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Bates Motel Recap, Episode 9: "Underwater"

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There's just one more episode left of the season, and I have a feeling that White Pine Bay is getting ready to show us its worst - though this week is no cakewalk. Except for Emma.

Corpses and Chronic

Zack Shelby’s corpse is being removed from the Bates House. Again.

“The smell is never gonna leave my brain,” Norma mutters, then IDs Jake Abernathy when Romero asks if she knows who might have left her such an unpleasant surprise.

“Why do crazy people keep gravitating towards me?” she asks, followed by an awkward silence. Not even Norman is going to touch that one.

The next morning, Norman and Dylan are hauling the mattress out to the dumpster. Dylan thinks it’s a waste of money—after all, hospitals don’t dump mattresses every time someone dies on one. He’s grousing about how Norma is going to milk this for the next year when Norma reveals that she's right behind them. She smells something, but it’s not the Shelby juice soaking the mattress: The trimmers are smoking pot on the porch.


She stomps self-righteously over to the gang, who look like they could be extras from Dazed and Confused, and demands that they extinguish their wacky tobacky.

“You’re kidding, right?” the stoners are aghast. “You know where you live, right? What the local economy is? No one cares.”

Wrong. Norma cares. “No one prepared me for the colossal frickin’ facedive off a cliff that living in this crazy-ass town really is,” she says. “However, what happens on my property is still under my control, and it does not include people in torn jeans with tie-dyed clothing and dirty hair hanging out on my new furniture smoking a doobie. So take that as the law around here, because there doesn’t seem to be much of one otherwise.”

“OK, just chill,” lead hippie “Ra’uf” tells her. Yes, that’s his name.

“Chill your own ass,” she responds, exactly the way your mom would have said it.

Then she turns her attention to Dylan. She wants to know exactly what these wayward group of souls is doing for employment with his company.

“Processing stuff,” Dylan says, lamely.

“What stuff?"


Norma puts two and two together. “I hate this place. I hate it,” she whines. “We’re moving.”



A hand with black-polished nails is draped over the edge of a claw-foot tub. It’s Bradley, fully submerged in bathwater except her face. She’s wearing what looks to be a prom dress. She opens her eyes just in time to see Norman as he shoves her head under. She struggles and manages to come up for one last breath, but it doesn’t look good—and then Norman wakes up.

While Norman is just coming around, Emma has been up for awhile. She's at the motel bright and early before school to work on organizing files. Seriously? High school kids don’t wake up any earlier than absolutely necessary, do they?

Norma instructs her to trash everything that isn’t strictly related to the business. She also warns Emma that a group of nogoodniks have been smoking pot at the motel, and if she sees it happening, she has instructions to “Go out there and bust it up immediately."

“Bust it up?” Emma kind of chuckles, then realizes that it wasn't a joke. Norma is about to leave Emma to her strange early-hour organizing party when a man bearing a large bouquet of flowers shows up on the porch. She's delighted—until she checks out the attached florist’s card, which reads “See you soon...”

Norma isn't one to mess with ominous ellipsis, so she calls Sheriff Romero and leaves a message. “Tell him that someone sent flowers to me. The card says ‘See you soon.’” The dubious secretary promises to relay the information.

Now, off to those errands—namely, terrorizing her realtor.

“The motel business sucks, Matt,” she starts off, then lays into him about not telling her about the motel-obliterating bypass when she bought the property. He claims that nothing about the bypass was set in stone when she purchased.

“It was proposed!” Norma insists.

“Lots of things are proposed,” Matt says condescendingly, which is when Norma threatens to sue. She wants her money back, and she wants him to list the motel immediately. But no sign out front. “I still need to earn a living until it gets sold,” she says.

Back at her worthless motel, Norma is cleaning when she sees a black car—likely Abernathy—cruise by slowly outside. She goes back inside and Googles—excuse me, “Wikifinds”—“the safest cities in America. According to Wikifinders, the top cities include Brick Township, New Jersey; Kapolei, Hawaii; and Mission Viejo, California. (That’s not what Forbes magazine says.) 

The door opens and shuts. It’s just Norman, but she tells him to lock and bolt the front door.

“Welcome to my world, Juno,” he mutters to the stuffed pet under his arm.

Norma spots the strange new addition to the family and stops talking mid-sentence.

“How do you like her, mom?” Norman asks. To her credit, Norma tries her best to be supportive.

“Well, let’s see. Yeah! Yeah, look at that.”

“I had a really good day at school,” he reports, as though he’s a first grader. He tells her about the 4.0. “I really like this school, mom,” he says, subtly trying to convince her that he doesn’t want to move. Norma knows what he’s doing, though, and stops him in his tracks.

“It’s you getting the grades,” she says. “Not the school.”

Norman takes Juno into his room and pulls up the Interwebs to check out his drowning dream on “Dream Daemon.” As Dylan passes Norman’s doorway, he also spies Juno. She’s quite the conversation piece!

“What the hell is that?” Dylan wants to know. “That’s just weird, dude.” Then his eye falls on the computer and he sees what Norman is researching.

“It says here that drowning in a dream can mean you’re feeling overwhelmed in your life. That makes sense," Norman tells his brother.

“Yeah,” Dylan says, dismissively. “Just curious. Who were you drowning in the dream?”

After Norman confesses that he was dreaming about holding Bradley underwater, Dylan looks concerned. “You wouldn’t actually want to hurt anybody though, would you?”

“Of course I wouldn’t want to. I’ve never wanted to hurt anyone. Except you once in awhile.”

They both chuckle. It’s briefly cute, but it’s obvious that Dylan’s not totally buying that statement.

Take Your Daughter to Work Day

Downtown, Bradley spots Dylan and walks over to ask if Dylan can get her into her dad’s office to collect his things. He agrees, because why wouldn’t risk your own neck for a girl that you barely know? They give each other googly eyes.

“Well, I gotta go play high school now...” she smiles. More googly eyes.


Later, over at the weed warehouse, Dylan runs into Gil and takes the opportunity to feel him out about Mr. Martin's office.

“I haven’t promoted you fast enough? You want an office now, too?” Gil tries to sound jokey, but he’s anything but. “I’m not feeling too friendly toward Jerry Martin. His little shenanigans cost me over $100 grand in that warehouse fire. He’s lucky I didn’t get his family to cover my losses,” he sneers. “You want his office? Take it.”

Dylan and Bradley organize a restaurant rendezvous to discuss how they're going to get into the warehouse. Based on Gil’s vitriolic reaction to the mere mention of Jerry Martin, Dylan wants to load up her dad's personal belongings by himself, then deliver them to her. Bradley agrees, but she seems disappointed.

“I just really want to see my dad’s office again. The way he set it up. The way he left everything,” she tells him. Her mom is so freaked out by his violent death that she got rid of all of his things, so Bradley has nothing left of her dad. She was hoping that by visiting his office, she would feel like she was with him again.

The speech moves Dylan, and he agrees.

“You sure?” Bradley asks.

“No. But I’m gonna do it anyways.”

Man on Fire

At school, Miss Watson is effusing over an incredible short story Norman wrote about a man who’s literally burning up on the inside. She wants to help him get it published, promising to help him edit it if he stops by after school. Also, she’s been reviewing his quarter grades, and they’re straight A’s. “I think this school’s gonna be good for you,” she smiles.

When Norman does come by the next day, Miss Watson starts waxing poetic about how he understands things beyond his years, “things about how hard life can be, about how we’re not really meant to be happy.” It’s a little odd—I feel like maybe we'll hear more about her personal life in the seasons to come. She snaps out of her lament and tells Norman to check with his mom to make sure she’s okay with it being published, since he’s still a minor.

Let it Slide

The hippies are singing the Goo Goo Dolls’ “Slide” on the motel porch. I’m suddenly transported back to my junior year of high school and a mixtape I made for an ex-boyfriend. I have a feeling that Carlton Cuse and crew are focusing on different lyrics than I was, though. “We’re gonna let it slide,” lead hippie sings, and that’s exactly what Officer Romero is about to do.

He walks up to the motel, presumably to follow up on the Flowers of Doom, and the trimmers freeze. When Romero asks where they’re working, the guitar player says they’re out at Gil’s dry dock.“You want some veggies?” he asks the sheriff. Norma is peering out between the blinds, hoping that Romero is going to bust them. He is not.

“No, I’m good. Thanks.” He almost cracks a smile, then heads inside to chat with Norma. It's not good news: he has no leads, because Jake Abernathy doesn’t exist. All of the information he gave when he registered was completely fake. Romero asks to dust room number nine for fingerprints, but Norma’s already cleaned it, and now there are a bunch of stoners in there.

“God knows what they tracked in with them," she moans.

“It’s sort funny how you went into the service industry,” Romero says, wryly. “You’re don’t seem very keen on serving anybody.”

“I’m as keen as I need to be,” she responds, and asks what he intends to do about Abernathy.

The answer? Nothing. He has no leads, no evidence, no license plate, no locations he might be going. To appease her, Romero says he’ll have her house patrolled on the half hour.

“Let me know if anything else happens,” he says, and walks out the door.

After a moment, Norma thinks of a good retort (isn’t that always the way?) and flings the door open to yell after him, “Oh, like what? Like he digs up a couple of more dead people and puts them in my bed?”

“Yeah, like that,” Romero deadpans. “Goodnight, Norma.”

The stoners are baffled.

This is Emma on Drugs. Any Questions?

Earier in the day, Emma caught one of the trimmers smoking weed on the porch. When she goes to "bust it up immediately," he asks if she wants some.

“No, I don’t want some," she says. "Do you want me to blow up?”

“You won’t blow up," he assures her. "I’ve seen smokers with O2 tanks in Vegas. You know, playing the slot machines...” He chivalrously offers Emma some “killer” weed cupcakes instead. She declines and asks him to put the joint out so she won’t get fired. He obliges, then watches her walk into the office, intrigued.

The cupcake magically appears on the reception desk later. There’s a card attached that says “Emma - Hope I didn’t get you in trouble. Gunner.” He's signed it with a peace sign, obviously. After she answers a wrong number phone call from someone looking for “Dave," she decides to give the laced cake a go. And man, does she dig in with gusto.

Upstairs, Norman is at his laptop, presumably working on his story about the man living in a constant state of internal combustion. Norma enters and announces that she’s found them a beautiful little cottage in Oahu.

“I won’t do it,” Norman tells her. “This is just another of your stupid ‘starting over’ ideas and I’ve been through enough of them. I like it here.”

Norma, unfazed, insists that they will be able get jobs in the hotel industry now that they have experience.

“We’ve been open for three days,” he hisses.

“They don’t have to know that,” she shrugs.

“No matter where we go, things will always be the same. Because you do things that don’t make sense. YOU. You’re crazy!” he yells. After a brief pause, he apologizes. “I’m sorry mother. I didn’t mean that.”

Comic relief! Emma appears out of nowhere and reports that there may be video monitoring equipment in the office. She felt like she was being watched, which made her nervous, so she came up to see Norma(n).


“Have you ever thought about how long those stairs are? I just kept climbing, and climbing...” she says in a dreamy tone of voice.

“Oh my God. Are you high?” Norma asks.

Emma is still carrying on about the stairs. “Like it was an escalator. That you climb. One more step just kept coming out of nowhere like I was in space or something...”

She then confirms that she got baked on baked goods.
“I heard it’s fun, but I’m not having any fun yet. When does the fun start?”

To help counter Emma’s bad reaction, Norma tells Norman to get her some toast and juice. Will that really stop a bad high? Norman doesn’t seem overly concerned about Emma’s condition, high or otherwise. What he is concerned about, however, is about apologizing for his little outburst. “Mom. I’m sorry. I don’t think you’re crazy.”

“Get the toast,” Norma snaps.

Inappropriate Relationships x2

Dylan and Bradley have just jumped down from the rafters into Gil’s warehouse when someone starts shooting at them. Lucky for Dylan, it’s just Remo—but he isn’t impressed that Dylan has a stowaway. He’s even less pleased when he realizes who the girl is.


“You got any idea what kind of a position you put me in, bringing her down here?” he asks Dylan. Dylan promises that they’ll be no more than 10 minutes; Remo reluctantly gives them the go-ahead.

Bradley immediately tears up when she sees her dad’s office.

“Everything’s just how he left it,” she says. Dylan asks if she wants a minute.

“No. I like having you here,” she says. She searches desk drawers for a meaningful gold pocketwatch, but finds a stash of love letters instead. I caught a glimpse of the line, “My one and only Master”—was Bradley’s dad in on the sex slave trade, or is he just a bit 50 Shades?

The letters are signed “All my love, B,”—and “B” isn’t Bradley’s mother. Bradley drops the letters and runs out of the warehouse.

Dylan picks up the letters and I think he takes them, then runs out after Bradley.

“People are complicated,” he tells her. “He’s still your dad. He still loved you. I know that he had to love you, because who wouldn’t?” Oh, what a line. She thinks so, too, and they hold each other tight.

At home, Norman’s holding someone too. Norma came in and asked if she could sleep with him, because she’s understandably still freaked out by rotting body in her bed and her weirdo sex slave ringmaster stalker.


Norman agreed and offered to sleep on the floor so she could have his bed, but Norma wouldn’t have it. And that’s why they’re now cuddled up close in his tiny twin-size bed. After reminiscing about the sleepovers they used to have in her room when Norman was just a tot, Norma puts an arm over his chest. She apologizes about her latest moving kick. “It’s alright mother," he assures her. "I’m sorry I said you were crazy. You’re not crazy.”

She kisses him and snuggles into his neck. It’s ... not normal.

Norma's Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day


Back at school, Norman has changed his mind about having his story published. He doesn’t think his mom would approve. There's no point in even asking, he says. “She wouldn’t get it.” A beat later, Miss Watson wants to know how the therapy is going.

“I went once,” Norman shrugs.
Miss Watson sighs, then suggests that perhaps Norman doesn't really need to tell his mother about publishing the story.

“That doesn’t seem right,” he says.

Miss Watson gets weirdly close—personal space, lady—and says that she’s had a lot of troubles in her own life, so she can see when things aren’t fair. “What I’m saying is that, what is the likelihood she’ll ever know?”

Real estate agent’s office. Our pal Matt sees Norma coming and tries his best to avoid her, but it’s too late. She wants an update on the open house, which is when he lays it all out for her.

“There’s not gonna be an open house. I looked into it, and there’s no market for your property, not with the new bypass road going in. I can’t get you your money back.” In fact, he’s not even sure he can get half of her money back. He advises her that it’s probably just best to walk away.

“Are you kidding me? I will sue you!” she yells at him.

“Uhh, you can,” Matt smirks. “But I’m 30,000 in debt, I live with my girlfriend, and my mom owns my car, so...” Norma shows him the business end of her purse, smacking him with the full force of it. Repeatedly.

Then she goes outside and gets in her car, where she has a ticket. Could this day get any worse? Oh yeah, it could: “Jake Abernathy” is in the back seat, and he’s got a gun to her head.


Turns out that he’s been searching for $150,000, the cash Shelby owed him from the last batch of girls. It’s gone missing, and none of their mutual contacts has it. That leaves one person: Norma. He wants her to bring him the money tomorrow night at midnight. (A flair for the dramatic, I think.)

Norma agrees—and maybe she’s just playing along, but she seems genuine. Did she really take the money? Whether she did or didn’t, she’d better show up with the payout, because Abernathy isn't playing.

“I know where you live,” he tells her. “If I have to go to your house, I’ll kill your sons first. And then I’ll kill you. Goodnight.”

I do so prefer that my murderous blackmailing sex traffickers are polite, don’t you?

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
May 21, 2017
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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva

Jacques Mattheij made a small, but awesome, mistake. He went on eBay one evening and bid on a bunch of bulk LEGO brick auctions, then went to sleep. Upon waking, he discovered that he was the high bidder on many, and was now the proud owner of two tons of LEGO bricks. (This is about 4400 pounds.) He wrote, "[L]esson 1: if you win almost all bids you are bidding too high."

Mattheij had noticed that bulk, unsorted bricks sell for something like €10/kilogram, whereas sets are roughly €40/kg and rare parts go for up to €100/kg. Much of the value of the bricks is in their sorting. If he could reduce the entropy of these bins of unsorted bricks, he could make a tidy profit. While many people do this work by hand, the problem is enormous—just the kind of challenge for a computer. Mattheij writes:

There are 38000+ shapes and there are 100+ possible shades of color (you can roughly tell how old someone is by asking them what lego colors they remember from their youth).

In the following months, Mattheij built a proof-of-concept sorting system using, of course, LEGO. He broke the problem down into a series of sub-problems (including "feeding LEGO reliably from a hopper is surprisingly hard," one of those facts of nature that will stymie even the best system design). After tinkering with the prototype at length, he expanded the system to a surprisingly complex system of conveyer belts (powered by a home treadmill), various pieces of cabinetry, and "copious quantities of crazy glue."

Here's a video showing the current system running at low speed:

The key part of the system was running the bricks past a camera paired with a computer running a neural net-based image classifier. That allows the computer (when sufficiently trained on brick images) to recognize bricks and thus categorize them by color, shape, or other parameters. Remember that as bricks pass by, they can be in any orientation, can be dirty, can even be stuck to other pieces. So having a flexible software system is key to recognizing—in a fraction of a second—what a given brick is, in order to sort it out. When a match is found, a jet of compressed air pops the piece off the conveyer belt and into a waiting bin.

After much experimentation, Mattheij rewrote the software (several times in fact) to accomplish a variety of basic tasks. At its core, the system takes images from a webcam and feeds them to a neural network to do the classification. Of course, the neural net needs to be "trained" by showing it lots of images, and telling it what those images represent. Mattheij's breakthrough was allowing the machine to effectively train itself, with guidance: Running pieces through allows the system to take its own photos, make a guess, and build on that guess. As long as Mattheij corrects the incorrect guesses, he ends up with a decent (and self-reinforcing) corpus of training data. As the machine continues running, it can rack up more training, allowing it to recognize a broad variety of pieces on the fly.

Here's another video, focusing on how the pieces move on conveyer belts (running at slow speed so puny humans can follow). You can also see the air jets in action:

In an email interview, Mattheij told Mental Floss that the system currently sorts LEGO bricks into more than 50 categories. It can also be run in a color-sorting mode to bin the parts across 12 color groups. (Thus at present you'd likely do a two-pass sort on the bricks: once for shape, then a separate pass for color.) He continues to refine the system, with a focus on making its recognition abilities faster. At some point down the line, he plans to make the software portion open source. You're on your own as far as building conveyer belts, bins, and so forth.

Check out Mattheij's writeup in two parts for more information. It starts with an overview of the story, followed up with a deep dive on the software. He's also tweeting about the project (among other things). And if you look around a bit, you'll find bulk LEGO brick auctions online—it's definitely a thing!

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Library of Congress
10 Facts About the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
May 29, 2017
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Library of Congress

On Veterans Day, 1921, President Warren G. Harding presided over an interment ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery for an unknown soldier who died during World War I. Since then, three more soldiers have been added to the Tomb of the Unknowns (also known as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier) memorial—and one has been disinterred. Below, a few things you might not know about the historic site and the rituals that surround it.


Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

To ensure a truly random selection, four unknown soldiers were exhumed from four different WWI American cemeteries in France. U.S. Army Sgt. Edward F. Younger, who was wounded in combat and received the Distinguished Service Medal, was chosen to select a soldier for burial at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington. After the four identical caskets were lined up for his inspection, Younger chose the third casket from the left by placing a spray of white roses on it. The chosen soldier was transported to the U.S. on the USS Olympia, while the other three were reburied at Meuse Argonne American Cemetery in France.


One had served in the European Theater and the other served in the Pacific Theater. The Navy’s only active-duty Medal of Honor recipient, Hospitalman 1st Class William R. Charette, chose one of the identical caskets to go on to Arlington. The other was given a burial at sea.


WikimediaCommons // Public Domain

The soldiers were disinterred from the National Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii. This time, Army Master Sgt. Ned Lyle was the one to choose the casket. Along with the unknown soldier from WWII, the unknown Korean War soldier lay in the Capitol Rotunda from May 28 to May 30, 1958.


Medal of Honor recipient U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Allan Jay Kellogg, Jr., selected the Vietnam War representative during a ceremony at Pearl Harbor.


Wikipedia // Public Domain

Thanks to advances in mitochondrial DNA testing, scientists were eventually able to identify the remains of the Vietnam War soldier. On May 14, 1998, the remains were exhumed and tested, revealing the “unknown” soldier to be Air Force 1st Lt. Michael Joseph Blassie (pictured). Blassie was shot down near An Loc, Vietnam, in 1972. After his identification, Blassie’s family had him moved to Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis. Instead of adding another unknown soldier to the Vietnam War crypt, the crypt cover has been replaced with one bearing the inscription, “Honoring and Keeping Faith with America’s Missing Servicemen, 1958-1975.”


The Tomb was designed by architect Lorimer Rich and sculptor Thomas Hudson Jones, but the actual carving was done by the Piccirilli Brothers. Even if you don’t know them, you know their work: The brothers carved the 19-foot statue of Abraham Lincoln for the Lincoln Memorial, the lions outside of the New York Public Library, the Maine Monument in Central Park, the DuPont Circle Fountain in D.C., and much more.


Tomb Guards come from the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment "The Old Guard". Serving the U.S. since 1784, the Old Guard is the oldest active infantry unit in the military. They keep watch over the memorial every minute of every day, including when the cemetery is closed and in inclement weather.


Members of the Old Guard must apply for the position. If chosen, the applicant goes through an intense training period, in which they must pass tests on weapons, ceremonial steps, cadence, military bearing, uniform preparation, and orders. Although military members are known for their neat uniforms, it’s said that the Tomb Guards have the highest standards of them all. A knowledge test quizzes applicants on their memorization—including punctuation—of 35 pages on the history of the Tomb. Once they’re selected, Guards “walk the mat” in front of the Tomb for anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours, depending on the time of year and time of day. They work in 24-hour shifts, however, and when they aren’t walking the mat, they’re in the living quarters beneath it. This gives the sentinels time to complete training and prepare their uniforms, which can take up to eight hours.


The Tomb Guard badge is the least awarded badge in the Army, and the second least awarded badge in the overall military. (The first is the astronaut badge.) Tomb Guards are held to the highest standards of behavior, and can have their badge taken away for any action on or off duty that could bring disrespect to the Tomb. And that’s for the entire lifetime of the Tomb Guard, even well after his or her guarding duty is over. For the record, it seems that Tomb Guards are rarely female—only three women have held the post.


Everything the guards do is a series of 21, which alludes to the 21-gun salute. According to

The Sentinel does not execute an about face, rather they stop on the 21st step, then turn and face the Tomb for 21 seconds. They then turn to face back down the mat, change the weapon to the outside shoulder, mentally count off 21 seconds, then step off for another 21 step walk down the mat. They face the Tomb at each end of the 21 step walk for 21 seconds. The Sentinel then repeats this over and over until the Guard Change ceremony begins.