Bloomberg: Nikola founder Milton's fall reveals what his backers feared
Back in March, long before a short seller would raise questions about electric-truck company Nikola Corp. and hasten its founder’s exit, early investors in the company were expressing concerns of their own. Those investors, led by mutual-fund giant Fidelity Investments, were worried that Trevor Milton, for all his brash visionary talk and Twitter braggadocio, lacked the ability that Elon Musk possesses to deliver these sorts of newfangled products to market. They lobbied successfully to remove him as CEO before the company’s June IPO and for Milton’s father to leave the board, according to people familiar with the matter. When the deal was done, Milton only held the title of chairman, the post he resigned this month. The back-room negotiations show that Milton’s past was a concern to investors months before General Motors Co. executives placed a bet on the company in a US$2 billion deal carved out after the IPO. They liked Milton’s vision and his ability to raise cash and felt the venture was safeguarded from his shortcomings in operations by his push upstairs, say people familiar with the matter. Nonetheless, the events that have unfolded since the short-seller report, with Nikola’s stock plunging amid a steady stream of negative headlines, have exposed just how high the risks still were. Now, it’s up to former GM Vice Chairman Steve Girsky, whose blank-check company VectoIQ took Nikola public via reverse merger in June, and Nikola CEO Mark Russell to stabilize the business and regain investor confidence. The plan with GM was to use Nikola’s hot stock and Milton’s ability to raise money to build a hydrogen-fueled trucking business with GM’s technology. “There is obviously someone on the diligence side who isn’t going to get a nice bonus this year,” said Reilly Brennan, founder of the venture capital fund Trucks Inc. “The best possible thing if you’re a shareholder is that Milton is no longer running the company and you have Girsky as chairman and GM providing technology.” The GM deal was originally scheduled to close Sept. 30, and the automaker has said it plans to carry through, but that timing may slip, say people familiar with the matter. BP Plc is still engaged with Nikola in talks to partner on a network of hydrogen fueling stations for fuel-cell trucks the company hopes to sell, but also is slowing the pace for a deal, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private information. BP and GM declined to comment. Milton’s tale reads like a Greek tragedy. The report by short seller Hindenburg Research accused Milton of overhyping Nikola’s technology and has prompted investigations by the Justice Department and U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. A cousin has accused him of a decades-ago sexual assault, which he denies. The company’s value peaked at US$30 billion and is now worth about US$7 billion. Girsky and GM Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra have both said publicly that they did plenty of due diligence. People familiar with the matter say that GM found out when scouting the deal that it had better batteries and fuel-cell technology but joined forces because Nikola had a working semi truck and access to capital markets. In addition, GM will get paid to build Nikola’s Badger pickup on existing assembly lines. Milton was so excited to get the Badger pickup program moving that he signed a deal that heavily favored GM, one of the people said. Nikola’s stock and GM’s US$2 billion stake are worth less than half what they were on Sept. 8, when the deal was announced. Milton’s own stake is worth US$1.7 billion, down from almost US$5 billion at one point. Milton said in a June interview with Bloomberg News that he grew up in modest surroundings in Layton, Utah. His family moved to Las Vegas when he was very young and he lost his mother to cancer shortly after moving back to Utah in the sixth grade. He wrote on Twitter he didn’t finish high school, earning an equivalency certification instead, and later dropped out of college. His Twitter account has since been deleted. He grew up in a tight-knit Mormon family, according to Aubrey Smith, his first cousin. She went on social media recently and accused him of sexually assaulting her in 1999 when she was 15 and he was 17. In a public account on Facebook and Twitter, and repeated in a phone interview, Smith said that Milton came onto her at the funeral of their grandfather. He took her shirt off without permission, Smith wrote, and then he touched her inappropriately before someone knocked at the door and she ran out. Milton denied the allegations through a spokesman. Smith said Milton raised money from family members to get his start. He founded and ran several businesses, including a home-security company that Milton claims he sold for US$1.5 million. Next, in 2009, he founded an e-commerce platform called Upillar.com, which Milton claims “pioneered the shopping cart online.” Then he got into clean propulsion but ended up embroiled in litigation with dHybrid Inc., which he founded in 2009. The company retrofitted diesel vehicles with natural-gas-burning turbines, claiming the dual system had greater efficiency. But a deal with Swift Transportation Co. in 2010 ended in court when Swift alleged dHybrid defaulted on a US$322,000 loan and that it retrofitted only half of the agreed vehicles. The case was dismissed in 2015. Milton later tried to sell dHybrid to a company called sPower in May 2012 but that, too, got mired in lawsuits after sPower backed out and accused Milton of exaggerating its technological capabilities. Amid the litigation, Milton started another company with a very similar name, dHybrid Systems, selling it in 2014 to Worthington Industries. During an interview with Bloomberg in June, Milton said that dHybrid Inc. was a success but conceded that, “we ended up closing that one down because of some litigation.” His next startup was Nikola, founding it in 2014 in Salt Lake City before moving to Phoenix. Emulating Musk, he took the name from the electricity pioneer Nikola Tesla, and the company was soon billed as the Tesla of Trucks. His plan was seen as potentially disrupting the entire transportation industry by making trucks that ran on batteries or hydrogen-fuel cells. He also planned to build a network of hydrogen filling stations. Friends and Family Milton had friends and family members working for Nikola despite resumes that didn’t match the job. His brother, Travis Milton, is director of hydrogen and infrastructure. His LinkedIn profile shows that most of his experience was being “self-employed” in Maui. The short seller, Hindenburg Research, said that Travis Milton poured concrete as a contractor. Milton’s father Bill was originally on the board but stepped down when VectoIQ took the company public. The company’s stock prospectus said that Nikola had awarded more than 3 million stock options “to recognize the superior performance and contribution of specific employees.” The list included Travis Milton and an uncle, Lance Milton, the document said, acknowledging that they are relatives. As Milton went public with Nikola’s technology, questions soon arose involving his claims about the company’s fuel-cell system. He bragged in an investor video in 2019 that the company had created “what other manufacturers said was impossible to design.” But while Nikola holds patents in fuel-cell and battery technology, most of its planned hardware was coming from German supplier Robert Bosch Gmbh. Nikola Demonstrations It became clear that Milton had gotten ahead of himself. A 2016 demonstration showed a truck that didn’t have a working hydrogen-fuel-cell system and was missing key parts, people familiar with the matter said in June. Milton said at the time that the parts were removed as a safety precaution. In July of this year, he recorded a video of the semi truck in which he ran alongside the vehicle as it coasted at low speeds in a parking lot. Aping Musk’s combative social-media persona, Milton took a shot at his detractors saying, “these damned trolls, I wonder if they are going to apologize to everyone for the lies they spread the tens of thousands of comments about how fake we are.” Girsky said in the webcast “Autoline This Week,” in which Bloomberg participated, that he has been in Nikola’s fuel-cell trucks and that they work. Still, when the GM deal was done, GM will be supplying all of the technology for every global market except Europe. Nikola’s pickup truck, called Badger, will use GM’s Ultium battery, and the semis will run on a fuel cell developed by GM and Honda Motor Co. Since Milton’s departure, Nikola has billed itself more as an integrator of other technologies into its Badger pickup and semi trucks. For GM’s part, the automaker is protected from any financial downside. GM got 11 per cent of the stock for no cash investment and gets paid for its technology. If Nikola fails, GM won’t lose a dime. Milton has remained silent and is out of the company. He unknowingly presaged his own downfall in the June interview with Bloomberg: “Part of becoming a better person in life is losing everything you have got and having nothing left.” https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/nikola-founder-milton-s-fall-reveals-what-his-backers-feared-1.1500376
When I look at the sentiment surrounding GameStop, it doesn’t take very long to see commentslikethese, yet here we are. What’s going on? Are people that stupid? Just jumping on the new console cycle? Idiots not pulling their gains and going to zero? When even wsb thinks the stock is a dud, it must be right? Nearly 120% short interest, yet the stock is up nearly 40% this week.
Its no secret GameStop has been hurting. The secular shift to digital has been pressuring them for some time with their highest margin category - used video software – under significant distress. Each year their gross margins contract with net income in the red these past few quarters. Everybody has written them off as the easiest short in the world, however I'm going to try to explain whats going on and tell you that buying GameStop may not be as bad as you think.
Just to start things off, you have to remember we’re in the beginnings of the new console cycle. But what does that even mean? Well the advent of new consoles means new trade-ins, new product, new customers, and a fresh spike in GameStop’s popularity. Sales have stagnated the years prior, and they are all but certain to go up and remain elevated for the next 1-2 years. Note that against all counts, the company was actually profitable during the 2019 holiday season, with new consoles you can bet that they will annihilate all expectations and proceed into 4-8 more positive quarters off the cyclic shift. This is pretty unanimous, and everyone accepts that they will start reporting positive going forward. In fact, new console cycles are where GME has historically spiked.
III. POST CONSOLE CYCLE
At this point, the focus turns to what happens once the hype dies down. Digital will continue to erode upon physical, but the key factor here is that physical is not actually dying off. Its notgoing to zero. The biggest reason physical is sequentially a lower percentage of the market is because the total market size is increasing. Digital is shooting off while physical is largely stagnant. Note that physical games admittedly have their strengths. Not only are they structurally cheaper because you can resell them, they also have clear definitions of ownership and the collectability factor where you need to have a physical copy you can hold. In fact, two thirds of console video game players prefer physical vs digital.
While physical is here to stay, albeit at a weaker level, that isn’t enough to turn the tides for GameStop. You see, GameStop knows digital is the trend and here to stay, they are not fighting it, they are moving along the secular shift. GameStop sells digital games. GameStop is set to release a mobile app combining Game Informer and a online storefront by month end. They are doubling down on their online store with +500% ecommerce growth in Q1 and +800% growth in Q2. Expanding into numerous other categories. Nearly 70% of their online orders were fulfilled on the same day leveraging their wide network of stores, of which they are pruning the excess. Also, Game prices are set to increase $10.
GameStop’s Loyalty Program accounts for over 55M users. They intend on leveraging this network though a company branded credit card with spending rewards to grab market share and retain customers. Furthermore, a digital revenue sharing model continues to grow as publishers understand the value of GameStop as a customer acquisition service and that keeping the company afloat is better for sales and the general video game industry. (See the fall of Toys R us and its impact on Mattel/Hasbro; turns out the manufacturers really needed ToysRUs)
VI. BALANCE SHEET
But wait, their financials must be shit right? They have to be losing money. How much longer can they last?
Well it turns out their books are rock solid. They offered their creditors a new set of terms to push back debt for 2 years, 50% of them took it. They have eliminated all excess goodwill impairments. They are in a $300M net cash position with significantly reduced inventory (which explains the sharp reduction in Q1/2 sales) and massively cut SG&A by 28% in preparation for the console cycle. FCF KING
Many believe the days of their strong margins are long gone, but in fact its only beginning. You have to remember, digital is only outpacing NEW physical games. Retro games are a huge untapped market where GameStop can replicate their past success, and it is a category digital can never penetrate. Jesus wtf. GameStop is looking into these already
V. MAJOR BACKING
In fact, their ecommerce prospects are so promising, Ryan Cohen bought a 10% stake. This guy took on Amazon and won. Jefferies and Telsey, wall street firms, came out with strong buy ratings citing company prospects. Michael Burry still holds a 5% stake. This guy took on Wall Street and won. Half their creditors ($200M worth) believe in GameStop’s prospects. Why would they defer their debt unless they believed the company will be in a paying position by 2023?
VI. THE SHORTS
But here is the real kicker. GameStop’s short float. 120% has never been seen before. The short theory was that GameStop would not make it to the new console cycle and the shorters would collect their tendies. But GameStop made it. Current short fees are like 60% and from some figures we can draw on, we estimate that around 70% of the shorts got in under $7, GameStop is currently nearing $10. 70% of the shorts are underwater. Even if you don’t believe that any of their initiatives will work you have to admit that the company will be able to continue operating for another two years off the new console hype alone. When the stock hits roughly $15, we can expect to see several margin calls trigger a fucking massive short squeeze. For reference, Blue Apron, Volkswagen.
Just the fact GME got to the new console cycle must be making the shorts cry. Add on that they’ve been making serious progress towards online and mobile presence, aligning themselves with industry trends, operating in a growing market, potential monopoly in the untapped retro market, solid financials, beginning their new upward cyclic cycle; you have the makings of a powerful ecommerce storefront just leaning into their growth period. Even post console hype, they should be able to leverage their branded credit card to retain a huge number of customers and bite off huge market share off other retailers. Lastly, remember that despite the trend towards digital, its in the gaming industry's best interest to keep GameStop going strong. The likelihood of additional revenue sharing agreements are fairly high.
For comparison GameStop has a P/S ratio 0.11. Chewy has a P/S ratio of 3.6. If GME begins to grow their revenue from this point its valuation will begin to normalize. Even a P/S of 0.2 would mean a stock price of ~$16, 0.4 would mean $32. The company is going to ride the console hype and likely trigger more than a few margin calls along the way. Everything management has been doing is to ride the new cycle into a fluid ecommerce business model, and everything I'm seeing suggests its going to work.
Postmortem on Vaush-Destiny Situation (after watching Xanderhal's conversation with Destiny)
This is the situation, and I don't believe the core of any one of these points is really deniable when taking in the totality of the situation.
Destiny said some stupid shit that had a HIGH chance of getting himself in trouble with Twitch--if he had taken a split-second to word it differently, he would have saved himself a lot of trouble.
What Destiny said was technically against TOS. It was also stupid, irresponsible, and wrong.
Signal boosting the clip was irresponsible. The degree of this is debatable, but I think it's fair to say that the likelihood of someone with malicious intent utilizing that against Destiny was always high, given who he is, what they were discussing, the current political climate, etc. I'm willing to believe there was no harm intended, and while it may have had a hand in what happened (to whatever degree) I would not say that posting that clip was the reason Twitch acted--what was said was inflammatory enough that anyone could have taken action against Destiny.
Posting in chat about reporting (or was it mass reporting?) for TOS violations was irresponsible, especially from very influential people. Coming from someone with incredible sway over the community means whatever is said it legitimized by magnitudes. It may have been said in jest (I'm fully willing to admit), but it was not a good look. For my part, I didn't read them as jokes as they were being made during the stream. At best, it's horrible optics. I have seen these individuals state that they didn't know what would happen, that they didn't want Destiny departnered, and this wasn't the intention. Given that, I honestly don't know what one could possibly have expected to happen for REPORTING A VIOLATION OF TOS to a notoriously tos-strict company. Certainly, the expectation could not have been for something good to happen, and it was obviously not going to be a slap on the wrist. I am not stating these individuals actually DID report it, just that they went on at some length about doing so, which may have inspired others very young, very impressionable individuals within the community to do so. As stated in Point 2, Destiny's comments WERE against TOS whether he meant it or was just saying it in a moment of rage. What he said was so bad that I actually wouldn't be surprised to learn down the line that no one reported him, but that Twitch simply picked up on it because of the seriousness of the situation. However...
Getting him departnered helps no one but the far right. It may, in fact, push some of his audience in that direction (this the first thought that popped in my head when I heard the news).
Vaush is not personally responsible for what happened. Certain individuals within his community, some with high levels of influence, had some hand in boosting and possibly escalating the situation (the degree can certainly be debated). That does not mean they are, in the end, the one who should be held accountable, considering Destiny was the one who called for far right (largely Nazi) militias to mass-murder protesters, regardless if he was sincere or hyperbolic. ADDENDUM: Destiny technically called for rednecks to "mow down" rioters and looters, not necessarily protesters, but I don't believe the distinction is significant enough to really matter in the grand scheme, considering the people who hear this and use this and advocate for this are, almost exclusively, the fascist-types who consider rioters, protesters, and anyone left-of-center synonymous with one another.
Vaush (and any public figure) is responsible for the community they cultivate to an extent, because one cannot babysit tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands, of individuals constantly, especially in the heat of the moment. If someone is going to post a tweet, we cannot expect Vaush to be able to stop that from happening. We can only expect he cultivates an overarching sentiment, like a herd immunity of sorts.
HOWEVER: Broadly, Vaush's community does not like Destiny. A significant portion hates him with the same vitriol that tankies and Nazis have, as evidenced by the general sentiment is at any given time--that people were "accepting" of him immediately after the duo debate means nothing in the grand scheme of things. (I do believe there are plenty closeted tankies and tankie-lites here, though I will be charitable and say they are in the minority, though this is peripheral). Of course, this is an unscientific sentiment, but I have never witnessed a broad "liking" of Destiny, and have witnessed plenty of broad bad faith and outright contempt expressed and spread toward him.* Looking back on the Xan-Destiny convo, this was one point Xan did poorly on, but I do believe his position is simply biased by his own feelings toward Destiny and probably the core of community members he interacts with who presumably also like him.
Destiny's community is incredibly uncharitable toward Vaush.
Vaush's community is incredibly uncharitable toward Destiny.
Vaush's community doesn't "owe" it to Destiny to like him.
Destiny's community doesn't "owe" it to Vaush to like him, though given the public nature of Vaush's good faith expressed toward Destiny, it would look better for them to put more effort toward meeting him halfway. As well, Destiny has stated he's done a lot to try to help Vaush, but because much of this seems to have been behind the scenes, and the most we tend to see publicly of Destiny's "good faith" toward Vaush is just him saying off-handedly that Vaush knows what he's talking about. Given this, I'd argue Destiny's community has more "reason" to try to be amicable to Vaush, since Vaush's good faith has been so public and explicit.
It is unreasonable for Destiny to expect Vaush to be able to stop every single person within his community from doing anything negative toward Destiny. He does more than enough to make people hate him on his own.
It is unreasonable (and really creepy) for Destiny to think that Vaush should be able to influence people to the point of making them like him. He can make every argument possible (and I believe he has, both publicly and I'm willing to bet privately), and, in the end, it's still up to the other person to believe what they will believe.
Destiny is clearly more in the wrong, and is clearly more responsible for what happened. In fact, he is either mostly or solely responsible for it, considering the nature of his statements and the circumstances surrounding them. I'd argue that Vaush wasn't in the wrong at all during this recent drama and probably isn't responsible in any way--certainly not meaningfully enough to be considered at fault.
That said: Vaush's community, just as Destiny's community, has not conducted itself in a respectable manner, though I would say Vaush's community has behaved somewhat better than Destiny's overall. The bad actors within Vaush's community have been especially bad, though.
If you think Destiny is far right, alt-right, a fascist, etc., you're a fucking idiot.
Best case scenario for you parasocial cultist dipshits who put all your worth in online figures for some dumb reason, Vaushstiny is on indefinite hiatus (we call this the Mindhunter Holding Pattern).**
*To try to bridge some of the gaping contradictions between points 7 and 8: I have witnessed plenty of examples (yes, anecdotally, but the range of these exchanges makes me consider them valid) where a good enough number of people within Vaush's community have advocated for positions that would basically have rich people lined up in the street and shot with no trial if given the opportunity. Some have literally argued for this, hence my reference to closet tankies who aren't so closeted. I equate this to being roughly the same as the slew of reactionaries who end up in Destiny's community. I do believe that Destiny, with his incredibly emotionally driven takes on "all lefties" (and I'm not a socialist, so this isn't me crying because I'm being attacked) is responsible for attracting those types to him, even though he doesn't personally hold their reactionary positions. The same applies to Vaush, who I believe is responsible for attracting the larpy revolutionary closet tankies because of his not-a-dog-whistle "in Minecraft" advocacy for certain types of political violence (this is my LARGEST personal contention with Vaush, but that's another topic), though he would never advocate for extra judicial executions...let's call it mass murder, because that's what it is. Looking at it from a distance, they are responsible for these people being attracted to their communities, even though they are not responsible for every individual action that is taken by these people. This is where the question of "responsibility" is most complex and interesting, and admittedly subjective. **Half-joking. Also wanted to make a Twin Peaks "black lodge" cliffhanger reference, but almost everyone here wasn't alive when that was originally on, so I doubted enough would get it. EDIT: put an addendum on POINT 6, since it could be seen as misrepresenting Destiny's wording.
I'm An Immigration Attorney and I've Seen Some Things
Want to know a secret? Attorneys are bad at keeping secrets. We like to talk a very big game about “client confidentiality” and the strict confines of the attorney-client privilege. But most counsel only invoke that when they’re afraid that opening their mouth will lead a client to start shopping malpractice attorneys. No, the truth is that attorneys talk about their clients and their clients’ secrets all the time. Go to the bar nearest the courthouse and listen to the tables around you. Lawyers will be telling secrets and the bigger and better the secret is the more they want to tell. It’s a job that gives you access to secret info, who could resist? Well it takes something special to shut you up, and those “special” stories stay buried for good reasons. I have my own stories like that and I’ve never told them until now. I’m a lawyer and I mostly work immigration. I work for myself and have a stable of clients. They’re mostly working-class, working-poor, formerly -rich-but-now-getting-divorced-so-poor people, the type of client that’s looking for a bargain on legal services. Most of what they have in common is that they like me. You get new business by clients referring clients and it helps to lay on the charm. Immigration law is a complex, brutal, heartbreaking process and it always has been, and then you sprinkle a language barrier on top. It’s not easy work and you have to think on your feet. I have clients from over 50 countries and it takes awhile to pick up everything you need to know. The most important thing for an immigration attorney to know is that the world is a bigger, more complex place than you could ever appreciate. The minute you think you’ve figured it out is the minute you’re set to fail. Which brings me to Paula. Paula is not her real name. Sorry about that. But she feels like a Paula, I can promise you that. Paula’s the type of client that makes an impression on attorneys. Office drone clothing on her 50-something year old frame means she’s gainfully employed and can afford lawyer bills. Bright red, almost orangey tan in the middle of Chicago winter means she has money to travel and pay lawyer bills. Giant diamond ring on her finger that she keeps glancing at means she’s in love and can afford a giant ring and lawyer bills. You get the idea. For an attorney always concerned about making rent, all of this means “paying client.” I don’t view all of my clients as paychecks, far from it. In a different post I could tell you about some cases I really believed in. These are stories I tell myself when I get too down on the practice, but I won’t pretend that everyone fits into that category. So I do invest a lot of blood and sweat into some of my cases but it’s just not possible for all of them. I could tell right away that Paula was going to be a case that wouldn’t pull my heartstrings. My suspicions were confirmed when she pulled out the iPhone and started cycling through pictures of a country I’m very familiar with in Sub-Saharan Africa. The pictures were all of Paula and her brand new super-handsome fiancé. I could tell you more about my conversation with Paula but I wouldn’t be sure I was telling you Paula’s story or a similar story I’ve heard from dozens of other clients. I’ll summarize: 1) There’s a woman who was divorced, financially comfortable and feeling a bit lonely 2) so she decided to see the world which meant 3) she ended up in this African country where 4) she met the man of her dreams. (This is the part where the woman’s eyes get a big misty.) 5) The woman and the man fall madly in love with each other until 6) the night before she leaves for home he 7) proposes to her which she accepts and 8) they can’t wait to see each other again so she comes to me to get the immigration papers rolling. I used to try to warn my clients. That 9) the client always comes back in few years to say that 10) her husband has left her and filed for divorce and 11) is it possible he never really loved her and only did this for the immigration benefit? I’ve warned and warned and the clients don’t listen. They find another attorney to file their fiancé visa and the same horrible thing happens to them and I’m out a paycheck. So now I work with them and try not to think about it. I do remember the point when I realized that this case was not like any of the other ones. Paula was leaning over the conference table to show me the photos, willing me to believe that this 52 year old frumpy Caucasian woman from the Midwest has a relationship with the tall, muscular 21 year old African Muslim and it’s all very real Her ample stomach pushed up against the table pressing her loose orange flower blouse against her skin. Under the blouse I saw a whisper of movement under the surface. I have a baby at home and I knew what I just saw, Paula was going to be more desperate than most. I decided to take the case, if I could immigrate the man to the U.S. then the odds of that baby growing up with either a father or child support would go way up. I pushed Paula’s hand down so she’d stop showing me photos and said I needed some information to start her case. “There’s an advantage and a disadvantage to a K-1” I said to Paula. “The advantage is that the main element we need to prove is that you two are really in love which you clearly are.” Paula’s head started jerking up and down so fast it was almost comical. “The disadvantage is that you can’t definitively prove such a thing so we’ll need to throw as much circumstantial evidence at the government as we can. Do you have anything that would convince a total stranger that you were really in love?” “Oh attorney” Paula said with a big sly grin spreading across her face, “I can prove to anyone how much I need that man.” Her tone was so ravenous and sexually charged I felt embarrassed for her. Paula pulled out hundreds of printed emails. I glanced through them to get a sense of what I was looking at and saw the same thing over and over. Emails from the man between two words and two sentences saying “I miss you” and “I love you” or “have you talked to the attorney yet about my immigration papers?” The emails from Paula stretched multiple pages expressing her desire to cover the man’s “rippling biceps,” “delicious chest” and “smooth, soft skin” with every part of her lips. And of course there were pictures. Why do these cases always have pictures? I’ll spare you my description of the pictures, but I’m betting it’s a bit more salacious than anything you’ve ever mailed into a government agency. But Paula was missing something. Sure, she was missing a healthy skepticism about her fiancé but she was also missing some legal paperwork. “I don’t see the Final Judgment in Dissolution of Marriage, am I missing something?” Paula looked confused for a second, “the marriage what?” “It’s the paperwork the court puts together when a marriage terminates. Basically the legal proof that your last marriage is over and you’re legally eligible to get married again. The government won’t approve the K without it.” Paula looked so disheartened for a second that I thought I put my foot in my mouth. I realized that she never actually told me she was divorced, I just assumed. But then she just looked confused like clients usually do while treading in unfamiliar legal waters. “I don’t remember seeing that on the internet. I think I have it at home.” “it’s a fairly new policy for the government.” It wasn’t a new policy; I said that to spare her feelings. “But we have to have it or there’s no point in filing.” “Ok attorney, I can’t….I can’t thank you enough.” She looked really upset. Upset clients with solvable problems are the best; it makes them that much happier when you come up with the solution in the end. If all works out it can get you a good online review so I decided to push my luck. “I’ll be in your area this evening, why don’t I swing by your apartment and I’ll pick up the documents along with whatever else you think is important. I can have the paperwork ready to go tomorrow morning and we’ll get your man on his way.” Paula’s giant smile burst out and I reminded myself that this job is really easy sometimes. It was around 9:30 PM that night when the Free Palestine meeting broke up. I have a membership in the local chapter because it’s important to put in face time with the Stateless. Palestinians don’t have a U.S. government recognized nationality so their cases are always a mess, a goddam lawyer-lucrative mess. Like I said, networking with all kinds is key in my position. I’m also a member of Israel Defense Supporters for the same reason. You’d think the dual memberships would be a problem but no one’s ever found out. I guess they don’t go to the same parties. I got off the L and started the half mile walk to Paula’s house. Her neighborhood was one of the quiet middle class sections of Chicago that seemed to be disappearing quickly. The houses were all bungalows with small lawns covered in weeds and streetlights that produced only dim light. Neighborhoods like this always reminded me of a zoo’s attempt to recreate an animal’s natural habitat. You see people who wanted the nice house with the white picket fence but got something else instead. Sort of like a Martian’s attempt to recreate the suburbs in much smaller form. I walked up the steps to Paula’s rundown little bungalow and almost tripped on the way up. I stepped in something sticky and gross that felt like it wanted to tear my shoe off. Every time something like that happens I consider swearing off client home visits. But I was already here so I walked up and rang the bell. I didn’t hear anything, no bell ringing, no footsteps coming to answer the door, nothing. I glanced at the window but it looked dark inside. I thought that Paula might have gone to sleep but it didn’t seem likely. Paula had been amped up, excited and almost visibly amorous. She wouldn’t have skipped out on a meeting with her lawyer that would bring her man closer for anything. Thinking the doorbell might be broken, I reached up to knock on the door. I pulled back to give it a good bang to make sure she heard it. I swung my hand forward and connected with the door and then my hand just kept going. I almost lost my footing again from the shift in weight. The door looked like wood but it wasn’t. It was soft and ripped apart like wet cardboard. I had punched a hole straight through to the other side where my fist disappeared into the pitch blackness. I knew one thing for sure, this wasn’t right. Did I mention I work a bit of criminal law? It’s not my favorite work even though it tends to give you more of the “lawyer” stories that people expect to hear at parties. Most crim cases are pretty cut and dried –get-the-guilty-plea-settlement-with-the-least-time affairs, but it does have one big advantage. As a lawyer, being around criminals helps you spot when someone is trying to screw you with a bad check, or attempt to trick you into releasing information that you shouldn’t, or is a dangerous person that you should stay away from. Situations can look “criminal” from a distance even if you don’t understand why, and this situation looked pretty damn criminal to me. As I pulled my hand back out, little pieces of the door crumbled down onto my sleeve. It wasn’t exactly like cardboard, more like soil that someone had glued together piece by piece. My fingers seemed to slightly stick together from some sort of residue on the door. Part of me wanted to turn around and run, pretend I never saw anything. But part of me really did want to find out what in the holy hell was going on here. My instincts still said there was something criminal going on here, but you don’t end up taking criminal cases in the first place unless you’re a little curious about the dark side of human behavior. I tried pushing again against the door and felt the weight shift against my hand. Then I heard a slide of dirt running down the inside of the wall before the whole door collapsed into a big sandpile right in front of me. A big cloud of dust shot up from the pile along with a strangely sweet caramel-y aroma. The house was completely black through the dust so I pulled out my phone and turned on the flashlight. The first thing I saw was the flowers, flowers painted on the walls, flowers decorating the curtains, flower designs on the rugs and actual flowers all through the house. You would have thought it was a funeral parlor. In case you’re wondering, it was going to be the fiancé behind the break-in and whatever weird crim thing was going on. We might not ever get the whole story or even half of it, but it was clear as day that the fiancé had made an investment in Paula and people like to see returns on investments. I thought about how impatient he seemed in his emails asking her to see the lawyer and realized he must have gotten fed up with waiting. He probably called a few of his countrymen on our side of the ocean and told them where defenseless middle aged woman lived in exchange for a percentage of the profits. If they can find a social security card and some old tax returns then they can run the immigration scam with a convincing actress even if the real Paula is dead. I turned and walked down a hall from the front room toward what I assumed was the kitchen. As I walked, my flashlight crawled across more and more pictures of flowers. My feet kept sticking to the floor with each step but I was barely paying attention. Throughout the house nothing seemed to be ransacked and I didn’t see one piece of overturned furniture. It seemed very strange, the door made of dirt, the stickiness everywhere and the flowers, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t African visitors. Practice cases from Africa long enough and you’ll start hearing people say weirder and weirder things. When you ask how what they’re saying can be possible they almost always say back “it’s Africa.” Frustrating as hell to explain to them that a judge isn’t going to want to hear that. But the point is, with Africa cases I don’t really ask questions. You just try to process as much as you can understand. I inched my way into the kitchen doorway and scanned the light around. Nothing weird here, other than the flowers of course. A usual fridge and table stood on one corner of the room and the rest of the room was dark. As I pulled the light around back toward me I spotted something I’d been looking for since I got in, a light switch. I flicked the switch and to my surprise the whole room flooded with light. I guess criminals are getting sloppier and sloppier, no one had cut the power. I turned to look around the room again when I heard a quick shuffle to my side only a foot away. My head turned quickly and there in the corner was Paula. “Oh shit” I thought when I saw her face, “ she found out he doesn’t love her.” Paula looked terrible. Her skin seemed to have an ashen black look to it as if someone sucked all the blood out from her. She was breathing in slow controlled breaths and her eyes seemed glossy and far away. Her hair looked darker and she wasn’t wearing anything other than an old bathrobe. Her eyes snapped toward me and then at the kitchen light as if she was processing all of this in slow motion. Her face stayed surprisingly blank but her eyes locked onto me with a malevolence clients usually save for judges.. This was bad but expected. Clients get their hearts broken and lash out at the attorney because we must have been “in on it.” I did what I always do in these situations. “Paula, I am going to hack and slash this man until he wishes he never met us.” Paula blinked a few times in rapid succession and I could tell she was surprised by the words. “Hack…hack who?” “Anyone who gets in your way Paula. I like to think I’m a nice guy. But nobody thinks that after they cross one of my clients. By the time they stop hurting there’s nothing left. Why don’t you have a seat and we’ll talk it out.” Paula took a small unsure step and then made her way over to the kitchen table for a seat. I have a bit of a divorce practice too and I knew a broken hearted individual when I saw one. I don’t know how Paula found out that her fiancé wasn’t well intentioned but experience tells me that the time to lock in the billable hours was to get the representation agreement signed right away. Paula sat down on the red floral chair while moving her ample belly back from the table. She started to look better immediately, I could see her cheeks turning crimson as she got angrier. “I know it hurts Paula, I don’t want to have to make it hurt more. But you’ll find that when we get through this process you’ll feel better about yourself than you have in years.” Paula slowly turned her head while talking to me. “You…..you know.” “Of course” I said with what I hoped sounded like genuine warmth. “And I’m the person who can help you out here. I’ve done this a few times before you know.” Paula’s mouth opened slightly with surprise. She seemed to be in shock from the bad news about her fiancé. “But how can you help me?” “Be honest with me, do you want to hurt his guy or do you just want him gone?” I saw a small smile cross her face, the first sign of happiness from Paula since that morning. “Both, first I want to hurt him and then gone.” “Can we get something out of him?” “Oh yes” Paula’s eyes got wide with an angry hungry look, “there’s a lot.” “Here’s how we make him pay. You have some problems, I’ll admit. But we can fix them and we will. One, we need to get this guy over here. There’s no way for us to hurt him unless he’s right in front of us and squirming.” I’m not barred in any African courts and wouldn’t practice in them if I could. Everyone I know who’s tried ends up losing to a local lawyer that’s cousins with the judge. “Does he know that you know?” Paula slowly shook her head “no” while keeping her eyes locked on mine. “That’s good. We can proceed with the K to get him over here and make sure he can’t leave.” “How” Paula mouthed the word slowly, I could see her relishing her chance for some payback. “Weird things happen, you won’t believe how many clients I have that lose passports and his country’s consulate’s absolutely terrible at making appointments for replacements. That would give us time” This was a key moment. I wasn’t quite suggesting that Paula steal the fiancé’s visa and lose it in a river but she damn well could hear that message. I detected a small movement on Paula’s face as her upper lip curled to bare teeth. She was game alright. “Then what?” “Then you let me do my thing, I’ll put him in a position for you to make him feel however you want.” In situations like this clients love the aggressive ‘we’re gonna fuck’em up’ type talk, they’re pissed and they want you to be pissed too. There’s any number of legal moves I could use to drain this guy of whatever money he might have. I pointed down at Paula’s extended belly which seemed to shift again under her bathrobe. “Don’t forget, that’s our best weapon. We can bleed him dry.” There were those bared teeth again. Paula pointed down at her stomach and said “This isn’t just for him. I need everyone I was with there right here with me right now.” Yeesh, Paula really did go on a midlife trip and who knows how many young men went on that trip with her. If she wasn’t sure who the father was then that would complicate things. The fiancé might be able to get out of most of the hurt with a DNA test. But now was still the time for the aggressive talk. We’d have to shotgun the subpoenas to everyone and sort out the guilty later. “Give me some names, I’ll get every last one over here. You have resources we could get an LLC running and H1-B the assholes in, as many as you can afford.” “You…..are a very good attorney” Paula stood up and began walking down the hall. “I think I can work with you.” I started to follow Paula down the hall, “You have a fighter on your side.” I used to use that line in my newspaper advertising. I still kind of liked the way it sounds. “You still need the proof of the last marriage ending right?” Paula’s face and features seemed to darken along with the reduced light in the hall. She started to move quicker too. In my experience, clients like it when there’s a plan of attack. “I do” Paula gave me a co-conspirator’s grin.. I decided to try a joke. “If you’d only hired me for your last marriage then we really could have made him hurt!” Paula kept walking into the almost totally dark hall. It must have been darker than I thought because her skin seemed turn to black in front of me. “Oh, that was not a problem.” And just like that Paula was gone. Poof, like she disappeared in front of my eyes. For a second I thought that she had stepped into a dark corner of the hallway, but I could almost make out the far wall so I should be able to see a middle-aged woman who had just been right in front of me. In a fluttery heap, I saw a flash of white fall in front of my face. The white was such a contrast that my hand shot forward and grabbed it. I felt soft cloth and realized it was Paula’s bathrobe. I started to move it forward to my face on instinct and felt the bottom slowly peeling off the sticky floor where one sleeve had landed. I moved my eyes up as I realize the robe had somehow fallen off the ceiling. There, spread across the brown ceiling was a black shape. The shape started to rapidly lighten from black to the same shade of brown as the ceiling. It was big, whatever it was, and gave only the slightest hint of movement. Draping down from it was what looked like a cape with a hood. Like someone had hung a hooded cape off whatever this thing on the ceiling was My eyes focused on the “hood” of the cape for some reason when I saw part of it spread open in white. The white moved and opened and I heard a voice say in a mirth-like tone “ready to see the last one attorney?” My eyes adjusted to the darkness and I realized the “hood” of the cape was Paula’s head which was still somehow talking to me. The “cape” part of it was the nude skin of her body which had been cast off by the creature on the ceiling like a costume it no longer needed. The skin had a hole around the stomach and I thought about seeing Paula’s bathrobe moving across her midsection. This creature had been inside of her and itching to claw out. No, this creature WAS Paula and the skin was just camouflage. Never break. Never let them see you sweat. Never let them see your thoughts. The words I say into my bathroom mirror the morning of every big trial shot through my brain as the dangling head of Paula bobbed in front of me expecting an answer. “Let’s see what you did to the bastard and we’ll improve on it for the next one” I heard myself say like in a dream. My voice sounded mostly steady but there was a hint of tremble in it. I saw the brown creature above me extend a leg, no, multiple legs as it shuffled to the side. It had at least a dozen legs and moved like a spider, it’s limbs flexing and stretching to move a smaller abdomen that trailed the Paula “cape.” One limb reached back down toward the floor and I pulled back thinking it was coming for me. The leg moved close enough to my face that I caught a whisper of prickly hairs on it scratching past my face. The leg shot back up and plowed into the brown ceiling sending a shower of dust onto my face. It was the same resin substance that had made the door. The leg jerked to the side like a finger pulling open the top of a can of beer and I heard a “pop.” More dirt and dust sprinkled down along with a solid object that landed at my feet. There, with an unmistakable Jerri-curl hairstyle, was a mummified black man’s head. “Well attorney, do you like my work?” Paula’s dangling head suddenly moved upward and I heard a splashing sound around her mouth. On the ceiling I could make out some sort of sticky goo substance pouring out of Paula’s mouth and into the hole the head had come out of. Watching her I saw the hole start to fill in with more of the resin substance. “Paula, I think I have a new favorite client.” I tended to say that line a lot too. Clients like thinking they’re my favorite for some reason. Paula liked it too as I heard her head roar back and start laughing her middle-aged woman laugh. The creature on the ceiling stayed deathly still as Paula’s face contorted back and forth with laughter. I turned and walked away like it was the most natural thing in the world. Walking through the dark hall and toward the living room my eyes kept glancing up. More of the resin covered the ceiling throughout the house and I could see small bits and pieces through the dirt. A blue suede shoe with a dark ankle stuck out of one corner. A giant 1960’s style Afro was just visible through the dirt attached to a head that seemed to be mid-scream. “I’ll call first thing in the morning” I said from her empty front doorframe. I could see something, a shadow of red and yellow and blue moving past the floral patterns spread throughout the room. The creature was like a chameleon, I couldn’t properly see it but I could sense it was in front of me. “Leave a few cards please attorney” Paula’s voice could have been inches away but I couldn’t see her head. “I have some friends that I would love to recommend you too.” “Think of how much you’ll recommend me after you see me work.” And I did my closer smile as I put the cards down on the front table. With that I turned and walked out the door. This was three months ago and Paula’s case is still going. I never went to the police because breaking privilege would screw up any criminal conviction the DA could bring even if I got someone to believe me. The fiancé hasn’t crossed the pond yet and I don’t plan on making that happen. At the same time, I can’t exactly drop Paula as a client. She could complain to the Illinois bar, she could badmouth me to other clients and she would definitely stop paying. The great news is that every attorney knows how to grind their cases to a complete halt. The key is to do it in a way where the client doesn’t realize that’s what you’re doing. My hope is that the fiancé loses interest in coming over and Paula gives up hope without leaving me a bad rating on Avvo. It’s not perfect, very far from it. But my job has a lot to it that’s less than perfect. But I wanted to write this to see what the part of my soul that’s still 100% honest looks like. But now that that’s done, I need to prep for my consult with Paula’s first client referral.
Mentality, Toxicity and League of Legends: A Civil Discussion About a Notoriously Uncivil Game
Hey everyone, I wanted to put out a few thoughts regarding mentality in League, especially compared to other competitive activities and skill-based endeavors. This is as much to simply clarify my own thoughts as it is to create a dialogue and, if I may be so bold, inform. Also, I love writing long posts. If you clicked in, be warned. This is a goddamn novel. However, here's the tl;dr TL;DR - Basically I want to know what you guys think we as a community can do to improve toxicity and mentality in League, and maybe make it a bit more inviting and fun. Scroll down to the bottom on my suggestions/discussion section for my main talking points. First, let me flex a bit to show what I'm bringing to the discussion (because it really isn't League knowledge, unfortunately): I'm a dilettante at heart. I love learning new subjects, and I've always had a particular bent for competition. Chess was a first competitive game, and I peaked around 1700 Elo. Not the highest, but not a bad player. Go (also known as baduk, igo, and weiqi) was a major love, and I currently sit at 1 kyu. I've also played some Overwatch (peaked at Plat) and a handful of other smaller games with less competitive communities. For those unfamiliar with the ranks, to use a very rough comparison to the League system it would probably be something like:
High Gold/Low Plat in Chess
Mid Diamond in Go (maybe?)
Plat in Overwatch is honestly like, mid Gold in League
I also play three instruments competently (guitar especially well) and went to school for classical guitar and music composition. For those who have not worked in music or sought a career, it's quite competitive. Oh, and Smash. I've played a healthy amount of Melee and PM. I'm not the best, but I'm better than most, played a fair amount online and followed the esports pretty closely. A few other fighting games too, but those never interested me nearly as much. The reason that I bring these up is just to give a baseline of my knowledge about competitive mentality in general. You don't get good at these things by talent or just "not being an idiot," you have to play and practice and work and study. Talent doesn't get you very far at all. Next, a disclaimer: I'm a relatively new League player. I started playing League because my crush (later girlfriend, now wife) had just gotten into it. This was like...late S7? I played a couple dozen games, fed my ass off and then dropped it not long after. I didn't pick it back up until quarantine, where I started in Iron III and have made it up to Silver III (where I failed my promos for Silver II last night...). So NOT a world-class League player. Statistically on the lower side of average, actually. But I'm working on it and I'm having fun. I wanted to talk about a few subjects as they relate to League of Legends through the lens of my experience in learning other stuff. These are discussion points, not instructional. I don't want to tell anyone how they should play a game, but I did want to let everyone know how it looks from the viewpoint of a newcomer looking to compete in something cool.
Comments/Suggestions for Discussion
LEAGUE'S ASPECTS So the first thing is that I really like League as a skill-based game. MOBAs are very unique in their spot, but I think they deserve a seat at the table with discussions about games like chess, go, poker, etc. One funny thing is that it is a skill-based game without the element of chance (per se) when it comes to gameplay, which makes one put it in the same realm as chess and the like. There's no RNG, just the choices of others, and so skill expression is very apparent. However, there is a key distinction between games like chess and League, namely access to information. In chess or go, you see the whole board. You have the same information that your opponent does. In League, you have a situation where you have the limited information from your own team's vision via minions, towers, wards, and your own champion's line of sight. If there were no fog of war, League would be very much a simpler game and would be abysmally boring. This aspect gives it a similar feel to the competitive aspects of poker, where you have access to limited information and the skill lies in playing the numbers and using this to read your opponents and gain small advantages. Next, there is another aspect which differentiates League from games like chess as well as games like poker and (an arguably much more direct relative) RTS games. That is the fact that League is played with a team. This makes it similar in a sense to a game like Overwatch in that one of the main factors that is out of your control is what your teammates do with their champs. You do your best on your champ, and communication with your team becomes a massive competitive advantage. So the way I see it, there are a few distinct aspects of League when you want to break it down as a competitive game:
League is a skill-based game, where your game knowledge, decision making, and technical execution are rewarded. There is very little RNG. Lack of knowledge, poor decisions, or poor execution of decisions are punished.
League is an information-based game, where you do not have full information of the field of play and so information gathering and processing are rewarded. Lack of information gathering and failure to interpret what information you do have correctly are punished.
League is a team-based game where you have to work together with other players to accomplish your goals. Good communication and coordination are rewarded. Poor communication and coordination are punished. This is also the aspect which is most outside of your control.
TOXICITY This is, unfortunately, the thing for which the League community is most infamous. Let's break down some situations I know y'all have seen in SoloQ:
You have a bad game. Everyone has them in SoloQ, from Iron to Challenger. Just check out op.gg or look at TSM's Worlds 2020 performance (jk, but not really. sorry, all NA fans...). Someone on your team starts "flaming" you for playing like shit. Which, let's face it, you are probably playing like shit compared to your average games.
Someone on your team is having a bad game and blames a teammate (usually the jungler) for their awful performance.
Your team starts losing and a teammate decides to "run it down."
Teammates that spam ff on a game that is still pretty winnable
Teammates that refuse to ff in order to lock you into an unwinnable game while they continue to run it down.
ADC blaming support or vice versa, when they just took bad fights or mispositioned.
This is normal, right? But it's all kind of weird mentalities, especially because when they are doing well these same people never seem to think that they did it with their team's help or because of bad enemy play. You go 10/0/0 in lane and got a double whenever you got ganked? It was because you popped off! It wasn't because they tried fighting in your wave or didn't track summs or just mechanically misplayed. It's because you're awesome, right? Jungler camps your lane and gets you fed (in a dream world, right?) it's because you set up your lanes correctly, right? You might give some credit to your jg, but not as much blame as junglers usually get when the laner is just running it down. Enemy team ffs a winnable game you type "?" in all chat. Enemy team refuses to ff a game when you're 30k gold ahead on scaling champs, you feel confused and maybe laugh a bit. I won't say that players never acknowledge mistakes of the enemy team as mistakes, but I think that the degree to which your teammates are upset by your mistakes is absolutely disproportionate to how well you are acknowledged for sound play, and the credit players give themselves is disproportionate to how much credit they give their team. *** Some Comparisons: Overwatch: I think League's toxicity stems, to a degree, from its team-based aspect. Overwatch is the only thing I've encountered where the community was anything but lovely, helpful, and informative. I think it's because in 2-player games, the only person you can blame is yourself. The other person beat you, therefore they were better than you that game, and so you have something to learn. Overwatch...that's not always the case. However, I think Overwatch players do better than League players. There are calls people will make to do better, but it's very rare that someone gives up or spends a lot of time being upset when their teammate sucks, and they may adjust their play accordingly if someone on their team is not doing well. Go/Chess: This aspect of toxicity was actually the reason I never got into League before quarantine. When you compare League's community to a game like go, League is (quite bluntly) fucking disgusting. Do you know what go players do at mid-high ranks after a game? They sit down and review it together. Even in tournament settings, if you have time before your next match it is absolutely the polite thing to do. To refuse to review a game (barring perhaps if you have somewhere to be) can even considered a bit rude. You know what would NEVER happen in a go match? Being rude to your opponent, whether they won or they lost. Like, I can't even fathom playing a game online with someone, dumpstering them and seeing them type "fuck you, kys trash" in game. Or getting dumpstered and someone typing "gg ez." Now go players are a bit different. Go is a very thinking-based game and based on concepts of balance, trading, and sharing. So the game doesn't appeal to someone who can't sit at a board for a couple of hours quietly and compete, nor to people who feel the need to dominate someone. But chess is about domination to a larger degree, and the games (can be) much faster than go, or at least of a similar length as your average game of League. And I could count EASILY on one hand the number of times anyone has been rude to me before, during, or after a chess match. *** Rank-Shaming: You know how deeply this is ingrained into players? Whenever anyone has told me they play League, they almost always put as a precursor that they are a "(insert-rank) scrub." Whether bronze or silver or diamond, they automatically feel bad because they know they can improve on the game. Most everyone knows that statistically speaking over half of players are Gold or below. According to League of Graphs, Plat+ is just under 15% of players, while Diamond+ is just under 3% of players. Do you know how objectively ridiculous it is to make fun of someone for being "hardstuck Diamond II"? To make fun of someone for being in the top .5% of all League players? That's insane. This isn't a call-out post specifically and I legitimately am interested in opening up discussion, but this part is a bit of a call-out. This activity is stupid. It would literally be the equivalent of someone making fun of an IM (International Master) in chess for not being a Chess Grandmaster. IM is a lifetime achievement in and of itself. The ONLY thing I've ever seen an equivalent of is some light jabbing from VERY high rated players when ACTIVELY TRYING TO HELP a player who is trying to break into high Elo (i.e. help a chess player break into 2000+ Elo and hit Candidate Master; or help a go player break into 1 dan). If someone is being a toxic asshole, call them out for being a toxic asshole, not for their rank. I mean, damn. Also, this flies in the face of any understanding of how systems like this work. Honestly if everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) in the world was as good as a Diamond player is currently, then you know what would happen? If there were any change at all, sure there would be fewer iron players BUT THERE WOULD ALSO BE WAY FEWER DIAMOND PLAYERS. The bell-curve would flatten out and most people would still fall somewhere in the middle. (Correct me if I'm wrong on my statistics knowledge here, reddit...) Either way, rank is an indication of skill and a personal achievement. Shaming someone for not having made that goal yet is really shitty, I think. *** Flaming Your Own Damn Team: My brother (and frequent duo-queue partner) said it best when we muted some toxic teammates: "For a game so fundamentally based on communication, League is remarkably improved by turning off chat." As mentioned earlier, teams are a core part of League and one of the things you can least control. So why is it that in the few things we can do to control our teammates (namely chat and pings), we insist on making it a toxic shit-hole of an experience? It's super easy to vent your frustrations, but it actively harms your team. I don't think a single player has ever legitimately improved by getting flamed. Ever. They either get defensive and just do the same damn thing, they troll, or they mute you. But, in almost every case, they tilt. They play WORSE because of what you're doing. And they don't actually learn anything. *** Winning/Losing: In go, there is a saying: "a newcomer should lose their first hundred games as soon as possible." When the newcomer does this, the response is frequently "Nicely done! Get on with losing the next hundred." This doesn't mean you int 100 games of go in a row. It means that you learn more by losing than by winning. A question for all of you: how many games that you lost do you actually remember? Maybe a few spectacular losses, or some really close games that you couldn't pull through. But seriously, compared to how many games you've lost, how many actually stuck with you as memories? I'd bet not many. For that matter, how many games that you won have stuck with you? Again, maybe some spectacular hijinx you pulled off and saved in a highlight reel, sure. But at the end of the day, the W and the L are equally unremarkable when you're not playing professionally. I've probably played and lost hundreds of games of chess and thousands of games of go. Do I remember any of them? I don't remember a single chess match I lost with any clarity, and I can remember exactly one go loss that I had because it was at a tournament I traveled for and the loss was due to a silly blunder. League isn't different. So why do League players treat a loss like it's the end of the goddamn world? Sure, there's a time investment involved and nobody likes to play to lose. But, if I'm being real...don't play competitive games if you're a sore-ass loser? Like I said, go players often review the game with their opponent, win or lose. Usually the winner is the one who offers the review, but it doesn't matter. The point is that when the game is done, both players are willing to look each other in the eye and help each other get better at the game. I personally feel like dignity in losing is important, and the lack of it is something I think will absolutely hurt your climb if you don't have it. Getting the fuck over yourself is something that frequently pushes someone past a middle rank in chess/go/etc. up to a serious ranking. The idea should be to go into every game and try to win, but accept that you'll lose sometimes. If you're losing less than half of the time, you're climbing. If you're losing about half, then you have mistakes to learn from. If you're losing significantly more than half your games, you're either boosted or you're tilted, and you need to take a long, hard look at yourself. Additionally, you should realize that people who you are playing with are at your rank. "Elo Hell" is a concept that stemmed from League players and stems from the team-based nature of it all. Your teammates are "so bad" that you have to "hard carry" your games to get through, and even then you can't make it. But that's bullshit, right? Sure there will be games where your teammates int and there's no way you can win but, over a long enough time period, there should be just as many games where your opponents int and you get a free win. Actually, it's better than that. So long as you don't literally give up or troll, you have 4 players that could give up/troll on your team and 5 players that could give up/troll on the enemy team. Statistically, if you're better than your peers, you should climb. There are certain strategies that work better in SoloQ (as opposed to coordinated FlexQ/Pro Play) and these are MORE than covered by a ton of YouTube content, as well as strategies that work better at low elo than high elo and vice versa. But barring that, your skill has a lot to do with your rank, so unless you are actively getting better at a rate faster than the people at your elo, you'll probably stay the same rank and maybe climb very slowly. *** Surrender Votes: This one I add because I mentioned it and thought there were two interesting schools of thought and wanted to see what others thought about it: Chess: In chess, there is not really incentive to forfeit since you may be able to force a draw. You are certainly allowed to resign if you're sure that the opponent has a way to beat you, knows what it is and is actively planning on properly executing that strategy, but there's nothing wrong with someone making you "play it out." My dad always liked to say to me regarding chess that you should make your opponent "prove it." They should prove they know how to pull out the win. Quitters never win, right? Go: Go players do not share this philosophy. Since Go is a point-based game where you typically win by accumulating small advantages and the rules (as of the twentieth century) do not allow a draw to occur, the game can be won by a small margin or a large margin. There occasionally comes a point where your opponent has accumulated an overwhelming advantage over you and you do not actually have room for counterplay. The lead is too great, and you will lose this game. It is actually considered rude in the go community to NOT surrender, as all you are doing is wasting the time of your opponent. While there is still no incentive for resignation from the standpoint of "you won't win either way," there is no incentive to continue either. You will lose. The reward for the forfeit is valuing your time and that of your opponents over pride. League: League appears to have players in both camps, each feeling the other is rude or inconsiderate. Some people think that people who want to ff have "weak mental." Maybe it's true sometimes, but maybe they are looking at a situation where the enemy team is ahead, scales better, and appears to be well-coordinated. They don't want to spend the extra ten minutes "playing it out" when there seems to be no incentive for doing so. If they just chalk up the LP as lost and get to the next game, that ten minutes would already have them well into their next laning phase. That being said, throws happen CONSTANTLY in League. Especially since the later a game goes on, the longer death timers are. So if the enemy team is ahead and doesn't end, and you catch someone out, you can force a fight 4v5 and maybe even just end if the game has gone on long enough, even if you are behind. So "hostage takers" are sometimes just counting on the enemy team throwing, as they often may do. Additionally, I think while League definitely has the aspect of "accumulating small advantages over the course of the game" and you can get to a situation where the enemy team just steamrolls you, League is more like chess than go in that there is a "checkmate" situation. The gold you have doesn't matter, the towers don't matter, the dragons don't matter except in how much they help you to take down the enemy nexus. Therefore, objectively, it makes more sense to play it out. But this also goes back to toxicity: nobody wants to be trapped in game with an 0/20/2 mid/jg who's flaming all chat, spam pinging everyone and everything, and seems hell-bent on making sure that there's an extra 100 gold with every cannon wave mid by running straight into the enemy team 1v5. Why flame someone for wanting out? What do you guys think? NEWCOMERS Like I said, this is my first real season actually dedicating time into this game. It was something social I could do in quarantine with my brother, wife, and a couple friends, and then I got into the competitive aspect a bit more. I studied it like I studied other things, namely by studying from experts, getting coaching where I could find it and playing a lot of games. I felt comfortable in doing so because I have a great little group of friends that play and they were happy to teach me until I was comfortable enough to learn. One thing I think that has improved in content-creation between when I first encountered the game in Season 7 and when I looked at it now is that it seems to be more widely understood that there are TWO sets of fundamentals in League. There are the basic mechanical aspects of how to play (abilities, last-hitting, towers, what jungle camps are and do, what each role does on a basic level, etc.) and then the more advanced decision making aspects (wave management, roaming, jungle timers/pathing, teamfighting, lane positioning, etc.). The knowledge base required for League is actually massive, by the way, just like it is for almost any competitive game. The MINIMUM knowledge that I could see would be required to play like an actual human and not get smashed EVERY TIME is:
An intimate understanding of at least one role and how that role relates to the team
A strong understanding of at least a couple of champions, knowing how to play them, who counters them, who they counter, what runes to take, what items to generally build
A basic understanding of basically every other champion in the game so you know what to look out for
An ability to focus on several things at once (map, enemy movements, wave states, warding, enemy positioning, your own positioning).
Getting good requires expanding this knowledge base, as well as other aspects of the game. It's a lot to take in. Combining this with the fact that you get punished for not being good (as covered earlier) and get flamed, told to uninstall, or even have homophobic/racial slurs and get told to kill yourself (which isn't as harmless to some people as you might think), the face of League is a very unfriendly one. Which begs the question: how many more people would have fun and play this game if it weren't the baffling combination of complicated, difficult, and toxic? COMMENTS/SUGGESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION I've been thinking about making this post for a while, especially since Voyboy's famous video on community toxicity. While I do think that Riot should not allow rampantly and obviously toxic behavior, the community has to do a lot of stepping up too. Every time you personally int or type something shitty or are an asshole to others in-game, you show the rest of the players in your game that to some degree it is socially acceptable to do. I ran a go club for a while, and if anyone treated a new player or an unskilled player half as poorly as I've seen inexperienced players treated (hell been treated as a new player), they would get a stern talking to and, if it continued, I would just kick them the fuck out. And nobody in my club would have batted an eye. Wouldn't it be nice to have more people to play League with? And have the games be less toxic? Hell, maybe actually be fun? The thrill of competition is a shared experience. If you have trouble with toxicity yourself, maybe just start by acknowledging that sometimes its okay for people to have a bad game, and its okay for your enemies to pop off sometimes. To feel otherwise is to torture yourself, as there's no way that (unless you're hard smurfing) you should expect to win 100% of your games with people at your rank. But this goes beyond simply not being the guy who spends the game sitting under his turret typing and flaming his team. That should be a given if you want to see a less toxic game. It is the absolute bare minimum to not actively contribute to the things you don't want to see in game. I think that if we want to improve the general environment of the game, we have to actively set examples and change what we think is acceptable conduct. Ignore or report bad conduct, but also add things you can do to improve the conditions. Here are my thoughts on some stuff I think we can do as a community that will improve stuff:
Reviewing as a courtesy. Reviewing a game with your opponent can be SO helpful. I think we're not in a place where an offer to go over the game with your enemy laner would be seen as anything but condescending, but maybe it might be better received if the loser asked to go over the game? Or at least have a brief discussion about it in the post-game chat.
Coaching as a courtesy. The "Go Teaching Ladder" is a great service where lower rated go players would submit their games and higher rated players review them for free. The higher rated players also submit their games for review, so it runs off a combination of goodwill and fair exchange. This really wouldn't be hard to implement, honestly. What would you guys think of such a site/service? The flaw in this system is that a Bronze player might get incorrect information from a Plat player, but I think it's better than the Bronze player having at best Bronze information and at worst no information about how to improve.
Acknowledging both your enemies and your allies for good play. Instead of flaming someone else or going into self-deprecation, maybe just trying to look more at what an opponent did well and just typing in post-game chat that they played well and giving a genuine "gg" would just help make things not so toxic constantly.
Turning off chat. So we all know when we're being kind of toxic, right? If you can't help but type all game, then maybe just...remove your own ability to type? Just be the bigger person, realize you don't have the mental to avoid tilting your team even harder and just not do it. Conversely, if you know you have a weak mental and tilt easily or you're a brand new player and getting flamed all the time, it would also be good to disable chat while you get better. And I don't mean muting everyone or just "holding back" from typing. I mean clicking escape, going into your game settings and disabling both allied and team chat. The downside there is that you might miss calls and coordination in chat, but you can do most shotcalling with some creative pings and if you have a major problem with these things it can do more harm than good.
Making reports actually matter. Reporting someone for having a bad game seems to be common, but I think it harms the game. If there are 10,000 reports submitted and 9,000 of them are for "inting," but only 500 of those reports were validly for people actually running into enemy turret and flaming in all-chat between death timers, then Riot can't punish people as effectively for actually ruining the game. They have to play the numbers game here, and if you punished everyone who was reported as having a bad game at the same level as everyone who was actually inting, you would ban half the player base. So then it takes more reports to actually act upon these things to try to weed out people just not doing well or learning a role/champ, so now the actual offenders get to play more games before they get punished.
Anyway, thoughts on my suggestions? Suggestions of your own? Comments? Critiques? This has been bugging me for ages and I wanted to talk about it.
I'm 32 years old, working as a Product Manager / Instructor in Toronto and making ~$78,000 (CAD)
This is an update of my MD from last year, which you can find here. All figures are in CAD. (Approx. CAD/USD conversion is 1 CAD = 0.75 USD. So my income is ~$58,240 USD. I've tried to note the change since last time where I could! Section One: Assets and Debt
Total NW: $81,100
Up from ~$58,000 last year.
Retirement Balance (and how you got there): $62,230
Up from $45,466 last year. I've been adding to my RRSP since my first "real" job in highschool - while my early contributions were miniscule, it got me in the habit of saving. My previous employer had a good match, which also helped.
Savings account balance: $11,290
TFSA up from $9,846 last year. Not a huge improvement - I focused more on my RRSP and Emergency Fund this year.
Emergency Fund Balance: $7,500
Was $1,103 last year.
Chequing Account Balance:
Almost everything gets autotransferred on payday to my retirement accounts, sinking funds, or a holding account where my bills are autopaid from. I only keep my "discretionary spending" money in this account.
Debt: None. I pay off my cc as soon as I make a purchase, and check my transactions/pay off any autopay on a weekly basis. I run all my purchases through my cc to get points toward free groceries.
Was there an expectation for you to attend higher education? Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?: There was expectation, but not from family - I was the first in my family to go to higher ed. They saved and planned to contribute if I did want to go, but what I did after highschool was up to me. I was top of my class in highschool so there was a lot of expectations from the other adults in my life (teachers, school counselors, etc) that I would really make something of myself. My parents paid my tuition for two years of my undergrad, my grandparents gave me a few thousand dollars as a gift toward my expenses and the remainder I paid for myself with my savings from working part time and through summers.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances? We didn't have any serious conversations about money, but there was a lot of emphasis on saving long term, saving up for things we wanted, and occasionally if I wanted something expensive (like when I wanted my hair done for middle school graduation), a discussion about how mom or dad would have worked X hours to pay for it. I never felt hard done by, but there were definitely a lot of things other kids had or got to do that we didn't. Once I got my first job I didn't get any spending money from my parents anymore.
What was your first job and why did you get it?: In 8th grade I got a job at my school, cleaning tables during lunch recess (our school didn't have a cafeteria, so kids ate at their desks). The principal offered it to me and my best friend. It paid $50/month. It seems insane now because we were not old enough to work legally. In hindsight I think it was the school finding a way to subsidize the costs of the year-end school trip (a week-long overnight trip out of province) for two families who didn't quite qualify for the school's official aid but wouldn't have been able to afford it otherwise. All the money went to the trip, and I babysat to get some spending money.
Did you worry about money growing up?: Not really. There were some lean times but I never felt like I really wanted for anything. By the time I was in highschool things had gotten much more stable.
Do you worry about money now? Yep. Not about day-to-day spending, but I worry about longer-range money issues like whether I'll be able to own a home, save enough to retire, etc. A lot of my friends are a lot more comfortable and able to buy homes and generally be freer with money, mostly those in dual-income-no-kids situations - and I'm feeling that lag a bit.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?: I haven't received any financial support from family since I was about 20, but if my parents come to visit me they'll usually bring some grocery items from their Costco runs and refuse to accept payment for it. I currently have about 4 months' emergency fund saved, and could last another 6 on my TFSA if I needed to. Working on bumping this up!
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income?: While I was in undergrad and paying my own tuition my grandparents gave me $2000 as a birthday gift to give me a little breathing room in my budget and so "you can do something other than work and study". They were hoping it would enable me to meet a husband and get my MRS (hahaha). It did not, but it did ease my stress about money.
Section Two: Income
Main Job Monthly Take Home: $3,816 after deductions. I got a 10% raise in July.
Deductions: Tax $882, EI $86, CPP $137, Retirement plan $210 (matched by employer)
PTO: 18 days + 5 additional during the holidays when our office is shut.
Bonus: I get a bonus each year from the day job as well. This year, $5500 pre-tax.
Side Gig Monthly Take Home: ~$900 averaged monthly
Varies year to year based on student enrolment and whether I get funding for additional content development time.
Salary Story (Averaged hourly earnings into approx annual earnings so it's more "apples to apples" comparison)
Pre-2010: ~$15-20k per year. Various jobs during highschool and university. Retail, farm and animal shelter work, tutoring, baby/pet/housesitting, factory job in the summers.
2010: ~$35k Intern, Retail, Nanny, Temp. I graduated university and started some postgrad certificate courses full time through summer. Had a PT retail job, a FT unpaid internship after summer classes ended, and was a nanny for a relative's kids in exchange for a steep discount on room and board. After my internship ended I picked up a temp receptionist gig that paid well while it lasted - I was able to save up to move out to my own place after Christmas.
Q1 + Q2 of 2011: ~$22k Freelancer / Assistant. The company I interned for hired me back as a freelancer at $19/hr, and I got a remote job as a "business assistant" (aka whatever they needed) at min wage, but I could set my own hours and work up to 35hrs/week. I crammed in as much as I could because my freelance job wasn't guaranteed.
Remainder of 2011: ~$36k - Digital Assistant. My day job offered me a FT position and I was so grateful for the stability (my freelance hours had been uneven) that I accepted their first offer not realizing it was less than I was making as a freelancer. I remind myself that at least now I have benefits and some security, and I still have my other job. Two weeks later they tell me if I don't quit my remote "business assistant" job I'll be fired since that company is in the same industry, so I do. Pushover!
2013: ~37k - Digital Assistant. Yep, two years, no promotion, small raise. Love working in the arts! /s. After I was forced out of my remote job in 2011 I started babysitting, petsitting, shoveling snow for my older neighbours - anything I could to bring in some extra cash, but I have no idea what I made from that work. Most of it ended up going out the door pretty quick on regular life expenses.
2014: $40k - Digital Coordinator. Promotion at last. I struggled a lot with depression throughout the end of 2013 and all of 2014 after some traumatic events, and I'm so shocked and thrilled that something good actually happened. I don't negotiate because I'm a husk of a person. By this point I'm not functional enough to keep up all my side gigs.
2016: ~$45k - Digital Coordinator / Instructor: After so much therapy I'm starting to realize my company is trash and my industry is a dead end for me, and I actually have the confidence to do something about it. I dump my shitty boyfriend. I get a part time gig as an instructor. My boss tells me in my performance review I have "no leadership potential" and I go home and immediately start looking for another job.
2017: ~$63k - Product Manager / Instructor: After many failed interviews, I finally get a new job offer at $55k - less than a PM typically makes in Toronto, but more than I was making before, and I was so hungry for a new opportunity I just jump on it. My new manager is really invested in my PD, within the first few months they have me speak on their behalf at three conferences and commit to $2,500 of PD spending.
2018:~$76k - Product Manager / Instructor: I get a raise at my day job (modest - about $2500) but it's a crackerjack year for the course I teach - it's a high enrolment year so I have more sections. Less free time, but now that I'm more experienced it's a bit easier and it'd be hard to find another side gig that pays as well for the amount of time I put in.
2020: ~78k - Product Manager / Instructor: Sensing a theme? I'm not much of a job hopper, which I know is impacting my salary growth, but I'm a "craves stability" person and I love my job, they are constantly giving me opportunities to learn and grow and investing in my PD. Plus a 10% raise.
Section Three: Expenses
Rent: $1,505 including utilities - just went up from $1,476 in September. I live solo in a one-bedroom in an old walk-up building.
Renters insurance: $29
Retirement contributions: $1,600
Sinking Funds contributions: $205
Emergency Fund contribution: $500, plus occasional random lump sums if I have discretionary funds left over.
Donations: approx $100/mo, sometimes more. I volunteer about 10-15 hrs/month with different organizations throughout the year, though it varies based on their activities. Been helping with a lot of digital admin/tech support/mailing list stuff this year.
Transit: About $14/month - I'm working from home, and my neighbourhood has everything I need within walking distance. I use transit a handful of times a month these days, so I just plonk some money on my card when I need to.
Therapy: $540 per quarter for BetterHelp, approx $168/month.
I get $800/year reimbursed under my work benefits.
Subscriptions: $27 - Netflix, Spotify, extra iCloud storage, and a Quip toothbrush.
Day 1 - Thursday ($42)
9am - Slept in! I have today and tomorrow off (using up some PTO) and am glad for the extra rest, but the construction work around my apartment building kicks off at 9:01 on the dot, waking me up. I browse the internet before showering and getting the day started. 11am - I have a massage appointment so I mask up and walk over. It’s a sunny fall morning, so an enjoyable walk. I’ve been in a lot of pain the last while after an unexpected hospital stay and medical procedures so I’m really looking forward to some relief now that I’m cleared to have this massage! ($30 tip for my RMT, insurance covers the actual bill.) I was nervous about COVID safety but this is a small clinic and they’re taking it really seriously (face shields and masks for all!), and it’s nice to have a massage - it’s the first “non-invasive, non-medical” human touch I’ll have since March, since I live by myself and have been strict about distancing. I have to say, it feels incredibly weird to be naked except a mask. Like being naked with a watch on. 12:45pm - I feel so much better! I walk a long route home to enjoy the sunshine and stop at a bakery and pick up some pumpkin, apple, and caramel scones ($12 for three, incl tip), since they have a little doorway table for service. Most cafes in the neighbourhood have restored indoor seating and I feel weird about going inside past unmasked diners. Once I get back home I have a scone, spend a couple of hours answering students’ questions for my teaching job, and wash some dishes in the kitchen. The afternoon sort of disappears into that, plus some random internet browsing/YouTube sewing tutorials. 6pm - Therapy call (prepaid - I use BetterHelp and pay quarterly - I’m due to pay in 2 weeks). I am so grateful to be back in therapy. Isolation has been hard on me, and my medical situation really left me raw. It’s scary to have a totally normal day and end it in an ambulance unexpectedly, and I’m still unpacking my feelings about it. 7pm - I sodastream some water, add lavender syrup, and hop on Zoom for game night with some friends. We play Jackbox games together and snort-laugh the whole way through. This is a new group I was just starting to befriend IRL in the weeks before the pandemic. These weekly game nights have been so great to keep the momentum. 9pm - I dress my last tortilla as a pizza, bake it, and then dump the remainder of a box of arugula on top after it’s out of the oven and eat it over the sink like a crispy pizza taco. After eating I text a bit with a guy I met on reddit (henceforth RG - Reddit Guy - same guy from my last MD.) He sends me a video of his dog doing tricks, and we count down and hit play on the same TV episode. We’ve been doing this little nightly ritual since the start of the pandemic, and it’s a nice way to keep this long-distance whatever-this-is going. Things have stepped up from merely flirty to decidedly romantic in the last year, but with the US/Canadian border closed for the foreseeable future who knows where this is going or if we’ll ever get to meet. 11:30pm - I have a quick warm bath before bedtime and after making a nest from all my pillows, fall asleep to a “sleep story” from the Calm app. Some smooth-voiced man talking about an island in Norway takes me away.
Day 2 - Friday ($69)
8am - I wake up before my alarm, laze around in bed reading newsletters and reddit. I open my work email, file away all the automated messages I get from our software, and close it again. I usually check it once a day on vacation just to clear that shit as a gift to my future self. 9:30am - I shower while listening to a podcast and check my messages while brushing my teeth. A neighbourhood pal asks if I want to have a coffee in the park with her before it gets too cold for these outside meetups. I reply and we arrange a plan to meet up. 10:15am - My friend texts and says she’s going to stop at Starbucks on her way to the park - do I want her to grab me anything? I mobile order a caramel apple spice ($5 - I’m off caffeine - doctor’s orders) and tell her it should be there waiting when she gets there. I bring the two remaining scones from yesterday’s bakery trip for us. We hang out at the park for a few hours on our distanced blankets, chatting until our fingertips are thoroughly chilled. Like a lot of my friends, the pandemic has had her and her partner seeking cheaper, more spacious dwellings out of the city. They’re moving in a few months. This is the fourth such announcement I’ve had this fall, so I’m better at being excited for them and asking questions all about their new digs rather than being openly bummed. But inside I’m a little gutted. It’s hard to watch my people move away! 12:30pm: I took the long route home from the park, then settle in with some mint tea and check on my students. I’m teaching online this semester and the course is “asynchronous” - meaning they move through interactive modules of written+video content at their own pace, so I post and reply frequently on the discussion boards, answer emails, and help them along. I have a chatty group this term - there’s a very active kdrama discussion thread in the “non-course related” board. I love when my online students still work at connecting with their classmates - I can’t imagine what it would be like trying to do fully online school and missing out on that in-person experience. 2pm - I whip up a quick chicken soup with some chicken and veggies from the freezer, some egg noodles and a bouillon cube and eat that before spending the afternoon cleaning up - vacuuming, laundry, and online browsing for some sewing supplies. I spend $64 on some additional fabric and bias tape I keep forgetting to buy to finish some projects. I can’t wait to go to fabric stores in person again someday. While waiting for my stuff to finish in the dryer, I do a short Yoga with Adriene video. 7:30pm - After dinner, a friend calls to complain about her boyfriend and we chat for awhile while I organize my craft supplies into bins I picked up at the dollar store last weekend. He’s been a grade-A dingus since the beginning of the pandemic, and just told her one of his roommates tested positive for COVID - on Monday. He stayed with her Tuesday and Wednesday and “forgot to mention it”. DUDE. C’mon! I tell her if she needs anything dropped off at her place - groceries, drugstore stuff, emergency ice cream or baked goods - just call. 10pm - I make some popcorn and queue up Kim’s Convenience with RG, we chitchat about the day and plans for the weekend. After a few episodes I crawl into bed while he tells me all about a COVID-safe date we could go on if we weren’t separated by a few hundred kilometres. It’s a nice daydream.
Day 3 - Saturday ($0)
~1am - My downstairs neighbours are suddenly blasting music so loud my bedframe is vibrating. At 1am. Shoot me. By 1:45 I’m over it and go downstairs to knock on their door. I bang on their door a few times, no answer. One of the other tenants down the hall comes out, we commiserate over the noise. He bangs on the door too, but the music blasts on. We shrug at eachother and go back to our apartments. ~2am - I’m losing my mind at the noise, which seems to be coming from directly under my bedroom. Assuming they maybe have the bedroom door closed and couldn’t hear the knocking, I go to the living room and grab my set of weights and start dropping them on the bedroom floor over and over again like a maniac hoping to catch their attention. It works though - after a few minutes the music is off. Sweet silence! 8:45am - I wake up, roll over, and doze a bit more before getting up to take my medication and instead of staying up, I crawl back in. I chat with RG a bit and send a check-in text to my friend with the crummy boyfriend. 10:45am - I finally get out of bed (I love laying around. If I’m going to be single with no responsibilities I am going to bask in every moment of it) and I eat leftover roasted cauliflower from last night’s dinner for breakfast. Afterwards I clean the bathroom, put away my laundry from yesterday, and log on to my online class to check in on my students and reply to their posts, and review the material that’s going up next week. 4pm - After the day spent with chores I finish putting together a meal plan for the week and grocery order for delivery tomorrow. I actually love grocery shopping in person, but with the uptick in cases recently I’m less interested in going. Afterwards I check my online class forums again (there’s an assignment due tonight so I want to watch for questions) and then go for a short walk around my neighbourhood. It’s nice to get out a bit and see the leaves changing. 6pm - I make a chickpea and lentil curry in my Instant Pot, adding an assortment of random veggies from my freezer, while RG shoots me a text about starting our “together time” a bit early tonight so we can watch Hamilton together. I agree, and after dinner work on some sewing. 9:30pm - Almost completely finished sewing a shirt - I’ll finish the hem another day and the neckline when the bias tape I ordered shows up. I put everything away and I eat some arrowroot crackers with nutella while watching Hamilton with RG. I’ve already seen it a few times but I love it. Midway through I exchange a few emails with a student who is rapidly approaching the midnight assignment deadline and just can’t get her code working. I can tell right away she’s made a teeny tiny typo that’s had a domino effect on her whole assignment. I point her in the right direction, she fixes it, and ends the night happy. 12am - Curling up in bed. I put on another Calm app story and fall asleep.
Day 4 - Sunday ($127)
7:30am - Trying to reacquaint myself with my alarm after a few days off. I roll over and doze a little until 8, then get up, take my meds, and hop in the shower. 9:45am - One of my American friends calls to chat. She was invited to a wedding and doesn’t want to go because the groom’s family are anti-mask QAnon types and she won’t feel safe there. We brainstorm about what kind of gift is appropriate as an in-absentia “Sorry you married into a family of nutjobs” gift. 10:30am - I wash the dishes from last night, then make a sandwich with hummus and sliced veggies and sit down to eat it while I download my students’ assignments for the week and reply to a few more discussion posts. I’ll get to grading later this afternoon. 1pm - Time vanished into a bunch of little tasks and a wormhole of researching possible holiday gifts for family members.I text with my brother’s girlfriend to get a sense of their whereabouts this week - I’m trying to get a birthday treat delivered to his apartment. She confirms a date and I place the order for some safe-to-eat-raw cookie dough in fun flavours ($37). I’m secretly jealous that this place isn’t local to me because it sounds delicious. 2pm - I sodastream some water, add lime juice, and heat up some leftover curry from last night and settle in to start grading assignments with some music. 4pm - My mom calls to talk about Thanksgiving (next weekend here in Canada). They really want me to come, but with cases rising in the province I don’t know how safe it is and I have a lot of guilt about bringing my city cooties to them in a rural area. They haven’t been that cautious - she talks at length about going to a party the night before. By the end of the call I’m frustrated and undecided. It’s pretty clear if I opt not to go I’ll be the “bad guy”, the daughter who abandoned everyone to move to the city and thinks she’s smarter than everyone else. But I have a lot of anxiety around it. 5:30pm - My grocery delivery arrives ($90, including a tip for the delivery person). I put everything away and eat a few pieces of dried pineapple and mango before getting back to marking. 7:30pm - I cook some salmon and roasted veggies and, while eating, text with a friend about my Thanksgiving dilemma. She’s in a similar boat with her parents, we weigh the pros and cons together but neither of us end up deciding anything. 10pm - I watch an episode of Kim’s Convenience with RG before he goes to bed (he has an early morning tomorrow) and afterwards do a Yoga with Adriene video, poke around on Reddit, and go to bed myself around 11.
Day 5 - Monday ($9)
7:15am - Alarm goes off. I wake up, but mostly scroll Reddit until 8. I desperately miss working from an office with other people and better chairs, but if WFH ever ends I will miss getting to stay in bed as long as humanly possible. 8am - Shower, moisturize and put on some lipstain - that’s the extent of my morning routine these days. I get dressed (I’ve been wearing the same threadbare jeans almost all quarantine. They’re so comfortable, but hideous). I make some tea and oatmeal and move over to my desk. 8:45am - I check my credit card statement online while eating. A return I’ve been waiting on is finally processed (+$41.28) - returns by mail are so slow - I put the parcel in over a month ago. I check my class boards too - no new posts to reply to. 9am - Log into work and post my “hello” message in our staff chat. We have a “Hellos and Goodbyes” room to keep track of people’s comings and goings throughout the day. Our CEO pings me and asks how my time off was. He’s been very attentive since my hospitalization and has been checking in about my workload, how I’m feeling. It’s nice to fee seen. 10am - One on one with my junior PM. We chat on Zoom re: what’s on the docket for our projects this month, and I take her temperature a bit re: work/life balance, how she’s managing our extended work from home and the pandemic. She has a lot of vacation days left and I encourage her to use them even if she’s not planning to go away - mental health and rest is important! 11am - One on one with my manager. She calls via phone since her teenage daughter is doing school on Zoom and their internet is overtaxed. She runs through what I missed last week and updates me on a new project I’ll be taking over from her later this month. I’m currently responsible for ⅗ of our major software projects and this will bring me up to ⅘. (Don’t think I won’t make a big deal about that when it comes time for our next reviews.) 11:45am - Answer a customer support email from someone struggling to use the site. After a bit of back and forth I discover it’s because they’re using a decade-old version of Internet Explorer. I hop on the phone, walk them through upgrading to Edge, and they’re a happy camper. We don’t have customer support at our org - the PMs and Junior PMs manage support for their projects. Some days I hate it, but most of the time it’s satisfying to tackle a small and solvable problem amidst the bigger-picture work. 1pm: Team meeting with my software team. We usually do these in the morning but one of the devs had to take his kid for a COVID test since he’s a bit sniffly - schools here are pretty strict. It’s a short meeting, just getting a sense of how everyone’s moving through the current open projects, and then a show-and-tell of pets, since the aforementioned sniffly kid joined at the end. I do not have any pets and am as delighted by them as the kid. 1:20pm: Lunchtime! I heat up some leftover curry and chat a bit with RG, who’s checking in about my stress level. Since my hospital stay he’s been worried about me pushing too hard and not giving myself time to heal. We talk about our mornings and he tells me he added some new songs he thinks I’ll like to a shared Spotify playlist, so I know what I’ll be listening to this afternoon. 2pm: I spend the afternoon working on spec writing for upcoming development projects while my developers investigate a bug a customer reported over lunch. 5:10pm - I set an alarm on my phone to go off when it’s time to log off for the day. I change into some pants with more structural integrity, mask and jacket up, and go for a walk. 5:45pm: While I’m at the pharmacy picking up my prescription, the pharmacist mentions they have flu shots in, so I get one while I’m there. ($8 for my prescriptions, $1 for the impulse coffee crisp bar, $0 for the peace of mind of being flu-free even if I barely leave my house). While I’m walking home, RG calls from his commute to ask what I’m going to do about Thanksgiving. He thinks I should go - it’s generally safe in my parents’ area (less than 30 active cases in the county), and he gently suggests that the fall is probably going to be pretty hard on me emotionally and it might be a good idea to take the opportunity to go away while it’s relatively safe. I keep thinking it over. 6pm - Cook some chicken and roasted veggies for dinner, and after eating, set up my sewing stuff to finish up that shirt hem and start cutting pattern pieces for another project, a robe, while listening to podcasts. 10pm - I set up my iPad on a stool next to my bathtub and watch Kim’s Convenience with RG on chat while soaking in the warm, bubbly water and drinking some chamomile tea, and eventually dry off and head to bed around 11:30.
Day 6 - Tuesday ($0)
8am - Did I snooze my alarm for an hour? You bet. I just couldn’t stay asleep last night. When I finally wake up, RG has left a little video message for me, which I watch, and then watch again, and then start getting ready for the day. I braided my hair before bed so I have those great post-braid waves today. 8:55am - At my desk, logged in and ready to go with some oatmeal. I drop a note in the staff Hellos and Goodbyes and peek at my class discussion board before picking up where I left off yesterday. 10am - Client call. This client is hoping to do something a little “off label” with our tools. We chat a bit about what they’re hoping to accomplish and what their goals are, and I answer a few data questions for them. 10:30am - Team meeting! We spend some time puzzling through my client’s “off label” ideas, do some digging on another client’s data issue, and then spend a little time watching a funny news blooper one of the devs screenshares and joking around. I don't mind a little fun in our meetings! 11am - Biweekly all-staff meeting. Our CEO gives a little roundup of how things are going big-picture, and then one by one each of my colleagues gives a brief update of what they’re working on. Many pets and children make appearances - as a group the general vibe with interruptions on zooms is “delight”, which I appreciate. Nobody’s trying to “keep up appearances”. It’s all a mess we’re in together. 12:20pm - Lunchtime. Check COVID case counts again for my parents’ area (still undecided) while chatting with a friend about her thanksgiving plans. She and her husband have been isolating at a family cabin since early summer, when their city apartment building started renovating. They’re planning a “so bad it’s good” movie marathon, so while I eat leftover curry we chat about our favourite bad-good movies. 1:25pm- Reacquainting myself with some material for my 2pm meeting. I’m on an HR Committee at work and we’re meeting to check in on our work/life and wellness strategies as we head into another WFH quarter. The transition to remote has gone (mostly) well for our company, but there’s always room to improve! 3pm - After the HR meeting I put together a custom report request for our database team to run for me, and then pull up our team’s roadmap for the fiscal year and make some tweaks. I share developers with other teams and I know a big project has dropped in for them elsewhere, so I adjust. We’re already close to hitting our metrics for the year so I’m happy to let the other teams keep my devs busy for awhile while I prep and spec some larger feature builds for them. 4pm - My friend with the dingus boyfriend texts. Luckily, both she and her boyfriend tested negative, but since he lives with someone who’s sick, they’ll both need to test again in a few days. She talks about wanting to break up with him. I encourage her to take her time thinking about it. I think they should break up - he’s a dope. But she’s the one in the relationship - not my call! 5:15pm - I log off for a bit. I’m feeling a bit drained today. I didn’t sleep well last night and I know my indecision about Thanksgiving is weighing on me. I do a yoga video and lay on the floor crying afterward. It happens, part of that good ol’ depression life. Sometimes you just need a lil cry. I’ve been really emotionally overwhelmed since my hospitalization, and some close friends have really broken my trust recently. I’m working on it with my therapist, but sometimes you’re just fresh outta emotional juice, and while I love my family, we’re not close - time with them would be nice, but it’s not restorative. 7:10pm - Alright alright. Time to rally. I log on to my online portal and reply to my students’ board posts and questions. They seem like they’re doing a good job grasping the material, which makes me happy. I never wanted to be a teacher but it makes me feel so satisfied when I can see their progress. It cheers me up a little. 8:45pm - Time got away from me doing that work. I throw some fish and veggies into the oven and call my parents. I tell them I'm still undecided about Thanksgiving, Mom complains that I'm taking things too seriously, I text her the graph of cases again. She tells me I can make a day-before decision if I want to, that they'll isolate the rest of the week, for real, but she just needs to know by Friday around noon if I want to be picked up. I appreciate the extra time to consider things. Then Mom asks me to place a grocery click-and-collect order for her (she's not good at internet). I say I will, and she proceeds to slowly text me a grocery list one item at a time for the next hour. LOL. Moms. 10:15pm - I drink some sparkling water while watching Kim’s Convenience with RG on chat. After one episode I’m wiped, so I go to wash up. By the time I’m getting into bed, RG has left me a video message - the first half is his dog adorably snoring. The second half is just him telling me everything’s going to be OK and apologizing that he can’t be here to do our own Thanksgiving. Cry again - happier tears this time.
Day 7 - Wednesday ($0)
8:20am - Cutting it close today, wakeup-wise. It took me forever to fall asleep last night so I snooze a lot today, but when I finally get up, RG’s left me another voice memo encouraging me to get up and kick this day’s ass. I’ll try! I have a quick shower, mist my hair to refresh the curl a little, and get dressed. 9am - Log on and say hi to the team, then help the marketing team with some content for our monthly newsletter. Once that’s done, I make a smoothie with frozen mango and dragonfruit, then head back to my desk to load some data into our internal dashboards for our CEO’s reports later this week. Once it’s loaded, he DMs me and we chat a bit about the comparison year over year, possible insights, nerd out about graphs a bit. 10:30am - Team meeting. Alongside the usual updates I’ve added extra time to discuss some upcoming features and the specs I have in progress. I don’t love speccing something without involving them - they feel a lot more ownership when they’ve had a chance to be involved in the process. They get really excited about the new build and ask if I can reassign them to this instead of the other project they’re pinch hitting on now. Nice try! 12:15pm - Lunchtime! Some colleagues and I hop into Netflix Party to watch an episode of Queer Eye together. When we were in the office we used to have occasional TV lunch parties so we’ve been trying to mimic that in our new WFH life. I eat the last of my leftover curry while our Netflix Party chat goes OFF in full home-porn-drool at the reveal of Bobby’s house makeover. 1pm - Back to work, more data audits for our research team. 2pm - Internal meeting with another colleague about a section of her project I’m pitch-hitting on - super productive. She runs a tight meeting and I really admire her. After the meeting I write specs for the rest of the day based on the meeting this morning. I put on some old episodes of Reply All and get stuck in. 5:15pm - Head out for a short walk around the neighbourhood to get some air and outside time, talk a bit with RG while he’s on his commute. Once I’m back home, I do some tidying up. 6pm - Therapy call, I talk a bit about my Thanksgiving dilemma but we move on to other topics too. Feeling a bit better than yesterday, but a little rough around the edges. These are the kinds of days where I tend to feel tempted to order in, and while I scroll UberEats, nothing really looks that good, so I close the app and decide to just cook what I’d planned. 7pm - Make dinner, chicken and roasted veggies again. What can I say, I’ll party down on garlicky roasted broccoli any day of the week. I wash dishes when I’m done eating. 8pm - Pop online to check out my students’ posts for the day and reply to some emails. I briefly scroll through stuff on the IKEA website. I’ve been hoping to get some inserts for my Kallax unit, but the ones I want aren’t in stock, still. 9pm - Shower and wash my hair. I get out a shower scrub from Lush and really go to town, I do the Aztec Secret clay mask too. Why not! 9:45pm - Post up on the couch with some sparkling water, ready for TV time with RG. We watch the last two episodes of Kim’s Convenience and chat a bit before bed about what to watch next - we have a lot of good options, but decide to just see what we’re in the mood for tomorrow. Weekly Total: $247
Food + Drink: $108
Fun + Entertainment: $0
Home + Health: $38
Clothes + Beauty: $64 on sewing supplies (future clothes + entertainment while I make them?)
Other: $37 (gift)
Reflections: I keep an MD 365 days a year so I can tell by comparison this is on the lower end of an average range for this year so far - I usually get delivery at least once a week (sometimes twice), but I wasn’t feeling it this week! My average spend has really been ticking down the last couple of months. While the pandemic sucks and the isolation is rough (shoutout to my fellow live-aloners), I’m enjoying not spending as much, and that my spending is really heavily weighted toward things that contribute to my sense of well-being.
A John Lobb St James. bespoke "Navvy cut" derby shoe review - can you buy a pair of £5,000 shoes made for someone else? Well, obviously you can, but should you? What should you expect, and are there advantages over buying RTW?
Overview This is my third attempt now at buying bespoke shoes second-hand - see my last one here with these bespoke George Cleverley's which was almost, but not quite, successful. Continuous repetition of the same thing expecting a different outcome may well seem insane to you - there is some squeamishness around buying used shoes, let alone used shoes that were specifically shaped around another person's foot. For me, the allure around the companies that make these shoes (John Lobb, Foster & Son, G.J. Cleverley et al) combined with a RRP that I am probably a good few decades/centuries from affording is a sufficient draw to keep on trying to buy them. The previous attempts went wrong because it's a complete crap-shoot in terms of whether they will fit or not. They were literally made with somebody else in mind, and you can only hope that person's foot is sort of the same shape as yours. So caveat emptor (and make sure they have a good returns policy) if you're going down this road. Hopefully, you'll agree it's a worthwhile review, because for a brand with so much heritage, there are very few in depth reviews of John Lobb St James shoes online. For good or ill, their customer base just doesn't overlap that much with people who post photos of their shoes on the internet. They must be off buying horses and looking at stock tickers, or whatever the rich do. The purchase process Having angled for a robust pair of black derbies for a while, when these came up on Classic Shoes for Men I jumped on the chance. They were punchily priced at £800 - a lot, but the condition was essentially new, the style exactly what I wanted, and the site has a very comprehensive returns policy even if it's for fit reasons, so there isn't the same risk as buying on eBay. After some quick email exchanges discussing sizing with the site owner, Sevan, I sent the money over, and the shoes arrived a few days later. I highly recommend the site by the way. Sevan is a real gentleman - not a men's style blog "gentleman", where he posts vignetted photos of cigars and whiskey decanters with pretentious aspirational lifestyle quotes - but just a pleasure to chat with. And his collection of shoes, especially high-end British makers, is pretty much unmatched online. It's not cheap, but a lot of the shoes are near unworn or deadstock, and are rare indeed to find on eBay in the same condition. For bespoke shoes he can give some comprehensive sizing advice too, which is a clear benefit of dealing with someone with years of expertise. Sidenote - about the Lobb brand name Let's delve into the storied, confusing history of the name "John Lobb". John Lobb St James (sometimes called John Lobb Ltd) shouldn't be confused with the Hermes owned John Lobb Paris ready to wear operation. John Lobb opened his London shop in 1866, expanding to a Paris workshop around 1900. The John Lobb Paris (JLP) workshop and name was acquired in 1976 by Hermes, who have since made RTW shoes under the name, while JLSJ continued to make only bespoke pairs from their London workshop. JLP sell RTW and bespoke shoes across the world - indeed, their RTW collection is made in a Northampton factory formerly used by Edward Green, and these are the John Lobb shoes most people will be familiar with. However as part of the sale agreement in 1976, JLP cannot sell their bespoke shoes in the United Kingdom, so the only bespoke shoes made in the UK under the John Lobb name come from JLSJ. The easiest way to differentiate is from the logos - check this handy infographic that I whipped up here. About that price John Lobb Ltd. makes some stupendously expensive shoes as seen on their pricelist - this pair would start at around £5,700 inc. VAT. Sadly the purchase didn't include bespoke shoe trees. This may be because they were not made with the shoes - the shoe trees alone are about £1,400 inc. VAT, so I could sympathise with somebody skipping them for more generic ones. This is clearly a price that is aimed at people who have a very comfortable amount of disposable income, and is kind of the point where "value" as a concept becomes redundant. So for this review I'll be talking about my own sense of value having spent £800. Are they, as the company claims, the finest shoes in the world? Sure, they have history and heritage, but I'll bet there are any number of Saint Crispin or Gaziano & Girling makeups you would find more appealing at 1/5 of the price. Design This is 5-eyelet derby in black leather. Lobb insist on calling this a "Navvy Cut", but the rest of the world would just call it a derby. They're pretty chonky shoes. Lobb does not really concern itself with sleek and modern looking designs. For better or worse, they make the shoes they know how to make. It's a very plain and understated design - the only decoration is some double stitching around the vamp and a zigzag stitch parallel to the lacing. The toe is conservatively round - no dramatic chisel shapes here - but I find this welcome in a black shoe compared to something more flamboyant. Compare the heel stack to something like this Yeossal - the JLSJ is straight as an arrow up and down, with none of the tapering of the Yeossal. The overall profile of the shoe sales close to being "blobby" but they still work for me aesthetically. Like a lot of bespoke shoes, you see a less idealised conception of the shape of the human foot and more of a direct reflection. Sidenote - about the Lobb philosophy As an anecdotal example of what it's like to work at John Lobb and how that may have informed the styling of their shoes, this story from bespoke shoemaker Nicolas Templeman who used to work at Lobb:
“It could be rather frustrating at Lobb: you had little interaction with the customers, yet they would still be upset at you if something went wrong... In fact when I first started working there, we had to go to the office and explain what email we wanted sent to the customer. Then replies were printed and handed to us later.”
So maybe we can say this is a shoe borne from that mindset - inflexible but impeccable in its own way. Overall, a shoe for a man who cares about his shoes, wants the best construction possible, but for whom talking about shoes would seem a bit embarrassing. The main appeal is in the absence of ostentation. Construction Boy howdy, these are sturdy. The leather is thick and less pliable than my RTW pairs. The uppers are in incredible condition - I don't know what happens to a person to allow them to order a £5,700 pair of shoes and then never wear them, but I'm happy to inherit them on that basis. JLSJ shoes are handwelted - check my last review of a pair of Saint Crispin's for some notes on that, and whether handwelting really contributes to more comfort or flexibility. The soles are superbly finished - only a very slight bevel, with an immaculately concealed channeled sole stitch. Note the LOBB stamp just in front of the heels, a good way of spotting original soles or resoles by Lobb themselves, but given the excellent condition of the uppers these are clearly the original soles. The derby design essentially gives a bellows tongue, which is very welcome as I loathe a tongue that slides to the side. Fit and comfort I'm a UK 9.5 mid to wide in nearly all big British shoe brands. My right foot is about 1cm longer and wider than my left, which has thrown off the sizing for bespoke pairs previously. These were listed as a UK 9.5, mid to wide fitting, so I was hopeful the fit would be good. And the fit is pretty much perfect, it turns out. The left shoe is fractionally longer than the right, but the right shoe is 1cm wider than the left. They hug the foot very comfortably without squeezing. I honestly think this fit is about as good as you could hope for buying second hand bespoke. To the eye they do look quite wide compared to my other shoes and are probably 2cm shorter than most of my RTW pairs, but they are actually very well shaped to accommodate the widest part of the foot - some prodding while the shoe is on shows the interior is comfortably occupied. Quantifying value £5,700 (the RRP) can buy you a whole lot of shoes. £800 (the WIAP, or What I Actually Paid) can buy you, if not a whole lot, then quite a lot of shoes. So would I say these were good value? Well the condition and rarity of the shoes adds a certain premium to the price. My own fascination with the industry and the heritage of the company that created them adds a bit more. The knowledge that the shoes came from skilled craftsmen working age-old methods rather than a mechanised production line adds a real satisfaction, even if it's something only I would care about. This is still a third less than the retail price for a pair of Saint Crispins, and in the same ballpark as new pairs of RTW John Lobb. The finish is far better than a RTW pair of John Lobbs, but the difference with Saint Crispin's is marginal. As far paying at full price, it seems a bit unhinged to me to be honest. There is such a wide selection of equally well made, and honestly more aesthetically diverse and appealing shoes out there, that the full RRP boggles the mind. But then, we've established this is not a price where the purchaser is tossing up one pair of these or five pairs of another - they just want one, specific, reliable purchase to their own specifications and will pay whatever needs paying. Diminishing returns, and where objective measures drop off I've written at length in previous reviews about the diminishing returns in footwear the higher up the price bracket you go. Using Stitches per Inch (SPI) on the welt came be helpful - it's far from a definitive metric of quality, but it is a widely understood one and shows the point of diminishing returns well.
So, going from a £150 pair of Loake to a £1,500 pair of Gaziano & Girling can see a doubling of the SPI for 10 times the price, but going from that pair of Gaziano & Girling to the £5,700 pair of Lobb's... nets an increase of 1 additional SPI. In the same way that 5 times the cost of a pair of G&Gs doesn't mean you get 50 SPI with the JLSJ, you also won't see 5 times the quality of leather or any other metric of a shoe's quality. That all sounds great! How do I start buying second-hand bespoke shoes? Well, firstly, probably... don't. It's kind of a faff. If you've overcome that first hurdle, the key things are:
Know the makers. The big (still active) British names are G.J. Cleverley, Foster & Son and John Lobb
Know the sub-brands. All of the bespoke makers above have or have had RTW sub-brands and collections (or just confusing name overlaps as with John Lobb). Foster & Son RTW, for example, was historically made by Crockett & Jones. Sellers will often mistake or mix these up, and it can be legitimately confusing - George Cleverley's "Anthony Cleverley" line, for example, are I believe made by Gaziano & Girling, so extremely well made but still RTW
Know how to spot bespoke. If it has a sizing label like "9.5 D" inside the shoe, it's not bespoke. It's fairly likely that if it has a model name inside the it's not bespoke. Bespoke shoes will generally just have an alphanumeric string used to record the shoe's bespoke last and identify the customer (like A18725) written inside the shoe as well as the maker's logo stamp
Ensure that the seller either takes returns. Maybe chat with the seller first and ask if you can pay a small restocking fee if they don't normally take returns. Or be confident you can recoup the cost through reselling if it they won't take it back
Get the measurements. Ask for an outsole length and width measurement of both shoes and compare them against your own shoes.** This isn't perfect - the JLSJ shoes here are easily 2cm shorter than some of my other RTW shoes - but will at least give you a ballpark
Know your feet. Which one is larger? Which is wider? Check that the shoes dimensions reflect the difference
Be mindful that repairs can be expensive. It can be challenging finding a local cobbler to do a handwelted replacement - in an ideal world you would send a bespoke pair off to the original maker to be resoled, and that can add some serious cost to the enterprise
Embrace failure. It's likely to take a few attempts, so don't use think of this as a cost or time effective way to fill in the essentials of a shoe collection. This is hobbyist level stuff rather than a sensible way to buy shoes
Know your pricing. A lot of sellers will Google the RRP for bespoke shoes and go wild the eBay asking price, but for all the reasons listed above, they can be tricky to sell (and keep sold). So do a little bit of haggling around price - but don't be a lowballing twit. Nobody likes them.
Anyway, that's your lot. Hope you enjoyed. Next time I'll review some flip-flops or something.
Esports Fight Club Launches Ultimate Warrior Showdown with Huge Partners
Read full story: medium.com/verasity Esports Fight Club is launching one of the largest Asian PUBG Mobile tournaments, “Ultimate Warrior Showdown”. The tournament has been created in partnership with Tencent Games, OKEx, Athena Gaming and pro teams such as Onic Esports, T1 and NOVA Esports. Verasity’s Esports Fight Club is the owner of all the content rights including broadcast rights and branding rights. Tencent Esports, owned by Tencent Holdings Ltd, approved and supported the Tournament with a format to bring out the best performance of pro teams playing in one of the biggest tournaments in Asia. We also partnered with Athena Gaming, one of the largest media companies in Asia specializing in tournaments and content creation through multiple regional subsidiaries. Athena has a combined reach of five million gamers across their networks of Youtube and Huya. Athena will be live streaming the Tournament on their channels as well as on Esports Fight Club. OKEx, the Tier 1 exchange, is also sponsoring the Tournament in partnership with Verasity. As one of the top digital asset exchanges by trading volume, OKEx serves millions of users in over 100 countries with a large footprint in Asia and will be marketing the campaign to its users. The Ultimate Warrior Showdown PUBGm Tournament will begin on Monday 21st September 2020. Registrations to join the tournament will start immediately on the Esports Fight Club tournament landing page. The Tournament is open to participants from South Asia and boasts some of the top Asian teams playing in the invitationals. The top 10 teams from the Open Qualifiers will face these teams in the Grand Finals for a combined prize pool of $15000. Some of the confirmed players include T1 (South Korea), the most-famous Esports team in the world, Elementrix (Nepal), NOVA Esports (China), Team Secret (Thailand) and XQF (China). Plus we have Onic Esports (Indonesia), one of the biggest Mobile esports teams in the world with multiple tournament titles to their names and endorsed by the Indonesian government. All of these players are PUBG Mobile World League Teams who have been actively participating and winning major tournaments in the region. A major player to watch during the tournament is Paraboy from Nova Esports who has been consistently ranked among the top 10 players globally along with his team-mate, Jimmy, who has been the most consistent fragger for the team during recent games. The Ultimate Warrior Showdown will be broadcast in 3 languages: English, Korean and Chinese. You can follow the tournament at Esports Fight Club. There will be regular updates on the tournament and real-time scores on our dedicated Instagram page. Countries involved include: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. The Ultimate Warrior Showdown will have a combined prize pool of $15000 to be distributed as: Other tournament prizes also include:
$2000 given to the Most Valuable Player (MVP). This will be voted by the broadcasting talents for during the tournament.
The open qualifier top 3 placements will receive $500/$300/$200 respectively.
Plus we will also be hosting a giveaway of 200 PUBG Mobile Royale Passes for our Esports Fight Club fans throughout the Tournament via the Esports Fight Club landing page! About Verasity.tv REWARDS BASED PLATFORM FOR ESPORTS, GAMING AND VIDEO ENTERTAINMENT Verasity is a leading company providing proprietary technology, uniquely rewarding gamers, viewers and publishers.
Long before the online betting was even thought of, people needed to go to a bookmaker to be able to betting in India. Since it has basically never been legal in this country, that you were betting illegally. But with the online betting sites opening their doors to India, players now can enjoy betting legally, and even doing that online. Best online sports betting guide that helps you better understand how to bet and become a more successful sports bettor. BI delivers free betting tips on a regular basis and keeps you up to date with the best bonus offers and free bets provided by UK licensed bookies. Best betting exchanges. Whilst there aren’t hundreds of online betting exchanges to choose between, I still recommend you take your time and use the criteria discussed above in order to make your decision. Picking the best betting exchange is very subjective and each punter has their own preferences. For years, betting exchanges have been a gambling haven for sports bettors worldwide. Don’t confuse betting exchanges with sportsbooks though. Think of betting exchanges as a sports betting stock market. Exchanges are made through online peer-to-peer networks, adding a whole new dimension to sports. Regrettably, USA residents do not have access to betting exchanges. How […] Online betting exchanges differ from traditional sites in that they allow punters to bet against one another and it is this which makes both types of bet possible. Best Betting Exchange: Betfair vs Betdaq
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