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2020.09.28 11:05 Meda28Sepl2 Hidden camera in chinese toilet
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2020.09.22 22:37 mtp6921 Hidden camera in chinese toilet
I’m a wholesale buyer for a luxury hotel chain.
I buy everything from the art, to the toilets for the hotels.
My main objective is to get the best quality for the cheapest prices.
I get inundated from 1000’s of companies who want me to buy their products, so if they want my attention then they better be cheap and of be of a higher quality.
I have over 100 hotel’s that I’m responsible for, with rooms that I continually need to update.
I was approached by an emerging Chinese TV manufacturer with a hard to pass up deal. Basically, the company wanted their TV’s to be exposed to high end clientele and they would be willing to give their 52 inch TV’s away for free. It was a deal that I couldn’t pass up because it would save the company $100,000’s of dollars.
I had climbed my way up through the company and this only made me look better during the board meetings and through bonuses.
The TV’s were first sent to the hotel’s that were already slated for new TV’s. I had personally tested the TV’s before agreeing to them and once they were installed in our seven NYC hotel’s, then I was really convinced, I had made the right decision. The picture quality was superb and so was the ability to access streaming services like Netflix. Generally, in my line of business, customers don’t compliment the artwork or their sinks in their rooms, but the customers do complain if the artwork is tacky or the depth of the sink isn’t deep enough.
At this point all of the TV’s were installed in all of the hotel’s except 10 of them, which were purposely left out because of the size of the TV’s.
The next board meeting I received high praises for saving the company millions of dollars as it turned out. I received a six figure bonus in addition to my nearly million dollar salary and there were zero customer complaints regarding the TV’s.
I started to reach out to other manufacturing companies to see if they were interested in giving their products to us pro bono in exchange for the product exposure and no other companies were really interested.
The next board meeting came and everything was going well on my end. The quality control expert would break down the different complaint areas and they were typical complaints of rudeness by staff; not being able to check in earlier; room service not fast enough...
Everything was going well and I said to myself “oh well! if I never get another home run deal from a manufacturing company.”
The next board meeting came and once again I was flying high. Complaints remained the same besides thefts, in particular outside of the hotels. Typically, what happens then is everyone brain storms and the VP's look for contributing circumstances and after analysis nothing really jumped out besides the economy getting worse.
Then, we had an emergency board meeting because thefts, to include armed thefts, outside of our hotel's were occurring at least once a week at most of our hotels. Unfortunately, when you cater to the high end clientele they expect their whole experience to be perfect and if not then they stop coming and they also tell their friends.
All of the VP's analyzed the data we had and we had no other explanation than the economy. We brought in additional security to patrol outside of our hotspot hotels.
Our monthly meetings started to turn into weekly meetings. We had brought in outside consultants, who had suggested to look into our own employees. The armed thefts were broken down to every minutia to include the time of day; particular hotspots hotels; new employees...
That’s when I had an “oh shit” moment. As I analyzed the hotel hotspots, I realized the ones that didn’t have the new TV’s were fine. The terror ripped through me especially knowing there had been actual murders. I had to keep this to myself because I wasn’t sure and if the TV’s had anything to do with it and quite frankly,I was the only VP who was aware of the hotels that didn’t get the new TV’s. I knew if there was any association with the TV’s I would be fired on the spot.
So I went to one of the hotel’s and turned the TV on and I couldn’t see anything obviously wrong. I knew this room wasn’t going to be used, so for the heck of it I duct taped everything on the TV besides the glass. Then, I laid down on the bed and did work on my laptop with the TV on. Then about an hour later the TV went off on its own. I tried to turn it back on and it just wouldn’t. I removed the TV from the wall and saw a warning sticker that stated “any tampering with the device may cause it to malfunction”. It was something that seemed really odd and something that I had totally overlooked. To me it was like white noise, where you would see a sticker that says “watch out for electric shock”.
I knew there were five rooms that were going to be painted tomorrow and weren’t going to be used for customers, so I taped all five TV’s in different areas on the TV’s and I turned them all on. Four of the TV’s turned off and one stayed on.
The TV that stayed on had no duct tape on its corners. I then realized there must be something in the corner of the TV’s and of course, the thought of there being a camera never escaped me.
I remember we were having issues with employees putting cameras in the female bathrooms and the hotel had bought camera detectors, so I went down to the maintenance room and made up a story about a possible camera in one of the bathroom. I used the detector on the corner of the TV and the detector lit up meaning there were lenses hidden in the TV. I then realized that the TV’s were being used to spy on people.
To further test my theory, I went to the bank and took out $10,000 dollars in $100 dollar bills. I brought the money back to the hotel room with the TV still working and counted the money on the bed and then put the money in a bag. I waited for a couple of hours and then took the bag of money and slowly walked towards the exit of the building. I purposely brought an empty bag and put a bunch of $1 dollar bills in the bag. I walked out of the building and about 50 yards away a short Asian man with a gun robbed me.
“Great” I said to myself, I figured out why our guests are being robbed and killed and unfortunately, I was to partially blame. I didn’t fully research the TV company. What I determined is that they were stealing named brand TV’s, then removing the brand logos; and then installing hidden cameras. The Chinese company, that approached me, also had a factory that manufactured no-named TV’s for cheap prices.
I tried calling the Chinese company but no one ever picked up the phone.
I kept thinking to myself What do I do?
If I tell the board the TV’s have cameras then I would be terminated and lives will be saved; If I say nothing, then the company will continue to see less and less guests; and if I put tape over the cameras, then there rendered useless and once again I’ll probably get fired.
I had to think of something, where I could fix this situation. I thought of trying to bait the Chinese people, who were watching through the TV’s, again by counting money in the room and then having a ton of security outside, but I knew they must of had a hundred armed thieves spread across the country, so I thought what would catching one person do!
We had another emergency board meeting, because a married guest couple had both been shot and killed outside of one of our NYC’s hotels, during a botched robbery attempt.
I really started to feel the pressure at this point and in addition to getting fired, I felt that I could potentially go to jail, so I decided that I had to save myself and jump ship. I knew another hotel chain was hiring a similar position to mine, so I reached out to my contact at the company and was pretty much hired on the spot.
I completely cut ties with my former employer. I was the only one who was aware of the cameras in the TV’s and to this day I’m not sure if the same TV’s are still being utilized, but I figured at least I was able to start over at a different hotel chain.
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2020.09.20 18:06 Samara_Buckley_Derby In toilet camera chinese hidden
Summary: Fighting immortals is a sweetheart job for someone obsessed with the afterlife. Dying on the job, however, is cutting it too close. However, Julian's curiosity with the great beyond pushes him a little too far, back to the land of the living and cursed with a newly damned soul, just like the immortals he's sworn to fight...
First chapter --- Previous chapter here!! --- Next chapter
Cover art --- Rate me on Royal Road!
And dangerous was how Matti liked it. He was yet to have a real reason to believe his life was in danger and until he felt that, he had no problem pushing the envelope.
Which is why he was perched in the back of a helicopter heading out to Munich on a mission intended to intercept one of the deadliest immortals at an active civilian airport with nearly two dozen soldiers, some of whom were legally dead, while most were shoot-on-sight traitors.
Could it get any better?
“Find anything, Matti?” a cool voice asked in his ear.
“Clear for now, Pooja.” He gave the Colonel a reassuring smile and she nodded, returning to the cockpit. Last names had never suited him and as a renegade, he wasn’t obligated to use them. It was easier to empathize with an Amy or Markus than with a Brown or Khan. Knowing the name they heard from friends and family humanized them and that was important when lives were on the line.
They usually just thought he was being cocky and rude and he had no need to dispel that theory because, as a renegade, they were going to think he was an arrogant prick anyway. It wasn’t even really a lie, so…
The helicopter they all sat in—Matti, Julian, Pooja and her two operatives, Kyline, and her squad—was borrowed from Omicron HQ. No way could Schmidtt’s usual helicopter fit the nearly two dozen agents, so Pooja had pulled some strings. There was enough room to comfortably walk around, especially with the others mostly strapped in, a fact that Matti gladly took advantage of, roaming from window to window, popping up his binoculars to scan for any aircraft that might be flying under the radar.
He’d been disappointed so far.
In between his little lookout sessions, he’d make small talk with various operatives. Pooja didn’t like chatting when on a mission, Kyline hated his guts, and the other scientists he usually hung out with were, for obvious reasons, not here, so ‘various operatives’ mostly meant Julian.
“Gotta admit, when you said you had some questions for me, I wasn’t expecting this,” Julian said after Matti’s third round.
“Am I boring you?” Matti tilted his head.
Julian laughed, always a good sign. “No. But unless this is some weird renegade interrogation tactic, I don’t know why you care about my favorite breakfast food.”
Matti gave him a cool look. “I’ve watched you very carefully since joining the Fleursurgents. I need to make sure your answers align with what I’ve seen.” It was a terribly blatant lie, but not one Matti really cared about guarding. If Julian chose to see through it, good on him. Reality was, Matti just liked getting to know his charges.
Julian squinted. “Fleursurgents?”
“Come on. Fleur Insurgents is a mouthful and there are a ton of repeated syllable sounds there. It’s only natural that you should work a portmanteau in there. Saves time.”
“Lotta big words from someone with a STEM degree. Maybe you should have gone into linguistics.” Julian grinned, and unless it was Matti’s imagination, seemed to relax a bit.
Matti lifted a shoulder. “Linguistics wouldn’t have gotten me a job here. Besides, I didn’t go to an English speaking school.”
“Clearly, or you’d have caught the better portmanteau: Infleurgents.”
This took Matti aback quite a bit, because Julian was absolutely correct. That one was far superior. “I take my hat off to you. We’re now the Infleurgents. Clearly your English skills make mine look paltry.”
“Well, it was my first language.” He shifted in his seat, probably trying to make the helicopter seat feel more comfortable. “You said a linguistics degree wouldn’t have gotten you a job here. Did you know about this place when starting college?”
There were a few options for how an AngelThana operative might have gotten involved in the organization. A bulk of the scientists were poached from the public facing front: a nanotech organization that privately manufactured weapons and also somehow did some work with biotech. It was often scrutinized for guzzling research money and turning out rather few results but that was kind of the point of a public facing front. It’s just that the public didn’t know that. Hence ‘front’.
Then there were military poaches, outstanding soldiers who were approached at the conclusion of their official government military contracts. Outside of these poached soldiers, AngelThana rarely allowed for transfers to military units if the employee hadn’t been with the company for a minimum of three years, which explained why the minimum age of active combatants was 21 and not most military’s standard 18.
Then there were the nuts. AngelThana sent representatives out to anyone who found out about the immortals organically, whether from personal experience or obsessive web research. That’s how Matti got involved. He’d spent the greater part of his childhood chasing down conspiracies online because that’s about all there was to do in a northern European village, population: twelve, where the sun came up twice a year. He’d discovered some paper trails and various web footage that showed the same few people involved in a host of different terrorist attacks across the globe, a conspiracy he was surprised no one else pointed out.
It turned out no one pointed it out because AngelThana scrubbed the internet from all information of the immortals, with a rather impressive tech division. This was originally what they scouted him for until pretty much everyone realized he was a crap hacker. By that point, he’d requested a transfer to sniper school and anyone involved agreed it was for the best.
Most of the people on the helicopter had been in the second boat, sniped from their own government’s military. On the books, they were ‘security’ officers.
Julian was, as with most scientists, from the first group. He’d been scouted because of his academic work and pressured into taking the job with AngelThana.
“My official transfer to the internal department was about a month into my onboarding on the face department.” Julian had that glint in his eyes that the PhDs always got when they were about to launch into a lecture, and Matti braced himself. “The day they pulled me in and explained that honest to god immortals existed, well I thought I’d gone crazy.”
“Really? You didn’t think they had?”
Julian shook his head. “No! I’d always suspected so when my theories were confirmed, my mind was blown. It was like falling into a dream I’d had.”
“Lapinksy! Back on your post. You’ve had weeks to make idle chit chat. This is not the time.” Pooja’s scolding turned all the heads in the chopper to Matti, who smiled back at her, jumping to his feet in a solute.
“Copy that, Colonel.” There would also be time for idle chit chat later, so he had no qualms with resuming his watch.
“Alright we’re approaching our drop point,” Pooja announced, some few, uneventful hours later. “We’re officially on non-essential cargo pickup, so keep that in mind. Grace, prep your unit, but I want them down and out of sight until signaled.”
Kyline saluted in acknowledgement, her face rigid.
“The cargo pickup is scheduled to happen at eight hundred hours, so we’re here plenty early and should be able to get all of you off before they load us up.” Pooja began walking up and down the aisle of the ship, making eye contact with every single person on board. “I’ll be staying on board to handle the loading, with Schmidtt and Lapinksy. You’ll take your orders from the Sergeant and in the case of her incapacitation, your chain of command will fall to Agent Xing, Agent Jha, field medic LeDuc…” The chain of command was something they’d all been briefed on but redundancy may as well be synonymous with procedure because whenever someone said ‘follow the proper process’ it meant they wanted to you use enough fallbacks and extraneous measures that you probably could have accomplished three times your goal if you’d just checked something once or twice.
But for all their traitorous nature, the Infleurgents still followed their god damned processes to a T. Whatever. Matti didn’t technically need to know who to listen to but unfortunately for his ego, the chain of command usually made too much sense to ignore, so he rarely did.
The helicopter touched down at a tiny regional airport in the early hours of the morning, probably close to five hundred hours, as light as a feather per Schmidtt’s usual. He radioed in their arrival to the incognito convoy that was bringing whatever equipment Pooja had maneuvered into being their ‘target’. They reported that they were still about two hours out, which Schmidtt confirmed on radar scans.
“Copy that, we’ll be waiting.” Then Pooja looked up at Matti. “Give us a visual perimeter, make sure the area is clear of personnel or civilians.” She turned to Kyline. “At Lapinsky’s signal, take your men to the far parking lot. The convoy was instructed to leave one truck behind so that we could unload our cargo. Which…” She waved a hand at the soldiers, “is all of you. So stay out of sight until Grace gives the command. Understood?”
A host of salutes confirmed comprehension. Matti eyed Pooja and tossed her a slightly more casual salute before slipping into the night.
For once, the lack of complications wasn’t boring. The presence of civilians would have dramatically slowed down the offloading, suspicions from the convoy would have just caused drama, and if any of Kyline’s soldiers had been spotted, it would have really been disastrous.
All told, Pooja’s plan went without a hitch and soon Schmidt was flying away with whatever cargo they’d used as an excuse to hide their illicit actions. Matti sat in the back of the remaining convoy truck, squished with the others. These things were supposed to seat a dozen. While Matti, Julian, Xing Luli, the Iota agent, were slim enough to count for half a person, they simply had too many people on board for the drive to be comfortable. But comfort wasn’t a requisite so no one complained about being cramped too much.
The real issue was the lack of space to put on their disguises. AngelThana lacked the resources to intensely scrutinize every security cam feed on the planet to scan for faces that matched certain criteria. So the group didn’t have to worry too much about being spotted by the sophisticated software needed to match their specific face shapes and retina scans. But that didn’t mean they could slack off. They’d still need to play dress up to fool any AngelThana member who happened to be casually watching the MUC feeds in their downtime.
There were precious few people on board who knew enough about hair and makeup to make a convincing change to faces, so each agent had to wait quite a bit for their turn. Something to change complexion, darken or bright eyes, maybe thicken the look of facial hair.
“Do me dirty,” Matti said as he pushed past Private Amelie Silva for his turn. He scrunched his eyes closed in preparation for the assault on his face.
“Don’t do that with your eyes,” Pooja said, as he heard her swishing around some bottle of something probably wet and sticky. “It’ll make it uneven.” Pooja, along with Henri LaForge and Edmund Howard, was one of the only confident enough with her makeup skills to do anything convincing on the soldiers. “Hold still.” A bright light blasted his eyelids as another of the soldiers shone a flashlight at him.
“We should have brought Sofia,” Matti said, trying hard not to move his mouth. “She could make every guy in here a girl and vice versa.”
“Matti keep your mouth shut or you’re going to look like more of a mess than you normally do.” After a far too long period of getting paint slathered and smeared on his face, his nails and hands squished, his hair pulled tight and hidden under a wig, Pooja thrust an armful of clothes in his hands. “What do you think?”
The question was a little too amused for Matti’s liking and he cracked an eyelid to see the private holding the flashlight was openly smirking.
“He did say he wanted to be a girl. Think you did a mighty good job there, Colonel.”
The other eyelid snapped open. “I need a mirror. Now.”
Pooja held up one and Matti stared at himself. He wasn’t a girl, probably. Not technically. But he also saw where the private was coming from. “Pooja, you know ‘scene’ hasn’t been in since the early 2000s, right?” He twisted one of the silky, unnaturally platinum locks around a finger.
“We’re active members.” She shooed him to the side to start her next victim. “So our looks need to be a bit more dramatically changed. Us and Blake. If you’re going heavy makeup, you have to make it look intentional. That’s why you have the eyeliner. You’re now Alexi Petroff, 16 years old, so you’ve got to look like it.”
“Great. Back to being an edgy teen.” He didn’t really mind the look but it was far from comfortable. “What dramatic bit are you doing?”
“Inaya Hasmi, 34, traveling with my husband Tahir.” She pointed a bit away where Vikas Jha, the other Iota agent, was getting minimal makeup work done. “I’ll have a bit of work done but most of my face will be hidden.”
“Lucky. Would be nice if we all could just go the religious veil route.” Matti tapped at his face to see if his makeup had dried.
Pooja cocked an eyebrow. “Would have made us all the more likely to be stopped by airport security. Don’t need to increase those odds. Alright, you’re done Shanti.”
“Fucking most disgusting thing I ever got on my face,” he grumbled.
“Shut up, Shanti,” Matti said, almost absentmindedly. The private needled him with a glare before moving on.
“We kind of switched colors,” Julian remarked as he settled down next to Matti. The previously sandy haired man now had cropped dark crew cut, so convincing that Matti couldn’t imagine how his real hair had fit under it. His previously green eyes were now blue, much like how Matti’s blue had changed to green.
“Who did yours?” Matti asked.
“LaForge. Man did theatre through his entire education. I guess it shows but god my head feels like it’s about to explode.” Julian’s hand hovered near his scalp as if itching to itch it.
“Not a finger!” shouted LaForge from about eight feet away where he was twisting Luli’s hair into a tight ponytail. “Or I’ll cut it off.”
“Would he get back?” asked another private.
Julian’s body sagged as his hand dropped. “Here they go.”
The questions, jokes, and jabs flowed through the truck, lightening up the mood at the expense of Julian’s.
“You’re not a fan?” Matti asked. “You can’t deny, there are some good questions in there.”
“Yeah but they don’t want answers, they just want to snicker.” Julian sighed, crossing his arms. “But I’m starting to learn to tune it out.”
Even Matti had to admit that, after two more hours of the soldiers coming up with increasingly stupid puns, it had gotten old. He fiddled with his rifle, knowing that it would soon be locked in a very special crate, the kind that AngelThana routinely used to smuggle weapons through airports, past border patrols, and into government events. Matti didn’t like departing with his beloved rifle but there would be no keeping it on him.
The sun had long risen now as the truck pulled into a long term parking lot, advertised as being ‘mere kilometers from MUC!’ From there, the group split into teams, each with their own mission plans.
Pooja took Vikas, her husband, and the two headed the short walk to the public transport. Six of the soldiers, all dressed as spring breakers, flooded to the closest rental car place.
Matti checked his ID and the instructions on his phone giving him a rundown of Alexi Pertoff.
“I’m traveling with my father and girlfriend, huh? Haven’t had one of those in a while.” He looked up at the remaining operatives. Shanti and Henri were brothers, Amelie and Edmund were also dating. A few others were traveling solo. Then his eyes fell on Luli, Pooja’s Iota agent. She fixed him with a long once over.
“We’re dating?” she asked. In all fairness, she probably wasn’t much older than he was and with the high ponytail with a red streak in it, the loose bangs around her face, and too much eye makeup, she could absolutely pass for 17 or 18.
“I guess so. Which just leaves… dad.” He grinned as Julian looked down at his ID.
“Ah. Pieter Pertoff. 38” He looked up at the two agents as the remaining operatives sped off on their predetermined methods of transportation. “Never thought much of having kids…”
“God I must be like, the biggest disappointment to you.” Matti examined his nails, which were all black except for a red nail on each middle finger. Then he looked up at Julian’s tight crew cut and the lines on his face, artfully exaggerated by LaForge’s handiwork.
Luli laughed at the start contrast that couldn’t hide enough of a similarity between the two men to hint at their relation. “Alright then, team,” she said. “Let’s get our car and get to the airport. We’ve got an invasion to stop.”
Julian could already tell that Matti and Luli were amused at his reaction but he couldn’t help being more than a little apprehensive about playing a father role to the sniper. The two agents shared looks in the back seat of the rental car Julian was driving.
“Do you think I need an accent? It’s Russian, right? I can try a— hold up.” Julian cleared his throat and centered himself, trying his best to adopt the accent of one of the Russian agents. “Ok, how’s this?”
“God no. Please no.” Matti exchanged another look with Luli. Julian hadn’t dealt much with the agent since they’d first flown to Fleur, an experience Julian wanted to leave far behind him, but she was a lot more pleasant when she wasn’t holding a gun to his head.
“You’ll blow our cover immediately.” Her voice, meanwhile, had shifted from its previously Chinese accent to a completely American accent. “Keep your American accent. In case you haven’t noticed, both our passports are American. His is Russian. You immigrated to the states young and lived there your whole life. You met your wife, a Russian woman, but after your relationship went poorly, she took the kid and moved back to Russia. She sends him over to you for summers and other various breaks. It was during one such visit that he met me.”
“The three of us are spending holiday in Russia,” Matti said. “After the trip, Luli and I are staying with my mom in Moscow.”
It took Julian a moment to internalize this. “Why wasn’t I told any of this?”
“It’s in your briefing.” Matti pointed to his phone. “You probably didn’t scroll. Don’t worry, most people actually don’t ask about your backstory.”
“Yeah but in case—”
“Look at it this way,” Luli said. “Lapinsky and I are far more likely to be given side eyes or comments. This was intentional, to draw attention from you.”
“Just be a disappointed father.” Matti glanced at his phone for another moment before tapping a few buttons. “Ok, now, names. I need you to recite them, learn them by heart.”
It was kind of weird taking orders from someone who was supposed to be his son. The two were probably only ten years apart in age. Luli was even closer, probably less than five years younger than him.
“Ok. Ok, you’re Alexi. She’s Tara. Alexi and Tara. Alexi Petroff and Tara Wang.”
“Mr. Pertoff? Mr. Pertoff, Alexi says it’s ok if we get Starbucks. We’ll be right back.”
“Mom says it’s ok if I get snakebites and you said I could get anything I wanted for my 17th birthday if it was under 50 dollars. I know this one place that does them for cheap and she’s ok with it.”
The two went back and forth, with Julian’s knuckles getting whiter on the steering wheel each time one added a new line to their newfound family’s canon.
“I’m uh, just not gonna say much, ok kids?”
The two grinned back at him in the rearview mirror, clearly very into their roles.
They spent the remaining half hour of their trip going over all the signals that he’d have to remember. It didn’t sound half bad while they were driving, chatting lightly about the operation, but the minute they stepped from the car and entered the airport, the giggles stopped. Alexi and Tara were apparently the brooding type of teens who didn’t say much but stayed weirdly entwined with each other. Julian was ok with that. His palms were already damp and he was going to probably give away his nerves when he had to raise his hands during security.
A million ‘what ifs’ flashed through his head as the three clunked through security. Previously Julian had been primarily in hot water just with AngelThana but with this little stunt he also marked himself as a legitimate felon.
Yet they cruised through without a hitch, not even when examining their various backpacks or cases of randomly assorted goods. Julian’s nerves were hopefully explained by the outlandish appearance of his traveling companions. No crew-cut sporting dad wanted to be seen in public with his offspring looking so… alternative.
As the three made it to their gate, Julian’s mind immediately jumped to the others. After all, there were six groups that had to make it through without any suspicion. Any one of them getting caught could spell disaster for the whole operation, casting unneeded attention on the whole area. Not only would local authorities get involved, but AngelThana’s watchful eye might fall on them. Even worse, Lady Helga would likely abandon her efforts, leaving them no closer to apprehending her and now completely in the dark about her next plans.
It had to go without a hitch.
“I need to pee.” There was a distinct whine to her voice and Julian was struck with how easy it was to remember that the woman pulling a dramatic pout with heavy lipstick was a grown adult who had killed and probably watched her fellow agents die. “Where’s the closest bathroom?”
This was a signal and Julian grunted, getting to his feet. “Should probably all go.” Every word in Julian’s mouth felt unbelievably forced. He scrutinized every sentence. Why would a father want to accompany his son and son’s girlfriend to the bathroom? Was that weird? Creepy? Did it make sense at all?
The casual shrugs and eyerolls from his charges smoothed over his rocky sentence but he still felt the eyes of the airport on him as they strolled down the hallway to the restrooms.
“Take your time,” Luli said before disappearing into the ladies’ room.
The mens’ room was, thankfully, empty.
“No cameras,” Matti said, after doing a thorough search. “I’m splitting off soon, once I get my toys. If you see me, something’s gone wrong.” He grinned and Julian had no doubt that the sniper couldn’t picture a world where something had gone wrong. “Tara will stick with you, so continue to take your lead from her.”
Julian took the momentary privacy to let out a long breath and shake out his hands. “I hate this.”
“I, on the other hand, love it.” Matti was peering at himself in the mirror, eyes glinting over the various changes in his appearance. “You’ll have to get used to it.”
“I’d rather not have to do this again,” he muttered, staring at his face next to Matti’s. It was a lot greyer than the renegade’s.
“We’re not getting more operatives, so anymore injured or lost, and your attendance will be mandatory.”
Julian shook his head. “If I get caught in one of those things, I’ll get trapped in limbo for god knows how long. I’m not risking that.”
“Oh yes, comparatively the rest of us have nothing to risk.” Matti looked at Julian’s reflection, eyes unexpectedly hard. “None of us want to die. We’re not disposable grunts or whatever narrative you’ve constructed in your head. Any one of Kyline’s soldiers would take a bullet to save you from capture but just remember, they’re losing more from that than you. Their sacrifice is because you’re of more strategic value but don’t think for a minute that you’ve got more intrinsic value.” Then the look vanished, replaced by a casual smile. “Humanize your teammates. Keeps people alive.” He glanced at his watch. “Oh good, Tara’s almost here.”
Julian, briefly forgetting who Tara was, stared at Matti blankly in the mirror for another second before the younger man rolled his eyes and headed for the door.
“Right. Tara.” The scolding had hit him from left field but it was a valid point and Julian felt a little sick at how self centered he’d gotten. Military operations weren’t fun in the slightest. “She’s coming in here—”
His question was truncated by the door bursting open. A woman entered, pushing a cleaning cart. She turned, slapping down a ‘cleaning, don’t enter’ sign, before shutting the door behind her.
It took the woman sliding open the cart and unloading a pistol for herself, a pistol and sniper rifle for Matti, and thrusting a pistol into Julian’s hands for him to recognize Luli.
“I didn’t realize you’d be changing,” he said, still staring at the gun.
“Take your weapon. Lapinsky did say I’d be bringing the weapons, yes?” She glared at the sniper for his lack of communications before pulling out a number of guns, including one of the venojets Julian recognized from Sofia’s lab.
“Thought it was obvious.” Matti wasn’t paying them much mind as his fingers danced over his rifle, before snapping off a few components to fit it in his backpack. “MY apologies, Luli.”
Luli seemed to think better of scolding him. “Just take this… dart gun thing and get into position.”
He saluted. “Copy that Specialist.” He looked at Julian, that serious look back in his eyes. “You’re on civilian protection duty. Remember that.”
Then he slung the bag over his shoulder and disappeared from the bathroom.
Luli pulled out a spray bottle. “Alright, give me a second to clean a bit. Make it look convincing. You know how to hide that thing—Blake! Point it at the ground!”
Julian fumbled the gun before pointing it down. Trigger control was a lot easier to forget than he’d thought.
“Uh, just like, in my waistband?”
She sighed. “Let me finish getting the mirrors. Just don’t kill anyone while I’m at it.”
Soon the room was filled with the acrid scent of cleaners and Luli put back the chemicals.
“Here, change out your clothes. Careful not to dislodge your hair.” Her own transformation had been dramatic: makeup gone, hair now in a bun that hid the red streak, she could have been a different person.
Julian felt like his own disguise was not as effective. He still looked like Pieter Petroff but in a janitor’s outfit. It wasn’t until Luli plopped a hat on his head that he felt better.
“Alright, we’re on bathroom duty,” she said. “We’ve got four more to hit before everyone is armed. Ready?”
What followed was probably the most fun he’d had on the whole operation. No one looked twice at the two of them as they coasted down the hall with their big cleaning cart. They slipped into the first bathroom, halfway down the hall, where Shanti and LaForge were shooting the shit.
They both jumped to attention and Julian and Luli burst in, bearing gifts. Both rewarded the pair with face splitting grins as they received their gifts.
“Felt naked without this,” LaForge said, holstering his.
“Ew, not something anyone wants to see.”
“Shut up, Shanti.” This one surprisingly came from Luli, who had a wry grin on her face. “Now get to your positions and radio in the Colonel when you get there.”
They both saluted. “Copy that Specialist.”
The next bathroom was a little harder cause the spring breakers crowd was coed. Nisslon and Bruni were both in the women’s room, which Julian and Luli hit first, only to find it occupied with more than just the soldiers.
An older woman toting a six year old girl was loudly discussing Bruni’s piercing.
“Ma’am—” the private started, but the woman wasn’t having too much of it.
“And you’ve got the nerve to tell me and my child to leave when she has to go potty. You, looking like that.” She gestured at Bruni.
Nisslon, who wasn’t known for her patience, was looking about ready to go when Luli cleared her throat.
“Well you’re all going to have to continue this at a different restroom because this one is closed for cleaning.” The four paused mid argument and turned to Luli. Julian could see both soldiers’ eyes scan over her, puzzlement creasing their brows. Then Bruni’s eyes landed on Julian and she rolled them hard.
“Eurgh. Fine. Let’s just go to the one by the fucking gate,” Nisslon said.
“My child!” shrieked the woman.
“Mommy I don’t have to go potty. Can we go on the plane now?”
Julian watched as the four left, each in a different state of annoyance. Luli watched them leave before sighing.
“Clear the restrooms. How hard is it to clear the restrooms?” She massaged her temples for a moment before pulling out her spray bottle and dousing the room in a lethal amount of cleaner.
“Why are you doing that?” Julian asked, coughing.
“Gotta make it look like we were here.” She emptied what looked like an entire container of bleach into one of the toilets. “Hate cleaning bathrooms. Anything but bathrooms. Haven’t cleaned one since I was seven.”
Julian wanted to offer his assistance but he was afraid to get in her way. Not to mention, he didn’t want to mess up his hair or makeup.
It took Luli another five minutes to make the room look, well, not clean, but maybe cleaned. Once they made it to the men’s restroom, the weapons drop went smoother.
“Took your sweet time,” Howard grumbled as he loaded up his guns.
“You can bring that up with Nilsson and Bruni.” Luli shoved some extra guns into his hands. ”Those are theirs.”
“They got caught up with a mom who wouldn’t leave,” Julian said, trying to provide some context. “So we just kinda kicked them all out. They’re at the bathroom by the gate.”
“Copy that, zombie.”
Julian pulled a face but didn’t say anymore as the four soldiers filed from the room.
The other drops went more smoothly. At one point Luli even trusted Julian to drop the guns off with Grace.
“I need to take a call. Ditch those with the Sergeant and meet me at the bathroom by Gate A8.”
She wasn’t supposed to have left him but he was confident in his ability to pull off the task. He knocked twice on the women’s restroom door.
“In here!” He could recognize the dulcet tones of the Sergeant anywhere so he cleared his throat and shouted back.
“Maintenance! Uh, cleaning, rather.” Off to a brilliant start but there was no time to kick himself. Instead he pushed the cart in, slapped down the sign, and wheeled around to face a tense looking Grace. Her disguised covered her shockingly blond hair with a brown wig and her scars were masterfully hidden.
“Just you?” she asked. “Where’s… Tara?”
“I think cleaning lady is Milly. Tara was my son’s girlfriend.”
She nodded and a corner of her lip lifted in a smile. “You following along fine?”
“Yeah I think so! We had some trouble with two of the spring breakers. Couldn’t get the civies out of the restroom so we had to improvise.”
She bit back a smile for about a half second before laughing. “Damn kid, we really got our top agent out there.” Then she looked over his shoulder. “Where is Milly?”
“She had to take a call.” Her look worried him for a second and he looked over his shoulder, as if also expecting to see Luli. “Is that weird?”
Grace shook her head as she set to work pulling her guns out of the cart. “Just means the Colonel’s got more shit to chat about than she can text. Probably got eyes on Von Martwitz.” A grin spread across her face, either at the idea of facing down the immortal or at the large gun she’d unsheathed from the cart. “Hello again, girl.”
Julian wasn’t really a pacifist but he didn’t like how much the soldiers loved their pet guns. It shouldn’t bother him but when he looked at the guns, he felt uneasy, knowing that every single one of them had killed a human being. It seemed downright ominous to dote on something that had killed so much.
“Right. So does that mean we’re pressed for time?”
Grace looked at him. “Honestly, couldn’t tell you. I’d ask Luli when you get outside.”
“Right. Alright.” He hovered, wanting to say more. The idea that Lady Helga could be arriving any minute made him suddenly realize how real this mission was. If it went ugly, there were a lot of people he might just never see again.
“You got that look on your face.”
He looked back at her, whatever look she’d referred to now replaced with a wry, if tired, smile. “You think this thing is gonna go sideways?”
“Mmm, no. I think it might be unsuccessful because of how much could go wrong, but it’s not going to end with everyone dying. Worst case scenario…” She looked back at her gun. “We just call Omicron and give them the head’s up.”
He nodded, still tense, so she put a hand on his shoulder. “I know I shouldn't worry,” he said but she shook her head.
“You’re not a soldier and you shouldn’t be here. So yeah, second combat situation in a few weeks for someone who should be in a lab or whatever, I get it.” Her eyes were that same earnest blue that burned when they got into a discussion about immortality and religion or when she was kicking his ass in training. “You’re handling it well. Trust the process.” She slung her gun over her back and pulled her long coat over it before striding to the door. “Oh, and Julian?”
“Hmm?” He looked over from his cart at her.
“Give ‘em hell if they do come for you. You know what it’s like.” With this, and final grin, she was out the door.
submitted by Samara_Buckley_Derby to redditserials [link] [comments]
2020.09.19 20:44 redroguetech Mega "getting started" thread
[Updated repost from here and here]
See my mega review post. It's getting time for me to update it, but still worth looking through.
First off, I wanna just get out of the way that there are as many approaches to doing "smart home" as there are people doing it... So I welcome comments! The idea is to create a single post/thread I (or anyone else) can just link for people asking the basic question of "where do I start", and... I started where I started, not where everyone else started :-)
[What do you want ?]
My first suggestion to all those starting out or barely in.... At a minimum, consider EVERYTHING you might want to do. Let your imagination run wild. If you can think it, there's a good chance someone else has done it - and if not, you can be the first. I think the biggest and most common mistake people make when starting out - for me as well - is a lack of imagination. There's nothing wrong starting out with "I just want to do X" (especially if you mean it) but it's also a good way to get boxed in. I recommend everyone, including automation veterans, write out all your dream projects and goals... actually write them down. Write out what and how many devices (lights, sensors, etc.) it will take. Then, put in ball park prices. If you're really just starting out, you might need to pencil in just wild guesses. That's fine. Doesn't need to be exact, and prices change (and can vary wildly by brand/model). The idea is to just have a rough estimate of what's feasible and what isn't... What's worth it and what isn't... What to do sooner and what to put off.
[What do you already have?]
If you're serious about home automation... Make a detailed floor plan of your house. A floor-plan is pretty useful in general, but especially useful for setting up and maintaining a smart home. Mark where all the outlets, switches, and light fixtures are at, and go through the house mapping circuit breakers just the one time. As smart devices are installed, notate on the floor plan which devices are smart, their capabilities (ie if lights are color), what protocol they use (ZigBee, Z-Wave, or WiFi), what circuit breaker they're on and/or what type of battery they use (and you can note last battery installation date). (I use Sweet Home 3D - free, pretty powerful, and pretty easy.)
Obviously, what you already have for automation devices should be taken into account in any smart home plan. However, in general don't let that influence you too much. Every home automation veteran has box(s) full of old stuff. Plan carefully to minimize waste, but home automation is constantly evolving, so be willing to occasionally rethink your approach. If you do switch to a different platform/protocol/etc, do it slowly. Don't try to transition everything at once. At the same time, I personally feel it's important to maintain consistency throughout a house. Having a mish-mash of different products and designs can hinder every-day living.
[What can you do?]
See below for a quick list of the most common device types. Following that is a list of automation ideas. Use these to assist in making the list. Although they are perhaps a bit overwhelmingly long, it's more to prompt you to think about what you want. Come up with your own dream list! (Then share it.)
Before skipping to those, there's a two things you need to decide early on. (Or skip, but come back.) Honestly, I'm split on which is more important. They may very well be equally important.
[Pause for dramatic cliff-hanger....]
[How are you going to control everything?]
The first is the "automation controller". You know about Google Home and Alexa - maybe know about IFTTT - and you're wondering if you really need a separate controller. If you're going to do more than couple of simple things... you're going to want a controller. It's just that simple.
There's quite a few out there (literally thousands), from those that barely qualify as an automation controller (like Google Home), to easy to use but limited SmartThings, to DIY systems like HomeAssistant. It depends in large part on end goals and user preference (and mon-ay!). Few people have extensively used all of the major ones, so take all suggestions - including mine - with a grain of salt, unless they can directly compare and contrast from experience. So, you're on your own. For what it's worth, my quick-pick short list would be either Hubitat or Home Assistant, but it really does depend on your tech level, budget, goals, and other preferences. Personally, I use a Hubitat Elevation, and I love it.
Note: My understanding is that SmartThings is still the go-to platform for beginners. However, it's limited, and does not have a stable user experience or functionality. I have long since stopped using SmartThings, so only passingly familiar with recent developments, but my opinion continues to be to avoid it unless you willing to buy it as a learning tool.
[How are you going to control everything??]
The second major decision is how you want to control the lighting. Sounds simple, but it's really not. It really deserves a mega-thread of it's own. At least for me, it was a choice that was far more difficult, far more costly, and far harder to reverse than which controller to get (though I'm proud to say I'm sure I did make the right choice for my goals). There's smart switches,1 smart bulbs, smart switches with smart bulbs, control/touch screen panels, remote controls, and voice. And, each one can have varying features and styling. Also consider how they will work together, not just on the technical side (which is addressed by picking an automation controller), but in actual practical use. Before picking products, actually imagine using them... For instance, would you want a glossy touch-screen light dimmer next to a click-button fan controller? Rather than immediately falling in love with a new glitter product, picture yourself using it to turn the lights on and off or whatever on a daily basis while half-asleep in the dark, or in a rush out the door.
Many people answer "I'll just use voice". Wrong answer. Just take my word for it. Voice is an add-on feature; not a replacement for physical controls. I have at least 10 Google Homes scattered throughout the house, and will be expanding on that - so it's not that they aren't useful, but yelling "Hey Google, turn on kitchen light one" ("I've turned on kitchen light two" -- "I SAID ONE!!") at 3am just doesn't actually work. As much as I and hopefully you love the idea of home automation, old dumb light switches really are about as good you can get for simple, practical, intuitive use.
My ultimate answer is that... I don't want to control lights! I want them to control themselves - hence being home automation. Unfortunately, it's just not achievable. 1) Motion sensors can be finicky and you'll want a backup, 2) Motion sensors aren't appropriate for all circumstances, and 3) Motion sensors throughout the entire house (and setting up the automation logic) is a large undertaking, and will take much time, effort and expense. I give a pro/con of some of the basic methods on my "review thread", but... First, ask YOURSELF questions. Where will the switches be? What will they do? What are you going to do with the existing switches? Will you want switches where there aren't any built-in? Will they work for the entire family? Consider what you'll gain over "dumb" switches, and what you'll lose. Then do research and ask everyone else how to get there.
[What protocol are you going to use?]
One other thing that's suggested be decided early on is protocol. If you've done any research at all or spent anytime in the forums, you'll see ZigBee and Z-Wave mentioned a lot. First, WiFi is conspicuously absent in that sentence. Despite the massive number of "smart" products on the market that use WiFi, it's not a good base protocol to use. Buying WiFi products is a great place to start out. There are a lot of great WiFi products, and they don't generally require any "hub", allowing you to just jump in without out this bothersome planning and research, and using WiFi products isn't a death sentence for home automation setups. But there are many - too many - drawbacks from security issues to signal interference, so be careful not to get sucked too far into WiFi. Feel free to postpone making these really hard choices by buying a couple WiFi devices, but don't ignore them just because WiFi seems to work well to start with. Some of the pro/cons for WiFi like security issues just make WiFi less of bargain, but many of the issues grow exponentially with the number of WiFi devices you have.
As to Zigbee or Z-Wave - I started out with a mix, and have settled on one based on stability of my personal setup - not naming which is giving me troubles, because it's probably solvable, I'm just too lazy to bother. Although there are differences between the two - some of which may be quite important to smart-home veterans - it typically doesn't matter which is used, and there's certainly not one that's "better" for beginners. Pretty much every product type can be found in either, but specific brands usually do one or the other, so I'd recommend getting a controller that supports both, learn as you go, and use what works best.
Just as a bit of a primer, ZigBee and Z-Wave are both what are known as "mesh networks". You know about "mesh WiFi". It's like that, but completely different. In a true mesh network, each device can act as a repeater for other devices, which isn't true for WiFi. So each device that is a repeater strengthens and extends the network, and can become more efficient with routing. Not all will be repeaters, particularly battery powered devices. Hue and other ZigBee bulbs won't either, because they're technically a substandard (Zigbee Light Link rather than Zigbee Home Automation). However, bulbs in general are reportedly a mixed bag, and not being a repeater can be better than being a bad repeater.
[Do you really need a "hub"?]
A note on hubs. Many people (including myself) started out with "But I don't wanna hub!" (or "But I don't wannanother hub!") Get over it. Although there's something to be said for simplicity, don't get hung up on whether something requires a hub! They don't build them just to make money... well, I mean, they do, but no one would buy them if they didn't have value. Personally, I actively use six hubs (Hubitat Elevation, Lutron Caseta, Hue, Pi 3B+, Arlo, and Fing) with plans for another, and have yet more that I've managed to phase out. That's not to say those hubs are right for everyone (again, see my review thread), and I'm definitely not saying to buy any hub without researching what features it adds, but do not cut your nose off to spite your face by avoiding product lines just because there's a hub!
[Where are you going to use it?]
(At home! It's home automation! Duh!!)
Presence... It's a huge issue for home automation. Maybe even the most important issue. So, just going to define a few concepts for your consideration.
The Holy Grail of a smart home is being able to customize the environment to suit the specific people in the room/area, and specifically to suit their activity. For instance, you may want different lighting or sound settings if you are watching tv rather than your child, or have different things occur if your child is leaving the house rather than when you arrive, etc., etc. The only way to do that in a practical way within a home environment is through facial recognition cameras. Although it's technically feasible, at this time it's simply not practical for the vast majority of home owners. But there are ways to get pretty close.
There's geopresense (aka "geofencing"). You know what it is, but there's a lot more to it when applied inside a house. It can be used to determine, within some margin of error, if you're at home, but useless in saying which part of the home. And it can only track other people if they're willing to install an app (and have their phone with them). It can also be used for things like having left work, arrived at a vacation destination, or perhaps which section of your property like the golf course in your back yard or the squash court in the side yard.area
To determine if someone actually entered the house, or entered a specific room, you can use contact sensors, which indicates a door or window has been opened or closed. Obviously, this can't say who it was, or even if they're entering or exiting. They also require opening doors, which obviously often doesn't apply inside.
Motion detectors... well, you know what they do. There are some issues with them, such as sensitivity, polling rate, and false alarms (the vast majority of sensors see infrared changes, so heat sources will tend to throw them off). Still, they make for good lighting controls and such.
A few other "presence" types... There are pressure plates, vibration sensors, and beam sensors. Some of these are pretty uncommon, but if you're not adverse to DIY, they could be handy. For instance, a pressure sensor could tell if your car is parked, and a beam sensor can tell if the car has arrived. That is, a pressure plate can tell the difference between a car and a person, but is specific to only one specific location. A beam sensor can see between any two points, but can't tell the difference between a car and your grandmother's corpse.
Another option is BlueTooth. Using keychain fobs, specific people can be identified, and hypothetically located within a small-ish area, but still not good enough to pin-point a room/area. When combined with motion sensors, if people aren't in groups, you could get pretty close, for instance if only one person is in one part of the house, and a motion sensor is triggered for a specific room in that area, the system can know who is in what room.
Carefully combining these together - typically GPS, contact sensors, and/or motion sensors - you can get a good idea of where people are in a house. The closer you can get to the Holy Grail of knowing where people are, who they are, and what they are doing, the more automation can be fined-tuned to customize a house for them. Here's a post showing what creativity, planning, time, and pure stubbornness can accomplish.
[How are you going to stop using it?]
Shit happens. Plan for it. Example one... My dog likes to chew on my MagicCube and Pico remotes, which only control lights so no big deal, but if turning on a light while no one was home acted as a security alarm trigger, it'd be a big problem. Example two... a simple mistake in my automation code prevented lights from turning on or off - at all - and I couldn't stop right then to fix it. It's too easy to make a mistake, like having lights come on at 2am instead of 2pm, so put in overrides. Have options to disable routines. And use multi-point authentication systems for critical systems like alarms and locks. It doesn't take much to tank the SAF (Spouse Approval Factor), if not actually put you in physical danger.
Now on to the lists, but first a warning. Don't let them overwhelm you. The options with smart homes is long, but only the
biggest dicks most dedicated [sorry, just jealous] do more than maybe a double handful of them.
Note: The true wonder and power of home automation is being able to join together multiple triggers with multiple events for multiple devices, such as creating whole-house scenes, combining lighting, alerts, tv/movie player, fireplace, water features, etc., etc. It's impossible to list every combination, but... please share what you've done :-)
These are sorted roughly by category. The leading number in brackets is my opinion/guess on general difficulty (scale of 10, with 10 hardest), but that could drastically vary by specifics of the goal, how it's implemented, the platform, specific products, and how wrong my opinion is, so only use them if you don't know any better. "?" indicates it depends entirely on the platform.
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2020.09.18 16:53 Meda18Sepl Hidden camera in chinese toilet
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2020.09.08 02:44 TheFullestCircle I've decided to start some investigations.
I've noticed a lot of weird things happening around town. I've decided to start investigating these things further.
Here's a breakdown of all of the things I've encountered (all addresses given are in North Ridge):
2020.06.24 12:45 old_richman Toilet chinese hidden camera in
COMET - MAY/JUNE 2000 - ISSUE 24
For people who like their travel news down loaded, not loaded down. Brought
to you by Lonely Planet (http://www.lonelyplanet.com)
IN THIS ISSUE
Upgrade Your Iran Guidebook - News From LP Authors on the Road
Soapbox - What's Shaking the Thorn Tree, LP's travellers' bulletin board?
The Scoop - World News For the Itchy of Foot
Compass - Cuba Guides to Win
Decadent Dunnies - The Winning Toilet Humourists
In the Spotlight - Ecotourism in Costa Rica: Size Matters
Link - Bahrain, Kuwait & Qatar Guides to Win
Homepage - What's Happening on the LP Web Site?
Press The Flesh - Chat Online to LP Author Nancy Frey
Paul Greenwood, the co-author of LP's guide to Iran and its online Upgrade,
says scoring a visa to Iran remains a matter of luck - or 'inshallah'. If
you get your foot in the door, however, you'll find Iran remarkably cheap
and safe to travel around and the people incredibly hospitable.
FACTS FOR THE VISITOR
* Visas & Documents: The good news is that visas are increasingly easy to
extend inside Iran, but the bad news is that visas to enter Iran are still
a hassle to get in the first place. The current advice is to apply in your
home country several months in advance; try again about two months later if
your first application is refused; or obtain an (extendable) transit visa
in a neighbouring country (Pakistan, Turkey or India). There has been no
letup in the letters from travellers with tales of woe, difficulty and
capriciousness when applying for visas. However, there are individual
stories of charm, ease and straightforward dealings between some travellers
and some Iranian consular staff. Annoyingly, it appears to be a matter of
luck - or inshallah.
US citizens can receive visas from the Iranian Interests Section in the
Pakistan embassy in Washington if they can prove they have prebooked
flights to/from Iran and accommodation in Iran, and have a 'good' reason to
travel there (or pretend that they do), eg an interest in Islamic
architecture, visiting family etc.
* Visa Extensions: Travellers (and the author) report successful visa
extensions in Tabriz (as much as 30 days is possible); Esfahan (only 10
days, but in 24 hours or less); Shiraz (seven to 10 days regularly given,
but 15 or more days if you ask nicely); Kerman; and Mashhad (30 days is
possible within 24 hours). Tehran is now far better, and extensions within
24 hours are currently possible.
* Money: There are now four exchange rates. The official rate of US$1 =
3000 rials, stubbornly set by the Central Bank, is meaningless; make sure
that banks don't use this rate when you change travellers cheques (if you
can) or get a cash advance with a credit card, or when you buy anything
with a credit card.
Secondly, banks that have foreign exchange facilities offer about US$1 =
5700 rials. Thirdly, the 'street rate' at the safe, legal money exchange
offices is about US$1 = 8000-8500 rials, and that is still the best way to
change money. Finally, the dodgy black market traders offer about US$1 =
8500+ rials, but the extra is not worth the risk. (The exchange rates
offered by money exchange offices, and particularly the black market
traders, will vary according to the current economic, political and social
situation in Iran.)
Many mid-range hotels will change money at about US$1 = 8000 rials. Budget
hotels are often not interested, or trustworthy; top end hotels usually
offer the bank rate of about US$1 = 5700 rials.
Travellers have had trouble converting rials into US dollars when leaving
the country, even with a bank receipt. Try at the airport, or better, don't
change too much just before leaving Iran.
* Costs: Entry fees to all government-run museums and galleries have now
been set at between 15,000 and 20,000 rials. The cost of transport, hotels
and food has increased by about 40% over prices quoted in the guidebook.
However, you get many more rials for your US dollar now, so Iran is even
cheaper than it was.
The minimum you'll need to pay for budget hotels, Iranian food and
overland, public transport is about US$10 per person per day. Unless you
thrive on discomfort, however, allow about US$30 per person per day. Add to
this the cost of internal flights (which are still ridiculously cheap),
long-distance chartered taxis and souvenirs.
* Post & Communications: Iran is very slowly getting on the Net. Several
Internet centres have opened in Tehran, and one has started up in Yazd. In
Esfahan and Shiraz, rug sellers in the bazaars have set up internet
stations. A little delta (triangle) sign indicates that computers are
* Dangers & Annoyances: Despite the US and UK bombing of Iraq (and a stray
missile or two did land on Khorramshahr inside Iran), some huffing and
puffing between Iran and the Taliban in Afghanistan, and the murder of some
liberal writers, Iran remains one of the safest countries in the region.
There were several kidnappings of foreign tourists in south-east Iran in
1999, thought to be linked to the drugs trade, but their releases were
US citizens remain unwelcome by the government (but not by the Iranian
populace in general). A bus carrying US businessmen was attacked in
mid-1998 by some radicals, although nobody was harmed. Despite this, US
visitors who can get a visa should have few problems if they keep a low
GETTING THERE & AWAY
* Air: Iran Air has commenced weekly flights to Copenhagen. Pariz Air has
commenced flights between Bandar-e Abbas and Ras al-Khaimah in the UAE,
currently on Sunday and Wednesday. Departure tax is about US$40.
* Land: Pakistan: There is now only one train per week between Zahedan and
Quetta. It leaves Zahedan at 8.30 am on Monday. The ticket office in
Zahedan is open from 7 am to 2 pm daily except Friday.
One traveller reported an unpleasant surprise when entering overland into
Iran. They were charged an extra US$174 in 'fuel tax', apparently to
compensate Iran for allowing foreigners travelling on transit visas to buy
petrol at such cheap prices, in an attempt, effectively, to charge the
equivalent of the higher petrol prices in neighbouring countries. This
doesn't apply to visitors with tourist visas.
The government was forced to slash petrol subsidies in late 1998, so the
price of petrol nearly doubled. This naturally resulted in a similar
percentage increase in taxi and bus fares and may affect prices for other
forms of transport. However, by western standards the price of all local
transport remains incredibly cheap.
Read the rest of Paul's handiwork online:
or choose another Upgrade, from Japan to Jordan:
WHAT ARE UPGRADES, ANYWAY?
Upgrades provide a snapshot of the most important changes that have
occurred since the book was published. They only outline changes that
affect the usefulness of the book. They are written by Lonely Planet
authors and include unconfirmed news from travellers on the road.
We produce Upgrades to more than 50 best sellers and guides to countries or
regions that change rapidly. Our authors write the first Upgrade around
six months after the book is published and subsequent Upgrades every six
months after that. When the fully updated new edition of the book is
published the Upgrades cycle starts again.
Upgrades are supplements to our books designed to make each book even more
useful throughout its life. They're no substitute for our books, which are
thoroughly updated by LP authors for every edition.
Votes are being cast on the Thorn Tree this month for the most awful
embassy and visa chase of all time. Kazaks worldwide seem to be winning:
News For the Itchy of Foot
Severe flooding hit Central Thailand over the weekend 3-4 June, blocking
roads and leaving villages underwater. The Chanthaburi river overflowed
into farmland after heavy rains. Villages, orchards and fish farms in
Chanthaburi and Trat were inundated, and roads linking several villages
were blocked by tree trunks or branches. Many were covered by a metre of
water. Flooding reached the Khao Saming and Bo Rai districts of Trat, and
some parts of the Bo Rai district were inundated. In many of the flood
stricken districts water levels are not expected to drop in the near
future, and relief packages are being issued to remote villages.
Authorities have ordered full scale relief operations to be prepared as
concern grows over rising water levels. Travellers should be prepared for
transport disruptions in these areas, remain flexible in their plans and
consult local sources to keep up to date with developments.
Indonesian police have expressed concern over the number of counterfeit
notes in circulation in Jakarta and on the island of Bali following the
arrest of 15 people this week for distributing funny money. An estimated
6.5 billion Rp of counterfeit money has been discovered in the past three
months, most of it in the form of 50,000 Rp notes. The government has
contemplated withdrawing the note (which bears the visage of disgraced
ex-President Soeharto) and re-issuing it with a new design. Meanwhile,
Indonesia's central bank has announced that there are flaws in some genuine
100,000 Rp notes, which smudge when rubbed intensely. Travellers in
possession of ink-smeared 100,000 Rp notes can exchange them at local
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES (UAE)
Abu Dhabi's first female-only shopping mall has proven to be a mild
success. As most shopping malls in the UAE are popular meeting places for
men to smoke and drink coffee in air-conditioned comfort, many women avoid
them. But not the She Zone, where more than 300 women visit each weekday
and about 1100 women visit on the weekends. In the She Zone women are not
required to wear the abaya - a long overcoat - or a veil while they are
shopping and all staff (including security guards) are female.
Scoop up news from the rest of the planet:
How's Your Sense of Direction?
The Indians called the island Siguanea but when Christopher Columbus
arrived he renamed it El Evangelista. From the 16th to the 18th century it
was a hideout for pirates such as Francis Drake, John Hawkins, Thomas
Baskerville and Henry Morgan. They called it Parrot Island and their
activities inspired Robert Louis Stevenson to write 'Treasure Island'.
Since then the island has changed names a few more times and been home to
political prisoners and students from all over the world. These days its
big attractions are the unspoiled natural environment and the unhurried way
of life. Scuba divers are drawn to the entire region.
Name the island and the country to which it belongs and we'll put you in
the draw for one of 20 copies of 'Cuba' by David Stanley. Remember to
provide your name and postal address with your entry. We always pick
winners at random to give readers in all time zones an even chance. Email
us at: comet u/lonelyplanet.com.au.
Last month we described Skuon in Cambodia. The follow people picked up the
prizes: Alvin Lim, Ben Schonthal, Cheyne Keith, Eric Beadle, Graham Cullen,
Jaakko Kurki, Jane Hirons, Javier Segurotti, Kirsten Sander, Lim Lay Hoon,
Lubos Bartyzal, Martin Roberts, Michiel Jansen, Mikael Blixt, Natalie
Mei-Lynn Soh, Prentiss Riddle, Rich Garella, Tim Taylor, Zdena Plecita, Zoe
Well, we did ask. Remind us never to use the words 'describe' and 'toilet'
in the same sentence ever again. One little request for stories of bizarre,
luxurious or otherwise memorable WCs in restaurants around the globe and we
opened the floodgates to more tales of filth and frivolity than you could
poke a funny smelling stick at.
The following 20 people picked up a prize for their efforts - both literary
and lavatorial: Ariana Cynowicz, Benjamin Scheiner, Chris Azure, Claire
Mitchell, Craig Zimmerman, Dorian Moro, Egan Cheung, Gavin Mooney, Jim
Calderwood, Jodie Holckner, Kassandra Humphreys, Kim Binstead, Liz
O'Donnell, Molly de Aguiar, Paul Roach, Poppy Collyer, Richard Carr,
Stephane Coillet-Matillon, Vanessa Dwyer and Xavier Finlayson.
Ben did it down a 15 metre mine shaft in Coober Pedy in outback Australia.
Molly opened the pod bay doors onto a 2001 experience in Paris. Liz got all
Phillipe Starck on us in New York. Poppy followed the instructions and
ended up learning more than she needed to know about the diet of French
lorry drivers. Chris and Richard? We couldn't in good conscience keep their
extracts to ourselves:
From Chris Azure of Hong Kong:
'The most memorable and bizarre restaurant toilet I've ever seen is without
a doubt the toilet of Seiryuumon, a Chinese theme restaurant in Shinjuku,
The restaurant itself is a very memorable one, but the toilet is really the
strangest part. As soon as you enter, you notice that coming out of one of
the walls is a huge, grotesque figure resembling some kind of eight armed
Chinese god. Two of these arms are holding a big, red-lipped smiling mouth,
which, it soon dawns on you, is the urinal.
As you go up to the urinal and begin to do your stuff, some truly bizarre
music (with German lyrics, I believe) starts up, and in time to this, the
god starts to swing the urinal from side to side. The god's head revolves
to reveal an identical head wearing makeup and making a suggestive kissing
expression at you.
As if all this isn't enough, you notice a flashing light and you look up to
discover that one of the arms holds a camera (with 'gay photo' written on
the front) that points down and flashes away at you.
I'm not sure what's more amusing: the experience itself, or the embarrassed
expressions of others emerging from the toilet after knowing what was in
there. I just hope I don't see myself some day on some Japanese hidden
From Richard Carr of the UK:
'We spent an unhealthy morning in a deserted branch of Nando's (somewhere
between Port Elizabeth and East London, along South Africa's southern
coast) nursing a hangover, trying not to gag at the smell of cooked meat
and taking advantage of the 'bottomless coffee' offer.
Although the whole experience retains a dreamlike quality, I am almost
positive that the deep and capacious urinals were stacked full to bursting
with ice cubes. However many times I returned it looked as though the
urinals had only just before been filled to the brim - you honestly could
not have got one more cube in! This lavish effect was entirely out of
keeping with the ambience of what was barely more than a fast food outlet.
Perhaps the dial on the ice machine had broken off whilst turned to
There is something disturbingly satisfying about creating your own ice
sculpture using nothing more than the power of hot urine and a slightly out
of kilter imagination. The deep yellows straining through the reflections
of white and black tiling was deeply fascinating. The acoustics of the
gents, exacerbated by my hangover, amplified the sounds of cracking ice so
it was as though I was peeing beneath a moving glacier.
I have since taken up ice sculpture on a semi-professional basis, albeit
using the more usual tools of the trade: a chisel, a small hammer, a
sculpture's knife and a tub of luke warm water.'
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: THE PRICE OF ECOTOURISM IN COSTA RICA
Rob Rachowiecki, co-author of LP's new edition of 'Costa Rica', says size
definitely matters when it comes to ecotourism development.
Costa Rica has so much to offer the wildlife enthusiast that it's small
wonder that ecotourism is growing in the country. Over 70% of foreign
travellers visit one or more nature destinations; half of these visitors
come specifically to see Costa Rica's wildlife.
During the past few years, the natural wonders of Costa Rica have been
discovered. From the late 1980s to the mid-1990s, the annual number of
visitors doubled, and now over 700,000 foreign tourists visit every year.
The tourism industry recently surpassed bananas and coffee as the nation's
biggest industry (though 1998 figures placed it second, behind electronics,
another newcomer). Prices for the traveller have risen substantially.
The financial bonanza generated by the tourist boom means that new
operations are starting up all the time - many are good, some are not. The
big word in Costa Rica is 'ecotourism' - everyone wants to jump on the
green bandwagon. There are 'ecological' car rental agencies and
'ecological' menus in restaurants! Taking advantage of Costa Rica's 'green'
image, some developers are promoting mass tourism and are building large
hotels with accompanying environmental problems. Apart from the immediate
impacts, such as cutting down vegetation, diverting or damming rivers and
driving away wildlife, there are huge secondary impacts like erosion, lack
of adequate waste treatment facilities for a huge hotel in an area away
from sewerage lines, and the building of socially, environmentally and
economically inadequate 'shanty towns' to house the maids, waiters, cooks,
cleaners, and many other employees needed. I recommend staying in smaller
hotels that have a positive attitude about the environment rather than
large, mass-tourism destinations.
At first, the growth in tourism took the nation by surprise - there was no
overall development plan, and the growth was poorly controlled. Some people
wanted to cash in on the short term, with little thought for the future.
Many developers are foreigners - they say that they are giving the local
people jobs, but locals don't want to spend their lives being waiters and
maids while watching the big money go out of the country.
Traditionally, tourism in Costa Rica has been on a small and intimate
scale. About 90% of the country's hotels are small (fewer than 50 rooms),
and the friendly local people have worked closely with tourists, to the
benefit of both. This intimacy and friendliness was a hallmark of a visit
to Costa Rica, but this is changing.
The developers of a recent project to build a 402-room hotel (the first of
a chain) on a remote Pacific beach were sued for causing environmental
damage and treating employees unfairly. Although the government agreed that
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submitted by old_richman to ThornTree [link] [comments]
2020.04.24 11:10 Fwoggie2 Covid-19 update Friday 24th April
Good morning from the UK. It’s Friday 24th April. My marigold seeds have taken off and are starting to sprout secondary stage leaves (marigolds are good companion plants; they ward off various pests in a vegetable garden whilst they can also be good sacrificial plants should a slug manage to somehow breach our electric barrier). Meanwhile, the first of my wife’s radishes seeds is starting to emerge from the compost she put in a recycled milk carton tetrapak a few days ago; she’s very excited by this. Advance warning, today’s post is a bit food supply chain heavy. Happy Friday everybody.
Virus news in depth
AP Story from Tuesday 21st April: UN food agency chief: World on brink of `a hunger pandemic’ - The head of the U.N. food agency warned Tuesday that, as the world is dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, it is also “on the brink of a hunger pandemic” that could lead to “multiple famines of biblical proportions” within a few months if immediate action isn’t taken. World Food Program Executive Director David Beasley told the U.N. Security Council that even before COVID-19 became an issue, he was telling world leaders that “2020 would be facing the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II.” That’s because of wars in Syria, Yemen and elsewhere, locust swarms in Africa, frequent natural disasters and economic crises including in Lebanon, Congo, Sudan and Ethiopia, he said. Beasley said today 821 million people go to bed hungry every night all over the world, a further 135 million people are facing “crisis levels of hunger or worse,” and a new World Food Program analysis shows that as a result of COVID-19 an additional 130 million people “could be pushed to the brink of starvation by the end of 2020.” He said in the video briefing that WFP is providing food to nearly 100 million people on any given day, including “about 30 million people who literally depend on us to stay alive.”
(Cont’d) Beasley, who is recovering from COVID-19, said if those 30 million people can’t be reached, “our analysis shows that 300,000 people could starve to death every single day over a three-month period” — and that doesn’t include increased starvation due to the coronavirus. “In a worst-case scenario, we could be looking at famine in about three dozen countries, and in fact, in 10 of these countries we already have more than one million people per country who are on the verge of starvation,” he said. According to WFP, the 10 countries with the worst food crises in 2019 were Yemen, Congo, Afghanistan, Venezuela, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Syria, Sudan, Nigeria and Haiti. He pointed to a sharp drop in overseas remittances that will hurt countries such as Haiti, Nepal and Somalia; a loss of tourism revenue which, for example, will damage Ethiopia where it accounts for 47 percent of total exports; and the collapse of oil prices which will have a significant impact in lower-income countries like South Sudan where oil accounts for almost 99 percent of total exports.
The Gulf Times takes a different slant on the story: ‘Instead of coronavirus, the hunger will kill us’; COVID-19 brings fears of a global food crisis - In Kibera, the largest slum in Kenya’s capital Nairobi, people desperate to eat set off a stampede during a recent giveaway of flour and cooking oil, leaving scores injured and two people dead. The coronavirus has sometimes been called an equaliser because it has sickened both rich and poor, but when it comes to food, the commonality ends. It is poor people, including large segments of poorer nations, who are now going hungry and facing the prospect of starving. “The coronavirus has been anything but a great equaliser,” said Asha Jaffar, a volunteer who brought food to families in the Nairobi slum of Kibera after the fatal stampede. “It’s been the great revealer, pulling the curtain back on the class divide and exposing how deeply unequal this country is.” Already, 135 million people had been facing acute food shortages, but now with the pandemic, 130 million more could go hungry in 2020, said Arif Husain, chief economist at the World Food Program, a UN agency. Altogether, an estimated 265 million people could be pushed to the brink of starvation by year’s end. “We’ve never seen anything like this before,” Husain said. “It wasn’t a pretty picture to begin with, but this makes it truly unprecedented and uncharted territory.”
(Cont’d) There is no shortage of food globally, or mass starvation from the pandemic yet continues the Gulf Times article. But logistical problems in planting, harvesting and transporting food will leave poor countries exposed in the coming months, especially those reliant on imports, said Johan Swinnen, director general of the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington. While the system of food distribution and retailing in rich nations is organised and automated, he said, systems in developing countries are “labour intensive,” making “these supply chains much more vulnerable to COVID-19 and social distancing regulations.” On a recent evening, hundreds of migrant workers, who have been stuck in New Delhi after a lockdown was imposed in March with little warning, sat under the shade of a bridge waiting for food to arrive. The Delhi government has set up soup kitchens, yet workers like Nihal Singh go hungry as the throngs at these centres have increased in recent days. “Instead of coronavirus, the hunger will kill us,” said Singh, who was hoping to eat his first meal in a day.
Coronavirus-driven CO2 shortage threatens US food, water and beer supply, officials say - The Guardian reports that there is an emerging shortage of carbon dioxide gas (CO2) according to a Washington state emergency planning document. The document, a Covid-19 situation report produced by the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC), contains a warning from the state’s office of drinking water (ODW) about difficulties in obtaining CO2, which is essential for the process of water treatment. The document says that the ODW is “still responding to [that day’s] notification of a national shortage of CO2”. It continues: “Several [water plants] had received initial notification from their vendors that their supply would be restricted to 33% of normal.” It further warns: “So far utilities have been able to make the case that they are considered essential to critical infrastructure and have been returned to full supply. However, we want to ask if CISA [the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency] can assess this through their contacts, if this is sustainable given the national shortage.”
(Cont’d) Asked to clarify the nature of this problem, ODW director Mike Means said in an email that his agency had first learned of potential problems when Seattle public utilities were “contacted by their vendor Airgas who supplied a copy of a Force Majeure notice”, warning them that their CO2 order would be reduced due to pandemic-related shortages. Force majeure is a contractual defense that allows parties to escape liability for contracts in the case of events – such as a pandemic – that could not be reasonably foreseen. In this case, Means wrote, “Airgas informed in their notice that they would only be able to do 80% of their normal service but subsequent discussions said to expect more like 33%”. At this point, he added, “we reached out to understand if this was a WA specific problem or national. We quickly understood it to be a national issue.”
(Cont’d) ODW had then contacted federal agencies such as CISA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) and industry bodies such as the Association of State Drinking Water Authorities (ASDWA). The main reason for national shortages, according to the CEO of the Compressed Gas Association (CGA), Rich Gottwald, is a ramping down of ethanol production. “Back in the summertime, the [Trump] administration exempted some gasoline manufacturers from using ethanol. Then we had Russia and Saudi Arabia flooding the market with cheap gasoline. All of that led to an oversupply of ethanol,” Gottwald said. “As ethanol manufacturers were ramping down because there wasn’t a market for their product, along comes Covid-19, which meant people weren’t driving anywhere”, he added. This led to plant closures, including among the 50 specialized plants that collect CO2 for the food and beverage market. Gottwald’s association, along with a number of associations representing food and beverage industries, which together use 77% of food-grade CO2, issued a joint warning to the federal government about the shortage. In an open letter to the vice-president, Mike Pence, the coalition warns: “Preliminary data show that production of CO2 has decreased by approximately 20%, and experts predict that CO2 production may be reduced by 50% by mid-April.” It continues: “A shortage in CO2 would impact the US availability of fresh food, preserved food and beverages, including beer production.”
The 'land army' needed to keep the UK's food supply chain going as thousands of tonnes of food risks going to waste - ITV has done a piece on the UK farming supply chain. Farmers are desperate for help. Without their usual influx of migrant workers from the EU, thousands of tonnes of food risk going to waste in fields up and down the country, just as the summer crops come into season. Every year our farming industry needs 90,000 seasonal workers. Like Robyn, many have put themselves forward - but in no way near the numbers needed. Others are finding the application process hard to navigate. Mark Thorogood, whose family have run the Essex farm for three generations, says it’s a perilous time for the food supply chain. "If we can't get the labour – it doesn’t get picked. That’s the crux of it", he said. Meanwhile, the charity The Food Foundation claims more than one and a half million Britons are going without food for at least a day because of the pandemic and three million have experienced hunger since the lockdown. On top of all that - the reality that nearly 50% of our food comes from abroad. With the numbers of ships crossing the Channel reduced and port workers hit by the virus, this is now under threat too. So could this crisis see a permanent change in how we feed our nation? The country's leading voice on food security, Professor Tim Lang gave us a grave warning: "The entire world food system is being disrupted. More disruptions are coming. Plantings not happening, food being wasted. "Britain only produces about 50% of its food - the country that can only half feed itself has got to wake up". (Personal note: this is why I’m putting effort into growing veg)
Virus news in brief
Sources: The Guardian, CNN or (to get an alternative spin) Radio New Zealand
2020.02.21 18:04 redroguetech Hidden camera in chinese toilet
So, I've done a mega review post, but about time for my mega "getting started" thread.
First off, I wanna just get out of the way that there are as many approaches to doing "smart home" as there are people doing it... So I welcome comments! The idea is to create a single post/thread I (or, for that matter, anyone else) can just link for people asking the basic question of "where do I start", and... I started where I started, not where everyone else started :-)
[What do you want?]
My first suggestion to all those starting out or barely in.... At a minimum, consider EVERYTHING you might want to do. Let your imagination run wild. If you can think it, there's a good chance someone else has done it. I think the biggest and most common mistake people make when starting out - and it's true for me as well - is a lack of imagination. There's nothing wrong starting out with "I just want to do X" (especially if you mean it) but it's also a good way to get boxed in. I recommend everyone, including automation veterans, write out all your dream projects and goals... actually write them down. Write out what and how many devices (lights, sensors, etc.) it will take. Then, put in ball park prices. If you're really just starting out, you might need to pencil in just wild guesses. That's fine. Doesn't need to be exact, and prices change (and can vary wildly by brand/model). The idea is to just have a rough estimate of what's feasible and what isn't... What's worth it and what isn't... What to do sooner and what to put off.
[What do you already have?]
If you're serious about home automation... Make a detailed floor plan of your house. Actually, if you seriously own a house or are a long-term occupant of a residence -- make a floor plan. Mark where everything is at... Standard switches and lights, normal sockets, smart devices, and sensors. Also, mark out which circuit breaker they're all on (may not help with your home automation, but it's still very handy to have). This doesn't need to be day-one, but despite being a lot of work, it will be very useful in many ways. And worst case scenario, you'll add value to your house. (I use Sweet Home 3D - free, pretty powerful, and pretty easy.)
Obviously, what you already have for automation devices should be taken into account in any smart home plan. However, in general don't let that influence you too much. Home automation is constantly evolving, so be willing to occasionally rethink your approach. If you do switch to a different platform/protocol/etc, do it slowly. Don't try to transition everything at once.
[What can you do?]
See below for a quick list of the most common device types. Following that is a list of automation ideas. Use these to assist in making the list, and I will try to edit it to be fairly comprehensive, but please imagine the possibilities. Come up with your own dream list! (Then share it.)
But before I give those, there's a two things you need to decide early on. Honestly, I'm split on which is more important. They may very well be equally important.
[Pause for dramatic cliff-hanger....]
[How are you going to control everything?]
The first is the "automation controller". You've heard of Google Home and Alexa - maybe even IFTTT - and you're wondering if you really need a separate controller. Or maybe you've been under the impression Home and Alexa were the Alpha and Omega of smart homes. If you're going to do more than couple of simple things... you're going to want a controller. It's just that simple.
There's quite a few out there, from those that barely qualify as an automation controller (like Google Home), to easy to use but limited SmartThings, to DIY systems like HomeAssistant. Personally, I use a Hubitat Elevation, and I love it. But... which is best depends in large part on end goals and user preference (and mon-ay!). Few people have used all of the major ones, so take all suggestions - including mine - with a grain of salt, unless they can directly compare and contrast from experience. So, you're on your own. For what it's worth, my quick-pick short list would be either Hubitat or Home Assistant, but it really does depend on your tech level, budget, goals, and other preferences.
Note: Especially if you're wracked by indecision, SmartThings is pretty good and affordable way to get your feet wet, but they've said they're going to discontinue it
any day now soon some day maybe (it's been four years since I got the email saying it is happening).
Note: I used to suggest SmartThings (Classic) as a good system for a mildly serious beginner, but IMO the new version is all but useless.
[How are you going to control everything??]
The second major decision is how you want to control the lighting. Sounds simple, but it's really not. It really deserves a mega-thread of it's own. At least for me, it was a choice that was far more difficult, far more costly, and far harder to reverse than which controller to get (though I'm proud to say I'm sure I did make the right choice for my goals). Different people do different things, and it's often necessary to mix-and-match, and there's a lot of different circumstances. There's smart switches,1 smart bulbs, smart switches with smart bulbs, control/touch screen panels, remote controls, and voice. And, each one can have varying features and styling. I'm a huge fan of Lutron Caseta and Pico, but they do have some downsides. And so do all the other methods and brands. So, first, imagine yourself in your smart home.... How do you picture yourself turning on the lights on and off? Where will the switches be? What will they do? What are you going to do with the existing switches? Will you want switches where there aren't any built-in?
Many people answer "I'll just use voice". Wrong answer. Just take my word for it. Voice is an add-on feature; not a replacement for physical controls. (I have at least 10 Google Homes scattered throughout the house, and will be expanding on that - but for the most part, it's pretty rare for anyone in the house to use them.) Personally, my ultimate answer is that I want the lights to turn on by themselves, at the level I want based on time and activity (using motion sensors and schedules, while accounting for prior and current actions). Unfortunately, that's not a complete answer for three reasons... 1) Motion sensors can be finicky and you'll want a backup, 2) Motion sensors aren't appropriate for all circumstances, and 3) Motion sensors throughout the entire house (and setting up the automation logic) is a large undertaking, and will take much time, effort and expense. I give a pro/con of some of the basic methods on my "review thread", but... Ask questions. Imagine the different lighting scenarios you'll want, and the best to control them. Consider what you'll gain over "dumb" switches, and what you'll lose. Once you think you know what you want, research and post questions about whether you've missed anything, and what product(s) will get you there.
[What protocol are you going to use?]
One other thing that's suggested be decided early on is protocol. If you've done any research at all or spent anytime in the forums, you'll see ZigBee and Z-Wave mentioned a lot. First, I want to mention that WiFi is conspicuously absent that sentence. Despite the massive number of "smart" products on the market that use WiFi, it's not a good base protocol to use. Although it's fine for one-off solutions, like an appliance or one smart socket for the Christmas tree, there's too many drawbacks - from security issues to signal interference. I'm not going to go through all the pro/cons for WiFi, but in general avoid it.
As to Zigbee or Z-Wave - many people will disagree with me, and maybe they're not wrong and I just don't know enough - but my stance is I don't care. I'd recommend getting a controller that supports both. There are differences between Zigbee and Z-Wave, but even when they matter, they're kinda a wash - benefits for downsides - without either side of the equation being all that important. I use both, and there's no major issue with having both. Both are mesh networks, meaning to increase range, all you need to do is add devices that can act as repeaters (as a general rule of thumb with a lot of exceptions - anything that plugs in). Hue light bulbs are Zigbee, and most bulb makers have followed suit (technically, a substandard of Zigbee call Zigbee Light Link, where most Zigbee devices use Zigbee Home Automation - ZLL bulbs are one of those exceptions for being a repeater, but there are exceptions to that exception and lighting deserves it's own thread). Xiaomi sensors are also Zigbee. Smart switches and outlets come in both, with maybe a slight bias towards Z-Wave.
[Do you really need a "hub"?]
A note on hubs. Many people (including myself) started out with "But I don't wanna hub!" (or "But I don't wannanother hub!") Get over it. Although there's something to be said for simplicity, don't get hung up on whether something requires a hub! They don't build them just to make money... well, I mean, they do, but no one would buy them if they didn't have value. Personally, I actively use six hubs (Hubitat Elevation, Lutron Caseta, Hue, Pi 3B+, Arlo, and Fing), and that's down from my previous posting of this guide. That's not to say those hubs are right for everyone (again, see my review thread), and I'm definitely not saying to buy any hub without researching what features it adds, but do not cut off your nose to spite your face by avoiding product lines just because there's a hub!
[Where are you going to use it?]
(At home! It's home automation! Duh!!)
Presense... It's a huge issue for home automation. Maybe even the most important issue. So, just going to define a few concepts for your consideration.
There's geopresense (aka "geofencing"). Most everyone is family with this in concept and in practice, and are perfectly well aware of it's limitiations. It can be used to determine, within some margin of error, if you're at home, but pretty much useless in saying which part of the home, and it can only track other people if they're willing to install an app. It can also be used for things like having left work, leaving an area (eg having home automation just know that you've gone on vacation), visiting your family/side b***h, etc.
To determine if someone is in the actual house, or a specific room, you can use contact sensors, which indicates a door or window has been opened or closed. Obviously, this can't say who it was, or even if they're entering or exiting. Motion detectors... well, you know. Detect motion. There are some issues with them, such as sensitivity, polling rate, and false alarms (the vast majority of sensors see infrared, so heat sources will tend to throw them off). Still, they make for good lighting controls and such. With some careful planning, combining them with contact sensors and GPS, you can get a good idea of where people are in a house, and by extension, what they're doing.
A few other "presense" types... There are pressure plates, vibration sensors, and beam sensors. Some of these are pretty uncommon, but if you're not adverse to DIY, they can on occasion be handy. For instance, a pressure sensor can tell if your car is parked, and a beam sensor can tell if the car has arrived. That is, a pressure plate can tell the difference between a car and a person, but is specific to where it's at. A beam sensor can see between any two points, but can't tell the difference between a car and your grandmother's corpse.
Another option is BlueTooth. Using an active transmitter, you could identify specific people within a small-ish area, but still not good enough to pin-point a room/area. When combined with motion sensors, if people aren't in groups, you could get pretty close.
As hinted at with most of the short-comings, the Holy Grail of a smart home is being able to customize the environment to suit the specific people in the room/area, and specifically to suit their activity. The only way to do that in a practical way within a home environment is through facial recognition cameras. Although it's technically feasible, at this time, it's simply not practical for the vast majority of home owners.
[How are you going to stop using it?]
Shit happens. Plan for it. Example one... My kid's dog likes to chew on my MagicCube and Pico remotes, which only control lights so no big deal, but if turning on a light while no one was home acted as a security alarm trigger, it's be a big problem. Example two... a minor bug in my automation code prevented lights from turning on or off - at all - and I couldn't stop right then to fix it. But I had an override in place. It's too easy to make a mistake, like having lights come on at 2am instead of 2pm, so put in overrides. Have options to disable routines. And use multi-point authentication systems for critical systems like alarms and locks. A couple mistakes can tank the SAF, if not actually put you in physical danger.
Now on to the lists, but first a warning. Don't let them overwhelm you. The options with smart homes is long, but only the
biggest dicks most dedicated [sorry, just jealous] do more than maybe a double handful of them.
Note: The true wonder and power of home automation is being able to join together multiple triggers with multiple events for multiple devices, such as creating whole-house scenes, combining lighting, alerts, tv/movie player, fireplace, water features, etc., etc. It's impossible to list every combination, but... please share what you've done :-)
submitted by redroguetech to homeautomation [link] [comments]
2020.02.02 09:26 OneFaraday Hidden camera in chinese toilet
I’ll get some of these boring details out of the way first, because they might be relevant. Who knows?
I found the thumb drive in a McDonald’s restroom in Yorkton, Saskatchewan, on January 3rd. The service was mediocre but the food was hot and the restrooms were clean. I still felt hungover from New Year’s in Edmonton, and although the roads were alright the other drivers were typical idiots and I needed to stay alert.
I was sitting there in that tiny stall, browsing Reddit, not expecting I was about the find the video that would consume my life over the next month. I pulled on the tail of flimsy toilet paper that was dangling from the dispenser, and along with the see-through thin sheet of paper a small object fell out and clattered on the tile floor. I bent over to get a better look; it was a small blue thumb drive.
I don’t know why I bothered to pick it up and pocket it. I don’t usually put random small objects in my pockets, especially from bathrooms in roadside burger joints. But I did. I finished my business and got out of there, and almost forgot I had the little drive until I made it home safely that evening in Winnipeg.
My roommate was still with his family in Newfoundland, so I had our little apartment to myself. I didn’t start work until the fifth, so I settled in to lounge around and play pointless video games until the early hours.
When I took my pants off, the thumb drive fell out.
I held it curiously between my thumb and forefinger. There weren’t any markings on it besides the brand. There was something about it that made me uneasy; maybe it just seemed so intentional, the way it must have been tucked into that toilet paper dispenser. Like someone was hoping that it would be found. I mulled it over for a few minutes; could it be dangerous? Did it have a virus or some sort of malware that would infect my computer and send all of my personal info to it’s creator?
In the end, curiosity won over prudence. I plugged it into my gaming PC, and had a look. There was only one file on the drive, a large video file just labelled 45041.mp4. The thumbnail was just a dark blue. So of course, being the naive fool I was, I double-clicked on it.
I won’t tell you yet what I saw, but I sat there riveted. At first it seemed like it was just someone’s home movie, but weird things started happening that caught my attention and kept me glued to my seat until the very end. When I got to the end and the file stopped playing, I found myself sitting there in my dark bedroom, in my gross black second-hand office chair, white knuckles gripping the armrests, eyes so wide and unmoving they ached and stung from dryness, mouth gaping like a dead fish.
Since then, I’ve been desperately trying to piece it all together.
First, a few details about the file: it’s about an hour and forty-five minutes long. Strangely, there is no sound. When the file started I fiddled with my volume controls for a bit before realizing that there just wasn’t anything to hear. I right-clicked on the file and opened the properties tab, where I discovered the video properties showed it to be 1280x720, data rate of 6028Kbps, total bitrate of 6161kbps, 29 frames per second. I don’t know much about file formats, maybe that’ll be helpful to someone. Anyways, the point is: the audio information just says NONE.
Whoever edited it did so haphazardly. Scenes cut with no transitions, so it’s really jarring. Sometimes cuts happen mid-sentence when someone is talking. There a few boring long stretches that really should have been taken out. Maybe it made more sense with audio.
I watched the video nearly every day since, pausing frequently to analyze details and piece together what happened. Fortunately, I have an acquaintance who is hard of hearing. He’s Marc, the only other person I’ve shown the video too. At first he was pretty wary, thinking I was asking him to use his skill like he was performing a party trick, but once he saw the video he had the same reaction and understood.
Unfortunately, he wasn’t exactly able to provide a transcript. Sometimes the people in the video aren’t facing the camera. Marc isn’t entirely deaf either, he usually needs some sound in order to piece together speech. And it’s not easy to figure out what’s going on in the video, so context clues aren’t all there. However, he was able to put together enough to provide some of the dialogue that will be in my description of the video. It helps a bit, but we still don’t entirely understand the content of the video.
It was on January 20th that I finally made the big discovery, that made me realize I had somehow fallen off the deep end and had to share this all with somebody and put out my plea for help.
Okay, I’ve gone on long enough. Time to describe what’s in the video itself.
The first scene is inside a car. From later exterior shots, we discover that it’s a blue Nissan Altima, probably 2009. The camera is pointed out the window at some rocky hills. There are lots of trees: oak, aspen, maple, and so forth. There are a few leaves just starting to turn orange and red. A sign whizzes past; I later managed to pause and read the text “Hardwood Road 400m.” This is the first of many clues that helped me figure out their route. They’re in Ontario, heading west.
The camera turns to the driver. She’s stunning; not in the sense of a blonde instagram model, but very regal and beautiful. She had dark black hair with a few strands of white. She has a sharp jaw, grey eyes, and a few lines around her eyes. Late thirties, probably. She’s the reason I kept watching the video, the first time. Marc suspects that she’s French Canadian, which is one of the reasons he had difficulty with the transcript. The camera is pointed at her a lot. We’re pretty sure her name is Renée.
Renée notices she’s on camera. She smiles at the passenger.
“There’s a Tim Horton’s ahead. Want to stop and stretch?”
The passenger probably says something like “Yes, and let’s grab a coffee.”
“Great idea,” says Renée. “The road already feels monotonous.”
There’s a bit of silence. The passenger aims the camera ahead down the road for a bit, then back at Renée.
“Are you going to film us the entire trip?” Renée asks with a smile.
We don’t hear the response, but Renée laughs, then the scene abruptly cuts.
The next scene is on a very long bridge over a mix of wetlands, islands, and river. The camera is mostly pointed at the scenery, but a couple of times it looks over at Renée.
At one point, Renée looks thoughtful and says something like “Yes, of course she will.” We don’t know what the question was.
We see two flags pass by: one Canadian, one American. I later discovered that this is the border; they are on the Sault Ste Marie bridge, crossing into the states.
I’m still not sure where in the states they stopped next, but it looks like they took advantage of the opportunity for some cross-border crossing. There’s a shot in the parking lot outside a Walmart, where they are loading their bags into the back of the car. We see the passenger’s legs and feet in one shot, our first good glimpse of her. What we can see of her outfit is a little more feminine and fashionable than Renée’s simple, comfortable clothes. She’s wearing white open-toed shoes, and her toenails are painted. She’s wearing a flowing black skirt, and from the glimpse of her left hand holding some shopping bags, it looks like she’s got a white knit sweater.
They root through the bags and show some of their items to the camera; presumably the audio had an explanation of what they’ve bought and why, but at this point in the video it’s kind of confusing. There’s a waterproof box for the video camera. A bunch of pulleys and ropes. Road snacks and drinks. Nose clips, the kind used for diving. A big pair of bolt cutters. Thigh-length wading boots, like fly-fishers use. It’s obvious now that they’re on some sort of mission, but it’s hard to guess what. It looks like they’re going wading, rock climbing, and diving all at once. When I first saw all of this, I wondered if they were going after hidden treasure or something.
The camera pans up to Renée’s face, catching her mid sentence. Just a note- where you see parenthesis, those are off-camera gaps in the dialogue that we’ve guessed at.
“(That should) be enough. If not, ---- is only an hour’s drive from the site.” We think she said the name of a town there, but Marc just screwed up his face and shrugged. He said she spoke it very quickly, and it’s a complex word. He thinks it has an “s” in the middle and maybe an “r” on the end, and it’s probably three syllables. If we could figure it out, we might understand more about what happened.
The next shot is in the car, driving through North Dakota. It’s presumably the next morning. The camera is pointed at Renée, and we only know her side of the conversation, so it’s hard to guess at what’s going on. She sips her coffee and looks thoughtful, like she’s listening.
“Yeah, we’re not far off schedule. We should make it to Moose Jaw tonight.”
Between her accent and the strange name of the town, it took us a while to figure out “Moose Jaw.” It wasn’t until I plotted out their route on Google Maps that I realized this must be where they stopped. That was an important realization. In a very roundabout way, it led to me figuring out exactly when this trip took place. This conversation in the car took place on August 24th, 2019.
The passenger asks something like “(Do you need a break? Want me to drive?)”
“Sure, in a while,” Renée replies. “We’ll stop and stretch at the border, and we can switch drivers.”
There’s a gap where neither of them are talking. The passenger turns the camera to the road to take in some scenery, then pans back.
We’re not sure what the passenger just asked, but Renée looks suddenly serious.
“Beth,” she says, finally giving us the passenger’s name. “We can’t focus on that yet. All we can do is offer her the-”
We’re not sure of the rest of the conversation. Beth’s hands get shaky. She looks away from Renée a lot. We know that they continue this important conversation, and Renée starts to look upset but is clearly trying to keep Beth calm. Marc caught a few random words but isn’t certain: drive, river, help, and “do our best.” The scene cuts suddenly with the tension unresolved.
The next shot is a brief one. Renée is smiling now, snacking on some cheetos. They are entering a small town; a sign welcomes them to Portal.
In the next shot, they have switched seats. We finally see Beth. She is a little younger than Renée, wearing more makeup, and has big round sunglasses on. She is happy now. She puts out her hand, and Renée follows it with the camera down to her own knee. She takes Beth’s hand in her own and squeezes it. It’s a very sweet, sort of Thelma-and-Louise moment. They’re obviously good friends.
Renée watches the road for a bit. We are back in Canada. The trees are getting more sparse, and we can see more and more of the flat boring prairies Saskatchewan is famous for. Road signs are kilometres. Gas prices are in cents per litre.
At this point, I think Renée asks Beth what she wants for dinner.
“Chinese,” Beth says with a smile, and laughs.
I don’t know what the in-joke is, but I’m pretty sure of the word because suddenly the scene cuts to the inside of a restaurant. It’s a chinese buffet.
The first time I watched the video, I felt a surge of recognition, and I realized that I’d been to this restaurant before. I didn’t figure out where and when until later, when I realized they were in Moose Jaw. Then I realized that this was a restaurant I sometimes stopped at on my road trips back and forth from my hometown to my new home in Winnipeg.
Beth has the camera again. She is watching Renée eat. Renée blushes and tries to demur from the camera.
As their eating slowed and their chopsticks settled on their plates, their conversation turned serious again.
“At least a hundred and fifty feet,” Renée answers to some unseen questions.
“(Do we have enough rope?)”
“Yes, we got two hundred and fifty each. It’s lots.”
I’m not sure what the next question was.
“Then we just use the winch and pull ourselves free.”
The next part of the conversation is unknown, because Renée starts fiddling with her chopsticks, mumbling, and grazing on more of her meal. Marc rolled his eyes in frustration at this point, and said something about how “hearing people” do this shit all the time and it drives him nuts.
Presumably they continue discussing technical aspects of their adventure. Renée looks very sober and anxious about it, but she’s still clearly keeping it together for Beth’s sake.
Beth gently sets down the camera, but for some reason leaves it running and pointed at the interior of the restaurant while she leaves for the bathroom. The other patrons of the restaurant continue eating and don’t notice.
Another jarring cut to the inside of a hotel room. Beth is ready for bed, in a t-shirt and underwear. She’s sitting cross-legged on the king-size bed, holding an iPad in her lap. Her face is glued to the screen, which is shining blue light up at her. She looks like she’s been crying.
It’s unclear why Renée is recording this, it feels like a violation of privacy, but Beth doesn’t seem to mind. She looks up.
“She’s still following us, isn’t she?”
We’re not sure of Renée’s answer, but it doesn’t seem to comfort Beth much. She just nods.
There’s presumably some sort of noise, and suddenly they both look to the window. The window must be open a crack, because the sheer curtains are moving gently in the breeze. There doesn’t seem to be anything there.
Renée spontaneously rushes to the window, still holding the camera. As she approaches it, the scene cuts again.
I watched that footage a hundred times, I think, searching for whatever startled them. Sometimes I convince myself I can see a face beyond, but it’s clear from the view of the building across the parking lot that they must be on at least the seventh floor.
It’s the next morning, and they’re leaving Moose Jaw. Renée is driving again, clutching a cup of coffee in her right hand and never setting it down. She doesn’t look like she slept much.
The camera stays focused on her for a solid five minutes as she drives and sips. Then, in response to an unseen question, she suddenly speaks.
“Yes. She probably will.”
After another minute and twenty seconds, another cut. Suddenly the camera seems to be inside of a bag or something; it’s almost completely dark, but the bag must be open enough to show some blurry dark shapes moving around like someone is walking. I later speculated that they were trying to catch a conversation with someone on record, and hidden the camera in a bag. Now though, it’s just four minutes of vague blurry shapes.
Then Renée is holding the camera. It’s pointed at Beth. Beth looks like she’s been crying, but is putting on a brave face now. They take a left turn at a tiny town called Dunmore, then another there’s another sudden cut.
They eventually stop for the night. They aren’t a hotel tonight, but in someone’s home. From context, I’m guessing that these are Beth’s parents, or some other close relatives.
Renée is holding the camera now, pointing it at Beth’s mother who his cooking on the stove. She’s wearing an old-fashioned pink apron with lace edges, and has a matching oven mitt on. She looks like an older, shorter Beth, with her blonde hair cut into a bob that doesn’t really suit her. She smiles nervously when she sees that she’s being filmed, and makes some comment about “that camera” before hiding in embarrassment behind the oven mit.
Beth steps into frame and laughs, patting her mother on the back and presumably offering to help her cook, because then we see Mom handing her a cheese grater and a block of cheddar.
Renée pans over across the kitchen to where Beth’s father is stepping into the room. He looks stern, almost angry, and is clutching a tumbler of amber fluid like he wants to smash it across Renée’s face.
The father says something, but he’s saying it through gritted teeth. Marc thinks part of it is “would lead her through this,” but that’s a guess. Beth’s mother steps quickly back into frame, gently taking Dad’s glass and saying something to him to try and calm him down. He looks like he’s about to say something, but there’s another sudden cut.
The next shot is very brief, and confusing. It’s a bathroom sink- presumably at Beth’s parents’ place. From the lighting it looks like the middle of the night, and the only light on is the bathroom light overhead. The sink is full of strange, wet, tangled gray hair. The angle of the shot doesn’t let us see the mirror, so we don’t know who’s holding the camera. They just linger on the hair for about five seconds, then another cut.
The next shot is in the entryway of Beth’s parents’ house. Beth’s mother says something like “Sorry for the (incident) last night.” She almost elbows Dad in the ribs, and he mutters what must be an apology. The camera pans around the room, momentarily showing Beth and Renée in the hall mirror, before the shot ends.
I kept coming back to this shot for some reason. I thought it was noteworthy that this is probably the only shot where we can see both Renée’s and Beth’s faces at the same time. But something in the back of my head kept itching over this, and eventually I realized the obvious: from the angle of the shot, the camera should be visible. But neither of them are holding it, and there’s no one else there.
Next is another highway driving shot. It’s short, and just seems to establish that they are leaving Fort MacLeod, a town in Alberta.
The next shot is from inside the car. It’s unclear what the camera is supposed to be recording, because it’s on its side and laying on the dash, pointed haphazardly out the passenger window. It’s like they set it down, left the car, and the camera turned on by itself.
Outside the car is a parking lot, surrounded by coniferous trees. Everything looks like it’s covered in mist and fog. I speculate that they’ve made it to the Rocky Mountains now. They are probably at a rest stop.
There is a strange figure across the parking lot. It looks like a gray-haired woman, but I was never able to zoom in on this shot well enough to see. She seems to be just staring at the car, directly at the camera lens.
Renée and Beth walk in from out of frame and get into the car. They don’t seem to have noticed the woman. As the car starts up, one of them must have noticed that the camera is on, because it shakes like its being picked up. Then the shot ends.
After that, it’s really difficult to figure out their route. The next shot is inside a busy cafe where they order hot drinks and cheesecake, but there’s no clues to figure out where it is. Renée is holding the camera. There isn’t much conversation, and large parts of it are obscured by Beth’s hands or her cup. She looks uneasy and distracted. She keeps looking out the window.
The next shot is back in the car. At one point I saw a highway sign, but other than knowing that they are now in British Columbia, I can’t figure out their location.
Beth is driving again, Renée is holding the camera.
“You think filming everything will really help?” asks Beth.
“(Filming was your idea.)”
“Yeah. Yeah it was, wasn’t it? I just thought that we should, because…” This part is unintelligible.
Renée asks something, we’re not sure what.
“Maybe it’ll help. Maybe it’ll be easier for the next person.”
There’s a long pause in the conversation.
“I wish we had never found that USB drive,” Beth sighs.
Obviously, when Marc told me this part, I just about lost my mind. I’d already developed some strange kind of connection with Beth and Renée, something that I couldn’t put my finger on. But now there was some kind of parallel between us that was emerging.
There’s only one more shot. It’s impossible to know where, but I’m fairly certain that they are now far past the Rockies. The mountains in the background look different, older or more worn somehow. I think they are somewhere in the B.C. interior.
They have parked in what appears to be the parking lot of a defunct facility of some kind. Everything is in disrepair. The pavement is riddled with potholes, some of which are already growing saplings. They seem to be in some kind of valley, but it’s so heavily forested that it’s hard to see much of the scenery.
The camera glances over at the entrance to the parking lot. The road also looks disused. There was a heavy gate blocking the parking lot, but now it was swinging in the wind. I understood why they brought the bolt cutters.
Beth is holding the camera. Renée has a very strong, stoic look on her face. She turns to the camera.
“It’s going to be okay. Remember, she can’t hurt you. Okay? We can do this.”
Beth makes some sort of response, and Renée nods.
They load up their gear in a duffel bag and begin hiking down an old trail through the woods. It’s treacherous; it looks like nobody has been down here in a while. A couple of times Renée takes out a saw and clears some branches to make the way more passable.
After a few minutes, a clearing becomes visible ahead. Then they descend below the tree line, and it becomes obvious that this isn’t just a clearing.
The camera pans over the area, and I think that if I could hear them they would both be gasping in awe. I know I do every time I get to this point. They’re near the water line now, of what must have been an enormous reservoir. There is mud… literally everywhere. The water must have drained away recently, because it’s all fresh and wet and brownish-gray. It coats nearly everything below the old water level, except a few rocky outcroppings. Off to the left there is a bank that must have been a picnic spot on the shore of the reservoir, because I can see an area of green grass surrounding a picnic table and a tall lone aspen tree. Around this area is just mud. Renée and Beth carefully hike over to the table.
From here, something new comes into sight. There are a bunch of buildings below that mud line, enough to be a hamlet or a small town. They’re vague ruined blocks now, probably made of brick, coated in mud, like a child had been building houses out of clay and left them half-finished.
Beth pans over to Renée, who is kneeling next to the aspen tree, winding a rope around it. She is saying something, but it’s not very clear because her mouth is obscured by the camera angle and some of the terminology is hard for Marc for decipher. He caught “we’re going down,” “the ropes are tight,” and “pull it tight.” I thought about finding a friend with climbing experience to explain the setup with the ropes and pulleys to me, but I decided that the fewer people who knew about the video the better.
As Renée is finishing setting up the ropes, Beth says something, I have no idea what. Renée nods. She reaches into her pocket and pulls out an envelope. Inside is a piece of lined paper, written on with felt marker. She smooths it out and sets it down on the picnic table. Beth brings the camera over it, and lingers there for a few seconds. Of course, I have paused the playback to read the message several times. Why they wrote it down instead of saying it, I don’t know. The whole video they’re acting like I can hear them, but for this brief moment they seem to know that I will have to read this.
We’re very sorry. We have no control over what happens after this. We tried our best to follow the instructions perfectly, but if we have failed someone else will have to try next. Before you make the attempt, do as we did. Record your journey. Pass on this message:
Only one thing will satisfy her. Only one thing will complete the drowned village. Bring it to her, but if you fail, you must pass on the message.
The camera panned back up, and settled on Beth’s face. She had turned the camera around to speak directly into it, but her hands are unsteady so her words aren’t totally clear.
“She’s been following us for (several weeks). Ever since we found the USB drive. We see her everywhere. (We haven’t been able to) sleep. I hope this is the end of it- if not, you will have to try next. I’m so sorry. It happened to us too. Wish us luck, (but if we fail) good luck to you.”
Beth set the camera down on the table, and I watched them put on their hip waders, strapping them over their shoulders. Then they strapped themselves into climbing harnesses, and clipped themselves on to the rope. Beth pulled the nose clips out of her pocket and put one on, handing the other to Renée. I was confused by this for a while, then I realized that if this was a body of water that had recently been emptied, it probably stank. The mud was probably full of bacteria, algae, some freshwater plants, even a few fish and other animals. It was all in the early stages of decomposition.
Beth picked up the camera and followed Renée down past the water line. They tried to stick to the rocky areas, but sometimes they had to wade carefully through the mud. Some parts looked to be deeper than others, so they had to avoid getting stuck in the more treacherous areas. The purpose of the ropes became obvious: if they got mired in the mud, their only hope might be pulling themselves out.
At one point Beth leaned over to examine something. It was like a stringy texture in the uniform grey of everything, stuck into the mud. She reached down and pulled it up, and I realized it was some kind of hair algae or stringy moss. It looked exactly like the “hair” in the sink at her parent’s house. Now that I was aware of it, I realized it was all over the place.
They made it to the largest, and highest-up building. Up close, it was obviously by its architecture that it had been a small old schoolhouse. Renée walked right up to it, and Beth must have said something in alarm, but Renée just looked over her shoulder and smiled. She said something like “it should be safe.” Part of her speech is cut off as she turns back to the building, then Marc could make out more when she turns back.
“They explored it in the last video. I want to see it for myself.”
So in they went. Inside were rows of very old desks. If there had been chalkboards or decorations in the school, they were long eroded or caked in mud. The mud was calf deep, making the seats of the desks look strangely low to the ground.
There wasn’t really much else to see. They retraced their steps and checked their ropes, then descended to the town. Everywhere it was more of the same. If this town had been sacrificed to build a dam, it would have been cleared of artifacts before it was flooded. If not, if it had fallen prey to some kind of flood or disaster, then the everyday items of the resident’s lives were washed away or buried in the mud. All that was left was the structures themselves, and they were crumbling away too.
The camera looked around nervously, then settled on Renée. Renée shrugged. She reached into her pocket and pulled something out. It was an old antique bell, the kind that a farm wife might ring to call everyone in for supper.
“Yeah, I think so,” Renée replied to Beth’s unseen question. “The guy said it was from this town, but who knows. As far as we can tell, she was the schoolteacher.”
Renée carefully and ceremoniously set the handbell down on an exposed rock jutting out of the mud. She looked at Beth, then back and forth down the muddy valley.
Suddenly she screamed, and pointed uphill. The camera swung quickly around and settled on a figure standing in the mud about fifty paces away. It was that same grey-haired woman, but now I realized that she wasn’t grey from age. She was grey from head to toe, covered in that same mud.
She pointed directly at the camera, and just stood there. The camera starts shaking, and it seems like Beth and Renée are trying to quickly get out of there. At this point they must hear what’s coming.
At the last moment, the camera turns back towards the woman, but this time she’s not there. She’s obscured behind an enormous thirty-foot tall wall of white water, rushing down the valley, coming towards the camera at high speed.
There was no time to escape. The camera gets caught up in the wake. It doesn’t go too far down the valley, because it’s snapped securely into its waterproof case, which is strapped to Beth’s wrist, who is tied to the aspen tree. So it spins around and around for a few minutes, and as the initial rush of water goes past it settles to the bottom of the reservoir and lies still, pointed back up the hill where the woman is still standing, unmoved by the water. She is still staring directly into the lens.
This is the final shot, and it lasts for another four minutes. Everything is underwater, dark and still. The woman stands there unflinching the entire time. Near the end, Renée’s body floats slowly into view, still tethered to the faraway tree.
That’s the video. And now you probably know why I described it, instead of just uploading for you to watch. It was meant for me all along.
I knew this for sure on January 20, when I went back and watched the scene in the Chinese restaurant. You see, the reason I was able to figure out the exact date of the video is because I’m sitting there, in the background, eating my fried rice with a spoon. You can see me clearly once you zoom in. I’m wearing my red hoodie and black jeans.
After I watched the video, she started showing up everywhere. She comes to my window at night, watching me sleep. I see her in playgrounds, back alleys, out of the corner of my eye. I went to the movies and she was in the front row, but was gone when the movie let out. She won’t leave me alone, and I know what I have to do now.
Marc’s coming with me, she found him too. He agrees with me, we need to follow Renée and Beth’s path and try to satisfy the woman in the reservoir. I’ve barely slept in weeks; she is ruining my life.
On the way there, we’re going to have to figure out our offering to her. I have no idea what will satisfy her, but I have to try. I’m on my way to the pawn shop to buy a video camera, just in case. (Wish us luck.)
The only question left- and the thing I need your help with- where is she? That’s why I’m posting. I don’t know where to find the village.
Edit: wow, this blew up like I didn't expect. Thanks to everyone for all of your suggestions and advice, and for helping me narrow down the location of the village. It's a lot to respond to, so sorry if I don't get around to replying to everyone. I know lots of people are clamoring for an update, and I probably gave the impression that we would be leaving soon, but the truth is that the mountains aren't very passable this time of year, especially on old roads that are out of service. The good news is, every time I make strides towards solving the riddle, the woman leaves me alone for a few nights. So in the meantime I'll just keep doing my research.
Thanks to u/crymsin for correcting me about Rene/ Renée. I'm painfully anglo and keep getting French names mixed up. Fixed it!
Also to u/faloofay for correcting me about my language regarding "hard of hearing" instead of "hearing impaired." I'm cringing that I misrepresented Marc like that, and he's actually corrected me about that before, so I feel like an idiot. Also for pointing out that I gave the impression that he was able to decipher the dialogue in the video like a magic trick- that definitely wasn't how it went down. We watched and rewatched the video over and over, and the quotes we ended up with above were really based more on guesswork and context than anything. The actual words they said are probably different in a lot of ways, but this is the best we could do. As Marc always points out, lip-reading is NOT a party trick.
Thanks to everyone for the help and support. I will probably update in a month or two, when we've got more info and the route clears up.
submitted by OneFaraday to nosleep [link] [comments]
2019.08.26 17:06 RealPorkyBrand I'm an ex-military intelligence operator and I want to talk about the need for a watch... [Part 13]
This story is written with the same rules I laid out in part one.
I'm an ex-military intelligence operator and I want to talk about some things... [P1]
I'm an ex-military intelligence operator and I want to talk about Lucky the Gambian... [P2]
I'm an ex-military intelligence operator and I want to talk about the last exercise of basic training... [P3]
I'm an ex-military intelligence operator and I want to talk about sharing a two-man room at Chicksands... [Part 4]
I'm an ex-military intelligence operator and I want to talk about 'dogging'... [Part 5]
I'm an ex-military intelligence operator and I want to talk about crying babies... [Part 6]
I'm an ex-military intelligence operator and I want to talk about drinking with strangers... [Part 7]
I'm an ex-military intelligence operator and I want to talk about Padre Cliffe... [Part 8]
I'm an ex-military intelligence operator and I want to talk about different types of dogs... [Part 9]
I'm an ex-military intelligence operator and I want to talk about the onion factory... [Part 10]
I'm an ex-military intelligence operator and I want to talk about Sunday morning... [Part 11]
I'm an ex-military intelligence operator and I want to talk about Charles Darwin... [Part 12]
Waiting for Sgt Patterson to arrive was torturous.
I wanted to nip back into my room and tell Chucky what was taking so long, I wanted to knock on Huggins' door and tell him I'd been right about hearing something from the fifth room and, of course, I was petrified of Sgt Patterson's threat to "end my career or worse."
I should have used the window of time I had, between ending the call with Sgt Patterson and his arrival, to speak to Chucky or Huggins. Fuck what Patterson had said about waiting there and not saying anything; this was my chance to prove that what I'd been saying about noises coming from that room was correct. I could have shown my squad mates the claw marks and the vile state of the room that couldn't possibly have been created by any creature generally known to be native to the United Kingdom.
Yet I was paralysed by inaction.
Every second between hanging up the call and nipping into the block meant there was more chance of Sgt Patterson arriving and catching me talking to another trainee against his express orders.
The battle between obeying and disobeying Sgt Patterson played out in my mind in slow motion and as each second ticked by it became riskier and riskier to make a move.
As I weighed up what I was going to do in regards to the impending arrival of my training sergeant, questions began to pierce my brain like red hot irons.
"What had been in the room?"
"Was it related to the onion factory and Cpl Wilson's disappearance?"
"What did Sgt Patterson know?"
Within a minute I knew I'd squandered any opportunity to tell my squad mates what had happened to me over the last few nights, explain my theories about the goings on at Chicksands, and show them the putrid room as evidence. Plus the questions regarding what I didn't know began to overwhelm my desire to do so anyway.
I was certain that Sgt Patterson was going to want to know what I knew. He already suspected that I was aware of the existence of cryptids because he'd questioned both Chucky and I the night I'd... agreed... to go to the psy ops building.
I remembered how Chucky had saved me getting caught by Sgt Maj Jones and Sgt Patterson that night.
Had Chucky really always been trying to help me?
Just as a white fleet van pulled up, I thought of another very pertinent question.
"What was the relationship between Sgt Patterson and Sgt Maj Jones that meant that they were together that night?"
There were three individuals in the front of the van that had stopped right outside the block. Sgt Patterson was in uniform, but the two other individuals were in civilian work clothes. I recognised neither of them.
Sgt Patterson got out of the passenger side of the van onto the road and I felt like a man awaiting my execution.
"Private Brand," he commanded as he reached the front of the vehicle, "come here and follow me."
"End room on the right," he said to the female individual that had followed him out of the passenger side, "the one with the broken window."
As I approached Sgt Patterson, I saw them unloading what looked like industrial cleaning equipment out of the back of the van. It was obvious that they were going to scrub the room clean, destroying any evidence of something having been in there.
As soon as I reached him, Sgt Patterson set off in the direction of the training wing. He hadn't outright said I was in trouble - although the threat of ending my career carried that connotation - and so I decided I'd try and play dumb, despite being nearly completely certain it wouldn't work.
"How come you've ended up being duty corporal, sergeant?" I asked tepidly.
As the name suggests, duty corporal would usually be done by a corporal or lance corporal and not a sergeant, so it was immediately odd that Sgt Patterson would be covering the role. It was more evidence that something had happened to Cpl Wilson.
It didn't matter though, because Sgt Patterson was about to confirm the fears I'd had since receiving Charlie's text regarding overhearing the conversation about Cpl Wilson in the guardroom.
"Cpl Wilson is dead," stated Sgt Patterson emotionlessly, "I found his body."
My heart pumped faster as I imagined the usually upbeat, young, athletic RAF PTI ravaged by a creature that had escaped from the onion factory. I said nothing and kept pace with the sergeant as we passed the NAAFI.
The silence was notable and Sgt Patterson filled it with the answers to the questions he must have known I was thinking.
"He hung himself in his room last night," he clarified, "A suicide."
The next silence was shorter and then he looked at me as we walked side by side and added menacingly.
"Just like you might commit if you cross the wrong people."
The rest of the walk to the training wing was in silence.
The building was closed on Sundays and so we had to pause at the entrance whilst Sgt Patterson took out the keys and unlocked the door. From where I was stood I could see people leaving the church and figured it must've been about 1030hrs and Padre Cliffe's service was finishing up.
Suddenly I had a vision of Padre Cliffe and Sgt Maj Jones sat having a drink together and the padre's words from the day before echoed in my mind.
"Thank you for telling me. Sarah, I know that you might not want to hear this, but I think the best thing for you to do would be to speak to your father; I'll make sure he's fair in whatever course of action he chooses to take, but things are complicated by the fact that Private Brand is a trainee at Templer."
It was possible that the padre had spoken to Sgt Maj Jones and he in turn had spoken to Sgt Patterson. It would make perfect sense that a Sgt Maj from another unit would take any issue with a trainee to the Templer training staff for them to administer punishment. This wasn't about whatever had been in the block, this was about the incident with the Greys at Sarah's house.
I began to feel a tiny sense of relief. Sgt Patterson's harsh words were probably meant to scare me rather than a genuine threat. Maybe he'd only chatted with Sgt Maj Jones briefly on the phone - Sarah said her dad was off camp for the weekend - and didn't know the full details, so when he got back and spoke to Sgt Patterson everything would be OK.
The padre had said he'd ensure Sgt Maj Jones was fair with us.
Once we were inside Sgt Patterson locked the door after us, confiscated my mobile, and told me to use the toilet.
"Stay in there until you've had a piss," he instructed, "you've got a long wait ahead of you."
It took me maybe three minutes of standing at the urinal to squeeze out anything half decent.
Sgt Patterson was still patiently stood outside the toilet door when I came out. He led me to a small office, bare of any personal effects, and told me I was to wait until he returned.
It was a long wait.
I estimated the size of the room as about 8ft long and 6ft wide. There was a desk with a computer with a swivel chair and, against the left hand wall, two squat blue chairs. At the side of the door there was a window covered by a blind. There was no window to the outside.
There was a clock on the wall, but it was stuck at 1524hrs.
There was no point playing with the battery as I didn't know what time to set it to even if it did start ticking again.
I made a note to start wearing the old CASIO watch I used for exercises on a more permanent basis.
After a while, I don't know how long, I found the courage or self-destruction to try the desk drawers and the computer. I'd sat in one of the blue chairs thinking to myself, daring myself to get up and do something, anything, to alleviate the boredom of waiting. I'd scoured the room with my eyes, looking for hidden cameras, and decided I wasn't being watched. Sgt Patterson had left me in solitary confinement.
The drawers were locked and the computer required a password.
"Not authorised" was the message I got when I tried my trainee password.
I turned the computer off again and paced the room.
With no way of knowing how much time was passing, I could only be glad for having stayed at the urinal until I'd managed to piss. In any other situation, I might've been happy to have time to myself to theorise about everything that was happening and how I'd ended up at the centre of it all.
The main question running through my mind was "what am I waiting here for?"
I didn't understand why Sgt Patterson hadn't just given me my punishment himself; he was authorised to AGAI trainees and even if it was Sgt Maj Jones that had an issue with me, then Sgt Patterson could just AGAI me on his behalf.
"AGAI 67," I chuckled sourly to myself. AGAI stood for 'Army General Administrative Instruction 67' and was the military's way of issuing punishments that needed a paper trail.
They were the bane of the trainees' lives at Templer and criticised by a government watchdog for not being transparent enough.
Eventually I heard a noise in the corridor and someone approaching. I considered moving the blinds aside and peaking out, but knew that wouldn't endear me to anyone in the Chain of Command if I was seen behaving like a nosy neighbour.
I sat in the back in the blue chair.
Sgt Patterson unlocked the door and instructed me to take a toilet break. As I walked along the corridor to the toilets, I did my best to glance through one of the windows that look into the training classrooms so I could tell the time.
I was unsuccessful on the way to the toilet, but managed to catch a glimpse on the way back to my office-cum-prison.
One of the clocks on the wall told me it was 1407hrs.
As far as I could calculate I'd been in that office for over three and a half hours.
I was fairly certain that it was illegal for me to essentially be kept prisoner against my will for hours on end. I was also fairly certain that I wouldn't dare do anything about it. I was also fairly certain that if I did do something about it, made a complaint to a more senior person in the Chain of Command for example, that nothing would happen except I'd earn the ire of future colleagues.
Back in that office, the wait seemed to last at least as long as the first period.
I could understand how prisoners in solitary confinement felt and why it was supposed to make you go crazy.
I thought for a bit, I paced for a bit, I even did some exercises.
I did the plank for a bit, but it seemed pointless as I couldn't time myself and so I stopped after the first iteration.
Eventually, I sat in one of the blue chairs and stared at the wall. I noticed the clock again and wished I'd tried to fiddle with the battery when I got back from the toilet after the second trip and had an idea of the time.
It was too late to do that now.
Back to the timeless wait.
I felt myself nodding asleep in the chair, the exhaustion from two restless nights tempting me to close my eyes. I didn't want to be asleep when Sgt Patterson returned though and so fought against it.
I don't think I fell asleep completely, but I didn't hear Sgt Patterson enter the corridor like I had before. It was the sound of the door being unlocked that had me sit bolt upright and then stand to attention.
My wait was over and Sgt Patterson had arrived back with the reason why.
Sgt Maj Jones was with him.
"Private Brand," smiled the sergeant major, "come with us."
If I'd been in uniform, I'd've surely been expected to march. However, I was still in the same civilian clothing - including underwear - that I'd been wearing non-stop for 48 hours. In fact, I'd never been this far into the training building in civilian clothing before and combined with the solitary wait I'd just endured it was all rather disorientating.
I suspected it was all part of the 'experience' they were creating for me.
I remembered how my interrogation of Chucky had fallen apart within sentences and steeled myself. I was going to draw on the few months of training I had and do a better job of hiding my cards.
The two senior ranks led me to an interview room. I was familiar with it from my training.
This room was pretty welcoming in comparison to the office I'd just spent hours in. Very IKEA-y. It had a large potted plant, three more of those blue armchair things that the base must have bought in bulk, and a small wooden table that the chairs were arranged around.
I was invited to take the seat that was by itself, facing the other two.
The two of them sat directly opposite me in the chairs, which I was expecting because it was how we'd been taught to do interviews during our training.
The sergeant major slid a small notebook out of the side pocket of his DPM trousers.
He flicked it to the page he wanted and began reading silently.
Sgt Patterson sat in the chair beside him, eyeballing me.
"This is the second time we've spoken," Sgt Maj Jones finally said, "and it won't be the last."
Personally, I didn't remember "speaking" to him last time; it was an hours long interrogation where I only spoke to answer his questions. His tone was very different today though.
"Where to begin, Private Brand," he continued, "we've got a lot to cover, no?"
I wasn't sure how to respond. It didn't matter, because it seemed to be a rhetorical question. The sergeant major slipped a pen out of his pocket, and twiddled it between his fingers, before studying me for a few seconds and then continuing.
"The last time we spoke was after you awoke to find your roommate, Private Chuckden, missing in the middle of the night, no?"
I nodded but said nothing.
Sgt Patterson was watching me intently.
I expected he'd say very little during this 'chat' and that he was just there so that there were two of them and one of me. Make me feel outnumbered and more vulnerable and thus malleable. It's a technique used by police and intelligence agencies across the world.
"Private Brand," he started again, "why did you join the Intelligence Corps?"
That ubiquitous question. I knew it was thrown in to change tack, keep me guessing about where the conversation would go, trip me up. It was another interview technique. I'd paid attention in lessons.
I drew on both the conversations I'd had with Padre Cliffe and Chucky for an answer.
"I suppose because it's better than the infantry, sir. We get to know things the general public don't too... and it's probably a little bit less dangerous."
The sergeant major smiled and the two of them looked at each other.
"Indeed," hummed the sergeant major, "the last time you spoke you told me you didn't know much about Private Chuckden or his exploits. Is that still true?"
It was an unexpected question, so I knew that he was trying to corner me, lead me down an alley that I couldn't escape from, and leave me with no option but to admit I'd lied to him. Sarah had said he worked in HUMINT, which explained his refined by-the-book interrogation techniques.
"You convinced him before, you can convince him again." I told myself.
At the same time I knew that he probably had a lot more information about me since the last time I'd been sat face to face with him. It was possible he'd had someone monitoring me since then too. Plus, I already knew Padre Cliffe had likely spoken to him or, at the very least, Sarah.
I went with a half-truth.
"Private Chuckden and I don't really get on, sir. I've mainly avoided him and only had one proper conversation since last time I saw you, sir."
He looked at his notepad.
"Private Brand," he looked me in the eyes, his expression neutral, "I've spent the weekend in London. This afternoon I had a COBRA meeting with the Prime Minister."
Change of tack again, this time with something that sounded important to raise the stakes and make me want to throw in my hand. He knew that I'd now have to devote some brain power to filling in the blanks surrounding his trip to the capital too.
I waited, knowing that he didn't really expect a response from me.
"Private Chuckden never told you where he'd been that night you woke up to find him missing, Private Brand? Nor did you enquire as to where he'd been for nearly a week?" Sgt Maj Jones asked levelly.
"No, sir" I replied, "I asked him and he wouldn't tell me. I left it. Like I say, sir, we didn't get on very well."
Sgt Patterson glanced at the sergeant major and the sergeant major nodded.
"Didn't or don't," he said, looking down at his notepad again.
I narrowed my eyes and tried to look thoughtful.
"I don't get what you mean, sir," I said, acting dumb, "I didn't get on with him then and I still don't get on with him now."
I'd managed to evade being caught in a lie.
"Interesting," mused the sergeant major, tapping his pen against his notebook, "so your roommate goes missing and you don't even push him for an answer why, choosing to avoid him instead. Private Chuckden mustn't be a very likeable person then, Private Brand?"
I cursed Chucky in my mind. I didn't know what he'd said or not said to them over the course of his absence, so there was no way to know if what I was telling them would match what he'd told them. If it wasn't for the fact that he'd revealed his true self as a vulnerable, intelligent being, with more humanity than certain humans, then I would've just thrown him under the bus then and there; told the two senior ranks that he was a Grey alien. However, Sgt Maj Jones had an Ehman Box in his house, so him already knowing of Chucky's extraterrestrial origins was also a possibility.
The only thing keeping me from just admitting everything I knew was that I didn't trust either Sgt Maj Jones or Sgt Patterson. The threats about ending my career or faking my suicide hadn't helped foster trust between us and, if Chucky had already betrayed me the week he was with Sgt Maj Jones, then my answers didn't really matter because they were just playing with me.
I thought of my interview techniques training again.
Stick to facts where possible.
"Private Chuckden was in the other troop at ATR Winchester, sir. I didn't know him before Chicksands and I spend my evenings at the bar playing pool whereas he prefers his own company." I explained without lying once.
Sgt Maj Jones nodded.
"Private Brand," he said slowly, "...do you believe in aliens?"
He was either heading towards the incident at his house with the Ehman Box or he was asking me whether I knew about Chucky.
Of the two, I was certain that he knew that I'd been at his house and had 'used' the Ehman Box with Sarah, Dan and Charlie. Sarah was his daughter, so surely she'd spoken to him in the 36 hours since that happened. If not her, the padre had said he'd speak with the sergeant major on our behalf.
Chucky had only told me he was a Grey that morning, so unless they'd spoken with him since then they wouldn't know that I knew.
I was on my toes, two steps ahead.
Right now though, this was a question that I could answer without it having any real bearing on the conversation or my credibility.
"Yes, sir." I said with a little nod, "the universe is huge. We can't be alone in it."
The sergeant major let some air escape from his nose in a not-quite chuckle. Sgt Patterson took it as a cue to cross his knees, hanging the side of his right boot heel from his left knee in the way that only men do. He was sat back in his chair, still watching me.
"We see things like Grey aliens on the television," he said locking eyes with me, "but we don't believe that they could be out there amongst... us."
I couldn't immediately decide if Sgt Maj Jones was hinting at his knowledge about what had happened at his house on Friday night.
"You look pale, Private Brand," he said suddenly, "what have you had to eat and drink today?"
At first I thought it was yet another tack change and prepared myself for him to ignore my response, but when I said that I'd only had a cup of tea with the padre that morning, he sent Sgt Patterson to get me a glass of water from one of the two water coolers down the corridor.
When the door had closed itself behind the sergeant, Sgt Maj Jones leant forward and said three sentences to me.
"I know what happened at my house on Saturday morning. Sgt Patterson doesn't. Keep it that way."
He then sat back in his chair and tapped his notebook with his pen a few times.
I didn't dare say anything to him and he didn't say another word until Sgt Patterson was back in the room with a small plastic cup full of water for me.
"Thank you, sergeant," I said, taking the water from him.
As soon as the water touched my lips I realised how dry I'd been and nearly downed it all in one.
The two of them watched me as I drank.
The sergeant major began again, "Private Brand, you're not here because you're in trouble, OK?"
The question was another interview technique used to lull people into a false sense of security, but his comment whilst Sgt Patterson was out of the room made me wonder if that was really what he was doing in this instance.
Sgt Maj Jones looked at Sgt Patterson.
"That's right," said the sergeant in a flat tone, "the sergeant major is here to make you an offer, in fact."
Sgt Maj Jones smiled.
I suspected another attempt at a trap was coming and prepared myself.
"You said you believed in aliens, Private Brand," began the sergeant major, and I guessed what he was about to say before he finished his sentence, "and you'd be right to... Private Chuckden is a Grey alien."
I feigned shock, opening my eyes wide and glancing between the two of them as if I was expecting one of them to confirm it was a joke.
"S-sir?" I fake stammered.
Neither of them changed their facial expressions, seemingly in the belief that they'd subjected me to a reality shattering revelation that had in fact happened earlier that day. It was me that was pulling off the performance of a lifetime.
Instead of repeating what he'd said, the sergeant major continued.
"We caught him in an out of bounds area the night you woke up to find him missing from your room," explained Sgt Maj Jones, seemingly unaware that I was also there in the psy ops building that night, "as a result, he was kept in solitary confinement and interrogated thoroughly. He didn't break from his story."
"Neither did I," I thought to myself, "but I wasn't caught and didn't need as strong an alibi."
"Grey aliens are a lot like humans, Private Brand." His words echoed Chucky's from earlier.
"He claimed that he'd always been fascinated with humanity and came to Earth purely to study us. We didn't believe him and the fact that we caught him in an out of bounds area suggested he was engaged in some form of espionage against us. For a Grey to go through that much effort to join the Intelligence Corps is ludicrous. He could have studied us from anywhere on the planet without joining the British military."
Sgt Maj Jones' voice had slowly risen as he was talking, like he was getting angry at the thought of Chucky spying on his beloved Corps..
I didn't get why he was telling me this information.
"At first we thought he might be working for a nation that's outright hostile to British interests," continued the sergeant major, "the Russians, or the Chinese, for example."
I slowly nodded wanting to look unfazed, but my fake surprise was slowly transforming into real surprise as I listened to even more revelations about Chucky.
"However, our investigations and the location in which Chucky was caught suggest that he may in fact be working for a British ally that is unhappy regarding the direction of a Top Secret project we're undertaking. You look confused, Private Brand."
The sergeant major stopped talking and Sgt Patterson uncrossed his legs and hitched up straighter in his chair.
"Sorry, sir," I muttered, "I just don't know why you're telling me this? I already said I don't know anything about Private Chuckden, sir."
I'd done well, I'd lasted, I dunno, 15 or 20 minutes maybe, but this was a curveball too far. I hadn't trained for this.
"Maybe not, Private Brand," he stated, flipping his notebook closed and placing it on the table in front of him, "but you're certainly best placed to find out about him, aren't you?"
EDIT: I'm an ex-military intelligence operator and I want to talk about being in a bind... [Part 14]submitted by RealPorkyBrand to nosleep [link] [comments]
2019.06.24 12:44 yourlilpeeweeherman Hidden camera in chinese toilet
EDIT 2: stop sending messages like these. https://imgur.com/a/gLs3UFG.
TLDR: Got filmed at [email protected] ActiveSG Swimming Complex washroom, confronted the pervert, end up with police.
This happened on 22/06/2019.
It was a rainy Saturday and i was at [email protected] ActiveSG Swimming Complex from 3.15ish.
I went to the male washroom/
changing room/shower area (it was a all in one thing, so from now on i am just going to refer to it as the washroom.) to change into my swimming gear. While i was in the washroom, i saw a man from a bench away. The man who is Chinese have a skin complexion that looks sickly. He was only wearing only a singlet with nothing covering his private parts except a towel. The towel which he remove to expose himself time to time while walking around in a male washroom filled with people ranging from kids to adults. [Point 1]
Nothing happened and fast forward to me back into the washroom for a shower after my swim. The same man was there still doing what he was doing before. I took cubical 13, at the point in time, cubical 12 and 14 which i was in between of was empty.
While rinsing off shampoo of my hair, i caught a hand holding onto a phone angling with the rear camera facing me underneath the gap of the plastic wall separating cubical 12 and 13. The hand immediately retracted once it was within my vision. Which shocked me, so i took a step to the right to see further in between the gap to find that a towel on the floor of cubical 12. Looking back, i think he was laying on the floor filming/
taking a photo/streaming/peeping (i really didn't know what he was doing with the camera but i am just going to say filming cause that was what my account was to the police later.) of me while i was showering while looking at the phone screen so he knew exactly when to remove his phone. That towel was on a floor for a long time before he picked it up.
After which i was doubting what i saw but being extra cautious about what happened that may happen again. It happened again while i was rinsing off my body wash so i knew something was up.
Got out of my cubical, butt ass naked slamming on his door, yelling for the man to get out while calling for my friend to help me. To which i only received dead silence from cubical 12 for a long time, so i took a slipper from his cubical gap, so even if he ran out the CCTV will show that a man walking oddly. Thinking about it after, i sense that he knew shit was up so he went to clear off whatever he was doing. After a long time, he came out revealing to be the same man from before with a long scar from the middle of his chest claiming that he just had heart surgery and denied whatever i said about him filming me. Very willingly offered to me his phone to show that there was nothing on his phone, which i didn't bother with and asked my friend to dial for the police.
Fast forward to the part where the lifeguard usher me to their office to wait for the police while the man was held in a room elsewhere. The police took notes from me, their investigating officer came. In the end, i got a card with some information as they have deemed this case worth pursuing. [Point 2]
[Point 1] Point 1 is just my suspicion of what he was doing, in no way am i able to confirm his actions.
The man was cruising for sex in the male washroom. Read about it here [Wiki: Slightly NSFW?]. You can read the behaviors from RiceMedia post about it here or Google about it. There are sites out there that cruisers use. Such as this [Slightly NSFW?]. Not the first time such incident happened at bedok.
What i want to point out here is that this isn't the only pool that such stuffs occur. And that pools aren't the only place that cruising happen. A quick Google search about Singapore gay cruising and you can find a bunch of stuff. Another instance, public toilets [Slightly NSFW?].
I am not saying that only cruisers enjoy voyeurism or that eliminating cruisers would have prevented filming cases. But if actions were taken on it, i could say that my case could have been easily prevented.
With the investigations on going, i can only think about NTU peeping tom, Monica Baey and the Tampines incident which the offender only got 12 weeks of jail.
Looking at how " 'Insulting modesty' law does not apply to men, rules court ". I only can think about how the man who filmed me may get a lighter sentence cause i am a male or even no sentence if the police found no evidence on his phone.
If you read it all to the end, do take action if your feel something was wrong. Call for help, take evidence if you are able to, better yet confront. Cause if you have nothing, the offender got away or police can't find the deleted evidence, it is he said she said.
Sure you can be cautious but doesn't mean it wouldn't happen to you. This is Singapore but it doesn't mean you are safe. You maybe a man but that doesn't mean you aren't a target. May not be a person with a phone but a hidden camera.
Honestly, it was scary to take actions and confront the man who was filming me. But luckily, i felt sick to my gut and i let my anger took over and went batshit violent on the door of cubical 12, not to condone actions taken in anger but if i were to held back, he could have easily slip off.
I am not going to argue how the law should be equal with men and women or about how disturbing it is about cruising, cause honestly i am not even at the age where i can vote yet. But that doesn't mean preying on the young means you can get away with it. I do however, feel things should change.
Edit 1: had to mark it to NSFW due to the photo reddit took from my first link.
submitted by yourlilpeeweeherman to singapore [link] [comments]
2019.06.21 06:49 sukerbush Toilet in chinese hidden camera
| Update #3|
Hi, anyone know any lawyer who is willing to handle this case for us? The owner still walking free and no action so far from the authorities despite media covering it everywhere. We will try any channels to seek for justice!
We just realised there is no Embassy of Malaysia in Portugal. We will approach the minister in our country to voice out. Until now, there is no communication from the Portugal relevant authorities to us!
It is very upsetting to see the news, the owner initially admitted his wrongdoing and now, he said he didn't do it, didn't know why there was a camera.
We are not sure what action have the policemen taken, but for sure if the policemen do something when he got caught red handed at 1:30am, the story will be different! We are quite disappointing.
Attached with Original Post and Police Report made by the victim.
Referring to the facebook post by Rubee Woo, who apparently to be from Malaysia. Together with her friend, they booked an apartment in Porto namely Nice House, Rua de Recarei 789, Leca do Balio, 4465-730 Portugal. Here's the translated post from the original post in Chinese:
"On the first night of porto, we found a pinhole camera in the toilet in the apartment. We were really scare and wanted to leave the house but I was afraid it will be an alarmed to the owner because the owner lives in our downstairs and it was already 12 o'clock in the morning. Trying to call a lot of calls for help and finally managed to contact with a police station. The policeman was not very good in English, and we spent a lot of time communicating. Waiting for the police to arrive, I heard the sound of door opening downstairs. We were in panic as we believed the owner already knew that we found the pinhole. Waiting uneasy, feeling over half a century, my little friend were scared and crying. After waiting for 30 minutes, the police knocked on the door and the owner answered the door after a while. The polices came in and began to remove the pinhole. And we quickly packed up and left. We handed the keys to the police. I saw the police and the owner talking while smoking before leaving. And when we left the owner didn’t dare to look at us. I can tell in 200% the hidden camera was setup by the owner. We contacted booking.com after settled down in a hotel at 5am.
I feel that they will not be able to take action against the owner because they chatted happily in Portuguese for a long time. We didn't want to be bullied and decided to make another report at the Tourism Police Station. The police gave me a report. But they told that they won't be able to act fast. We will continue our journey and will be going to the next stop in Lisbon tomorrow. I hope the owner will be punished. We are sharing this to warn other travelers who book with third party such as booking.com, the high rating shown doesn't mean the actual. The owner was very friendly and guided us about Porto City. Now I am having phobia and will always check for hidden camera wherever I stay."
submitted by sukerbush to portugal [link] [comments]