Continuing… submitted by
“Well, if that doesn’t throw the damper on things.” Dax remarks on our trip back down to the ground floor.
“Yeah. How rude. Up and deceasing your own self without bothering to tell anyone beforehand.” I noted.
“This is going to be a bloody balls-up. Trust me. This is going to be inordinately messy. A bog-standard botch job. A total dog’s dinner, just wait and see.” Cliffs adds.
“First, we have to contact IUPGS. Then what? Does Bulgaria have a consulate or embassy here? I wouldn’t think so…Then what?” I grieved. For once, I was rather low; both emotionally and on ideas.
“Let’s go back to the conference room and let everyone know. We’ll pull a brain session together. We should be able to sort out what needs to be done. The hotel already knows, so the state security forces also do as well. Be prepared for lengthy interrogation sessions, Gentlemen”, Cliff advised.
Back in the conference room, we relayed the sad information. All were taken aback and there were general notes of commiseration. However, since no one knew Iskren too well personally, it was more detached professionalism rather than overt weeping and wailing.
“Let us toast to our fallen comrade!” was accepted as both entirely appropriate and a damn good idea.
I got on the conference room phone and ordered up some more sandwiches, mixers, and bottles of booze. The moment was obviously structured that way, I reasoned.
We made our toasts to our fallen comrade and we had half a chalkboard filled with suggestions of what to do next.
The main consensus was: “Nothing.”
As in there was not much we could do. We were foreign nationals in a strangely foreign land. Our comrade was the sole member of his country, that is, Bulgaria, and the closest geographically we had aboard was Dr. Academician Ivan. No one wanted to loose Ivan on the DPRK security forces and have to deal with all that international fallout.
After some number of hours, after I suggested we all remain in the conference room as we’d (A.) be together, as in unity there is strength, (2.) we’d have each other’s backs when and if it came to interrogations, and, (iii.) this is where the free booze was.
Then there was a polite knock on the door.
I, as the den mother of this special education class, slowly got up and answered the knock.
It was a cadre of DPRK internal security forces, kitted out in their spiffy, tailor-made, and actually, quite smart-looking uniforms. Shoes and buttons polished to mirror-finishes, pants creases that could cut flesh, and enough polished brass to construct a spittoon.
“Hello? Yes?” I said through the semi-opened door.
“May we please come in? If the time is convenient.”, the head military type, very treacly asked.
“Of course”, I replied, “Please, do come in.”
Four of them entered as one. They did a quick-step, tight-march formation together and went to the head of the conference table.
“Good day, gentlemen. I am Colonel Hwangbo Dong-Hyeon of Internal State Security. First, we must offer condolences on the loss of your comrade. It must have come as a shock.” He intones.
There are mutters of “Thanks.” and “Damn right it was.”
“I have been entrusted to update you on the, ah, ‘situation’. First, Dr. Iskren Dragomirov Dinev, recently deceased, has been examined by the best medical practitioners in the country. He was obviously a foreign national and state guest, and we do not wish this to be a cause of suspicion or mistrust, especially during this auspicious Festival season.” He asserted.
We listened with rapt attention.
“I am authorized to tell you that it does not appear that the late Dr. Dinev expired of any untoward circumstances; or ‘foul play’, I believe is the western term. It has been ascertained that he expired due to wholly natural causes; namely massive myocardial infarction. Given his age, apparent health, and, ah, mass, this does seem a most reasonable explanation. This has been verified by no less than three DPRK medical professionals; one of which is the Emeritus teaching professor of Cardiology at Pyongyang Medical University. Again, you have our deepest condolences on the loss of your comrade.” He continued.
“I do remember Iskren complaining of gas pains the other night at the bar,” Joon agreed. “Thought nothing of it, given the change in all our diets.”
Colonel Hwangbo studied Joon like an entomologist examining a particularly fascinating new species of beetle.
“Which has been fine! Just rather rich compared to our usual food!” Joon hastily added.
Satisfied that Joon wasn’t making light of the ‘fine’ North Korean cuisine, Colonel Hwangbo continued, “As such, the Bulgarian Embassy here in Pyongyang has been contacted and apprised of the situation. They have taken over the case, as well as recovered the mortal remains and possessions of Dr. Dinev; all of which were conserved and authenticated by his Bulgarian national counterparts.”
“Ah, that’s good”, I said, “I’m pleased that there actually is a Bulgarian embassy here.”
“Ah. So.”, Col. Hwangbo continued, “Yes. They have already taken possession of Dr. Dinev’s mortal remains and possessions as I had noted, and will handle their repatriation to his country and family. As you can see, we have acted in the best of faith and with the utmost respect for your lately departed. Again, our condolences.”
There were some “Harrumphs”, and “Yeah, rights”, from the crowd, but since I was the team leader, it fell to me to handle this situation from here on out.
“Yes, indeed”, I replied, “We see that and do so deeply appreciate your efficiency and your keeping open the lines of communication. We have absolutely no room to complain. You, your team, your country, and your services have acted to the highest degree of professionalism and decorum. Let me extend, for the team, our heartiest appreciations in this most unfortunate matter.”
That seemed to please the Korean security forces. So much so they didn’t see the rolling eyes and smirks of grudging compliance from the crowd. I gave the evil-eye to several who were twittering quietly at my delivery of a load of over-the-top twaddle in the name of international goodwill.
“Thank you, Doctor…? Doctor…?”, he asked.
“Doctor Rocknocker.” I replied, “It’s spelled just as it sounds,”, I chuckled a knowing chuckle.
Colonel Hwangbo cracked a small smile for the first time since we met.
“As long as our orders of business are concluded, “ I inquired, “Might we offer you and your men a drink or sandwich or…”
“Cigar?” he suddenly brightened.
I smiled the sly, smirking smile of one of those used to the old duplicitous game of international diplomacy.
“Why”, I replied smilingly, “Of course.”
Col Hwangbo gratefully accepted a brace of fine Oscuro cigars. Probably more tobacco he’s seen in one place at one time since the last he rousted a snozzeled Western journalist or hammered European tourist with an overage of custom’s tobacco allowances.
His team eschewed cigars, but gladly accepted a pack each of pastel-colored Sobranie cocktail cigarettes.
It still slays me to see these battle-hardened, armed-to-the-teeth, unsmiling servants of the great state of Best Korea mincing about the courtyard smoking avocado, baby-blue, and peach-colored pastel cigarettes.
The Colonel and his team left after a couple of quick smokes, sandwiches, and surreptitious beers. I even enticed the Colonel into a couple of convivial vodka toasts when his team was otherwise occupied.
“Well, gang”, I said, closing the door, “Looks like that situation has been handled, most appropriately at that. We’ll miss ol’ Iskren, but at least he went fast and hopefully painlessly.”
I knew that last one was but a load of old dingo’s kidneys as I’ve had run-ins with cardiac disorders in the past and they are anything but
painless. In any case, that was, as I noted, in the past. What was done is done. It was as it was. It is as it is.
“So, gentlemen”, I say, “Let us get back to work. Reality calls. Now, we’ve given you landlubbers the lowdown on our seismic pleasure cruise. Now we’d like to hear what you who had stayed onshore have come up with.”
Erlan, Graco, and Viv fill us in on the regional geology of Best Korea and lay out a plan to examine the sedimentary piles closest to the few paved roads in the north and east of the country.
We’ll be traveling by bus, as my request for four or five off-road vehicles was denied due to timing and lack of availability.
Yeah. Right. What a massive pile of bovine biogenic colluvium. A country with a military as huge as Best Korea’s and they can’t spare a few jeeps or Hummer reproductions?
Truth be told, they still don’t trust us and don’t want to let us out of their sight.
However, we did manage to snag some internal publications from the Central Geological Survey of Mineral Resources, which we figured as a major coup. Never before were Westerners allowed to even know of the existence of these materials, much less be able to research (read: slyly copy) them.
That ‘personal shaver’ I carried was actually a sneaky personal copier, a Vupoint ST470 Magic Wand Portable Scanner with all the external stickers peeled off, and any serial numbers abraded away.
Hey, they photograph us from every angle on the sly, listen in on our conversations, record our phone calls…hell, turnabout isn’t just fair play, it’s almost expected.
It’d be rude to refuse to play along.
Anyways, we learned that The Korean Peninsula (KP) occupies a junction area of three large tectonic domains that are the Paleo-Central Asian Orogenic Belt, Paleo-Tethyan Orogenic Belt, and the Western Pacific Orogenic Belt.
- The Archean Rangrim massif is divided into the Rangrim and Kwanmo submassifs, high-grade region and greenstone belt, respectively.
- Early Paleoproterozoic rocks underwent metamorphism up to granulite facies, which may be correlated to the Jiao-Liao-Ji mobile belt in the North China Craton (NCC).
- Proterozoic rift sequences in North Korea are similar to those in the NCC with rare late Paleoproterozoic strata and more Neoproterozoic strata.
- Mesozoic igneous rocks are extensively distributed in the KP.
- The main Paleozoic basin, the Phyongnam basin in NK, have a similar Paleozoic tectono-stratigraphy to the NCC.
Of most interest is item #5. The Phyongnam basin is the only sedimentary and depositional basin of mention in the north of the Korean peninsula; and therefore the center of our attention as it pertains to oil and gas.
The potential source rocks, and possible reservoirs, include the Paleozoic Late Ordovician Miru Series was identified as the Koksan Series and subsequently renamed. The 170-meter thick limestone and siltstone centered around the P'yongnam Basin have extensive crinoid, coral, and gastropod fossils. Paleogeography researchers have suggested that corals formed in the Miru Sea-a branch of the South Yangtze Sea. At the base of the Taedong Synthem is the P'yong'an Supergroup, which lies disconformably atop older Paleozoic rocks.
In the Pyongyang Coalfield it is divided into the 650-meter sandstone, shale, and conglomerate of the Nogam Formation, the 500-meter Kobangsan Formation, 350-meter coal-bearing Sadong Formation and 250-meter chert-bearing Hongjom Formation, all typically assigned to an Upper Permian shallow marine environment.
In the Mesozoic, north of Pyongyang, Precambrian basement rocks are unconformably overlain by a Jurassic limestone conglomerate ascending to layers of siltstone and mudstone. The Upper Jurassic Shinuiju Formation northwest of Shinuiju has sandstone, conglomerate, and mudstone up to two kilometers thick.
Offshore drilling in the West Korea Bay Basin indicates these rocks are the onshore extension of offshore units. It is subdivided into fluvial rocks and Upper Jurassic black shale, limestone, conglomerate and sandstone formed in a lake environment.
There are very few Cenozoic sediments are known in North Korea, likely as a result of erosion due to uplift of the peninsula. Submarine normal faults along the eastern coastline may have driven crustal tilting. The 350-meter thick Bongsan Coalfield in Hwanghae Province on the west coast preserves and coal-bearing layers dating to the Eocene.
Further to the north, in the West Korea Bay Basin Eocene and Oligocene sedimentary rocks up to three kilometers thick unconformably overlie Mesozoic rocks, formed in lakes and coal swamps during the Paleogene.
What this meant is that we’d need to travel mostly northeast and/or southwest. This was fortuitous as the paved roads in the country were created in structural valleys formed by the primary fault trends in the country. The main trans-tensional set trended NE:SW and the conjugate set trends approximately 900
to the main set at NW:SE.
The topography was heavily dissected by drainages and the terrain consists mostly of hills and mountains separated by deep, narrow valleys. The coastal plains are wide in the west and discontinuous in the east.
The plan was to take the bus north to Sunchon, then hang a right off towards Unsan and Yongha. There were outcrops between the last two towns and they appear to be upper Paleozoic to Lower Mesozoic clastics. Ideal oil and gas hunting grounds.
From there, we’d head north-northeast towards Yangwon. There appeared to be some fair to excellent outcrops of rocks that are as of yet, unidentified as to age. From there, we’d continue to follow the outcrop belts either to their termination at the basin’s edges or at international borders with China or Russia.
But, once we hit the field, time goes into relative warp. Put a bunch of geologists out on some relatively virgin outcrops and just stand back as they spend hour after hour after hour first looking for evidence of the formation’s provenance, it’s age and field relations. Then begin the heartfelt, stalwart, and sometimes vicious, arguments between all concerned about each and every one of those salient points.
We were all looking forward to it and wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s our intellectual and scientific equivalent of meat and potatoes.
We all agreed on a way forward and generated a document to deliver to those in charge of our logistics on this trip. There would be a total of 11 Western geoscientists, four guides, perhaps a couple of national geologists or geophysicists, and whatever cadre the shiny suit squad wanted to include.
There would also be a driver, his relief, and a couple of extra translators. Good thing it was a large bus, as it’s going to be a huge crew.
We needed to allow our handlers a full day to arrange room and board for us while in the field, as we had to be bivouacked somewhere outside our fine hotel. It needed to be secure, pass sanctuary muster, and be ‘controllable’, referring to both Western scientists and nosy locals.
One thing we found odd was the lack of concern for long-term logistics, not to mention the end of our self-ordained indentured servitude. When this trip and all the Western geoscientists were contacted, we were all assured of an opportunity to meet with the Supreme Leader, Kim Jong-Un once our trip was completed.
We were to personally deliver one hell of an international photo-op. A ‘hey look how progressive we are’ meeting and our findings in this wonderful and progressive country.
But lately, with what we thought was the fallout of the Festival washing out all the usual propaganda, we’ve heard nothing about Herr Comrade Leader Supremo, K1J1-Un. Nor had we heard one iota about our intended final meeting with him before we left for China.
Since there are “absolutely no” COVID-19 cases in Best Korea, it seemed, well, odd that Beijing was our only possible current exit port of call, and onward to our individual homes.
There were all flavors of rumors flying all throughout the basement bars and casinos of the hotel. One claimed that Kim was now receiving treatment at a villa in the Mount Myohyang resort north of the capital Pyongyang after cardiovascular surgery. That he was near death and that his sister, Kim Yo Jong, is already warming up in the North Korean political bullpen if her brother kacks it.
Others said Kim is believed to be staying at an unspecified location outside of Pyongyang, with some close confidants. It was said that Kim appeared to be normally engaged with state affairs and there has not been any unusual movement or emergency reaction from North Korea's governing party, military, or cabinet.
There was also one other that tries to cover up any conspiracy rumors by shouting over a raspy bullhorn: "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!”, “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!"; but most ignored that little crank.
We all thought that rather odd, but of fairly low concern. In the final analysis, it would have little impact on our studies and their outcome. In other words, it wouldn’t affect our pay one way or the other. We all felt like we’ve given more than what was called for on missions such as this.
And we still haven’t a clue as to when this will all come to an end.
However, we all agreed to the consultation, it would have been fun to meet with him and have our pictures taken with the Supreme Leader. Dr. Academician Ivan Ivanovich Khimik. was especially cheesed that he might miss the opportunity to make finger-vee bunny ears behind the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces of the DPRK during one of our photo sessions.
We all agree if we do somehow find ourselves in the same room with Ivan and Kim Jong-Un, we’ll form a human shield around the latter. We want to get back home; as we’ve all heard the rumors of the horrors of ‘political realignment’ camps here in Best Korea.
So the meeting breaks up and I’m left with Dax to take the final inventory. Two loads of sandwiches gone, piles of used napkins, ketchup-y table linens, bacon rinds and chicken bones, drippy ends of ice cream cones, prune pits, peach pits, orange peel, gloppy glumps of cold oatmeal, pizza crusts, and withered greens, soggy beans and tangerines, crusts of black burned buttered toast, gristly bits of beefy roasts…
“The hell with this”, I say, I grab the last nearly full bottle of vodka and hand Dax a bottle of Royal Navy dark Rum.
“Tally’s good”, I say, not really giving two tiny shits at this point. “At least, I think it is. Let’s make like horseshit and hit the trail.”
“I’m headed back to our floor and going to zone out in front of some old, looped BBC for the next few hours with a cold drink and hot cigar.” I proclaim.
“Oh, hell”, Dax says, “I agree. It’s been a weird couple of days. Let’s go.”
And so we do.
On the way, I leave the logistics concerns and itinerary for the upcoming field trips with the front desk clerk. I slip her 1000 won as its Festival! and I had a bulgy pocketful of same. She smiled and quietly said there’s be a surprise waiting for me in my room when I got there.
“Rock, you fucking old hound!”, Dax exclaimed as he punched me lightly on the shoulder. “Taking a dip in the hotel secretarial pool?”
“Dax, you surprise me”, I said in my defense, “I have been, and continue to be, happily married for the last 38 years to the most loving, most intelligent, most well-connected, and most accurate snap-shot with a Glock .380 Automatic I know of.”
“Well, me ol’ mucker”, Dax smiles slyly, “If one has been happily married for 38 years, one must have a little something on the side. Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge, ‘eh, Squire?”
“Oh, nothing like that”, I replied, while waiting the obligatory 30 minutes for the fucking elevator to arrive. “I couldn't break my word to Esme, and not because I don’t believe in a God that will send me to Hell without an electric fan or because it's not the right thing to do. I simply don't want to. A man is only as good as his word; and if he loses that, he loses too much. I couldn’t function without people thinking that I’m square and on the level. My business would crumble to dust. As would my marriage.”
“Yeah, there is that”, Dax agrees, “You say something is going to happen and God damn, it fucking happens. That’s what makes you honest and honestly scary.”
I stare intently at the annunciator that tells me the fucking elevator is stuck on 4 again.
“You’re not mob, are you?” Dax harshly whispers, snickeringly.
I turn to face Dax and smile wistfully.
“Я с уважением отказываюсь отвечать, потому что я искренне верю, что мой ответ может обвинить меня
”, I reply quietly.
“What the hell does that mean?” Dax demands.
“I respectfully decline to answer because I honestly believe my answer might tend to incriminate me”, I calmly reply.
“Oh, look. Bloody elevator’s finally here.” I note and stride aboard.
Dax gets caught up in the tsunami of the crowd and is carried bodily inside. It was so remorseless, he almost lost his grip on his bottle of Dark Rum.
Up on ‘our’ floor, I go to key open my room. Dax is just down the hall and looking around to see what special surprise might show up. I was too tired to wait so I just push in, and see all my field clothes fully laundered, pressed, and either folded or hanging.
Someone broke into my room during the day and committed a compound neatness.
“POUND! Pound! POUND!” Hmm, appears to be someone at my door.
“Yes, Dax?” I said.
“You too?” he fumed, “Everything, cleaned to within an inch if its life. They even polished my bloody field boots.”
“Oh, fuck”, I said and ran to find mine re-pristinized.
“FUCK! FUCK! FUCKITYFUCKFUCK!” I swore. They had polished my field boots and removed the fine years-of-work-to-acquire near-subsurface of the leather’s oil layer. They polished the water-proofing and conditioning out of the leather of our boots.
“OK. OK.”, I said, “Minor emergency. Cool out. I have the solution.”
I toss Dax a small can. It was brown, oily, and claimed to be “Neatsfoot oil”. It was the SPF- 500 of field leathers.
“Go ahead and oil them up with that”, I told Dax, “I’ve got another can, so don’t worry. Use what you need, don’t be shy, but if there’s any left, let me know. I’ll combine ours and offer it to anyone else in the team who had their boots steam-cleaned.”
So, a bit later, I’m sitting on my hotel room’s floor, on several sheets of newspaper, rubbing Neatsfoot Oil into my ancient, multinational size 16 EEE Vasque™ Tracker field boots.
Then there’s a knock at the door.
“It’s open. Enter carefully”, I say aloud.
It’s a bell clerk with a room service cart. On the cart are a bucket of ice, a bowl of sliced limes, I think, several gimlet glasses, some Best Korean ‘Air Koryo’ carbonated citrus drink, and a fresh bottle of “Kaesong” vodka.
“Compliments of the front desk”, the bellman says.
I stand up, tip him a few thousand won, and set a new record in mixology; a fresh brace of drinks in less than 7.3 seconds.
I offer the bellman the lighter one and he accepts with a wide smile.
I say “건배” (geonbae) literally means 'empty glass', which is similar to the expression 'bottom's up'. For you see, my Korean’s coming along a treat.
We clink glasses and send those drinks to the places that they’ll do the best.
The bellman smiles offloads the cart onto the table in my room, shakes my hand, and departs.
I finish my boots, my drink, and my cigar. After another drink or seven, I crater early. Dax was right; it had been a long, weird day.
The next day, Festival! is still going strong, but still no word on the whereabouts of El Líder Supremo
. I find that odd, only slightly interesting, and since it will impact the day’s events zero, I file it away for maybe later use.
I go to the hotel pool around 0530 and there’s no one there. I’m able to get in a good 100 laps, unburdened with either small talk or by yammering kids blocking my lanes. I go early as I don’t wear gloves in the water, obviously. Statistically, there is less chance there will be others, adults and kids included, that would get freaked out by my gnarly left hand. I really don’t feel like recounting the old Russian Rig Accident story again.
After a brisk shower and double shower-scotch back in my room, I dress casually and wander down to the casino and bar level. It’s essentially breakfast time, but with the revelers not giving two hoots to AM vs. PM, it’s surprisingly busy. I find a perch up on Mahogany Ridge and order a classical breakfast cocktail of one liter of beer and 100 milliliters of chilled vodka.
I see Mr. Ho is manning the bar. I ask him to ring the massage parlor down the hall and see if Ms. Nang Bo-Hee is free sometime this morning.
He does and reports that she has an open hour and a half at 0900. Would I like it or any portion of that time?
“I’ll take the lot”, I said. “Tell them I’ll be there spot on 0900.”
“That’s great.”, Mr. Ho says, hanging up the phone, “Doctor Rock, they tell me that with the Festival discount and you taking the full 90 minutes, they can cut you a very special deal.”
“I’ll bet”, I replied, “Like what?”
“Oh, I cannot say for they did not tell me”, he smiled, “They will tell you when you arrive.”
“Marvelous”, I exhaled tiredly. “Another, Mr. Ho; make it a double, if you would please.”
The massage center here is run by a group not employed directly by the hotel. It’s a separate entity altogether. They run specials and have different discount programs that are not only not controlled nor advertised by the hotel, but they’re also not in any way beholden to the hotel, except for rent, I suppose and run it like their own little fiefdom.
Ms. Nang, my preferred masseuse, is a little, tiny Korean lassie about 5 feet tall and probably all of 90 pounds soaking wet. However, she is amazingly well trained and could probably put me in the hospital for a lengthy visit with her wiles and methods of flesh, bone, and muscle manipulation.
She offers a whole suite of different massage genres: Swedish, hot stone, aromatherapy, deep tissue, sport, trigger point, reflexology, shiatsu, Thai, and Rolfing.
Oh, fuck. I know Rolfing. I tried that nonsense back in grad school with an old east Indian lady that could have linebackered for the Minnesota Vikings. That shit fucking hurt
. Today, it’d incapacitate me permanently. That’s a definite no-go.
I decide that it’s going to be the Hot Stone-treatment today. A geological-manipulation inquiry.
At 0900 I’m the only client at the massage ‘store’. It’s early, day two of the festival, and people are either sleeping off the previous night’s festivities or too wobbly to even think of partaking in a massage.
I’ve had several major back surgeries over the years, including one bilateral laminectomy about seven years ago that removed 7.5 kilos
of overgrown bone and muscle from my lumbar region, so I’ve been very cautious about soliciting a massage. The masseuse has to know that area is strictly verboten
and will do everything to avoid annoying that particular piece of bodily real-estate.
I’ve walked or limped out of massages before where the practitioner said they understood my reticence, but went ahead and kneaded and provoked that land of keloids and deep-body scar tissue.
However, based on past experience, Ms. Nang knows full well my reluctance as well as my desires. That’s the reason I’m returning. She’s very, very good; a consummate professional and has a never-ending series of jokes and observations while she’s pummeling you into submission.
Today, we retire to a private cubicle and she hands me a small robe or napkin, not sure which, of Korean manufacture.
She tells me to get au natural
and to wear the robe while she prepares the tools of her trade.
OK, I’m not a small person; not by a long shot. This robe, however, is made for a sprite, not even for a small person.
She returns to our massage cubicle as I’m sitting there, at the end of the massage table, sipping my drink clad only in my dapper red-and-white checkered boxers.
“You need to be unclothed, Doctor. Use the robe. OK, sir Rock?” she says.
“Ms. Nang,”, I said, shaking my head, “It’s one or the other.” I show her how laughable the robe is as I can’t even get it over my upper arm. It’s not even as a tea towel when it comes to covering my expansive acres of exposed epidermis.
“I can close door.”, she says, “I’m used to it. I am professional. Does not bother me if it does not bother you.”
I lost all forms of bashfulness, timidity, or prudery long, long ago. After years and years of Russian banya
, Swedish massage, Turkish baths, and surgery; well, if it don’t bother you, it don’t bother me.
“OK”, I say, using the robe as a small two-dimensional breechcloth. She tells me to ‘hop’ up on the massage table and lie down, facing the floor.
After chuckling about the fact that I haven’t hopped for decades, I wander over to the nicely padded and extremely clean massage table and lie down. She rearranges the ‘robe’ to cover my backside and tells me to relax. She’ll be right back with the stones.
I’ve never tried this type of massage before, but as a geologist, I must; if for nothing else, progress in the name of science.
Ms. Nang returns with a large parcel consisting of many sizes of steamed stones. They were river-washed and tumbled basalt from the looks of them, all wrapped in a large fuzzy towel.
Now she finds the large towels…
She selects them one by one and places them in ‘special, strategic’ spots on my exposed back. From the lower 2/3rds of the nape of the neck, down the spine, over the fundus mountains, and down the back of each leg.
It’s a warm, almost hot in some places, but not an uncomfortable feeling. She returns to adjust them, grind them in a bit in places, and flip them to extract all that igneous lithological thermal goodness.
I have to admit, at that point, it was feeling quite delightful. Relaxed; I had my drink and was being kneaded My dorsal musculature was being de-lithified by the application of hot rocks and expert point massage.
All was going quite well as Ms. Nang was building a huge tip in her ‘job well done’ bank.
Then the rocks had all attained room temperature. She excused herself to reload with another minor outcrop’s-worth and told me to flip over for round two of the process.
“In for a dime, in for a dollar”, I said, as I flipped over and use the robe as a laughable forward-facing breechcloth.
Ms. Nang mentioned that she was always fascinated by Westerners and their surplus of bodily fuzz. With my long, shoulder-length silver hair, full Grizzly Adams beard that drooped down to my sternum, and torso that picked up where my beard left off; she was quite unprepared to see the beached silver-gray panda that awaited upon her return.
“Dr. Rock!’, she exclaimed, “You are as a bear! So much hair. And silver color!”
“Yeah, sorry”, I replied, “Just the hand genetics dealt me. I guess it’s an adaptation for ethanol-fueled organisms that never feel cold.”
“I will soon return.” She titters excitedly and almost runs out of the room.
“Hmmm. I wonder what that’s all about?” I muse as I lie largely undraped in the massage cubicle.
Suddenly, the door bursts open and every female massage practitioner there herded into the room. They simply had to see the specimen upon which the delightful Ms. Nang was working.
OK, truth be told, I was a bit taken aback. Here I am lying on an elevated, and heavily padded, massage table. I’m ‘wearing’ only a crooked, worried grin and a sheet of a cotton washcloth that measures about 12x12 inches.
They Oohed! and Ahhhed!
I did feel like some form of an alien animal suddenly thrust out into public view. It was a bit disconcerting, but as usual, I just tried to deflect any unease with jokes and idiot remarks. At my age, not much is going to bother me, and this I found all the more laughable than troubling.
Suddenly, I was fielding their barrage of questions:
“You are American? All American men so…hairy?”
“Yes and no”, I replied. I also mentioned I hadn’t undertaken a study in that particular subject.
“Why you so big?” one tiny lass asked, eyes as big as dinner plates.
“Genetics”. I replied. “Just a corn-fed Baja Canadian doofus. We grow ‘em big back home.”
“Can we touch?” one particularly brave little lass asks.
“Touch what?” I asked. Look, I might be over 6 decades old, but there are still some areas reserved for my one and only betrothed.
I did tell Esme of this whole event later that evening during our nightly call. She laughed herself silly.
“Your beard! Oriental men never have such beard. We touch maybe?” she implored.
I was going to say “Go nuts”, but I decided that a simple “Sure” would be more fitting.
So they did. They were enthralled. They had never before, from what I was told, seen such a large silver-gray ZZ Top-style beard, especially here at the hotel. That part was weird enough, but when they started in on working their way south toward the equator, I had to say something to dissuade them.
“Where were you girls 45 years ago?” I laughed.
I don’t think they got the joke. They became somewhat bolder in their austral exploratory activities.
“OK! Time out! Ms. Nang! We have an appointment to keep”, I said as I shooed the rest of the lassies away, “We need to finish what we started.”
By the time that the third syllable of that last sentence came into being, I knew it wasn’t the right thing to say.
They all laughed and tittered as Ms. Nang ushered them out of the room. I could have sworn I heard the door lock behind them.
Ms. Nang reprieved her earlier stone placement therapy, with a couple of strategic detours.
She wasn’t that type of masseuse, and I wasn’t looking for that type of massage. She did, however, knead and pummel me mercilessly.
I’ve been bruised less from barroom brawls.
Finally, she announces that she’s finished. She’ll leave while I shower, as she used essential aromatic oils, and would await me out in the lobby.
After showering, I felt like a large bowl of pummeled Jello. I felt relaxed, and for the first time in weeks, my back was silent. My head was clear as a spring Sunday morn in Reykjavik.
The full 90 minutes, plus sideshow, was 4,500 won.
I paid the owner the required sum and handed Ms. Nang an additional 15,000 for a job well done. And for another anecdote that goes into the hopper.
I left the massage parlor feeling quite fine, thank you. I wandered over to the bar to see if I could augment and prolong this feeling of harmony with the universe. The mental picture even now of all those cooing Korean lassies in the massage room never fails to elicit a laugh and head shake.
A few hours later, I’m back in my room, tidying up my field notes and making certain all my paperwork was heavily encoded and up to date. It was, so I placed a number of expensive overseas calls to catch up with everyone on the outside.
I’m thinking of calling room service to have my mini-bar repaired when my room phone rings.
“Now who would be calling me at this hour?” I wondered.
It was the tour group leader. He informed me that the itinerary had been worked out and we’d be leaving tomorrow for the field at 0600. We were to arrive with all our luggage and be prepared to check out. We would spend at least a week in the field, if not two, depending on our results, and be bivouacking in different places in the interior of the country.
I thanked him for the information and said I’d inform the rest of the team. He told me that wouldn’t be necessary as they would come up to or floor, deliver the notice verbally, or by note if they were out of their rooms. If I wanted to later call each participant and ensure they were apprised of the situation, that would be most appreciated.
I assured him I would do so and that we’d be ready, to a man, at 0600 the next day.
I whip up 10 Post-it™ notes and stick one on each member’s door.
“Leaving for the field. Check out 0530. Wheels up 0600. Bring all luggage. Road trip!” To be continued…
Q: What should I invest in? A:
some discontinued containers/stickers. This thread
lists a lot of interesting plots and on this thread
you can check out which items were available on which timeframes. Case investing:
Buy cases & sticker capsules when they are at 3c/4c. They can't get any cheaper and once they stop dropping they might
rise in price (Be aware of the volume on the market - cases with close to a million currently on the market will take a long time to rise in price.) Popularity of the skins in the cases has an influence. i.e. Vanguard cases are still cheap and will rise in price slowly as the skins aren't as desirable, despite the supply stopping. Huntsman cases are much more desirable and quickly rose in price once they stopped dropping. Sticker Capsules were
great investments as once a sticker was used on a skin, it was gone from the market for good. Gun Skins from cases only leave the market if a user is banned or the skin is used during the Trade-Up Contract. Supply for stickers should always drop (note: as of the 2016-06-15 patch, they are most likely rare drops). Some cases are more rare and therefore cost more, for example operation Bravo cases. If you know what you're doing, it is sometimes profitable to buy cases at prices higher than 3-4c. Sticker Investing:
You could buy stickers when you get a sticker offer then sell on market. Check the prices and be aware of the market tax. You might net a few extra cents pretty quickly but you're really not getting much profit here. Buy up on stickers when the capsules have stopped dropping / they are no longer offered as common
deals - My guess is the capsules themselves would be better investments and I don't think there's really any way to know if a sticker is no longer offered as deals other than their recent trending. Stickers, are very similar to passes, they are most commonly a long term investment. Team stickers have always gone on sale at the end of valve sponsored tournaments. Tournament Sticker Investing:
Buy stickers at a low price (during the sale towards the end of a tournament is best) and sit on them. You can either sell shortly after the tournament for a quick profit, or wait 6 months+ for a possibly larger profit. As more tournaments are being held and more stickers are released, it is difficult for most stickers to distinguish themselves among the huge mass of other stickers. Only hold on to stickers that you think will appreciate. If you're lucky a team will be banned or split or become successful in the future which is likely to drive up the price of their stickers (see ibuypower). The amount of profit from these stickers depends on how nice they look and how popular they are (if they are too popular, they can be a liability because of overabundance). Katowice stickers look great, Dreamhack not so much, 2014 cologne even less so. This comment
and this comment
might clarify some Tournament Sticker questions. Skin Investing:
Trickier than the other two and more risk involved. I wouldn't really recommend as it's unlikely to be more profitable unless you really know what you're doing. If a skin goes contraband, for whatever reason, the price will shoot up. Buy early when this happens and you should see profit if you wait. Don't expect it to really happen again. Valve will likely not let any copyright infringing skins through after the Howl. Skins from a case that has stopped dropping or from a collection from an operation that has stopped will rise. How much so will depend on their desirability. This will be a slow process. (example: M4A1-S Guardian). Valve, with the Vanguard Operation, reintroduced some rare skins into the game, such as skins from the Cobblestone collection, Overpass collection, Cache collection and Dust collection which drastically reduced the value of the majority of skins involved. Gun Skins from cases only leave the market if a user is banned or the skin is used during the Trade-Up Contract. Knife Investing:
More or less don't. Knives are fickle things to trend. Maybe you find a knife with a nice pattern going cheap due to an oblivious seller. But it won't be easy to get rid of. As with the skins knives from cases that are no longer dropping should rise in price, knives from current cases (i.e. Falchion) will drop in price until the case stops dropping. Operation Pass Investing:
These are the things that you redeem in order to get access to an operation. After the operation, all it does is give you access to the coin (which some players like to collect). All passes so far have gone on sale at the end of their operation. You can buy passes then sell after the operation has finished. If you want to do this, buy during the sale and wait 4-6 months. You should see profit, but I personally wouldn't bother. Vanguard sold well as it didn't reach as low a discount as people were expecting and wasn't on sale long, so not many were bought. Furthermore, Valve stopped selling the Vanguard Pass before the operation ended, which caused players who wanted to complete the missions to buy it from the market. Souvenir Case Investing:
Research the different cases and their skins. Cases like the Cobblestone case is the most desirable due to the Dragon Lore. During the tournament the supply will be at it's height so buy early and wait. Profit will continue to climb but might be a slow process depending on the case you have and the volume that were dropped. Gift Package Investing:
In the Winter months Valve sells gift packages for $1. If you open a Gift Package on a server, it will award a random player a random regular skin drop. In any given 2 hour period, those five players that open the most Gift Packages are displayed on a leader-board in the beginning of every game of every Valve NA CSGO server. This has been exploited for advertising. In 2013, people didn't anticipate that the Gift Packages are limited to the Winter months and in the following year, CSGO exploded in popularity. This multiplied the price of CSGO Gift Packages until they were sold again in 2014. In 2014, many people expected the same thing to happen, so the supply of Gift Packages increased. CSGO exploded again, but this time the price of gift packages increased much more because gambling sites started to boom and they competed for advertising. It is possible that in 2015, many people and gambling sites will buy many more gift packages than previously, and that the relative growth of CSGO will decrease. Valve announced that they will pull the advertising feature of the gift packages during early 2016. Tournament pin investing:
Coming soon CSGO game key investing:
Q: What items have been (in some cases, virtually) discontinued? A:
Here's what you can only get from the marketplace/trading and absolutely nowhere else: GUNS
M4A4 Howl (removed due to copyright violation) Dual Berettas Retribution (removed due to artist ban) P90 Desert Warfare (removed due to artist ban) CZ75-Auto Poison Dart (removed due to artist ban) StatTrak MAC-10 Curse (removed due to artist ban
and cannot be traded up to
) StatTrak USP-S Orion (removed due to artist ban
and cannot be traded up to
) The Consumer Grade skins of the Assault, Alpha, and Office collections cannot be traded up to and these collections did not return after their initial drop phase. STICKERS
Note all of these are probably now rare offers in the in-game store:
Sticker Howling Dawn (removed due to copyright violation) Sticker King on the Field (removed due to artist ban) Sticker Winged Defuser (removed due to artist ban) Sticker Harp of War (Holo) (removed due to artist ban) Sticker Windy Walking Club (probably no longer for sale) Sticker War Penguin (probably no longer for sale) Sticker Terrorized (probably no longer for sale) Sticker Stay Frosty (probably no longer for sale) Sticker Fight like a Girl (probably no longer for sale) Sticker CT in Banana (probably no longer for sale) Sticker Chicken Strike (probably no longer for sale) Sticker Bossy Burger (probably no longer for sale) Sticker Blitzkrieg (probably no longer for sale) Sticker Witch (probably no longer for sale) Sticker T on Cat (probably no longer for sale) Sticker Stay Frosty (probably no longer for sale) Sticker Till Death Do Us Part (probably no longer for sale) Sticker Terrorized (probably no longer for sale) Sticker Pigeon Master (probably no longer for sale) Sticker Blitzkrieg (probably no longer for sale) Sticker Windy Walking Club (probably no longer for sale) Sticker War Penguin (probably no longer for sale) Sticker Shooting Star Return (probably no longer for sale) Sticker Nelu the Bear (probably no longer for sale) Sticker Flashbang (probably no longer for sale) Sticker Fight like a Girl (probably no longer for sale) Sticker CT in Banana (probably no longer for sale) Sticker Chicken Strike (probably no longer for sale) Sticker Cat Call (probably no longer for sale) Sticker Bossy Burger (probably no longer for sale) Sticker Trick Or Threat (probably no longer for sale) Sticker Zombie Lover (probably no longer for sale) Sticker Witch (probably no longer for sale) Sticker Trick Or Treat (probably no longer for sale) Sticker Bomb Squad (Foil) (probably no longer for sale) Sticker Work For Ammo (probably no longer for sale) Sticker Warowl (probably no longer for sale) Sticker T-Rekt (probably no longer for sale) Sticker SAS Chicken (probably no longer for sale) Sticker Piece Of Cake (probably no longer for sale) Sticker Pandamonium (probably no longer for sale) Sticker My Little Friend (probably no longer for sale) Sticker Massive Pear (probably no longer for sale) Sticker Ho Ho Ho (probably no longer for sale) Sticker Blood Boiler (probably no longer for sale) Sticker Headless Chicken (probably no longer for sale) Sticker Hostage Rescue (probably no longer for sale) Sticker Wanna Fight (probably no longer for sale) Sticker Witchcraft (probably no longer for sale) Sticker Robo (probably no longer for sale) Sticker Lucky Cat (Foil) (probably no longer for sale) Sticker Baaa-ckstabber! (probably no longer for sale) Sticker CS On The Mind (probably no longer for sale) Sticker Doru The Fox (probably no longer for sale)
Sticker Queen Of Pain (probably no longer for sale) Sticker Eco Rush (probably no longer for sale) Sticker Just Trolling (probably no longer for sale) Sticker Flickshot (probably no longer for sale) Sticker One Shot One Kill (probably no longer for sale) Sticker Chi Bomb (probably no longer for sale) Sticker Dinked (probably no longer for sale) Sticker Awp Country (probably no longer for sale) Sticker Ninja Defuse (probably no longer for sale) Sticker Delicious Tears (probably no longer for sale) Sticker Knife Club (probably no longer for sale) Sticker Doomed (probably no longer for sale) Sticker Don't Worry, I'm Pro (probably no longer for sale) Sticker Pros Don't Fake (? probably no longer for sale) Sticker Firestarter (Holo) (probably no longer for sale) Sticker Phoenix (Foil) (? probably no longer for sale) CONTAINERS
2013/2014/2015/2016 Souvenir Cases (ceased dropping) Sticker Capsule 1 and 2 (ceased dropping, (note: as of the 2016-06-15 patch, they are most likely rare drops)) Community Sticker Capsule 1 (ceased dropping (note: as of the 2016-06-15 patch, they are most likely rare drops)) 2014/2015/2016 Tournament Sticker Capsules (no longer for sale) Gift Package, Pallet, and Parcel (only available during Christmas) OTHER
All Operation Passes (no longer for sale) Music Kit Midnight Riders (no longer for sale, probably only available during Christmas) Weapon Case 1 (confirmed rare drop) Weapon Case 2 (confirmed rare drop) Weapon Case 3 (confirmed rare drop) eSports 2013 Case (confirmed rare drop) eSports 2013 Winter Case (confirmed rare drop) eSports 2014 Summer Case Operation Bravo Case (confirmed rare drop) Winter Offensive Case (confirmed rare drop) Vanguard Case (confirmed rare drop) Huntsman Case (confirmed rare drop) Chroma Case (confirmed rare drop) Phoenix Case Breakout Case Revolver Case Falchion Case Shadow Case Wildfire Case Chroma 2 Case Chroma 3 Case Operation Hydra Case (probably a mistake by Valve) u/steamfrag
has posted the drop timeframes for these.
, created a timeline visualization here
, and overlayed price history visualizations here
The following collections are discontinued when no operation is going on: Cache, Overpass, Cobblestone, Chop Shop, Rising Sun, Gods and Monsters. Consumer tier skins in those collections cannot be traded up to.
The following collections don't drop right now but could reappear in a future operation: Baggage, Mirage, Nuke, Militia, Inferno, Vertigo, Aztec, Dust, and, potentially, Assault, Office, and Alpha.
Q: What currently drops ingame and what are the case opening probabilities? A:
All mainstream cases outside of the cases listed in the "other" section above drop. u/qsulphurous
: The currently dropping weapon collections during non operation times are: Dust 2, Train, Bank, Italy, Safehouse, Lake. Mirage used to be in the drop Pool but was replaced by Bank when the Huntsman case was released. Here are the case opening probabilities
Q: What are some ways I can make a profit on the market, other than investing (long-term)? A:
Note that a lot of these are automated already with bots (which can hurt your profitability) and that some are more scalable than others (e.g., through multiple accounts). Weekly Operation fluctuations
) - With the new "1 drop per week" for the operation we're seeing big fluctuations in some skins on the market . As the drop resets everyone levels up then most sell their skins more or less immediately. This massive influx drives the prices down. As the supply of skins slows throughout the week the price climbs back up, usually peaking just before the drop resets. If you play this right you can make a bit of profit by buying and selling on the market at the correct times for the correct prices. This can be a gamble as there's not really much certainty on the price. My advice here: research the skins and their trends. Skins that can be used in tradeups to highly desirable skins are the best, but it's hard to judge what will happen and what the price peak will be. If you do this, make sure you're happy with any profit and don't get too greedy. (example: Skins that tradeup to M4A1-S Icarus Fell) Random fluctuations - Keep an eye on mid price skins that there isn't a huge volume of (see Deagle Blaze) and if you manage to pick one up at a low price and sell at a peak price then you can net a few bucks profit. Do your research and hope you get lucky. Wide daily seasonality
: Some items peak every day at around noon and tank after midnight (EST). If the difference tends to offset the Steam tax (15%), it can be taken advantage of. Usually, this requires a large volume to be reasonably profitable. If you engage in this technique, keep in mind that there is a scalability limit for the profitability. Expansion and contraction
: After a popular game/operation/case/tournament/Steam-sale/market-bug is introduced, players try to dump their items on the market to buy whatever is hot. At the same time, buyers tend to also go for what's hot. Old investment supplies increase, and demand lessens. It is usually wise to do the opposite of the general market behavior and buy on these market crashes. When you want to sell something, it's usually best to wait until the market has fully recovered. Further, during some crashes, it might be better to wait until the end to buy-in as many investors try to buy in early. Trade up items by starting from undervalued items
- Start with an inexpensive item (snipe undervalued items from Opskins or CSGOlongue) and make a lot of profitable trades. This usually requires a lot of work. Also, most questions in this arena are better suited for globaloffensivetrade
(and if you're trading game gifts /gametrade
). Trade up contract arbitrage
- Determine if a certain weapon can be traded up to profitably (consider Steam tax). If so, buy the lower level skins, and sell the traded-up to skin on the market until it becomes unprofitable. This is probably already being done by bots. Note that the float value of the traded-up-to weapon is a function of the average float value of the traded-up-from skins. Tournament sticker capsule opening arbitrage
: During a period of time of the Cologne 2015 sale, it was actually profitable to buy capsules from the market, open them, and then resell them on the market (in the average case). Smart/educated betting
- Bet on teams where the betting odds are inefficient. Most questions in this arena are better suited for csgobetting
. Wide bid/ask spreads
- Take advantage if the daily bid/ask spread is larger than the Valve tax. Buy commodities that are being demanded at a much lower price than they are being listed at, then sell them back. Don't do this en masse before an expected downturn. Snipe undervalued items from the markets
- In the Steam Community Market, this doesn't work well for the more expensive/rare items as the bots close to the Valve data-center (working serially and randomly) are likely to be faster. For OPSkins you can sort the items according to price and find undervalued items. Some sites compare the prices across sites, which allows arbitrage. There's also an extension that shows how discounted different items on OPskins are. Nonethewiserer
: For CSGOlongue you can create quick buy order (on auto-bump) and offer fewer keys than an item is worth, and the order can go through on market crashes (quicksell listings). Salvaging the junk yard of gambling sites
): Cases can be acquired from CSGOskins for 1 cent as they are trying to liquidate them quickly. Decent skins are overvalued on gambling sites and can be used to cash in. Watch a tournament and hope for souvenir drops
: During tournaments, link up your twitch account to your Steam account and keep the twitch stream running in order to potentially get a Souvenir case. Grinding operation missions or weekly drops
: It is often the case that paying for the operation pass early is profitable if you get the mission drops and sell them on the market. When a new case is released it can be worthwhile to accumulate in-game time in order to get the new highly-priced case. Sticker flipping
: Sometimes it is profitable to buy stickers from the store and then flip them for a profit (after the 15% Steam tax) on the community market. Hunting for sub-variations of items
: Some items on various markets have specific sub-patterns/properties that are more valuable than the usual ones (ex., 5-7 Case Hardened blue pattern, Black Pearl pattern of Doppler knives, KennyS Cobblestone Packages, skins with the Howl sticker) and they are sometimes undervalued (especially during market downturns). Item gambling
: If done kosher, a -EV proposition because of the rake. Over many trials, a guaranteed loss due to the law of large numbers. That being said, some people have developed shady schemes where it can become profitable (e.g., via market manipulation
). However, these schemes are risky
. Currency arbitrage
: If a particular conversion is highly skewed and Valve's adjustment is slow, it can become profitable for a certain country to buy items in the store or Community Market and resell them off the community market to another country. You can use a VPN and Paypal to pretend you live in another country, although it's pretty risky. Sell high and hope for a market bug/manipulation
: List items for a higher price than their market value and hope that a Steam bug will occur where sellers temporarily won't be able to create new listings, while buyers can still buy the items (or hope that someone engages in market manipulation of your item). Create high buy orders to items priced out of SCM
: Some items (e.g., Kato 14 Holos and Dragon Lores) have a market value greater than can be listed in the SCM. Some uninformed owners will still list these items on sale on the SCM (way below market value) every few months, and their sell order gets matched with the highest buy order. Therefore, a profitable strategy is to create the highest buy orders on these items. Check this FAQ for how you can create these buy orders. Note that you actually need to have the money in your Steam wallet, and that it needs to stay there for a while (you can make buy orders for 10x the amount in your wallet). Having a large Steam wallet is already associated with hidden costs (inflation, illiquidity, Valve's fickle nature etc.); determine for yourself whether you deem these costs worth it. You also need a way to check if your buy order is the highest every now and then.
Q: What are some good sites and tools for market information, outside this subreddit? A: http://www.steamanalyst.com/
- Moving averages http://steamcompanion.com/
- Historical supply numbers http://csgostash.com/
- All items categorized and visualized https://steamcommunity.com/market/
- The official Steam Community Market http://wiki.teamliquid.net/counterstrike/Main_Page
- Historical info like operation dates http://126.96.36.199/charts/items/
- Aggregate level stats per item http://csgobackpack.net/-
Value of inventories http://steam.tools/itemvalue/
- Value of inventories http://csgo.exchange/
- Value of inventories, item prices, quantities of items http://www.goaggro.com/
- Price info http://steamcharts.com/app/730
- CSGO Player Base Stats http://beta.csgro.com/
- Track items http://www.hltv.org/
- CSGO news https://www.csgozone.net/
- Quantities of items http://blog.counter-strike.net/
- Official CSGO blog csgro.com - Market statistics, trade tools, inventory tracking (not yet available) Software: Steam Market Watchlist
- Track investments http://counterstrike.wikia.com/wiki/Container#Weapon_Cases
- Retired collections Steam Inventory Calculator
- Track investments over multiple accounts (takes work to setup) Software: Steam inventory Helper
- Automated selling of a lot of items in bulk Software: Better Buy Orders
- See all the buy orders of an item in the Steam Community Market Steaminvestor (and Excel Formulas, see comments)
- Track investments Automatic Account Creation - use software at own risk
[Steam Desktop Authenticator for mass confirm listings - use software at own risk](www.google.com
Q: How many items can I hold in my inventory?
Officially, 1000. You can list excess on the market, but after around 200 items listed, the Steam Community Market homepage wont load any longer; the specific item pages, will load, however. I'm not sure after how many items those pages will fail to load. levitating_cucumber
: You can also reach over 6000 items in your inventory by listing items on the market, buying more items, then cancelling the listed items (
2000 is the maximum safe amount). Note that your listing volume+Steam Wallet cannot exceed $500 at any given time. Konstaduck
: If you have 999 items in your inventory, you can also accept a trade with at most 1000 items for a total space of 1999. u/MikeR0tch
: Apparently, the trade trick doesn't work any longer, unless you follow some specific rules
Q: How much does Steam charge in tax/fees when I sell an item on the Steam Community Market? This thread
show the exact formula, while this thread
shows the values for cent values in the range $0.01 to $1.
Q: What is the most efficient way to buy in? A:
Buy items (not necessarily CSGO only) from trustworthy sellers (e.g., Opskins) that you can sell on the Steam Community Market. Spend some time to determine which item gives you the best rate (http://csgo.steamanalyst.com/hotdeals
is one of the tools that can help you with that, there's also an extension out there that displays the discount% on each item loaded). Alternatively, Steam gift cards are sometime on sale. If someone is selling the investments you want off market at discounted rates, that could be an even more attractive option. When you buy from the SCM, it is almost always correct (unless you are dealing with something timing-sensitive) to place a buy order that's lower than the cheapest sell order.
Q: What are some real-money marketplaces for CSGO items? A: Use at your own risk
(use this one at your own risk
Q: What is the most efficient way to cash out? A:
Sell the items directly on Opskins/Bitskins (or a trustworthy competitor with small fees). Depending on the investment items, this can take a while. As an alternative you can exchange your investments into liquid items (popular skins for frequently used weapons, certain knives, case keys, sticker keys, nametags etc. - spend some time to determine which item gives you the best rate) and sell those liquid items on OPskins. The latter method will increase the speed at which you get money but will lose you a larger percentage. Keep in mind that OPskins takes a percentage (5% or 10% depending on your membership - there are coupon codes btw), Paypal takes a percentage (~2%), and that the values on OPskins are lower than in the Steam Community Market. Also, every transaction on the Steam Community Market takes away 15% already. Occasionally the items on OPskins are so cheap compared to SCM that it becomes worth it to sell them on SCM instead, buy keys from the in-game store, and then sell those keys on OPskins. When selling on SCM it almost always is correct to sell with an order that's higher than the highest buy order and higher than the lowest sell order if the lowest sell order is lower than recent trends display.
Q: Why did item X increase/decrease in price? A:
Possible reasons: CS:GO updates/balance changes/game changes/market changes (e.g., Tradeup Contract), new cases/operations (both short-term, due to opening frenzies, and long-term, due to increased supplies of skins), a famous streamer hypes an item, someone tries to manipulate the market, a AAA game is released (short-term loss and long-term losses), a tournament is taking place (CS:GO, DOta 2 etc.), a Steam-sale is going on, a market-bug is ongoing, the ingame drop rate was increased/decreased, legal issues about things related to the CSGO market (e.g., betting) etc.
Q: If I create a new Steam account, what do I have to do in order to transfer items to that account? How long does this take? A:
Create a new account, log in (via the thick client), set up your profile, enable Steam Guard, wait 15 days, and transfer the items to the account from your main (double check that it is your account). If you intend to use the thin client (e.g., via Chrome), make sure that you log in from there as well because Steam will impose a 7 day trade restriction on your account when you attempt to create a new transaction from a new device (a device meaning a new browser). Also, if you do not have mobile authentication enabled on the alt account, there will be a 3 day delay for trades. You can use the same phone number & email address for many Steam accounts. Also, Gmail forwards emails addressed to your account even if dots (.) are added in between the username characters of your email address.
Q: If I create a new Steam account, what do I have to do in order to use the Community Market in that account? How long does this take? A:
Same steps as above, but you need to purchase a game that costs at least $5 or deposit $5 into your Steam wallet (and wait a month) before being able to use the Community Market. Keep in mind that using a new payment method will trigger a weeklong community market ban on your account.
Q: After buying an item from the Steam Community Market, how long do I have to wait until I can sell/trade it? A:
They are sellable immediately on the Market. You need to wait a week until you can trade them to another account.
Q: How are buy orders prioritized once someone sells an item with a price in the buy range? A: See answer here
: Price -> currency -> datetime of order. Apparently, there is some controversy over this. There's the hypothesis out there that this ruleset only applies to weapon listings and that sticker listings work as follows: Price (order qualifier) -> some combination of currency and datetime of order (quantifier)
Q: How do I add over $400 to my Steam Wallet? A:
Buy keys and games with your wallet funds and then create refunds on all those purchases. Redeem Steam Wallet codes. Perhaps you have to use the Steam API to create buy orders with these large amounts of Steam money (u/ursoos
). It's needless to be said that this is quite risky.
Q: How do I mass sell items without having to list and confirm them one-by-one? A:
Steam Inventory Helper and Steam Desktop Authenticator (here's how to avoid a 7 day trade ban while transfering the authenticator
Q: Approx. what fraction of bought containers are actually opened? A:
For all listings, approx. 35%. ~ Two thirds (with a large variance) for sell order prices higher than current buy order prices
, while the follow-up indicates 60% of high sell orders
. For sell listings that are fulfilled immediately: unknown, but probably much lower. If we assume that they are 0, and that the number of either type of fulfilled sale is equal, we get 33%. This study predicts 20-25%
Q: Help! I listed to many items and my Steam market page won't load any longer. How can I access the listed items? A:
Try to give it some time to load. If that doesn't work, this
. As a last resort, you can wait six (or 12?) months until the listings are automatically cancelled or contact Steam support.
: FAQ 1.0 hotshowerscene
: Item categories 1.0 Steamfrag
: Discontinued items 1.0
2016-05-24 Added changelog, referenced a thread with interesting stats in the first section 2016-05-24 How many items can I hold in my inventory? Linked the quick trade trick. 2016-06-15 Added FAQ element on SCM market page not loading. 2016-06-16 Changed references saying that Sticker Capsules do not drop. Added reference to Javascipt source which is potentially able to remove listings in case pages do not load. 2016-06-22 Added http://188.8.131.52/charts/items/
to websites 2016-06-24 Added more information to How do I add over $400 to my Steam Wallet? 2016-06-28 Added revolver case to rare drops 2016-07-03 Added more info to "Why did item X increase/decrease in price?" 2016-07-04 Minor formatting 2016-07-05 More info added to the question about listing and confirming items to sell on SCM 2016-07-07 Grammar 2016-07-17 Added the Q&A on Steam tax 2016-07-21 Added more clarification to Why did item X increase/decrease in price?, added Falchion to rare drops, added all kinds of references to OPskins-SCM arbitrage opportunities, and an extension that shows discount% on OPskins items 2016-07-22 Added Q&A regarding what currently drops. 2016-08-27 Qualified the tl:dr in the first question, added Shadow Case to rare drops, added tips for SCM buyin/cashouts at the respective questions. 2016-09-06 Added http://beta.csgro.com/
to links 2016-09-18 Create high buy orders to items priced out of SCM, added more realistic warning at the bottom of thread 2016-10-04 More clarifications to Create high buy orders to items priced out of SCM 2016-10-25 Added indications that retired in-game sticker offers returned as rare offers 2016-10-25 Added Wildfire case as rare drop 2016-12-06 Added more software links 2016-12-10 Case opening probabilities 2017-01-14 Added link to steamfrags item availability chart 2017-03-16 Added Chroma 2 to rare drops 2017-09-23 Added Chroma 3 to rare drops 2017-09-23 Added Operation Hydra Case to discontinued drops
Please notify me of potential corrections and suggestions. Any of the information in this thread may be outdated at any given time; invest at your own risk. You should be psychologically prepared to lose everything invested in CSGO items. Valve is very fickle with regard to rules and regulations that could affect the SCM, the CSGO game, general Steam item management, and anything related.
I contemplated posting this on a throwaway account because I'm fairly certain it will just be downvoted a ton and then buried, but then I thought that perhaps if I present my take on this with enough respect than you guys would return the favor by not annihilating my sweet internet points and burying this post in the dirt. submitted by
I want to make it clear that Reddit is not a collective mind and that everybody has a different opinion on everything, and that everything has more than one side to it. However, I have still noticed large trends of late, and that is what I will be referring to. Feel free to post your opinion down below after reading and I will try to respond. This post is an opinion piece in itself, if I'[m putting my opinion out here expecting it to be respected then I have no reason to no respect yours.
Whenever I see a thread involving Valve or Steam, I almost immediately see the same comment along the lines of "I know everybody on this site sucks Valve and Gaben's dick, but I really think Valve doesn't care about us at its core. They just want our money like any company." I agree that Valve has changed a lot over the years, and doesn't have the same exact "the customer is our highest priority" appeal they once had to many people. However, despite all the people who claim that Reddit worships Valve, a claim I can certainly understand, I also see more and more people by the day absolutely shitting all over Valve for various reasons. Things have gotten very negative around here. In threads relating to GOG, I seem to find people less people saying "I think Steam is great, and this is a great alternative. Steam is a good platform and has some great features that GOG was inspired by, while GOG offers some other benefits and is getting better all the time", and more people saying "GOG reveals how anti-consumer Steam is with it's DRM policies. I hope GOG will replace Steam in the near future." And now with the recent events concerning CSGO betting, I see so many people pointing their fingers directly at Valve - blaming them for not monitoring every site which happens to use their Steam connect button almost any site is able to incorporate.
Now, if you made it through that last paragraph and onto this one, you may think to yourself: "well this guy is obviously a Valve fanboy. He dislikes the praise GOG gets and thinks Valve is free of blame in all areas. He thinks Valve has never done anything wrong". And if you did think that to yourself, you just might have just discredited me completely and you may have even participated in a different kind of circlejerk than the one you think I'm a part of, a counter-jerk if you may. I have listened to the opinions of many people on this site who argue positions that are more against Valve than for Valve, and I would say many of these opinions are rational and completely understandable. I agree that GOG is a great alternative to Steam, and I think CD Projekt is a wonderful pro-consumer company who should continue to better their already promising services. I agree that Valve has horrible customer service. But those two issues aren't the inspiration behind me writing this. The real issue right now is whether or not Valve is a shady company in regards to CSGO betting websites. And I hope, if you're willing to read on, that you will consider my take as I have considered many other people's arguments on this site against Valve.
At the moment, the majority of Reddit's gaming community following the current matters would say that Valve is shady and a major part of the problem by allowing CSGO betting websites to operate. People are saying that CSGO's crates alone are shady and already promote gambling. And although I completely understand these arguments, I have to say I disagree. Now, I don't think Valve is completely pure and all-innocent, but I think Valve hasn't really done much wrong regarding this issue. Why, you ask? Well, let's put things into perspective. Valve introduced weapon skins and crates as a way for them to make money, yes, but while also providing cosmetic items for players to enjoy and involving the Workshop community in a system that allowed users to create assets to be included in the game. Most people complaining about the skins and crates are complaining about their implications, not about the skins themselves being a part of the game. So one could infer that the skins - and crates by extension - do provide something of value to the playerbase and aren't inherently bad. However, some people argue that the crates themselves promote gambling.
H3H3Productions - whom I am big fan of and who has done a service in bringing light to the gambling situation in the first place - made the point that a crate unboxing is similar to a slot machine in appearance and function . And while this is fairly accurate in a way, the CSGO crates are always guaranteed to contain an item of monetary value. These crates, and even skins, are even occasionally given for free to players by playing the game. You could argue that buying the crates and then unboxing something of less value than the cost of the unboxing is gambling by itself, but this isn't really true since the crates are often dropped for free and don't require you to put something on the line with the chance of gaining nothing. Not to mention, Valve has to make some sort of profit off the the system they included, and this is how they do it. The crates' resemblance to a slot machine is likely just an aesthetic choice to make the experience more exciting by eliciting the thrill of a "chance to win" scenario without actually being real gamble. Many other games, such as Overwatch, incorporate very similar systems where players can buy crates with random items in them but they can't resell those items. Although somebody could buy a ton of crates and lose money overall after the unboxings, they are still left with the items they got and can sell them for whatever they want even if they won't sell (crates and keys are also bought only from other players - not directly from Valve). There is also no pressure from the game itself to buy crates - they are often dropped for free as mentioned and only yield cosmetics. They do not affect the gameplay and any way. The game never implies that the user should expect to make a profit off of the marketplace in any way, and the game itself is not at all marketed towards minors. There are also credit card security measures in place on the marketplace to prevent over spending, and the trading and selling of items are heavily locked-down actions that require mobile authentication to complete without experiencing a multiple-day-long waiting period. So I would argue that no, the crates themselves do not promote gambling. The marketplace is primary intended as a way of selling unwanted items that were dropped or buying new ones directly and there is no real reason to think that there is some sort of ulterior motive behind it all.
Still, people argue that Steam uses the market as a tool to purposefully encourage gambling, or that the market alone lures people into the act. Well, in order to gamble you need a direct method of putting everything on the line to then either increase your payout or lose it all - something Valve does not provide by itself. So the selling of skins isn't inherently bad unless Valve is purposefully sanctioning gambling sites - something I will get to in a bit. However, since Valve does not allow the means of gambling by itself, this system is not inherently flawed. Players can buy skins directly, or sell the skins they receive as they are guaranteed an item in every crate. The market has a useful purpose, and its inclusion into the game comes with pro-consumer benefits. But is a direct method of gambling even required? As mentioned above, some people accuse Valve of purposefully sanctioning gambling sites to fuel their profits. Now, you think Valve wouldn't need to do this with the revenue they already make from the crate system that always guarantees something on the player's end, but people still seem to think Valve uses gambling sites as a tool. People point to the fact that you can sign into these sites with Steam directly and complete transactions with these sites through Steam. However, to say that Valve purposefully keeps these sites "whitelisted" is something I can't totally agree with. Many sites use the Steam account login button. Many. Not just gambling or transaction-related sites. And I'm fairly certain that even when transactions are made through the link, you still need to run the deal through the Steam Authentication process and approve it yourself. My argument here is that Valve does not block these gambling sites because it's simply, excuse the pun, not their business.
The items that people are gambling with belong to the user. Valve has no reason to block people from doing stupid shit on shady sites because those items are the user's. Those users do what they want wherever they want because the items are theirs. Now, people argue that the market still hooks people into gambling, and that Valve needs to block gambling sites because children are accessing them and these sites can harbor scrams. I disagree again. As stated above, CSGO is not aimed at children at all. There is an age limit on the game. If children are lying about their age, buying CSGO items from the marketplace and then gambling them away then yes, that is quite unfortunate. But it is not something Valve facilitated at any step of the way. Valve has never tried to lure kids into performing these activities, the only people who have lured anyone are the shady websites at the other end who promise profits through gambling. But that's not Valve's business either. Why? Because when you go link your account with any website that uses the Steam login button, you agree to link the account yourself. You sign in yourself. I'm fairly certain you even have to use two-step verification to do so if my memory serves correct. Why the fuck should Valve give a shit that you're doing so? It's the same argument with gun manufacturers making guns that end up in the hands of killers. Are the manufacturers at fault, or the malicious buyers? Or, is it perhaps the that people selling them are being extremely stupid and should know better? Valve simply allows you to make the decision to link a site to your Steam account. Valve does not have to give a shit about what happens to you when you make that decision. You should know the risks. And in the case of children, that is why you monitor what activities your kid partakes in online and keep your credit card out of their reach unless supervised.
Yes, kids can find a way to gamble like this and that is bad, but as long as guns exist they will end up in the wrong hands somehow. Political parallels aside, the blame is not all on Valve here. The blame really belongs to the pieces of shit who do bad things outside of Valve's jurisdiction. Even if Valve did away with CSGO skins completely, sites would pop up all over for gambling Steam trading cards for Christ's sake. Valve offering the capabilities for you to link your Steam account to a website does not mean they have to police the internet in search of sites that can take advantage of people who should know better or shouldn't be interested in gambling at all with some decent parenting in place. And even then, Valve does exactly that in some cases. There are warnings when connecting your Steam to several malicious sites. Valve employees even put that warning on CSGO Lotto, but the warning was removed because Valve would rather verify first that CSGO Lotto is actually scamming/partaking in illegal activities (something that we on Reddit can be fairly certain of yet hasn't legally been confirmed yet - these are recent allegations after all).
Now, the one thing I will agree on is that if Valve truly wanted to, they could take more action and block these shady sites, but there are TONS of such sites, and in blocking these sites Valve would be taking freedom away from the user even if it really meant their protection. They are not entitled to do so, but they still do for really bad sites. I really think that all of this finger-pointing at Valve is rooted in rational complaints, but things are quickly brewing into an anti-Valve counter-circlejerk in the Reddit gaming community. And that upsets me. Because, while Valve has made many missteps over the years, I personally think the real reason they appear not to care is because they still don't realize how much influence they have. I personally feel that because one of Valve's core principles has always been to not limit the freedom of the user, it starts to appear that they are instead just not giving a shit about policing some things as heavily as they could, and instead take precautions to prevent happenings that need less preventing and more direct attention. I feel this affects Greenlight's quality control, I feel it affects Steam's DRM policy since they rather prevent shady action from the root by tying games to Steam, and I feel it affects Steam's customer support since they worry more about account security than dealing with what happens when the security isn't enough. These are all areas that Valve needs to improve in, but people can praise what they've done and pressure them to improve in other areas without just blindly shitting on them for being "anti-consumer" or "shady" or "really in it solely for the money". Because, yes, Valve is it it for the money. People love to point out all the time now that because Valve is a business, they need money to grow. But Valve has always prioritized it's users in the past and I have no reason to think that all along they didn't give a shit. People love to say that "Reddit sucks Gaben's dick, he could really care less when it comes down to things", but I think Gabe Newell of all people knows best that the greatest way to make money is to treat the consumer right. he's said this many times in many different contexts. I know Valve has gotten so big that it's hard to keep every aspect of itself flawless, I'm not trying to deny Valve or Steam has flaws. But let's stop being so negative for just a second and consider how much they've done for the community already, and ask ourselves if it makes sense that they suddenly no longer give a shit about the consumer just because the consumer has made them as big as they are now.
I'm not a "Valve fanboy". I know there are plenty of areas Valve needs to improve on. But there is no reason to be so negative and to point fingers at them so hastily whenever something pops up. Trust me, if Valve ever suddenly stops giving a shit about the consumer then the gaming community will already be in a pretty fucked spot. Please don't disregard what I'm saying here. I am perfectly willing to respect your opinion if you respect mine. I've always considered this community to be a friendly one overall. And I'm sorry if you tried to read all of this, fell asleep, and were late to work.
[Edit] Okay, fine. Tl;Dr. Sorry.
-Read the first two paragraphs of the initial post.
-(Optional) Read the next two.
-Valve is not directly responsible for the gambling sites. The user makes the choice to link their Steam account to them, and that alone requires confirmation. Valve puts warnings on some really bad sites, but Valve should not have to police every site. It's like people say on here about antivirus programs: common sense is the best defense. Gambling is never a good thing. You shouldn't go to gambling sites in the first place, and children should be monitored enough to know that gambling is a no-no. I also used a parallel to gun control, for some reason.
-Cases alone do not promote gambling. The slot machine design is aesthetic. Gambling involves putting something on the line and either profiting or losing it all. Cases do no such thing. They always yield an item and Valve does not market the cases as allowing you to make a profit nor do they market anything to children.
-The market is not designed to encourage gambling. It's purpose is to allow users to sells unwanted drops (skins and crates drop for free occasionally just by playing) or to directly buy desired items. Gambling sites are a perversion of the market system, not an extension of it.
-I am a fan of H3H3 and glad he made the video. I also acknowledge much of the complaining about Valve is rooted in rational complaints. I acknowledge that plenty of people still love Valve.
-I acknowledge plenty of times that Valve is not totally innocent, and the whole post explores many complaints people have about Valve and how much Valve is at fault for those complaints and why.
-I make the point that I will respect your takes on this if you respect mine.
-Before sharing your opinion below, consider reading the full post. I make many more points.
-I may have to update this Tl;Dr with important points I missed. I'm including it now because people are making note that the entire post is kind of like the big wave in Interstellar (fucking huge).
-(Optional) Read the last two paragraphs of the initial post, or at least the last one.
[Old] Tl;DR: There isn't one. I'm sorry. If I summarize my argument it makes it way easier for people to discredit it in a mere second. If you're not willing to read my take on things, please don't rate and just move on.
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