I’m going to run this for one more day. If you feel like it and are inclined to throw a buck or two in the kitty, it’s much appreciated.
Many thanks to the folks who have already donated!
And above all, thanks for reading all these years.
I’m going to run this for one more day. If you feel like it and are inclined to throw a buck or two in the kitty, it’s much appreciated.
Many thanks to the folks who have already donated!
And above all, thanks for reading all these years.
…and, for that matter, 35E, I started to understand what goats feel like…
….navigating trails in the Bolivian Andes.
Who used to look like an extra from “Gangs of New York”, and married way, way up twenty years ago today?
Why, that’d be my friend and long-time radio colleague Ed Morrissey and his wife Marcia, that’s who!
Congrats to the Morrisseys, and may they have many, many more anniversaries!
I was about to head to work this morning when I remembered; it’s February 5.
My blog’s anniversary.
I’ve been doing this for (counts fingers, removes shoe, continues counting) 12 years now.
And I can honestly say two things:
I’m a conservative talking politics in a liberal metro area, so I’ve ruffled a feather or two – mostly the feathers of good people who can handle a little discussion. I’ve made a few enemies – without exception, stunted, risible little people who don’t have the balls to face me in a face-to-face discussion, and whom I laugh about until I switch back to ignoring them.
Because they are overwhelmingly outnumbered by the friends I’ve made; other bloggers, readers, the other NARN guys and all the listeners that the show brought into my life, and all of the many, many people that all of this writing has brought me into contact with on the twelve-year journey that this blog has led me onto.
So anyway – thanks, everyone!
Yesterday would be the 110th birthday of my grandmother, Beatrice Berg.
I need to get a little clearer on some of my family’s lore – my immediate family has always been terrible at passing its stories down. Near as I can tell, she was the older daughter of a Norwegian immigrant farmer and immigrant from Sør-Trøndelag, Berndt Græsli (anglicized to Gresley), born not far from Thief River Falls, MN. She grew up in or near Middle River.
When she was in her late teens (as I recall the story) she took up with a couple of her aunts – who were, according to the accounts I’ve heard, the sort of thing that they’d write Lifetime movies about today; a couple of flinty, hard-bitten businesswomen who were in the business of starting photography studios around northern Minnesota. Grandma worked at a few of these studios, learning the trade.
It’s there that Grandma Bea did something that, likely, most of you are acquinted with. She was working at the studio of Eric Enstrom in the small northern Minnesota town of Bovey, when…
…well, I’ve never heard the definitive story; some of it, I got from my parents; others, from a Jamestown Sun piece from the 1970′s that I still remember. The stories include various elements from the following narrative, all of which I’ll relate just for simplicity’s sake. One day she met an old guy in a mainstreet cafe, Charles Wilden, a travelling salesman namedwith a striking visage, whom she introduced to Enstrom. And then helped dress the set and assisted with the photo shoot, and helped do some of the hand-coloring of the print afterward (along with Enstrom’s daughter – like I said, the story gets complicated).
Whatever the facts were – and most of them certainly were true – the end result is upper-midwestern art history:
Nearly every dining room in the Upper Midwest seems to have a copy of “Grace” hanging on the wall – or so it seemed when I was a kid. It’s the Minnesota State Photograph.
Grandma went on to work at a slew of photography studios. At one of them, she met my grandfather, Oscar. They got married, had Dad…
…and then Oscar died. Grandma ran the studio herself for the next twenty-odd years.
For all the yapping about “strong women” from feminists, I don’t suspect many of them could have carried my Grandmother’s purse.
I’ve accumulated about 60 sick days since I’ve been writing this blog. I’m using one today.
See you tomorrow.
Are “Avery Librelle” and “Moonbeam Birkenstock” guys or girls?: Isn’t it perfectly obvious? I think that’s pretty clearly answered here. Or at least I think so.
You only attack the left? Why don’t you go after the miscreants on the right? Especially in the GOP?: That’s a fair cop, sort of. Partly because we have a state full of media, “progressive” groups, “watchdog” non-profits and bloggers (pardon the serial redundancy) who already watch the right. I’m adding balance in my homespun little way. And partly because I generally agree with the right. Because I’m a conservative!
And I attack the left more than the right because I reasonably believe that “the right” – conservatism – is a generally better, more valid, more noble idea than the “progressivism” of “the left”. And “the left” is currently on the ascendant in this state and the US.
You will note – if accuracy is what you seek, and I’m just sure it is - that the most-viewed post in the history of this blog is entitled “Note to Bill Frist: You Suck“.
You know who Bill Frist was. Right?
So that means you’re biased!: Well, duh. I am, and I make no bones about it. Although another part is this; I don’t do much “reporting” on whatever’s going on in the GOP’s bureaucracy because, frankly, the subject – bureaucracy – bores me. You’ll note I rarely write about the inner workings of the DFL, either, and when I do, it’s usually to link to someone else’s writing.
Covering bureaucracies is like watching paint dry, or watching writers from the oldMinnesota Independenttrying to meet people at bars; it’s slow, nothing much happens, and it’s pretty predictable.
Conservatism is dead. Millennials are deserting the GOP. It’s time to update your approach: That’s not a question. But it brings up two questions.
First: Since when have people under thirty ever been Republicans or conservatives? Good lord, I’m almost as sick of hearing society has to jump to the wishes of “Millennials” as I am about Baby Boomers.
Second: Why? One of conservatism’s beliefs is that new ideas face a fairly stern burden of proof. Which isn’t sexy for, say, marketers to try to sell, and it’s not something “young people” are disposed to believe, but it’s true. So put your “new” ideas out there, and let’s debate! The kicker is, ideas in the world of society and politics are like pop music; there really are no new ideas. They’ve all been around for a while, and most of them are untried for a reason. Which isn’t to say that something new, or a new take on something old, isn’t possible; it’s just that you need to make the sale.
Can you make the sale?
There is no difference between Republicans and Democrats!: Again, mostly statements, not really questions, here. But if that were true, wouldn’t at least one Republican have voted for Obamcare?
So what about your various stalkers?: Oh, them? One of them has been pretty tame for a while here, as far as I can tell. The other – well, I’ve been ignoring him for over a year and a half. I think he misses the attention – he’s reportedly gone quite over the edge recently but – here’s the kicker – I wouldn’t know. I read “his” material less than I read the Strib.
Who do you support for Governor and Senator?: I’m starting to develop some preferences. But I’d never talk about ‘em publicly.
Part of it is that I genuinely don’t have my mind made up completely, and all the candidates have a lot more questions to answer – some of the, many many many more.
And part of it is that if I did come out and express a preference now, five months before the convention, it’d be kinda hell on bookings for the show, now, wouldn’t it?
Keep ‘em coming!
The Wombat reminds me that I used to do this sort of thing all the time.
Self-indulgent? Sure. Why not? It’s my blog, and I can do what I want.
1. Was 2013 a good year for you?: All in all, sure. Notables: I got a new job that was a real step forward. When you’re a contractor for a long time, you find that each year is pretty much a rerun of every other year you spend as a contractor. I’m an employee for the first time in a while, I’m leading a group, and it’s been a lot of fun so far.
2. What was your favorite moment(s) of the year?: Seeing my niece Sniperbaby for the first time. (She’s six, and while Sniperbaby isn’t her actual name, she actually does get hits on prairie dogs at 100 yards with a .22 Magnum).
3. What was your least favorite moment(s) of the year?: We’ll talk about that over a drink sometime. If we have a drink sometime.
4. What did you do in 2013 that you’d never done before?: Went to the east coast of Florida. Ate scallops. Played a ukulele. Kicked one of my demons in the groin.
5. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?: I never do them.
6. Where were you when 2013 began?: At home.
7. Who were you with?: A dog, two cats, and my guitar.
8. Where will you be when 2013 ends?: About the same.
9. Who will you be with when 2013 ends?: A dog and two cats and my guitars.
10. Did anyone close to you give birth?: Other than some Facebook friends, no.
11. Did you lose anybody close to you in 2013?: No, thank God. It’s been a while.
12. Who did you miss?: Nobody, really.
13. Who was the best new person you met in 2013?: No one person. Lots of new co-workers. The guy who works for me is a great fella.
14. What was your favorite month of 2013?: I can’t imagine ever having a favorite “month”. May was kinda fun.
15. Did you travel outside of the US in 2013?: I haven’t been outside the US since college. That kinda depresses me. I may just drive to Canada this year for the hell of it.
16. How many different states did you travel to in 2013?: North Dakota, Wisconsin, Florida and Ohio.
17. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?: Time for a project I’ve been noodling with for over a year. I’d like to have something ready to go by April at the latest.
18. What date from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?: Plenty of days; no dates.
19. What was your biggest achievement of the year?: I’m finally managing people at work. It’s never been a goal, but it’s an achievement. Sorta.
20. What was your biggest failure?: Not finishing the project I mentioned above.
21. Did you suffer illness or injury?: So far so good. Knock wood.
22. What was the best thing you bought?: This is weird – nothing. I don’t actually recall buying anything all year. Some books, some music, groceries.
23. Whose behavior merited celebration?: My kids made some good progress. Long story, and you’ll have to know me pretty well to hear the story.
24. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?: Our government at all levels.
25. Where did most of your money go?: The mortgage from hell. I live with it, but it’s the bane of my existence.
26. What did you get really, really, really excited about?: Music. Long story.
27. Did you drink a lot of alcohol in 2013?: I haven’t drunk “a lot” of alcohol since about 1990. I haven’t had “a lot” of alcohol at one sitting since 2008, and that was only once. I drink so rarely – seriously, the MOB parties and a couple of semi-regular happy hours with some college and work friends are about it.
28. Did you do a lot of drugs in 2013?: Ibuprofen. Which, other than the odd antibiotic, is the only drug I ever use…
29. Did you treat somebody badly in 2013?: Er…not that I remember? I usually try to treat people well…
30. Did somebody treat you badly in 2013?: Nothing I couldn’t not only handle, but mock with style.
31. Compared to this time last year, are you: A little happier, about the same weight, a little richer.
32. What do you wish you’d done more of in 2013?: I wish I’d had an actual vacation. I have been a contractor most of my career, so I have little concept of or skill at down time.
33. What do you wish you’d done less of?: Worry. Same as last year.
34. Did you fall in love in 2013?: Yeah, Kate Mara. But don’t tell Scarlett Johannson.
35. What was your favorite TV program(s)?: This is the first time in decades I’ve watched first-run television or cable. I loved House of Cards and Breaking Bad. And I hate to say it, but Walking Dead is really good. And the final episode of “The Office” was really really excellent, in an absolutely absurd way.
36. What song will always remind you of 2013?: One of my own. Maybe I’ll let you hear it someday.
37. How many concerts did you see in 2013?: It occurs to me that I haven’t been to a concert of any kind since Springsteen in 2002. Pathetic, huh?
38. Did you have a favorite concert in 2013?: Asked and answered, indirectly.
39. What was your greatest musical discovery?: Mark Knopfler’s been hiding in plain sight for thirty years. I’ve always been aware of his most notable stuff, but I’d never really done the deep dive into the Knopfler/Dire Straits catalogue. I did this year.
40. What was the best book you read?: ”The German Invasion of Norway” by Geir Haar.
41. What was your favorite film of this year?: I saw some good ones – more than usual. I used to go to actual theatres maybe once every two years or so. It’s been more frequent this past year. Best one, though, is probably Lone Survivor.
42. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?: Nothing interesting, and none of your business.
43. What did you want and get?: A birthday without having to deal with someone else’s crisis. And for the first time in six or seven years, I got it!
44. What did you want and not get?: I never want much.
45. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?: Having Premiere start lining me up to replace Limbaugh when he retires.
46. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013?: Personal fashion concept? ”No beards without mustaches”
47. What kept you sane?: Same as every year; having an outlet.
48. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?: Kate Mara was giving Scarlett Johannson a run for the money.
49. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013: Stay hydrated. Persevere. Let it turn to something else.
50. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year: OK:
Heel y’ho boys, let her go, boys
Bring her head round into the weather.
Heel y’ho boys, let her go boys
Sailing homeward to Mingulay!
Anyway – Happy New Year to you and yours! I hope 2014 is a good year for all of you!
It’s Christmas week.
And if you’ve been a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know I’m not much of one for “vacations”.
But since traffic falls deep into the tank on Christmas week, this week will have very light posting.
Enjoy the week!
Some guys grew up fantasizing about the car they wanted, someday.
For others, it was the gun, the girl, the guitar.
I did all of those, naturally (’67 Mustang, HK91, Marisa Tomei, 1959 Les Paul Standard).
But above all? When I was a kid – and not so much a kid – I used to fantasize about the band I’d have someday.
Usually, the dream focused on some combination of two guitars, keyboards, bass and drums. Nice and flexible, allows for all sorts of combinations of guitar sounds. Sorta like Tom Petty and the classic Heartbreakers (here with an added sax player and background singer, which I’d also dig):
Of course, through much of the eighties – and (koff) the nineties, I thought it’d be fun to have something a little bigger, less garage-y, frighteningly tight, and danceable.
Although that’d mean recruiting someone else to sing. And lead singers are a pain.
At various times, I’ve thought “screw it – I’m gonna go full Stax/Volt”:
And truth be told, that’s where I’m at right now; a band that is something like the classic Asbury Jukes lineup, complete with the horn section.
But then I remember all the crap that goes into keeping all the personalities in even a four piece band together, and I think “screw it; I’ll do a power trio”:
Of course, as always, I’ll stick with “whatever I can find”.
Er, when I start another band…
It’s going to be another light posting day.
And I am.
I am thankful, for starters, that someone posted Linda Thompson’s version. Dave Swarbrick’s nasal delivery would put me off my thanksgiving meal…
Everywhere I go – from the radio show to the grocery store, and even on different floors of my home – people ask me “who are all these characters, fictional and otherwise, that pop up on the pages of your blog?”
Some of them are from my series of satiric dramatizations. Others are actual writers on this blog.
Now – for the first time – a complete list of this blog’s personalities, real, imagined and not quite sure which, can be found here.
It’s been a long, long time since TV stations “signed off”, at least in major metro areas. TV’s been a 24/7 business ever since cable became a dominant part of the media world.
But when I was a kid, the sign for “now it’s time to be tired” came when Channel 4 in Fargo would reach the end of its broadcast day – it may have been around midnight, if I remember correctly – and the orchestra would get rolling, and this piece of film would start:
And then, for the next minute or two…:
And then? Lulled by Leo Mann’s voice-over and the silent test pattern, you’d be jarred back to reality by REALLY LOUD STATIC as the carrier signal went silent, turning the frequency over to a universe full of random electromagnetism.
It always felt and sounded jarring; to go from the orderly humdrum of late-night small market TV to the transcendent ethereality of “High Flight”, to silence – and then, cacaphony. It was unsettling – that feeling of going from “something” to “nothing”, of going from watching a coherent signal from Fargo to random, formless signals that’d skittering about the universe for billions of years, ending up as “snow” on a cathode ray tube.
I usually wished I’d fallen asleep earlier – and eventually learned to hit the power knob before the “Indian” was done.
Generally, when I get involved with someone, I try to do it for the long term.
But I’m almost tempted to try to get into a serious relationship – ideally something with a hip-hop theme, no matter how convoluted - if only so I can break up using the line “you got 99 problems, but a Mitch ain’t one”.
OK, just so you don’t have to ask your kids…
It’s just one of those days when I felt like publishing a wolf picture.
Don’t judge me.
Hahahaha Merg! You said armed guards wud stop mass merders! And yet the armed guards at teh Navy Yerd didn’t stop the mass merder! You are Pwn5d!”: Er, for starters, I never said that armed guards were a panacaea – any more a guarantee than wearing a seatbelt guarantees everyone will survive every car accident. They improve the odds. Maybe by a lot. And at any rate, armed guards in schools are a partial solution at best – the last thing schools in particular need is to feel more like police states than they already do. No, I advocate allowing law-abiding citizens with carry permits to defend themselves. Because it works.
After the killer at the Navy Yard shot the armed guard, I’m gonna guess at least a couple of the sailors in the building might have wished they’d have had access to some sort of firearm. Just saying.
Hahaha, Merg! Bradlee Dean’s ministry has gone belly up! Hahah!: Yeah, I see that.
Why don’t you try to get Tom Mischke on the NARN someday as a guest?: Hey – not a bad idea.
Hahaha! You and Bradlee Dean were BFFs!: Well, no – his show was on after mine. Then it wasn’t. He’s a nice guy in person. I disagree with a good chunk of his theology. End of story.
Well, almost. As I showed over the past couple of years, whatever you want to say about Bradlee Dean’s organization and theology and beliefs – and I might agree with you about some of it – a huge chunk of what Andy Birkey and the late Karl Bremer wrote about the guy was unvarnished bullshit.
There. That’s the end of story.
Why did you block me on Twitter and Facebook? Can’t you handle an argument?: I don’t go on Facebook to argue. Sometimes they come to me, but what are you gonna do? Seriously. Anyway – as re Twitter? I love a good debate. But here’s the catch - you weren’t debating, you were harangueing and arguing without logic, fact or reason. To the extent you had an argument, it was boring, trite, illogical, a collection of chanting points I’m pretty sure you don’t understand, and a waste of time. Sorry. I’m sure you’re a fine human being in some corner of your life.
Hey, Bergbrain! Hahahaha!: Oh, isn’t that special?
Hey, Merg! Why are you complaining about Mark Dayton and the DFL? Elections have consequences!: Right. You’ll recall how the Alliance for a Better Minnesota shut up and walked away as a consequence of the 2010 Legislative elections, right?
One vote that had consquences was the one that led to the First Amendment. I know that annoys you.
The Obamcare and Defunding debate shows that the DFL is just as bad as the Democrats! Ron Paul was right! I’m going to protest by…by…going OFF THE GRID!: So you’re going to migrate from Dante’s Third Circle of irrelevancy straight through to the Sixth?
I mean, us “establishment” Republicans did warn you that politics was a marathon, not a sprint. Right? I’m pretty sure I did.
You continually disagree with me in arguments. You’re mentally ill: Eureka. You have brushed the scales from my eyes. There is no response to your ineluctible logic.
You’re right in every possible way, and always will be.
Doesn’t it bug you that Jack Tomczak and Ben Kruse started a “hey gang, let’s do a radio show” thing just like the NARN did, but they’re on morning drive on a major station?”: Not at all! They’re great guys, and they certainly earned their shot.
For me? I love being on the air – more than just about anything in the world, actually – but the radio business is just about the worst thing in the world. Salem Twin Cities, by the way, is a huge exception – they’re great people, and I’m not just saying that because they’ve put me on the for almost ten years now. Anyway, unless a major-market station or network throws a good contract at me for enough money to leave the IT business, I’m perfectly happy doing weekends for the fun of it.
Not that I’d turn down that big honking contract, y’understand. But I enjoy where things are; I get all the fun and none of the misery.
During the work day, I don’t blog. I’ll occasionally see articles or things I’m interested in writing about, and use the WordPress mobile app to put the links, titles, jottings about subjects, or whatever I can out into my Drafts folder, so I can pick them up in the morning when I do my actual blogging.
So I dug into my Drafts folder this morning and found a piece at the top of the pile – probably from yesterday – entitled “A Problem Of Focus”.
With nothing in it. No link, copy, not even a hint of what I was thinking when I wrote the title.
Which makes more sense the more you think about it.
Although there was a general assumption when I was in high school and college that I’d wind up in some kind of graduate school or another, I stopped with the formal schooling (as distinct from getting an education) with my BA.
I did it for a couple of reasons:
So unless I hit the powerball – which might lead me to a design-your-own “Masters” in German, writing, history and filmmmaking from whatever institution that’d let me put it together – I strongly doubt you’ll see me darken the door of a grad school, ever.
But if this were closer than Boulder, I could see myself changing my mind.
Posting will be light-ish today. More tomorrow!
If I’ve blocked you on Twitter or in this comment section, it’s not because you’re a troll, a Bobblehead or a dolt.
It’s because you’re a troll, a Bobblehead or a dolt who has ceased to amuse me.
That is all.
“Isn’t “Joe Doakes from Como Park” teh sock puppett?”: Yeah, right. Think about this for a second (let’s assume for a moment you’re capable of it); why would I, on a blog where I’ve written well over 16,000 posts over 11 years, all of them under my own name (unlike the majority of gutless pseudonymic leftybloggers who slander and defame their betters from behind pseudonyms) need to have a pseudonymic handle? To write more?
I’d say “stop being an idiot”, but the sentence includes a three syllable word, so you might have trouble with it…
“Hah hah, Merg! After a year or two of you saying Tom Bok and Paul Theeeessin would stonewall on Gay Marrege, they’re pushing it threw! Hah hah! You are teh looser!”: So hang on a minute – after starting the session setting the lowest expectations possible for gay marriage, and then having their first social policy initiative (the Martens/Latz gun grabs) go down in flames, the governor and Senate’s first tax and budget proposals arouse a firestorm of controversy, and enduring mocking from people like yours truly for their craven abandonment of the masses of low-information idealists who put them in office, you mean to say Tom Bakk and Paul Thissen did an about face and pushed hard for an easy short-term win to draw attention away from their failings on the budget, tax reform and, well, everything?
Huh. Go figure.
“Mitch, why do you portray people who disagree with you in these “FAQ” pieces as cretins who misspell and pretty much audibly pant and drool like prehensile obscene phone callers? Isn’t that a little prejudicial toward those who disagree with you?”: You haven’t met some of my critics, have you?
“You say you are teh conservative! Yet you write about Bruse Sprengstein, and you bike to werk! You are teh librel!”: Your what hurts?
“Why do you hate gay people?”: I don’t. Hate is a bad thing, and I don’t practice it. And I suspect I’ve put more on the line against genuine hatred of gay people than most people. Just saying; let it go.
Answering spam emails:
From: Carl Catlin <ccatlin[redacted]@yahoo.com>
Sent: Monday, April 29, 2013 2:56 PM
Subject: Philippines Trip(Sad News)……..Carl Catlin
Just hoping this email has reached you well, I’m sorry for this emergency and for not informing you about my urgent trip to Manila, Philippines but I just have to let you know my present predicament.
Everything was fine until I was attacked on my way back to the hotel, I wasn’t hurt but I lost my money, bank cards, mobile phone and my bag in the course of this attack. Immediately contacted my bank in order to block my cards and also made a report at the nearest police station.
I’ve been to the embassy and they are helping me with my documentation so i can fly out but I’m urgently in need of some money to pay for my hotel bills and my flight ticket home, will definitely REFUND as soon as back home .
Kindly let me know if you would be able to help me out so I can forward you the details required for a wire transfer.
Waiting to hear back from you..
Bubbie! Sorry to hear about your predicament.
I’d love to help, since I just know you’re good for the money.
Sorry to say, though, that we’re birds of a feather as always. I, too, am in the Philippines, sightseeing near Manila, in the city of Las Piñas. And I, too, was waylaid by ruffians. Six of them.
I killed the first five – two with my bare hands. The six, I let go, as is – as you’re well aware, my old friend – my wont.
As the sixth ran away, a Philipino policeman walked up to me to take the report. As the sixth yegg ran toward the horizon, the policeman asked me if I was up for a wager; could I hit the blackguard?
Well, the ne’er-do-well was nearly 300 yards away, and I had a little .380 pistol, but you know how I like a bet – and what happens in Las Piñas stays in Las Piñas! So I went all-in – all the money I had.
Well, I choked, and it took me two shots to fell the miscreant. But a bet is a bet.
So I’m afraid I’m not only a tad short at the moment, but in the same boat you are.
Sorry about that. Drat the luck!
I’m dying to see the response.
UPDATE: Yesterday was a very, very good day in the Pledge Drive department. Thanks to everyone who fed the kitty yesterday.
So today’s the last day of the “Pledge Week”. Thanks to everyone – for stopping by and reading these past 11 years.
But I’ll put the link up one more time, just in case
I haven’t done an actual bleg – a blog fundraiser – on Shot In The Dark for about four years now.
Partly because it felt a little presumptuous, in this lousy economy. Partly because it just never occurred to me to want to.
Anyway – much as I’d like to do an Andrew-Sullivan-style “Please pony up $80K or I’ll have to leave blogging”-style bleg twice a year, it’s just not true. I’ll keep writing Shot In The Dark no matter what.
But if the mood strikes you, feel perfectly free to drop a buck or two in the kitty. I’d be much obliged.
Unlike MPR, I’m not going to interrupt programming for twenty minutes at a shot, here.
Thanks in advance!
UPDATE: Fixed the link. Sorry – and thanks!