Master Legend: Orlando’s Real-Life Superhero

Downtown Orlando on a Saturday night is always a good time. People drink and laugh, get rowdy, ask for cigarettes. It’s blocks of bars, but it’s also blocks of homeless people sleeping afoot. There’s a man who patrols this district. You may have heard of him. Many downtown residents know him well, especially the homeless ones. His name is Master Legend, and he’s Orlando’s real-life superhero—secret identity and all.

If there’s one thing you need to know about real-life superheroes, it’s that they’re people with a bone to pick. They’re the ones who don a mask (or not), coin themselves a super name, and hit the streets of their respective cities to make a better place.

“For a long time people laughed at me,” said Master Legend “but now they know who I am and what I’m doing. Now they respect me.”

At 48 years old, Master Legend is hard to miss in his black combat helmet and half-face mask. He wears modified soccer and motocross gear as make-do armor and has spray painted the pieces silver. He has protection on his arms, legs, and torso. His outfit is complete with a grey cape and grey and black tights. He’s often armed with something like a green reusable Publix grocery bag full of granola bars.

As seen in the HBO documentary Superheroes, these super-civilians are sprouting up all over the country. Real-life superheroes come in a variety of forms, each with their own motives. While some confront criminals head on, others hit the streets with bags of toiletries and food for the homeless. Some do a bit of both. Legend, one of the first, has done it all.

He claims to have been in countless fist fights, to have shut down numerous criminal actions (drug dealers, purse snatchers, bully thugs), to have been beaten bloody by the enemy—only to return for more the next night. He claims to have helped many people.

“I’ve always been a target. Back in my younger days I had asthma and was small, an easy target,” Legend said. “But the bullies didn’t realize the badly abused family I came from. I was already used to dealing with pain and suffering, so I put up a good fight.”

Like many superheroes, Legend spawned from a dark past. His superhero backstory includes parents who were involved with the KKK and neglected and abused him, often by whipping his back bloody from shoulders to heels and forcing him to fist fight. This all went down in New Orleans many years before Orlando.

“Battling those bullies paid off in the long run, because then I walked the streets pretty much unafraid,” said Legend. “And when you can do that, one of the secrets is, the people that stay on the streets will have respect for you. I’m not out to rat on people. Word’s around and they know I’m out to help. That’s my main objective.”

As a middle-school boy with admiration for superheroes, Master Legend dedicated himself to “fighting off the evil in the world.” He began to mask his identity from enemy bullies. But his fighting powers don’t only come from shear will and suit and armor. Legend is the only real-life superhero who claims to have actual superpowers. And he claims to have received such “metaphysical powers” from two deathly experiences.

The first experience was a fight for his life at birth. He was born with a veil (a thin membrane over the face) and nearly suffocated before he could take his first breath. “I had a chosen destiny,” he said.  He’s been fighting ever since.

The second event occurred when he was 13 and adamantly searching for the strength to combat his father, so he went to the grave of Marie Laveau, a renowned ninetieth century Voodoo practicer in New Orleans

“I made a wish on her grave for superpowers. To fight my evil daddy mainly is what it was, and that I wanted superpowers.”

He marked a hex on her grave (drawing an X ) and tried to lift a car to determine if the Voodoo witch had given him super strength. But nothing had changed. Not until he found himself inside a nearby mausoleum and the iron-door entrance slammed shut. “I got trapped inside—the door shut but there was no wind.” In pitch black darkness Master Legend declared aloud, “If there’s a time for power, it is now, Marie Laveau!” And he kicked the iron door off its iron hinges.

With his new strength he fought and defeated his father. By the time he was 16, his father drank himself to death and his mother emancipated him. His life on the streets began and over the years he experienced firsthand the victimizing of the homeless. He made the move from New Orleans to Orlando about 20 years ago and is not satisfied with the conditions here either, especially when it comes to homeless veterans.

“I’m always trying to bring awareness to homeless vets,” he said. “There shouldn’t be any excuses for homeless disabled veterans, people missing legs and arms.”

One Saturday night, Master Legend took me on patrol, bag of granola bars in hand. It was maybe 30 seconds before he came across a homeless man on a stoop using his jacket as a blanket. As Legend approached, instincts glared in the man’s eyes—he wasn’t sure what this masked stranger was up to. Not until Legend handed him several granola bars. Then he seemed to almost cry.

We made a circuit covering everywhere between Amway and Lake Eola. People hungry, people dirty, people partying. Many times it became difficult to move down the street because many people wanted pictures. “A lot of this is about awareness,” Legend said. “People know what I’m doing is good. But they won’t come out here and do it themselves.”

Master Legend explained, “just having something in their bellies helps the homeless sleep through the night,” which is true. But it isn’t just food comforting them. On nights when Master Legend is out, the homeless are eased into their street-side slumbers by the super-compassion of a man who really is a hero.

Bitcoin: What is Bitcoin?

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“Bitcoin is the first implementation of a concept called ‘crypto-currency,’ which was first described in 1998 […], suggesting the idea of a new form of money that uses cryptography to control its creation and transactions, rather than a central authority” (bitcoin.org).

Bitcoin (BTC). You’ve probably heard the word in the air by now, or maybe not. You might of heard that bitcoin, or the concept behind it, is the currency of the future. Or you might of heard it’s all a big scam—just another avenue for a con to rip you off.

It’s smart to be cautious as the globe makes the shift from the current currencies to a single, digital system—one currency to rule them all. And everyone’s concerns are the same: the thievish intentions of hackers who have already left their mark. Hundreds of millions of dollars have already disappeared from online servers. One of the most substantial heist crashed one of the most affluent bitcoin companies yet to arise: Mt. Gox, a Bitcoin exchange based in Tokyo, Japan that handed 70% of all Bitcoin transactions in 2013.  “[Mt. Gox’s] shutdown is rumored to be caused by a ‘hack’ or ‘security breach’ that resulted in a loss up to 744,000 BTC or $409,200,000” (Forbes). This is one of many cases.

Mt Gox’s fall severely affected the bitcoin market as it held nearly twenty-three precent of the total market share, so the coin value plummeted from roughly a $1,000 per bitcoin to around $400-$500. Such an incident scares people away from this new and unfamiliar technology. But, consider this: every coin ever stolen has never been the result of a malfunction or flaw in the bitcoin system; rather, human error and neglected security is to blame. All the digital money ever stolen was not stored and secured in the recommended way.

So, there’s information on how to secure your funds, but first you must understand how the currency is created and exchanged.

The minting process is known as mining. It involves the use of raw computer power to solve increasingly difficult mathematical problems. (Fun Fact: mining uses more computing power than any other network on the internet—even porn!) Truth be told, this is technical stuff, and bitcoin.org explains it best here.

How do crypto-currencies operate differently than the current monetary system? For starters, there’s no need for banks or any other institute to mediate transactions, hold funds, or charge fees. The current banking system relies on employees to ensure the integrity of every transaction. But the human-money combo is obviously flawed—humans aren’t perfect. It has long been a goal to construct a system that operates at a fixed rate, one that is out of human hands—a peer-to-peer, mathematical, encrypted system that can’t hide anything from anyone.

In 2008, Satoshi Nakamoto (a person or group, no one is certain) created just that. He introduced a public model with a mathematical algorithm at its heart. I’m not going to get in to the details on how this scheme functions, but here’s the paper Nakamoto released. Just know this: there is no cheating math and physics, wo fundamental components of the algorithm. Satoshi Nakamoto will be in the history books.

Another key difference between traditional and crypto currencies and is the finite restriction on currency creation. If you know anything about the U.S. monetary system, you know that money is created out of debt. This perplexing process includes the approval of congress and the actions of the Federal Reserve. In this instance, money is created by simply signing documents, gaining no value from scarce resources (gold, oil, etc.). But bitcoins does. The algorithm in bitcoin ensures a finite amount of bitcoins to ever be created, so the more people who use it, the more value the limited resource gains.

Also, each bitcoin can be broken down into the millionth place. Most bitcoin transfers today are done at the thousandth place (mBTC), about eighty-eighty cents per mBTC. Different units will be used depending on the value of a single BTC. Today, one μBTC (hundredth millionth) is worth far less than a penny.

There’s a lot to learn. And this isn’t the place to learn it all. But there are many enthusiastic people who love to help and be active in the bitcoin community, so check out twitter, google, youtube and all the links in this post. And keep in mind: you can get involved in digital currencies very easily with as little as a dollar. I converted $200 myself, and at anytime I can convert it right back. Four years ago, a bitcoin went less than a dollar. As of 14 May 2014, the exchange is $438.85 per bitcoin.

Here’s tips on keeping your funds secure:

Unlike those who stored their money on an online server and lost everything like Mt Gox, I store my money in the recommended, secure fashion: on my own, personal hard drive. I can store it on my phone, or on my computer, or on all my devices at once. Although bitcoin is digital, in this occasion it works like cash because it exist on a physical hard drive. Losing your hard drive is like losing your wallet—don’t leave it at the diner. But if you do, unlike cash, this wallet has two PINs, and you can access another copy of your wallet and transfer the money out. It’s safer and will one day be as convenient as cash.

There are also security measures in place that force transfers through “check points” called nodes. This is one of more recent improvements in the system and ensures no bitcoin is spent twice. Anyone with a computer can act as a node to better the security of the entire community. There’s no personal gain for participating as of now.

Once you own bitcoin, transferring money online or in person is easier than ever. Since bitcoin is decentralized, transactions are sent through nodes where they are verified multiple times by multiple individuals. This process can take a minute or an hour, depending on how many verifications you want. The more money transferred, the more verifications recommended. If you buy a hotdog on the street for just a couple mBTCs, one or two verifications is secure enough; concordantly, if you’re spending hundreds of bitcoin, six or seven verifications should be used as no attackers/hackers on the planet will have enough computing power to intercept or redirect your funds. Even if the verifications takes an hour, the purchases are completed on the spot; you can buy a hotdog or a car and be on your way—the system does the rest.

The community is growing and more business and individuals are adapting. But that doesn’t mean bitcoin is going to be “the one.” Right now there are multitudes of crypto-currencies out there because anyone with enough computer power can start one. Some vary in preference, but all are essentially running Nakamoto algorithm. Bitcoin was the first and has always been the biggest, but no matter what currency trumps the rest, implementing a global, decentralized, crypto-currency is the future economy—and the earlier adapters are bound to gain the most value.

I highly suggest Joe Rogan’s Podcasts with Andreas Antonopoulos. Their twitters are linked and both love to communicate useful and interesting information. And Joe Rogan is crazy and funny as f***.

Where to buy bitcoins? There are many places, I used Coin Base.

I haven’t settled on a single wallet yet, but I use Hive’s for now. It’s very user friendly.

The attached QR code is my bitcoin address (like an account number). With this QR code, you can send me bitcoins for this helpful article!

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The Coolest New Toy: The DJI Phantom II

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I wasn’t too put off when my roommate showed me a picture of the remote control aircraft he was preparing to spend a thousand dollars on. My initial thought was: but why? Remote control flight has been a thing of UAV pilots and hobbyist, so is this any different? As it turns out it is different, and after you fly one, you can’t help but notice how it’s going to alter the world. The DJI Phantom II is one of the first consumer remote controlled aircrafts, or drones, intended to fly safely in the hands of any first-time pilot. Learning how to pilot is gradual and easy because the Phantom can fly itself. You heard it right. I don’t care if you’re ten, twenty, thirty, or ninety. You can fly it. If you experience an in-flight emergency, all you have to do is let go of the controls, and while you might half expect the aircraft to fall out of the sky, it never does.  It hovers stationary until you command it to move or the battery drains, and then it lands itself.

Word is getting around quickly about these new toys, but flying is only half the excitement. It films, too. My roommates and I are all students. Our studies vary, but they are ingrained with the same desire to make movies. Attached to the drone, my roommate has the new GoPro Hero3+, which shoots up to 4k, and a brushless electric gimbal. This provides us with the means to produce professional shots that only high-budget studios with helicopters have ever achieved. It’s yet another example of industrial tech advancing for consumer use. The result should be a higher quality of independent films and an abundance of mind-blowing home and internet videos. We had the drone in the air on day one, and we’ve made a couple of videos so far––it was easy. Here’s one. I’m the dude wearing a long-sleeve shirt and blue shorts. My roommates are Zac and Shelby.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/j36jpi9a4vffs7l/Park%20Fun.mov