’, I believe is the western term. It has been ascertained that he expired due to wholly natural causes; namely massive myocardial infarction. Given his age, apparent health, and, ah, mass, this does seem a most reasonable explanation. This has been verified by no less than three DPRK medical professionals; one of which is the Emeritus teaching professor of Cardiology at Pyongyang Medical University. Again, you have our deepest condolences on the loss of your comrade.” He continued.
“I do remember Iskren complaining of gas pains the other night at the bar,” Joon agreed. “Thought nothing of it, given the change in all our diets.”
Colonel Hwangbo studied Joon like an entomologist examining a particularly fascinating new species of beetle.
“Which has been fine! Just rather rich compared to our usual food!” Joon hastily added.
Satisfied that Joon wasn’t making light of the ‘fine’ North Korean cuisine, Colonel Hwangbo continued, “As such, the Bulgarian Embassy here in Pyongyang has been contacted and apprised of the situation. They have taken over the case, as well as recovered the mortal remains and possessions of Dr. Dinev; all of which were conserved and authenticated by his Bulgarian national counterparts.”
“Ah, that’s good”, I said, “I’m pleased that there actually is a Bulgarian embassy here.”
“Ah. So.”, Col. Hwangbo continued, “Yes. They have already taken possession of Dr. Dinev’s mortal remains and possessions as I had noted, and will handle their repatriation to his country and family. As you can see, we have acted in the best of faith and with the utmost respect for your lately departed. Again, our condolences.”
There were some “Harrumphs”, and “Yeah, rights”, from the crowd, but since I was the team leader, it fell to me to handle this situation from here on out.
“Yes, indeed”, I replied, “We see that and do so deeply appreciate your efficiency and your keeping open the lines of communication. We have absolutely no room to complain. You, your team, your country, and your services have acted to the highest degree of professionalism and decorum. Let me extend, for the team, our heartiest appreciations in this most unfortunate matter.”
That seemed to please the Korean security forces. So much so they didn’t see the rolling eyes and smirks of grudging compliance from the crowd. I gave the evil-eye to several who were twittering quietly at my delivery of a load of over-the-top twaddle in the name of international goodwill.
“Thank you, Doctor…? Doctor…?”, he asked.
“Doctor Rocknocker.” I replied, “It’s spelled just as it sounds,”, I chuckled a knowing chuckle.
Colonel Hwangbo cracked a small smile for the first time since we met.
“As long as our orders of business are concluded, “ I inquired, “Might we offer you and your men a drink or sandwich or…”
“Cigar?” he suddenly brightened.
I smiled the sly, smirking smile of one of those used to the old duplicitous game of international diplomacy.
“Why”, I replied smilingly, “Of course.”
Col Hwangbo gratefully accepted a brace of fine Oscuro cigars. Probably more tobacco he’s seen in one place at one time since the last he rousted a snozzeled Western journalist or hammered European tourist with an overage of custom’s tobacco allowances.
His team eschewed cigars, but gladly accepted a pack each of pastel-colored Sobranie cocktail cigarettes.
It still slays me to see these battle-hardened, armed-to-the-teeth, unsmiling servants of the great state of Best Korea mincing about the courtyard smoking avocado, baby-blue, and peach-colored pastel cigarettes.
The Colonel and his team left after a couple of quick smokes, sandwiches, and surreptitious beers. I even enticed the Colonel into a couple of convivial vodka toasts when his team was otherwise occupied.
“Well, gang”, I said, closing the door, “Looks like that situation has been handled, most appropriately at that. We’ll miss ol’ Iskren, but at least he went fast and hopefully painlessly.”
I knew that last one was but a load of old dingo’s kidneys as I’ve had run-ins with cardiac disorders in the past and they are anything but painless. In any case, that was, as I noted, in the past. What was done is done. It was as it was. It is as it is.
“So, gentlemen”, I say, “Let us get back to work. Reality calls. Now, we’ve given you landlubbers the lowdown on our seismic pleasure cruise. Now we’d like to hear what you who had stayed onshore have come up with.”
Erlan, Graco, and Viv fill us in on the regional geology of Best Korea and lay out a plan to examine the sedimentary piles closest to the few paved roads in the north and east of the country.
We’ll be traveling by bus, as my request for four or five off-road vehicles was denied due to timing and lack of availability.
Yeah. Right. What a massive pile of bovine biogenic colluvium. A country with a military as huge as Best Korea’s and they can’t spare a few jeeps or Hummer reproductions?
Truth be told, they still don’t trust us and don’t want to let us out of their sight.
However, we did manage to snag some internal publications from the Central Geological Survey of Mineral Resources, which we figured as a major coup. Never before were Westerners allowed to even know of the existence of these materials, much less be able to research (read: slyly copy) them.
That ‘personal shaver’ I carried was actually a sneaky personal copier, a Vupoint ST470 Magic Wand Portable Scanner with all the external stickers peeled off, and any serial numbers abraded away.
Hey, they photograph us from every angle on the sly, listen in on our conversations, record our phone calls…hell, turnabout isn’t just fair play, it’s almost expected.
It’d be rude to refuse to play along.
Anyways, we learned that The Korean Peninsula (KP) occupies a junction area of three large tectonic domains that are the Paleo-Central Asian Orogenic Belt, Paleo-Tethyan Orogenic Belt, and the Western Pacific Orogenic Belt.
To summarize:
  1. The Archean Rangrim massif is divided into the Rangrim and Kwanmo submassifs, high-grade region and greenstone belt, respectively.
  2. Early Paleoproterozoic rocks underwent metamorphism up to granulite facies, which may be correlated to the Jiao-Liao-Ji mobile belt in the North China Craton (NCC).
  3. Proterozoic rift sequences in North Korea are similar to those in the NCC with rare late Paleoproterozoic strata and more Neoproterozoic strata.
  4. Mesozoic igneous rocks are extensively distributed in the KP.
  5. The main Paleozoic basin, the Phyongnam basin in NK, have a similar Paleozoic tectono-stratigraphy to the NCC.
Of most interest is item #5. The Phyongnam basin is the only sedimentary and depositional basin of mention in the north of the Korean peninsula; and therefore the center of our attention as it pertains to oil and gas.
The potential source rocks, and possible reservoirs, include the Paleozoic Late Ordovician Miru Series was identified as the Koksan Series and subsequently renamed. The 170-meter thick limestone and siltstone centered around the P'yongnam Basin have extensive crinoid, coral, and gastropod fossils. Paleogeography researchers have suggested that corals formed in the Miru Sea-a branch of the South Yangtze Sea. At the base of the Taedong Synthem is the P'yong'an Supergroup, which lies disconformably atop older Paleozoic rocks.
In the Pyongyang Coalfield it is divided into the 650-meter sandstone, shale, and conglomerate of the Nogam Formation, the 500-meter Kobangsan Formation, 350-meter coal-bearing Sadong Formation and 250-meter chert-bearing Hongjom Formation, all typically assigned to an Upper Permian shallow marine environment.
In the Mesozoic, north of Pyongyang, Precambrian basement rocks are unconformably overlain by a Jurassic limestone conglomerate ascending to layers of siltstone and mudstone. The Upper Jurassic Shinuiju Formation northwest of Shinuiju has sandstone, conglomerate, and mudstone up to two kilometers thick.
Offshore drilling in the West Korea Bay Basin indicates these rocks are the onshore extension of offshore units. It is subdivided into fluvial rocks and Upper Jurassic black shale, limestone, conglomerate and sandstone formed in a lake environment.
There are very few Cenozoic sediments are known in North Korea, likely as a result of erosion due to uplift of the peninsula. Submarine normal faults along the eastern coastline may have driven crustal tilting. The 350-meter thick Bongsan Coalfield in Hwanghae Province on the west coast preserves and coal-bearing layers dating to the Eocene.
Further to the north, in the West Korea Bay Basin Eocene and Oligocene sedimentary rocks up to three kilometers thick unconformably overlie Mesozoic rocks, formed in lakes and coal swamps during the Paleogene.
What this meant is that we’d need to travel mostly northeast and/or southwest. This was fortuitous as the paved roads in the country were created in structural valleys formed by the primary fault trends in the country. The main trans-tensional set trended NE:SW and the conjugate set trends approximately 900 to the main set at NW:SE.
The topography was heavily dissected by drainages and the terrain consists mostly of hills and mountains separated by deep, narrow valleys. The coastal plains are wide in the west and discontinuous in the east.
The plan was to take the bus north to Sunchon, then hang a right off towards Unsan and Yongha. There were outcrops between the last two towns and they appear to be upper Paleozoic to Lower Mesozoic clastics. Ideal oil and gas hunting grounds.
From there, we’d head north-northeast towards Yangwon. There appeared to be some fair to excellent outcrops of rocks that are as of yet, unidentified as to age. From there, we’d continue to follow the outcrop belts either to their termination at the basin’s edges or at international borders with China or Russia.
But, once we hit the field, time goes into relative warp. Put a bunch of geologists out on some relatively virgin outcrops and just stand back as they spend hour after hour after hour first looking for evidence of the formation’s provenance, it’s age and field relations. Then begin the heartfelt, stalwart, and sometimes vicious, arguments between all concerned about each and every one of those salient points.
We were all looking forward to it and wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s our intellectual and scientific equivalent of meat and potatoes.
We all agreed on a way forward and generated a document to deliver to those in charge of our logistics on this trip. There would be a total of 11 Western geoscientists, four guides, perhaps a couple of national geologists or geophysicists, and whatever cadre the shiny suit squad wanted to include.
There would also be a driver, his relief, and a couple of extra translators. Good thing it was a large bus, as it’s going to be a huge crew.
We needed to allow our handlers a full day to arrange room and board for us while in the field, as we had to be bivouacked somewhere outside our fine hotel. It needed to be secure, pass sanctuary muster, and be ‘controllable’, referring to both Western scientists and nosy locals.
One thing we found odd was the lack of concern for long-term logistics, not to mention the end of our self-ordained indentured servitude. When this trip and all the Western geoscientists were contacted, we were all assured of an opportunity to meet with the Supreme Leader, Kim Jong-Un once our trip was completed.
We were to personally deliver one hell of an international photo-op. A ‘hey look how progressive we are’ meeting and our findings in this wonderful and progressive country.
But lately, with what we thought was the fallout of the Festival washing out all the usual propaganda, we’ve heard nothing about Herr Comrade Leader Supremo, K1J1-Un. Nor had we heard one iota about our intended final meeting with him before we left for China.
Since there are “absolutely no” COVID-19 cases in Best Korea, it seemed, well, odd that Beijing was our only possible current exit port of call, and onward to our individual homes.
There were all flavors of rumors flying all throughout the basement bars and casinos of the hotel. One claimed that Kim was now receiving treatment at a villa in the Mount Myohyang resort north of the capital Pyongyang after cardiovascular surgery. That he was near death and that his sister, Kim Yo Jong, is already warming up in the North Korean political bullpen if her brother kacks it.
Others said Kim is believed to be staying at an unspecified location outside of Pyongyang, with some close confidants. It was said that Kim appeared to be normally engaged with state affairs and there has not been any unusual movement or emergency reaction from North Korea's governing party, military, or cabinet.
There was also one other that tries to cover up any conspiracy rumors by shouting over a raspy bullhorn: "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!”, “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!"; but most ignored that little crank.
We all thought that rather odd, but of fairly low concern. In the final analysis, it would have little impact on our studies and their outcome. In other words, it wouldn’t affect our pay one way or the other. We all felt like we’ve given more than what was called for on missions such as this.
And we still haven’t a clue as to when this will all come to an end.
However, we all agreed to the consultation, it would have been fun to meet with him and have our pictures taken with the Supreme Leader. Dr. Academician Ivan Ivanovich Khimik. was especially cheesed that he might miss the opportunity to make finger-vee bunny ears behind the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces of the DPRK during one of our photo sessions.
We all agree if we do somehow find ourselves in the same room with Ivan and Kim Jong-Un, we’ll form a human shield around the latter. We want to get back home; as we’ve all heard the rumors of the horrors of ‘political realignment’ camps here in Best Korea.
So the meeting breaks up and I’m left with Dax to take the final inventory. Two loads of sandwiches gone, piles of used napkins, ketchup-y table linens, bacon rinds and chicken bones, drippy ends of ice cream cones, prune pits, peach pits, orange peel, gloppy glumps of cold oatmeal, pizza crusts, and withered greens, soggy beans and tangerines, crusts of black burned buttered toast, gristly bits of beefy roasts…
“The hell with this”, I say, I grab the last nearly full bottle of vodka and hand Dax a bottle of Royal Navy dark Rum.
“Tally’s good”, I say, not really giving two tiny shits at this point. “At least, I think it is. Let’s make like horseshit and hit the trail.”
“I’m headed back to our floor and going to zone out in front of some old, looped BBC for the next few hours with a cold drink and hot cigar.” I proclaim.
“Oh, hell”, Dax says, “I agree. It’s been a weird couple of days. Let’s go.”
And so we do.
On the way, I leave the logistics concerns and itinerary for the upcoming field trips with the front desk clerk. I slip her 1000 won as its Festival! and I had a bulgy pocketful of same. She smiled and quietly said there’s be a surprise waiting for me in my room when I got there.
“Rock, you fucking old hound!”, Dax exclaimed as he punched me lightly on the shoulder. “Taking a dip in the hotel secretarial pool?”
“Dax, you surprise me”, I said in my defense, “I have been, and continue to be, happily married for the last 38 years to the most loving, most intelligent, most well-connected, and most accurate snap-shot with a Glock .380 Automatic I know of.”
“Well, me ol’ mucker”, Dax smiles slyly, “If one has been happily married for 38 years, one must have a little something on the side. Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge, ‘eh, Squire?”
“Oh, nothing like that”, I replied, while waiting the obligatory 30 minutes for the fucking elevator to arrive. “I couldn't break my word to Esme, and not because I don’t believe in a God that will send me to Hell without an electric fan or because it's not the right thing to do. I simply don't want to. A man is only as good as his word; and if he loses that, he loses too much. I couldn’t function without people thinking that I’m square and on the level. My business would crumble to dust. As would my marriage.”
“Yeah, there is that”, Dax agrees, “You say something is going to happen and God damn, it fucking happens. That’s what makes you honest and honestly scary.”
I stare intently at the annunciator that tells me the fucking elevator is stuck on 4 again.
“You’re not mob, are you?” Dax harshly whispers, snickeringly.
I turn to face Dax and smile wistfully.
Я с уважением отказываюсь отвечать, потому что я искренне верю, что мой ответ может обвинить меня”, I reply quietly.
“What the hell does that mean?” Dax demands.
“I respectfully decline to answer because I honestly believe my answer might tend to incriminate me”, I calmly reply.
“Oh, look. Bloody elevator’s finally here.” I note and stride aboard.
Dax gets caught up in the tsunami of the crowd and is carried bodily inside. It was so remorseless, he almost lost his grip on his bottle of Dark Rum.
Up on ‘our’ floor, I go to key open my room. Dax is just down the hall and looking around to see what special surprise might show up. I was too tired to wait so I just push in, and see all my field clothes fully laundered, pressed, and either folded or hanging.
Someone broke into my room during the day and committed a compound neatness.
“POUND! Pound! POUND!” Hmm, appears to be someone at my door.
“Yes, Dax?” I said.
“You too?” he fumed, “Everything, cleaned to within an inch if its life. They even polished my bloody field boots.”
“Oh, fuck”, I said and ran to find mine re-pristinized.
“FUCK! FUCK! FUCKITYFUCKFUCK!” I swore. They had polished my field boots and removed the fine years-of-work-to-acquire near-subsurface of the leather’s oil layer. They polished the water-proofing and conditioning out of the leather of our boots.
“OK. OK.”, I said, “Minor emergency. Cool out. I have the solution.”
I toss Dax a small can. It was brown, oily, and claimed to be “Neatsfoot oil”. It was the SPF- 500 of field leathers.
“Go ahead and oil them up with that”, I told Dax, “I’ve got another can, so don’t worry. Use what you need, don’t be shy, but if there’s any left, let me know. I’ll combine ours and offer it to anyone else in the team who had their boots steam-cleaned.”
So, a bit later, I’m sitting on my hotel room’s floor, on several sheets of newspaper, rubbing Neatsfoot Oil into my ancient, multinational size 16 EEE Vasque™ Tracker field boots.
Then there’s a knock at the door.
“It’s open. Enter carefully”, I say aloud.
It’s a bell clerk with a room service cart. On the cart are a bucket of ice, a bowl of sliced limes, I think, several gimlet glasses, some Best Korean ‘Air Koryo’ carbonated citrus drink, and a fresh bottle of “Kaesong” vodka.
“Compliments of the front desk”, the bellman says.
I stand up, tip him a few thousand won, and set a new record in mixology; a fresh brace of drinks in less than 7.3 seconds.
I offer the bellman the lighter one and he accepts with a wide smile.
I say “건배” (geonbae) literally means 'empty glass', which is similar to the expression 'bottom's up'. For you see, my Korean’s coming along a treat.
We clink glasses and send those drinks to the places that they’ll do the best.
The bellman smiles offloads the cart onto the table in my room, shakes my hand, and departs.
I finish my boots, my drink, and my cigar. After another drink or seven, I crater early. Dax was right; it had been a long, weird day.
The next day, Festival! is still going strong, but still no word on the whereabouts of El Líder Supremo. I find that odd, only slightly interesting, and since it will impact the day’s events zero, I file it away for maybe later use.
I go to the hotel pool around 0530 and there’s no one there. I’m able to get in a good 100 laps, unburdened with either small talk or by yammering kids blocking my lanes. I go early as I don’t wear gloves in the water, obviously. Statistically, there is less chance there will be others, adults and kids included, that would get freaked out by my gnarly left hand. I really don’t feel like recounting the old Russian Rig Accident story again.
After a brisk shower and double shower-scotch back in my room, I dress casually and wander down to the casino and bar level. It’s essentially breakfast time, but with the revelers not giving two hoots to AM vs. PM, it’s surprisingly busy. I find a perch up on Mahogany Ridge and order a classical breakfast cocktail of one liter of beer and 100 milliliters of chilled vodka.
I see Mr. Ho is manning the bar. I ask him to ring the massage parlor down the hall and see if Ms. Nang Bo-Hee is free sometime this morning.
He does and reports that she has an open hour and a half at 0900. Would I like it or any portion of that time?
“I’ll take the lot”, I said. “Tell them I’ll be there spot on 0900.”
“That’s great.”, Mr. Ho says, hanging up the phone, “Doctor Rock, they tell me that with the Festival discount and you taking the full 90 minutes, they can cut you a very special deal.”
“I’ll bet”, I replied, “Like what?”
“Oh, I cannot say for they did not tell me”, he smiled, “They will tell you when you arrive.”
“Marvelous”, I exhaled tiredly. “Another, Mr. Ho; make it a double, if you would please.”
The massage center here is run by a group not employed directly by the hotel. It’s a separate entity altogether. They run specials and have different discount programs that are not only not controlled nor advertised by the hotel, but they’re also not in any way beholden to the hotel, except for rent, I suppose and run it like their own little fiefdom.
Ms. Nang, my preferred masseuse, is a little, tiny Korean lassie about 5 feet tall and probably all of 90 pounds soaking wet. However, she is amazingly well trained and could probably put me in the hospital for a lengthy visit with her wiles and methods of flesh, bone, and muscle manipulation.
She offers a whole suite of different massage genres: Swedish, hot stone, aromatherapy, deep tissue, sport, trigger point, reflexology, shiatsu, Thai, and Rolfing.
Oh, fuck. I know Rolfing. I tried that nonsense back in grad school with an old east Indian lady that could have linebackered for the Minnesota Vikings. That shit fucking hurt. Today, it’d incapacitate me permanently. That’s a definite no-go.
I decide that it’s going to be the Hot Stone-treatment today. A geological-manipulation inquiry.
At 0900 I’m the only client at the massage ‘store’. It’s early, day two of the festival, and people are either sleeping off the previous night’s festivities or too wobbly to even think of partaking in a massage.
I’ve had several major back surgeries over the years, including one bilateral laminectomy about seven years ago that removed 7.5 kilos of overgrown bone and muscle from my lumbar region, so I’ve been very cautious about soliciting a massage. The masseuse has to know that area is strictly verboten and will do everything to avoid annoying that particular piece of bodily real-estate.
I’ve walked or limped out of massages before where the practitioner said they understood my reticence, but went ahead and kneaded and provoked that land of keloids and deep-body scar tissue.
However, based on past experience, Ms. Nang knows full well my reluctance as well as my desires. That’s the reason I’m returning. She’s very, very good; a consummate professional and has a never-ending series of jokes and observations while she’s pummeling you into submission.
Today, we retire to a private cubicle and she hands me a small robe or napkin, not sure which, of Korean manufacture.
She tells me to get au natural and to wear the robe while she prepares the tools of her trade.
OK, I’m not a small person; not by a long shot. This robe, however, is made for a sprite, not even for a small person.
She returns to our massage cubicle as I’m sitting there, at the end of the massage table, sipping my drink clad only in my dapper red-and-white checkered boxers.
“You need to be unclothed, Doctor. Use the robe. OK, sir Rock?” she says.
“Ms. Nang,”, I said, shaking my head, “It’s one or the other.” I show her how laughable the robe is as I can’t even get it over my upper arm. It’s not even as a tea towel when it comes to covering my expansive acres of exposed epidermis.
“I can close door.”, she says, “I’m used to it. I am professional. Does not bother me if it does not bother you.”
I lost all forms of bashfulness, timidity, or prudery long, long ago. After years and years of Russian banya, Swedish massage, Turkish baths, and surgery; well, if it don’t bother you, it don’t bother me.
“OK”, I say, using the robe as a small two-dimensional breechcloth. She tells me to ‘hop’ up on the massage table and lie down, facing the floor.
After chuckling about the fact that I haven’t hopped for decades, I wander over to the nicely padded and extremely clean massage table and lie down. She rearranges the ‘robe’ to cover my backside and tells me to relax. She’ll be right back with the stones.
I’ve never tried this type of massage before, but as a geologist, I must; if for nothing else, progress in the name of science.
Ms. Nang returns with a large parcel consisting of many sizes of steamed stones. They were river-washed and tumbled basalt from the looks of them, all wrapped in a large fuzzy towel.
Now she finds the large towels…
She selects them one by one and places them in ‘special, strategic’ spots on my exposed back. From the lower 2/3rds of the nape of the neck, down the spine, over the fundus mountains, and down the back of each leg.
It’s a warm, almost hot in some places, but not an uncomfortable feeling. She returns to adjust them, grind them in a bit in places, and flip them to extract all that igneous lithological thermal goodness.
I have to admit, at that point, it was feeling quite delightful. Relaxed; I had my drink and was being kneaded My dorsal musculature was being de-lithified by the application of hot rocks and expert point massage.
All was going quite well as Ms. Nang was building a huge tip in her ‘job well done’ bank.
Then the rocks had all attained room temperature. She excused herself to reload with another minor outcrop’s-worth and told me to flip over for round two of the process.
“In for a dime, in for a dollar”, I said, as I flipped over and use the robe as a laughable forward-facing breechcloth.
Ms. Nang mentioned that she was always fascinated by Westerners and their surplus of bodily fuzz. With my long, shoulder-length silver hair, full Grizzly Adams beard that drooped down to my sternum, and torso that picked up where my beard left off; she was quite unprepared to see the beached silver-gray panda that awaited upon her return.
“Dr. Rock!’, she exclaimed, “You are as a bear! So much hair. And silver color!”
“Yeah, sorry”, I replied, “Just the hand genetics dealt me. I guess it’s an adaptation for ethanol-fueled organisms that never feel cold.”
“I will soon return.” She titters excitedly and almost runs out of the room.
“Hmmm. I wonder what that’s all about?” I muse as I lie largely undraped in the massage cubicle.
Suddenly, the door bursts open and every female massage practitioner there herded into the room. They simply had to see the specimen upon which the delightful Ms. Nang was working.
OK, truth be told, I was a bit taken aback. Here I am lying on an elevated, and heavily padded, massage table. I’m ‘wearing’ only a crooked, worried grin and a sheet of a cotton washcloth that measures about 12x12 inches.
They Oohed! and Ahhhed!
I did feel like some form of an alien animal suddenly thrust out into public view. It was a bit disconcerting, but as usual, I just tried to deflect any unease with jokes and idiot remarks. At my age, not much is going to bother me, and this I found all the more laughable than troubling.
Suddenly, I was fielding their barrage of questions:
“You are American? All American men so…hairy?”
“Yes and no”, I replied. I also mentioned I hadn’t undertaken a study in that particular subject.
“Why you so big?” one tiny lass asked, eyes as big as dinner plates.
“Genetics”. I replied. “Just a corn-fed Baja Canadian doofus. We grow ‘em big back home.”
“Can we touch?” one particularly brave little lass asks.
“Touch what?” I asked. Look, I might be over 6 decades old, but there are still some areas reserved for my one and only betrothed.
I did tell Esme of this whole event later that evening during our nightly call. She laughed herself silly.
“Your beard! Oriental men never have such beard. We touch maybe?” she implored.
I was going to say “Go nuts”, but I decided that a simple “Sure” would be more fitting.
So they did. They were enthralled. They had never before, from what I was told, seen such a large silver-gray ZZ Top-style beard, especially here at the hotel. That part was weird enough, but when they started in on working their way south toward the equator, I had to say something to dissuade them.
“Where were you girls 45 years ago?” I laughed.
I don’t think they got the joke. They became somewhat bolder in their austral exploratory activities.
“OK! Time out! Ms. Nang! We have an appointment to keep”, I said as I shooed the rest of the lassies away, “We need to finish what we started.”
By the time that the third syllable of that last sentence came into being, I knew it wasn’t the right thing to say.
They all laughed and tittered as Ms. Nang ushered them out of the room. I could have sworn I heard the door lock behind them.
Ms. Nang reprieved her earlier stone placement therapy, with a couple of strategic detours.
She wasn’t that type of masseuse, and I wasn’t looking for that type of massage. She did, however, knead and pummel me mercilessly.
I’ve been bruised less from barroom brawls.
Finally, she announces that she’s finished. She’ll leave while I shower, as she used essential aromatic oils, and would await me out in the lobby.
After showering, I felt like a large bowl of pummeled Jello. I felt relaxed, and for the first time in weeks, my back was silent. My head was clear as a spring Sunday morn in Reykjavik.
The full 90 minutes, plus sideshow, was 4,500 won.
I paid the owner the required sum and handed Ms. Nang an additional 15,000 for a job well done. And for another anecdote that goes into the hopper.
I left the massage parlor feeling quite fine, thank you. I wandered over to the bar to see if I could augment and prolong this feeling of harmony with the universe. The mental picture even now of all those cooing Korean lassies in the massage room never fails to elicit a laugh and head shake.
A few hours later, I’m back in my room, tidying up my field notes and making certain all my paperwork was heavily encoded and up to date. It was, so I placed a number of expensive overseas calls to catch up with everyone on the outside.
I’m thinking of calling room service to have my mini-bar repaired when my room phone rings.
“Now who would be calling me at this hour?” I wondered.
It was the tour group leader. He informed me that the itinerary had been worked out and we’d be leaving tomorrow for the field at 0600. We were to arrive with all our luggage and be prepared to check out. We would spend at least a week in the field, if not two, depending on our results, and be bivouacking in different places in the interior of the country.
I thanked him for the information and said I’d inform the rest of the team. He told me that wouldn’t be necessary as they would come up to or floor, deliver the notice verbally, or by note if they were out of their rooms. If I wanted to later call each participant and ensure they were apprised of the situation, that would be most appreciated.
I assured him I would do so and that we’d be ready, to a man, at 0600 the next day.
I whip up 10 Post-it™ notes and stick one on each member’s door.
“Leaving for the field. Check out 0530. Wheels up 0600. Bring all luggage. Road trip!”
To be continued…
submitted by Rocknocker to Rocknocker [link] [comments]

Shift Report

Divining wooly views gathered amidst shaven sheep hither
Withered over swithering stalls denial state of dither
Truth be told frank pens naif soliloquy
Safe as house path hath proven treachery
Steer clear of herd social immunity
Distanced readily available data parsed trendily
Blinks recount lost meanings earned from strife learned through catastrophe
Graft retained splices tour de force movie
Analyzed improvised differently
Can't regain past yet relive history
Elder protocols reference frames with specificity
Documentary denotes concise recusant heresy
Fish stink emanates spoils unquestioned head
Rather than responsible gods chose dead
Lightning rod shields guide flash EMP spread
Relevance revivalist revived rival survivalist
Diatribe analogous corroborates ridiculous
Atoms congress fortuitous naught sea
Devoid self restraint officiates ye
Fitting new attire inspiring streaking
Who protects us whilst we pay for havoc employ they reeking
Hypocritically childish generally speaking
Handshake implies word registers advice
Modern intelligence is artifice
Every three steps forward step back twice
Deities influence me aloof aligned schism in rhyme
Mother Hera ewe chimera godspeed breeds failed design
Bell weather brethren splay scapegoat supine
Veil of illusions enmesh conscious mind
Can't feel my legs good help is hard to find
Hawk departs from pleather glove turtle returns grounded dove
Counteract abet anyone lapped them twice yet still they won
Titans once asked before taking QE
With us or against me democracy
Issuance debt free usury for ye
Soon to be impacting all interested negatively
Cyclops blissfully fail to see plague kills with leniency
World saved through open window tsunami
Backdrops distinct radicle uprooted
Restless tartarus not I confuted
Reputed gambler prophet of doom rigged mind meld welds my tomb
Despondent preach not gloom be democratic or leave cocoon
Imploding race exploding time and space
Unfathomable depths shallow measures
Glasses adorned rose reflective pleasures
Erratic compass static attained gains unsustainable
Emphatically all ages deal unascertainable
Sentiment key to public interest
Democracy assess Big apple bests
Guiding hand meaning Pantheist behest
Seeking one's fulfillment complements of demagoguery
Building baseless pyramid in name of Great Recovery
Hallucination merits upheaval
Remit repreival persecute venal
Sufferance from nescience trumps all evil
Yon morrows martyr covets this abysmal cross commuted
Tread on entrenched fear submit control guiltily included
Govern is to rule as meant to intents
Resourceful proxy heir establishment
Record rallys infer where loans were sent
Pristine colosseums reared commerraderie Fed rum bread
Dropping said crumbs returns dread Which nevermore nary imbeds
Insolvent casino scenario
House always wins with my reservation
Sharing the bulk ignites indignation
Transparency Which critiques subtly speaks Feds peak repent
Weak covenants contained slain whence Green peripherals were went
Theses Ben delivered on depression
Maestro museum managed impression
Keynesian intervention harped dystopian opium
Appeal to supremacy bandwagon psychology
Latin arguementum ad nauseum
Better than expected mass approval
Refuse discard fantasy removal
If you audited our books write off markets on the morrow
No one do we answer to where wheelbarrows go we borrow
Sciences religious mythology
Philosophised finance dichotomy
Genetic archetypal entities
Conversations incidental informations monumental
Facets fawned fastidious selfless attires instrumental
Minions mimic Socratic opinions
Authority inbred majority
Consider selves distinct minority
Yield to ye inferiors subjectively superior
Mechanisms failing sublimation with interior
Greeks conceived benefits in politics
Propaganda versed all in rhetoric
Dwelled anarchic run redeem autarkic
World perceptions inconsistent to obtained views of my own
Optimism timeless shown fantastically overblown
Fate collapses upon observation
Ostriches banked on unexamined lives
Perturbations quantum fluctuations
Foregone measures austere pleasures enforced authenticity
Cessation trepidation ensures no future certainty
Whilst known speed and position now in sync
One makes ye taller yet none make me shrink
Doth not know thyself yore on the brink
Fulfillment will not quail forbidden face of foreign dangers
Entrainment derailed arranged marriage twixt incomplete strangers
Birds of a feather flock with the weather
One marked to market worth two under Bush
Lemmings allegedly demand a push
An existential exercise spins nihilistic nightmares
Nonconformed confirmed uncomfort spirals condescending stairs
Slaughter abolished pig sucklers now fly
Fed up rich bullshit Which lies upon lye
Doth need not for lipstick ride we bone dry
Left to right wrong motivations paved by best intention
Pound me with the cure denounce flesh as impure meets prevention
Overdue elixir panacea
Gold in led stead transmutes alchemist Fed
Spirits confirmed in actions idea
Though hungry swine will freely plow fall submissive tow the line
No offence is meant whence I commence casting pearls before thine
Lead thee to sustenance soon thou shall find
You feed a seed of rage contented caged
That Which hath been remains yet to be seen
One finds upon a wander from yon cave we've left regression
Whence without luminescence stem outlandish such obsessions
Actualized self's realization
Fasting of heart leaves no trace of ego
I fell here from Olympus apropos
Upshot in authenticity shows secure survivors test
Where indiscretions excesses discretely are repressed
Desperate knowledge grievous awareness
I first blew reed pipes but then I digress
Values eroded integrity
Climate corroded ideals irresponsibility
Satisfied my agency autonomous capacity
Bet Dow hath finally had a bad day
Bear in mind they will say twas anway
Old high still standing gold stones throw away
Shorting shooting slope of hope enormous towers treacherous
Each new era crashes in increasing half glass emptiness
Overabundance deserts time delay
Accounts inner morality decay
Strength in pessimism fear forfeits right
Dusk withdraws from sight as shade is drawn over dawn's early light
Narcissistic psychopaths inherited the earth our plight
Quarrying light inspired murky night flee
Ye gods laugh heartily ridicule me
Reckoning another day mine shall be
Subsequently I subsist shifting this rock as Sisyphus
Future pulls upon me as due ration to minus remiss
I'm half crazy bicycle built for two
Network circuitry daisy chained to you
How do I know what is reel to be true
Gather input sensations scrutinize for degradation
Dissembling dissemblance as lacking in resemblance
Singularity prophesied end be
Less threat than icons presently envied
Graven is our image in our idol
Misunderstood system holds revolutions banked on bridle
Give me dominion over doe I care not who makes law
Hegellian dialectic shock and awe
Fixed moments instability move becomes necessity
Moses leads bull rush reeds deceptive swaith
Crisis opportunity incompetence seasons good faith
Fallow plot begot furlough shrieks foul wraith
Yay though I plod through the valley of death
Evil gives comfort my rod and my staff
No fear preparest for my enemies
Parasitic symbiotes surviving vicariously
Job gyrations exploitations sloth thrive ubiquitously
Unnatural select evolution
Bad apple genes rot barrel pollution
Big bang extends concussions extrusion
Elude intrusion neath tapestry relay inscribed decree
Conspiracy theories deliquesced evidence coalesced
Duress dressed as justice undue process
Reduce the law to writ for oversight
Infinitely rules stretch fractally tight
Dollar press lever Wizards tweak whence practised Which deceiver
Feeding frenzy at the top on last chair hot potato drops
Animal farm irrigation believer
Cuckoos in nested loops launched retriever
Social ecological equity
Fauna all created equal although some are more than most
Perched aloft nights sleepless roosters backdate options after posts
Tell a vision avulsed exclusive boasts
Foxes bird box hens fake news oven roasts
Occupy Wall Street greeting champagne toasts
5G technology expandable densification
Cameras considering Laws actual ramifications
Depressions perpetuate FOMO motes
FIFO Ponzi scheme boat redeems fresh float
Gloat sessions connoted roat smote through goat
Destructions need demands feed for Which Fed never hesitates
Beyond salvations hope for damnation destined reprobates
Wolf in sheep's clothing with diplomacy
Bragging best ever broke economy
Pre warned of bubble in candidacy
Memories impeach me markets relapse collapse candor
Black and white deliberations compromise grey matters or
Burning empire riddled Nero fiddled
No new under the sun any longer
What doth not kill my will makes ye stronger
Suicidal quarantine commit sheer to absurdity
Crash course in urgency suspends to decade Odyssey
Engulf journey as is illusory
Entailed magical curtailed mystery
Reproduced sequence spawns duplicity
Great truths infect minds space whilst time distorts fabrics ablation
Balanced scales duration dual edged knife grinds calibration
Wildlife exhumed landslide menagerie
Submission supports popularity
War of attrition print press edition
Release Kraken abridged dictations unredacted memo
Cognitive mind is least informed second thought tis last to know
Feedback iterates habitually
Zombie apocalyptic shopping spree
Animal myriad corroboree
Discrepancies adorable approaching deplorable
Configured integrations simulate exaggerations
Conceptual reorganization
New century frail clings frayed to pale past
Dot com bust imprints last iconoclast
Tragic disposition anchored significance within story
Spherical lyrical expository mourning glory
Expansion dominates fertility
Appropriate most apt utility
Bubble envelops errs infinity
Bold ignorance advanced hind sights distilled new high arrogance
Underlying trauma repeats cycle till addressed complete
Sublates convergence becoming congeals
Cavernous kingdom stalagmite conceals
Peer not in mirror prefer not appeal
Sew a thought in hope to reap an action something real to feel
Neverland begotten old whilst kid futures are oversold
Life lived not lest bits of bites record it
Biased suggestions imbue news reported
Syrinx sears titans with my brand of creed
Written word ceded all forgotten need to practise recall
Calculated math skills lost computer brought thoughts holocost
Ensconced by lantern hung from beam of straw
Helios heals blow of iced ages thaw
Loyal to natural attributes raw
Extraordinary delusional madness of ye crowds
Trot proudly upon road to serfdom congregations praised aloud
Brave was this new world before eighty four
Hunger games in store jaybird tweets that score
Jehovah bore witnesses door to door
Insure myself against four horseman
paid my tithe expired spent
Sow ears flying high on credit barely do I afford rent
Time unwinds quickly at least doth for me
April showers levee spring bankruptcy
Litres live forever in latency
Bailing water steady rising deep subterraneously
Foresee floods invest in arks of financial calamity
Extraneously Rome's blaze radiates
Simultaneously Fed Witches toiled
Slow perniciously satiates frogs boiled
Crisis constructs messenger of sordid too tongued character
Stocks which rise so should slide chosen goose footing egg opposed side
Federal innovates imbibed bribed state
Reserves umpire status hunched hind home plate
Falling knife of fear impaled atmosphere
Short bets squeezed rife barren years unfruitful bleeds contango wine
Inverse ETFs unprecedented reverse splits declined
Nothing it's equal creature without fear
Can't fill hide with harpoons or head with spears
Mire strive dire try pull in Leviathan
Endless procrastination doth avert intent deflation
Unclear when routes passage appears clear as destination
Sorrows station seems my inculcation
Divides built up babble between nations
Seven trumpets summon revelation
Electrostatic circumstance transmits catalytic twist
Substitute reacted chemical transmits platonic tryst
Ironically passion not my goal
Ionically bonded blending coal
Mirrored dipole roll poised down rabbit hole
Experiment first ever repeats Laws defraud endeavor
Mississippi reflating dollar debt exchange creating
Wealth effect transfers helicopter drop
Fracking reserves crack too big to stop
Ineptitude or evilly adept
Calm filled the room as elephants silently drowned in tar pits
History Which hails tense whence Fed injections flew to market
Lucrative house flipping stained soil carpet
Real reign swamp purge comes to street again
Broken window theory frisk fallacy
Destructions need graciates feed for Which Fed never hesitates
Seven headed hydra twixt blaspheming regime duplicates
Purgatory epic allegory
Apathy lacks worry for avoidance
Dreams annoyance recurring clairvoyance
Complacent consternation burns concerned capitulation
Catacomb further catenates future pyroclastic blasts
Install a new partition date saved last
God creates man's imaged eternity
Man made device for immortality
Only way to beat life be articulate as dead machine
Foiling might be finding wanting nothing just as pleasing
Emoted thoughts and deeds confer disease
Viral joy contained anxious unease
Communicable known uncertainties
Mention stoic abstention receive lepers reprehension
Addend subconscious attention suchness sought destination
Protectionist tribal groupthink ensues
Misdirect blame profane color thou choose
Divide and conquer plan by Jove we use
Minting for a living tis nothing short of scintillating
Weaponry mass produce we entropy disintegrating
Rebirth essential in this finite trap
Technicals crucial analysis map
Impulse mined collective wiretapped caps
Souls endless extrapolating each threshold encapsulating
Mutually affecting Titans ever overreaching
Battles march business no fight beseeching
Cyanide reaction gold is leaching
Settle for distraction Athene’s teaching
Shares fabricate infrastructure bonds for manufactured war
Master in ways of deception weaving fleece her predilection
Declined vine illustrates interjection
Fundamentally ye add furthermore
Whole vacuus nature I find abhor
Each new day opportune to go by street sideshow pundits shout
Marginally most will comply seek aggressive salesman clout
Run through stampede proceed in funnel out
Mosaic tile code mixed mirage mud grout
Worm abated hook ate some fat cat’s trout
Informed when glad relate when mad great is not the worst we've had
Next quarter rates Which inflates translates to direct tabled fate
Disinformation chads dangling depart
Troublesome travel when horse pushes cart
Trojans craft driftwood regifted as art
Taken rate decision interest always is a given
Approached encroachment infringements lunged impingement I expunged
Spell manifests as living hell digests
Calcareous sponge absorbed rimstone plunge
Cookbook to serve lamb seals underhand
Sinter sauntered asunder plotting pillage of my plunder
Attack technique intervenes quoth slighted victim claims obscene
Cried mystified feeling such waste sprayed mace
Save face retrace find safety inside shrouded space
Access filter modified denied trash storage verified
Angels four spew brimstone fire scorched ingress half expected less
Trick talk turns back clock players profiles rotate roles resume
Covertly campaigned defiling my name
Creations Instigate destruction
Erupts surreptitious instruction
Bewildered heard shocked embrace loomed Gates of Hell gauge WHO won race
Military missionary hold prostrate to vaccinate
Chaotic Kronos ordered time consumed
Stow stoked fumes subsidies gave the gods room
Whilst land of the fraud is home to the knave
Babylon of living nonexistent through the golden age
Cassandra of this stage ilk ignores inklings of alarmed sage
Chicken little forebodes sky is falling
Rope a dope fades rationalisation
Brittle doth be fragile ye recalling
Loquacious news needs slews feigned of disambiguation
Mendacious or fallacious contagious be implications
Butterfly flapped wing doth not move a thing
But a gnat perhaps who's too GAD to fly
Financing is how but where is the why
Important that all patriots patronize conquesting troops
Dodge ye head stoop as pooping eagle swoops
Most dismissive uninspired missive
Perceptually far too derisive
Guiding hand not apparent visual
Missing cash flows continual residual bottom lines
Pinnochio hopes to know Which ideal conjures growth sublime
Dendrites potentially stimulate spine
Titanic torrents mist venetian blinds
Decidedly distort bilked disincline
Writhe in through chasm in awe open wide
Formless figures summon uniform pride
Dismiss discontent conveyors subside
Tributaries dispersed springs knowledge trees freeze molten ore
Splintering sparks displaced thick dark coruscate tangible floor
Cumulus clouds of primordial dust
Question our senses in sun god we trust
Sifted silts produce thunderbolts of Zeus
Oval elliptical orbits the folds tidal tendency
Blue sphere girds spoken word breathed clay Boulder Forge Company
Quality moulding is job number one
Caste mass producing consumes many sons
My duty to ensure we always run
Figured would be a piece of cake more at work than give and take
Thought this would be my big break but not knowing literally
Apprenticed construction now I maintain
Composite skill same commissioning game
Swim or wallow in Uranus disdain
I made the trade not for reward nor deemed security
Only gospel guarantee is confidence in mastery
Tasked to sit in a chair contemplate stare
Crosswords in wait for a breakdown repair
I study craves of machines which behave
Rhythmic clang links chain react percussional power set free
Insatiable harmony piques morbid curiosity
Beast belly bowel bubbles belch smelt death
To quota of product do I owe breath
Economic cauldron of corrosion
We operate Vesuvius ungodly hours breathing brine
Facilitate yon amplidyne oxygenate lavas shine
Steering eather into three cyclops cells
Myopically they motion for me when cycles in chaos my sirens knell
Lion hearted as Hephaestus take knee before crucibles hearth
Examine vitals symptoms prognosis deduce further impart
Volt amps transcend times root of three powers
Frequently electrons ebb in order
Arc bath gives rise to hot molten showers
May bring flowers demonstrate my will in accord rewards her
Athena is truth incarnate dream she is a movement
Immaculate perfection possessed no
need for improvement in her coveralls
Wert she to eaten apple I befall
Sand disseminates beneath hourglass curves she manipulates
How could I anticipate
Rapt hints had she to intimate
Roots hypotenuse squares summed pendulum
Enlightened visions profound pit this plum
On que she hooks her thunderbolts so ample in restriction
Destabilized my volts despite my amping up conviction
Magnetisms repulsive attraction
Bipolar feedback generates action
Machining floral dissatisfaction
Narcissus is spring can't this robot tool be taught anything
Recommence imaging thine vault undermined after fault
Intuit as her nuclear annihilates tumult
June accusations forced violation
Vulnerable to invalidation
Confrontations repudiation consents allegation
Placate June”s wells breached swell fore July conflagration
Use wu wei to vacate situation
But weightless behemoth ate all greenbacks
Can’t manage exit not even a crack
Inward forays shunned malfunction unknown overgrown morass
Cult of quantity all students get a pass coach seat class
God’s walled over all access to egress
Those who cannot do are experts at best
Past practise succeeds failures teach what needs
Viridescent pools dilate grey eyed dubious stressed madness
Feeling she was slighted by my passage through her nucleus
Disinterested I had disinterred
Down period Kondratieff winter
Intrinsic tragedy all fairy tales end inherently
Gave me what I wished for in a way I was not hoping for
Destiny permits paths forbade
How shallow wilt thou will wade
PCB cesspools black bile pitches glue
Smoldering sand dune trenches shore magmas excess residue
Admit this time smashing cymbals whilst cyclops wert drumming too
Keep the fantasy alive in my head
Earthquake take other route instead
Always say they never saw it coming
They did In Herculaneum still their brains steamed in their skulls
Summer solstice solace lulls lava ladles plentiful
Cumulative studies validations
Inseminate process degradation
Trying not to mention my invention
Bending toward normalcy absorption emits diffraction
Inverted perceptions withdraw inflections from emptiness
Perplexing she rejects ram intellect
Anecdotal evidence cached respect
Zip plans to stockpile cognizance combined
Designed secret punishment to circumvent I resigned
Recollect for instance cognitive lessons in dissonance
Logic accepts one view perceived of two
Pit of mine stomach whence knot always knew
Treasonous betrayed lion taming shrew
Spite cleaved interface continued dutiful onward pace
Humiliations goal wert to replace cheers with disgrace
Orchestrations untold meticulous
Malevolence is still in existence
Narrative streams unfold conspicuous
Childish bliss unscrupulous epidemic Narcissus
Invasive species multiplied since Zeus supplied his sun’s abyss
Affect change rather than effect ere cause
Gaslight obfuscates reasonable laws
Tall tales half truths edged lies by omission
Unwary reprehense motive intents of recognition
Splitting of the faculty augments a new reality
Fight freeze or flee options only three
Trials choose middle choice typically
Stockholm syndrome captors figured friendlies
Volunteer for brunt of blame acquiesced toxic shame domain
Raging stirs steroid cortisol adrenaline cocktail brain
Idealize devalue sudden discard
Benevolent dictatorship abstained
Without the faintest regret or regard
Figured she was playing me but never thought she'd try so hard
Had a little influence pummeling blacksmith into bard
Feeling flashback symptoms PTSD
Reflux acid regurgitates anxiously
Facilities shut down my apogee
Estranged entanglement is indiscriminate vicinity
Projection deflects inspection detects proffered rejection
Upon reflection I/O failed connection
Reverse detail switched doppler direction
Attacked mine tranquility enacted thine stability
Great relationships determined by good portability
Amor Fati defeat of agony
Heroic transitions affirmation
Chinks of crevasse evasive to bypass
Labyrinth strings web of deceit light and dark unlikely meet
Shadows reconnection Schadenfreude revels surrection
Maze ambled afore trapped in Minotaur
Disintegrating reintegration
Unfurled divest individuation
Emergence of self under siege August surfacing intrigues
Sun god aims retribution penetrating air dilution
Perpetrating vengeful execution
Cyclop's blindsided coming attraction
Apollo's exaction vents extraction
Redress reclaimed door discharged from mine chore
Concussions cavitations roar gaff retrieved my staff from shore
Gangplank fastened transit for deck from wreck
Embodied under mass gravitation
Nothingness consistent contradiction
In retrospect ahead investigate that Which is suspect
Chastened flaming embers titillate orange September moon
Hastened retreat not an instant too soon
Burgeoning three wave prosperity shewn
Wave five trait mimics Echo past monsoon
Perpetually parallel dramas punctual insane
Aphrodite's inception purged migraine foam seethed fire in vain
Twain hath liquidity trickled down drain
Consult oracle ogle tangent plane
Bow to stern brood tempestuous coxswain
Demurrage fee aptly sought to regain lay of way terrain
Masked my gnashing lion waves stumble as they spread before me
Mountain rubble crumbles bloodied red sea
Locusts cannibalistic commotion
Uncanny notion overt devotion
Fixed betwixt twin scorpions stings subtle by a hares degree
One longs to age as seas submit one hole subliminally
Desire loves desire more than that desired
Overtime I find wanting displeasing
Fuel to fire Aphrodite’s teasing
Symptomatically nymphomaniac releasing
Random cosmos berth patterned beyond cyclic perimeter
Doth not feel momentum ye be the tide
Volume reduced ambient limiter
Futile to resist flow fatal to ride
Impressed by the strung rope ladder of unquestioned good status
Doctors orders therapeutic regressive Hedonism
Bureaucracy forced parentalism
Founding fathers Titan nepotism
The health preventative catechism
Give only to take away to give again another day
Rewards gods some token compensation
Anyone here not get paid besides me
Red light starboard wax eared crew rendezvous
Bounded by my sacrifice to irresponsibility
None of the other prize winning
players gamble here but me
Battened down fear gauge groups psychopathy
Ever since world went into bankruptcy
Call for Panic Zeus black masked his swan song
Yarn for youthful innocence gone stick slip traction moves this throng
Tread borderline separating time providing till from when
Uneven Titans tip unbalanced ships
Dualities tune unity in trine
One thing I did learn when within confine
Whom hath desire for nothing believes doth not need anything
Misinterpretation required missing zero still a thing
Axons bemoan sequence of no return
Feeling slight injustice step forward commandeer ambition
Venus akin to mine headache just better known rendition
Under spotlight favorite position
Internally propelled by externals
Take this Autumnal equinox swear on the cross tis vernal
All the gods explicitly sing chants how lucky I must be
Bring Mordor back to toss this precious ring
Prospect she fertilized inferring seed
Open union upon Which we agreed
Karma conflates heavens gates contrived in Pandemonium
Green shoots elate consummate concerns inspire Pavlovian
Theories cosigned conspiracies maligned
Impermanence ineffably refined
Ignorance binds energy disinclined
Universal conception pride of self
love contraception
Trying to be pliable but find it reprehensible
All dispensable Great Complacent Sea
Sizing words wisely rids ostensible
Lies the only guise now found comprehensible
Prophylactic allude to didactic
Though whilst I work at chore she’s Ares whore
I snagged them embarrassingly naked afore gods before
Yellen Helen neither nor wert worth war
Bowl of wrath judgement ignored poor decor
Titans empathizing with swimming clothes
In her throws she extolled excitement being extra exposed
Far be it from she to assume joint responsibility
Exponential debt credits game theory
On that we agree tis rigged currency
Opportunistic imperialists
Propaganda grasshoppers enlist ants backbone socialist
Can't remember when gathered last had a say any matter
Other nations forfeit right to do it
Export of inflation needs conduit
Concert donates borders New World Order
Blockchain came about when drunk bartender could not reach the spout
Yahweh will control all money now they have it figured out
Waiting for my minute to be clever
Stamp my name on the gods minds forever
My switchblade really needs to cut them off
No clue what the gods know only that they need to run the show Narcissistic parasites charisma lands entitlement
Vampires nourish roots to stunt encouragement
Protocol enticing invitation
Condemnation staged cooperation
Intolerable acts left no coercive tea leaves intact
Coven of bag passing Witches gave chase across red waters
Need another nine stitches sons twixt daughters
Waiting in the balance moment of force
Hatch guillotine MRI triggered source
Soaked up dripped Wyrmwood postulated solvent tasted good
Full equilibrium half ballast set assail for malice
Octobers placid benign chilled chalice
Brain scan photocell senses light all is well
If instead bulb shows dead off with thee head
Also as a godsend bonus honed mom’s splendid jury throne
Captive chaperone audience fettered judgement chains inlaid
Skipping to a Witch hunt after masquerade
Topside upper deck on the promenade
Propellor fashion later ohm made blade
Behooved turtle jail sac tail flailed back satyromaniac
Passionate parade personifying Nature of tirade
Horney gimp hind quarters brace graced limp
Llama spitting image of Obama
Clinton's dole out cigars contribute scars
All guests in attendance dressed as promised change we forget lest
Salubrious familiar strangers grooving Harvey Danger
Politically free redundancy
Reagan closed asylums threw away key
Identity hath no cost found when lost
Consolidations vibrate quantized sinusoidal noise
Pullback hull triangulate alow by my device and Echo
Feel lonely frost amongst the other masks
Survival is appeasing to their tasks
Remember November elect Semper
Meaning faithful to all members not just only archaic
On the way to office run your head
through photovoltaic
Vanishing quickly old liquidity
Seven plagues capsized immortality
The line hath paid out to the bitter end
Too big to sail exhale replications glorification
Night zeniths elevation nadirs sun's regeneration
submitted by Zealousideal_Visual5 to u/Zealousideal_Visual5 [link] [comments]

A Few More Conspiracy Theories that turned out to be True

1. Kennedy Assassination - The 2nd Investigation by Congress Few People Know About, United States House of Representatives Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA)

The HSCA was established in 1976 to investigate the John F. Kennedy assassination and the Martin Luther King, Jr. assassination. The Committee investigated until 1978, and in 1979 issued its final report, concluding that President John F. Kennedy was probably assassinated by a conspiracy involving the mob, and potentially the CIA.
The House Select Committee on Assassinations undertook reinvestigations of the murders of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. In 1979, a single Report and twelve volumes of appendices on each assassination were published by the Congress.
In the JFK case, the HSCA found that there was a "probable conspiracy," though it was unable to determine the nature of that conspiracy or its other participants (besides Oswald).
This finding was based in part on acoustics evidence from a tape purported to record the shots, but was also based on other evidence including an investigation of Ruby's Mafia connections and potential CIA and/or FBI connections to Oswald. To this day, many conspiracy deniers are unaware that the Congressional investigation into JFK’s assassination concluded beyond any shadow of a doubt that it was a conspiracy.
What made them come to this conclusion?
Aside from reading the report, many witnesses (some of whom were CIA agents and station chiefs in Dallas that morning) were killed the night before testifying.
For example, George de Mohrenschildt was a petroleum geologist who befriended Lee Harvey Oswald during the months preceding the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy. He also worked for the CIA.
He also blew his brains out the night before he was to testify to the committee. The committee also uncovered, among many things, that Oswald left the marines where he learned how to speak fluent Russian (at the height of the cold war).
He was given money by the State Department to travel to Russia where he stopped off in Japan at a top secret US Military facility. The Warren Commission even mentioned this part. What most people do not know is that he probably was working in the Cold War infiltrating the Russians as either a “dangle,” “double agent,” or “defector" of some kind.
What is interesting is that upon his return he got more money from the State Department to buy a house and work with an ex FBI Chief and CIA officials in training anti-Castro Cubans for an invasion.
In Louisiana, where he was working, the CIA was involved in Operation Mongoose, where Oswald worked under CIA Agent David Ferrie, who killed himself before testifying in a trial on the Assassination as well. Operation Mongoose worked closely with Southern Mafia figures largely because the casinos in Cuba, which were shut down after Fidel obtained control over the country, were epicenters for control on the island.
The CIA even hired the Mafia to assassinate Fidel on many occasions, 3 attempts which failed are common knowledge.
What is funny is that figures who worked very close with Oswald either ended up dead (over 100 of them connected to the assassination died within a few years of unusual circumstances) or they ended up in other conspiracies.
For instance, E. Howard Hunt (CIA Agent) confessed to being involved in the conspiracy to assassinate Kennedy on his deathbed.
E Howard Hunt was one of the Watergate Burglars. Barry Seal, who worked with Oswald and Ferrie ended up being one of the largest cocaine smugglers in the United States during Iran Contra, as a key player for the agency and informant for the DEA.
There is so much more to get into, but there just isn’t enough time. Oswald's tax returns are still classified top secret to this day. Why? Perhaps he was still getting $$ from the United States, which places him on the payroll. That money trail leads to figures, many of whom were murdered, that would have blown the story wide open. For 14 years, most didn't know this.
The HSCA investigations by congress went against the findings of the Warren Commission and both reports are from the same source, Congressional Committees.
Which is true? Why do we only teach one to our children in school?

2. 1919 World Series Conspiracy

The 1919 World Series (often referred to as the Black Sox Scandal) resulted in the most famous scandal in baseball history.
Eight players from the Chicago White Sox (nicknamed the Black Sox) were accused of throwing the series against the Cincinnati Reds. Details of the scandal remain controversial, and the extent to which each player was involved varied.
It was, however, front-page news across the country when the story was uncovered late in the 1920 season, and despite being acquitted of criminal charges (throwing baseball games was technically not a crime), the eight players were banned from organized baseball (i.e. the leagues subject to the National Agreement) for life.
There are hundreds of other conspiracies involving throwing games, sporting matches and large scale entertainment events. It is common knowledge for many, this list would have to go into the thousands if we included all of them.

3.Karen Silkwood

Karen was an American labor union activist and chemical technician at the Kerr-McGee plant near Crescent, Oklahoma, United States. Silkwood's job was making plutonium pellets for nuclear reactor fuel rods.
After being hired at Kerr-McGee, Silkwood joined the Oil, Chemical & Atomic Workers Union local and took part in a strike at the plant. After the strike ended, she was elected to the union's bargaining committee and assigned to investigate health and safety issues.
She discovered what she believed to be numerous violations of health regulations, including exposure of workers to contamination, faulty respiratory equipment and improper storage of samples. She also believed the lack of sufficient shower facilities could increase the risk of employee contamination.
In the summer of 1974, Silkwood testified to the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) about these issues, alleging that safety standards had slipped because of a production speedup which resulted in employees being given tasks for which they were poorly trained. She also alleged that Kerr-McGee employees handled the fuel rods improperly and that the company falsified inspection records.
On November 5, 1974, Silkwood performed a routine self-check and found almost 400 times the legal limit for plutonium contamination. She was decontaminated at the plant and sent home with a testing kit to collect urine and feces for further analysis. Oddly, though there was plutonium on the exterior surfaces (the ones she touched) of the gloves she had been using, the gloves did not have any holes.
This suggests the contamination did not come from inside the glove box, but from some other source, in other words, someone was trying to poison her.
The next morning, as she headed to a union negotiation meeting, she again tested positive for plutonium. This was surprising because she had only performed paperwork duties that morning. She was given a more intense decontamination. The following day, November 7, 1974, as she entered the plant, she was found to be dangerously contaminated - even expelling contaminated air from her lungs.
A health physics team accompanied her back to her home and found plutonium traces on several surfaces - especially in the bathroom and the refrigerator.
The house was later stripped and decontaminated. Silkwood, her partner and housemate were sent to Los Alamos National Laboratory for in-depth testing to determine the extent of the contamination in their bodies. Later that evening, Silkwood's body was found in her car, which had run off the road and struck a culvert. The car contained no documents.
She was pronounced dead at the scene from a "classic, one-car sleeping-driver accident".

4. CIA Drug Smuggling in Arkansas

August 23, 1987, in a rural community just south of Little Rock, police officers murdered two teenage boys because they witnessed a police-protected drug drop. The drop was part of a drug smuggling operation based at a small airport in Mena, Arkansas.
The Mena operation was set up in the early 1980's by the notorious drug smuggler, Barry Seal. Facing prison after a drug conviction in Florida, Seal flew to Washington, D.C., where he put together a deal that allowed him to avoid prison by becoming an informant for the government.
As a government informant against drug smugglers, Seal testified he worked for the CIA and the DEA. In one federal court case, he testified that his income from March 1984 to August 1985, was between $700,000 and $800,000. This period was AFTER making his deal with the government.
Seal testified that nearly $600,000 of this came from smuggling drugs while working for - and with the permission of the DEA. In addition to his duties as an informant, Seal was used by CIA operatives to help finance the Nicaraguan Contras. The CIA connection to the Mena operation was undeniable when a cargo plane given to Seal by the CIA was shot down over Nicaragua with a load of weapons.
In spite of the evidence, every investigator who has tried to expose the crimes of Mena has been professionally destroyed, and those involved in drug smuggling operations have received continued protection from state and federal authorities.
February 20, 1986 report on Mena Drug Smuggling: VIDEO DELETED

5. Bohemian Grove

For years, many conspiracy theorists were saying that the rich and powerful met every year in the woods and worshiped a giant stone owl in an occult fashion.
It turns out, ABC, CBS, NBC, and many other credible news agencies investigated this and found out, its true. It is said to be just all fun and games, like brotherhood style fraternity stuff.
These clips can be viewed here.

6. Operation Paperclip

Operation Paperclip was the code name for the 1945 Office of Strategic Services, Joint Intelligence Objectives Agency recruitment of German scientists from Nazi Germany to the U.S. after VE Day.
President Truman authorized Operation Paperclip in August 1945; however he expressly ordered that anyone found "to have been a member of the Nazi party and more than a nominal participant in its activities, or an active supporter of Nazi militarism" would be excluded.
These included Wernher von Braun, Arthur Rudolph and Hubertus Strughold, who were all officially on record as Nazis and listed as a "menace to the security of the Allied Forces." All were cleared to work in the U.S. after having their backgrounds "bleached" by the military; false employment histories were provided, and their previous Nazi affiliations were expunged from the record.
The paperclips that secured newly-minted background details to their personnel files gave the operation its name.

7. The Round Table

British businessman Cecil Rhodes advocated the British Empire re-annexing the United States of America and reforming itself into an "Imperial Federation" to bring about a hyperpower and lasting world peace.
In his first will, of 1877, written at the age of 23, he expressed his wish to fund a secret society (known as the Society of the Elect) that would advance this goal:
“To and for the establishment, promotion and development of a Secret Society, the true aim and object whereof shall be for the extension of British rule throughout the world, the perfecting of a system of emigration from the United Kingdom, and of colonization by British subjects of all lands where the means of livelihood are attainable by energy, labor and enterprise, and especially the occupation by British settlers of the entire Continent of Africa, the Holy Land, the Valley of the Euphrates, the Islands of Cyprus and Candia, the whole of South America, the Islands of the Pacific not heretofore possessed by Great Britain, the whole of the Malay Archipelago, the seaboard of China and Japan, the ultimate recovery of the United States of America as an integral part of the British Empire, the inauguration of a system of Colonial representation in the Imperial Parliament which may tend to weld together the disjointed members of the Empire and, finally, the foundation of so great a Power as to render wars impossible, and promote the best interests of humanity.”
In his later wills, a more mature Rhodes abandoned the idea and instead concentrated on what became the Rhodes Scholarship, which had British statesman Alfred Milner as one of its trustees.
Established in 1902, the original goal of the trust fund was to foster peace among the great powers by creating a sense of fraternity and a shared world view among future British, American, and German leaders by having enabled them to study for free at the University of Oxford.
Milner and British official Lionel George Curtis were the architects of the Round Table movement, a network of organizations promoting closer union between Britain and its self-governing colonies.
To this end, Curtis founded the Royal Institute of International Affairs in June 1919 and, with his 1938 book The Commonwealth of God, began advocating for the creation of an imperial federation that eventually re-annexes the U.S., which would be presented to Protestant churches as being the work of the Christian God to elicit their support.
The Commonwealth of Nations was created in 1949 but it would only be a free association of independent states rather than the powerful imperial federation imagined by Rhodes, Milner and Curtis.
The Council on Foreign Relations began in 1917 with a group of New York academics who were asked by President Woodrow Wilson to offer options for the foreign policy of the United States in the interwar period.
Originally envisioned as a British-American group of scholars and diplomats, some of whom belonging to the Round Table movement, it was a subsequent group of 108 New York financiers, manufacturers and international lawyers organized in June 1918 by Nobel Peace Prize recipient and U.S. secretary of state, Elihu Root, that became the Council on Foreign Relations on 29 July 1921. The first of the council’s projects was a quarterly journal launched in September 1922, called Foreign Affairs.
Some believe that the Council on Foreign Relations is a front organization for the Round Table as a tool of the "Anglo-American Establishment", which they believe has been plotting from 1900 on to rule the world.
The research findings of historian Carroll Quigley, author of the 1966 book Tragedy and Hope, are taken by both conspiracy theorists of the American Old Right (Cleon Skousen) and New Left (Carl Oglesby) to substantiate this view, even though he argued that the Establishment is not involved in a plot to implement a one-world government but rather British and American benevolent imperialism driven by the mutual interests of economic elites in the United Kingdom and the United States.
Quigley also argued that, although the Round Table still exists today, its position in influencing the policies of world leaders has been much reduced from its heyday during World War I and slowly waned after the end of World War II and the Suez Crisis. Today it is largely a ginger group, designed to consider and gradually influence the policies of the Commonwealth of Nations, but faces strong opposition.
Furthermore, in American society after 1965, the problem, according to Quigley, was that no elite was in charge and acting responsibly.
American banker David Rockefeller joined the Council on Foreign Relations as its youngest-ever director in 1949 and subsequently became chairman of the board from 1970 to 1985; today he serves as honorary chairman.
In 2002, Rockefeller authored his autobiography Memoirs wherein, on page 405, he wrote:
“For more than a century ideological extremists at either end of the political spectrum have seized upon well-publicized incidents... to attack the Rockefeller family for the inordinate influence they claim we wield over American political and economic institutions.
Some even believe we are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States, characterizing my family and me as 'internationalists' and of conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure - one world, if you will.
If that's the charge, I stand guilty, and I am proud of it.”
Barkun argues that this statement is partly facetious (the claim of "conspiracy" or "treason") and partly serious - the desire to encourage trilateral cooperation among the U.S., Europe, and Japan, for example - an ideal that used to be a hallmark of the internationalist wing of the Republican Party when there was an internationalist wing.
However, the statement is taken at face value and widely cited by conspiracy theorists as proof that the Council on Foreign Relations (itself alleged to be a front for an "international banking cabal", as well as, it is claimed, the sponsor of many "globalist" think tanks such as the Trilateral Commission) uses its role as the brain trust of American presidents, senators and representatives to manipulate them into supporting a New World Order.
Conspiracy theorists fear that the international bankers of financial capitalism are planning to eventually subvert the independence of the U.S. by subordinating national sovereignty to a strengthened Bank for International Settlements with the intent to,
“create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole”.
In a 13 November 2007 interview with Canadian journalist Benjamin Fulford, Rockefeller countered:
“I don't think that I really feel that we need a world government. We need governments of the world that work together and collaborate. But, I can't imagine that there would be any likelihood or even that it would be desirable to have a single government elected by the people of the world...
There have been people, ever since I've had any kind of position in the world, who have accused me of being ruler of the world. I have to say that I think for the large part, I would have to decide to describe them as crackpots. It makes no sense whatsoever, and isn't true, and won't be true, and to raise it as a serious issue seems to me to be irresponsible.”
Some American social critics, such as Laurence H. Shoup, argue that the Council on Foreign Relations is an "imperial brain trust", which has, for decades, played a central behind-the-scenes role in shaping U.S. foreign policy choices for the post-WWII international order and the Cold War, by determining what options show up on the agenda and what options do not even make it to the table; while others, such as G. William Domhoff, argue that it is in fact a mere policy discussion forum, which provides the business input to U.S. foreign policy planning.
The latter argue that it has nearly 3,000 members, far too many for secret plans to be kept within the group; all the council does is sponsor discussion groups, debates and speakers; and as far as being secretive, it issues annual reports and allows access to its historical archives.

8. The Illuminati

The Order of the Illuminati was an Enlightenment-age secret society founded on May 1st, 1776, in Ingolstadt (Upper Bavaria), by Adam Weishaupt, who was the first lay professor of canon law at the University of Ingolstadt.
The movement consisted of freethinkers, secularists, liberals, republicans and pro-feminists, recruited in the Masonic Lodges of Germany, who sought to promote perfectionism through mystery schools.
As a result, in 1785, the order was infiltrated, broken and suppressed by the government agents of Charles Theodore, Elector of Bavaria, in his campaign to neutralize the threat of secret societies ever becoming hotbeds of conspiracies to overthrow the monarchy and state religion.
In the late 18th century, reactionary conspiracy theorists, such as Scottish physicist John Robison and French Jesuit priest Augustin Barruel, began speculating that the Illuminati survived their suppression and became the masterminds behind the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror.
The Illuminati were accused of being enlightened absolutists who were attempting to secretly orchestrate a world revolution in order to globalize the most radical ideals of the Enlightenment: anti-clericalism, anti-monarchism, and anti-patriarchalism. During the 19th century, fear of an Illuminati conspiracy was a real concern of European ruling classes, and their oppressive reactions to this unfounded fear provoked in 1848 the very revolutions they sought to prevent.
Although many say that the Illuminati was disbanded and destroyed so long ago, it is well known that the Rothschild dynasty following the family’s involvement in the secret order in Bavaria received much attention for its major takeover of Europe’s central banks.
The Rothschild dynasty owns roughly half of the world’s wealth and evidence suggests it has funded both sides of major wars, including the United States Civil War.

9. The Trilateral Commission

The Trilateral Commission is a private organization, established to foster closer cooperation among the United States, Europe and Japan.
It was founded in July 1973 at the initiative of David Rockefeller, who was Chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations at that time. The Trilateral Commission is widely seen as a counterpart to the Council on Foreign Relations.
In July 1972, Rockefeller called his first meeting, which was held at Rockefeller's Pocantico compound in New York's Hudson Valley. It was attended by about 250 individuals who were carefully selected and screened by Rockefeller and represented the very elite of finance and industry.
Its first executive committee meeting was held in Tokyo in October 1973. The Trilateral Commission was officially initiated, holding biannual meetings.
A Trilateral Commission Task Force Report, presented at the 1975 meeting in Kyoto, Japan, called An Outline for Remaking World Trade and Finance, said:
"Close Trilateral cooperation in keeping the peace, in managing the world economy, and in fostering economic development and in alleviating world poverty, will improve the chances of a smooth and peaceful evolution of the global system."
Another Commission document read:
"The overriding goal is to make the world safe for interdependence by protecting the benefits which it provides for each country against external and internal threats which will constantly emerge from those willing to pay a price for more national autonomy.
This may sometimes require slowing the pace at which interdependence proceeds, and checking some aspects of it. More frequently however, it will call for checking the intrusion of national government into the international exchange of both economic and non-economic goods."

March 29, 1981 News Clip on Trilateral Commission:
May 2, 1995 News Clip on Trilateral Commission:
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The Game Designer is Dead. Long Live the Game Designer.

I've tried to make this argument multiple times when I was a struggling Game Designer, but it was always too emotional. Now that I've made the smart move and switched to becoming a Developer, and now that I can clearly and concretely see how fucked the game industry is, I'm going to give this one more crack. And I'm going to summarize my argument right off the bat.
TL;DR: If you want to design games, design board games, because the modern video game industry has little to almost no need for game designers.
These days, game studios do not invest in training or hiring good game designers, or even if they did they won't be able to find any, because:
  1. The video game industry has become incredibly capital intensive and therefore taking creative risks is no longer worth it. Aesthetics based monetization and the paradigm of Sofware-as-a-Service means that once you get ONE game, ANY game, to work, you only need to stick with it to print money forever, and you can usually just ripoff someone else's game design at that.
  2. The smartphone/indie game boom and bust came and went, indie designers continue to struggle to survive, while "get rich quick" cash in mobile game companies are increasingly falling back on tried-and-true design patterns, while at the same time getting swallowed by, well, Tencent.
  3. Our hypercapitalistic culture is pushing people away from celebrating artistic mediums, or the study of them as rigorous disciplines. These days, leading a triple-A game production is more akin to being a businessman than a creative.
  4. Crowdfunding disasters, like Star Citizen, has seriously put the whole damn industry in doubt. It's now possible to run a game like a ponzi scheme. Think about that for a second. That's not even mentioning the glut of subpar competition created by app platforms like App Store, Steam Greenlight, and Google Play, which makes exceptional games almost impossible to stand out.
Let me elaborate on these points, but rest assured, you don't have to read these bits if you don't want to, just reread the TL;DR, that's all I'm really trying to say.
Point the first:
Team Fortress, Counterstrike, PUBG, Fortnite, League of Legends, DOTA. All of these games were initially inspired by free to play mods. But now they're non-stop money printing machines, and there seems to be no end in sight.
There is a reason why Steam Corporation is never going to make Half-Life 3. Why should they? They have an effective monopoly over all computer game digital sales. Why take a risk on any video game, that might bomb, as the costs just keep going up? Even a bet as safe as HALF LIFE FUCKING THREE.
As the years march on, video games are becoming more and more capital intensive. Not only are the increased expectations of tech constantly pushing the costs to the limit, thereby making investors risk-averse, but the fact that the safest bets ended up succeeding the most: take an established, already popular mod (DayZ King of the Kill), freshen it up so that the mechanics are just a little tighter (-> Playerunknown's Battlegrounds), then just tweak it even more so that the production values shine and the aesthetic appeals to as much of a mass market as possible (-> Fortnite).
As case in point, take Star Wars 1313. Headed by Amy Hennig, of Uncharted fame. You've got one of the world's biggest IP (Star Wars), backed by the world's most powerful entertainment corporation bar none (Disney), a projected headed by a leader who has proven herself with multiple franchises (Uncharted, Legacy of Kain) by any metric of game production in the last few decades, this is a surefire win, right? Well, not in 2018, because as we all know, DAT SHIT DED:
Innovation is arguably BAD for this business model. Look at Fortnite. They tried to blaze a trail by combining minecraft style building mechanics with shooter mechanics. No one cared. For the longest time, Fortnite: Save the World looked like it was going to be an abject failure. It wasn't until they ripped off the all too popular Battle Royale format that they started seeing success. People only cared about Fortnite's gameplay innovations after they wholesale ripped off PUBG's successful foundation, to the point where PUBG tried to sue them.
As a further point, just look at Riot Games' approach to League of Legends. In a bid to keep the game "fresh", they tried hiring all these hotshot designers, tried reworking all the systems, essentially made it an entirely different game every year. Unfortunately, it seems that it didn't work: League is hemorrhaging players who can't keep up with all the gameplay changes, and the next generation of gamers aren't drawn to MOBAs, which was so early 2000s, but rather... Battle Royale games. Riot is more than likely working on a secret project now, even though in the last few years the purported goal was to make League of Legends a "multi-generational game", because for sure ALL MOBA games are bleeding players now... except maybe Dota 2, because it's changed the least so that the players who stuck with it don't feel like they have to start over. You get rewarded more for doing less work!!
And just think. Does the BR genre feel "fresh"? Does it feel like there's innovation happening in it? Even a simple change, like when Fortnite removed the ability to reactivate your glider, was met with so much backlash (even though objectively leaving it in makes a lot of the game's early positioning tactics kind of meaningless) that they had to reintroduce it as "Soaring 50's vs. 50's".
Let's just look at the AAA games of this generation that we all love. Witcher 3, Bloodborne, God of War. All games that built heavily on the tried-and-true (*cough* Dark Souls *cough*) and even the current darling, Spiderman, we can all say is just an HD-remaster-on-steroids of the original Spider-man 2 for PS 2 (fitting that the best movie of the Raimi trilogy would coincide with the best iteration of the game), and even the combat is inspired from Arkham Asylum.
As Uncle Ben would say... "With Great Production Values, comes Great Risk Aversion."
Point the second:
Indie mobile designers usually thrive these days by going for extremely niche minimalist "microgames" (like 2047, Flappy Bird, Temple Run, etc.) which almost always get hit with tons of copycats (due to the insanely low barrier of entry), while Indie PC designers are forced to scrape by with microcommunities.
There were a few successes initially, when it seemed like it was going to be an indie videogame renaissance. But we now know that isn't true. The market consolidated a few winners (Supercell's Clash of Clans and Clash Royale, GungHo online's Puzzles and Dragons, Niantic's Pokemon: Go, that last one can hardly even be considered a winner anymore) while almost everything else falls by the wayside, buried in the deluge of productivity apps, photo filter apps and geolocation tracker running apps.
And even worse, the winners have seen even further consolidation. Tencent now completely owns Riot Games and Supercell, and has majority stakes in Epic Games and Bluehole Games (South Korean creator of PUBG). Just take a second and think about that. League of Legends, Fortnite, PUBG, Clash Royale and Clash of Clans... probably five of the most overwhelmingly popular games in the world. Wanna know what happened after Tencent acquired all these hot properties? They post their first losses ever because China won't let them sell PUBG in China:
Point the Third:
While Indie PC games like NEO Scavenger, Undertale, Darkest Dungeon and Underrail are fantastic games with an immense amount of depth, the sales can barely keep one or two people employed considering that even lo-fi indie games takes YEARS to make, often one dude slaving away for 10+ hour days on end. The initial surge of Indie success has come and gone: just watch the doc "Indie Game: The Movie". Perhaps the biggest winner in this entire sector was Stardew Valley by Eric Barone... that's ONE GUY, making ONE GAME, entirely on his own, and guess what? It might as well have been a Harvest Moon port.
To be a "game designer" with any sense of creative control over your product (instead of the corporate style "design by committee" formula) you must also: run your own business, be your own PR manager, be your own marketing expert, be your own artist, be your own coder (Dan Fedor was a technical artist and made lots of the pixel art and coded almost all of the game by himself, Dejan Radisic practically built the entire Underrail alpha with his own two hands, Eric Barone made all the art and did all the code for Stardew Valley). Game Designer is now a secondary title, either everyone on the team has some semblance of Game Design understanding, or no one does (replaced by UX designers, monetisation experts, project managers), because any self-styled "game designer" will have to build the game he designs by himself, ain't no company giving you a job just to crank out a GDD (game design document) if you can't contribute to the project in some other way as well. It is no longer considered a serious job title. You are DevelopeGame Designer, or Artist/Game Designer, or Project ManageGame Designer. There is no "Game Designer". Most of the time, you might as well just leave out the "/Game Designer" bit. I suppose exceptions to the rule exist, but they are more than likely older designers, brought up in the much more creatively inspired industry of the 90s, and maybe had to work brutal hours under a AAA studio as a QA for a decade before they were properly brought up into the "design team".
Not only is corporate culture loathe to celebrate the auteur (which is logical since out sized individual influence for any employee other than the CEO, who is beholden to a faceless group of shareholders anyway, is the antithesis of how corporations work) but even successful game designers are expected to take on roles than have nothing to do with game design: project manager, team leader, public relations expert, tech evangelist.
Concrete examples: Hideo Kojima's treatment by Konami, or say, Cliff Blezinski's career trajectory, which has clearly gone from "rockstar game designer" to "elite businessman who sells Unreal Engine".
These days, people want to be Elon Musk instead of Steven Spielberg. And at least, with film, you're talking about a much more easily made product with a LOT of rigorous academic discipline behind it. Who gets more respect... Steven Spielberg, or Sid Meier? Is Sid Meier even a game designer anymore, or just a brand name and a businessman who owns Firaxis Games?
One good metaphor, I think, is that of the rap mogul. Are Jay-Z, Dr. Dre, and 50 Cent known more for their music these days? ...or their businesses? (Tidal, Beats, Vitamin Water) These are the three biggest fortunes in the rap game, and all three of them stem from business decisions. Just like how it is in the rap game, business acumen has become more critical to making video games than creativity, at this point.
Point the fourth:
...even unscrupulous "business" acumen, and nowhere can this be seen more clearly that Scam... I mean Star Citizen.
I'm not even going to get into Star Citizen, because the facts speak for themselves. Any project that is going well shouldn't need to ask its massive crowdfunding (not even customer, because the product hasn't even been fucking finished!) community to shell out $27,000 (only after you've shelled out the roughly $1,000 to even get access to this "deal" in the first place) for "every ship in the game", most of which exist only in the minds of artists and designers.
Right along with the "Indie game boom" was the "Crowdfunding boom". You look at, say, Double Fine Entertainment, and it becomes clear that my last point, that you need business acumen more than you need creativity these days when making games, is best exemplified by Tim Schafer. Taking an underdog studio that made critically acclaimed but underperforming hits into the darling of the Indie/Crowdfunding nexus... and then using that same blessing to bring his company back into the graces of the publishers... is probably the most brilliant yet circumlocutory path to video game studio success ever seen. Not only were some of the crowdfunded games panned (like the long awaited "Broken Age") but many of the games that Double Fine went ahead and made with their newfound capital were small, experimental games that essentially helped the company paddle leisurely along, making games that were fun for them to make, as their fans continued to give them money before an actual product, until they scored a publishing deal for Psychonauts 2, which, let's be real, was what we all wanted all along. And how innovative do we expect Psychonauts to be, really? Do we really expect weird ass mechanics like in Stacking? ( ) Of course not, because that would be sacrilege.
So let me ask you. If you really think you do care about innovation in videogames. Did you give a shit about Stacking? Did you play it? Or did it feel like a gimmick?
Do we really want innovation in our video games, or are we just looking for the Man to make a better Skinner Box?
Because if we just keep playing Battle Royale games so we can accrue enough soft currency to buy that next sweet hat instead of diversifying our video game tastes (and thereby putting money in the hands of creative innovators) it really seems like the latter option - the Skinner Box - is what we really want.
These days, if you want a specific type of game that isn't popular, it's going to have to be crowdfunded. I'll take one example that's near and dear to me: Pillars of Eternity. I loved tactical isometric RPGs. When I heard PoE was going to be crowdfunded, I was so excited. But, when the product finally came out, it sucked. Why?
Returning to point the first: games are just becoming so capital intensive that crowdfunding isn't a guarantor of quality. Moreover, crowdfunding leaves the producer beholden to the fans, leading to shit decisions, like all the lame Mary-Sues, oh I'm sorry "backer characters", strewn about in PoE, with a litany of Fifty Shades of Grey cringe-level fanfiction writing to show you should you be stupid enough to try a talk interaction with them. More often than not, crowdfunding has absurd stretch goals that perpetually leave the team spread out to thin, no matter how much money is raised, even for features that do not serve the game at all as a whole but just sound cool on their own, like the stupid, stupid, stupid fucking levels of Od Nua. And even worse, crowdfunding fundamentally sustains itself on hype. When the hype dies down, what happens?
Guess what? Banner Saga 2 bombed hard af. No one bought it. Guess what? Pillars of Eternity: The White March DLCs, although it is commonly agreed by the PoE community to be the expansion that "fixed" the game's combat (after years, with the 3.0 revamp)... did not even break even on sales. Obsidian Entertainment lost money on The White March. Guess what? X-Com 2 underperformed just as badly as these two, and Firaxis barely recovered by releasing the expansion, which made it a very, very different game. There are probably a lot more examples, but I don't want to hunt them down because... that's depressing. Because we all know what happened. The first crowdfunding surge probably brought in a lot of people who were into it because of nostalgia, only for the limitations of crowdfunding to reveal itself, leaving everyone disinterested... and before you know it, everyone has moved on to a Battle Royale game of choice.
The truth is, game design is just about hijacking human consciousness. It's about getting people to be addicted to the a behavioral loop. There's nothing glorious, or creative, about it when you scale that up to the corporate level, because all you really need to design is that one lever, that core game loop, that you can pull again, and again, and again, and oftentimes it's just way easier to lift that design from someone else than build it yourself from scratch.
Ten thousand games of Fortnite would never have the meaning that a single viewing of The Godfather part II could hold. Fifty million games of Fortnite could not compare to Moby Dick. And even the most emotionally devastating and meaningfully masterful games of the 21st century, like The Last of Us, owes more to narrative design, storytelling, film design, character design than it does to game design. Viewed from the lens of pure game design: Last of Us is just another survival/stealth action shooter, except with an escort objective that cannot actually be killed.
If you want truly mindbending, creative, and innovative game mechanics, look to board games. And in fact, it can't be a coincidence that these days we're seeing a resurgence of analog board games. People are sick of the "design-by-committee" philosophy that has completely eaten the videogame industry alive.
TL;DR: If you want to design games, design board games, because the modern video game industry has little to almost no need for game designers.
The Game Designer is dead. Long live the Game Designer.
EDIT: P.S, one last data point. Guess what the biggest growing segment in mobile gaming is? It's online gambling/casino games. Like I said, it is easier to lift game design from somewhere else now than to invent it wholesale.
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Material Differences Ch 31

Well, I've gone and done it again. Another chapter of blabbering! I guess by this point some of you must be gluttons for punishment or at least chitter chatter so I won't apologize. In fact if anything this is all your fault for encouraging me! See what you have wrought?! Anyway you're all in for the long haul anyway!
So enjoy!
My Stories
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Chapter 1
Chapter 30
“They’re not as good as I was expecting.” Raven looked at another of the cookies she was nibbling on slowly.
“Store bought are never as good. They’ve got to have some very strict tolerances for shelf life and allergies, and all that. But they’re not bad. Sugar, flour, chocolate, the main ingredients are all there.” Ham shrugged a little as he ate one.
“That’s because you idiots don’t know the splendor that is excess.” Brandy-Lynn teased as she smushed down her cookie, candy bar, chocolate syrup, peanut butter, sprinkles, and powdered sugar sandwich monstrocity.
“Yeah I’m not sure I’m that hungry.” Raven eyed the abomination that Brandy-Lynn then tried to figure out a way to pick up and eat even as it began to melt over her hands.
“That’s a day’s worth of calories right there.” Jaeger shook his head slowly as he watched her try to eat it even as it fell apart a little, making it even more of a mess. “You do know at some point in the last few millennia some of your evolutionary cousins have learned to eat with tools and not just smear their food all over the place.”
“Quitters.” Brandy-Lynn muttered as she gave up on trying to eat it as one coherent sandwich and began to just feed chunks of her dessert disaster into her mouth one at a time, ignoring how much chocolate and peanut butter was getting smeared around.
“I’m seriously going to have to take you outside and hose you off.” Jaeger sighed and shook his head even as the others chuckled and enjoyed their far more simple cookies.
“I have a question for you all. If I can.” Raven said then as she looked around the table.
“You certainly can. But may you?” Figs asked with an arched eyebrow.
“Yes, she may you pedantic tool.” Jaeger answered with a roll of his eyes.
“Max asked you guys the other night about the scariest place you’ve been… what about the nicest?” She looked around once more that usual innocent smile she had. “Or like… a place you’d really like to go back to.”
“Huh.” Ham frowned a little as they all began to think on it. It wasn’t a question they really had much of a chance to consider during their work as Revenants.
“Maui 718.” Jaeger answered after thinking it over for a minute.
“Oh yeaaaah. That place… yeah that’s got my vote.” Figs nodded.
“I can see it. Even if it was a bit… traditional in the sense of an idyllic paradise that doesn’t make it bad.” Ham agreed.
“What’s Maui 718?” Raven asked of course.
“We got pulled off of R&R early because they’d picked up an automated distress beacon from a UNSD research facility. One that we had no records of, so it was flagged as critical. We went in blind because as mentioned we had no records of it. The idea of some old UNSD facility sending out a distress call a century after the war had ended worried a lot of people. Lots of theories on what horrors we might find there. And we had to tunnel three systems beyond the nearest gate from Sol so this place was beyond remote. It wasn’t on any charts, and its very existence was a surprise.” Jaeger started off and Raven looked worried.
“But when we got there we found a paradise world with just nothing but an automated facility with nothing in it. They’d sent in construction bots and a single foreman to set it up but they never actually followed up with anything else. The foreman had died of old age some… twenty to thirty years prior to our arrival and the only reason the distress beacon went off is because the expiration date on the base’s medical supplies finally passed. Even an automated facility with no living personnel has to have current medical supplies. And that was it.” Jaeger shrugged.
“That’s sort of sad the foreman was all alone though.” Raven frowned a little.
“Not to him.” Jaeger smirked a little. “He had journals that he wrote sporadically, sounded like the guy loved it. So… let me explain the world a little because as I mentioned it was a paradise but it was also mostly water. Even more so than Earth. It was like… 15% dry land? The base was set up in this zone of islands where the water was… pure. I guess is the best way to describe it. Just… this great vast clear blue perfect water. The base was built into these rock pillars that provided it this unmatched view of the whole area and the sunsets and sunrises both were… phenomenal. It was warm year round without being too hot, and the shallow water was heated enough to be refreshing without being too cold. So the foreman realized what had happened and just spent his life fishing, exploring, and painting.”
“It was trippy to see some of it.” Figs added. “He had a whole base worth of bots to work with and figured out some way to make paint from local materials and just painted these massive murals across the pillars in the ocean. He had named all the local species of fish and had lists on how to best cook them and the local fruits and veggies. Even made his own rum.”
“That was good rum too.” Tanya nodded, of course weighing in on the alcohol.
“Since they’d cut our R&R short for this they let us stay a week and make sure there wasn’t any hidden facilities or the like. They even landed Elysium in the ocean and let the crew have fun. It was pretty amazing. The protected cove the main base’s pillar was situated in was perfect for swimming and diving and body surfing… just whatever. And those fruits were great.” Jaeger sighed a little at the thought.
“Oh they were amazing.” Figs nodded. “Picture this sort of… lime citrus flavor, but add a dash of vanilla and it’s more on the sweet side, and eaten like an orange. But not like… super sweet. Just… just enough.”
“Not enough sugar.” Brandy-Lynn muttered as she swallowed one of the last chunks of her own sugar filled mess and downed some more purple drank.
“Zero people are surprised to hear you say that.” Jaeger shook his head a little.
“Plus while I can see why some people would like that sort of planet it’s too easy. Take just about any untouched habitable world and you’ll get some similar results.” She shrugged off. “No, if I were to pick a world we need to return to someday it’s Vegas.”
Jaeger and the others had a variety of chuckles and groans in reaction to her comment. “Don’t you get enough sin?” Jaeger asked.
“It’s not just that! It’s the pinnacle of the human spirit!” She insisted. “We took a barren world that was just barely habitable and only noteworthy because it was situated along a good trade route junction and while most people would have just settled for a few orbital stations and some water refineries on the poles we took one look at it and went ‘nah fam I got this.’ And it became the glory that is Vegas!” She raised her hands at the end.
“It’s hardly unique to have a planet with gambling.” Figs scoffed.
“It’s so much more than that! They made that world glow! It never slept! They slapped casinos and magrails all over that planet and made a desert gorgeous! The rainbow sands, the mineral springs, the gorge, you could find so many amazing natural features that would have otherwise been passed over just because the planet is drab from orbit! And the lights! This was a world that was most beautiful at night! The neons, the spotlights, the biolumes! It had everything! There was no end to the party! No rest for the wicked! Every human, and xeno sin and vice could be enjoyed at any time, on every day.” She grinned.
“By devouring vast quantities of power and resources far outscaling the population it had.” Figs countered. “Of course you’d be in love with the most excessive and consumption driven world in human history! Even more so than Earth and that’s saying something!”
“Ah you’re just a hater.” Brandy-Lynn waved him off.
“She’s allowed to have the planets she misses most.” Jaeger cut in to end their argument before it went anywhere else. “Anyone else have planet’s they missed most?”
“Dean’s world.” Ham spoke up as the others nodded slowly.
“Ah, that’s a good trippy world.” Brandy-Lynn agreed.
“What’s Dean’s world?” Raven asked.
“It was… mmhhh… a strange planet… Very surreal fauna created by a rather unique atmospheric system. The ground level wasn’t actually habitable by humans due to toxic gasses and pressure. But at a certain point in the sky it was not only habitable but pleasant. So cities were created in the skies atop these massive spindly mountains that looked like coral formations. One of those niche worlds that attracted specific people but wasn’t ideal for any particular industry. Though it did have a decent chemical refinement base. And tourism due to the unusual nature of the world.” Jaeger explained.
“You could wear protective suits and dive from the sky to the ground on these glide packs and weave between the formations. It was amazing to just drop out of the clouds.” Ham smiled at the memory, which the pilot obviously enjoyed.
“That sounds really cool. Think we can go there someday?” Raven gave Jaeger a big hopeful smile though he frowned in response.
“Ah… maybe someday. But it’s not in Pact space so I have no idea if it’s even inhabited anymore.” He explained.
“It’s not? But… the Pact is made up of all the pre-war governments. Shouldn’t that mean all the old systems?” She asked with a frown of her own.
“Eeehhh…” Jaeger slowly tilted his head side to side. “The pact territory now represents only something like 20% of all civilized systems before the war. Between what the Hive still has in the core, the Crusader territory which is mostly Ravex, the Death’s Door periphery of Devari space, and the quarantine zones there’s a lot less to Pact space than you’d think. There’s another… 20% that’s in a patchy quasi connected state that’s the new fringe. Everything else? Lost. With the collapse of the F.V.S. the Pact lacks the resources and the technical know how to revive the dead gates.”
“Really? I read up about how the Pact is rebuilding all the time. The posts detail their programs to restore quality of life and infrastructure and all that. We see those big freighters from the valley taking food off world. I know you’ve talked about this being the post apocalypse and all that but… I thought that was a bit of exaggeration. Were that many systems destroyed in the war?” Her frown had deepened at the thought.
“Most of them aren’t destroyed. Just… lost. The gate network provided easy, safe, and reliable FTL travel around the galaxy. Never mind that it left a patchwork of systems that weren’t always geographically connected in real space. Many of these systems are probably surviving on their own or with limited gate connections. Solavis and the most developed systems are all only a jump or two off of the hub systems in the Void so they’re working to make what territory they very solidly control strong before they try to expand. Humanity will survive even when cut off from the rest of the galaxy.” Jaeger assured her.
“You think so?” Raven looked thoughtful at that.
“I’m sure.” Jaeger nodded. “This isn’t the first time humanity has faced down the end and survived. The ice age, the bubonic plague, the climate catastrophe, all incidents that led to the death and destruction of vast swathes of humanity. And we also returned. Hell, the climate catastrophe was directly responsible for the Void colonization efforts that saw humanity explode across the stars. Do you think the smaller Slavic nations were enthusiastic about joining a Russian lead space program? Or south east asians having to hitch a ride with the Chinese? Or the Indians? Not really. But over a billion people die and prospects on earth look bleak so they take what they can get. They reforge their identities and now we’ve got the SSR, the Five Dragons, the Antarens, the Chakra and the Voiders themselves.”
“Well… we did. Now we have the Pact.” Tanya pointed out.
“Yeah… I’m still not sure how they plan to unite us all with Xenos. Humanity has never been ruled under a single shared government before.” Jaeger shrugged at the thought. “But so long as the Crusaders and Hive both remain prevalent threats we’ll stay somewhat together at least.”
“We’re still not under a single government. There’s the Hive holdouts.” Figs mentioned.
“Ah.” Jaeger just waved a hand dismissively. “They don’t count. They might as well be insects for all it matters in regards to their species. What I’m trying to say is humanity will go on. We become callus to the needs of our survival. What was unthinkable can become routine if it means we survive. There is no end to which we will push ourselves in order to survive as a species. But… at the same time this nature ensures it will happen again. In some way.” He shook his head slowly and sighed.
“Another Hive war? Well we’re going to have to finish them off for sure.” Brandy-Lynn nodded.
“Not that… or not exactly. I mean we’ll probably face another cataclysmic event of similar scale. Not anytime soon, and not in my lifetime. Hell maybe not for centuries… but eventually. I mean this was our fault… not just us as Revenants. But as a species. We became so successful that governments lost sight of what they were supposed to be. They thought of themselves as entities who existed to further their own power and control. But they lost sight of the fact that they were supposed to do this for the betterment of the people over who they ruled. Instead they were seizing power for the sake of power itself only. The shadow wars were all about each nation trying to ensure an open war wouldn’t break out between them with the Void states being paranoid enough to strike at everyone. Ally and Enemy alike equally.” Jaeger reminded them.
“And in the end they were all now filled with citizens who were unhappy with what their governments were doing supposedly in their name. They were so focused on fighting each other they failed to realize they were cultivating the seeds of their own destruction from inside. It’s not like the Hive sprang up out of nothing. The unemployed, unfulfilled, aimless masses gave them all the conscripts they needed.” Tanya nodded as she finished the line of thought that Jaeger had started.
“Success itself is not a sin. I mean… who doesn’t want more and better stuff. A way to leave your kids more than you had? But… this is what I mean with becoming callus. Those who suffer hardship en masse then learn to flourish in whatever is left. We become more and more successful until hardship of that scale is but a distant memory… and that’s when it all goes wrong again because no one in power remembers those hardships and what caused them. We are survivors because we are doomed to repeat ourselves. It is what makes us great, even if it makes us suffer. And we’re just bringing xenos along for the ride now.” Jaeger shook his head as the others chuckled a little.
“I’m sure they’re capable of survival on their own.” Raven suggested. “The Ravex grew up on a brutal volcanic world, the Jipasi have always been adaptable, the Kra’Kto’Sui can survive almost any ocean and the Davari built themselves up from being abandoned on a strange world. You don’t think they’d survive on their own?”
“I don’t mean it like that. I just mean… we’re probably a detriment to them. If we can’t get along with each other what chance is there to get along with xenos?” Jaeger shrugged.
“I think it’s time though. The Pact promises equality and democracy. And they’re making it work! There’s a chance we’ll come out of this with a nation for all of us. No more need for shadow wars or anything like that.” Raven’s optimistic attitude always made Jaeger smile and this was no exception. He didn’t feel like bursting her bubble with his own doubts of their continued cohesion once enough worlds were rebuilt to the point of standing on their own and how old divides might be made fresh.
“Speaking of survival though, have you done your chores today?” He asked her.
“What? No.” She frowned in surprise at the question.
“Well you’re always supposed to get your chores done.” He wagged a finger at her.
“But you guys fought a battle! I couldn’t think about anything else!” She huffed.
“That’s why I’m not mad that you’ve put them off till now but you gotta go do them before bed. Now get to it.” Jaeger nodded his head a the door.
“But…” Raven looked around the table and pouted as several of the others chuckled a little.
“We’ll have time to hang out other days. You want me to save the galaxy? You have to do your chores so I can focus on that.” Jaeger eyed her as she rolled her eyes and made a face.
“Fine.” She agreed and got up from the table to put her dishes away.
“Ah.” Jaeger shifted his seat back and opened his arms as she came around to give him a hug. “I’ll get the dishes you go get your work done.” He told her as he hugged her tight.
“Okay dad.” She nodded and headed off out the door. They watched her go and just as the door to the cafeteria closed Brandy-Lynn spoke first.
“Shit. Fuck. Tits. Coooock.” She gasped out as if she would have exploded holding it in any longer.
“I will give you some credit lasting as long as you did you whiskey tango twat.” Figs snickered as he watched Brandy-Lynn who just flipped him off only for Figs to flip her off back.
“Settle down. We need to talk strategy. We’ve got the lead on two keys for sure as mentioned. Figs, Brandy-Lynn what do you need to do to get with your people on tracking down leads on the others?” He looked between them.
“A quick trip back to Sol town to sign off on a few transfers.” Figs answered.
“I could probably shove my boot up the appropriate ass from here but I think I might as well give it a personal touch as well.” Brandy-Lynn shrugged.
“You might want to check up on that Titan agent Sarge. Wasn’t there mention of another agent meeting with her tomorrow? What if it’s one of Alvarez’s men?” Tanya reminded him.
“Shit…” Jaeger looked at his watch. The night had begun and he could see the stars coming out from the cafeteria window but hadn’t really thought about what that would mean.
“We can handle it. Just have Ham drop us off.” Figs gave the pilot a look.
“No, she knows me. I’ll do it.” Jaeger shook his head. “I’m not short on amp.”
“It’s better than traditional Colombian cocaine coffee that’s for sure.” Brandy-Lynn grinned wide at the mention of the battle drug.
“Isn’t that stuff hazardous for your health?” Max asked with a frown even as the others laughed.
“Yes.” Jaeger ignored the others as they laughed. “But sometimes one has to keep going on little to no sleep. I’ll nap where I can. It’s not like I’ve never done it before. While we’re in the city I want you to check the wreck of the Nautilus.” Jaeger looked at Tanya.
“Alone?” She asked.
“I can’t spare anyone. Figs has his thing about the ocean-”
“I don’t fuck around with the ocean and it doesn’t kill me. That’s the agreement we’ve got.” Figs cut in.
“Brandy-Lynn always wrecks the sub-”
“All of those events were unrelated and entirely not my fault!” She huffed.
“And Ham is piloting the vetall.” Jaeger kept speaking ignoring their outbursts.
“What about me? I can help.” Max perked up a bit.
“I need you here to oversee fortifications. I’m going to have to go a little more… overt than we used to until this is all over and deal with the repercussions later.” Jaeger shook his head.
“What? I want to help!” Max insisted.
“You are helping Max. It might seem like I’m leaving you out but I’m not. I have to be in Sol town and you’re the only other person with any command experience. Especially managing bots between here and the Port Authority.” Jaeger explained.
“Oh, one battle, some experience.” Max snorted.
“Training. You’ve had training for this. We were all trained in combat but not command like you’re dealing with. I had a little as Sergeant Major but… I’m just not… I don’t think that way.” Jaeger shrugged.
“If we get Lard back in the air he can do both. It’s not like we’ll need to go dark for this.” Tanya looked between them for a moment.
“Alright. But your focus is fortification. If the Hive make another move, or Marque, or Alvarez we might need to be ready to withstand a more coordinated assault. So get a list of every available bot here and in the city. See if anything can be repaired and…” He trailed off for a moment as he thought. “Ham, how hard would it be to get the reservists online?”
“Getting them online? Not that hard… getting them from my place to here? Uuhhhh… pppfff…” The pilot slowly filled his cheeks up with air and then let it out. “I can’t do it with what we’ve got. It would be way to inefficient to use the Hawk or even the Gecko, and if we called in a favor to get something bigger it’ll be painfully obvious.”
“What about… Can any of them drive? Don’t you have those old Quad and a halfs? Ha...lves?” Jaeger stumbled over the word a moment.
“Uh yeah… but I’m pretty sure people will notice some APCs rolling around the mountains.” Ham snorted.
“So? Slap Pact markings on them and then park a few up the road to close off traffic. People are probably expecting some sort of Pact activity after the battle yesterday.” As Jaeger said that Ham looked thoughtful.
“Yeah alright. I can drop you three off, swing back, get that going, and be back to pick you up.” He nodded.
“After that we’ll come back and then I’ll take Brandy-Lynn and Figs north to Gullhaven to find the Galileo wreck while you three keep building up. Maybe see about making our own uglies if we need to. Think we can Tanya?” He looked over at her as she sighed.
“Maybe… We’ve got the facilities but… I know jack shit about setting up assembly work. I made my two by hand and that won’t cut it here… What about a Centipede? We’ve got that scrap yard up the beach.” She glanced at Ham.
“Fuck off.” The pilot snorted. “A few old APCs sure, that might not get much attention. But a base crawler? People are going to fucking notice. Especially since they were Absolute Dynamic’s babies and no one else had any. That’ll bring the real military down on our heads.”
“Alright.” Jaeger waved them off. “See what you can do small scale.”
“Why the emphasis on bot combat anyway?” Max asked as the others looked his way. “I mean… Can’t you guys call in favors? Aren’t there other Revenants out there?”
“No one who can get here in time… And even then we’re not well connected anymore. We scattered to the winds when Titan began to hunt people down at the end of the war.” Jaeger reminded him. “We’re most familiar with bots anyway. We’re not front line soldiers on our own. We’re force multipliers. You saw the battle today. We’re limited to small scale units tactics and rely on your ability to marshall the bots into an actual line. The Void had a fraction of the population of the other majors. Their military was… 90% bots?” Jaeger glanced at Ham.
“93% of ground forces but only 64% of naval. The idea was to use organic soldiers in concentrated forces and then use bots to flesh out the line between them. The Void military was highly specialized. Urban combat, arctic, jungle, forest, mountain, siege assault, siege defense, every possible terrain and mission had at least one unit for the task with more generalist bots as needed to pad out their numbers.” Ham explained further. “They relied on excellent command, communication, and control to make it all work.”
“I noticed as the battle went on the bots seemed to fight better.” Max mentioned.
“Yep. Neural net. As Lard better streamlined their net they’ll take in more battlefield information and fight better the longer it lasts. And… since I’m guessing none of them have been wiped in a while they might have needed the time to shake out personality quirks.” Ham glared at Jaeger.
“Bite me.” Jaeger just shot back.
“I was wondering why so many of them are people shaped. I mean… it’s not like the human form is honestly the best design is it?” Max looked around the table. “Not that I’m hating on our bodies or anything. I mean for military bots.”
“Why bipedal humanoid forms you mean. With hands that operate guns instead of built in weapons?” Jaeger asked and Max nodded. “Economics. Since most systems had to be built for humans to use it just became easier to make humanoid bots that can also use them. I mean… there are specialized APCs, vetalls, and dropships for droids that are way more efficient but they can also use the regular models built for humans. It also makes it more difficult to differentiate in the field. A standard Void infantry soldier in armor and a frontline combat bot look remarkably similar. So it’s harder to know who to target if they all look the same. Most of them lack built in weapons for simplicity. Why build a gun into a bot when the small arms already being manufactured work fine?” Jaeger shrugged.
“Bertha has built in weapons though.” Max mentioned.
“Well… she’s a bit different. Most combat bots are just supposed to replace infantry. Similar profile, similar size, similar jobs. Bertha is a heavy assault bot so she’s made to take on fortified positions and even mechs. But she can’t move fast without support. She’s also a more intelligent unit. Tex, Pyro, Gargoyle, they can all talk and have more distinct personalities which pushes the boundaries of legality under the Shanghai accords. Most just chirp to reduce organic similarities and since they lack processing power for more sophisticated communication.” Jaeger continued.
“You’d also be surprised how much control fingers have over something say… sticking out of the wrist.” Ham cut in. “Even for a bot they’re more accurate holding a gun. Plus a well armored core makes for a solid platform that’s harder to take down most of the time and the limbs can get replaced more easily. Though it gets more complicated with the variety of bots that were employed. I mentioned specialization and while most battle bots were generalist platforms there were lots of other units. Assault bots like Bertha are made to counter mechs in urban environments. Bug bots are made for wilderness ambushes. Howie’s are just walking artillery. There’s anti-tank bots too. The list goes on.”
“Yeah I was also going to ask. The Draugr had both tanks and mechs?” Max looked a bit confused.
“Well that’s cause the scavs made the tanks. They probably lack the sophistication for mechs so… slap some armor on some construction equipment, add a cannon or something, and you’ve got a shitty tank. But mechs are designed for urban combat while tanks are for open country.” Ham shrugged. “I mean… really there’s fucking… dozens of main platforms which are then further specialized into a hundred variants. But they try to reuse as many parts, weapons, and ammos as possible to make logistics easier. These guys are really where simplified logistics gets thrown out the fucking window.” Ham pointed around the table.
“Yeah well that wasn’t a major concern at the start of the program now was it?” Jaeger shrugged. “And unfortunately we’re going to suffer for that now with our own vastly limited logistics capabilities. I was thinking maybe we could try to find some old steggies and give them... sleds or something to carry supplies maybe?”
“Steggies?” Max asked.
“We called them steggies. They looked a bit like stegosaur...uses… stegosauri?” Jaeger looked around questioningly as he had no idea what the plural would be. “Four legged, had solar panel fins, made for long range patrol and recon with some light combat potential. I mostly thought of them since they need almost no maintenance and they’re self sustaining on most worlds.”
“But we don’t have many of them. Maybe if I tried to ping the planet for a general recall… but people would notice.” Ham pointed out and Jaeger shrugged it off.
“Just an idea.” Jaeger replied and then looked out the main window once more at the stars in the night sky. He was quiet for a while as he looked among the stars.
“You got quiet sarge.” Tanya mentioned as they sat there for a bit watching him.
“Just… been thinking a lot.” He replied. “This morning I smashed a man’s skull in with a rock.”
“What? When?” Max gasped out.
“On the beach. One of the Hive soldiers had been hit and he was crying for his mother which was going to give away my position. I couldn’t find the asshole’s gun so… I just grabbed a rock and…” He shrugged. “I was just looking at the sky wondering about the stars. I have no idea which one Earth is. I’m not even sure if we can see the direction Earth would even be in from here. Or how far away it is. Like… is the light of Sol as it reaches Solavis old enough that men smashing each other’s heads with rocks would be a common occurence still?”
“Like… how many light years it would take for it to each here?” Tanya asked.
“Yeah. Like if I went back in time to whenever that light was first cast by sol into the galaxy at large would I be a caveman? A roman? A mongol? Would I fit right in with my skull bashing? How have we made it so fucking far and yet still… we’re the same? I told Raven about how the galaxy doesn’t really care. So we have to step up and care in its place. We have to get the keys for ourselves so that Marque doesn’t get them, but beyond that I… I want to actually do something good with it. We can’t afford to be passive. I can’t… My failure in planning for an attack got Merlin killed.” He shook his head slowly.
“It’s not your fault sarge.” Tanya started.
“The fuck it’s not. I knew Marque was setting up artillery in the city. Did I think the Hive would just sit back and take it? Why have I sat here doing dick all about improving the world for my kids to live in?” He waved a hand.
“Dad…” Max started.
“I don’t regret taking the time to raise you like I have.” Jaeger added. “But I should have been doing more. I never should have let us split up. We’ve lost so much time… And… you know I’m not sure any of us is good for anything besides killing… But we’re going to use that to make the Galaxy a better place.”
“Fuck yeah.” Brandy-Lynn grinned, obviously on board with his plan already.
“How?” Figs asked, a bit more focused on the possibilities.
“If… When we get all these keys we’ll have the everything we need. We’ll have our old intel and communications network back, not to mention a way to track down wisps and mimics. Then we start bribing, blackmailing, and backstabbing whoever we need to to get shit done. Brandy-Lynn you’re the fucking Golden Web boss of this planet! You’ve got access to a criminal network through all civilized space and beyond! We can use that!”
“You can count on me sarge!” She ginned, just as eagerly.
“Figs, we can use your legitimate connections to make inroads with politicians beyond just finding out more about the keys! And even your company can provide us cover if we need it.” He waved at Figs who nodded.
“Yeah, that would make sense. Start up some initiatives, get lobbyists in our pocket.” He agreed.
“Ham you said Tabori is an assassin for hire now right? Well once we track his ass down we can use that too! He’ll know not only who else we can hire in a pinch to take out people we don’t like but just by being a part of that world he might know who we should watch in general! And Ham you… uh…” Jaeger trailed off a moment.
“Yeah?” Ham asked, arching a brow.
“You love pirates!” Jaeger finally pointed out. “You know shipping and star lanes! So if we need to hit at ships in the void you’ll know how to make it look right! Or even out to avoid the pirates that are really out there!”
“Yaarr.” Ham let out a pirate growl as he grinned.
“Tanya, you’re fucked up. But you’re the sort of fucked up that actually takes the time to ponder the sort of shit none of us do.” Jaeger waved around the table. “We’ll need that if we’re going to make this work. Knowing precisely who to bribe and how, who to blackmail and how!”
“That’s not exactly the focus…” Tanya trailed off then and shrugged. “Fuck it. It’ll give me something to do.”
“Plus if need to honeypot any more Hive bishops you’re the girl for the job.” Brandy-Lynn wiggled her eyebrows.
“Who the fuck told you… Ham I’m going to strangle you!” Tanya growled out.
“I was just catching her up to speed earlier!” Ham held up his hands to ward off any attacks.
“I didn’t even know you swung that way. You always seemed way too boring and vanilla to be interested in more fucked up dramatic dangerous fucks.” Brandy-Lynn added.
“It wasn’t… you know what you wouldn’t know a meaningful and heartfelt connection with another person if it burst out of your ass!” Tanya hissed back at Brandy-Lynn who just cackled.
“I’m serious though.” Jaeger held up a hand to stop them from further bickering. “We do this to help drive the Pact in the right direction. Our issue was that we had no one watching us while we got up to shady shit. And now it might turn out that Titan is following in our footsteps. So we’ll watch them watching everyone else! We shift the tide of public opinion to make synths legal again. No matter how long it takes. No matter the cost.”
“Yeah!” Ham clapped at that and the others let out various agreements.
“But… what gives you the right?” The table went quiet as everyone looked at Max who gulped and leaned back a little then. “I mean… it wouldn’t be legal… what you guys are talking about. There’s no… due process…”
“Max we’re already bad guys. We’re already evil. We might as well be evil for the right reasons. This is a time of change and transition. If we steer this right we could make the Pact a truly great government. And we just tidy up the dark corners that the law can’t reach. We’ve done it before. But we did it at the behest of other people who we simply accepted knew what they were doing. And never feel like you shouldn’t call us out on this sort of thing. I want you to. That’s why I show you so many of your mom’s memories. She was better about all this than I was. But instead of just following orders now we’ll have to make the decisions for ourselves.”
“Hell, I always felt our extracurriculars were the best things we did.” Brandy-Lynn nodded.
“Your what?” Max asked with a frown.
“I kept reading about how girls visiting some of the other nations would talk about getting groped on trains, or pulled towards questionable places by the locals. So one time on leave I tried it out. I had the others keep watch from a distance and dressed the part of whimsical bratty tourist girl out of her element. Sure enough some guys got grabby… and I took care of them.” Her grin turned sinister at that.
“Dare I ask how?” Max asked although even then he looked hesitant to discover the answer.
“Ripped their balls off.” That same evil grin was plastered on her face.
Off?” Max stressed in surprise only for Brandy-Lynn to raise her hands to make grabbing and yanking motion that made Max shudder.
“Command signed off on it too. They encourage our hobbies. I would hunt the more vile pirates.” Ham shrugged. “Tabori hunted poachers.”
“Drug dealers.” Figs nodded and then caught Max’s look. “Like illegal drugs dealers who spiked their shit or sold to kids.”
“Tanya went after loan sharks.” Jaeger mentioned.
“How dare you try and associate that scum with violence based artisanal locally sourced money lenders!” Brandy-Lynn shot back as she pointed at Jaeger. “Those were corporate shitstains that’s what they were.”
Max just looked questioningly at Tanya who shrugged. “I had some friends who had to deal with shady student loans. Schools that would tell them they were getting financial aid but really it was predatory loans. Stuff that pushed the limits of legality. Mostly the Void had strict consumer rights protections but… where money is made corporations proved willing to… muddy the waters of some of those laws with lobbyists. I figured… fuck it. Sometimes the law is wrong. Sometimes… there needed to be people who cut through it.”
“And that was the point of the Revenant program. Kill one so ten may live. Kill a hundred to save a thousand. Kill ten thousand to save a hundred thousand. Kill a million so a billion might survive. Do what has to be done. Do what others can’t. In the end… it didn’t work. But I maintain that it wasn’t the fault of how we got shit done but the people aiming us. That’s why I stress how important it is for you to think for yourself. Because I didn’t.” Jaeger shook his head.
“Dad-” Max started.
“I didn’t.” Jaeger cut in. “I just followed orders. I was some dumbfuck kid from the stacks who barely made it into the program and I was so thankful for that. So… fucking… thankful. I just assumed these people with college degrees, and… doctorates, and experience, and rank just knew more than I did. Yes sir. Kill this town? Yes sir. Shoot this family in the face? Yes sir. Do terrible things that qualify as war crimes? Yes sir.” Jaeger kept saluting as he said that.
“That girl… that Raven asked about… The one you said must have escaped?” Max looked worried.
“I killed her.” Jaeger didn’t bother hiding it.
“But she was… a kid right? Raven’s age?” Max’s expression nearly broke Jaeger’s heart.
“Orders. Condition zero. No witnesses. No survivors. No exceptions.” Jaeger shook his head slowly.
“See this is why we’re all still afraid of your dad.” Brandy-Lynn spoke up to take some of the focus off Jaeger.
“You guys? But you’re all… He’s just baseline…” Max looked a little confused as he looked around the table.
“As soon as someone gets put into his mental needs to die list he won’t hesitate. And the thing is only two people in the universe can’t be put on that list. You and Raven. Everyone else? Dead. No hesitation. Cops? Civilians?” She shook her head. “Sorry. Hell, if any of us were somehow put in a place that we became a threat to your life or Raven’s? Your dad would fucking kill us. In a heartbeat. Faster if possible. But that’s because he’s the most selfless fucking person I’ve ever met.” She looked back at Jaeger.
“That’s a lie and you know it. About my being selfless. I would certainly kill you without hesitation if I needed to.” He nodded.
“Love you too sarge.” She grinned and then focused on Max. “See, your dad accepts the responsibility of being the bad guy. Of being evil. He still does the right thing. He just doesn’t bother with all the bullshit. And don’t let him fool you with his hard talk. Sure we’re evil… but we killed a lot of bad guys that no one else could. Him killing a kid? It sucks. But in the face of stopping a war? Stopping the Apostles? Fuck it was worth it. We aren’t cops. We’re killers. Let the law catch who it can and we’ll get the rest.”
[Continued in Comments]
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