Archive for the ‘miscellaneous’ Category

Something to remember today.

May 28, 2018

Back in 2009, I remember going to the big Memorial Day celebration in Orange. The Patriot Guard Riders didn’t get to make their grand entrance as planned because of the torrential rains, but they still came. I remember that I just about lost it when Beaumont PGR chapter president Sandra Womack told everyone why they still came. She said of the fallen soldiers, “They didn’t get an opportunity to choose the weather they fought in, or to choose whether or not to go.”

We should remember that, today and every day.

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On Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima…

May 16, 2018

…brought to you by a couple of my recent reads…

amoh

I saw this one at Half Price Books a few weeks ago, but it was cheaper on Amazon.

The man in the top right corner, Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, is the subject of the book. You might remember him as the commander of the Pacific Fleet when Pearl Harbor was attacked; he was subsequently relieved of his command and replaced by Chester W. Nimitz. This book was the first I had ever seen of the theory that he was made the scapegoat for others’ failures.

Suffice to say it was a revelation. I know you have to have your stuff together to get to the rank Kimmel did, but his pre-Pearl Harbor record goes above and beyond just that. He was one of the most highly-regarded officers of his day.

Which makes the whole thing even more enraging, as enlightening as it was. I really don’t know what the worst part of that whole sordid affair was, but the bit that most readily comes to mind is this:

Several people, among them then-Vice President nominee Harry S. Truman, tried to say that Kimmel and his Army counterpart, Lieutenant General Walter C. Short, did not have any kind of relationship, working or otherwise. As in, they never even talked to each other. But that was not true. They had a fine relationship, both as colleagues and as friends — in fact, they played golf together every week.

Also, both Kimmel and Short knew they were woefully undergunned; they repeatedly begged for more weapons from Washington and were refused every time. And we haven’t even gotten into the monumental amount of intercepted communications between Japanese forces in the months leading up to the attack that were kept from them. One of the people involved in that was Admiral Harold Stark, Chief of Naval Operations, whose friendship with Kimmel went back to their days at the Naval Academy. Stark basically threw Kimmel under the bus in the post-Pearl investigations…and strangely enough, kept up correspondence with him. But Kimmel was having none of it; he never responded to any of the letters, and in fact, the following was written in a draft of a letter to Stark that was found after Kimmel’s death:

“May God forgive you for what you have done to me, for I never will.”

Can’t really say that I blame him.

And then, a friend of mine brought up the possibility that the government knew what was coming and let it happen, which really got me going. Suffice it to say, that if it were true, I think that would be the textbook definition of dereliction of duty, and absolutely worthy of the gallows or the firing squad. I just would not have the words. 2,403 American servicemen dead, 2 distinguished and honorable commanders relieved and disgraced, and for what?

Yeah, I know. Casus belli and all that. But the attack would still have been a fine justification for entry into the war even if it had been an American victory. Yeah, I know. I am saying that with the benefit of 75 years of hindsight. But I am absolutely willing to admit that I may well be wrong.

Which brings me to the next book…

lemay

God, the numbers in this book were just absolutely staggering. 12,000 B-17s rolled off assembly lines during the war. Just shy of 4,000 B-29s. For comparison, we built only 744 B-52s (all models, A through H), 100 B-1Bs….and 21 B-2s. 325 B-29s flew in one raid over Tokyo, 529 in a raid over Nagoya, and 427 in another Nagoya raid two days after that one. They dropped so much ordnance that they completely ran out of the napalm that the Navy had stockpiled for the bombs. Another friend of mine made the observation that one thing that the atomic bomb second-guessers don’t ever think about is exactly what LeMay would have done with all those bombers from the European theater plus all the B-29s all flying from as close as Okinawa instead of the Solomons.

What would he have done? He would have left the rest of Japan in smoking ruins, that’s what he’d have done. That man did not screw around. To twist something I was telling Sabra as I was reading this book, I really don’t think it’s fair to say nuking Hiroshima and Nagasaki was the wrong thing to do when you have the benefit of almost 75 years of hindsight. People seem to whitewash Unit 731, the Rape of Nanking, and the Bataan Death March. You know that an invasion of Japan would have brought about more of that if they had managed to somehow gain the upper hand. And even if they had not, they were all still going to fight to the death. It was going to be brutal either way. The bombings sucked, but in the end, I think it’s safe to say they saved lives on both sides.

In honor of Texas Independence Day…

March 2, 2018

I could think of few better written tributes to our state than this; I first saw it around 2006. It was attributed to Orange native Bum Phillips, but I don’t know if he really wrote it; I’ve seen it around the Web and don’t know where it originated. But no matter the author, no matter if it was written in honor of Texas Independence Day, it rings true today, and every day of the year. Every time I read it, the room always gets a bit dusty…

God bless Texas and everyone who lives here, or wishes that they did.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, TEXAS — FROM BUM PHILLIPS

Being Texan by Bum Phillips

Dear Friends,

Last year, I wrote a small piece about what it means to me to be a Texan. My friends know it means about damned near everything. Anyway, this fella asked me to reprint what I’d wrote and I didn’t have it. So I set out to think about rewriting something. I considered writing about all the great things I love about Texas. There are way too many things to list. I can’t even begin to do it justice. Lemme let you in on my short list.

It starts with The Window at Big Bend, which in and of itself is proof of God. It goes to Lake Sam Rayburn where my Granddad taught me more about life than fishin, and enough about fishin to last a lifetime. I can talk about Tyler, and Longview, and Odessa and Cisco, and Abilene and Poteet and every place in between. Every little part of Texas feels special. Every person who ever flew over the Lone Star thinks of Bandera or Victoria or Manor or wherever they call “home” as the best little part of the best state.

So I got to thinkin about it, and here’s what I really want to say. Last year, I talked about all the great places and great heroes who make Texas what it is. I talked about Willie and Waylon and Michael Dell and Michael DeBakey and my Dad and LBJ and Denton Cooley. I talked about everybody that came to mind. It took me sitting here tonight reading this stack of emails and thinkin’ about where I’ve been and what I’ve done since the last time I wrote on this occasion to remind me what it is about Texas that is really great.

You see, this last month or so I finally went to Europe for the first time. I hadn’t ever been, and didn’t too much want to. But you know all my damned friends are always talking about “the time they went to Europe.” So, I finally went. It was a hell of a trip to be sure. All they did when they saw me was say the same thing, before they’d ever met me. “Hey cowboy, we love Texas.” I guess the hat tipped em off. But let me tell you what, they all came up with a smile on their faces. You know why? They knew for damned sure that I was gonna be nice to em. They knew it cause they knew I was from Texas. They knew something that hadn’t even hit me. They knew Texans, even though they’d never met one.

That’s when it occurred to me. Do you know what is great about Texas? Do you know why when my friend Beverly and I were trekking across country to see 15 baseball games we got sick and had to come home after 8? Do you know why every time I cross the border I say, “Lord, please don’t let me die in _____”?

Do you know why children in Japan can look at a picture of the great State and know exactly what it is about the same time they can tell a rhombus from a trapezoid? I can tell you that right quick. You. The same spirit that made 186 men cross that line in the sand in San Antonio damned near 165 years ago is still in you today. Why else would my friend send me William Barrett Travis’ plea for help in an email just a week ago, or why would Charles Stenciled ask me to reprint a Texas Independence column from a year ago?

What would make my friend Elizabeth say, “I don’t know if I can marry a man who doesn’t love Texas like I do?” Why in the hell are 1,000 people coming to my house this weekend to celebrate a holiday for what used to be a nation that is now a state? Because the spirit that made that nation is the spirit that burned in every person who founded this great place we call Texas, and they passed it on through blood or sweat to every one of us.

You see, that spirit that made Texas what it is, is alive in all of us, even if we can’t stand next to a cannon to prove it, and it’s our responsibility to keep that fire burning. Every person who ever put a “Native Texan” or an “I wasn’t born in Texas but I got here as fast a could” sticker on his car understands. Anyone who ever hung a map of Texas on their wall or flew a Lone Star flag on their porch knows what I mean.

My Dad’s buddy Bill has an old saying. He says that some people were forged of a hotter fire. Well, that’s what it is to be Texan. To be forged of a hotter fire.

To know that part of Colorado was Texas. That part of New Mexico was Texas. That part of Oklahoma was Texas. Yep. Talk all you want. Part of what you got was what we gave you. To look at a picture of Idaho or Istanbul and say, “what the Hell is that?” when you know that anyone in Idaho or Istanbul who sees a picture of Texas knows damned good and well what it is. It isn’t the shape, it isn’t the state, it’s the state of mind. You’re what makes Texas.

The fact that you would take 15 minutes out of your day to read this, because that’s what Texas means to you, that’s what makes Texas what it is. The fact that when you see the guy in front of you litter you honk and think, “Sonofabitch. Littering on MY highway.”

When was the last time you went to a person’s house in New York and you saw a big map of New York on their wall? That was never. When did you ever drive through Oklahoma and see their flag waving on four businesses in a row? Can you even tell me what the flag in Louisiana looks like? I damned sure can’t.

But I bet my ass you can’t drive 20 minutes from your house and not see a business that has a big Texas flag as part of its logo. If you haven’t done business with someone called All Tex something or Lone Star somebody or other, or Texas such and such, you hadn’t lived here for too long.

When you ask a man from New York what he is, he’ll say a stockbroker, or an accountant, or an ad exec. When you ask a woman from California what she is, she’ll tell you her last name or her major. Hell either of em might say “I’m a republican,” or they might be a democrat. When you ask a Texan what they are, before they say, “I’m a Methodist,” or “I’m a lawyer,” or “I’m a Smith,” they tell you they’re a Texan. I got nothin’ against all those other places, and Lord knows they’ve probably got some fine folks, but in your gut you know it just like I do, Texas is just a little different.

So tomorrow when you drive down the road and you see a person broken down on the side of the road, stop and help. When you are in a bar in California, buy a Californian a drink and tell him it’s for Texas Independence Day. Remind the person in the cube next to you that he wouldn’t be here enjoying this if it weren’t for Sam Houston, and if he or she doesn’t know the story, tell them.

When William Barrett Travis wrote in 1836 that he would never surrender and he would have Victory or Death, what he was really saying was that he and his men were forged of a hotter fire. They weren’t your average every day men.

Well, that is what it means to be a Texan. It meant it then, and that’s why it means it today. It means just what all those people North of the Red River accuse us of thinking it means. It means there’s no mountain that we can’t climb. It means that we can swim the Gulf in the winter. It means that Earl Campbell ran harder and Houston is bigger and Dallas is richer and Alpine is hotter and Stevie Ray was smoother and God vacations in Texas.

It means that come Hell or high water, when the chips are down and the Good Lord is watching, we’re Texans by damned, and just like in 1836, that counts for something. So for today at least, when your chance comes around, go out and prove it. It’s true because we believe it’s true. If you are sitting wondering what the Hell I’m talking about, this ain’t for you.

But if the first thing you are going to do when the Good Lord calls your number is find the men who sat in that tiny mission in San Antonio and shake their hands, then you’re the reason I wrote this tonight, and this is for you. So until next time you hear from me, God Bless and Happy Texas Independence Day.

May you be poor in misfortune, rich in blessings, slow to make enemies and quick to make friends. But, rich or poor, quick or slow, may you know nothing but happiness from this day forward.

Regards From Texas

On the Texas church shooter…

November 6, 2017

…who shall not be named here…

Apparently he was a violent little punk who should still have been in jail:

According to case records, Kelley assaulted his then-wife and her baby, his stepchild.

The baby suffered a fractured skull in the assault, prosecutors said.

But we need more gun control. You know what people advocating more gun control are advocating here? They’re advocating for more laws to be enforced by a government that couldn’t even be bothered to keep people in jail for cracking a baby’s skull.

More gun control, huh?

Yeah.

Pull the other one. It’s got bells on it.

Paying it forward, for Mark.

September 4, 2017

People have helped us out when we were in dire straits, and so it is time to return the favor.

Mark L. Anderson is a good guy, a kind and generous soul…

who has lost everything practically at Ground Zero of Hurricane Harvey.

As one who has survived two hurricanes, I can vouch for the fact that pictures don’t really do this sort of thing justice. He has a PayPal link on his page; please donate what you can.

Harvey didn’t stop at the county line…

September 2, 2017

It looks like we’re seeing the same dynamic at work after Hurricane Harvey that we saw after Hurricane Katrina and, to a lesser extent, Hurricane Ike: big city gets most if not all of the attention while the smaller metros and towns get ignored.

Granted, it IS understandable. Major American city under water, tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of people displaced, and all that not-so-good stuff. But the flooding and devastation didn’t stop at the Houston city limits, nor at the Harris County line. I saw a graphic that outlined the area that was affected, ironically enough just to show the size of the affected area…and it completely excluded the area east and northeast of Winnie.

DIb6SFcVwAAns0-

Interstate 10 just northeast of Winnie, Texas, in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Photo seen on Dade Phelan Twitter feed: https://twitter.com/DadePhelan/status/902683973696065536/photo/1?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.washingtonpost.com%2Fnews%2Fdr-gridlock%2Fwp%2F2017%2F08%2F30%2Fharvey-turned-part-of-interstate-10-into-a-roaring-river-with-actual-waves%2F

For those who don’t know the geography of Texas, that’s the Beaumont-Port Arthur-Orange metropolitan area, aka the Golden Triangle, which (as defined by the Census Bureau) is home to just shy of 390,000 people. A pretty good bit of that area got flooded too…

21106547_10211580278521724_3934468633128594782_n

Ninth Avenue in Port Arthur, Texas, after Harvey. When I lived in Port Arthur, from August 2001 to February 2009, I lived less than a mile from where this photo was taken. Source: https://www.facebook.com/richard.hudson.718/posts/10211580283801856?pnref=story

…and while it’s not Houston, it’s not exactly insignificant either. They’re about to get even more water coming down both the already-swollen Neches and Sabine rivers with the impending releases of water from the Steinhagen and Toledo Bend reservoirs. And then there are the small towns all up and down the coast, from Liberty to Loyola Beach, that were affected to varying degrees, some catastrophically.I don’t know. I remember having much the same thoughts after Katrina, and Rita too. Maybe I just take it more personally this time because I could been right in the middle of this all had things been different. Maybe I just feel a special bond to that place and the people I knew when I was there, many of whom I keep in touch with here on Facebook. Since I left Texarkana, I’ve lived in several different places around Texas, and so far I lived in the Golden Triangle longer than I lived anywhere except for Texarkana.

(That won’t be true for much longer, though!)

Southeast Texas, a lot of us are thinking about and pulling for y’all, even if we’re not there.

Something to remember today.

May 29, 2017

Back in 2009, I remember going to the big Memorial Day celebration in Orange. The Patriot Guard Riders didn’t get to make their grand entrance as planned because of the torrential rains, but they still came. I remember that I just about lost it  when Beaumont PGR chapter president Sandra Womack told everyone why they still came. She said of the fallen soldiers, “They didn’t get an opportunity to choose the weather they fought in, or to choose whether or not to go.”

We should remember that, today and every day.

In honor of Texas Independence Day.

March 2, 2017

I could think of few better written tributes to our state than this; I first saw it around 2006. It was attributed to Orange native Bum Phillips, but I don’t know if he really wrote it; I’ve seen it around the Web and don’t know where it originated. But no matter the author, no matter if it was written in honor of Texas Independence Day, it rings true today, and every day of the year. Every time I read it, the room always gets a bit dusty…

God bless Texas and everyone who lives here, or wishes that they did.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, TEXAS — FROM BUM PHILLIPS

Being Texan by Bum Phillips

Dear Friends,

Last year, I wrote a small piece about what it means to me to be a Texan. My friends know it means about damned near everything. Anyway, this fella asked me to reprint what I’d wrote and I didn’t have it. So I set out to think about rewriting something. I considered writing about all the great things I love about Texas. There are way too many things to list. I can’t even begin to do it justice. Lemme let you in on my short list.

It starts with The Window at Big Bend, which in and of itself is proof of God. It goes to Lake Sam Rayburn where my Granddad taught me more about life than fishin, and enough about fishin to last a lifetime. I can talk about Tyler, and Longview, and Odessa and Cisco, and Abilene and Poteet and every place in between. Every little part of Texas feels special. Every person who ever flew over the Lone Star thinks of Bandera or Victoria or Manor or wherever they call “home” as the best little part of the best state.

So I got to thinkin about it, and here’s what I really want to say. Last year, I talked about all the great places and great heroes who make Texas what it is. I talked about Willie and Waylon and Michael Dell and Michael DeBakey and my Dad and LBJ and Denton Cooley. I talked about everybody that came to mind. It took me sitting here tonight reading this stack of emails and thinkin’ about where I’ve been and what I’ve done since the last time I wrote on this occasion to remind me what it is about Texas that is really great.

You see, this last month or so I finally went to Europe for the first time. I hadn’t ever been, and didn’t too much want to. But you know all my damned friends are always talking about “the time they went to Europe.” So, I finally went. It was a hell of a trip to be sure. All they did when they saw me was say the same thing, before they’d ever met me. “Hey cowboy, we love Texas.” I guess the hat tipped em off. But let me tell you what, they all came up with a smile on their faces. You know why? They knew for damned sure that I was gonna be nice to em. They knew it cause they knew I was from Texas. They knew something that hadn’t even hit me. They knew Texans, even though they’d never met one.

That’s when it occurred to me. Do you know what is great about Texas? Do you know why when my friend Beverly and I were trekking across country to see 15 baseball games we got sick and had to come home after 8? Do you know why every time I cross the border I say, “Lord, please don’t let me die in _____”?

Do you know why children in Japan can look at a picture of the great State and know exactly what it is about the same time they can tell a rhombus from a trapezoid? I can tell you that right quick. You. The same spirit that made 186 men cross that line in the sand in San Antonio damned near 165 years ago is still in you today. Why else would my friend send me William Barrett Travis’ plea for help in an email just a week ago, or why would Charles Stenciled ask me to reprint a Texas Independence column from a year ago?

What would make my friend Elizabeth say, “I don’t know if I can marry a man who doesn’t love Texas like I do?” Why in the hell are 1,000 people coming to my house this weekend to celebrate a holiday for what used to be a nation that is now a state? Because the spirit that made that nation is the spirit that burned in every person who founded this great place we call Texas, and they passed it on through blood or sweat to every one of us.

You see, that spirit that made Texas what it is, is alive in all of us, even if we can’t stand next to a cannon to prove it, and it’s our responsibility to keep that fire burning. Every person who ever put a “Native Texan” or an “I wasn’t born in Texas but I got here as fast a could” sticker on his car understands. Anyone who ever hung a map of Texas on their wall or flew a Lone Star flag on their porch knows what I mean.

My Dad’s buddy Bill has an old saying. He says that some people were forged of a hotter fire. Well, that’s what it is to be Texan. To be forged of a hotter fire.

To know that part of Colorado was Texas. That part of New Mexico was Texas. That part of Oklahoma was Texas. Yep. Talk all you want. Part of what you got was what we gave you. To look at a picture of Idaho or Istanbul and say, “what the Hell is that?” when you know that anyone in Idaho or Istanbul who sees a picture of Texas knows damned good and well what it is. It isn’t the shape, it isn’t the state, it’s the state of mind. You’re what makes Texas.

The fact that you would take 15 minutes out of your day to read this, because that’s what Texas means to you, that’s what makes Texas what it is. The fact that when you see the guy in front of you litter you honk and think, “Sonofabitch. Littering on MY highway.”

When was the last time you went to a person’s house in New York and you saw a big map of New York on their wall? That was never. When did you ever drive through Oklahoma and see their flag waving on four businesses in a row? Can you even tell me what the flag in Louisiana looks like? I damned sure can’t.

But I bet my ass you can’t drive 20 minutes from your house and not see a business that has a big Texas flag as part of its logo. If you haven’t done business with someone called All Tex something or Lone Star somebody or other, or Texas such and such, you hadn’t lived here for too long.

When you ask a man from New York what he is, he’ll say a stockbroker, or an accountant, or an ad exec. When you ask a woman from California what she is, she’ll tell you her last name or her major. Hell either of em might say “I’m a republican,” or they might be a democrat. When you ask a Texan what they are, before they say, “I’m a Methodist,” or “I’m a lawyer,” or “I’m a Smith,” they tell you they’re a Texan. I got nothin’ against all those other places, and Lord knows they’ve probably got some fine folks, but in your gut you know it just like I do, Texas is just a little different.

So tomorrow when you drive down the road and you see a person broken down on the side of the road, stop and help. When you are in a bar in California, buy a Californian a drink and tell him it’s for Texas Independence Day. Remind the person in the cube next to you that he wouldn’t be here enjoying this if it weren’t for Sam Houston, and if he or she doesn’t know the story, tell them.

When William Barrett Travis wrote in 1836 that he would never surrender and he would have Victory or Death, what he was really saying was that he and his men were forged of a hotter fire. They weren’t your average every day men.

Well, that is what it means to be a Texan. It meant it then, and that’s why it means it today. It means just what all those people North of the Red River accuse us of thinking it means. It means there’s no mountain that we can’t climb. It means that we can swim the Gulf in the winter. It means that Earl Campbell ran harder and Houston is bigger and Dallas is richer and Alpine is hotter and Stevie Ray was smoother and God vacations in Texas.

It means that come Hell or high water, when the chips are down and the Good Lord is watching, we’re Texans by damned, and just like in 1836, that counts for something. So for today at least, when your chance comes around, go out and prove it. It’s true because we believe it’s true. If you are sitting wondering what the Hell I’m talking about, this ain’t for you.

But if the first thing you are going to do when the Good Lord calls your number is find the men who sat in that tiny mission in San Antonio and shake their hands, then you’re the reason I wrote this tonight, and this is for you. So until next time you hear from me, God Bless and Happy Texas Independence Day.

May you be poor in misfortune, rich in blessings, slow to make enemies and quick to make friends. But, rich or poor, quick or slow, may you know nothing but happiness from this day forward.

Regards From Texas

Big applause for Fossil.

February 18, 2017

I would like to give a big shout-out to the Fossil Store at North Star Mall here in San Antonio. My watch band needed to be replaced, but the jewelry repair place to which I took the watch to get the band previously adjusted closed down. I took the watch and the band I ordered for it to the Fossil store and explained my situation, perfectly willing to pay, mind you…

…and they replaced the band and adjusted it to fit…for free.

Locals, next time you’re in the market for a watch or a nice wallet, you know where to go.

Thursday tech musings, 22.12.16

December 22, 2016

So I am fully assimilated, or about as assimilated as I’m going to get, anyway..

How so? Well, all these years I’ve owned a Mac, but never an iPhone…until last Monday when my HTC One bit the dust. And I definitely don’t have anything  against the Android — I had a couple of them and they were great — but with the less-expensive iPhone SE in Apple’s lineup now, I thought, why not?

It’s pretty neat, honestly. With the way I feel about local storage I’ll admit I had always pooh-poohed iCloud, but the way the phone and the Mac use it to integrate with each other is really cool. I use iCloud on the Mac for the Find My Mac feature, but I had forgotten that I had it set to sync my Safari bookmarks…until I signed in on the iPhone and all my bookmarks came over from my Mac. And when I got home I enabled the iCloud Keychain on both the iPhone and the Mac, and all my saved Safari usernames & passwords came over to the iPhone from the Mac. It was quite convenient, as is being able to respond to my text messages on the Mac instead of the iPhone.

I could set the Mac up to make and receive phone calls, but that’s just a bridge too far…

As far as getting everything off the old phone? Well….remember how I told you that I had that phone backing up to the cloud? Yup. I was able to get all my contacts & pictures back, more than 2,000 pictures from the day I got the phone to the day it kicked the bucket. I was able to download all the pictures onto the Mac, where they will stay. I was able to download all my contacts into a vCard file and import them into the Contacts app on the Mac, where they were uploaded into iCloud and synced to the phone. And, as the saying goes, nothing of value was lost.

phone

And as you see in the photo above, I put a heavy-duty case on it — the Griffin Technology Survivor All-Terrain. Drop-tested, water-resistant, all that good stuff. Sabra had one on her iPod, and we had one on the iPad as well (though the one on the iPad didn’t hold up well at all…)

“But it’s so pretty! Why put it in such an ugly case?”

Well, it’s not so pretty with a cracked screen, and I don’t have the money to be shelling out to fix said cracked screen, or God forbid get a new phone if it gets dropped that hard.

(Apologies for the crappy picture…)

I do still like my Kindle, though. I suppose I could get an iPad mini if I were so inclined, but the kindle is just the right size for a tablet for me. Maybe if Apple made a smaller one (iPad nano, anyone?), I might think about it…