Wednesday September 21, 2016 5:25am Starbucks Coffee

This morning walked to Starbucks dreaming about the stories I would love to tell, while my stomach ached familiarly. I've had two ulcers before and a couple days ago I realized that I may have a third so I spent a minor amount of my mile long trek through oddly silent city streets past the four crickets within a mile of my apartment thinking about what alternatives to coffee I might have. 

Later, I sat drinking the Earl Grey Tea that I hastily ordered when they asked me to be more specific about what kind of tea. I'd said I'll have a Grande Black Tea which gave us a mutual panic because that wasn't enough information. The woman started listing off the types of black tea and I picked the first one I'd heard of before then regretted the choice because the second option was the one I actually like.

I sat for like ten minutes without opening my notebook then pulled the inner cup of tea out hoping that shedding the second cup would help it cool faster. My first sip was a full fifteen minutes after ordering. It burned my tongue as a woman approached in my periph.

While I thought about why anyone would ever drink scolding hot tea the woman came into focus. She was mixed with like skin, hair in a pony tail, and she was ranting about being forty two. She didn't look forty two, but dark skin seems to age more gracefully than the white faces I've seen age. 

I assume she was homeless because of three things. She was walking with more than one bag. She was slightly dirty. And, she took her rants around the corner and sat on the ledge. If she weren't homeless, she'd take her rants, sit at a table, and write them into a journal like me.

She sat over there raging as people walked in to Starbucks. Eventually, I heard some loud bitches rip through the air. I looked over and heard her yell, "Yeah, you better walk away, bitch! You don't know who you're messing with."

There was a young woman at the door and she replied, "Uh, you don't know... uh... me," she trailed off her fightin words and entered the store perplexed.

I watched as the homeless woman walked to the door and stood there gesturing to come out and fight. "I needs me some scraps. I love to scrap, bitch!" I heard her say with intentionally bad grammar. 

She stood there gesturing to fight, mouthing it's go time while I spectated in disbelief. After a moment I realized that clearly she was determined to wait for the woman to exit Starbucks and she was going to fight her so I said, "it's way to early to start a fight."

She replied, "she started it."

I didn't believe that but I didn't want to conflict with her directly. I said, "well, it doesn't matter who started it. You don't have to finish it. It's like five thirty in the morning. It's way too early for a fight."

She didn't break eye contact looking through the door. 

"She'd just scared," she said.

I was like, "yeah, who expects to fight at five in the morning?" She continued to stare so I high lighted the absurdity, "she just wanted some coffee."

Eventually she left, I motioned which way she walked, talked to the barista for a moment, and then sat there thinking I should post this story. There is no moral to the story. This just happened. 

Sh**ty Narcissistic Analysis of "Interstellar"

*Warning contains spoilers: Darth Vader in Dutch means dark father*

Last Sunday night I enjoyed several bowls of my favorite cereal, drank plenty of coffee, and then saw Christopher Nolan's newest film, the nearly three hour long sci-fi epic Interstellar. Among the many emotions that I experienced, during and then after, as I attempted to sprint out of the film, one feeling shoots out above the rest. I felt disappointment. Regret actually. Why hadn't I finished my story? How did Nolan read my mind and steal from me? Was time travel involved? Why was this everything and beyond what I'd spent my early twenties dreaming? Why hadn't I sat nearer to the isle? Will the handicap stall be open? Will it have toilet paper? These thoughts were my narcissism, classical to point of bordering on religious or at the very least predating Ptolemy, transcending reason and the limits of our physical understanding of existence into a metaphysical explanation and socially accepted self protection. I left the theater in a leaned back power walk responding to a master piece and the inevitable result of consuming coffee and bran before a movie. In Nolan's work I'd seen what I had hoped to capture in my own, and there in my place of violent explosions of regrettable animal solidarity I had to reckon with the reality of my creative impotence, his unapproachable genius, and how to discretely exit without self implication.

Three weeks before I was in a small city on the Atlantic Ocean called Chipiona next to the largest light house in Spain when one of our travel companions Dave (I've changed his name here because that's what people call him. His real name is David.) Dave once again observed that he'd been forgotten. The day before he'd found at least three instances where he was left out or overlooked. Having spent most of my trip carefully gathering stories about the tyranny of power and bad design as I went through TSA, and also having spent a good amount of time watching political strife unfold between the inhabitants of two nine passenger vans, I was suddenly struck with the idea that maybe my weeks of brooding about Michael Brown, the police in Ferguson, and systems of power in general were influencing my interpretation of my experiences. "We see what we look for," I said.

He stepped back and leaned on a wall behind him deep in thought and said, "that's very profound."

And so I said, "Will you write a version of it? It's vitally important for a profound person to make sure someone else records their dialogues. Otherwise, they... uh... I... I'd look narcissistic." Only I didn't say that because it's offensive to point out something so obvious.

Interstellar is what we look for in a Hollywood movie. In story terms, it's bracketed; Mysteries are opened at the beginning and solved at the end. Everything is explained except one. And, it ends happy and optimistic. But, like Inception, the perfection of the story's happy closure begs the same basic critique of all Hollywood movies. That critique is that Hollywood movies put impossible endings on movies to make money and therefore cannot be as important as literature. But, both of Nolan's Inception and Interstellar dare you to watch the endings and say, "that wouldn't happen," and look closer until you want to look away from what's bleeding between the lines. You say, "only in a dream world or a near death experience would anything end so neatly," and the movies respond, "if you say so."

In the film's opening, Cooper, Interstellar's protagonist played by Mathew McConaughey, crashes his spaceship and dies. My wife's friend Marianna mentioned that idea through text message while my wife and I had drinks after the movie and my mind shat. Even though I've subsequently found out that that's not at all what she was trying to say, the idea nevertheless splattered in my mind; his spaceship is tumbling on reentry in the second scene of the film. He is certainly about to die because a spacecraft tumbling on reentry is seconds from pulling apart, and so in the moments before his impending death, the rest of the film occurs. Matt Damon's character even lays it out for him. The mind refuses to see it's own death even moments before the inevitable. His deepest desires and his children and their future and the future of the world flash before his eyes until he sees the impossible occur; everything worked out well and the world went on... and then the screen goes black because he's fucking dead... so fucking dead... like our dreams of a better tomorrow where we aren't dead. Nolan simply leaves out the part where M. Night Shyamalan might clue you in to the fact that we're all dead and soooo f***ed, and you leave the theater and live the rest of your life believing what you wanted to believe. The world will be fine. We are the world. The physically impossible can occur. The will of the super natural is guided by us in the future. We are the others. God loves us. We are images of God in human form. This suit jacket looks fantastic on me. Can you believe what she's wearing?

Columbus Day Gone By

It occurred to me today, well... yesterday now, I've stayed up passed midnight so it feels like today. Anyway, it occurred to me that we have rapidly reached the end of an era, a moment as important as Christopher Columbus discovering the New World forever dispelling the absurd notion of a flat Earth floating on a plane created by God for European domination and replaced it with a globe created by God for European domination. A parade of facebook status confirmed that our collective consciousness is now willing to admit that celebrating Christopher Columbus is akin to celebrating the Spanish Inquisition which started in 1489 but doesn't have a clever rhyme so it's easy to forget how incredibly linked those two events are. In either case, it seems we're finally doing something about the obvious injustice of celebrating a person that we'd execute for crimes against humanity. However, I'm leery of this rapid social progress because I know there are people quietly lining up to defend Columbus as soon as liberals aren't around in the same ways that Black people who are executed by white police officers are still slandered as criminals behind closed doors.

It took over five hundred years for this momentous acknowledgement that the Euro-centric conquest of the Americas was unequivocally evil and worthy of derision, but the scary truth is that it took two thousand years before people were willing to accept that the earth was round. An Egyptian Librarian from Greece calculated the diameter of the planet in the third century BCE. In educated circles, it was settled from then on, but for the rest of the people it took Columbus sailing -- not all the way around the globe -- but half way before they accepted that the world was round, which to be fair was still close enough to name a baseball team the Indians four hundred years later despite the fact that we'd known that the Native Americans we met were not from India at least three hundred years previous. It's like they were younger brother of that guy you know when you're fifteen that you keep calling Mike (the older brother's name) when his name is clearly Steve just because it makes him mad and you enjoy being powerful enough that he won't say anything. The only difference is that we just took five hundred years to turn seventeen and realize that being a dick isn't cool, and there are still a large percentage of people that seem like they'll actively resist the realization of how uncool they've been.

Two thousand years. That's how long it took for people to admit the world wasn't a floating plane with water falling off the edges and sea monsters. Why should we believe that this moment of social clarity will stick around when there isn't something equivalent to a guy sailing to someplace that might as well be India filled with people that might as well be called Indians? I mean, we still have a baseball team called The Indians and a football team called The Redskins. Seems like maybe especially if they change the names of those teams there will be blow back akin to Southerners continued thoughts of secession and winning the war. I guess the hope is that it'll continue to become more and more marginalized like the KKK and Neo-Nazis. Unfortunately, the reality of this type of racism is that it doesn't appear to be overtly problematic and evil when compared to the incredible injustices in our past, and it's no longer the KKK supporting something that is racist. It's regular people who don't believe they are racist and without a Columbus moment to cement in their minds the dangers of their racism, they're unlikely to be willing to admit that it needs to go so two thousand years might be the amount of time needed. Two thousand years.

Anxiety This Week: October 10, 2014

I blew off Documentary Wednesday. Now I've blown off Anxiety Thursday. But, it's sort of a pragmatic solution to a problem that runs deep inside me. Ironically, it's that deep cause that could provide an endless supply of material to write about.

I've found my wellspring of inspiration. My muse is fear. It's feeling insignificant. It's feeling like nothing I'll ever do will amount to anything. It's knowledge that there is nothing truly special about me that might pull me out of a life of mediocrity. My job I guess is simply to record my crippling neurosis. If I can't take effective steps toward objectives that seem essential and therefore important, like financial success or career achievement, I guess it's my job to record the process. At the very least there will be a very detailed record of my descent from somewhere just below mediocre to someplace below. Oddly I'm not exactly afraid of that descent, but I don't like the outlook of failing at this. The older you get when you've chased an impossible dream, the less employable you become. No one's immediate reaction to a thirty year old man is enthusiastic if he's without a bachelors degree, with little experience beyond retail, and has a spotted history of employment. The punishment for avoiding job purgatory in the land just above minimum wage is only being able to get minimum wage work. The trade off for working was always a better future so I guess that's not a huge loss. If you want a better future you'd better be willing to take on an incredible amount of debt for a fifty percent shot at making more money. The choice is work now, stay debt free, and trade off reaching your true potential, or go to school, sink yourself deeply in debt, and then potentially end up in the same place with debt. It would be nice if you could simply be happy and mediocre like generations passed. But, in actuality you excel as part of team that provides inexpensive and delicious at unprecedented speed, but that fucking miracle is valued by customers about as much as their own health. 

The bath houses in Rome set the paradigm for opulence. They had slaves below the floor. The slaves heated the pools of water for the rich above. Five feet of stone and intentional disregard for human life was all the separated very happy people from people in a dungeon complete with open fires that could easily be fallen into with the only note from above being property loss in an accountant's book.

We think we're so much better because, at the very least, we can see the people in back of McDonald's working, but that has less to do with owning the reality that human potential is shackled and observable, and more to do with the feeling of security knowing that if the most brazen cook who has to work more than one job to pay for a section 8 apartment spit in food, they'd be seen immediately and fired. 

Last year on Thanksgiving, I walked to the McDonald's across the street from our apartment. The twelve year old in me was excited. Thanksgiving as a child was hard because I didn't like Turkey or any of the other foods people parade out for Thanksgiving. I had yet to fall in love with the myriad of the different combinations of Jello, fruit, and cool whip in a pale blue-green  Tupperware bowl from 1960. I would end up hungry every Thanksgiving for no one's fault but my own until one glorious Thanksgiving day the McDonald's sign was on. It was a miracle that I probably appreciated more than any gift I'd ever received for Christmas. As I walked in, I carried that level of appreciation with me as I saw a man stand up, clearly angry, holding a sandwich that had cheese sticking out like a tongue. He stomped over to the counter as I approached and yelled at the cashier, "This cheese is off center!" His McChicken confirmed the reality of his observation, but shed no light onto the absurdity of a man yelling about something he could have solved with less than a jedi-mind trick wave using the bun to push the cheese to the right spot. "The cheese is supposed to be centered," he bellowed at the cashier who winced with every syllable. She was over thirty, under five foot three, and he was a grown man at least six foot. She was thirty and obviously poor, and he was probably in his late forties and obvious of enough means to yell, "This cheese is off center!" The words seemed to hit her like punches in Raging Bull. Luckily, in less than thirty second, the guy in the back had prepared a replacement McChicken purely by muscle memory but made sure the cheese was properly centered this time, and it was handed to this angry man as I stepped up to the counter to order.

I let her know with my face that this guy was absolutely insane, gave her my order, and said, "Happy Thanksgiving." Her smile shined genuinely for a moment like mine would have at twelve if I'd found a Tupperware filled with cheeseburgers. It was a good face, but it definitely didn't compare to my face the day McDonald's was first open on Thanksgiving and it also wouldn't compare to the face she'd have made if was given a paid holiday to celebrate being an American with her family.

HTML: Hello World

<!DOCTYPE html brainfart

PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN"
"http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd">

<!-- I have no idea what that means, but I'm willing to learn -->

<html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml">

<head>

<title id="poopy">hello world</title>

<meta http-equiv="I'm writing html" content="text/html; charset=Kingsford" />
<!-- google charset to find other brands of charcoal -->
<meta name="keywords" content="Stuff, things, unbridled vagueness" />
<meta name="author" content="Jordan Weimer" />

</head>

<body>

<div id="oligarchy">
<!-- parent div -->
<div id="political parties">

<!-- subordinate div -->
<div id="Republican">

<p> Abortion no. War yes. Selective sanctity of life. </p>

</div>

<div id="Democrat">

<p> Change moving forward... one second... aaaaaand nope. </p>

</div>

</div>
</div>

</body>

</html>

Book Monday: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Well, it's Monday night and the plan was to have Junot Diaz's book "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" read but that didn't really work out. There's like two hundred pages left in the book and I'm going to have to finish this week. Even a hundred and fifty pages into the book you get a feeling that the depth of the book goes well beyond the page. At the very least there is the fact that narrator speaks Spanish and even Spanish slang that can't be found in any dictionary. There's a feeling that important details are being missed every time a phrase comes along in Spanish when google isn't at the ready. Beyond the translation there is the fact that the main character Oscar is a genre fiction/fantasy novel/sci-fi nerd so there is bound to be imbedded references and story points that simply don't jump of the page for me because the closest I came to reading sci-fi or fantasy novels as a kid was when I read every page of every Popular Science magazine. I have a sinking sense of nerd guilt while reading this because my brand of nerd won't catch the references unless it's trouble with tribbles or forty two or references to the nineties cartoon versions of DC and marvel comics. The extent of my nerdom is obscure science more than culture, and so I feel out of place a bit with Diaz's work but as always that's actually what draws me to it. I like to understand things that are beyond me, and "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" is beyond me now.

In my one semester as Columbia College Chicago I actually saw Junot Diaz speak two weeks before receiving his MacArthur Genius Grant. Having no idea who he was and being first into the auditorium I thought about sitting as far away from the stage as possible and then the studies that talked about how choosing where to sit says a lot about your subconscious association with your place in a hierarchy. Not wanting to let my subconscious association determine the course of my life, I sat front and center in a two hundred seat auditorium. The rest of the students and teachers filed in, but they knew that he won the Pulitzer Prize for Wao and sat at a safe distance so there were three empty rows of seats at the front except for me and a guy that was my writing partner who was brave enough to join me.

Front and Center, I got the Citizen Kane view of him as he spoke. At one point he was answering a question and, understandably, trying to get a little closer to the audience but was prevented by the rows of seats and my feet. That was the time I tripped a Pulitzer Prize winner before he was a MacArthur Genius. I wonder if that'll be my "John that was Eisenhower" moment. The one time I'm driving near Camp David in 1965, lost, pass a car rolling in the shoulder, see a man on the side of road walking, and stop ahead of him. I get out of my car and ask him for directions, get back in the car and have my wife yell at me as though something significant just happened before driving back to my quite life in rural Indiana.

He said, "Sorry, young man." And, I graciously didn't press charges for scuffing my New Balance shoes.

I noticed that he had New Balance shoes too when he stood at the podium off to the side of the stage. It was good to see a dude that was so absurdly successful not wearing cloths that were different from mine. He wasn't wearing a perfectly tailored vintage three piece suit he miraculously found at a vintage shop. T-shirt, jeans, and running shoes and a shitload of brains, that's all you need, I let be confirmed. But, I rejected his response to a student who asked about whether he'd make Wao into a movie. He said, there was no point in trying because Hollywood will never make a movie about a Dominican kid from New Jersey, and a bunch of condescension about reading being superior anyway. 

I rejected that stuff because I've never self associated as a reader. Mind you this isn't because I think reading is dumb or because I buy into anti-intellectual rhetoric. I self associate as "not a reader" because it was and is extremely time consuming for me so I felt the need to push back. I'm not dyslexic but they too shouldn't be deprived of the best literature simply because Hollywood won't make diverse movies. There's so many ways to make a movie for cheap and there is a ridiculous amount of world class talent not working, ready great subject matter and work that's worth more than residuals from a McDonald's ad even if it doesn't pay like a Hollywood production.

I also have had to reject his advice that writers should publish less. It took him ten years to write and publish his first book. For me, publishing less means not writing. I write every day now, but having the demand to make something today has been very important for not letting anxiety get in the way. Publishing regularly for me is simply about getting out of my mind and letting mistakes happen. I just don't treat a published work as done. Stories are meant to be retold and added to. They're meant to get out of hand. They're meant to get better with every repetition. The real mistake isn't publishing but copyrighting and losing the right to retell the story. I guess, in substance I agree with his point of view, but his use of the word "publish", which I could be remembering wrong, misses the greater truth that stories are meant to be retold a bunch of times before they're finalized. It's like the first books of the bible. They're distilled as they are, a thousandth draft, finally committed to papyrus by Moses.

Music In My Ears

I'm currently listening to Death "For All the World to See". If you don't know who they are, they made this proto-punk album by three brothers and written by the oldest brother who rejected a major record deal and died in obscurity telling his brothers that people will one day come looking for the tapes of what they made in 1974. 1974, of course, if you know the history of punk music, was several years before the first person put a pin through their cheek and contemplated the artistic merit of heroin use knowing they were completely unique, what being punk is and, naturally, who sold out, ten years after Bob Dylan played with a band for the first time in a tour and at one show heard a fan yell, "Judas," from the crowd, and ninety years after an art collector said, "Yes, he cut off his ear and he died before anyone appreciated his work. Buy this piece now or you'll regret it. His art is going fast." If you have heard of Death, yes, all the facts that I've learned about them came from the documentary on Netflix because I'm authentic.

***

This week has been a sing-in-the-car week. The walls in our apartment are paper thin so I constantly feel the need to be quiet so it's nice to climb into my car and blast some music and sing as though there isn't a person next to me at a light looking over. It's been a Frank Turner, Bowie, and Elton John kind of week. I've been belting out "Jet Lag", "Rock & Roll Suicide", and "Border Song" with zero shame. Well, very little shame. Let's not get carried away here, I do sing quieter at lights and will take drives on the highway to avoid intersections.

***

A dude got super homophobic in my fantasy football's text message group and this was the same dude that dropped "nig" like it was nothing two years ago until I said something to which he responded with, "dude, it's not like I used the whole word," and, "everybody knows there are nigs and then there are regular black people. Don't be an ignorant Northerner." I had to point out that he's not Chris Rock and that he was still from Green Bay, Wisconsin so when he got homophobic it was again time to say something.

He was repeatedly insinuating that one of the guys in our group was sucking dicks so I insinuated that the accuracy of descriptions were a little too accurate, but the logical conclusion about him was okay. At what point does a guy's graphic descriptions and endless fixation with gay acts start to cause you to wonder if he needs to be accepted for who he is, I asked. He responded to that by asking me if I like to image the guy he was making fun of performing a sexual act with another man to which I then responded that I had more fun imagining him secretly singing Elton John songs while weeping.

At this point he was starting to wonder into being outmatched and said, "is that really the best you can do," which played right into my hand because I'm an expert on Elton John's hit songs. So, I said, "don't worry I won't let the sun go down on you." He then replied back explaining how heterosexual sex works so I responded with the fact that even if he and Susie were holding hands and skimming stones that doesn't mean much. Then other guys started chiming in. One said, don't let the sun go down on this conversation, and the other said, I can't feel the love tonight; and, that was that. If he'd pointed out that I had a conspicuous knowledge of Elton John, I'd say, "yes I do. I sing the crap out of those songs because even if I look gay, that doesn't actually matter at all." Of course, it does matter to me otherwise I wouldn't quiet down at lights. I have homophobic shame about singing but, at the very least, I know it's absurd. In either case, it's best to live out.

Comed-E Friday: Oct 3

Alright you people. I'm writing this thing right now because when I try to speak funny, it's not. So, I'm writing this. I have to find someway to let loose. I find that if I don't just write anything that comes to mind that I don't do anything. And, if I sit in front of a camera or a microphone and talk, then I'm left to clearly hear how unfunny I am and that's just too painful for this particular moment. I'm going to have to show up all week so I can build up enough of something for next Friday. 

Okay, so, you know how old people smell, right? The smell of their cologne or perfume? It's awful, right? It's like there's brand called "Old People". "Old People Smell: for when nineteen fifty feels like yesterday. What year is it? I have to poop." But, yesterday, I realized that I love it when old people smell terrible because I met a really old man that smelled amazing and it weirded me out so hard. This eighty year old Asian man smelled delicious. Old men are not supposed to smell delicious. 

***

Lindsay and I went to see the Gogol Bordello and the Pixies last week and it reminded me of when we went to RiotFest two years ago in Humboldt Park. I was reminded because we were sitting at the Hollywood Bowl noticing the strict social enforcement of economic status and realizing this was not going to be the best way to see Gogol Bordello. If you don't know who they are, they play music that is Eastern European/Latin American folk (polka, gypsy music) mixed with punk music so their shows were designed for tight rooms where you come home covered in other people's sweat and despite that you don't care at all.

When we went to RiotFest we were expecting a very similar show to the one's we'd seen in close quarter but it got way out of hand. We'd seen them in a small venue in St. Louis that apparently had the perfect sized pit and RiotFest couldn't handle what Gogol did to the crowd. As soon as the show started, side to side movement went from a couple feet to like six or seven feet of lateral movement as jackasses on the edges pushed hard on one side and jackasses a hundred yards on the other side pushed back. Meanwhile, the people in the middle were absolutely packed so hard that our feet had nowhere to step. I ended up falling down a couple times with like fifteen other people. It was crazy.

I remembered before the show in Chicago the characters we met. There was a guy that had the ultimate wine and cheese intentionally sophisticated sounding NPR voice I've ever heard. He said, "you, my friend, are in for such a treat," to this other guy who lived in the area and waxed the shit out of his mustache. I just stared at NPR voice observing the juxtaposition of his voice and state school sweatshirt. That visual and auditory cultural conflict was the only thing that made him tolerable. 

I remember that moment because I like to imagine him saying, "you, my friend, are in for such a treat." And, remember halfway through the show when the shearing made me step to the side and I felt my shoe rubber ripping the hairs off somebodies shin as it slid down and looking over to see mustache guy scream. First, "You, my friend, are in for such a treat." Second, mustachiod abject terror.

Things got way out of control. And, I ended up not wanting to repeat that experience. But, at the Hollywood bowl, the front row didn't even stand; there were too many tables, chairs, wine, and cheese; this wasn't a concert; it was a way to feel special by being in the front; it was the kid that took the basketball during gym class for not other reason than to have the nice ball not realizing the only reason it was better is because it had air; they didn't even dribble it; and there were fifteen body guards between us and the stage preventing any aspiration of getting to the stage. The enforcement of that social hierarchy absolutely killed the show. Nobody could go up front that wanted to be there. Gogol was kind of swallowed by the size of the place without the crazy people up front. It was crazy. And, I know I've been harping out enforcement of social hierarchy by institutions, but at one point there were balloons going around and a security guard grabbed one out of the air ten feet away from me and popped the thing like he was making an example out of it. Possibly the funniest thing I've ever seen. That security guard got sadistic with a balloon.

Anxiety This Week: Oct 2 2014

This week in anxiety, I'm feeling anxious about how much work I've laid out for myself and not living up to the plans I've made for myself. But first, I've decided that my anxiety has stopped me from being productive so I've decided to say, f*** y_o, to my anxiety every week with my new weekly article "Anxiety This Week".

Let's get started telling Anxiety This Week to f*** off.

***

Dear Anxiety This Week,

Yeah, I get it. I haven't done enough work. I haven't worked hard enough and I might not amount to anything if I don't work harder. I get that if I don't create excellent stories and fun content for people to read, none of my work matters. I get that. But, Anxiety, you need to shut your f***ing face. You're stopping me from working. You're making me think about the implications of sucking more than the fact that if I don't get the sucking out of the way that I'll never succeed to begin with. Listen, I know that was a lot of references to sucking and I don't know what to do with that. I mean, the obvious thing is edit it out, but I can't be afraid of sucking, you f***. So, I'm keeping it. Alright, good. And, keeping up with a schedule is just a way to keep creation grounded into something. You'll be fine anxiety. Stop making me feel bad. It does nothing but make everything harder. So, Anxiety, sincerely, f*** y_o.

Glad we had this talk,

Jordan

Sustainability in Creative Endevours

When I wrote the title to this piece, I immediately switched tabs to do something more compelling and interesting. But, I've come back now to finish this piece because otherwise it wouldn't exist. Sustainable creative expression is a tiny fraction inspiration followed by a grind.

What I came here to observe was the nature of creativity. The most meaningful output of an artist often comes at the beginning a new process. I think of Mathematicians and artist geniuses like Orson Welles, Bob Dylan, all the members of the Beatles, most musicians in general, and all artists who reach their zenith relatively early into their career and descend from there. Likewise, I was going to compare that left distributed output and achievement of creative output with my productivity over the last month on this blog. I had most of my posts in the first week and a half and now have had about two a week since then.

But, it's become evident through exploring myself while I do this that the left distribution is my own damn fault. It's not the nature of creativity, but my nature to do things less if I feel like I've accomplished something meaningful.  I think this is actually why most artists who achieve meaningful work have left distributed output of meaningful work. It's because they just aren't interested in working as much at it. It's because they don't put their butt in their seat and work. Or, in Orson Welles case, they are barred from the creative freedom they once had. But, that's pretty rare.

There are people like Radiohead that continue to output excellent music and continue to evolve. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds do this too. And, Neil Young's annual output clearly sets the standard for sustainable creative output. In comedy, the Neil Young is Woody Allen, Louis CK, or Lena Dunham or any series writer really. These people write constantly. It's not just something they try to do every day. They're writing for twelve hours a day.

Creativity is measured by meaningful output, but meaningful output is ultimately the product of prolific output. It's the result of doing the work. And, here I am writing this mutha when there are a million things else I'd like to do. Is this meaningful? I don't think it's that meaningful to other people, but for me it serves as a reminder that I need to output more than I did in those first two weeks. But, as I think about that, I feel the need to protect myself from criticism by outputting only work that meets higher standards of meaning. And, I need to get rid of that need because that perception is breaking the process of creation. 

I've got to get back to the idea that this is just another meaningless blog and not a tool for career expansion if I can ever hope to make it a career. We'll see if I continue to do that or if I fold up my stuff and shut my face. 

The Iso-Planer: Catapult Competition 2011

Back in the Spring 2011 I entered a catapult design competition held between the major community colleges. It was fifty points of extra credit and a chance to have some real freedom as a student and designer so I jumped at the opportunity. The main rules of the competition were that the catapult must fit into a 3x3x3 box, could not be powered by stored air pressure, could not use any type of winch to build up power in a spring, and must be triggered with a pull string of some kind. Here is my process from concept drawings to execution.

Reading Comprehension

I like to play.
That's simple enough really.
I like to play.

^Spaceship shape.

I've been playing with comprehension recently. I'll shout it if I have to. I'm playing with dynamics. And, dynamics are bull crap. If I'm yelling this in your head, then I've done my job. 

I'm actually sitting at my desk smiling as I type and snickering through my nose.

I've been realizing that stream of consciousness is bull. This isn't an inner monologue. I'm talking to you. This couldn't possibly be an honest reflection of my stream of consciousness. It is an artifice.

One thing I like about language is that it's bad math. Questionable logic goes unquestioned. There is real truth there. Everything that is said is true. Not all of it is honest. But, in abstract, it is always true.

The trouble is knowing what people are saying beyond their words. The immediate interpretation of words is the easiest way to miss the truth. The truth is always there but it is rarely stated.

Truth is rarely shared, 'liked', or upvoted.

Truth is barely comprehensible.

We prefer the overt to subtle. 

Some people are okay if they've only got a touch of gonorrhea. "Sure, I've got gonorrhea, but it's not really that bad yet."

"Yes, it's unacceptable to call them the Redskins, but their skin does looks red. And, if you haven't stopped to look around we're in the middle of marching them from Florida to Oklahoma. I don't see why I should stop calling them the Redskins. Clearly, everyone here is okay with me calling them the Redskins."

The Other Half and Half

We were fresh out of half and half earlier this week, not the French vanilla half and half – we had that -- but just plain half and half. The day before we went to World Market and bought ourselves a bottle of real vanilla to pump into our french pressed cold brewed coffee and so what we had would not do. I decided to take the short walk to Walgreen's, and what I saw as I walked, I've thought about for a week. 

I headed out of our apartment, down the front stairs, and into day light that oddly felt foreign. I get out everyday for errands and to walk to Starbucks where I avoid digital distraction and write, but I hadn't realized that, until that point, it had been several weeks since the last time I walked out the front of the building during the day. The alleyway behind is where I usually start my mile long daily trek to avoid internet click bait debate and get more substantive work done. I walk while looking forward to suffering through unsweetened coffee that I ritually leave the house to buy only because sitting at Starbucks isn't cool, if you haven't bought something you become undifferentiated from the homeless, which is actually remarkably easy to do where I live. The neighborhood we live in is made up almost exclusively with millionaires so if you wear a backpack people give you side eyes. If you wear a backpack with mismatched cloths, people will walk in the street to avoid you. Also, our car is parked in the back so in a blink of an eye weeks passed without daywalking in the front, and I walked out the front door with an uncanny feeling that I must have been shut in too long thinking about Michael Brown and how social hierarchy is enforced by the police.

It's down hill to the corner across from Walgreen's so I clomped heavily in the shade of tall buildings. The shade was nice because even at eight in the morning it was already eighty degrees. It'd been a week straight of a hundred degree temperatures. Even with air conditioning on constantly our apartment would be eighty five degrees, which makes life sweaty and bleak by mid afternoon. And, Sleeping is the hardest part of heat like that. Even with only the sheet and a fan, it took hours to fall asleep. 

I'm still adjusting to life in southern California. It's definitely one of the most beautiful places I've ever been. I just sat up straight as I wrote this and looked out my window. I saw mountains in the distance -- mountains and the Hollywood Hills. This isn't the mid-west. If I walk out my front door, I can see the Hollywood sign and, more times than I can remember, as I've exited the front of my building, a Ferrari has yowled while down-shifting as it approached the red light. It's a place that defines mythic American beauty; Hills, stars, cars, the sun, and a deep seeded denial; the birth place of noir.

Man, can this place get uncomfortably hot.

As I exited the shade of the buildings, I lamented the unrelenting southern California sun and noticed a police car pull into a parallel parking space. The car rolled slowly into the spot with the yellow caution lights flashing on the roof. 

The police here are diverse and have clearly tried to compensate for the deep history of corruption in the police force but, in my experience, they're largely not present. And, that has big consequences for driving in LA. I've personally been passed two or three times while waiting to turn in the left turn lane by people driving in on coming lanes. The first person to do it to me was driving a Mercedes. She was at least seventy. Mind you, it happened two feet in front of my apartment, and I actually looked out my window one day and saw her do it to a whole line of cars again. And, she's not just one crazy person. I stopped counting the people I've seen driving in on coming lanes on busy roads after I counted fifteen in our first ten months in LA. I used to think Chicago had the craziest drivers, but the level of crazy is next level in L.A.. I'm sure that the traffic is largely to blame but, also, I don't see many people getting pulled over. There is a major sense of lawlessness on the streets here. I had expired registration for eight months and was only followed by a police car three times and was never pulled over. One day, I just decided it was time to get our registration up to date so we could go on worry free trips to any region where police might show up behind me and pull me over for breaking the law. 

On a cynical level I think the police in parts of LA are basically there to get the homeless people to move along. So, when I saw the police slow rolling into place, I scanned for familiar shapes and looking for a homeless person, but all I could see what a heap of stuff. It didn't look like it was normally on the sidewalk ahead of me, but I wasn't sure. As I got closer, I walked passed the police who were sitting quietly in their car probably ten yards away from the heap of cloths that I eventually could tell was a man sleeping. What gave him away was his shoulder exposed through a sweatshirt. His formerly fair skin was tanned leather in that spot. I figured he was covered in a blanket because his shape was so indistinguishable from a far, but I realized that his cloths were so destroyed that they broke up his shape like a hunter's camo.

As I walked to the corner, I thought about what it must be like to sleep on the street. On my way out to LA from Chicago I slept in my car two nights and constantly felt unsafe. When you're sleeping outside of your home, you're vulnerable like you never are anywhere else. Now sleeping in the street where literally anyone could decide to walk up and take literally everything you own, that's a completely different level of vulnerability. The people aren't looking through glass to you before they try to break the glass and get it. They're just able to walk up, kick you in the face or stab you, and leave with everything. Unease is low dose adrenaline ready to pump at the slightest wrong sound that says, let's fight. That's what I felt in my car, and I knew it must be much more intense to be homeless. 

I couldn't help but think about Robert Sapolski's baboon hierarchy study that observed that the baboons with the lowest social position had the greatest adrenaline in their blood stream and because of prolonged exposure to that they developed hypertension, hardening of arteries, and had shorter life spans than other individuals. Being low on a social hierarchy causes a type of stress that can be observed by looking at adrenaline levels, obesity rates, life span, and cause of death. But, interestingly, Sapolski found later that the same group of baboons had changed slightly. The alpha males had changed and were kinder to the lower hierarchy baboons. The result of which was that the entire hierarchy had lower adrenaline levels, less hypertension, and longer life spans, even for the alphas. 

The second I hit the walk button at the corner, the police officers blared morning radio crackling over the intercom. It sent adrenaline coursing through my veins as it scared the crap out me. They said, "Hi, wake up." They smiled and laughed.

When I crossed back over with my Half and Half in hand, he was sitting, still in the same place, still wrecked, newly half awake, and not ready for the day that had already begun.

It made me understand what I saw six months ago when a homeless man walked kiddy-corner across the intersection of Route 66 and Sepulveda about three miles from where the historic road and the American Dream meet the Pacific Ocean at a shopping mall. He was carrying fifty feet of plastic unrolled and blowing, the plastic arch of Los Angeles blowing in the wind. Fifty people in BMWs and Mercedes on four sides honked at him as I watched. A Ferrari with two twenty year old boys in it pulled up next to me behind other stopped traffic and I looked over at them while they lowered their colored, mirrored Ray-Bans exposing their empty souls as they gawked at a woman on the sidewalk. They said something and laughed, completely oblivious of the man in the middle of the street, until they finally saw the reason they were stopped and passed everyone in the right lane, blazing through the intersection, lifting the woman's skirt and blowing her wig off exposing that she was a mannequin selling fast weight loss in front of a business owned by a man. They drove down the road cut across three lanes and passed cars waiting to turn in the left turn lane in on coming lanes before blazing onto the the 405 as a police car finally noticed the homeless man and got him out of the intersection. We all rolled on, complicit.

And, even though I added the guys in the Ferrari, all of what I've said is true. And, I've still got the other half and half.


Wed-nes-day Fun-day

Hey you fine people. I see you there. Did you hear? It's Wednesday. And, that's also known as hump day. You know why? Because it's the middle of the week and the middle of the week is the perfect time for false innuendo. 

I'm just going to start writing sentences and end them with "if you know what I'm sayin", If you know what I'm sayin.

I love me some deep fried grilled cheese, if you know what I'm sayin.

I once broke my hand playing football, if you know what I'm sayin.

I'm really into Batman right now, if you know what I'm sayin.

To make a PB&J sandwich you need three things. 1)Peanutbutter 2)Jelly 3)Some bread, if you know what I'm sayin.

I just washed my hair in a sink, if you know what I'm sayin.

I haven't used my phone in a week, if you know what I'm sayin.

I think about what it's like to live in a car, if you know what I'm sayin.

I'm financially insolvent, if you know what I'm sayin.

Please GOD HELP ME, if you know what I'm sayin.

A Tough Question From The Menorah Mobile

Around last Christmas I got asked a tough question from a man in the backseat of a Menorah Mobile. If you aren't aware of a Menorah Mobile it might be because you don't live in Los Angeles in a very Jewish neighborhood. And, I'm not sure what I mean by very Jewish. Apparently, to me, a very Jewish neighborhood has handful of nicely dressed people walking to Temple on Saturday mornings, but that's beside the point. Anyway, the Menorah Mobile is simply a car with giant glowing Menorah on the top.

The car pulled up to the intersection and the guy popped his head out his window and asked with a genuine smile, "Hey! Are you Jewish?" It's a simple enough question. I'm not. I'm an agnostic raised in a Christian family. But, in the moment it was a lot more complicated than that. First off, a person in a car never has asked me a question other than directions. And, I'm much more accustomed to people yelling things at me from cars. I grew up in the suburbs, I'm much more versed in dealing with somebody driving by and yelling homophobic epithets. The only times I've been called a "queer" or a "faggot" have been from a car, except for first time in middle school when I was already a broken down has-been waiting in line to exit the gym after an assembly and two other boys -- who were perhaps the most cliche stereotypical gay characters in our class -- yelled down at me, "Hey, Jordan!" And, seeing my make eye contact, confused but hopeful, happy that anyone had even noticed I was alive, they yelled, "you're a faggot," and then let out a chorus of cackling laughter as I looked down at the floor.

One time I was walking home from modest wedding that was a friends house and as a fat person I had to tried in vain to explain why I didn't need to take home any cake. "Thank you so much, but I'm really fine not taking any cake," was responded to with a plead, "take this cake. I can't be left alone with it, YOU MONSTER." So, despite the fact that I was going to have to walk home, I took what is still the largest and most perfect looking slice of cake I've ever had. If you were to draw a piece of cake as a symbol, that was the slice of cake I had. It was so perfectly proportioned that I was walking in the beautiful summer glow of Grayslake street lights with my wife talking about how perfect the slice was as a car drove by and a guy yelled out the window, "NICE CAKE, FAT ASS!" and then drove over the train tracks on Lake St. and disappeared into the night like the perfect mythical hateful piece of shit. My wife asked, "what did he just yell?" I said, "he said, nice cake, fat ass." And, we laughed at how clearly observable the perfection of this slice of cake was. The man had seen the cake from two hundred yards away, lowered his window, and let out a four syllable insult. That's double or quadruple the amount of syllables as normal.

The guy in the Menorah Mobile asked the question and I wondered at that moment if this guy thought I looked Jewish and so I looked behind me at the sidewalk I just walked down after finishing my shift at the mall as though that might give me some insight as to whether or not I was Jewish or maybe if there was somebody more obviously Jewish behind me. I'm not sure why I'm pointing that out but I might be subconsciously racist so I'm not going to rule out the possibility that I was looking for a Hasidic beard or maybe a giant walking Dreidel. But, then I thought maybe they knew from looking at me that my mother's maiden name was Kissinger. And, Henry Kissinger was clearly a cousin.

I thought about my Great Uncle Karl who was short, bald, and spent his life looking in the mirror thinking, "is it just me or do I look Jewish?" to the point where he went off to Pennsylvania to look at the grave stones for the star of David. I mean that probably wasn't the entire point of going through all that research but it was a point of emphasis I asked about and he had been looking specifically for that symbol. He came up empty but found out we may have been recruited by William Penn himself to come to the US sometime around 1637.  

Talking to him at family reunions made consider the idea that I might be Jewish and then I saw the movie "Funny People". In it there is a major character whose last name is "Weiner" and he's Jewish in the movie and they went off on this long tangent about people mispronouncing the name and it was spot on to "Weimer" as well. And, one time when I was ten or so, I had a prescription filled, and when I looked closely at the name it read, "Jordan Weiner." And since I've identified myself as a funny person for most of my life, I watched that movie with the commentary, learned a lot about Jewishness, and compared my experiences and values. Neurosis, family, and excellence. Having listened to Marc Maron's WTF podcast, I have a depth of knowledge about Jewishness that is both very honest and undoubtedly skewed but nonetheless is running through my mind. And as I listened to the commentary for "Funny People", I realized that maybe my parents don't have the same expectations of me as the typical Jewish parents seem to have for their kids. And, I couldn't help but feel some type of envy for never winning approval from my parents because the implication is always that you can do better, as though having supporting parents that would be happy no matter what I do is a handicap. I have this feeling like I'd be closer to being a Nobel Prize winner in comedy, if that was a thing and if my parents had had enough belief that I can do better to be disappointed by my choice to follow my passion in life. 

I also have the fact that I'm German to think about. Both the Kissingers and Weimers are of German descent and for a long time I wondered why other than a basic understanding that I was German, I was given no other cultural artifacts or values that we distinctly German. But, I realized at probably fourteen that being German after the mid-twentieth century must have made German traditions and pride look their self in the mirror and fall away to the side. The atrocities that happened in Germany were so unbelievable that I speculated that my family members just weren't proud any longer. The fact that both families had been in the US for at least two hundred years by the 1930s was still unknown to me but I did take some peace knowing that my Grandfathers were not from Germany and were not guilty of having committed the most heinous crime in the history of mankind. One Grandfather spent the war unloading docks in Whales as a crane operator, and the other was pumping gas at a station he owned with his brother in Indiana. As a kid that gave me peace of mind.

But, now, I wonder if they had been in Germany if the the Nazi's would have snatched us up, and put us to death despite the fact that for at least three hundred years, at this point, we've been verifiably Lutheran. Would those facts have mattered? Uncle Karl said that when he visited a death camp that he found another person's name on the list that was the same as his and that this other Karl Kissinger was born the same year as him but died in 1944. And, I'm left to wonder if I could have been in a gas chamber in 1944. And, worse, I'm still left to wonder if I hadn't been snatched up by the Nazi's and persecuted for being Jewish, if I'd have been the one to throw the switch. 

At fourteen I made a movie and in the end credits I had my production company which was called, "J.E.W. Productions," because those are my initials -- I am Jordan E. Weimer -- and, at fourteen and having little context to frame the extent of anti-Semitic atrocities, I thought this fact was funny in the context of a film production company. I made the mistake of telling a couple people at school about it and they laughed their asses off. And so, from that time on, randomly, I would hear, "Hey, JEW!" yelled at me in the hallway. I felt uncomfortable with that immediately. Even though I didn't quite understand the full context of anti-Semitism, I've always been sensitive to the implications of what symbol people saw in my initials. Public arcades were a source of a major childhood dilemma. Do I put my initials in and risk looking anti-Semitic? Or, do I just put in some arbitrary initials? The good thing was that I only had to speculate about this possible scenario because I never had money or a top score but instead just stood in the entrance to Walmart staring at people playing Mortal Combat rip out the spine of their competitor or do the Friendship fatality. As an adult I've come to accept my initials and I still wonder if nothing else they make me jew-ish.

All of these thoughts ran through my mind in two or three seconds after I looked behind me and I said with regret, "uh... no. I'm not." He looked at me like why the hell did that take so long to respond and then said, "Either way, Shalom," and the car turned right and headed up Santa Monica Blvd. as I suddenly had the thought to reciprocate this act of goodwill and kindness and say, "Shalom," back. But, the car was gone and I was pretty sure I might have just convinced this guy that I was Jewish.

Gun Violence is Economical

With all the vitriol that surround the "gun control" debate what is lost is that what's being talked about a solution to the problem of Gun Violence. And, as a result of the loud debate about "gun control", the inspection of the underlying causes of Gun Violence itself has ceased. 

Gun Violence -- outside of crazed gunman -- is a symptom of much larger systemic problem because it is not random. Gun violence happens along the US/Mexico Border, it happens in the inner city, and it happens through out Mexico. It is the main cause of death for black men ages 18-25. And, it is an economic choice made by business owners. If a business owner runs an illegal business, their interests are not protected by law and the police so if they wish to protect their business, their only option is physical dominance which is enable through weapons. This is a logical choice that business owners make to protect their interests and we can't look beyond this fact when we talk about Gun Violence.

Gun Violence is an economic effect: a combination racism's effects on inner city minorities and mostly the effects of our Drug Policy that are exacerbated by "The War on Drugs". Inner city black people must choose between unemployment, employment at two or more minimum wage jobs, or making a living wage in a violent illegal profession. In Mexico, the choices are much the same and as a result it is a war zone. For those who make the choice to join the drug trade, gun violence is an effective way to protect their business interests and their life and is therefore incentivized. 

The sad reality is that most people in the places where this economic reality is prevalent do not choose to participate in criminal activity but are nonetheless caught in the cross fire. And, all the people involved, deserve to have a better set of choices.

I believe that comes from an act of trust. We have to trust that drug use's negative effects are enough to persuade people not to use them. We can let people make their own choices about drug use but try to help them make healthier choices. But, our legislation and "War on Drug" has become a war on the poor. And, if we removed our drug laws, the economic incentive for killing people would evaporate as drug businesses would be protected by the law and their stability would then be dependent on their adherence to the law. We have to have an inclusive society if we want to people to obey the law. We can't let ourselves refuse to protect businesses that are in demand, and leave their protection up to guys with guns because they have the ability to do it and they do it.

Like during prohibition, we are seeing that organized crime and gun violence is thriving, and it's important to realize it's not random. And, it's a beast we created by trying to enforce a narrow concept of morality on all people but especially on minorities who have taken an unfair burden of the enforcement of drug laws. We have to come to terms with the fact that our drug policy has large negative effects and though drug use, in and of itself, is fun but is harmful and has negative long term consequences, those consequences are not nearly as bad as the violence and economic hardship causes by the laws against it.

Beauty In Design and God Seen In The Mountains

On the top of a mountain looking out with a unobstructed view of the entire mountain range there is one reaction to what you see. We feel awe. That is unless we're blind. In that case, we feel merely cold, wind burnt, and possibly a bit ripped off. Because, if we can see, it doesn't matter what our faith is, chances are quite good that we feel something there that we simply don't feel anywhere else. Certainly, it's not typical to feel that awe when you're driving through Nebraska. The beauty of the mountains is specific and an incredible sensation and for most it is so beautiful they know that God must exist. But, why do we feel awe in the mountains when the mountains are no more created by God than Nebraska? When entering Omaha Nebraska from Iowa the state motto reads, "Don't jam a screw driver through your head. It's only ten more hours to the mountains." If we don't feel awe in all of creation, then why do we feel as though God must have created the mountains? Why don't blind people get the same feeling in the same place? Would God create a world where the blind don't experience the majesty of God in the same way? These are questions that can be answered with metaphysical speculation, but they can also be explained physically.

Archaeologists have found Acheulean hand axes with our hominid ancestors over a span of two million years. These axes are simple tear drop shaped tools made out of flint that vary in size. Anthropologists have studied these tools and often speculated about what they were used for because oddly none of them showed any signs of wear. The observation begged the question, why did we make tools over a two million year time frame and never use them? The answer to this question may be on your left hand at this exact moment in time. Anthropologists believe that Acheulean hand axes were ornamental gems stones that were evidence of a perspective mate's ability to make tools. It's fitting that a heart shape does not resemble an actual heart but two tear drops side by side perhaps in the same way that two hand axes could be displayed. What anthropologists speculate is that over this two million year time frame, the people who could sense beauty in a superior tool maker had a better chance of living because being able to make better tools meant a smart mate and more food for the entire family. As time progressed, those who didn't see beauty in design were out competed or died off as we used our ability to see beauty in man made items and got progressively smarter as time went on.

Concurrently, our ancestors became weaker and weaker relative to other mammals and required more protection from the elements and less competition for food. Our ancestors found clean water in mountain lakes where the water flows down a valley. They found food near the lakes and were protected from major weather by the mountains themselves. This is what the mountains in South Africa provided our early ancestors. But, again, without language to communicate the benefits of living in the mountains, the people that survived were the one's that felt compelled to stay in the mountains. What compelled people seems to be awe. And, across all societies, no matter if a person has lived their entire life in a desert and has never seen a picture of the mountains, if they're shown a green mountain valley with a lake and a stream coming out of the lake, they find it beautiful.

And, the reason you feel God in the mountains is because of a miss association. It's because beauty in nature and beauty in design are housed in the same mental framework in your brain. And so, when you see anything that's beautiful, there is an impulse to attribute a designer even if you know that those things formed semi-randomly over hundreds millions of years as the result of plate tectonics or were, at the very least, no more designed than Nebraska. Even if God created the mountains, if you felt awe because of God's creation, you would then feel that awe everywhere on earth and most people just don't experience that.