Thursday, April 30, 2009

In Which It Continues

Here is Part Seven of the Short Story Thursday series. Enjoy!

(Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, Part Six)

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Maine State Police Office Jim Phillips hung up the phone and sighed heavily. Even with the phone resting on its cradle he could still hear the uncharacteristically tense and angry voice of Samuel Bennett, as if it still hung in the air like cigarette smoke. He rubbed the back of his neck and replayed the conversation in his mind.

“I understand he was out of the state before you could coordinate his retrieval, Jim, but you can’t afford to drop the ball this time. To continue with the sports metaphor, you’ve run out of strikes,” Bennett had said. It was unlike Bennett to show any emotion, but tonight he spoke angrily through his teeth. 

Without waiting for a response, Bennett continued. “I’ve instructed Adam Marshall to drive up to the shipping facility where I normally conduct my more sensitive business transactions, telling him that we need to talk about the situation we‘re in. I’ve procured some… collateral… to ensure that he shows up.”

“What do you mean, ‘collateral’? What have you done, Sam?” 

“Let’s just say that we’ve taken custody of someone that he doesn’t wish to bury just yet.” Bennett seemed almost pleased with himself at this, and Jim’s stomach took a downward plunge. “She was quite a menace until Silas managed to quiet her down.”

“How many people are you going to kill to keep yourself out of jail? You can’t keep this up forever!” Jim said, trying to keep his voice down. 

“That does not concern you!” Bennett roared. “I’ll do what I need to maintain my freedom, including the elimination of anyone who stands in my way. Just keep that in mind, Officer Philips, if you want to live to see your pension.” 

Jim Phillips dropped back in his chair, listening quietly to Bennett’s instructions. As Adam Marshall drove through the Auburn toll plaza, Jim would arrest him on a bogus drug charge. Once in handcuffs and in the back of his cruiser, he would take him to the shabby shipping facility Bennett used. He would then hand him over to Bennett where Adam Marshall’s fate would be decided.

He had been working for Bennett for a number of years, when the money Bennett waved in front of him seemed too good to pass up. He stole or tainted evidence, feigned paperwork, and sometimes tracked down witnesses for Bennett’s henchmen. He always told himself that each job was going to be his last, yet he always found himself doing Bennett‘s dirty work. 

Jim pushed back his chair and stood up. Bennett’s voice made his blood run cold in his veins, chilling him. He had reached his breaking point with Bennett, and at once he knew that he could not go through with Bennett’s orders. He paced the floor of his small office, contemplating his options. 

He stopped mid stride, and grabbed his keys. An idea came to mind, one that just might work. 
Jim ran out to his cruiser, and hoped that he had enough time.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

In Which I Am Truly Lucky

I left my house early yesterday morning, in hopes to catch a glimpse of the fog rising off of the lake. It was a quiet morning, and the water was still like glass. The moments where the reflections in the water resemble mirror images are fleeting and rare, found only in the early morning before the sun has risen fully, before nature herself is truly awake.


If there ever was a reason to live 45 minutes away from the nearest Wal*Mart or 20 minutes away from a grocery store, this is it. If there ever was a reason to have an hour-long commute, to come home to a place with no sirens and no city lights on the horizon, this is it. If there was ever a reason to make daily sacrifices to be able to afford to live where we do, to be able to stop and listen to pure and complete silence and witness such a moment as what is captured in this picture...

This is it.

Monday, April 27, 2009

In Which I Contain Myself

I live in a part of Maine that is supported largely by tourism. Without people from away spending their summers and their money here year after year, my town and surrounding other towns would dry up and fall apart. Most of the business in this area are only open during the summer and early fall, making enough money during the tourist season to support themselves year round.

Tourist season isn't the same everywhere, but there are certain elements that can be found no matter where you look. If you ask anyone who lives full-time in a tourist town, though, they will probably tell you the same thing. We are thankful for the boost to our local economy that allows us to live in such a beautiful and special part of this world, but despite all that we have around us, there is still plenty to complain about. Mostly, its the traffic.

We've all heard the stories about how tourists simply cannot drive. They drive slow, they don't use their turn signals, they make abrupt stops or turns... the list goes on. This makes for an interesting experience for the full-timers, like myself, to navigate the areas that never see any traffic before Memorial Day or after Labor Day. We get used to having our roads to ourselves, but all of a sudden, we're forced to share it with thousands of other vehicles. As you can imagine, that causes some problems.

In the off-season, very rarely do you see police cruisers or ambulances rushing to an accident. Once tourist season starts, you get used to the blaring sirens and flashing lights blazing by sometimes as often as a couple times a day. The tourists aren't always to blame for these accidents, but it certainly does contribute. Accidents will happen anywhere there are crowded roads, but the moment you add in uncertain and/or lost drivers, the odds of an accident will increase.

I don't mean for this post to be a PSA for traffic safety, but rather as a way of venting about the tourist traffic problem. I nearly got into an accident this weekend when the driver of the out-of-state (*cough*New Jersey*cough*) vehicle in front of me decided to slam on his brakes to stop for yard sale. I was forced to swerve around him into the other lane to avoid rear-ending him, which certainly would have ruined his car. Not much could stand up to the force that would be applied when a 2-ton truck with 500 pounds of tube sand in the back slams into it. 

I escaped from that near-fiasco unscathed, but it was a close call. It was a reminder that the tourist season is just starting. As the saying goes in these parts, "Thank you for your money, now go home!"

Friday, April 24, 2009

In Which I Am The Ruler Of My Domain

When I started this blog over a year ago, I told myself that if I had even a shred of success after one year, that I would purchase my very own domain name for it. In the months that have passed since then this blog has grown faster and further than I ever expected.

Earlier this week, I purchased a domain name for this site. I am now the ruler and commander for TheBadassGeek.com.

Any links you have made to my blog with the old address will still direct to this site, so there is no need to update your links at all. I don't know if any of you had any errors clicking through to my site in the past couple of days, but all of those issues should be resolved by now.

---

I am helping to put together a baby shower for my older sister this weekend. She is due to give birth in about a month or so, and as far as I know, she is very anxious to do so. Not for the experience of childbirth, I'm assuming, but rather so her child will stop using her internal organs and ribcage as substitutes for musical instruments. 

Since we learned of my sisters pregnancy (its a girl, by the way), The Boss has been picking up things here and there for the baby. Since we're not trying to have a baby now, she has been living vicariously through my sister for the past eight months. With the baby shower finally taking place, we compiled all that we have purchased for my soon-to-be niece. All I can say is that if no one else brings gifts to the baby shower tomorrow, this kid is still going to make out like a bandit from all the stuff we're giving her. 

Have a great weekend, folks, and enjoy the sunshine!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

In Which I Have A Conversation

The road was bumpy, the result of a rough winter and the unforgiving havoc wreaked by the cold, sparking teeth of municipal snow plows. Potholes littered the road, as much a part of the tarmac now as the faded yellow lines that bisect it. It was impossible to drive around them without giving the appearance to other motorists that your blood-alcohol levels were higher than the law permits. The only way to get to where you are going is to grit your teeth and slow down.

The conversation started as my truck tires thudded heavily over another deep crater in the asphalt. I didn't feel much like talking, but I made an attempt to acknowledge him just to be polite. I didn't say anything in response, instead I focused my attention back towards the road. He mumbled to himself for a period of time and I did what I could to ignore him.

Time passed. An intersection approached ahead, so I applied the brakes and slowed down. I noticed then that his murmuring speech had risen in volume, loud enough now to overpower the sound of the idling eight-cylinders. The rugged terrain seemed to have fueled him, and I found I couldn't ignore him any longer. I begrudgingly admitted that he did have a point, and we did need to talk. He continued to demand my attention, but I held off until I found a spot a little further down the road where I could park. I selected a small public boat launch, vacant still in this early spring, and pulled in. 

I shifted the trucks transmission into Park, and turned off the ignition. The last whispering puffs of exhaust caught on the breeze and were dragged away. Most of winter's presence had long since melted, but a few straggling drifts of ice hung lazily in the water. It was quiet here, the ticking of the cooling engine the only sound other than the breeze and the water lapping at the shoreline. At long last, I let him speak.

He told me that something about the bumpy road excited him. He told me that it somehow reminded him of that time we saw that chick with the big knockers jogging down the street. He told me more than I wanted to hear, more than I had time to deal with. I told him that this wasn't the time nor the place for that, and I turned on the radio to block him out. He persisted for a moment, but victory was mine to be had.

His protests diminished and he soon fell into silence, his presence fading. I switched the radio off and left the parking lot of the boat launch. Less than a mile passed underneath my tires before I arrived at my destination, and by then there was little trace of him left.

As I pulled into my parents driveway, I cursed. I cursed the potholes, I cursed the vibrations they cause, I cursed the town for not making any effort to patch them up... And I cursed my penis for popping a raging boner just before I arrive at my parent's house. 

A penis is like a kid two days off of his medication for ADD. It doesn't take much to get it excited, and once it's all riled up, it's damn near impossible to ignore.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

In Which There Is No Easy Way Out

In part to enjoy the warm weather, and in part to avoid cleaning up our house, The Boss and I went to see her parents this past weekend. It is a good two-hour drive to get there, so I settled behind the wheel of my truck, window down, and started day-dreaming about the cold drinks and barbecued food I'd be consuming in a few hours. 

The warm air and the open road put us both in a funky mood, and we were goofing off quite a bit for a majority of the ride down. It was nice to finally be able to enjoy the day and be outside, after a long winter of hiding out indoors and praying for spring.

About an hour into our trip, The Boss asked me if I could put on some music.

"What do you want to listen to?" I asked. 

"Oh, I don't know," she said with a sigh. "You can pick whatever you want, I don't care."

"Are you sure?" I asked. "I've got my iPod, so there's plenty of choices."

After thinking about it for a minute, she said, "Really, I don't care what we listen to. Choose anything you want."

"Anything?" I asked again. Knowing that Weird Al often tops my list of driving music, I figured she'd give me a few stipulations.

"Well, I guess it depends on how much you want to hear me sing."

I froze. 

My heart skipped a beat, but I recovered and feigned an expression of thought. I thought furiously about how best to respond, but it became increasingly clear that there was no easy way out of the situation. I gritted my teeth and mentally outlined my options:
  1. I could pick a genre of music she doesn't like, thus sending her the message that I don't want her to sing at all. The potential for hurt feelings is high with this choice, which could lead to accusations of asshole-ish behavior, and/or sleeping on the couch.
  2. I could pick some music that she loves, which could either make her think that I chose that to placate her, or that I want to hear her sing for the next hour. Ask yourself: Are you in the mood for a Journey sing-along? 
My prospects didn't look good. I realized with quick-setting dread that I was trapped.

After giving it as much thought as I could, I finally said, "Um..."

She looked at me expectantly. 

I fumbled with the stereo controls for a moment, and then it dawned on me. 

How perfect! How could I have forgotten? 

I scrolled down the playlist a little further, made my selection and hit Play. As the music started playing, The Boss started singing along, content and seemingly pleased with my choice. I leaned back and sighed with relief. I even started to sing along with her.

You must be curious as to what I selected. What could have been the base to the acid of the situation? With our differing tastes in music, what could possibly be something that we both enjoy, that we both enjoy singing along to?

The answer?

Tenacious D, my friend. 

Sunday, April 19, 2009

In Which I Remember

When this happened, I was too young to realize the gravity of the situation. I remember hearing about it on the news for weeks after it happened. I may not have fully understood what was going on, but I understood the pain and sadness and anger that I saw in the faces of those who were injured, those who helped search for survivors, and those who were left behind to somehow carry on with their lives.
The sun rises, and birds sing sweetly in the trees.
Nine-to-fiver's begin their day, nothing special.
At their desks, paperwork, and on many floors, children, too.
Non-descript, he enters the building.
Bottom floor, he leaves his package behind at his rehearsed spot.
Walking away, he smiles.
With a shake, the building falls,
A day remembered.
Today is the 14th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing. I don't know anyone who died as result of the bombing, but the date always sticks in my mind. I've done some reading about why Timothy McVeigh, the man who was convicted and eventually executed for being responsible for the bombing, did what he did, and it sickens me. Why an American citizen would purposefully do such a horrendous thing to people of his own country is just beyond comprehension. People are obviously entitled to their own convictions when it comes to politics or religion, but bombing a federal building and killing innocent people is not the way to get your voice heard. 

As time goes on, I think some of us forget that it happened, especially after September 11th. Today, the important thing to remember is not why it happened, but that 168 people, including nineteen children and three women who were pregnant, lost their lives on this day in 1995. 

Please take a moment, even if you only pause in silence, to remember them.

Friday, April 17, 2009

In Which I'm Kind Of A Snoop

In the small sleepy town I live in, you sometimes are forced to find your own sources of entertainment. For me, it's people watching. My home office has two windows that allows a mostly unobstructed view of the busiest part of town, so as I sit at my desk and wait for the next call to come in at work, I'll gaze out the double-pane windows and watch the day progress.

Over the past couple of months, I've grown accustomed to seeing the same group of people. I can even judge what time of day it is when I see them, as the people in this town are nothing if not creatures of habit. I see these people just about every day, but I doubt that they've ever seen me. I realize that my spying on them from the second floor windows is a little bit creepy, but its not like I have binoculars or anything. 

... Okay, so I do have binoculars, but only so I can read the lunch specials posted on the window of the variety store. (I'm not a peeping tom, and I've never looked into any ones windows. Besides, some of the people who live around here are a little scary looking.)

People watching has become enough of a part of my day that I've given the people I see most often nicknames:

"The Smoker" - This  guy periodically sneaks out the back door of his house and smokes a couple of cigarettes. He smokes two or three in quick succession, looking around to make sure no one sees him all the while. I'm pretty sure he thinks no one can see him, but he never looks up.

"The Stroker" - I don't have anything against people who run for exercise, but the reason I have this particular nickname for this guy is because he looks like he is going to blow a brain gasket each time I see him out running. His face is dark red, he looks likes he's breathing hard, and he has this staggering-galloping way of running. 

"The Grinner" - This is another runner, but she runs with a smile on her face. As if she is really, REALLY enjoying her exercise. I don't know if she is just an optimist or if she is trying reverse psychology on herself, but I have never seen anyone who seems to be so happy to be running. 

"The Toker" - I can't be sure if my assumptions are correct, but I'm pretty sure that this guy is a drug dealer. He rarely leaves his house, and when he does, he'll leave and come back about 15-20 times throughout the day. I've thought long and hard about what he could possibly be doing, and selling drugs seems to be the most logical choice. Besides, he has the nicest car on the block.

I realize that I've given these people nicknames right out of a Steve Miller song, but it just seemed to fit. I'm just hoping that someone moves into the neighborhood that I can call The Space Cowboy. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

In Which I Am Certain Of Two Things

Today is a somber day.

First, it is the deadline for Americans to file their income tax returns. 

Secondly, it is the anniversary of my grandfather's death.

The fact that both of these events always take place on the same day each year makes the popular phrase about death and taxes all the more ironic. 

I don't have all that much to say today, but if you'd like, check out this post I wrote last April. I'm fighting off a new wave of anxiety, and that by itself is taking a lot out of me. I might need to dose up on my anxiety medications, but we'll see how the next couple of days go. 

Monday, April 13, 2009

In Which I Gain Perspective

We all experience moments that bring our lives to a screeching halt, those moments that force us to accept the fact that we are not in control. It is a frightening and humbling feeling, one that we have to acknowledge in order to continue with our lives. For me, sometimes I feel like I'm a junkyard dog reaching the end of his chain, running forward and suddenly being jerked backwards into the dust. Other times it feels like I'm hydroplaning and I've overcompensated, my car spinning 'round until the brakes finally catch, slamming me to a stop. The adrenaline eventually stops pumping and I'll catch my breath, dust myself off, and come to know that something has changed. 

I had one of those moments last week, and I am still struggling to rid myself of the fear that it placed inside of me. 

My father spent a night in the hospital last week for speculation that he had an infection that settled in his heart. This came after weeks of not feeling well and having difficulty breathing, and his doctor was running out of ideas. My mother called me up and told me about all that was happening, and as she spoke I felt that old familiar chain yank backwards on my neck. I listened carefully as she explained the situation, and breathed a little easier when she told me that it was just speculation based upon incomplete test results. More would be known when all of the results came back, but they would have to keep him overnight just to be safe.

I got off the phone and stood in silence in the kitchen, my mind racing. I thought about his history of high blood pressure, of tachycardia, of high cholesterol. I thought of hundreds of horrible things, each burst of imagination like its own nightmare, unable to stop my mind from its progression despite all of the assurances from my mother that he would be fine. 

In the end, he was fine. He was discharged the following afternoon after his doctors dismissed any thought of an infection in his heart. It was a bit of a scare for all of us, and it served as a reminder, to me especially, that life isn't as stable as it seems. It hasn't exactly been a long time since I've felt as helpless as I did last week, but being on the otherside of the situation helped me gain some perspective. 

Everything about life is fragile. We shouldn't take any moment with our loved ones for granted, or just assume that they will always be there. The winds that control our lives could change at any moment. 

P.S. I don't know if this makes any sense to anyone but me, but I hope you know what I'm trying to say. Sometimes there are thoughts in my mind that make perfect sense until I try to put them on paper. 

Friday, April 10, 2009

In Which I Have A Few Ideas

When The Boss and I are on long car rides, we generally talk instead of listening to music. It keeps me more alert, and it keeps The Boss from channel surfing on the radio, trying to find a station that isn't playing a commercial. Earlier this week, while driving the hour-long trip back home from seeing my dad in the hospital (he's fine), The Boss and I got to talking again.

By some strange evolution of subject matter, we wound up talking about how product development companies often make the strangest foods portable, and give them the strangest names. I mean, Go-Gurt? Who needs to eat yogurt on the run? Was there a large outcry from the general public requiring the need for natural digestive enhancements while commuting to work? I know the product is aimed towards kids, and that is probably the only reason it sells. A product with the consistency of snot would only be consumed by the demographic of people who still routinely excavate their noses and eat their findings, anyways.

Throughout the rest of the car ride home, The Boss and I came up with some ideas for a new line of portable food items. After reviewing them, though, it became clear that these products probably wouldn't make it past the drawing board. Take a look:
  • Taco Tubes
  • Chili Bites
  • Fish Mix
  • Soup Roll-Ups
  • Sloppy Go-Joe's
  • Pasta Pockets
  • Pack-A-Rack o' Ribs
  • Clam Chowder Chewies
  • Buffalo-Flavored String Wings
I don't know about you, but I wouldn't want to see any of those things individually packaged and for sale as a portable food. Some foods are fine to eat on the go, but some foods shouldn't be messed with. Calling Hot Pockets a pizza product is blasphemy, pure and simple. 

As gross as some of the above items might be if actually produced, it was fun thinking them up. What kind of made-up portable food can you think of?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

In Which I Should Really Know Better

You'd think that since I've had a penis for 23 years that I'd be qualified to operate it for the purpose of urine disposal, regardless of if the disposal site is a porcelain bowl or the backside of a shrub in the middle of the woods.

You'd also think that since I've had so many years of experience that I'd be able to handle my own machinery without any accident or injury to myself. 

You'd be wrong.

This past weekend, The Boss and I met up with her parents at a rest stop outside of North Conway, New Hampshire. I had gulped down a soda before we got there, and while we conversed for the next hour I felt the pressure inside my bladder build. When it came time to leave, I knew I had to relieve myself before getting back in the car. The road to the nearest bathroom was covered with more pits and craters than an adolescents complexion, and I didn't want to spring a leak.

I excused myself and trekked into the woods a little ways to find a suitable place. If you've never peed in the woods before, make sure you remember some important things about selecting a suitable wildlife bathroom:
  • Keep walking into the woods until no persons or cars are visible from the road.
  • Make sure you select a spot that is void of poisonous wildlife.
  • Select a level or downward-facing slope to avoid the back flow of urine onto your shoes.
When I finally found a spot that met all the aforementioned criteria, I unzipped and began watering a cluster of small shrubs. Having almost exposed myself to a group of young kids on a nature walk in the past, I looked around constantly while my bladder emptied. Once I had finished and gave myself the obligatory shake, I tucked myself back into my boxer briefs and started to zip up.

Still preoccupied with scanning the woods for a peeping tom, I hurried zipped up my fly, and enclosed a wayward spruce branch into my pants. 

I yelped in pain and surprise, and quickly unzipped to free the branch. I spent the next minute or two picking out the pine needles that had fallen off into my pants, cursing myself for my stupidity. Some of the needles managed to work their way into my boxers. I don't think I need to describe how uncomfortable that felt.

When I finally got back to where The Boss and her parents were waiting, The Boss looked at me inquisitively. I shrugged it off, and told her what happened once we were in the car and on our way home. She laughed when I told her, and asked me if I was going to blog about it.

"Of course," I said.

How could I not?

Monday, April 6, 2009

In Which I Go To Vegas

I'm guest posting over at Tony's place today. He's a great guy who has a unique perspective on things, and he's out enjoying an out-of-state vacation this week. I really urge you to head over to his place, because I'm unveiling the first installment to a new short fiction series, but you'll have to go there to read it!

As always, feel free to comment there or here, whichever you see fit. Enjoy!

Friday, April 3, 2009

In Which I Am (Not) Surprised

It's been a while since I've run down a list of the strange and interesting search terms that have brought people to my blog. I've had some pretty strange ones lately, so I'll just get right into it.

"butt pinch aunt"
While I've never had my butt pinched by my aunt, I still feel your pain on this one. My butt has gotten pinched so many times by people I don't know. I seem to have been blessed with heavenly hind quarters that just beg to be pinched. Just ask The Boss, she can't keep her hands off of 'em.

"doctor felt up my wife"
This sounds like the developing plot of a bad porno, or the late-night search by some poor guy who is researching information on how to file a lawsuit against his wife's amorous physician.

"how to make a cheetah badass"
There is just no practical situation that I can think of where anyone would need to know how to do this. I'm not even sure one could make a cheetah badass, considering they don't have much by way of personality. This one just confuses me.

"I can't prove I'm smarter than you"
You know, you're probably right. Why risk the embarrassment?

"misery loves company expression"
Don't you hate it when the answer to your question is staring right back at you?

"what is it like to pass a stone"
Imagine you have to pee really badly, but instead of urine, a flood of over sized red-hot cacti edged with razor blades and angry porcupines comes pouring out. Combine that with having a doctor punch you repeatedly in the kidneys to break up any larger stones, and you've got yourself a neat and memorable little experience. 

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Have a good weekend!

EDIT:

Aunt Becky came to me today and asked me to post this to help spread the word. Her good friend, k@lakly at This Is Not What I Had Planned sent her an email this morning about something that happened with one of her children, and is asking for help from people to see if anyone has ever heard of this.

Recently, she took her son into his 4 month well-baby visit for some shots. He got the standard grouping of shots, (diphtheria/tetanus/pertussis, Haemophilus influenzae type b, polio, and prevnar). Today, he ended up in anaphylaxis and stopped breathing. He was brought to the hospital and is stable now, but the fact that this happened is confusing to his doctors.

The doctors treating him have never seen anything like this before, which is why I'm helping to spread the word about it. Has anyone ever heard of this happening? Anything that you've heard about or anything similar to what happened here would be helpful. Please e-mail me (badassgeekATgmailDOTcom) with whatever information you have, or leave a comment on this post.

Thank you!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

In Which I Can't Help Myself

With today being April Fool's Day, I had this elaborate post planned. I was going to reel you all in with this elaborate story about something horrible that had happened to me. I was going to get you all worked up and concerned, and then right at the end, confess that it was all just a farce. 

As you can see, I decided against it. The last time I did something like that I confused a lot of people, and I don't want to risk losing any readers by doing it again. Besides, I think enough people know me well enough that the same joke, just won't work a second time. Just thinking about doing it, though, got me thinking of the other times I've done the Bait and Switch. 

Here are a few of my favorites:
I'm a guy who loves a good prank, so long as I am never the one the prank is played on. I've played some minor pranks on people in the past, but its all been juvenile stuff. Like taping down the handle of the spray-nozzle on the sink, or removing the salt from the salt shaker and filling it with milk. Harmless, but fun.

I don't have any pranks planned to play on The Boss today. As much as I'd like to pull off a few, I wouldn't like being banned from sleeping in my bed, or worse, having a prank played on me. Besides, I am a horrible liar when it comes to bending the truth to her, so she'd catch me before I even got a chance to get started. 

What about you, Internet? Did you play any pranks on anyone growing up (or recently)? Tell me all about it.