The Binary Options Regulation Coming To Canada

Canada Regulator wants Google, ban binary options, cryptocurrency Ads

Canada Regulator wants Google, ban binary options, cryptocurrency Ads submitted by jeffreymuskk to Crypto_Currency_News [link] [comments]

Survey Results Are In!

Hello comrades! Thanks to everyone who filled out the survey.
I'll break down the survey below for those who want a transcription of it or for those who want a more organized presentation instead of the raw data. Here is a link to the survey results. For comparison, here is the previous survey. Please discuss your thoughts on the survey in the comments, and also continue the conversation started in the old thread about what you want to see for the sub’s future
We had 600 responses to the survey, which given the size of the subscriber base is a statistically significant amount that we can confidently extrapolate from.
Question 1: Age demographics
We are trending younger than the previous survey, with zoomers making a major jump in demographics at the expense of 26-30 and 31-40 year olds. The early 20s seemed to hold relatively consistent. I am unsure if this means the old people are leaving or if more young people are joining. 25% of us are under 17, 29% are 18-21, 21% are 21-25, 14% are 26-30, and the rest are older.
Question 2: Gender Identity
Overall, we are very much dominated by men at 79.5% of the sub. There has been a slight decrease in male identification in favour of women and non-binary. But this is definitely a weakness of the sub. We need to work on ways to be more inclusive of non cis-male voices.
Question 3: How non-white are we
The answer is very mayonnaise at 76% non-PoC. We had an almost 5% drop from a year ago which is great but I think we can do much better.
Question 4: LGBTQ+
This one is much better. We seem to have a strong representation from LGBTQ+ folks which is consistent from last year, and it is good to see the number be pushed up by around 4 points from 32% to 36%.
Question 5: How non-cis are we
Considering around 3% of the population is trans according to GLAAD, we seem to have decent representation on the subreddit at 7.7%.
Question 6: Where do we live
This question is worth looking at on the google form. They all are, but this one particularly so what with all the different possible answers. Suffice it to say, we are very much situated in the imperial core. This is somewhat problematic but to be expected given the overall reddit userbase. This is something that we should definitely try to combat. Since last year it seems the US portion has decreased by around 5 points to favor eastern europe, canada, and some growth outside the imperial core.
Top five regions:
  1. US (52%)
  2. Western Europe and British Isles (tie at 9.8%)
  3. Canada (5.2%)
  4. Northern Europe (3.2%)
Question 7: Living environment
Largely unchanged from last year, socialism is split roughly evenly between city living and suburbia, with a small but important section living in a rural area.
Question 8: English
75% of the sub considers English to be their primary language, which is a slight drop from last year.
The top non-english primary languages are as follows in descending order:
  1. German
  2. Spanish
  3. Swedish
  4. Dutch
  5. Portuguese
  6. Italian
  7. Polish
  8. Romanian
  9. Turkish
  10. Hindi
Question 9: Religion.
We are largely not a religious sub, and the demographics here have largely not changed in the last year.
Top religious beliefs (above 1%) are:
  1. Atheist/non-religious-72%
  2. Spiritual but not religious- 11%
  3. Roman Catholic- 4%
  4. Protestant- 4.2%
  5. Buddhist- 1.8%
  6. Sunni Muslim- 1.7%
  7. Folk/Pagan- 1.5%
  8. Jewish- 1.3%
Honorable mention to the 5 people who wrote in "Materialist" lol, I like you.
Question 10: How long have you been a socialist
We've shifted down to subscribers having less overall experience with socialism, losing from all categories above 3 years and gaining on all the lower choices. This could be from an influx of new people from the election, and hopefully it does not mean we are losing more experienced folks in large numbers. Half of the sub has been a socialist for either a year or 3-5 years, with relatively even responses for the options on either end of the spectrum
Question 11: Education
We seem to be an educated group. Almost 50% of the sub either has a college degree or is actively pursuing one, with 12% of us having gone to college without achieving a degree. 20% are currently in secondary education. 7% have or are chasing a graduate degree, and 6% had their education stop at secondary level.
Question 12: Employment
37% of us are students who are not employed, and 18% of us are students with a job. 25% of us have a full time job, while 7% have a part time job and 7% are unemployed. Smaller amounts are either self-employed or of a non-working population.
Question 13: Relationship to production
Thankfully, 85% of us are either working class or dependents of working class folks. 5% are petite-bourgiosie small business owners or self employed. 3% of us are (hopefully class betraying) capitalists.
Question 14: Living situation
Pretty even split between renting our living situation and living rent free with family/friends. Of the rest, 13% of us have alternate living arrangements such as home ownership or mortgages.
15 and 16: Living conditions
The majority of us are at comfortable or adequate arrangements (around 80%), pointing again to reddit's overall demographic. 20% of us would describe their situation as poor. 41% of us did not have difficulty in in our budgets.
Top things socialism had difficulty affording over the last few months in descending order:
  1. Medical bills
  2. Necessary repairs such as home and auto
  3. Rent/mortgage
  4. Student loans
  5. Transportation
  6. Tendency
Time for the fun stuff. Top labels people use to describe their politics (over 5%) of socialism are in descending order:
  1. Socialist
  2. Marxist
  3. Communist
  4. Democratic Socialist
  5. Libertarian Socialist
  6. Marxist Leninist
  7. Anarchist and/or Anarcho-Communist
  8. Anarcho-Syndicalist
  9. Unsure
  10. Marxist Feminist
  11. Social Democrat
  12. Trotskyist
  13. Market Socialism/Titoist
  14. Leftcom
  15. Marxism-Leninism-Maoist and Communalist (tied)
More people are identifying as a tendency from the last survey, which means more people are reading
Questoin 18: Who are we reading
There were a lot of answers to this one, so I will just list our top ten most widely read or read about comrades
  1. Karl Marx (duh)
  2. Lenin
  3. Freidrich Engels
  4. Malcolm X
  5. Che
  6. Rosa Luxemburg
  7. Fidel Castro
  8. Angela Davis
  9. Leon Trotsky
  10. Pyotr Kropotkin
Overall as a sub I think we definitely need to read more. Its great that we can recognize the big names on that top ten list, but the real proof of how widely read our sub base is is in the smaller names. There are a lot of people on there I hope to see increase next time!
Honorable mentions from the write in list that got more than 2-3 submissions include Richard Wolff, Victor Serge, Daniel DeLeon, Stirner, and Assata Shakur
19: Working with liberals
This question not worded very well or needs to be broken up into a few different questions, as working with liberals can take many forms and is something the next survey will take into consideration. Showing up to a protest organized by a liberal NGO is very different than actively campaigning for a Democrat or other capitalist party. This is a question that will definitely change next time.
Anyhow, a majority of the sub supports working with liberal capitalist organizations; 40% in a limited capacity and 18% are fully on board for it. A strong majority opposes this kind of involvement, 21% saying they are generally opposed to the idea and 14% taking a principled stance against such tactics.
20: Organization
28% of us are actively organized in some way, which is great! But those are rookie numbers, we gotta pump those up. 29% of us are searching for an org in some way, and 28% are not actively looking but plan on doing so sometime in the future. 12% of us have no intentions of organizing.
21: Unions
A disappointingly large 76% of the sub have never been unionized. Given that a quarter of the sub is under 17, that's partially excusable but the rest of us need to get on it!
13% of the sub actively belongs in a union, and 5% have been in one in the past. 8 of us are actively organizing one, good on you!
21: Types of organization
For those that are organized, the most popular methods of organizing on socialism appears to be:
  1. Mainstream labor union (45%)
  2. Big tent parties such as DSA (35%)
  3. Non-party organization (20%)
  4. Explicitly radical labor unions (15%)
  5. Tendency specific revolutionary party (14%)
  6. Internationally affiliated party (10%)
  7. Tenants union (4%)
  8. Problems organizing
By far the largest stumbling block appears to be lack of options in a given geographic area. There's only one way to fix that however, these things don't just spring up out of the ground fully formed!
After that follows more access to information, more free time, too many shitty socialists, too much time spent working, more money, organizations not open enough, and transportation difficulties
  1. Organizational satisfaction:
Overall people seem to run the full spectrum of satisfaction with their organizations. 45% of those organized are happy with what they got, and 55 either see much room for improvement or are not happy with the organizations.
  1. How should socialism be achieved:
Overall we tend to be more revolutionary. Only a quarter of the sub takes a reformist stance which is good. Almost half the sub is open to seizing power through elections if it is possible, same with those who think we should explicitly have a revolution. Doing so using general strikes seems to win support from everyone. Overall, this is an important question that the sub does seem a bit split on.
  1. The struggles of oppressed groups:
This one had great responses. An overwhelming majority (87%) chose the correct response that socialism must fight form all struggles. There were a few different takes on the **wrong** answers, 7% think these struggles should be ignored until after the revolution and 2% actively call these issues divisive. I will politely yet firmly ask both of the latter to leave, or even better get educated.
  1. Free speech:
I seriously need to consider editing or removing this question because I am not sure what it really achieves.
41% of the sub rejects the existence of bourgeois rights in the first place. 43% acknowledge that free speech is a right but does not trust a capitalist state to honestly enforce it. 18% take an absolutist stance on it, and 22% are happy with how speech is currently treated under capitalism.
  1. Immigration:
There is roughly 2/3 split on this, the majority calling for open borders and the minority calling for some sort of loose restrictions but still maintaining freedom of movement.
  1. Planned economies:
Overall, the sub is in favor of planned economies, and are split over the question of more decentralized production for luxury goods or local community needs. Only 8% of the sub is totally against planning. This is a moderate change from the last survey where just over half the sub was for total planning.
  1. The future:
Just under half (48%) of the sub is unsure if they will live to see socialism, and 36% of the sub think they will. This is almost exactly the same as last time.
  1. State of the subreddit:
Most users have a positive time here, with 43% giving us a 4/5. This has also not changed much since the last survey. Hooray!
  1. How often do you use the sub:
We see a full spectrum of use. Fairly evenly split between a once or twice a month, a few times a week, and almost every day.
  1. Sub activity
Only 7% of the sub posts, and 31% comments. Not much to say here other than much more people are commenting now than they were a year ago, which is good for how we are able to engage folks!
  1. No Mods No Masters
I have to say I am seriously dissapointed with the subreddit here. Us mods are more or less unelected self appointed regulators, and 2/3 of the subs of a *socialist* subreddit passed on the opportunity to tell us to take our authority and jump in a lake. For shame smh.
  1. Mod Approval:
There seems to be an overall mandate from the users that we are doing a good job at keeping this a healthy place for socialists to interact with each other. Under 5% think we are doing a poor job.
  1. Modding Liberals:
Largely the same story here, though there is a bit of a jump in dissaproval. Overall the majority of the sub is happy with our stance on liberal politics, and 10% think we are not modding liberals correctly.
  1. US Election and the subreddit:
Sub seems a bit split on this, but overall the mandate appears to be to remove liberal content, emphasize organizing over voting, while not being super aggressive with banning politically center folks. Just over a third (37%) think socdem content should not be removed, but frankly I do not see our policy on supporting capitalist party content changing anytime soon
  1. Reading group:
58% of the sub would be interesting in some form of organized reading circles. Look out for this in the future, we are unsure how this will manifest but something will be decided on. We will probably have a separate thread for organizing this in the future to choose what pieces we should do, but feel free to spitball in the comments for the *form* you would like to see this take.
Cheers,
Mods Team
submitted by comradeMaturin to socialism [link] [comments]

Google Play to Ban Binary Options

Google Play set to ban binary options

Google Play recently came out with new updates and policies for April 2018 spanning over a number of topics including hate speech, child endangerment, user produced content, fantasy sports apps, and app metadata. Additionally, included in the April memo was a short note concerning “a new policy on Binary Options”, in which Google play states the following:
“We do not allow apps that provide users with the ability to trade binary options.”
Last summer, after coming under intensive scrutiny from financial ombudsman across the globe, including ASIC of Australia and Canada’s several regional regulators, Google acted against a number of financial-related apps providing either unlicensed services, or apps that were known to promote dishonest behavior. Most of that “action” included removing numerous Binary Options trading apps linked to unlicensed and unregulated “offshore” firms. However, there was never a blanket ban against those types of apps. Regulated brokers providing Binary Options trading could remain on Google Play until now.
Apple, however, passed a complete ban on Binary Options apps at around the same time in its App Store. Last month, after increased pressure from various regulators Google AdWords issued a ban on all Binary Options associated ads, as part of a new controlled financial products procedure. Additionally, Google banned all crypto and ICO ads, and in June 2018 it will demand prior advertiser certification for running ads pertaining to other types of financial trading products including Contracts for Difference (CFDs) and spot forex. It comes as no surprise that Google Play is now taking similar action by instituting a blanket ban on Binary apps.

Is the end of binary options?

It’s becoming increasingly apparent that Binary Options trading – even when regulated – will not be able to make a comeback. Leading European regulator ESMA is additionally preparing a Binary Options ban. This comes as it is in the midst of enacting new laws governing leveraged and online trading. The new regulations are scheduled to come into effect across the EU later this year.
The new Google Play binary options policy for April 2018 can be seen here.

Contact us today

If you have fallen victim to a cryptocurrency scam, send a complaint to at [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected]), and we will do our very best to get into contact with you as soon as we can to initiate your funds recovery process.
submitted by asaston to u/asaston [link] [comments]

Canada’s Binary Options Problem

Canada’s recurring binary options problem

Approximately seven months ago the Canadian financial regulatory authorities enacted a ban on brokers offering binary options to all retail traders. Unfortunately, these actions seemed to have had little to no results on certain brokers that have implemented new tactics in order to gather money from unsuspecting investors.
On April 12th the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada, more commonly referred to the IIROC cautioned Canadian traders not to be duped by fraudulent online trading brokers attempting to unlawfully sell binary options under the pretense of legitimate brokers regulated by the IIROC.

Binary options scams still exist

Recently the ombudsman has been made aware of at least two brokers that misleadingly state that they are regulated by IIROC:

Binary options cannot be offered or sold to retail traders in Canada and the regulator has issued plenty of warnings, imploring Canadian citizens not to invest in these fraudulent companies. Under no circumstances are IIROC regulated entities authorized to sell binary options to retail investors in Canada.
This troubling tendency is bringing up concerns about how effective a blanket ban on offering of such toxic products as binaries to stop scams. ESMA, the European Securities and Markets Authority has recently put in rules that prohibit regulated brokers from offering binary options to retail investors. However, these recent developments in Canada call into question on whether a ban in Europe would, in fact, produce the wanted effect.

Opposition to the binary options ban

It should be noted that when the Canadian regulatory authorities first suggested to ban binary options, the proposal encountered stern opposition. The Investment Industry Association of Canada (IIAC), which represents 130 Dealer Member firms regulated by IIROC, asserted that the injunction should only include binary options scams offered by unregulated binary options brokers. The IIAC further maintained that its members should be allowed to offer binary options to retail traders.
Interestingly enough there have been proposals to allow trading binary options on an exchange, as this is allowed in the United States. However, opposed to that line of thinking are organizations such as the Canadian Advocacy Council for Canadian CFA Institute Societies (CAC), which heavily supported the binary options ban proposal and even went beyond it by questioning the status of OTC (Over the Counter) or more commonly known as retail Forex trading. The council questioned whether the sale of similar financial instruments to retail investors should additionally be restricted.

Get help now

If you have fallen victim to a cryptocurrency scam, send a complaint to at [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected]), and we will do our very best to get into contact with you as soon as we can to initiate your funds recovery process.
submitted by asaston to u/asaston [link] [comments]

Google Play to Ban Binary Options

Google Play set to ban binary options

Google Play recently came out with new updates and policies for April 2018 spanning over a number of topics including hate speech, child endangerment, user produced content, fantasy sports apps, and app metadata. Additionally, included in the April memo was a short note concerning “a new policy on Binary Options”, in which Google play states the following:
“We do not allow apps that provide users with the ability to trade binary options.”
Last summer, after coming under intensive scrutiny from financial ombudsman across the globe, including ASIC of Australia and Canada’s several regional regulators, Google acted against a number of financial-related apps providing either unlicensed services, or apps that were known to promote dishonest behavior. Most of that “action” included removing numerous Binary Options trading apps linked to unlicensed and unregulated “offshore” firms. However, there was never a blanket ban against those types of apps. Regulated brokers providing Binary Options trading could remain on Google Play until now.
Apple, however, passed a complete ban on Binary Options apps at around the same time in its App Store. Last month, after increased pressure from various regulators Google AdWords issued a ban on all Binary Options associated ads, as part of a new controlled financial products procedure. Additionally, Google banned all crypto and ICO ads, and in June 2018 it will demand prior advertiser certification for running ads pertaining to other types of financial trading products including Contracts for Difference (CFDs) and spot forex. It comes as no surprise that Google Play is now taking similar action by instituting a blanket ban on Binary apps.

Is the end of binary options?

It’s becoming increasingly apparent that Binary Options trading – even when regulated – will not be able to make a comeback. Leading European regulator ESMA is additionally preparing a Binary Options ban. This comes as it is in the midst of enacting new laws governing leveraged and online trading. The new regulations are scheduled to come into effect across the EU later this year.
The new Google Play binary options policy for April 2018 can be seen here.

Contact us today

If you are the victim of an HBC Broker scam be sure to send your complaint to [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected]), and we will do our very best to get into contact with you as soon as we can to initiate your funds recovery process.
submitted by taifkhan420 to u/taifkhan420 [link] [comments]

Canada’s Binary Options Problem

Canada’s recurring binary options problem

Approximately seven months ago the Canadian financial regulatory authorities enacted a ban on brokers offering binary options to all retail traders. Unfortunately, these actions seemed to have had little to no results on certain brokers that have implemented new tactics in order to gather money from unsuspecting investors.
On April 12th the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada, more commonly referred to the IIROC cautioned Canadian traders not to be duped by fraudulent online trading brokers attempting to unlawfully sell binary options under the pretense of legitimate brokers regulated by the IIROC.

Binary options scams still exist

Recently the ombudsman has been made aware of at least two brokers that misleadingly state that they are regulated by IIROC:
Binary options cannot be offered or sold to retail traders in Canada and the regulator has issued plenty of warnings, imploring Canadian citizens not to invest in these fraudulent companies. Under no circumstances are IIROC regulated entities authorized to sell binary options to retail investors in Canada.
This troubling tendency is bringing up concerns about how effective a blanket ban on offering of such toxic products as binaries to stop scams. ESMA, the European Securities and Markets Authority has recently put in rules that prohibit regulated brokers from offering binary options to retail investors. However, these recent developments in Canada call into question on whether a ban in Europe would, in fact, produce the wanted effect.

Opposition to the binary options ban

It should be noted that when the Canadian regulatory authorities first suggested to ban binary options, the proposal encountered stern opposition. The Investment Industry Association of Canada (IIAC), which represents 130 Dealer Member firms regulated by IIROC, asserted that the injunction should only include binary options scams offered by unregulated binary options brokers. The IIAC further maintained that its members should be allowed to offer binary options to retail traders.
Interestingly enough there have been proposals to allow trading binary options on an exchange, as this is allowed in the United States. However, opposed to that line of thinking are organizations such as the Canadian Advocacy Council for Canadian CFA Institute Societies (CAC), which heavily supported the binary options ban proposal and even went beyond it by questioning the status of OTC (Over the Counter) or more commonly known as retail Forex trading. The council questioned whether the sale of similar financial instruments to retail investors should additionally be restricted.

Get help now

If you are the victim of an HBC Broker scam be sure to send your complaint to [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected]), and we will do our very best to get into contact with you as soon as we can to initiate your funds recovery process.
submitted by taifkhan420 to u/taifkhan420 [link] [comments]

OBLIGATORY FILLER MATERIAL – Breaking Bad, Part 3

Continuing
“Hello and good day, gentlemen”, I say. “I am Doctor Rocknocker. You may and will refer to me as ‘Rock’. OK? None of this ‘Doctor’ or ‘Sir’ guff. We green here?”
There was a buzz of voices but no direct answers.
“OK. Let’s get a few things down right here and now.
(1.) Call me Rock.
(b.) Answer me loudly. I will need to hear you loud and clear. Best get used to that now.
(iii.) “We green?” means “Are we in agreement?” It’s a form of shorthand I use here and in the field.
(⍾.) “You diggin’ me, Beaumont? means you’ve really done gone and pissed me off; you’ve done something untoward. Pray you never hear that phrase, and,
(∞.) I’m the boss. The top dog. The hookin’ bull. The Maharaja here. I possess the first, final and only words you’re going to listen to for the next couple of weeks. What I say, goes. Any problem, please let me know now so we can replace you most quickly.”
A gentle buzz, but no replies.
“Gentlemen. Do we agree?” I ask.
“Yes, Rock.” Was the reply.
OK, there might be some form of a societal prohibition against making loud noises. That’s the first thing that has to go.
“Gentlemen, we will be working in the great outdoors where there are wind, rain, waves, and other environmental nonsense making all sorts of unrequited noise. We need clear and proper lines of communication. I need to hear you clearly and vice-versa. When speaking, you will speak slowly, clearly, and loudly. “
DO WE AGREE!?!” I yell, rather deafeningly.
“YES, ROCK!” came the eventual reply.
“Outstanding”. I ponder.
Continuing…
“Mr. Sanjay is my de facto second in command. If I’m out having a smoke, taking a piss, or having a snort, he’s in charge. Listen to him as if I suddenly lost 150 pounds, shaved my beard, and inexplicably become Indian.” I chuckled.
They seemed to enjoy that. I actually elicited a few chuckles.
“Mr. Sanjay will now distribute to you your locker boxes. You will wait until he hands you yours. Do not get up and mill around the room. We green?” I ask.
“Green! Doctor Rock.” Came the noisy reply.
“Progress. Marvelous.”, I reflect.
“I’ll be right back. Mr. Sanjay, the room is yours.” I note. I might need to cut back on the coffee.
I slope off to the loo and it’s just as horrible as you can imagine an outdoor communal shithouse in sunny India attended by 30,000 Indian gentlemen could be.
Fuck COVID-19. I’m thinking hot and cold running dysentery, dengue, and death here. Ick.
Glad I have a highly functioning immune system.
I retrieve a shiny aluminum Halliburton™ case from Headquarters and ease off to an unused office space to change.
I went from my usual field garb to full PPEs. It was quite a sight.
I’ll be telling you about it in mere moments. Contain the excitement.
I’m walking back to Outbuilding #2 and damned if my get-up didn’t elicit a few gasps, shielded guffaws, and a salute or two. I have to admit, to the uninitiated, I was a sight right out of Area 52, the more secret one, west by northeast of Roswell, New Mexico.
I get back to the outbuilding and enter. Everyone was looking through their locker boxes, chuckling about their good fortune and wondering with Joker-like glee what the hell all these wonderful gizmos were and where did I get them? They all stopped dead in their tracks when I walked in.
Their silence was palpable.
“Gentlemen”, I said, “Here’s how you are going to look at work tomorrow. Revel in its utility, comfort, and extreme fashion sense.” I did a quick spin like I used to on the runway.
At O’Hare when we were doing field geostatic tests. Whatever were you thinking?
Anyways…
I was wearing a pair of size 66-XTall NFPA 70E blaze orange Carhartt Nomex coveralls. I had on a Dax carbon-fiber blaze orange “Coal Scuttle” hardhat with swing-away hearing protection keyed into your personal communications module, and a gold-anodized, pull-down full face shield. The helmet was designed to drain away falling water down over one’s back and not down one’s neck.
I had a pair of ‘wet’ gloves under the snap retainer on my left shoulder, a pair of ‘dry’ gloves on my right. I was wearing an orange CMC Safety 9-point safety and rescue harness, good to well over 1,500 pounds. Over both shoulders, around the crotch, up the front, and around the back, X-style. This popular harness features multiple D-ring attachment points and the patented JackBack removable padding with breathable D-3 cloth, which keeps shoulder straps separated and makes donning and doffing a breeze. It had several catch-points where one could easily and readily attach to the snap carabiners and get bodily dragged out of a nasty situation by rope or chain. The front waist D-ring allows a comfortable, stable sitting position for rappels and the sternum D-ring works well for helicopter or crane-assist hoists. Gear loops offer easy access to equipment, and quick-connect-disconnect shoulder straps and leg loops make the harness quick to don or doff. It could be used for impromptu spelunking on days off.
I had on Size 16 EEE Gear Box 8088 Men's 8 inch Black Leather intrinsically-safe hard-toed lace-up black turned-heel leather work boots with the new self-cleaning, oil-and chemical resistant Vibram soles.
They couldn’t see, but I was also wearing a cotton-Nomex blend wifebeater and boxers as well. Nomex tends to chafe. Best be safe.
I had a powerful Maglite flashlight clipped to my rescue harness, as well as my mini Air Horn; a blaster’s must. I also had a mobile VHF-Commslink™ radio in a pocket on the back of my coveralls on the left shoulder. I had the microphone for it Velcro-ed to my rescue harness within easy reach. Very cop like. Very cool. Very necessary.
I had a traditional Zippo and Bic Butane lighters in my right-hand chest pocket and a brace of cigars, though these were optional, in my left pocket. I carried a bespoke constructed Swiss Army Knife on a lanyard in my right front pocket and had a custom Bears Paw Leatherman hanging on the left of my rescue harness.
Also clipped to the harness was a Silva orienteering compass. There was a selection of NASA write anywhere pens, Sharpies, and oil-writing chalk pencils in my other front pockets. I had an oil industry tally book in my other front pocket.
Why blaze orange? Well, Red Adair already co-opted bright red, and fluorescent green wasn’t available in my size.
So, we’re now ready to plant explosives in West India or go deer hunting in the Northwoods of Baja Canada.
“Questions, Gentlemen?” I asked.
I explained that in their locker boxes were purchase orders, POs, for every bit of kit I was wearing. They were to take these POs to the Company Store and get, well, kitted out in their own sizes and preferences. I wanted to see everyone back here tomorrow at 1300 hours looking as I do now. Well, maybe skip the cigar and be not quite so large.
I sat down on the table in front of the crowd and had Sanjay bring over the demo locker box.
“OK, gents,” I said, “This locker box is yours and is numbered as such. They will be stored here in Outbuilding #2. Each of you will receive a key for this building as it is now your headquarters. We’ll get back to locker boxes in a minute. Anyone need a break for a few minutes?” I asked.
No one dared answer at this magical juncture in the narrative.
“Well, I do”, I said, “Meet back here in twenty minutes. Sanjay?”
The class wandered out and I conversed with Sanjay. We found the maps I had ordered.
They were an aerial view of the breaking yard and it was split into 6 zones, all a different color. There was one master for the wall and 28 copies for the guys. I also had a log-in/log-out board made. Vertically numbered 1 to 28. There were also 7 vertical bars labeled Zone 1 through Zone 6, and one for ‘in dispose’; i.e., in Latrin-e Land. This was so I’d know where my guys were at all times.
There was a hook for each one of these areas to log in, and to let anyone know where a certain person was during the day or night. You’re number 10? And you’re going to be wielding a torch over in Zone 5? Your brass tag goes right there. You’re going to skip over to Zone 3? Get your ass back here and swap it over to where you’re going. There is no excuse for being where you haven’t said you were, short of active accident or dismemberment.
Everyone shuffles back in and I explain the tote board.
“Notice there’s no spot to leave your brass chit if you’ve gone off the reservation?” I asked. “Why do you suppose that is?”
Confused looks all around.
“Because you keep that brass token with you when you’re not on the job. Lose it, lose your job. Sounds harsh, but so is getting your fucking hands blown off. Think of it as an exercise in discipline.”
There was a very little rebuttal.
“When you are on location, your brass token will reflect where you are. You are off-site, put the brass token in your wallet next to your lucky ‘circular impression’.
There were several knowing grins in my cadets.
Wear it around your neck on a chain. Keep it on your keyring. You can wrap it up in ribbons, you can slip it in your sock; I don’t care. Thing is, it is your ticket to this job. Hold on to it, there will be no replacements. We green?”
“Green, Doctor!”
“Outstanding.”
“Now, locker boxes. Gentlemen”, I continued. “These are your personal boxes that will be archived here. They will contain everything that you will need to carry out the job initially and help you with training the next crew that comes through after I leave. Keep them neat and tidy. I like to pull unannounced locker box inspections, gentlemen. Be forewarned.”
The sound of active scribbling is music to my tinny ears.
“Now, as such”, I continue, “Each locker box, at this point, is identical. Please follow along with me as we do inventory: Each gets locker box will contain (as I pull out the item for identification):
• 1- set Purchase Orders (POs) for PPEs
• 1- Galvanometer
• 2- Blaster’s pliers
• 1- Custom Leatherman
• 1- Metal clipboard
• Various Pens, pencils, paper, etc.
• 5- Sharpies
• 1 copy: Blasters Protocols Handbook, 15th Edition
• 1 copy: Blasting and explosives safety training manual by the IEE.
• 1 copy: Theory and practice of blasting, by Hino (A classic)
• 1 copy: Blasters Handbook, 17th Edition
• Various Explosives catalogs
• 1- Custom Swiss Army Knife
• Several Butane lighters
“Are we in agreement, gentlemen?” I ask. “Please check to be certain you have what the manifest states.”
“As long as we’re going over locker boxes, let’s look at our set of PPE purchase orders. Each locker box will contain POs for:
• 1 pair Orange Nomex coveralls, in your size
• 1 Dax carbon-fibre blaze orange hardhat with ear protection, gold face shield
• 1- CMC Safety 9-point extraction harness with carabiners
• 2- pairs Safety Glasses
• 2- pairs of gloves –wet & dry
• 1- pair Gear Box 8088 hard-toed intrinsically safe 8” work boots
• 1- Silva Orienteering Compass
• 3- pairs of cotton WaterWick socks
• 1- CommsLink™ VHF radio with microphone
• 1- Maglight power flashlight
• 1- Rain suit – also Nomex, bibs and outer shell
• 1- Mini Air Horn Power Tootler
• 1- Pair cotton/Nomex blende underwear – anti-chafe, wifebeateboxer: 3 sets.
• 1- 16-ounce container ‘Babies Bottom’ Talcum powder. Nomex chafes.
“Well, that’s a lot of gear; you best become real familiar with it as soon as you can. You are responsible for your PPEs. Lose them and replace them at your own cost. Wear them out? No problem. We will replace them. Get caught on location without your proper PPEs? Alavida. Goodbye. There is no second try. Fuck up once, and you’re gone. I am here for a limited time to try and teach you characters how to blast boats. I am not here to be your wet-nurse or mother. We green?” I ask.
“YES! Green! Rock!”
“Outstanding!”
We spend about an hour going over the various contents of the locker boxes and I answer general questions about blasting and explosives.
“We will use Primacord by the mile and tons of C-4 primarily. I might introduce you to binary explosives if there’s time. We might also get into PETN and RDX. Dynamite for training. But that’s about it.”
“We will use demolition wire and electrically fired blasting caps and boosters. We might have some time to look at set-pull-forget mechanicochemical fuses. But you’ll all learn some basic electrical wiring and how to design a circuit.”
“Tomorrow, given it doesn’t rain and the creek don’t rise.”
“Time, gentlemen!” I said. It’s been a long day and I’m a bit jet-lagged knackered. Besides, I wanted to give that Jacuzzi a spin.
“OK, remember: get your PPEs tomorrow morning at the Company Store. I expect to see each and every one of you here tomorrow, kitted out and ready to go, at 1300 sharp. That’s it. See you tomorrow. Susandhya. [Good evening.]” I said.
Locker boxes are locked and stowed in an orderly fashion. Each and everyone one of my 24 acolytes come to me before he leaves work to thank me personally and shake my hand.
“This might just work out”, I say to no one in particular.
Sanjay and I head back to the Raj for the night. I’m really tired, finally feeling the jet travel hit, and not the least bit hungry.
However, I do ring up the 214 cigar dude and relieve him of a selection of fine smokes. I drop by the bar for a couple of barley-pops before I retire to my capacious room for the night.
“Sanjay”, I say, “I’m knackered. If anyone wants me, head them off until tomorrow. It can wait. I’m going to get some kip and don’t want to be disturbed. No maids, no Majordomo, no butler. I just want to get unconscious for a while.”
“No problem, Rock”, Sanjay assures me, “I’ll tell them you’ve gone bush and haven’t left a forwarding address.”
“Good man”, I say, patting him on the shoulder. Hell, I must be getting old. Shit like teaching a band of newbies and whooping a little ass would have never as much as caused me a short breath. Then again, it’s probably not the years, it’s really the mileage…
After a quick light breakfast come morning, Sanjay and I are back on location. I’m being given a tour of the place by the day-shift foreman, one Mr. Vikramaditya Shrivastava.
“Yikes”, I say to Sanjay, “You characters really go for your 11-syllable names.”
“Call him ‘Vik’, Rock”, Sanjay smiles, “Good thing you’ve never asked about my last name.”
“Probably is”, I snicker back. I’m not getting roped into this little tussle.
Vik speaks fairly passable English, but I’m still glad Sanjay is here. The first order of business is to see the explosives bunker I sent plans for and how that’s coming along. They tell me it’s almost finished and ready to be stocked with what I’ve ordered.
“Outstanding, let’s have a look,” I say.
Into the Citation Golf Cart, we go. None of this plebian walking shit. We’re MIPs, Monstrously Important People.
Plebes walk, we ride.
We drive around the piles of rusty scrap, huge hunks of bulkhead, and disconcertingly quickly through polychromatic puddles of who-knows-what to slide to a stop in front of a large canvas tent.
Think M *A *S *H-type mess tent.
“What’s this?” I ask, “Commissary? First Aid?”
“No, Dr. Rock”, Vik explains, “Here are your explosives.”
My eyes grow large.
“What do you mean?” I ask. What the fuck do you mean? I mean.
“Building of your bunker is taking more time than we expected what with your design imperatives. But your order was filled most expediently. We are storing it here until the bunker is complete.” He smiles in that inimitable Indian manner that is so irritating when they don’t realize the major fuck-up they’ve just committed.
“OK. Simmer down, Rock.” I say to myself. “Sanjay, ask him again what’s in that tent. That bottomless tent that’s just a sheet of tarpaulin held up by metal poles.”
“He says that’s your explosives order, Rock,” Sanjay says. His demeanor went from perky and helpful to terrified as he saw me turn several shades of crimson and begin to emit wisps of steam.
“Sanjay”, I said in calm, calculated terms. “You are telling me there are over 9 tons of high explosives, blasting caps, boosters, demo wire, and ANFO sitting on wet sand in this heat under a sheet of fucking tarpaulin?”
“Yes?” he stammered, with a squeak.
“OK.”, I said. “We need to keep very calm and not go completely apeshit; and I’m telling you, right now, that’s taking Augean-level effort. We have a situation here, Mr. Sanjay. A very, very dangerous and very deadly situation. Let’s above all, remain calm.”
“Right, Rock”, he replies.
I turn to Vik and say in a calm and collected tone, “YOU STUPID MOTHERFUCKER! WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?
“Calm and collected, right, Rock?” Sanjay smirks and Mr. Vik withers under my verbal assault.
“Sorry, I had to get that one out.”, I apologized, “Mr. Vik. You have created a real blockbuster here. Quite literally. I figured, erroneously it seems, that you would not take delivery of over 9 TONS of high explosives before you had a very safe and secure place to store such.”
“It arrived sooner than we thought. We got a good price on it,” he explained.
You did? Fucking great! Holy mothering fuck!
Now I was even more worried. One does not get discounts or bargain-basement deals on quality high explosives.
“Pray, Mr. Vik”, I entreated, “From where did you source these detonic components?”
“From Best Blast and Supply Llc of Hong Kong Enterprises.” He replied, “Bulk discount quantities, quick delivery bonus. Saved crore rupee.”
No. I was wrong, it could get worse.
Not only 9 tons of high explosives, 9 tons of counterfeit, knock-off, and non-regulated manufacturer explosives.
“OK”, I said, “Let’s take stock here. My bunker isn’t finished yet? Correct? So you and the company meatheads ordered 9 tons of knock-off explosives from some shady and cheesy Chinese dealer and you stored them on wet beach sand, in this heat, under a tarp? Have I got all that right?”
“Oh, yes Doctor Rock.”, he smiled.
“Sanjay”, I said in a low, firm tone, “We have a…situation. We need to cordon this area off and build an exclusion zone as far as we can around it. No one, and I mean no one, gets within what, 10 kilometers? of the tent. This thing goes off, it’s going to leave a much larger than that cone of devastation. Then we need to visit with the management of this place and have a few thousand well-chosen four-letter words. Then I can think about what the fuck we’re going to do about this situation. I’m struggling to remain calm so everyone else will, but this is just a wee bit tetchy. Find me some red flags and start planting them around the tent, working our way out. Let’s go. Calmly, collectively, and with purpose.”
We find a source of 2-meter poles with red pennants. Sanjay also finds a few miles of yellow “Danger: Stay The Fuck Away” tape. We gather then and head back to the tent. We start to spiral out from it planting flags and running tape.
We did the best we could, but we were disrupting daily business activities. Good. Let the head idiots in charge know they’ve fucked up and grandly.
Back at headquarters, I’m fuming. I’m damn mad. I’m loud and being all extremely American about all this.
“You fucking idiots! 9 tons of cheap-shit high explosives? From China? Stored on wet sand in this heat? Under a benchod tarp? Why the flying fuck do you think I sent such detailed plans for a storage bunker? Do you assholes even think?” I railed on like this for at least half an hour, going all Gene Wilder in ‘Young Frankenstein’.
“Yes, Doctor”, one Mr. Karam Kanungo, the local boss and company president said, “That is all true and steps will be taken to redress the situation. But that doesn’t address the issue at hand. What do you suggest?”
“I suggest you are all taken out and given hot coffee high colonics to clear out your thinking processes”, I spit, “But that still leaves us with a nine-ton headache out there waiting to bloom into something even more aggravating.”
The entire assembled board agreed.
I calm down a bit and have a think. Fuck your boardroom, I’m having a cigar.
“You need a licensed, certified, master blaster to go and sort that out. Do you happen to have one handy?” I asked, sweeter than clover honey.
“Ah, yes, you are…oh.”, was the collective realization.
“Yeah, I know. It’s me. I’m the only one that can sort this shit out. We can’t even wait until we find someone from the world to assist. We are sitting on a literal time bomb, gentlemen.” I reply.
They all agreed and were relieved I was going to take on the challenge.
What else could I do? That stuff lights off and we’re talking easily hundreds if not thousands of fatalities and countless injuries. Fuck that. Not on my watch.
I tells ya’ what. The fucking Karma Fairy better shower me with gifts and accolades, blowjobs and candy corn after all this.
In a metaphorical sense, of course.
“OK, Mr. Sanjay, you’re with me.” I say, “Now look, Herr Macs”, I address the collective board, “Before I had carte blanche. Now, if I even think we might need something, it appears. We’ll sort out our honoraria and bonuses for this after we get back.”
Everyone present agreed most hastily. Handshakes all around and apologies from the board cemented the issue.
“OK, Sanjay. I need a bus. At least 24-seater. With a driver than knows how, when, and where to stop. OK?” I ask.
“24, Rock?”, Sanjay asks, “You’re not thinking of including the recruits now, are you?”
“Yes I am, Mr. Sanjay.”, I replied sternly, “On the job training. Meet me at outbuilding #2 at 1300 as per plan. Order a bus and arrange the largest forklift that can manage beach sand, about 100 wooden pallets, plastic wrap, and sandbags. Lots and lots of sandbags. Have them stockpiled away from the tent in a muster area. OK. You got all that?”
“Yes, Rock”, he said, “I’ll be there in a couple of hours. It will only take a few phone calls.”
“Marvelous.”
Not even 1000 in the fucking morning and I’m facing life and death decisions once again. I dig an emergency flask out of my field vest. If this doesn’t qualify as an emergency, what the fuck does?
A tot or two later, I change into my PPEs, and light a cigar. I catch a tap-tap to the region of the tent. I need to reconnoiter the area and figure out what sort of dragon I have to slay and the best way of going about slaughtering the sumbitch.
I’m standing alone, about 250 meters from the tent of death.
I’m puzzling and puzzling; but I can’t allow for my puzzler to go sore. Not this early, anyway.
“OK, me ol’ mucker”, I sigh, “It’s me or thee. Pucker up, Buckwheat. Here I come.”
A blast suit like the ones bomb disposal dudes wear wouldn’t help in the least. All it would do is hold the mashed body parts together to make for easier disposal. I’m anywhere within a kilometer or so of this pile of Chinese counterfeit boom-makers and it decides to let go; I’m lunchmeat. That’s it. Alive one second; kerpow, splat, instantaneously zonked into component particles the next. That’s the long and short of it. No ‘thank you’s. No ‘good bye’s. Just existing here one minute and in an alternate dimension the next.
Doesn't that just take the biscuit? Funny old thing, life.
I trod onwards.
For a moment, nothing happened. Then, after a second or so, nothing continued to happen.
I was walking up to the tent, clearing a path for the forklift. No fucking way I’m schlepping nine tons of dodgy explosives out of here, over wet beach sand, by hand and hoof.
Sand. I’m with young Anakin on this one. I hate sand. I hate walking in dry sand, hiking in wet sand. It makes for a wonderful oil reservoir and I love its porosity and permeability at depth. But at the surface, forget it. Yow! Let me tell you about the time I was out in the Rub al-Khali desert. The great Sand Erg. Wind blowing a force 9 gale! Seif dunes 1,000 meters high…
Yeah. I know. I’m stalling.
I’m approaching the tent. Carefully. I pause to light a new cigar. You might think that daft, but it’s really not. None of the stuff inside is heat-sensitive; let me clarify. None of the stuff is going to go off if hit by errant ash or even a sustained flame. But sitting out in the 30C+ heat? OK, that makes it twitchier. Cigars do the opposite for me. Give me something to concentrate upon and it calms me down.
I need calm now. By the bucketful. Where’s a monsoon when you really need one?
OK, I made it. I’m at the tent. Got to hand it to the workers around here, they respect authority and don’t come anywhere near the tent. They also don’t apparently give a shit as there no crowd gathered filming me with their iPhones to post to You Tube© if the tent decides to go all detonic.
Good. I couldn’t yell anything at them they’d understand to clear out anyway.
I open the hole in the side of the tent and pause. I’m hit with a wave of hot air. And the heady redolence of onions, sewer gas, and dog farts.
Sorry, that’s just me. Weird midnight snack last night. Frozen durian. What a treat.
Anyways.
I smell kerosene. Old wood pulp, like musty magazines. And an undercurrent of almonds.
“Oh, treble fuck me,” I say to no one within 100 square kilometers.
Kerosene is sweaty C-4. Old wood pulp is dynamite. Almonds? My old friend, nitroglycerine.
Things, if possible, went from real to super-uber major-league holy-fuck real.
“OK”, I say, as I dig out my phone and begin to snap pictures at a frantic rate.
Luckily, all the ordnance was piled like-with-like. Blasting caps? All over here. C-4, all along this ‘wall’. Dynamite? All over here. Non-explosives? Right over here.
I was mentally running like a squadron of overclocked Crays, wondering what I need to do to sort out this little situation. I’m so deep in thought, someone would need to throw me a rope to get my attention.
Or, just tap me on the shoulder.
Once I returned from low earth orbit, I turn to see a little wisp of an Indian feller, who had to be at least 27 years Methuselah’s senior.
“What? THE? Actual? Fuck? Are? You? DOING? Here?” I screamed.
“A thousand pardons, Sahib.”, the ancient one said, “I saw you working alone. Salim wonders if you need some help? Salim is good helper. Salim will help you good.”
“Yes, Salim. Oh, hello by the way.”, I said, calming a bit, forcing myself to smile so I didn’t kill him on the spot, “I do need your help. I need you to go, very slowly, out of this tent and to where the flags begin. Stand there and allow access to no one. OK. We green?”
Salim smiles broadly revealing both teeth. I slowly usher him out and remind myself to order a few new pairs of boxers before the day is out.
Back to the problem at hand. There are some salvageable items here. But the most the C-4, all the dynamite and every sack of ANFO has to go. And by ‘go’, I mean be disposed of. How?
By blowing it up, how else?
An idea creeps into my skull. I puff and puff while it grows and finally, I’ve a plan of attack.
I close the tent and slowly walk away. I hand Salim 1000 rupees and tell him that no one, I don’t care if it was Mahatma Gandhi reincarnate, goes anywhere near that tent.
“You savvy?” I ask.
“Oh, Sahib! I savvy! Thank you! Salaam! I savvy!” he is beside himself with joy, 13 bucks, and a task.
I look at my watch. It’s just gone noon. Good. I need a sandwich, some fluid replacement, as I’ve probably literally sweated off 5 kilos in the last hour and a half, and some time to jot down my plans.
I catch a tap-tap, geez, these things are everywhere around here. They form an unsanctioned, but necessary, sort of intradepartmental transport system here. I tip a couple of hundred rupees for every trip. They see blaze orange and they have this Pavlovian reaction. I sometimes need to break up fist-fights over which driver arrived first.
“Commissary”, I say, sit down, let the tap-tap, which is really nothing more than a glorified golf cart, adjust to my Western bulk and away we zip.
Salim is waving to me as we depart.
I shudder to think if I hadn’t had a tot or two and was a bit jumpier from the morning’s caffeine. Here's to alcohol: the cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems.
At the commissary, I grab a tall iced, fruit cocktail juice; a slurry of mixed dragon fruit, kiwi, carambola, blood orange, green apple, watermelon, bitter melon, sweet melon, & bailan melon fruity essence. I’m incredibly thirsty and I need some calories, but not in bulk and not from onion bhajis, mutton kabobs, or something claiming to be grilled chicken on a stick.
The last thing I need today is a case of the trots or even sharp gas pains in the next few hours. I add about 5 fingers of Old Fornicator Vodka to the juice and sip it slowly as my biometric rhythms return from the ionosphere and back to more normal levels.
Remember, I’m EtOh-based. I need to control my various fluid levels very carefully.
The blasting muse is upon me. In less than 30 minutes, I have a plan. Both a written out procedure and a map of what needs to be done.
I finish off another tall, icy glass of potato and various fruit juices, venture outside feeling almost like I’ve once again regained the illusion of control of the situation and my life.
I fire up a heater and decide to walk the approximately 1100 meters to outbuilding #2. I’m thinking as I sashay along; figuring this and calculating that.
I round the corner and see Outbuilding #2 and a bus parked next to it.
The bus looks like a refugee from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The movie and album.
I go into Outbuilding #2 and see about half the class has arrived, and they are all kitted out in their new, stiff, and scratchy PPEs.
I nod hello to all and see Sanjay over across the room.
“Mr. Sanjay”, I say, “Nice bus. What’s the story?”
“Only one I could find that was a 24 seater, not actively falling apart, and with an English speaking driver. Rock. Mr. Maha, owneoperator.” He replied.
“Mr. Maha”, I said, shaking his hand. “Love the bus. Some sort of passion project?”
Mr. Maha laughs. “I was city bus driver for 39 years. I retire and go nuts. I buy old bus and fix up mechanicals. Runs all like excellently. Looks like dung heap. I begin to paint and never quite knew when to stop.”
“I like it. Adds a sense of surrealism to the day, as if it really needs more.” I reply, “However, I do hope you know how to stop. I mean that sincerely. We have a literal bomb to defuse. Does that bother you?”
“No, Doctor”, he says, “Nothing much bothers me anymore. I know. You are here. You are to make safe. I feel safe that you’re here. Let us go to work.”
“Outstanding”. I say.
I tell him that a fat bonus will be his when this is all over if all goes to plan.
“Unnecessary.”, he replies, “Mr. Sanjay has already paid me.”
“Paid? Perhaps”, I reply, “You are going to get danger money whether you like it or not.”
“I guess I will like it, Doctor.” He smiles.
“Marvelous.”
I look at the clock, it’s 1256. Almost showtime.
1300 on the spot. I pick up the microphone and address the assembled 24.
“Gentlemen”, I say, “Very good. You all look like late October in the United States. Very festive.” as all are kitted out in their respective PPEs.
“We have a little matter to handle. One that has just cropped up and one you’re certainly not ready for, but I have no other choice. Does that bother anyone here?” I ask.
Head shakes and questions arise.
“OK, class”, I say, “For your first training exercise, we’re going to defuse a 9-ton bomb. Let’s go.”
The collective gasp drew my cigar smoke in another direction, right towards them.
“Doctor…Ah, Rock. Really?” one brave soul asked for the crowd.
“Yes”, I said, “seems your company officials got a ‘real deal’ on some dodgy Chinese explosives. They didn’t wait until they finished the storage bunker I had designed, so they simply set the stuff on the beach and covered it with a canvas tent.”
There were more gasps.
“Indeed”, I said, “We need to neutralize this threat. Sanjay is passing out copies of my plan and designs on just how to do this. Read them over and let me know what you think. You have 5 minutes. We’re out of here at 1330 on the nose.”
They read quickly, cogitated over the plans and as I had assumed, didn’t find any flaws within.
“OK”, I say after an inch of cigar had passed, “You follow my directions, directly and without question, there’s no reason you can’t come out of this alive and happy, free to pursue a life of religious fulfillment.”
There was a chuckle or two at that last line. ‘Airplane’ is such a classic movie.
“Now I know”, I continued, “That this is pretty scary shit. Especially for you guys, being tossed in the deep end like this. I know because I’m scared to death.”
“Oh, Doctor Rock”, one of my acolytes said, “We do not believe this is so.”
“I stay alive by being scared to death”, I replied. “You will learn this as well.”
Sanjay checks out everyone’s PPE and all appear in good order. They are happy to have such nice, new equipment.
And that’s a problem. People used to ragged and ratty shit with which to work will go to extraordinary lengths to not filthy-up brand new working gear. This is one little bugaboo I’m going to settle here and now.
“One thing, gentlemen”, I note, “You all have nice, clean, and new PPEs. You look great. You come back to Outbuilding #2 looking as pristine, you’re gone. Keeping clean is not a part of your training. You’re going to sweat and stink. You keep to clean and it tells me you’re goldbricking, that is, not doing your job.” I say as I surreptitiously unscrew the top of my travel mug, ‘accidentally’ trip and shower the front row with Greenland coffee, lukewarm.
“See?”, I saw, “They were totally protected. That’s what PPEs are all about. We green?”
“Somewhat brown, Rock”, a couple of the guys in the front row reply without a hint of irony.
“Outstanding.”
“Gentlemen, it is time. Take what you think you’ll need and leave the rest in your locker box. Brass tags to Sector 4. On the bus, we leave in 5 minutes.”
I move my brass marker to Zone 4, puff a blue cloud for all to see, and head out to the bus.
We’re loaded and headed to Sector 4 in less than 5 minutes.
“OK”, I say”, I’m going to break you up into groups of 4. Tags number 1 to 4, you’re group 1. 5-8, group 2, and so on. OK?”
All respond in the affirmative.
OK. Six groups of four, Sanjay and me to lead the pack. We roll up to just outside the exclusion zone. With a squeal of brakes, we grind to a halt.
“Outside”, I command, “Assemble in your groups next to the bus. Go!”.
Like a well-oiled team, they de-bus and stand together in 6 groups. Sanjay and I walk along, inspecting the troops.
“OK”, I say, “This may seem like a shit job, but group 4. Back on the bus. To the commissary. Water, juice, and whatever else you think we’ll need to stay hydrated out there. Don’t worry, we’re going on rotation once you get back. You’ll all get a chance to do the exciting stuff. Now, move it.”
I say something to Sanjay, he jots it down in his book, certain to remind me later.
“OK, let’s see. Group 1. Storage detail. Build the temporary in-ground storage locker like it’s shown in the plan. Get help and have them source the manpower and materials. It needs to be done in the next 2 hours. Go!”
There are some explosives that can be salvaged. I need a place to store them. I’ve scouted and laid out a spot away from prying eyes where they can build an 8x8x8 hole in the ground, line it with marine plywood, and store whatever we can salvage. A plywood roof over the thing, a couple of locks, and well, Robert’s your Mother’s Sister’s Husband.
Next, I send group 3 to build a road from the tent to an area on the beach sourced as Disposal Area #1. They will take flags and tape and run a road, of sorts, from the tent to the beach; cordoning it off so we can take the forklift and its loads of dodgy high explosives to the disposal area.
The other groups are doing needful and necessary things as well. I tell Sanjay to keep a lid on things, I’m going to bring the forklift, a few pallets, sandbags and such in for the first run.
I find the forklift, and it’s a huge old Hyster 52-ton truck.
It’ll do.
The keys are in, so I drop in and fire it up. It catches on the first twirl and I pick up a half-dozen wooden pallets, a bunch of sandbags, and a few huge rolls of plastic wrapping. It’s like driving a tank, but it has plenty of power and just a low gear range.
I drive it back to Sector 4 and almost rum over Salim. He was taking my previous orders very seriously, indeed.
“All cool, Salim”, I say over the roar of the forklift, “It’s just me.”
He waves and lets me pass. He’s serious as a heart attack about keeping people out.
I drive and realize that I can’t drive ‘gingerly’ in a conveyance such as this. I can drive deliberately and with forethought, but it rumbles and shudders the ground. Best to slide in, drop the load, and shut her down while I figure out what’s next.
I do so and drop the pallets, etc., just outside the flap of the tent. I back off a few feet, drop the forks, and shut the noisy machine down for the time being.
Sanjay appears. As does Crew #5. I motion them to come over, slowly and with forethought.
We’re all standing outside the tent flap. I raise an index finger, right, of course, to get their attention.
“Gentlemen, first lesson. What says these explosives have gone bad? Answer:” and I open the tent flap.
“Take a whiff. What do you smell?” I instruct.
“Old paper?” was one answer.
“Oil? Petrol? Something petrochemical?” was the next.
“Almonds?” Sanjay says.
“Highest marks. We’ve old C-4. It sweats and smells like kerosene. Old paper or pulp? Dynamite gone wet and bad. Almonds? Bitter, bitter almonds? Nitroglycerine. Yes, guys. We’ve got rogue nitro inside. Anyone want to quit? Now’s your chance.” I ask, being deadly serious.
One looks to another; then they all look to me…eyes wide…
To be continued…
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Addressing Canada’s Employment Insurance Gap For Self-Employed Workers

Source: TD
Ksenia Bushmeneva, Economist
Dated July 15th, 2020

Highlights


Chart 1 - Workers in More Precarious Employment See Steep Job Losses

Chart 2 - COVID-19 Self-employed to Cut Hours Worked Drastically

EI Leaves Many Non-Standard Workers Behind


Chart 3 - Self-employed Workers Much More Likely to Apply for CERB

Chart 4 - Prevalence of Self-employment Varies by Province

What Complicates Offering EI Coverage For Non-Standard Workers


Chart 5 - Maternity and Family Benefits Available to Self-employment

Chart 6 - Sickness, Disability, and Work Injury Coverage Available to Self-Employed

Some Solutions Based on The International Experience


Chart 7 - Unemployment Benefits Coverage Options to Self-employed

Chart 8 - Old-age Pensions Coverage Options Available to Self-employed

Concluding Remarks


References

  1. “Employment Insurance Coverage Survey, 2018”. Statistics Canada. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/191114/dq191114a-eng.htm
  2. Sunil Johal & Erich Hartmann. “Facilitating the Future of Work Through Modernizing EI System”. The Mowat Center. https://ppforum.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/PPF-Modernizing-EI-for-Future-of-Work-April-2019-EN.pdf
  3. Antonia Asenjo and Clemente Pignatti. “Unemployment insurance schemes around the world: Evidence and policy options.” International Labour Office. https://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---dgreports/---inst/documents/publication/wcms_723778.pdf
  4. Sung-Hee Jeon and Yuri Ostrovsky. “The impact of COVID-19 on the gig economy: Short- and long-term concerns”. Statistics Canada. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/en/pub/45-28-0001/2020001/article/00021-eng.pdf?st=x8kZDLV7
  5. Sunil Johal & Erich Hartmann. “Facilitating the Future of Work Through Modernizing EI System”. The Mowat Center. https://ppforum.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/PPF-Modernizing-EI-for-Future-of-Work-April-2019-EN.pdf Ibid.
  6. “Evaluation of the Employment Insurance Special Benefits for Self-employed Workers”. Employment and Social Development Canada. https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/corporate/reports/evaluations/2016-ei-special-benefits.html
  7. “The Future of Social Protection: what works for non-standard workers?” OECD. https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/sites/9789264306943-en/1/2/1/index.html?itemId=/content/publication/9789264306943-en&_csp_=60072f6c81e5afb306d1ad580d284396&itemIGO=oecd&itemContentType=book#chapter-d1e549 Ibid.
  8. “Key Small Business Statistics - January 2019”. Statistics Canada. https://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/061.nsf/eng/h_03090.html#point1-3 Ibid.
  9. “Government Response To The Fifth Report Of The Standing Committee on The Status of Women. Interim Report on the Maternity and Parental Benefits Under Employment Insurance: the Exclusion of Self-Employed Workers.” https://www.ourcommons.ca/DocumentVieween/39-1/FEWO/report-5/response-8512-391-19
  10. “Evaluation of the Employment Insurance Special Benefits for Self-employed Workers”. Employment and Social Development Canada. https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social development/corporate/reports/evaluations/2016-ei-special-benefits.html

End Notes

  1. Since 2010 self-employed workers can voluntarily participate in EI Special Benefit for Self-Employed Workers (SBSE) to gain access to many life event-type benefits accessible to regular employees, such as maternity and paternity leave programs, leave due to sickness or to care for an sick family member. In addition to this, current EI system allows certain exceptions for some non-standard workers. For example some individuals who work independently as barbers, hairdressers, taxi drivers, drivers of other passenger vehicles are eligible to receive benefits through the regular EI program. Fishermen are also included as insured persons under the EI Fishing Regulations. In the case of the self- employed fishermen, EI qualification is tied to income. In order to qualify for up to 26 weeks of benefit, they need to have earned between $2,500 to $4,200 in the last 31 weeks.
  2. The two main reasons for not contributing to the EI program were not having worked in the previous 12 months, and non-insurable employment (which includes self-employment).
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DEMOLITION DAYS, PART 95

Continuing
He still came around making trouble, but oddly enough, our little cul-de-sac corner was more-or-less Batshit Crazy-free for the next 34 months.
After that, things sort of calmed down. Well, one of his older boys thought it would be fun to attack Khris, push her off her bike, and try and steal the Uzbek sapphire amulet I had gotten her years earlier.
Khris is not a small girl; she is a corn-fed daughter of the vast cow-pocked hills and rolling pastures of Baja Canada. She didn’t take lightly to some weasely little Arab probably future pole-smokers trying to steal from and assaulting her.
It took more than one punch, but Khris coldcocked the elder of the Guano Insano clan and laid him out so an undertaker could have taken easy measurements. Oh, he was still breathing, but I nevertheless think he was shammin’, playin’ possum until Daddy Dearest could come and rescue him from the rage of wrathful Wisconsinians.
Liam and I were sitting in the porch area of his villa, smoking cigars, drinking our sunrisers, watching the tableau unfold. We both thought Khris handled the situation well, particularly the outcome. The miscreant was out cold’n a foundered mackerel and Khris didn’t heel-stamp him in the chuckle-bits nor curb-stomp his head even though he had initially, and without provocation, punched Khris in the head.
Major stylistic points, Khris.
After 6 or 7 of his offspring rant to alert him, Señor Srībaśita Inasēna came over to shovel his insensible frogspawn up off the tarmac. He was ranting and raving, screaming and splitting the air with threats, dark oaths and other forms of bad noise.
He headed straight for Khris to administer a smackdown, as Khris resolutely held her ground.
I merely stood up and asked Khris if she needed some help.
She replied in the negative, stating that this fool wasn’t going to be much more of a challenge than ‘his idiot kid’
I swear, he went, even more, batshit crazy. However, something clicked and Señor Srībaśita Inasēna looked over his shoulder to see not one, but two near-identical way-more-crazy than he extra-large people standing there, both with cigars and icy cold drinks. He suddenly seemed to experience a spate of total recall how one of the large apparitions said he’d begin him on his journey toward room temperature if he so much as sneered in our direction.
He scooped up his unconscious spawn, muttered something none of us could make out, and scurried back to his loathsome piece of home real estate.
That was more or less the end of our run-ins with Señor Srībaśita Inasēna and his extended tribe.
Swing forward to the late summer. The weather calmed a bit and one’s skin didn’t immediately bubble every time one went out to collect the local morning news-rag. Things were going well for the cul-de-sac; jobs were advancing apace, children were doing well in their various studies, people were, oh what was that word? Ah, yes, happy.
Happy people do fun things.
So, it was decided it was time we have a block party.
Of course, Liam came up with the brilliant idea that we should have a pig roast.
“Umm, Liam”, I ahemed, “In case you forgot, we live in an Arabic Muslim country in the Middle East. Pigs and pork and porcine parts are sort of verboten around here. “
“Ok, Rock”, Liam laughed, “I know that, you know that, my hat knows that. But we Brits must have our bacon, sausage, and chops. It’s in our DNA. Besides, I can get one flown in through my company; under the wire. I could sneak him over here easily. We’d just have to keep him under wraps until bar-be-que time rolls around. You’re from Texas, so…”
“Adopted native son” I corrected.
“Right”, Liam continued, “But you were from Baja Canada first, so you must know how to cook a whole pig…”
“That right, I do, but…, I said, “…you want to bring a live pig in here, and keep him for a while until we can sort out the cooking necessities. We can’t use the industrial-sized stoves in the rec center at the pool. That’d raise a few eyebrows…”
Es and Cassandra wander over, listen for a bit and exclaim “Are you both out of your tiny, little minds?”
I had to admit, as I poured Liam and myself a refill, that the idea did have a certain ‘Up Yours!’ mouthwatering bacon-scented charm.
So, all four of us sat outside and over beer, vodka, and white wine for the ladies, we brewed up a perhaps passable project for our pig party.
The thing was, I’d be gone offshore for a couple of weeks and the pig would have to live at someone’s villa, under wraps, for that time; which actually escalated to 3 months.
Esme, surprising as always, volunteered to take on the task.
Might have been the white wine talking, but she admitted to missing bacon as well.
“OK, but we’re going to need a bar-be-cue pit. Where and when?” Liam asked.
“I’ll talk to Shiehk Gungan and secure permission for a Hawaiian-style pit bar-be-cue for someone or other’s fake birthday. If we can get Vonn and Honey Bee on board, their villa’s backyard backs up to a tall brick wall bordering the alley behind the City Centre. I could put in a pit there easily, and it would be out of the purview of prying eyes.” I said.
“Good”, Casandra said, “Let me get the gin and tonic makin’s and get Vonn and Honey over here as well as Dane and Dyad. Gonna have a block party, make sure you invite the entire block.”
Over the term of the afternoon, we had our plans.
Liam would secure a pig for us; approximately 200-300 pounds, on the hoof. It’d stay in our backyard under both our sun tarp and Esme Srs.’ care until Pig Killin’ Time. Liam, Vonn, and I would handle that little chore. I’d get permission to ‘dig’ a pit and install the bar-be-cue pit in Honey and Vonn’s back yard. Liam and I would handle the actual roast, and we’d all chip in for charcoal and wood smokin’ chunks, and whatever else we could find.
Dyad said she knew many, many farmers it the area and many had fruit trees, in various stages of repair. Certainly, some of that would smoke up a treat. Persimmon, pomegranate, fig, mango, durian, banana…all the earmarks of a weird pig roast.
So we had a date, a plan and the ingredients for a complete fiasco. Since Sr. Guano Insano was no longer part of the picture, and as we had few interlopers, this might actually work without all of us being tossed into the hoosegow.
I’d liberate a bit of pit diggin’ materials from work, just a small amount of dynamite, C-4, and Primacord; I already had the blasting machines. Vonn and Liam would lay in the charcoal and wood for the actual pig roast and well, Bob’s your uncle.
I went offshore to complete the 12th well on the platform and had to deal with all the logistics, bureaucracy and other sanctioned horseshit that comes with the territory. It took almost exactly 3 weeks, and at that time, Esme’s initial negative reaction to pig-sitting had changed considerably.
She had named the critter and found it to be a rather clever, and even sociable, beast. She even allowed it free reign of our house.
The name she chose was one from an old, endearing structural professor: Prof Pinkus (Prof. Pink-ass).
Ahem.
This was an unforeseen complication.
“Es, remember, “ I said over the phone, “That pig is not a pet. It’s not your buddy. It’s not going shopping with you. It’s going to be the guest of honor at a block party. Perspective, please.”
“Oh, Rock”, Es gushed, “I know that. It just makes it easier to keep up with Prof. Pinkus if you treat him like a pet rather than livestock.”
“Es!”, I yell, “He IS livestock. Soon to be deadstock. Soon to be crisply pit barbequed to a crackly crunch. He’s not your friend, he’s breakfast, lunch, and dinner!”
“OK, love you too.” Es says, ignoring me, “See you soon. Safe flights. Keep the shiny side up.”
I hang up. “Oh, shit. This does not bode well.” I mused on the flight shoreward.
I have to admit, pigs can be personable animals. Canny, inquisitive, seemingly intelligent. But even so, that does not trump them being delicious, appetizing, and delectable generators of bacon. Prof. Pinkus is going to be ham, bacon, and sausage soon. Not a boon companion.
The next day I ‘dig’ the pit for the barbeque. I used a shovel for exactly 2 minutes and dynamite, C-4, and primacord for a few more. Vonn was astonished that I not only dug a 6’x6’x4’ wide hole in less than an afternoon, but that I did it while smoking a cigar, drinking an, ok, several icy adult beverages, and never even breaking a sweat in the hellish late summer heat.
The Bobcat with the mounted backhoe, which I had ‘borrowed’ from work, helped a little.
Liam wandered over after the pyrotechnics were done. He didn’t care for them as the noise ‘offended his ears’. Truth be told, he had seen enough pyro jobs go south in his line of work and wanted nothing to do with them. I assured him I was a licensed Master Blaster as well as the one and only Motherfucking Pro from Dover, but it took some time to get him up to speed on the use of explosives for fun and profit.
We let the pit settle, as it was in mostly in desert sand held together with a bit of aeolian clay, or loess. We kept it wet and covered with sheets of canvas. It’d be fine for our pit barbeque in the days hence.
Vonn, Liam and I fabricobbled a cover for the pit which was made of thatched palm fronds supported by ½” pine furring-strips frame along the outer surface. Dane found a hunk of tin stove pipe and we fashioned a nicely workable chimney for the cover. Once the fire was going, and the pig in its new home, we could set the cover over the pit, shovel earth over it to seal it off and use the iris-valve in the chimney to regulate airflow.
One looks at it now, it would almost appear that we knew what we were doing.
Probably nothing was further from the truth.
We needed to ‘season’ the pit, but first, we needed to line the pit with rocks. This serves to hold the heat, and will even out its distribution. But, all we have to use is limestone around here and if limestone ever gets wet, there might be water in the fractures of the rocks. Heat that up to over 1000C and you’ve got yourself a nifty little bomb.
Of course, this will not do…
So, I get on the phone with several ‘exotic’ marble companies in the big city of Duhu. I call around asking if they might have some scrap sheets of granite, quartzite, granodiorite or marble.
Sure, for a price.
However, there was this one place where I knew this guy…
He took in huge, and I mean 4m x 5m x 5m blocks of exotic rock from the subcontinent; black granite, “Reaping Equinox’ black and white ‘granite’; most all these ‘granites’ were granodiorites, Inferno Granite, Black Sunset granite sliced thin into façade facing dimension stone, it was absolutely gorgeous in cross-section. However, the best stuff was igneous-metamorphic, tougher than a $2 steak, and just laughed at diamond carbide saw blades.
“Oh, sure now Mr., Dr. Rock”, Mr. Prakash Dongerkerry, the owneoperator of one particular lot I scavenge for Esme’s continuing lapidary hobby, “I’ve got some beauty stuff here for you. But I need some help with these couple of blocks I received from Kerala. Great rock, very pretty, but too tough. Burn out many saws, boss. You can help maybe?”
“Sure, Prak”, I replied, “I can help, no sweat.”
So, next Friday Liam and me, we eased over to the granite factory, C-4, blasting caps and Primacord in hand. Prak was a little apprehensive about using high explosives in a densely populated area, but after Vonn reminded him that he was working with the Motherfucking Pro from Dover, he relaxed some.
I crawled all over those blocks, marking with orange spray paint the nature fractures, flaws, and features of each block. Asked Prak how he’d like them split, and he indicated parallel to the major axis.
It couldn’t be easier. There was a main body-fracture system normal to the σ1 stress direction. The one’s parallel to the σ2 and σ3 were minor and nowhere near as clearly developed.
I smooshed some C-4 into a test fracture, primed it and shot it without much ado. It was surprisingly quiet for a detonation. A cute little C-4 POP.
A large slab of rock fell off the main block, severed as nicely as a hunk of cold butter from a hot knife.
Prak was thrilled. I only had another 12 or so shots to go.
They all more or less came off as planned. One or two busted when they bounced, even after the addition of old car tires below where I was blasting.
Prak, good to his word, showed us a huge pile of 1.25” thick sawn quartzite slabs that were rejected for mostly cosmetic reasons. It takes a bit of math, a bit of doing, and a lot of C-4 to extract slabs enough to line our fire pit from stem to stern, top to bottom.
Once installed, the pit was a tad less wide, a bit less deep, and a smidge less long, but it was the only Precambrian-quartzite lined bar-be-que pit in this or any other known galaxy.
We celebrated the initial fire up with whiskey and hors-d'oeuvres. I stuck with vodka, ice, lime, citrus stuff, and a Jamaican cigar.
The pit flared from the amount of dry wood we initially used. It burned very quickly into a pile of glowing embers. Now, we added some local lump charcoal and popped on the top, now sporting an exhaust chimney with a rather large, intrinsically-safe, unusually commercial-looking dual-temperature thermometer that somehow just appeared out of the ether.
We took it all the way up to 1,000C. Although it was designed for ‘low and slow’, we wanted to see how it would perform under alternative conditions.
We let it simmer for a few hours, then decided to kill the fire by closing the iris valve. Thus deprived of oxygen, given a few hours, the pit would be cold to the touch.
The next day, we opened the pit and shoveled out the dead embers. The pit was well and truly cold. Upon examination, it seems that the quartzite had fused to the sand on the outside of the pit. Also, sand had filtered down into the cracks around the pit, like in the corners, along joints, and been fused there as well.
The damn thing would now hold water if we wanted. We had a natural glass-lined fire pit now. We decided to try out some racked & stacked chickens first before we slowly made our way pig-ward.
We staked split chickens out on various levels in the pit. We had worked up a series of adjustable metal frames where we could lay the staked-out poultry. The racks popped right in place and after a couple of hours, hey presto bar-be-qued peri-peri chicken. And hot-butter roasted chicken. And for the uninitiated, roast chicken with smoked Hungarian paprika and Indian ghee. A real Iron Chef fusion-style mixture.
Liam and I took his Grady White out on the Persian Gulf and managed a couple of dorados, or Mahi, a largish shark, and a couple of kingfish off the deeper shipping banks. Fileted up and tacked in place, we played around with the smoking woods. Mango was just weird. Fig was weirder, almost vinegary; but not terrible. Pomegranate/tangerine tree smoked Mahi, seasoned shark steak, and Kingfish was the hit of the week. So easy, yet so tasty. It went well with Es’ famous Navajo Fry Bread.
We were gaining confidence. Prof. Pinkus’ days were numbered. We decided that the Eid al Fitr would be the time that we’d been preparing our porky pit pig production.
How’s that for cultural sensitivity? Break the Ramadan fast with a pig roast.
We’re all about cultural sensitivity.
Anyways, we hemmed and hawed over the methods of dispatching our soon-to-be-delicious 325 pounds of Professor Pinkus.
One wag suggested we have it OD on tranquilizers, trip him out a la Heath Ledger. Use loads of Nytol®, Dramamine™, oxycodone, hydrocodone, diazepam, temazepam, alprazolam, and doxylamine."
It was straight out of the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers©.
We all agreed it was funny as hell, but that it probably wouldn’t work.
Then we thought we might go all Halal, just slit the pig’s throat with a very sharp knife, and let it bleed out.
Rejected as to being too thrashing, too noisy, too Arabic, and just plain uncivilized.
I thought I could get hold of a 12 gauge shotgun and some Foster Deer slugs. But again, noisy and messy. Besides, I’d have to borrow a shotgun, and that might raise some eyebrows.
We’ve managed to keep Prof. Pinkus under wraps now for almost 3 months. Hate to blow it right before the feasting was to begin.
In the end, all it took was an 18-pound maul and a solid whack to the right side of the head.
More sensitive viewers might want to skip a dozen or so paragraphs ahead. Just fair warning™.
I was elected to deliver the coup de grâce.
After walloping a bound and gagged Prof. Pinkus upside the head and basically caving in the skull, severing the skull-spinal cord connection at the atlas/axis connection, it was instant lights-out, he felt nothing.
We had already apologized to Prof. Pinkus, and thanked him for his contribution.
Seldom before has lunch ever been so noble.
Prof. Pinkus freezes and collapse, the legs give way, and the neck goes rigid. We picked up the extraordinarily sharp butcher’s knife sitting there, one hand under the chin and pull the head back. The other hand takes the sharp, stout knife under the neck and slices across the neck back to the bone of the vertebrae.
The knife hand loops around to the poll of the head, pushes down and forward while the hand under the chin pulls back and rearwards, so the neck vertebrae connecting tissue cracks. Knife hand back down under the neck, chin hand slides up and a finger hooks into the trachea and slice between the separated vertebrae.
With our previous practice and experience, 10 to 15 seconds from hammer strike to the semi-decapitated head.
Grisly but necessary.
Hanging the beast by its back hocks, well out of sight of any casual interlopers, we bleed the animal out into 5-gallon buckets, saving the precious juice. Vonn and I have visions of homemade blütwurst, blood-n-tongue sausage, and zultze or schwartamaga; lovely, lovely headcheese.
But that’s for later. Vonn gathers the blood in gallon-size freezer zip bags.
Now to scalding the corpse, scraping off the hair and external epidermal debris. We had a tub of boiling water into which Prof. Pinkus went. It was a boring, tedious, annoying repeated dunk-soak-raise-scrape-return until the carcass was clean and smooth and removed of all nasty gunk on the outside.
Now comes the really icky part™, gutting and scraping out the carcass. Before opening the abdominal cavity, it was required to de-bung the animal. Cut around the anus, go in deep but not too, pull the bunghole out, seal with zip ties, and cut and discard. Now the lower GI tract is sealed from leaking when the rest is removed. We also have to remove the male dangly bits in a similar manner as Prof. Pinkus was a boy hog.
Still hanging, we open the hog from sternum to groin, letting gravity aid us in helping Prof. Pinkus literally spill his guts. Right down into a waiting gut-bucket, or galvanized 50-liter steel tub. The chest region is split open further and the lovely and delicious major organs are singly removed by hand. Heart, liver, kidneys, etc., lungs, gall bladder, spleen, pancreas, and a few other organs are discarded.
With that, we open the hog to where it will lay flat on the roasting rack. It is then hosed off and generally cleaned up before we give a good going over.
After it dries, the whole gutted critter is washed in wine. Evidently, it’s a French thing according to Honey Bee.
We wrap the hog in burlap, soak it down in cheap-ass wine and let it sleep 24 hours or so in Liam and Cassandra’s freezer chest.
The next day, the fire is started in the fire pit. We have lump charcoal, bucket after bucket of fruit tree chunks soaking in water and probably half a rick of firewood to keep the party going the next 24-36 hours.
We retrieve Prof. Pinkus from his cool, not frozen state, say hello and proceed to arrange him staked to the cooking frame in a belly-down, butterflied posture. Internally, he was well seasoned with dry rub after the obligatory internal rubdown with Napoleon brandy. We placed 40 garlic bulbs, kosher sea salt, olive oil, black pepper, and liberal amounts of Old Bay, to taste beneath him.
So, it was up to me to get the external goo ready for the pig. Kansas City-Style Sauce? Eastern North Carolina Vinegar Sauce? South Carolina-Style Mustard Sauce? Piedmont or Lexington-Style Dip? South Carolina-Style Mustard Sauce? Texas-Style Mop or Basting Sauce? Alabama White Sauce? Wisconsin Drunken Religious Experience Sauce?
“Ah, the hell with it!”, I venture, “Sauces come much later. Too early; they caramelize, crystallize, and burn. We’ll go for a good rub instead.”
I mean, who doesn’t enjoy a good rub now and again?
Anyways, which fucking rub? Kansas City Rib Rub? Mustard Rub? Spare Rib Rub? Memphis-Style Rib Rub? Porker's Rib Seasoning? Best Odds Rib Rub? Carolina Dry Rub? Texas Dry Rub? Jamaican Jerk Dry Rub? Classic Pork Dry Rub?
Too much choice! Seasoning overload!
I call over everyone involved in this little soiree and instruct them to come up with a rub we can all enjoy. I had to kill and gut the critter, it’s about time I go all Subsurface Manager, and delegate out some parts of this project.
So, over beer, G&T’s, vodka and lime soda and various Froggy wines, ‘my’ crew came up with a rub that was simple, tasty and ironically reflects some of the culinary aspects of the region we’re currently defiling.
Ingredients:
• Smoked Hungarian Red paprika
• Brown sugar
• Caster sugar
• Black pepper
• Kosher salt
• Cayenne pepper
• White pepper
• Chili pepper
• Dehydrated garlic
• Dehydrated onion
• Fenugreek
• Red Cardamom
• Turmeric
• Ginger
• Garam masala (Cumin, Coriander, Green and Black Cardamom, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Cloves, Bay leaves, Peppercorns, Fennel, Mace, and dried Chilies.)
They went to the co-op, bought buckets of the individual spices and played the rest of the day at getting to that one perfect combination for our resting porker.
I don’t remember the exact breakdown of the proportion of the spices, but whatever it was, it tasted brilliant. Now we had about 8 or 9 pounds of the stuff. We were ready to go.
Prof. Pinkus was set on the cooking rack, belly open and down. He was doused internally once again liberally with cheap Indian Napoleon brandy and secured to the rack atop all the garlic, celeriac root, boudin, and small new potatoes.
He was tied in place with heavy organic hemp twine and had his mouth propped open to facilitate circulation of the pit’s heat and convection. He looked very Pink Floydian. One almost expected him to take flight.
The exterior of the porker was treated to a nice rubdown. I swear I saw him smile once or twice when Honey Bee insisted on a sensual massage to make the resultant meat that much more tender. Olive oil infused with lime oil and garlic after a thorough wash with more brandy. Followed by a liberal rubbing of dry rub.
Finally, ready to go, we tented the porker loosely with industrial-strength silver aluminum foil. The frame with its cargo was lowered and locked into place for at least 24 hours. Probably closer to 36, as we’re going ‘low and slow’.
We take turns, between hands of poker, cribbage, and Schafskopf, as well as numerous G&Ts, Yorshs, and vodka and lime drink cocktails, to check on our prized porker. We kept the temperature right at 2050 F as best we could.
The voluminous smoke coming off the barbeque pit was our one concern. It packed an amazing aroma and filtered around the whole compound, dragging in expectant pikers, leeches, and other forms of human ectoparasites.
We told them we were smoking a whole camel, Texas-style, a la filét de hump, and wouldn’t be ready for another couple of days; so piss off. That seemed to get rid of all but the most insistent. We finally got rid of him by using a leaf blower and directing a stream of high-velocity roast-pork laden smoke his direction each time we had to add more fuel to the fire.
Time marched on and the time finally came: the deep internal ham’s temperature hit 180 degrees F.
Prof. Pinkus was ready to make his debut. But first, we needed to get him out of the barbeque pit and over to Vonn’s garage to rest a while.
More futzing, more aluminum foil, and more beers later, Prof. Pinkus, in all his delectable roasted glory was cooling out from atop a pair of sawhorses. Of course, he had to rest after his ordeal, but that didn’t mean we couldn’t manage a few samples.
He was done to a turn. It was incredible. Crispy-crunchy-crackly over lean, moist and insanely flavorful meat. Not bad for a bunch of bumbling international mugs on their first Middle Eastern pig-roast pit-roast endeavor.
Everyone made up their own version of sauce for sandwiches and dipping. We decided that we’d never all agree on one sauce, and 4 or 5 on one porker would be just too damn many.
So, please yourself. Just do it, yourself.
Behind closed doors, Liam and I were once again elected to reduce Prof. Pinkus to primary parts. We were hopefully disguising the fact that here sits 185 pounds of delectable roast pork in a very Muslim country on one of their highest holy days.
So it was a bit unnerving when Sheik Gungan showed up and asked: “What was that wonderful aroma?”
We said smoked beef…lamb…camel…turducken…Tyrannosaur… anything other than what it really was.
He asked for a sample.
What could we do? We couldn’t well refuse now, could we?
We gave him some of the best bits to try.
“Lovely, gents, just lovely. Next time, for reference, more garam masala, and a little more rosemary. I find it really brings out the subtle flavors of pork.” He smiled, wiping his pork-sticky fingers on my HGGTG towel.
“You old fraud”, we all smiled at once.
“What?”, he shied, raising his eyebrows, “It’s for scientific evaluation purposes. It’s therefore allowed. Now, do you have any cold beer, gin-n-tonics, or vodka and lime, which I’m hearing is very nice together, that I might also scientifically sample?” he smiled toothily through his long white beard.
We had made another powerful friend. Although it cost us one smoked Boston Butt, actually off the shoulder, that’s butcher’s for you, and a half a liter of homemade Texas-style barbeque sauce and another of Esme’s homemade fennel and caraway-infused coleslaw.
Everyone on the cul-de-sac now had a freezer full of pit-roasted pork. The Brits got their sausage once Vonn and Liam figured out how to use the Osterizer® Stuffing Horn. That was almost as much fun as doing the pit-barbeque. Never leave to Brits what Baja Canadians can better do.
We distributed the bacon and hams, and the rest divided whatever was left. Which was a lot of pit-roasted pig pieces and parts.
The bones made their way into gaily wrapped gifts and were posted anonymously to Mr. Guano Insano. We hoped he appreciated all our effort.
I used Esme’s great-grandmother’s old German recipe for Headcheese. Basically, boiled smoked pork head meat in aspic jelly. With dill pickles. And pickled eggs. With special spices.
Well, I don’t give a shit. We like it.
Anyways, summer slowly slid south and the temperatures during the day got slightly more tolerable. Liam and I decided to forego his boat for a while, as launching and recollecting required us to put Liam’s boat in the water HERE and recover the boat THERE. It was trucked, via road, from the recovery place to the launch place.
Why? Damnifweknow.
It only cost something like US$5 to ship the boat back to the launch area and they actually did a good job hosing and steam cleaning the boat before parking it back in its rental dry dock. These were still the early days before gas was king in Qutur, so things were still ridiculously cheap. There were exactly 3 high rise hotels back then, as compared to the insane silhouette presented by Duhu’s current evening sun.
I had flown over some likely looking flats that might hold snook, grouper, and tarpon on my last flight back from the rig. I translated that onto whatever road maps we could find here, as most everything was a state secret, ground verification was a must.
Liam and I tossed a couple of surf rods, a cooler full of beer and some bait into the back of his new diesel Mitsobitchy Prago™, and we were off to the north of town, the least developed chunk of Duhu real estate to date.
We drove down a rip-rap road that was more just a pile of random rocks trucked into the bay area and dumped into something that resembled a straight line.
I was less than confident that we weren’t going swimming today, but Liam relished every bounce, bolt and jolt. He confided in me that one of the big reasons he took the job here in the Middle East was that he’d never in a million years be able to afford a truck like this back in bonny Scotland™. He confided that he couldn’t have even afforded the fuel for this diesel-slurper back in the UK, it was that dear.
So, down the path we rebound. I was watching the water on both sides of the narrow groin, and saw it was getting deeper, but very slowly. I looked at my GPS and saw that we’d driven some 3.5 km out to sea at this point.
“Liam”, I said, “That’s a fuck of a long way to reverse.”
“Ah, Rock”, Liam assured me, “ No worries, Doctor. It’s all a loop. We can just drive our way out of any trouble.”
I remained unconvinced.
We came to a breach in the ‘jetty’. There was some heavy marine equipment mounted on barges. They were working a large cut, ostensibly for cargo ships to pass through. There was to be a swing-bridge built after they cleared the channel, but with all these loose rocks, it was putting paid to their scheme.
We parked and wandered over to who appeared to be the head guy.
“G’Day”, “Liam says, “What’ the big fucking holdup? We’ve got fish to catch, mate.”
Liam had previously spent a few years down in Australia as if it didn’t show.
“Oh, hello”, the natty clad black man said, “We’re having a bit of a time with loose rocks here. Supposed to be angular to lock in place, but by the time they get here from the quarry, they’re a sharp as bowling balls.”
I introduced myself and Liam as he was back in the boot snaking a beer. The black feller introduced himself as Zafir Djaballah, a civil engineer late from Algeria.
“So”, I said to Zafir, “If I’ve got this straight, you cut a channel and want to line it with rip rap. But the rocks won’t stay put. How deep are you cutting and what’s the size of the channel?”
“Oh, 35’ east-west, 15’ north-south. About 15 meters deep.” He relates.
“And the road metal? Where’s that from?” I ask.
“Arabia”, he tells us, “They quarry it there and transport it here. It’s costly, but that’s about the only option we have.”
Liam looks to Zafir. “Hey, Zafir?”, Liam asks, “Y’ken who this guy is?” as he points to me.
Zafir shakes his head “I just met Dr. Rock.”
“That’s not all who he is”, Liam smiles widely, “That, my friend, is the Motherfucking Pro from Dover! If he can’t fix your little problem, he can damn sure make it go away…”
Zafir looks to me as if to ask: “What the fuck, sir?”
“Well, Zafir, “ I say, “I’m a bit of a dab hand with explosives. This sounds like a really simple problem. Drill a grid of 2 meter centered holes, and prime them with a waterproof explosive. Detonate together electrically and there you go. Channel dug and already filled with angular limestone blocks. Easy-peasy.”
Zafir looks over the water and puzzles and puzzles.
“But sir’, he says, “Where would I find such explosives and such expertise?”
“Well…for starters”, I said, “You could ask me.”
He leads us over to a company trailer, where Liam and I drank beers, smoked cigars and told the superintendent of our plans. The Egyptian superintendent, Qaaid al-Zahra, later ‘Randy’ (Quaid?…never mind) scrutinized all our identification. He was actually very impressed when he came across my Blaster’s credentials.
“Doctor”, Qaaid said, “I do like your plan. The drilling is no problem, the problem is obtaining the explosives.”
“Look, Qaaid”, I said, “Leave that to me. You’re working for a government company, I’m working for a government company. What difference does it make? How long to drill the grid of holes Liam and I laid out?”
“Oh, probably about a week”, Qaaid said.
“OK, how about this?”, I said, “Liam and I will be back out here unless the weather’s being stupid and we’ll set and prime the charges? After which, we’ll make certain everything’s green and blow this little project for you?”
“If you can, Inshallah.”, Qaaid said.
“Even if we’re out of shallah”, I said back to Randy.
That Sunday, after Liam backed us down the 3.6 km or bouncy un-turn-around-able path he drove us out on, I ordered some Kinepax liquid binaries, as it came in easy-to-use 1-meter threaded lengths in various diameters. Qaaid was drilling 3.5” diameter holes, so the 3.00” nominal OD threaded length would be a breeze. I ordered a couple of spools of shock tube, comb connectors, deflectors, and tie-ins, and a 25 kilo box of ‘Elephant Shit’.
We make sure each hole was blown clean with a high-pressure water hose. Since the water here was only 8 meters deep, we could get by with regular lightweight skin diving gear. I could leave my wetsuit, diver’s helmet and all that heavy-duty ice-diving gear at home for this trip.
Liam and I would pre-form the charges, each exactly 6 meters in length, to match the depth of the drilled holes. Individual 1-meter units just screwed together, pin and box style, it was the utmost in simplicity. Rather like Seismogel™, but packed a considerably higher wallop. All told, we would be setting off some 36 nodal points, each 6 meters deep with 6 meters of binary which weighed 5.3 kg/meter.
Turn the crank and we’d be planting approximately 1,145 kilograms or 2,524 pounds of high-energy binary explosive.
Hmph. A new personal record.
Like Guinness even cared.
So, once we got the high sign from Randy that the shot holes had been drilled and cleaned, the next part of the project was up to us.
We were both PADI-certified. Liam had done some oilfield related diving in the North Sea some years ago. I was a veteran of the Ice Wars from the days of Future Passed back in Baja Canada.
The waters here were calm, gin-clear, and warm.
The dives here weren’t work, this was a paid vacation.
I had liberated a trailer for all our pyrotechnics and Liam was elected to use his Prago as the tow vehicle. We bounded our way out to the Liam’s Pass, as we had dubbed it, with a work trailer containing some 2,750 pounds of high powered, binary explosives bouncing behind. I also had all my explosives paraphernalia there as well: new waterproof galvanometer, which in and of itself, is rather the achievement. Pliers, spare batteries, couple pair of blaster’s tools, the usual.
Lia and I had our dive gear in the back of his Prago.
A couple of single tanks, backpacks, regulators, hoses, and a few belts full of divers weights.
These must have been of Islamic origin as they are specifically prohibited by the Bible. Deuteronomy 25:13, “Thou shalt not have on thy belt divers weights, a great and a small.” And Proverbs 20:23, “Divers weights are an abomination unto the LORD; and a false balance is not good.
Why there should be proscriptions against SCUBA gear in ancient, desert-dwelling, shepherding Iron Age writings is what keeps Biblical Scholars up at night.
Although I agree, a false balance underwater keeps your Swimmer’s Ear from healing up.
At the pass, we park and call over for a half-dozen ‘helpers’. They were nominal employees of the company, but more indentured servants. Today, they were going to earn their water wings. We had a couple of large pneumatic rafts that we’d use to transport he charges to their final water resting site but damned if Liam and I are going to swim laps every time we needed to set a new charge.
So, indoctrination and Explosives For Dummies.
Safety first, second and last.
Who here can swim?
You guys can stay. OK, the rest of you blokes, bugger off.
Here’s the deal, Sparky. There are 36 lengths of Kinestix with primers already set. Those go last, as that’s where I tie in to detonate. The rest of the 1-meter long tubes are identical. Pin on one end, box on the other. Thread them together and use a single ‘O-ring’ between each. Snug them up good and tight, but don’t go too crazy. Those are binary liquids, and I’ll give them a good smack with a hammer before they go into the hole. I really only have to do the last one as once initiated, these liquids can mix in milliseconds, but I’m all for safety and doing things right the first time.
OK, so, one raft will carry the 36 initiators, that is, the last bits to go. The other rafts will carry the 5-meter long strings of connected explosives. Liam and I will be down on bottom and you guys just stay up on surface, dog paddling or treading water, but slowly feeding the lengths of tubing down to us. When you reach an end, pop on one of the other lengths, the one with the primer.
To be continued.
submitted by Rocknocker to Rocknocker [link] [comments]

Do you guys use IQ Option for forex trading?

Just getting started and wanted to know what website you guys use to trade foreign currency.
submitted by james_hawley_ to Forex [link] [comments]

DEMOLITION DAYS, Part 47

continuing
As I was picking myself up off the shooter’s shack floor, I glanced over to the TV.
The ballplayers were all wandering around the field, looking skyward. Evidently, there was this hellacious explosion…even the television sports commentators were speculating as to what happened.
Whoops.
I looked out into the quarry. The wall that I had charged had receded some 75 feet.
There was rather a large amount of shattered, blasted dolomitic limestone now in the quarry. Enough, I found out later, for a full month’s worth of orders.
We never did find the blasting mats. I think they sort of evaporated.
Luckily, the quarry is essentially an open amphitheater in plan view; basically a big hole in the ground with vertical limestone walls. The shockwave of the blast that didn’t spend itself shattering the limestone into which it was housed, blew out laterally, hit the opposite quarry wall, rebounded, and then dispersed, rather energetically, vertically upward.
I set off car alarms for a 20 block radius.
There were no broken home windows, as the lion’s share of the shock wave was redirected upward.
Good thing there were no low flying zeppelins or dirigibles in the area...
I waited the requisite time to allow for any loafers. There were none, so I jumped into the nearest wheel loader and began clearing the quarry floor. Hell, I had to so I could open the front gate.
As I was clearing the floor, making pile number eight of the loose rock I had liberated, I heard the characteristic whoop-whoop of emergency vehicles.
I parked the wheel loader, opened the front gate, and raised the green flag. That was enough blasting for one day.
A few minutes later, three police cars zoom into the site. Two were local city cops, and one was a state trooper.
“Hi, guys!” I waved, “Nice day, innit?”
“Doctor Rock! We should have known.” One of the local boys groaned.
“Hey, I did call you beforehand, as per procedure,” I said.
Polack the cop walks up, just knowing I was responsible. “Yeah, but we didn’t figure on you terrorizing the entire city.”
“Polack! How goes it?” I asked.
The other local cop and the state trooper look to Polack, “You know this maniac?”
“Oh, hell yeah. For years. Don’t worry, the good doctor is mostly harmless.” He chuckles.
“Damn. OK. I guess everything’s OK. Just no more shooting today, please, Doctor. It’s going to take hours to calm everyone down.” He laments.
“Yes, sir. I’m done for the day.” I reply, snickering slightly.
The one local and state trooper depart, shaking their heads in amazement. This left Polack to follow me over to the shooter’s shack to mooch a cigar and whatever else he can find.
“Jesus Hula-Dancing Christ, Rock. What the hell was that? I was all the way out in Whitewatosa and heard you.” He asks as he sneakily snakes a smoke out of my case.
“Just some common chemicals in the proper proportions.” I snicker.
“Which were?” he asks.
I go in the back of the shed and toss him an empty container of one of the parts of the binaries I used. He catches it, reads the label, and drops it like a live grenade.
“Binaries? Fuck! Like what you used at the tower?” he asks.
“Yep. I used just a little more.” I reply.
“Little more? Damn, as I said, we’ve been briefed on the stuff. This shit’s nasty.” He shakes his head.
“Yeah. Fun, too.” I reply.
Polack grabs a Sprechler’s Cream Soda out of the fridge as I opt for a cold Cream Ale and shot of potato juice. Hell, I was done for the day, so…
We sit around and have a chat, just shooting the shit, as it were. Manly topics, so the conversation eventually steered over to guns.
“Hey!” Polack remembers, “That’s right! You fucking owe me. Let me borrow that fucking cannon you carry. I want to show the chief a thing or two.”
“Yeah, that’s right”, I agree, “When do you need it?”
“This Friday, after shift. It’s the monthly qualifiers for us.” He notes.
“Are pyromaniacs allowed in?” I ask.
“To observe? Sure. To shoot? Nope. Insurance regulations.” He says.
“What time?” I continue.
“1800 hours.” He tells me.
“I’ll be there. I’ll bring my gun and an assortment of loads. Hey, this could be fun!” I evilly smile.
“Doctor. You’re doing that thing again. You’re grinnin’ like a shithouse rat. You know how much that scares me. Stop it.” He pleads.
“No worries. Friday at 1800 hours.” I reply, grinning.
Polack slurps down his Sprechlers, snitches another stogie, and squeals out of the quarry in a cloud of dense dolomitic dust.
I arrive back at our flat, after stopping for two frozen custard Turtle Sundaes, to go. I give one to an appreciative wife and I ask her about her day.
“Oh, went shopping with Oma. Got the cutest shoes, and a new purse, and…oh well, never mind. You’ll see.”
Between bites of Turtle Sundae, she asks how my day went.
“Oh, my dear. I had a real blast.” I replied, not lying in the least.
Monday, after my first classes, I’m back in the faculty lounge, savoring a Greenland Coffee.
There was the usual instructor chatter when Dean Vermiculari walks in.
“Good morning, Dean!” I say. “Care for a sit-down and a coffee?”
“Good morning, Doctor Rock. Yes, please to both.” He replies.
I fix us both a fresh Greenland Coffee and return to our table. I hand him one and sit down to savor my soupçon.
“How was your weekend?” I ask the Dean of the College.
“Oh, very nice. Had a fine time catching some perch and crappie out on Lake Genever. I see you had a victorious weekend as well. Twice.” He smiles.
“Twice?” I asked.
“Well, your handling of the tower demolition made all the papers. Very, very well done, Doctor. I congratulate you.” He smiles.
“Thank you, Dean. That means a lot. Just doing what I can with what I’ve got. But twice?” I replied.
“It wasn’t front-page news, but I saw there was some, well, let us just say, ‘energetic activity’ out at the Silurian reef limestone quarry yesterday.” He grinned.
“Oh, yes. I had a job to do and well, as I always say: ‘Nothing succeeds like excess.” I smile back.
“Quite. This beverage you’ve created is really rather extraordinary, Doctor. Again, I thank you.” He tips his mug my direction in the age-old Midwestern salute.
“It’s a little recipe I picked up on my last expedition to the northlands. I grew rather fond of the concoction.” I replied.
“Ah, I see. Marvelous.” He smiles.
“Thank you, Dean. High praise indeed.” I reply.
“Which leads me to…ah, Doctor Rock. I have another favor to impose upon you.” He says, all serious.
“Yes, Dean? How can I be of service?” I ask.
“We, as you no doubt know, have many, many fine extractive mineral company connections. We actually receive quite a large amount of funding and endowments from them. They recruit here extensively for our young geoscientists. Now, since Dr. Pataariki has left for industry himself, I would like to appoint you as the College of Natural Sciences corporate liaison.” He explains.
“Indeed?” I replied, too stunned for words for once.
“Yes, indeed.” He continues, “It will require travel, mostly domestic, and delivering symposia at various companies on differing extractive geological subjects. You will also serve as host and university coordinator when they are present on recruiting tours. There will, of course, be additional remuneration to accompany the added responsibilities.”
I slurped my coffee, thinking furiously.
“Could I please first discuss it with my wife before I answer?” I ask.
“Oh, Doctor. Of course, of course. Take your time. I will not require a reply until… tomorrow.” He smiles, finishes his coffee, thanks me again, and toddles out.
“Yow, Es!” I exclaim, “This is one hell of an opportunity. It’s never before been offered to a junior professor. This will cement my tenure-track. It’s going to be a bitch with time, though. What do you think I should do?”
“Well, Rock, honey, I think you should do…” Es begins.
“No! None of that ‘do what you think is best’ stuff. I want your own thoughts, just like when I decided to go after my doctorate.” I explained.
“OK, then.” Esme looks all serious like she’s going to deliver a bipartisan political speech.
“Yes.” She says, firmly
“That’s it?” I ask.
“Yep. You asked I answered. We’ll make it work. We always do. You can’t let the Dean down. You will accept tomorrow without fear or qualms of your wife’s hesitations, of which I harbor none.” Esme proclaims.
“Did I ever tell you of the myriad reasons I love you so?” I ask.
The next morning I meet with Dean Vermiculari. He’s pleased that I accept and hands over to me the charter. Then the lists of company representatives, their contact information, and some other secret stuff that I can’t divulge right yet.
A raft of oil companies will be coming in the late spring semester, so I need to contact each and every one to solidify dates, times and positions for which they’re recruiting. But that’s for then, I have something more proximal for now.
I have a Friday appointment with Polack the cop at the town police shooting range.
I arrive spot on time with my Casull .454 Magnum pistol, in its carry bag, along with a small duffel crammed with Pyrodex, Tannerite, and selection of specialty loads I had Herman the German, the inveterate gunsmith, create.
Herman the German, his actual sobriquet, was this incredible gunsmith, craftsman, and all-around artillery specialist. Have any sort of problem with a rifle, shotgun, or pistol? See Herman. Gun holding too high? See Herman. Barrel warped? See Herman. Need solid gold projectiles for a certain one-off job? See Herman.
Herman the German can sort it out.
Just never ask him: “How?”
“Ach! I’ve lived so long to learn, and you want it free? I’ll fix it, you pay, but I am only one knowing how!”
Herman was a cranky old Kraut, and has lived here for as long as anyone can remember. Even my Grandfather had deferred to Herman when he had some particularly delicate machining operation that need special attention and was unique.
As far as anyone knew, Herman had no family, but was never at a loss for friends. He was one of the most popular, and well known, but still oddly really unknown, kind of mysterious, old bastards in the entire community.
Herman the German liked me because I could obtain for him certain high-energy things he couldn’t. All were entirely legal, but some were sort of out there in the gray zone.
He also liked that I was educated, as he held education in the highest esteem. He also liked that I was of German extraction myself.
I often made it a point to drop by with odd and unusual high-octane potables while never expecting anything in return other than a story or a shared cigar.
Herman created some special loads for my .454 Magnum, which he prized.
“I like your gun, Doctor Rock, it is so big! I can still see well enough to build things for it.” He told me one day over cheroots and Schnapps.
Herman was a character to be certain. It must have been the pixie in him to dream up some of the specialty rounds he created for me to share with the local constabulary.
He lived out in the county by himself in an old farmhouse. He had a full machine shop in his basement, complete with forge, metal handling equipment, and a firing test range.
He handed back my .454, rather solemnly.
“Doctor, I am afraid to say I couldn’t test all the special rounds I’ve created for you. I need to patch the hole in the cinder blocks in the downstairs range. Your gun punched right through the back…” he apologized.
Now, Herman does all sorts of work on the local’s deer rifles, the police’s ordinance and has even worked some with the Baja Canada National Guard. Some of the little novelties he’s dreamed up for me are the first to escape his homemade basement test range.
I felt oddly honored.
After proving who I was to the nice range officer, I looked around trying to find Polack.
“It’s 1550. Where the hell is Polack? I wondered.
“Rock! Over here.” Polack calls to me.
He motions me outside to the police department’s tactical outdoor range. I had thought all along he was referring to the indoors police target range. This might pose some problems.
The tactical range was a series of clapboard shacks, all setup and designed to represent some downtrodden urban inter-city landscape. There were a couple of junked cars, broken sidewalks, storefronts, houses, bus stops…in short, all things necessary to replicate the seediest sections of a settlement where malefactors live and breed.
The cops all run around this range, shooting at bad guy pop-up cut-outs and avoid the not-bad-guy pop-up cut-outs. They’ve got music blaring, firecrackers going off, all trying to re-create a shady deeply urban environment. Points are awarded by the accuracy of fire on the run, time to maneuver the course, and the ability of not gunning down innocent bystanders.
It is not the best place to test a .454 Cusall. This hand cannon recoils like a fundamentalist Christian being solicited for donations to Anton LaVey, shoots flames and incandescent gasses like Smaug after a hard night of drinking and a stop at the Taco Bell buffet, is louder than a dime-store Karen demanding to see a Manager, and more powerful than a Ghost Pepper suppository.
To quote Joe Piscopo: “It shoots through schools.” Especially faux-schools made of plywood.
A .32 or .38 cop special is the correct weapon here; even a 9mm is a little heavy. Enough power to make a serious dent, easy on control, light on the recoil…a good tactical weapon.
But, nothing succeeds like excess.
Polack’s Chief is running around, capping off his ‘big ol’ .44 Magnum, and making the valley echo. He punches considerable holes in the pop-up cut-outs, but has such a hard time handling the recoil, his score is barely passable.
Polack runs his test with his standard 9mm sidearm and qualifies easily. However, he’s nowhere near done with his Chief yet.
I suggest to Polack we have a shoot-off. And since a .44 Magnum bullet ‘is so close to a .454 Magnum’, which it isn’t…the .454 Casull generates nearly 85% more recoil energy than the .44 Magnum; that we’d need something other than holes punched in plywood to judge the efficacy of each.
We are literally just down the road from Max Yazzer’s farm and market. They’re the place you go for your Halloween jack-o-lantern. However, now, he has a surplus of melons.
I think you can see where this is headed…
I borrow Polack’s personal conveyance and run down to Max’s farm. I return with a trunk-load of elderly, overripe, cheap as chips, melons. Watermelons, Honeydews, Musks, and Casabas.
We place them in strategic areas on the course, five for the Chief to find, and five for Polack.
A .44 vs. a .454 melon-wise results in pretty much the same sort of mess: high-velocity fruit spatter. Although, the Chief was very impressed by the report of the .454. So, after running the tactical-melon course, clear demarcation of a winner was elusive.
OK, OK, clever dicks. How about this? A standing shoot-off? We’ll set up 3 melons each at 30, 20, and 10 yards. Beginning at 30 yards, your time will be until you take out all three melons. But, they’re not going to be in a straight line, we’re going to make them somewhat camouflaged. You will stand in one small demarcated area, hunt those miscreant melons, and bring them to justice. Fastest time and greatest display wins, as determined by the Police Peanut Gallery.
Polack and the Chief agree.
The Chief goes first and dispatches the melons, with a fair amount of spatter, in 15.3 seconds.
Not bad.
Polack is next. He wipes out all the melons and creates some thoroughly impressive displays with Herman’s ‘special’ rounds. Normal ballistics for the .454 are, for a 250 grain (16 g) bullet, a muzzle velocity of over 2,400 feet per second, developing up to 2,800 ft-lb of energy.
Herman’s hot loads are double that.
Polack wins the day on impressive high-velocity melon distribution, but misses, so close, with a time of 17.0 seconds.
Recoil’s a bitch.
Then there are Herman’s ‘specialties’.
The Chief is duly impressed and even comments that his ears are ringing even with the ear protectors. He asks to inspect the weapon. He is even more than duly impressed.
Polack knows what’s up and asks the Chief if he’d like to give a whirl.
Of course, the Chief can’t back down.
Polack loads the .454 with 5 of Herman’s specialties: hollow-point rounds loaded hot, compressed, and tipped with alkaline earth metals, like metallic sodium and metallic potassium…
We set up the nastiest, glorpiest, just barely-holding-together, overripe, laced with Tannerite (an impact-actuated low-explosive) watermelon at the ‘Concealed Carry’ distance of 5 meters.
We slowly fade back into the distance to avoid the inevitable ‘Gallagher reaction’.
The Chief fires one, and just nicks the top of the melon. Don’t laugh, with the type of recoil and heft of the sidearm, and tensing up in anticipation, it’s easy to be off the mark initially.
The second round impacts dead-center. Now, alkaline earth metals and water don’t get along really well. In fact, their relationship is explosive. Especially explosive when delivered at 2,900 feet per second.
The Chief catches a huge smattering of vitamin-packed watermelony back blast goo.
He’s not entirely happy. He looks positively grisly with all that blown-up melon schmoo on his nice, neat uniform.
He returns my gun and bans me from ever showing up at the police range again.
Polack is on traffic duty for the next month.
He figures it was well worth it.
Back at the flat, Esme is shaking her head and wondering if I’ll ever grow up.
“I may grow old, but I’ll never grow up.” I reply.
I see I have several missed phone calls. Ah, me; no rest for the weary. Back to company-university liaison duties.
After I had contacted these companies, I receive no less than 12 requests for symposia, talks, and seminars to be given to various level of industrial scientific employees in their respective companies.
I am now slated to give academic conferences on stratigraphy, sedimentology, and seismic structural geology to different companies in Houston, Oklahoma City, Denver, Casper, Corpus Christi, New Orleans, and Tulsa. In the next 12 weeks, I’ll be giving no less than 8 talks in seven cities.
I speak with Dean Vermiculari on how best to handle the situation. He understands and appoints two graduate student teaching assistants to handle my classes while I’m on the road. That relieves me of being physically there, but I still have to grade papers, compose lesson plans, and keep things running smoothly until finals.
Besides giving the talks, there’s travel to oil fields, production facilitates, manufacturing plants, hotels, restaurants while I’m in town…the pace is excruciating. I’m gone more than I am at university. Plus in my time back home, I’m still the ad hoc master blaster for the limestone quarry.
Then, there’s the companies arriving on campus, and the roles are reversed. Now I’m the welcome wagon and have to sort out the logistics of receiving the company representatives. I need to set up the colloquia to introduce the companies to the prospective students, arrange lodging, arrange passes for the university, transportation, “Meet-and-Greet’s, ad infinitum.
I knew this was having a bit of effect on me when I came back to the flat after one particularly grueling ordeal of canceled flights, full hotels, missed connections and lukewarm reception by the company workers.
“Hello”, I said, as I walked in the flat, “I believe you have a reservation for…”
Esme just stood there, wondering if I was having a laugh.
No, I wasn’t. I was completely hallucinating from road weariness, lack of sleep, jet lag, and total disorientation. This continued on for the next approximately 18 months.
Esme was beginning to have second thoughts about all this.
My teaching load was diminished by one whole introductory course. However, I was still flying hither and yon, delivering symposia, meeting with young geoscientists and getting to know the ins-and-outs of the Oil Industry.
I found it particularly fascinating.
Time marched on and it was once again it was the recruiting season. We had no less than eight oil companies visiting the university in their quest to swell the roster of their junior scientists.
I’m still busier than a one-armed paperhanger in a windstorm, but have settled into a groove of sorts. I know the company recruiters and they now know me. I’ve actually struck up friendships with several. Particularly since I take them to the best local restaurants and bars after their recruiting duties are finished.
I’ve met with recruiting representatives of Shrill Petrol, Mexxon, Nobil, Nocono Oil, Flug, Geddy, Brutish Petroleum, and Qexaco.
The recruiting season is winding down and I find myself with Red (not Adair), of Nocono Oil.
“Well, Doctor Rock”, Red states, “Another fine recruiting run. We’ve snagged two of your young geologists and one geophysicist. I’d say it was almost a perfect score.”
We’re sitting in the Norton’s Steakhouse. After a couple of prime pink porterhouses, we’re working on the post-dinner double vodka and bitter lemon for me, and Lagavulin for Red.
“Almost perfect?” I ask.
“Yeah. There’s been this one small nagging concern from our company higher-ups.” Red continues.
“What’s that?” I ask.
“We need some more senior people. For one thing, we’ve recently opened a new petroleum laboratory down in our Houston office. Going to need some serious talent to run that show.” Red says.
“I see”, I reply, “And…?”
“We need mentors. Those with varied and far-flung knowledge. They must be well educated, global in experience and stature, with an [ahem] diverse set of skills.” Red notes.
“Whew”, I agree, “That’s a tall order. You want my help with names of possible candidates? Is that it?”
“Not as such, Doctor.” Red drains his drink, motions for me to do the same, and orders another round.
Our drinks arrive and Red downs half his in one gulp.
“Well, then”, I continue, “How can I help?”
Red chuckles, “For someone so educated, you can really be thick as two short planks at times.”
I sit back, and sip my Old Thought Provoker.
The mercury-vapors light off.
“No!” I say, incredulously.
“Oh, yes.” Red smiles.
“No?” I ask, slowly taking in the possible effects of what he’s hinting at…
“OK, Doctor Rocknocker”, Red gets all serious and corporate, “We’d like to offer you a position at Nocono Oil as Senior Laboratory Manager and Head of Corporate Continuing Education.”
You could have knocked me over with a grenade. I was stunned. I fumbled with my drink.
“Red, you old con artist” I reply, “Is this a set-up?”
Red, serious as a heart attack, looks directly at me and replies, “Doctor Rock, absolutely not, it’s a genuine offer.”
He slides over a folder with some papers inside. “Here are the particulars.”
Reeling, I accept the folder. I open it and right after the corporate logos and legal bullshit, I see a tall figure with a whole raft of zeros trailing behind it.
I read furiously. The job would be both interesting and challenging. It would be in Houston, with travel and teaching at all other company outposts on a regular basis. I reexamine that figure from before and verify that I’m not now hallucinating.
The job comes with furnished, corporate-paid housing, incredible benefits, loads of opportunity for advancement, more opportunity to travel, really generous vacation time…
“Right. On the level?” I ask again.
“Yep.” Red bluntly says.
“Well”, I gulp, “you know I have to discuss this with Esme”, whom he’s met several times previous.
“Of course, and you probably want to finish out the semester, correct?” red asks.
“Oh, yes.” I reply. There would be a monsoon of paperwork and other grunt work I’d need to conclude or hand over if I were to accept this offer.
“OK, then”, Red finishes his drink, motions for me to do the same, a real rarity; but I was in another dimension at this point. He orders another round and sits back, waiting on a refill.
“You have two weeks to reply” Red states.
“I know that’s not a terribly long time, but we need to fill this position ASAP. Can I ask for that? Your answer, yea, or nay, within a fortnight?” Red demands.
“Yes”, I reply. “I at least owe you that.”
And that was the end of the discussion for the night about me joining the private sector. We stayed a few more hours, chatting, smoking my cigars, and discussing everything but the lumbering elephant in the room.
We part outside as I need to head back to our flat. Red wants to go downtown to one of those “Gentleman’s Clubs” he’s heard were so famous at the time.
I was flummoxed the whole cab ride home.
It was late when I returned, but I simply had to wake Es with the news.
“Rock, for pity’s sake, its 2 o’clock in the morning!” Es protests. “Can’t this wait until later?”
“Sorry, my dear” I reply, probably as serious as I ever had with Esme. “This is a potential game-changer.”
“What is it? Are you OK?” Esme trembles.
“Oh, I’m fine. Better than fine.” I reply.
She’s relieved.
“Then what’s so important?” she asks.
“Um…how would you like to move to Houston?” I ask.
“You going to teach at Cougar High (University of Houston)?” she inquires.
“Nope. Brace yourself. I’ve been offered a job with Nocono Oil.” I finally spill the beans.
Esme is slightly stunned and sits down.
I go to the wet bar, fix me a bracing potato juice and citrus and Esme a stiff white Zinfandel.
I hand her the wine and she is still semi-dazed and digesting the information.
I slurp a good portion of my drink, retrieve her Sobranjes and me a cigar from my Turkmenistan humidor.
I sit on the couch next to her and hug her soundly.
“Esme? Es? Earth to Es? You in there?” I joke.
“Oh, Yeah. Rock. Really? Hang on”, she leaves, returning with her housecoat as this might take a little time.
“So?” I ask, “Your thoughts. Now! Immediately! Initial reaction!” I try to jar her back into reality.
“Well, what do you want?” she asks.
“C’mon, my dearest. You know I hate that. No, what do you think? What do you honestly think?” I reply.
We both fire up our smokes, and I refresh our drinks. We return to the dinner table where Red’s folder lies.
“Es, here. Look at this.” I say, sliding the portfolio over to her.
She reads like a hungry man at a Vegas casino buffet. I can tell where she was stopped by something extraordinary.
“This is for real?” she asks, “Red’s not pulling a fast one?”
“Nope. It’s the genuine article”, I tell her, “He needs my reply within two weeks.”
“Rock, Rock…I just don’t know. It’s a lot to process at 0230 in the morning. Let’s go to bed and have a think in the morning. You have the luxury of at least that amount of time.” She notes.
“Right again, as usual”, I say, “Stuff it. It can wait.” We toddle off to bed.
The next morning, over Cuban omelets and Greenland Coffees, we sort through the particulars.
“Rock, it’s an extraordinary offer. But, do you want to leave teaching? I remember how you got all animated by Dean Vermiculari giving you the corporate liaison job and how that would improve your shot at tenure.” She notes.
“I just don’t know. I’m still shell-shocked.” I tell her. “Let me go to school and we’ll pick this up tonight. We both have work to do no matter what. Oh, bloody hell. I hadn’t considered your job. Another wrinkle in the mess.”
“Don’t you worry about that”, Esme smiles. “One catastrophe at a time.”
“I do so love you.” I hug her soundly. “Think I should mention this offer to anyone at school?”
“No. Definitely not.” Esme shakes her head. “Let’s figure this out on our own.”
“I agree”, I say, kiss her and depart for school once again.
The next week was a blur. Recruiting duties were dragging and I was being preoccupied.
Even my students noted the lack of in-room explosions lately.
I spend the next Saturday at the quarry, doing some small amount of blasting. I quiz the quarry owners about their progress in acquiring a new master for the quarry’s operation.
“Oh, Doctor Rock” they gush, “You’re doing such a fine job, we haven’t really looked. Why do you ask?”
“No particular reason at this time, I reply, “But perhaps you might want to begin looking”
The chinks in my armor were finally starting to show.
Sunday was spent out on Sliver Lake, with Esme and me chasing the elusive crappie, perch, and bucketmouth bass. It also gave us a chance to clear our heads from work, school and other such intrusions. We both needed a bit of downtime.
Later that night, after a meal of beer-battered fillet of crappie and perch on the barbie, we sit down at the dinner table.
The portfolio sits there, taunting us.
I get up, makes us both our drinks, sit down and declare that this is it.
“Es, darling” I say, “its nut-cuttin’ time. We need to make our decision.”
“You’re right.” Es agrees, “Time for risk-reward analysis. Get some paper and some pencils.”
We spend the next few hours listing the pros and cons of accepting the Houston position or staying here and pursuing my tenured professorship.
After several hours, I stretch, stand, and go to the fridge. I retrieve the bottle of Bollinger Les Vieilles Vignes Francaises I had purchased the other day.
I return to the table with the wine and the glasses, pop the cork and pour us both a glass of high-brow bubble water.
I hug and kiss Esme like I had just returned from a long, solo expedition.
“Esme, my darling. I’d like to propose a toast. First to us. Hа здоровый!”
“Cheers!” Esme replies.
“Secondly to Red, Dean Vermiculari, the quarry guys, Polack the Cop, and all the others that makes our life weird around here.”
“Seconded”, Es echoes.
“Finally: to Houston, Texas. Our new home!” I finally add.
The next morning, Dean Vermiculari peers over the top of his pince-nez glasses. He’s not looking overly happy with me right now.
“Why is it, Doctor, that everyone that receives the job of corporate liaison ends up going with corporate?” he asks.
“Perhaps it’s just the exposure to another world that exists beyond academia.” I reply, truthfully.
“Doctor Rocknocker,” the Dean gravely states, “I am not at all happy about your decision. We had great hopes for you here and you were riding right up the tenure track. Another five years and it would have been assured.”
“Five years is a long time, Dean”, I state the obvious.
“Yes, indeed.” The Dean replies frostily. “However, you are young. Perhaps you need to get this private sector nonsense out of your system, then you can return to academia where you belong.”
“Perhaps, perhaps”, I reply.
“Please, do consider this option down the road. You and your antics will be missed here, by students and faculty alike.” He says.
“I will, Dean, I promise.” I reply “However, for now, it’s time for my boot heels to be wanderin’.”
“Doctor, I will miss your strange and unique way of looking at life. I reluctantly accept your resignation at the end of the current semester and wish you all the best in your newest endeavors. Please remember us when corporate support for academia is mentioned in your new company.” he says.
“I promise you, Dean, I will not forget what I’ve learned here and what you’ve taught. It’s the least I can do,” I reply. “I will never forget my roots.”
“All I can ask”, he concludes. He stands to shake my hand. We shake and my audience is over.
I resign from the quarry a week later. They haven’t found a new blaster but wish me well on my new journey. I tell them I’m here until the end of the semester, so I won’t leave them high and dry.
I tell Polack the Cop about all the goings-on.
“Who the hell can I roust for beer and cigars now?” He whines. “Let me know when you get to Texas if they need any cops. I wouldn’t mind trying’ that. Hell, maybe a Texas Ranger!”
“A Cheesehead Ranger…?” I assure him I will and pass a box of cigars to him as a parting gift. He gives me a mayoral-signed get-out-of-jail-free card.
“Now you can drive that old Harley just as crazy as you want.” He chuckles.
“Thanks, Polack.” I say, shaking his hand. I didn’t have the heart to tell him I sold my bike a week earlier.
Red was very chuffed with the news.
“Snagged me a big one this time!’ He laughed, over the phone.
There was enough paperwork, considerations and decisions to be made to last the remaining time Esme and I had in-state until our move. Already, a moving company had arrived, done inventory, and was preparing for our move to Houston.
Esme resigned her position and decided she wanted to take some time off. She wanted to be a housewife, a colleague, and not have to work for once at an outside job. My new position allowed for that in spades. Besides with her credentials, anytime when she wants to re-join the workforce, there are myriad opportunities in the Bayou City.
We made the choice of housing out west of town, in Katy, Texas. We could have chosen Sugarland, Addicks, Greenspoint, Greenway, or the Memorial area. However, these west Houston company properties were closest to the job and largest in square footage.
My students got wind of my resignation and relocation. They threw me an unexpected farewell party at the Gast Haus. It was nickel-beer night and since they were footing the bill, it all worked out just fine.
I would miss the old place. The camaraderie, the seasons, the university; hell my home these last many years. I’ve been on many, many expeditions, but I always returned home.
Now, home was moving and was awaiting our arrival.
Esme and I said our farewells to our families as well. We were the first through college, the first ones to travel international, the first Doctor in the family, and the first to leave the state.
That’s a lot of familial firsts.
I had to keep reminding everyone it wouldn’t be the last. Hell, we’re just moving to Texas, it’s not like we’re off to Greenland or Mongolia…
[Gasp]
We saddled up Es’s old Chevy Nova, took one last, lingering look in the rearview mirror, and said fare thee well to our previous lives.
“We’ll be back. Someday. I promise” I told the city of our youth and young married adulthood.
We decided to drive to Houston because we had the luxury of a bit of time. We needed the stretch to chew over some interpersonal and private things on the way to the next chapter in our lives. Besides, the weather was good, the roads ahead open and clear, and Texas had no ‘Open Container’ law, yet.
We pointed the old Nova south and hit the gas.
A week later, we’re wandering around our new house in Katy, Texas. Our belongings, scant though they may be, arrived the day after we did. Esme and I spent the next couple of day rearranging the house, buying necessary domestic bits and pieces, and getting to know our new neighborhood.
First thing, though, Esme wanted to replace the old Nova. I concurred, but insisted we keep it as a second car and went out to purchase our first new car as a couple.
I wanted a Land Rover. We ended up with a glossy black Toyota 4-Runner. Close enough.
I was scheduled to show up at my new job the next Monday.
I had my own parking spot, complete with “Reserved for Dr. Rock” painted on the bumper block. I was shown my new lab and was introduced to my seven laboratory assistants. I was shown the catalogs I could use to order what I needed and went over the requisition procedures.
I was trotted around to meet the company CEO, CFO, CIO, VPs and many, many more company executives and managers. I’ve met with presidents and heads of state, I was impressed but not overly. They seemed like a more or less nice bunch of chaps.
Almost exactly five weeks to the day from our arrival in Houston, I come home, yelling “Darling, I’m home!”
Esme comes to greet me with a rib-rearranging hug. She tells me to sit at the dinner table, where my long hard day at the office drink, cigar, ashtray, and lighter are already set.
“How was work, dear?” she asks, sitting down with her Perrier water.
“Oh, it’s going great. The knotheads let me have an open-ended budget until I get the labs sorted just the way I want it. These guys pay their bills on time and I have carte blanche at Wards Scientific, and other supply houses. My crew is great, no interpersonal crapola, and hard workers. I can smoke in my office and no one dares give me shit about my cigars. I’m getting to know the exploration department quite well. They’re really interested in our expeditions and are more interested in my opinions of their new exploration directives.”
Esme just smiles and sips her water.
“Odd”, I thought.
“That’s great, dear.” She says. “I am so glad to hear it.”
“Me too”, I say, “How are you holding up after all these weeks alone?”
“Oh, I’m getting used to it.” She smiles.
And smiles. Beatifically. Glowing.
“What?” I ask.
“Remember what we talked about in the car on the way down here?” She asks.
“We talked about a lot of things…” I say, suddenly my eyes grew very, very wide indeed.
“Yes. You’re going to be a father. I’m pregnant, Rock.” Esme smiles.
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