Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Eight years to go, and counting

At work, and at other places as well, I often give people the number of years, months, and days left until my retirement. People probably think I have a countdown meter somewhere, I do it so quickly. But in reality I can do that because I will retire on my 65th birthday, which happens to coincide withe the last day of the year. So the countdown is easy. I know the year, and I can quickly figure how many months and days left in the year.

Today the countdown reached exactly eight years. That is, unless if economic conditions are such that I have to extend my working days, a distinct possibility the way things are looking right now. Having to work until I'm 67 or even longer is a real scenario.

Of course, I hold a slim hope to the possibility of my writing career taking off, and of supplemental income from that resulting in early retirement from engineering. Yes, I'm not quite free of my pipe dream.

My computer clock now shows it is 8:03 AM, and I must be about my employer's business.

Monday, December 29, 2008

What to write?

This question is not about this blog, but about writing in general. At present, I have only two writing projects in progress:

1. Type the harmony of the gospels I did off and on over a three year period ending in 2005, then go through it to look for gaps, redundancies, potential changes in order, etc. After the typing and editing is done, type explanatory notes for the harmony, only some of which are written in manuscript form. This is likely to take all year.

2. Work on my "Life On A Yo Yo" Bible study, of the life of Peter the apostle. This is planned, and I begin teaching it on Sunday Jan 4, 2009. This is more of a teaching project than a writing project, but I figure that every such project might become a writing project given the right amount of time and energy.

But what to do about a writing career? As I've reported before, it seems that life will never give me, short of my retirement planned for 8 years and 2 days from now, enough time to do all that writing demands: write, edit, improve my craft, research the market, research agents, pour time into submittals/proposals/query letters/etc., follow-up on those, and prepare for the marketing work I would have to do should I become published. All this makes a writing career a pipe dream for now.

So I have an unfinished second novel, In Front Of Fifty Thousand Screaming People, that must remain unfinished. I have a completed first novel, Doctor Luke's Assistant, which, having earned about ten rejections, must remain in the reject pile for the moment. I have my completed poetry book, Father Daughter Day, which, defying all rules of genre and degree of religiosity, sits in exile upon a closet shelf. My non-fiction book Screwtape's Good Advice, has only one rejection, but finding time to tailor the proposal to new editors or agents seems, in light of the current state of publishing, an effort in futility. My newspaper column, Documenting America, being a good but unique work The long list of other novels, other non-fiction books, magazine articles, etc. will just have to remain in the ideas notebook for now.

What will the next twelve months hold as far as writing goes? Stay tuned.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Christmas Season

I wish somehow we could make Christmas less stressful. Fewer parties, no shopping (which of course means no gifts), normal dinners. Cards are okay, because that gives us a once a year reason to contact people and write a letter.

Our cards will go out today or tomorrow. The problem, well, just the busyness of the season and unfortunate circumstances and disagreement on what should be in the letter, which is still not finished. Maybe this will be the last year for cards and letters, or maybe next year will be cards only, since they are the easy part.

Of course, that would run counter to what I said above. Oh, well, life is full of contradictions. We just learn to live with them, and pretend they only come from outside sources.

Merry Christmas, all. Our main gathering starts today, with our main meal tomorrow. The kids were all here for Thanksgiving, so they are off on other pursuits now. Other relatives are traveling toward our house right now.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Corporate Foraging

This time of year is when I forage, in the office. Beginning about Dec 15th, the ladies begin bringing in little treats. Or various vendors begin dropping off gifts such as tins of popcorn or meat trays or boxes of peanut brittle, not for me but for the company as a whole. Or we give out meat and cheese trays to our clients, and one department head always mysteriously orders one too many, which of course we then have to consume. If I wanted to, I wouldn't have to take a lunch. Although, since I can't have the sweet treats, I do have to limit my foraging to what I'm supposed to eat.

Of course, foraging in the office has a different effect than it had in the days of hunter-gatherers. Back then, foraging took considerable energy and effort. One stayed slim and trim and built muscle while foraging. Today, it merely means taking about six steps from the corridor to the conference table in Dept 1, or ten steps in Dept 2, get the picture. Foraging has a negative impact on the body, an impact which I am indeed feeling.

This is not a political blog, and I have made very few political posts. Normally, when I want to make political comments I head over to The Senescent Man blog and post there. But today I will comment on the "corporate foraging" going on in America. First the big lending companies, then the banks, and now the big three automakers all want someone to bail them out, to infuse money in them to allow them to keep operating without declaring bankruptcy. We have a presidential candidate from the party of "fiscal responsibility" who proposed spending 300 Billion dollars to buy "worthless paper" to artificially prop up house prices. Talk about an ultimate oxymoron. We have a president from the same company who defies the will of congress and of his own party and loans money to those automakers, saying it necessary to discard free-market principles to save the free market.

What will the outcome be of this? The US government becomes an owner in these companies, or in some cases becomes their creditor. The taxpayer pays for this, either with more taxation today or more taxation in the future. None of these is a good outcome.

What was the cause of this crisis? Greed, pure and simple, it seems to me. People were greedy, wanting to own houses they couldn't afford, and wanting those houses to always go up in value. Workers were greedy (through their unions), wanting to have the highest pay and benefits package they could squeeze out of the company. Corporate officers were greedy, wanting the highest possible salary and bonus with the best golden parachute waiting should they fail. And stockholders were greedy, wanting the best possible profit this quarter with rising stock price, with no thoughts to long-term viability of the company. Our members of congress were greedy, wanting to be seen as the promoters and sustainers of prosperity. Rather than all the sorry characters in this sorry story fessing up to their greed and seeking to make amends, they go to the taxpayers with their hands out and say, "Please fund our greed!"

Greed is what causes my foraging in the office, with the result that my body is in worse shape, and post-foraging depression when I realize just how many pounds I have to lose, pounds I've lost a few times already. And greed was the cause of the bubble that had to burst, resulting in Panic of 2008 and the corporate foraging taking place before our eyes. The depression that will follow will be the result of simple demographics, as the baby-boomers age and spend less; but it will come.

This has truly been a sad year in America.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Life Imitates Reality TV

I believe I am part of a subculture--a very small subculture, it seems. It is the subculture of those who have never watched a reality TV show. Maybe there's something weird about me, but I don't watch 'em and have no desire to do so.

I sat down to watch the first show of the second season of Survivor. The first season had great reviews, and was a success despite my lack of watching. So I decided to see what it was all about. 30 minutes was all I could take. It was obviously not reality at all; it seemed stupid; and was for certain a waste of my time. Another time I was surfing channels, and came upon a reality show where some fat slob was engaged to a hot babe, and the purpose of the show was for him to make her break up with him. Stupid, stupid, stupid. I think 15 minutes was all I could take of that one.

The Amazing Race, Big Brother, Ozzie Osborne (or, yes, I also watched 10 minutes of one of those once), Keeping Up with the Kardashians, etc. None of them appeal to me. The Biggest Loser, however, looks like it might have some promise, and I may someday dedicate an entire hour to this one. At least it seems to have a practical goal in the midst of the entertainment.

At work, some youngin's have decided to start a Biggest Loser program. Losing weight for us fatties, adding weight/muscle for the skinnies, workout goals for the obsessed but weak-willed, etc. For 13 weeks beginning in January we will do the program: accountability, support groups, and I don't know what-all. I may be the only one over 50 in the program--heck, I may be the only one over 40!

We'll see how this works. I need all the help I can get. After a great summer and fall, I'm fattening up for the winter, and need some motivation to do better. I hope this does it.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Growth and Success

My thoughts may be somewhat random today, written over a period of time between other duties at work. Last night I worked until 10:30 PM, breaking from 6 to 7 PM for supper with my mother-in-law. The urgent need was the utility drawings and specifications for a road widening project in Bentonville that our transportation group is designing. Another department had designed the utility improvements and prepared the drawings and specs, and our Transportation Dept manager took me up on my offer to check them. I began that late Monday afternoon, but decided to hit it hard yesterday and not leave until I finished checking the drawings, leaving the spec for today.

I did this because our TransDept manager, Greg, seemed particularly stressed out over this. He was handling the stress well, but I could see that he needed some support to get his project out. Greg is one of the good ones, wanting always to do things the right way. He and I have had many conversations in the two to three years he's been here, always centering on doing engineering the right way. So I offered to check this part of his construction documents. I enjoy doing quality control checks, so the work was enjoyable, if somewhat intense.

Why did I offer to do this? Part of our CEI vision statement says, "...we are committed to the growth and success of each other." Last week we had some special leadership training concerning "corporate culture", and the vision statement was the star of the show. So it was fresh on my mind. What exactly does that mean, "we are committed to the growth and success of each other", or, personalizing it: "I am committed to the growth and success of others [in the office, in the family, in the community, at church, etc.]?

Why trying to fully grasp this statement, I figured it at least mean, "I will assist a colleague who is under the gun and who is having to use staff not under his direct supervision and who may or may not know what they are doing." That's an easy application of the principle to actual practice.

I notice that no one ever seems to do that to me, to put themselves out for my "growth and success". In fact, it usually seems to be the opposite. When I need a CADD tech (since I am not CADD literate), department heads seem to disappear into the cubicles. When I need help modeling a creek, people make commitments then say they never so committed. When I ask for reviewers of a new guide specification, or for someone more knowledgeable than myself to actually write the document, people forget how to read e-mail, though they sure recognize the function of the delete button.

Alas, this is the way of the world. I'm not sure why I'm surprised at that. I guess I'm not surprised at all, just saddened by people's lack of vision--our specific vision statement.

As I said, today's entry is somewhat unfocused and rambling.

Monday, December 15, 2008

R.I.P. Howard Cheney, age 97

Last Wednesday one of Lynda's elderly cousins, Howard Cheney, died at age 97 in El Dorado Kansas. Before 2006, Howard was a name on my many genealogy pages. An older cousin of Lynda's dad, I assumed he was dead (being age 85 when I began genealogy pursuits), and didn't make any attempt to learn more about him.

In May 2006 he celebrated his 95th birthday, his granddaughter, Ronda, sat with him over old family photos and asked him to identify them. One he said was "Grandma Cheney", but he couldn't give any more info than that. Ronda's interest was piqued; she began doing some genealogy research; found my posts on-line about the family; and contacted me in August 2006.

Events happened quickly. We were going to New Mexico in October for a writing conference. Another elderly cousin, Cecil Cheney, 91, lived outside Albuquerque. When Howard learned Cecil was alive, he wanted to go see him, and a mini-reunion was planned and happened. Howard and Cecil had last seen each other in 1918, when Howard was 8 and Cecil 4. Cecil's dad Will Cheney had been murdered in 1916, and his widow and their three children moved in with Howard's family, the Clarence Cheney family. The widow re-married in 1917 or 1918, they moved to Colorado, and lost track of the Cheney family.

That was quite a moment, when Howard and Cecil saw each other for the first time in 88 years. Howard remembered some of those times, but Cecil not at all. Still, it was a good day, and I was glad for the part I had in making it happen. Genealogy does have some positives.

We drove to El Dorado on Sunday, after Life Group, for the afternoon visitation hours. The weather deteriorated during the four hour drive, the temp. dropping from 69 to 21. We saw Ronda and her brother and sister, their mom and uncle, Howard's widow (a late in life remarriage for him), some spouses, and other relatives. Most of these we had not met before. It was a great time, including looking at some photos we hadn't seen before. The trip back was through some sleet (not too bad and not enough to slow down a whole lot) and temps. around 17. We were back about 9 PM, glad we made the effort, happy to have met relatives, sorry at Howard's passing, and worn out.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Little Osage Creek Revisited

On November 12, 2008, I blogged about Little Osage Creek and the flood study I'm working on for that. After having the successful computer model of the stream geometry, and a first calculation of the height and spread of the flood waters, I have been working on 1) improving the model, and figuring out how to 2) properly map the spread of the flood and 3) reduce the height and spread of the flood waters by doing minor improvements to the stream channel.

This has taken considerable time, much more than I anticipated. Even though the model I ran a month ago ran successfully, the more I looked at it, the more I realized I had small errors in it: a culvert partially blocked by the ground data in the model that was clear in real life; a road over the culvert improperly entered; a missing cross-section; a feature of the program called ineffective flow areas not entered for some sections where it was needed, or entered at the wrong place or wrong elevation. All of these took some time to sort through and correct.

The mapping turned out to be a bigger problem, however. Just last Thursday, a CADD tech was finally assigned to me for this. I would have preferred a junior engineer, but this tech is a good man, intelligent and eager to learn, a hard worker. But, as I explained to him how to take the flood elevation and the topography and pinpoint the horizontal extents of the flood zone, I had a lot of explaining to do. He had lots of problems with it. Monday afternoon we spent over an hour trying to work on it, and had a lot of trouble with one particular area. We broke off our discussion just after 5:00 PM. It seemed that the report I had to give to the Centerton City Council the next evening was in jeopardy.

Right after that, in the quiet at my desk, I realized exactly what I had to do to correctly do the mapping. Our problems came from the West Branch running at right angles to the Main Branch. I had accounted for this by the ineffective flow areas feature. However, all the cross-sections therefore could not be extended far enough to where the flood waters hit the ground. In the ten quiet minutes at my desk, I realized I had to bend the cross-sections at the inside corner of where those two branches met at right angles. Yesterday morning I showed him my mark-up with the bent cross-sections, and showed him how to map the extent of the flood. By afternoon he had it done; we put 25 packets together, and I went off to the 7:00 PM meeting to make my report.

The mapping was temporary, however, completed only for this oral report. I now have to modify the model with these bent cross-sections. This means new geometry for part of fourteen cross-sections. This means having the tech cut those sections from the CADD program and labeling the key points. This means back to data entry on the computer model, probably two to three days of work, then re-running the model, then seeing if the temporary mapping we completed yesterday is still valid.

I should have recognized right at the start that these cross-sections should be bent. That's what happens when you lay your tools down for a few years, and try to pick them up again. At CEI I am the senior engineer who is not in upper management. My job is to train all the youngin's, and to help them solve their more difficult problems. But instructing someone in how to do something is much different than actually doing it.

This has been a good exercise for me. My tools are sharper; I'm better at using them than I ever was before; and I've enjoyed it (sort of).

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Book Review: Moses: A Man of Selfless Dedication

Our Life Group at church recently completed, as a Bible study, Moses: A Man of Selfless Dedication by Charles R Swindoll, 1998, Insight For Living, ISBN 1-57972-097-8. This is a Bible study guide, prepared from Swindoll's outlines and sermon transcripts by Jason Shepherd. The book is a companion to a larger book of the same name. For our study, we had only the Bible study guide and the Bible itself.

The guide is organized into twenty-two chapters covering the full range of Moses' life and activities. All but two chapters focus on Moses; those two are on the Israelites and the law given through Moses. Each chapter includes a section of Living Insights--exercises to challenge the adult student to apply the scripture to life. Some of the chapters include a section Digging Deeper, written to propel the student to really analyze the scriptures. The book includes a map and a handful of tables/charts to clarify sequential or parallel events. An appendix lists books for further study.

Moses' life should be familiar to most who have walked with Christ for more than a few years. This puts a burden on the writer of the study: how to take the familiar material and cast it in a way to keep the student's interest? You need more than clever phrasing. Deep doctrinal discussion won't go very far either. To hold the student, you need to do a number of things that Swindoll has done.

- Excellent writing. This should go without saying for any published book, but I have read a number of published books which are not well written; or which have the seed of a good idea but have not had the right editorial attention. Good writing will be marked by: brevity that gets the points across without wordiness; avoiding excess moderators; ample vocabulary that is not loaded with obscure words that show off the writer's intelligence without elucidating the reader any more than common words would; organization of sentences and paragraphs into an easy to read format, yet not sacrificing meaning for ease of reading. Swindoll and Shepherd have done this. I cannot point to a single place in the study guide where the writing was anything but excellent.

- Point out something different. Different, that is, from what every other Bible teacher points out. I won't list them here, but a number of times Swindoll pointed out matters of significance that I never thought of before. That's good teaching.

- Pull out the key passages; supplement with lesser known passages. We have all read the story of the burning bush, the ten plagues, the crossing of the Red Sea, and the giving of the law at Mount Sinai. But much more happened in those forty eventful years. Swindoll gives us the well-known, as well as some of the lesser-known, and builds lessons around them.

- Place in context of the times. I always try to think of how the original readers of the Bible would have understood these words. Or, how those who participated in the events interpreted those events. When the Israelites watched Moses strike the rock at Rephidim, what did they actually see, and what did they think? When Moses stood face to face with God atop Mount Sinai and plead for God not to destroy the Israelites, what did the scene actually look like? Swindoll helps us with the context, through a series of dramatic narratives (slightly fictionalized descriptions of what might have been going on), as well as through description of the times and places involved in the biblical account.

- Stimulate he student to additional study. This worked for me. As I read Swindoll's book, and read the applicable Bible passages, I found myself drawn to other places in the Bible to check on things. How much of this was Swindoll's organization of the material and the writing, and how much was my own recent interest I'm not sure. Before our Life Group picked this for study, I was working on an outline of this material for my own series--though focusing more in Israel than on Moses. For whatever reason, it worked for me. I'm still studying in Numbers.

If your small group (Sunday school class, life group, spiritual formation group, etc.) is looking for a study, consider this one. I do not believe you will be disappointed.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Skinny on Weight

As part of my training responsibilities, I coordinate a weekly brown bag presentation to our offices. This is broadcast to any of our nine offices where people want to attend. We use a mixture of in-house and outside presenters as I can schedule them; and I teach a few each year. To promote them, I usually try to come up with a clever title. I used to say a "sexy title", but our HR head voiced a mild objection to that, so now I call it a clever, attention-grabbing, got-to-attend-just-cuz-of-the-title title. For example, the one this week was titled "Staying Out of Jail". The one we had back on October 29th was about how vehicle weight affects pavement design. The man who presented it came up with the sexy--I mean attention-grabbing--title: The Skinny On Weight.

That has almost nothing to do with what I'm going to write next. My weight is down, currently at a 4-year low. I'm down a total of 43 pounds from my peak weight. Well, after Thanksgiving I'm not, but I'll be back there next week. Weight that goes on fast also comes off fast.

You ask how I've lost this weight, and what I did to do so? It's come off over almost three years. I peaked in February 2006, the same peak I had hit in February 2004. After that second peak, I knew I needed to get serious about losing weight, but I wanted to lose it in a way that it stayed off, unlike past times of bouncing up and down. So I made a conscious effort to eat a little less. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, and without pain, the weight did start coming off beginning in March 2006. A little bit each month, not steady, and not without an occasional set back, but I'm losing.

I try to walk in the parking lot on the noon hour. The pressures of work and responsibilities don't allow me to do so as often as I'd like, but I get at least one day a week in, many times more. Weather interrupts from time to time. We also try to walk on the weekends when time allows. Walking is really my only exercise, except for occasional rebounding with a low-energy bounce. Beginning in May this year, I made a stronger commitment to noon hour walking, and kept it up through the summer. As long as the ambient temperature was not over 95 deg. F, I walked at least a mile, sometimes closer to 1.4 miles. As a result, I showed a weight loss between my May and August doctor appointments of 13 pounds, and I kept it off and lost a couple more for my November appointment.

Now comes the push to lose these few Thanksgiving pounds, not put on any over Christmas and New Years, then keep going. The loss of 43 pounds is the good news; the bad news is I still have about 60 to go to reach the top end of my ideal weight range. I plan to keep on doing what I've been doing. Eat slightly smaller portions than I would like. Always bring some of my restaurant meals home. Limit snacks. Eat less fruit (a blood sugar thing). Up-tick my exercise slightly. I'd like to develop the habit of regular rebounding, and maybe use another apparatus regularly. I'm not worried about taking it off quickly. Just as weight that goes on fast comes off fast, so does weight that comes off fast go back on fast. Loosing at a rate something less than 1/2 pound per week is fine with me.

Some people in the company are putting together an in-house program for weight loss, maybe similar to the show The Biggest Loser. I'll participate, but really won't be trying to win whatever prize they offer. It will be just for the motivation to add those one of two more good habits to the couple I've developed over the last three years.

Skinny? No, and never. But hopefully healthier.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Book Signing

No, it's not mine. One would have to have a book published to have a book signing, and I haven't.

I went to Wal-Mart on Monday, after work, to pick up some file folders for my writing filing. The parking lot was more full than I would have expected at a little after 6 PM. Actually, traffic was awful, in every direction. All the roads I either drove on or crossed to get from the office to Wal-Mart were jammed in each direction. And the gas pumps at Murphy Oil outside the Supercenter were jammed as well, despite the fact that gas had gone up from $1.419 to $1.559. Perhaps many feared additional increases. But I prate.

Inside Wal-Mart, I encountered a good sized crowd. I saw a line of people in the main aisle between clothing and office supplies, kitchen stuff, etc. The line looked like one of those special lines they have the day after Christmas, for everyone to return the things they received but didn't want. But then I remembered this wasn't after Christmas but after Thanksgiving. And then I noticed everyone had one or two books in their hands. When I walked by the line I could see the books were all Growing Up Country. I diverted to the head of the line and saw this was written by Charlie Daniels, of the country singing group Alabama, and that Mr. Daniels was to sign books from 6 PM to 8 PM. I checked the time: 6:15 PM, and the signer's chair was empty. Mr. Daniels was obviously running late. How long before the hundred or so people in line became irate?

Book signings are something I have not daydreamed, or even dreamed, about. If I am ever published, book signings will obvious come into my life. Most authors describe them as boring times, more waiting for people to come by the table than actual signing. Two hours for a handful of books. Mr. Daniels' celebrity status made things different for him. And this explains why publishers will publish books by celebrities. I guess Daniels is actually more of an editor of this book than a writer, for he has gathered together "a slight collection of essays from 59 self-described 'country folk'". Probably he has writing of his own sprinkled through the book.

More power to Charlie Daniels, I say. People want to hear from celebrities; they buy their books; publishers oblige. It's the system.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

December Goals

Given that December is full of holiday activities, I'm going to pare down my writing goals even more this month.

1. Blog 10 to 12 times.

2. Finish some more filing/organization of writing material. I thought I had finished this, except for buying file folders and filling them. Last night I bought those and filled them. However, I remembered I had a stack of writing stuff at work that I need to bring home and file. So I guess I'm not done yet. Writing seems to be a kind of paper chase.

3. More work on Life on a Yo Yo Life Group lesson series, which I begin teaching January 4.

4. See if I can flesh out the brainstorming work on the short Life Group lesson series from the Apocrypha. I looked at it a little last night, and unless I get something down on paper, I'm not sure I'll have a legitimate series.

5. Buy one writing magazine, as a Christmas present to myself, and read it.

6. Continue to work down my reading list. Since the book I'm currently reading is 736 pages, and I'm only on page 165, this may take all month.

Edited to add:
7. Complete the review I've started of Macaulay's essay on Ranke's History of the Popes.

Monday, December 1, 2008

November Report

Time to report on how I did in November relative to the modest goals I set.

1. Blog 10 to 12 times. I managed 13 posts; so met and slightly exceeded goals.

2. Finish planning "Life On A Yo Yo", and begin writing as needed, with a target to present to our life group beginning in January 2009. Completed as planned. For this lesson series, I'm not going to have weekly handouts as I did with the Elijah and Elisha study; at least not fancy ones.

3. Begin planning two other life group series. One will be "From Slavery To Nationhood", which looks at the Israelites during the Exodus and the years of wandering. The other is the one I thought of last week, which needs some more work before I make it public. Completed this. Both of these two studies are planned. By this I mean: I know how long they will be (how many weeks); I have the full list of lessons identified; I have a short description of the goals for each lesson; I have the scripture identified for each lesson.

4. Evaluate the life group lesson series I thought of based on a story in the Apocrypha. I sort-of did this. I have thought through the short lesson series, decided it is viable, and have brainstormed how I would teach it. I have not yet put much down on paper.

5. Since I found more writing things that need to be filed, and since I ran out of file folders and couldn't file all of those I found, finish filing writing stuff. I have not yet purchased the file folders I need, but I think I have gathered everything into one place (my filing pile), put them in order, and discarded duplicates. I should be able to finish this in December. Didn't I say that in November?

6. Work some on one other writing project. Alas, I cannot think of anything I did this month that would qualify as meeting this goal.

7. Continue typing the harmony of the gospels that I wrote some years ago. I made excellent progress on this goal, typing for 30 to 45 minutes almost every evening. I began with the part I worked on last, and progressed backwards. The reason I did this was that I found some of my early work did not have enough explanatory notes, and sometimes it was a little difficult to be sure of what the actual harmony was. I'm not back to some of my earliest work on this.