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Travel, Food, and Slices of Life


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They are Making THEIR Choice Known – What’s YOUR Choice?

Back in the late 90s I worked as an administrative assistant in the Vanderbilt Hospital office that maintained the electronic machines that go beep, among other things. One of the technicians had the opportunity to go to a training seminar out of state and was excited about that until he realized he would have to rent a car to get from the airport to the training site. (No uber or lyft in those days.)  He asked if I could arrange to get the department credit card for that expense. I presented his request to the supervisor who had an interesting reaction.

He not only immediately said no, as he was wont to do anytime anyone asked anything “nice” of him, but he then went on a demeaning rant about how anyone could be so inept with their own personal finances that they could not float a $500 expense that might take a month to get reimbursed. He not only had no understanding that not everyone he knew was as financially solvent as he was, but he had no empathetic ability to recognize times may be hard for others and what small thing could he do to help.

As I was myself in severe financial straits at the time dealing with a serious long term illness in the family, I could immediate understand the technician’s situation, and so, went to bat. We got the department credit card, the technician went on his training trip, and all worked out.   But the message hit home. Some people are so narrow in their view of the world that they have NO ability to recognize anyone may be different. And when that different worldview is thrust upon them, they refuse to learn about it, and so more easily want to brush it under the table. Make it disappear.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of people like that supervisor. Many are in positions of authority as he was, and so exert control with little signs of benevolence. Instead, they are judgmental and their aim to make people causing them problems disappear may not be hidden well.

Years before, sometime in the 1970s I read a book which stayed with me.  Triage by Leonard C. Lewin, published in 1973, was not a best seller and is not a spellbinding page turner but it is a view of a dystopian society where the government and individual corporations make decisions that can and will cause death of “stupid” people, “old” people, “sick” people, “worthless” people.triage-definisiton

triage-bookThe one story I remembered from reading 40+ years ago was about how car manufacturers had come up with a motor that had NO unhealthy emissions and so would eliminate pollution. Sounded great as they they made their presentation to what is clearly recognizable as the EPA until someone finally asked a question they were hoping would go unasked. Simply, the revolutionary motor needed to be started with a proscribed sequence and if not done correctly would blow up. The manufacturers had rejected installing a switch in the car to inhibit imperfect start-up because then they would be accepting responsibility if it failed. The best thing they could offer is that it would only kill the driver who would be showing his lack of intelligence by not following instructions. Passengers would only be injured. The roads would then, they argued, have one less unsafe driver and so driving accident rates could be expected to decrease.

When I went to purchase the book recently to refresh my aging memory the reviews talked about how this is a libertarian viewpoint. Each person is responsible and no paternal oversight should be expected.  I don’t know about that but I do know there is something very much missing in the actions described in the book.

Today we are about three weeks into the new President’s administration and the view from here is one where decisions are being made without much thought about consequences.  It seems like backs are being scratched and the promise to clean up the government by “draining the swamp” is resulting in an exchange of self-interested people with long term experience for people who have paid for their new position and have considerably less experience and a demonstrated predominant display of self interest.triage-decision

I am not inclined to buy into conspiracy theories but it is getting clear even to a Pollyanna like me that something stinks. We The People are not relevant to the people in power.  We WILL be killed off by restricting health insurance, astronomically raising the price of life saving medicine for increased profits,  eliminating environmental protections for water and air, allowing food to have increasing levels of potential carcinogens. Discussions about a new educational policy has not included improving work and life skills nor cognitive reasoning skills. We have been promised that rules restricting businesses will be reduced, thereby helping small business people, but the candidate to run the Labor Department has a long history showing he cares little about wages and work benefits. I fully expect more, not less regulations affecting my own business.

In addition, we are seeing the formation of a shadow administration.   We have a President who has already demonstrated he is unwilling to be informed to make decisions and thereby  relying on his advisers for their input.  In Steven Bannon we have a person who has a history of showing a very narrow definition of who is acceptable.  His advice to the president will ONLY be in their own best interest and those of their cohort.

The rest of us are expendable.  Get ready to play. You’re in the game whether you want to be or not. dice

 

 

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Basic Knowledge

If you’re lucky, you had a least a handful of teachers who significantly and positively affected your learning. They stand out among all your teachers as being special and teaching you more than just the subject matter assigned. They taught how to understand the “WHY” of what you needed to learn and if you were REALLY lucky, they taught you how to continue to learn on your own without needing someone giving you assignments.

Mrs. Umholtz was one of those special teachers in my life. I learned a lot in that 7th grade class. I learned about the stock market by pooling my dollar in a classroom investment.  She taught us poetry and made us memorize some classics like The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere (I know my friend Liz can still recite it!) and High Flight. More, I bet, but that’s all I can remember after 50 years.   I learned state capitals. I learned the changes in Africa as nations there were gaining their independence from colonial powers.  I learned how to research and write reports that included complete sentences and coherent presentations that the reader could understand.

I learned what many other kids and many adults never have: I learned how our government worked. We discussed each branch of government extensively. We had to memorize (oh yes, she was big on that) the names of LBJ’s Cabinet and learn  the responsibilities of the various Executive Branch departments.   We learned about how Congress enacts a bill and visited our statehouse in Trenton, getting an insider’s tour since one of my classmates’ dads was a Representative. We learned about how the Supreme Court, as the highest court in an extensive judicial system,  gets presented with appeals and goes through a selection process to only hear the ones that actually are about points of law.  branches-of-gov

Our world is spinning seemingly out of control right now. Arguments and fighting seem to be the way it goes now. Unsupported boasting is believed and causes distraction while changes are being enacted quietly in the self interest of the people who hold power, ignoring they are our representatives and we voted for them.

It seems in the past year my writing here on this blog has turned more and more to commenting about the social and political aspects of life here in the US and how disturbing issues are. Not only the causes but the fact that no fix is presented.  It seems we have become us versus them. It is hard to engage in any dialogue with anyone who does not hold a similar viewpoint.

Let’s start with some basics. Why not a system in our communities to educate all residents how the system works. What the community does to take care of the needs of all of us. But the basic understand must happen before we start arguing.

Can we do that?

And can we learn to present our opinion in a way that permits others to listen?

And please test yourself…..how much do YOU know about the basic issues of our nation?  This is the basic knowledge you should know.

 


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A Next Step

Like many others I was hoping, but not expecting, the Electoral College to act in an unprecedented but authorized way to negate the Trump presidency. Had that happened, however, it would have opened other doors of unknown outcome, so maybe this is the best way.

This way, we can hold the incoming President to his Constitutional duties and responsibilities. We do have guidelines for that and will know when he inappropriately strays.  I expect he will stray, as his prior comments indicate he is not clear on much of what is ahead of him.

Meanwhile, enough angst. Each of us either feels distress now or will soon. Each one of us. The efforts of a Republican Congress backed up by this President will mean we have big changes ahead.  It is the anticipation of some of those changes that have people already upset. However, the rest will join the fray when program cuts begin to affect them. When campaign promises go by the wayside. When life does not get better for the many many people who expect the Federal government to fix things for them.

So, onward.

I have said often on my Facebook feed that I will stay vigilant and be as active as I can to help retain the rights won by all of us to give equal access and protection of the law to all our citizens. I will stay vigilant and be as active as I can to make sure the least of us continue to be helped regardless of any political stance.  I will stay vigilant and be as active as I can to make a positive difference.

Back in 1970 when Earth Day was initiated I heard a slogan that resonated. “Think globally but act locally.” We know the earth has overwhelming issues, not only environmental but in every aspect of life.

Image result for think globally act locally

We have a choice, each one of us.

  • We can ignore and carry on, dong what we do that may help or hinder any situation, self-centered and choosing to stay apart from the community of the world.
  • We can get stirred by all the need in the world and affected so deeply we can’t deal with it, so we freeze, stuck in despair.
  • We can opt to get involved in one or two issues that deeply resonate. We may send money or sign petitions or write letters or emails or even show up at our state capitol to join a protest.
  • We can chose to get active in our own communities, making our voice and action count where it will show a difference.

I’ve done each of these. Earlier in my life I was focused on my own young adulthood and all that involved including building a career and raising a family. I had a nodding relationship with a few issues but not much money and not much time, so not much involvement.

I’ve been on listservs that overwhelm me with need. It seems that I receive more than 20 a day with hands outstretched asking for $1, $5, $25 or more. It was with extreme pleasure that I unsubscribed from almost all recently.

I sign petitions and sometimes post them on Facebook urging others to take the minute to add their  support. It seems to be the LEAST anyone can do.

Mostly, I am active here in my town. I have chosen three main areas and participate as much as I can. I do what I can, offer my skills to forward the mission of the group. I self impose a limit on what I feel I can do and ask for the group to respect that. (If the group doesn’t, as some have in the past, I moved my energy elsewhere.)

I hope by this example you can see how you might work through the coming years when so many of us feel what we have known about the United States of America will be changing. I plan to keep on keeping on. Joining with other like minded people empowers all of us. emplowerment


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When the Blue Line is Not Acting in the Public Interest

I believe we need police. There are people whose ethics are so debased that they do what they do whenever they want to do it and so, take advantage of people, destroy property, assault people and more. We need police to help protect us from them. To identify them and to hold them apart from society in order to protect society.

In the past year the police themselves have been targeted because of anger over unequal treatment by police of minorities. However, it is right and proper to condemn the attackers and support the people in blue who serve us. To mourn their killings and support their families in their loss.

But….sometimes, it becomes clear that law enforcement is serving private interests, not the law.  We saw it during the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s and now, we are seeing it again against the Indigenous People who are protecting the Missouri River.  Because the pipeline is being constructed by a corporation with profit forever as the primary motive, those people care more about their pockets than their future ability to obtain clean water, we are seeing the subversion of police to serve private needs over the public good.

Many of you know about the stand-off at the Dakota Access Pipeline. Many of you do not because it generally is not covered by the major media. Here is a New York Times article from the end of August which will present the issues at that time.map-standing-rock

The protesters initially were from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, located just south of the planned Missouri River crossing. They are protesting not only the destruction of some ancient heritage sites, but the very real possibility of an oil leak polluting the water so many people depend on for drinking.  Now, called Protectors, the people there include not only Indigenous People from all around the country but many allies of all races, cultures and religions that arrived even with cold weather to stand with them against the wrongness of police standing to protect private interests.

So now we have nonviolent protesters who have set up their camp in the way of the proposed pipeline.  We have nonviolent protesters who stand at make-shift barricades blocking the pathway.

standing-rock-police-pepper-spray-water-protectors-crossing-river-to-land-owned-by-pipeline-co-110216-by-reutersFacing them we have police from law enforcement agencies that are not only local but from across the country, suited up in riot gear.  They have used water cannons (similar to what was used to knock down peaceful protesters in the 1960s) in sub-freezing temperatures, causing many people to require hospitalization because of hypothermia.

 

They have used rubber bullets to shoot at people, causing injuries. The most heinous occurred two days ago when a young woman was hit in the arm which may need to be amputated. sierra-rubber-bullet-wb

 

The way this protest is being handled is in stark contrast to that of the Bundy group who invaded and took over a federally owned wildlife refuge. Not only did law enforcement officials give them a lot of room to move on and off the property, but it ended shortly after the police shot and killed one of the protesters.  The trial exonerated all the protesters, leaving us Oregonians scratching our heads, wondering why we tax payers need to cover all the damage they caused to the site itself.

The law enforcement presence in North Dakota is not being as strongly aggressive as they could be, thank goodness. If the bullets become standard and people start dying I believe this protest will not end. It will become even larger.

A line of police move towards a roadblock and encampment of Native American and environmental protesters near an oil pipeline construction site, near the town of Cannon Ball, North Dakota, U.S. October 27, 2016. REUTERS/Rob Wilson

A line of police move towards a roadblock and encampment of Native American and environmental protesters near an oil pipeline construction site, near the town of Cannon Ball, North Dakota, U.S. October 27, 2016. REUTERS/Rob Wilson

Now we hear that the Corps of Engineers will require the camp to be moved to a location south of the river to “protect” civilians from being hurt. Is that a veiled threat to say “you stay, you will pay”.  They were told they must vacate by December 5th.

My son-in-law is on his way there now. He has learned there are over 15,000 people with the Protectors. This is not some small protest. This is water versus gold. last-tree


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Each One Counts

I grew up and voted for the first time in New Jersey. My parents had taken me into the voting booth with them every year while I was young. It was the kind with a curtain. You would move the handle, the curtain would close (did anyone else besides me think of the Wizard of Oz?) and the levers would be there for the pushing. It was possible to push down a party lever and all the votes would be moved, but my parents said it was important to always check out each candidate, no matter the party, and vote for the best person to represent you.  They voted line by line. All levers moved, the handle would be moved back and the votes counted as the curtain opened.1960s-voting_booth

I moved to Tennessee and then on to Connecticut and then back to Tennessee and then to West Virginia before moving to Oregon.  I voted on similar machines and then, as computerization was implemented, a variety of electronic machines.  When we moved to Oregon we didn’t have enough friends to explain the fine points of the vote by mail system. We ended up not getting our ballots mailed on time.  Since then I try to help newbies.or-vote-envelope

The vote by mail system is really very easy for people to use. There is no issue about taking time off from work or waiting on lines at the polls. We get our ballots about 3 weeks before election day and can mail them in up to 5 days before. At any time during those 3 weeks, we can drop the ballot into a ballot box, similar to a mail box but painted white and sporting a lot of signs that say BALLOTS ONLY!!!!  At least one ballor box is located in each town and many more in cities. (Here in McMinnville we have three. ) The box is open until 8pm on election day when a team (at least one each from the major parties-volunteers needed) pick up all deposited ballots and lock the box slots.or-vote-drop-box

The ballots are taken to the County Clerk’s office.  Still sealed, they are set facing the same way and then a team of people scans each exterior envelope’s bar code. Yes, the envelope has a bar code, right near the signature line, that identifies the voter. The scan enters the name into the database for the next step, verification of the signature.  A photo of the signature at time of registration is on screen and the worker verifies the signature on the envelope with the signature at registration. If the signature matches, the data base is updated with the information that that person has voted.  Any envelope that has no signature (a requirement) or a signature that is different from the original are put aside for further work.oregon-sign-here

(The people whose  signatures were missing or that didn’t match receive a letter asking them to come into their county clerk’s office for further verification. Sometimes the person is elderly or ill and the signature is a bit spidery or illegible in comparison to the original. Typically, people respond and go verify if the election is close or they want to make sure their vote, if different than the election results, is counted.)

Once an envelope is confirmed to be from a legitimate voter it moves to a different work station where all envelopes are opened but contents are kept intact. The next station is where contents and envelope are separated. The contents are still folded and most often in the privacy slip provided.  This station works as a team, 100 ballots at a time. One worker is a registered Democrat, the other a Republican. A lot of repetitive work…envelope to one side, folded ballot to the other. Then a count is made to confirm they have the 100 they started with, and then move to another work station.or-vote-workers

This station is where the ballots are unfolded and visually scanned by another Republican-Democratic team to verify any write-ins or markings that cover any area of the ballot.  Again a count is made to confirm, 100 in to that station, 100 out to the next.

Folded once more, the ballots are sorted by precinct….that number is printed on the ballot that was originally mailed to the voter.  The precinct information is obtained to provide basic voter turnout data.

From there, boxes of 100 ballots are then sent to the next area where the next check is to see if there is only one selection marked for each race. If a ballot marks two candidates in the same race that required selection of one, the ballot is set aside for voter confirmation.

Only then, at the next step, are the actual votes tabulated.

There is no way to match any given ballot at the last step to any specific voter.  Privacy is ensured.

This vote-by-mail system is, as you read, pretty labor intensive. A computerized machine can give results almost instantaneously.  So yes, it takes longer. So there has to be a benefit, right?

Actually several, but there are two main ones:

With the system in place in Oregon, there is no concern for manipulation of computerized hardware or software. With most areas having pairs of workers, each with a different party affiliation, with all the counting before and after to verify no ballot was moved away, there is a security in knowing how you vote is how it is counted.

The largest benefit is voter participation. Election after election Oregon has one of the highest voting percentages in the nation.  This time, it was interesting to note that we had a higher turnout than ever. Last year we the people approved a referendum to start motor-voter. That means that for any DMV transaction the person will be registered if not already on the rolls. (Lots of verification for citizenship and other aspects that restrict voting done before a new person is considered legal to vote.) So Oregon’s turnout for this election was 2 million voters.

But the percentage of participating voters was down a bit.  It was 78.9 %.  However, nationally it was 56.9%, significantly lower.

Why do people chose not to exercise their right to vote?  They could be unable to actually get to the pools, either because of transportation issues or a work schedule that won’t permit it. They could be sick, unable to go to the polls.  All these people forgot they could vote with an absentee ballot. Others, could think it is not important. They could believe that their one individual vote won’t make a difference. They could be so disgusted at the whole thing..the selection process…the advertising…..the rudeness….that they just step back. And more.

At least here in Oregon it is easier for us people. And the protections leave me confident that the results are an accurate portrayal of each participants vote.

every_vote_countsInformation is from experience. Not only am I a voter but I am also a volunteer. For the past three elections, Graham and I have been ballot box closets. This past Tuesday we also observed the process for a couple of hours.  Anyone can sign up to do that.


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You Too?

Trump has a really well put together video out for his last ad spot. One part patriotic, flags waving, smiling faces one and all. Part hateful and bigoted.

No getting around that.

At this point we have 2 days until the polls close. I suppose no one’s mind is going to be changed. That’s not even the point of this effort.

If you know me, if you have read my blogs for a while, you know I have spoken often about the way I think Trump’s hateful speech to people about others different from them has encouraged a lot of emoted passionate hatred. Not quiet and contained by social mores; the disdain for being politically correct was never appreciated or desired. The crudeness gutter talk is entertainment…and titillating. How fun to be naughty…and then if everyone is naughty, is it normal?

NO.  Not in any sense of the word. Psychologically. Politically. Culturally. Socially. Religiously.

Except for bigots. Extreme right wing skin heads, Aryan nation, KKK types. It’s their normal.

The rest of the people who seem to be enamored with Trump are, probably, okay people. I know some and love some. But I sure am confused.

Okay, you don’t like Mexicans. You believe they have stolen good American jobs. Here in Oregon many are professionals: lawyers, doctors, accountants, heads of companies. Others are in commerce with stores and restaurants. Others are in service industries, like landscaping, hairdressing, house cleaning. And the others….legal and illegal, they work in the fields, in the kitchens, on construction sites.  If you feel one has a job that you want, please be realistic about your own experience and expertise.  Don’t generalize about a group without facts that are verified or your own experience.

Okay, you don’t like Muslims. You believe they are all radical terrorists. You have been lead to believe they are perhaps sleeper agents.  Do you personally know any, I mean work with and interact with daily in a responsible work environment or have invited one to your home for a meal?  Does the concept of the white supremacist groups concern you? It should. There is more risk of a terrorist event in the USA by a homegrown group of white people than anyone from the Middle East or Pakistan.

Okay, you’re uncomfortable around handicapped people who are not young and cute. Even if they work and contribute to society. You can’t help it, their physical or mental situation irritates you?  Sounds like time to find out why? Why irritation instead of a sense of compassion or even, more self-centered, a sense of appreciation for your own health?

Okay, you think women really should not be working in jobs like men.  Even if a woman, you might not like carrying the kind of responsibility some of our sisters have gladly grown into and others have been forced to assume.  Are we going to encourage a society that sounds totalitarian to me…one where someone’s future job is determined by their birth-the location of their birth, the income status of the family of birth, the visible genitalia at birth.  When you restrict the learning capabilities of girls, when you limit the income earnings of women, you are  as culpable as the most narrow minded third World male elder making a child marry a man two or three decades older.

Okay, you think newspaper reporters are crooked and the news is twisted. But you believe what you read in headlines and don’t bother to read the article. You don’t search the web for articles about the same subject from across the spectrum to pull out the truth. Yes, we are fed what “they” want us to know. But because of social media with an open internet, we have access to much more. If you agree the journalists need to be constrained, please realize that this Internet permitting you to read this is also protected by the First Amendment. All your arguments about “slippery slope” apply equality to all parts of the Constitution.

Finally, the Jews. You really don’t like them and you have good reason. They are all rich. Not. They are all smart. Not.  They all are…what? You have read this because you like my writing and either enjoy it and agree or at times are aggravated because I bring up topics that nag at you. Like me or hate me but if you say it is because I am Jewish, you are a bigot.

Trump has appealed to the baseness in that he has called to the bottom and they have responded. And then, some of you generally above that have responded too. You’re not in good company, but you are known by your associates.

A warning to you. You’re next on the list. first-they-came

And despite the fact that no one will come to take your guns (another way you have been played), your arsenal will not keep them out when they want in.

So much better for us to nip this in the bud, recognize we have healing to do, and start talking to each other.

One way people who consider themselves a friend of mine is to explain how you can join in the Antisemitism. I am taking that one personally.

And if you do happened to have any Latino, handicapped, female,  LGBTQ or Jewish friends, they also are wondering how you REALLY feel.cropped-tolerance.jpg


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The Road Ahead

We have a choice, as we do every time we elect a President. We can uphold the United States as a wonderful example of a democratic republic that can change heads of state calmly and smoothly,Image result for smooth transition of leadership or we can have tantrums wanting our own way and fall down into a despotic third world nation experience where the people who perceive a loss of power fight anyone who they believe thinks differently from them.

In the last few weeks there has been an escalation of threats of a “revolution” if Trump loses the election. Organizations and individuals who have publicly endorsed Hillary Clinton have received death threats. A gun shop in Las Vegas is advertising a sale on guns before Hillary is elected. There just is a lot of anger and threats.

Republcian Congressional leadership who have publicly indicated their dismay with their candidate are now promising to block Clinton is she wins the Presidency.  They are promising to freeze, not to work through the things that need work, but to do nothing. That is not leadership in a sane direction.

It could happen. We did it once before. Civil war. This time, though, there is nothing organized or goal for the people who are losing their emotional stability. And yes, if you decide my words and actions are worthy of killing me, you have lost your mind. Is this kind of activity like in Aleppo what will make us great? Image result for aleppo

This nation was established to better the situation in the Old World, where power was held by very few. For hundreds of years people in this country could achieve much, change their lifestyle, improve upon what their parents had. Only recently has this reversed and there are clear signs why.

The people who have made these changes include, among many others, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. His claim he has never held public office does not mean he had no influence. He is one of the players of power and has been for years. So, right now, regardless of who wins the Presidency, not much is really going to improve for many of us and for some of us, things will get a lot worse. The only winners, the same ones as the last few decades, the very top.

Now, I remember my parents complaining about how things were going downhill back in the 1970s. They did not like the attitudes of the “hippies” and protesters against the war in Vietnam. My parents longed for much of what they knew in their younger days. But they also were active in the civil rights movement, clearly recognizing not only that the treatment of African-Americans had long been bad, but actually doing something about it.

So, now, I am carrying the mantle of service. I call out unethical and unequal treatment when I see it. I remind my friends on Facebook that if something appeals to their sense of greed (free something fantastical that is too good to be true) or anger (Hillary did this or that or Donald said this now) that they really should verify before jumping on a bandwagon that will later prove to have flat tires. Image result for first they came for the socialists

And I don’t just sit here bitching and moaning. I am involved. I volunteer in a number of community activities including helping a local candidate in his run for the state legislature.  If we want a better world we each need to be involved. Think globally. Act locally.Image result for doing instead of talking

And, I suppose, I have said enough to irritate the most unstable of people who might be making a list of who they need to take down. A friend told me to back down and stop being so vocal. Nope, I’m sorry. If we don’t speak out early and often, the snowball grows. I will not be quiet.  Another friend told me to arm myself. And I wonder, how much bigger a weapon can I get and use before someone else uses theirs. If that is to be, it will be. I will not live my life in fear.

I will continue to try to appeal to your brain, your intellect, your heart, your conscience. I will try to get into conversation with you to understand your viewpoint and share mine. Image result for buy guns now

I just don’t see many people willing to do the same. That is sad, and yes, a bit frightening.