Thursday, 30 July 2009

A Thousand Thank Yous!

Ok – so I know I need to thank myself a number of times, but I can't believe that the visitor counter has tripped over the thousand mark! So far I've been fortunate in that those of you have rambled with me have been kind in your comments and observations – unlike some of the lovely bloggers that I have met who are plagued with trolls being unkind and in some cases downright rude. For that I (and my ego) am grateful.

When I started blogging, I never thought for one moment that it would become such a huge part of me. I started writing for myself, and the famous friend that I call Julie, more or less as an experiment. The trouble was I then started to read other people's blogs and had to get my daily fix before I could do anything else. One blog post almost echoed my intentions in that the writer said that she wrote as if it were for her eyes only. So, in future when you start wondering what on earth I'm on about, please remember my original intentions!

I.Love.Blogging. There, I've said it – to myself and anybody else who's passing through. If it's OK with you all, I'll continue in the same vein as I've started – my own thoughts and ramblings, the odd funny from the inbox, link to You Tube – and family tales (as discreetly as possible, of course!)

The astute amongst you have noticed my traffic counter on the side bar. I've seen them on other blogs so I thought I'd give it a go – most traffic seems to show as me blog-hopping, although I have had other visitors from various corners of the world and the UK.

So cheers, here's to the next thousand and onwards, welcome to my new visitors and thanks you for your continuing support to my friends, both real and virtual!

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Two Questions....

...thank you Julie, I just loved this!

Life really boils down to two questions...
1) Should I have a dog?

2) Should I have children?

No matter how long and teacherous your journey may seem...
...there is always light at the end of the tunnel

You're laughing aren't you? That's good 'cos my job here is almost done
Have a great day and remember to give thanks

Oh, my cats are just so dramatic!!

Monday, 27 July 2009

Mmmm Monday

Well, first day back has been and gone - I'd like to say in a flash but I'd be lying. 270 plus emails - not too bad considering I've been off for nearly three weeks - later and I have a fair idea of what's been going on while I was away.

I realised last night that I haven't told you about number 2 son and his new job. He started last week and I don't think the poor boy has ever been so tired in his life, what with his house and dog sitting responsibilities and the new job. The truth is he really does not do getting up early and, for the last week he has had to do just that to take Ollie (chocolate lab) for a walk before he went to work. He then had to drive home to get a lift in to work (too expensive to park in the town centre everyday) for 8.30 and not leaving work until 6.30. Personally I think that's asking a bit much for the package they offered but, hey - keep quiet Mum, what do you know? Ollie then required an evening walk for an hour as well!

Anyway, by Saturday he was showing clients around houses on his own! Driving around town in his company logo'd BMW 2 series, dressed to the nines in his lovely suit - wow actually I'm very proud of him! I just hope that this isn't a false dawn for him.

He's coming back home tonight as the GF and family are home (I know he's really missed her) - he can have a lie-in until seven tomorrow, which in turn means bathroom congestion in our little one bathroom house, ah well you can't have everything!

Sunday, 26 July 2009

All Good Things...

...must come to an end. That is until the next good thing comes along! Back to work tomorrow, for some reason I always feel apprehensive, even at my grand old age, what if I've done something terribly wrong that's been discovered while I'm away? Until now that's been a hypothetical question – fingers crossed it remains that way!

I decided yesterday that I needed some retail therapy, OK I can hear you all thinking 'What, after that holiday?' Well, you see I was fed up, for various reasons, so I took myself off to town for no particular reason and then I discovered that the sales were on. I was very conservative and limited myself to three skirts, two tops, a pair of shoes and some underwear. While we were on holiday, John criticised my choice of footwear – I love flip-flops you see – constantly, so I bought myself a sensible pair of summery shoes for the next holiday (errmm, I haven't told you about that one yet, have I – check the countdown in my side bar!)

The problem I have is that I don't need any more clothes, I don't have room for any more clothes and I criticise John when he buys new shirts. I hid my purchases, to my shame I didn't confess until this morning to what I had bought. Do you want to guess the reaction I got? No, I thought not!

I had grand plans for today, my poor garden is in such a mess – why do weeds outgrow the plants? If anybody knows a nice little man (or lady) who could help me out...Needless to say after getting up late (for me) and sorting laundry and getting the odds and ends of shopping needed for the coming week, it was time for the Grand Prix, then football on Sky and the day was almost done, far too late to be productive – plus it was overcast and windy. Nothing for it then but to head off out for an end of holiday meal. We chose to go to the Black Tiles at Martlesham as a change from our normal pasta restaurants. Lovely pork & leek sausages and mash for me, John when for the gammon steak (and CHIPS) bang goes our diets and we were doing so well L.

Oh – just remembered something that I must tell you from the holiday. The cabaret one night was a tribute act for Celine Dion, a bit of a mixed bag with the vocals but I bet you can guess where I'm heading – yup, she finished her act with 'My Heart Will Go On' (theme for Titanic – geddit??) She was very ironic when she did the introduction but still....

Anyway, I'm all done for now - need to make my bed before I fall into it, why do I never learn and always leave it so late???

I think this is just so cool!!

With weddings on our mind (probably for the next four years) this clip really tickled me!

Sunday Stealing: The "Leave It to Meme" Meme

Another session of Sunday Stealing – a bit easier than the first one I tried! Click here more info from Sunday Stealing

1. Who was your FIRST date? His name was Paul, I was sixteen and he only asked me out because his friend wanted to go out with my friend, who didn't want to go out with him (does that make sense??)

2. Do you still talk to your FIRST love? No – at least not to who I thought was my first love (see question 12!!)

3. What was your FIRST alcoholic drink? Dubonet and lemonade (lots of lemonade, not much Dubonet!)

4. What was your FIRST job? I worked Saturdays in a pharmacy (drug store)

5. What was your FIRST car? A green Ford Cortina

6. Where did you go on your FIRST ride on an airplane? To Spain

7. Who was your FIRST best friend & do you still talk? My first best friend was Jo, we are still in touch mainly at Christmas, but always there for each other

8. Whose wedding did you attend the FIRST time? Not sure exactly how to answer this, but in terms of people who have had more than one, it would be my friend Sue.

9. Tell us about your FIRST roommate. Didn't have one

10. If you had one wish, what would it be (other than more wishes)? To be able to play the piano, my Nan had a piano when I was young but wouldn't let me play it L

11. What is something you would learn if you had the chance? To play the piano!

12. Did you marry the FIRST person you were in love with? Probably, the others, in hindsight were more infatuations

13. What were the first lessons you ever took and why? I had ballroom and Latin American dance lessons – my Mum thought it would stop me being so shy (Yeah, I know but that was way back then)

14. What is the first thing you do when you get home? Power up the laptop!

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Bridge to Hawaii

A biker was riding along a California beach when suddenly the sky clouded above his head and, in a booming voice, the Lord said, "Because you have TRIED to be faithful to me in all ways, I will grant you one wish."

The biker pulled over and said, "Build a bridge to Hawaii so I can ride over anytime I want."
The Lord said, "Your request is materialistic. Think of the enormous challenges for that kind of undertaking. The supports required to reach the bottom of the Pacific! The concrete and steel it would take! It will nearly exhaust several natural resources. I can do it, but it is hard for me to justify your desire for worldly things. Take a little more time and think of something that would honour and glorify me."

The biker thought about it for a long time.

Finally he said, "Lord, I wish that I could understand my wife. I want to know how she feels inside, what she's thinking when she gives me the silent treatment, why she cries, what she means when she says nothing's wrong, and how I can make a woman truly happy."

The Lord replied, "You want two lanes or four on that bridge?"

Thursday, 23 July 2009

More musings....

Almost back to reality now – although the big leap back to work is not until Monday (just as well really as I've developed a stinking cold). I've spent today trying to finish off the left over bits from the holidays. You'll notice the plural there – my darling boys did their best to sort things out when they got back but it's not quite been up to Mum's standards.

Yesterdays post was my travelogue so today I thought I'd add the behind the scenes bits and pieces – the human elements! I love people watching and believe you me, with 2,500+ people of various nationalities on board there was plenty of watching (and listening) to be done. There was a fairly even mix of Brits and Americans and I have to say that there were very little obvious outward differences – gone are the days when we Brits would poke fun at the American mode of dress for their garish colours, we're up there with you now!

The other large group were the Spanish speakers – how fast (and loud) do they talk???? They had absolutely no regard for anybody else in the vicinity, shrieking and yelling at 100mph and, on one occasion, even playing their I-pod through speakers round the pool at maximum volume! My dear husband could barely contain himself – well OK, actually a couple of times he didn't and gave them such evil looks...

Feeding time was another experience in the buffet area – seriously, you would think that there was never going to be another mealtime. The plates were piled so high I was surprised they could carry them – and then they left half or more of what they'd taken! On a serious note though we had an outbreak of Norovirus – I couldn't believe how quickly and efficiently the crew put their contingencies into place. No more self service, even the plates and cutlery were handed to us. This meant that staff were diverted from the restaurant which in turn reduced the level of service there, but it obviously worked because within about five days it was back to a free for all in the buffet!

One thing that did upset me was that people seemed to forget their manners when speaking to the waiting staff, for most of whom English was not their first language. They resorted to grunts and pointing – no please or thank you, sorry to sound pedantic but I was always brought up to believe that manners cost nothing.

Anyway, enough ranting for now. Each night there was a cabaret show in the ships theatre – you know the type of thing, bit of singing, dancing, comedy, magic. We went along most nights – there's not a lot else to do in the evening anyway, bit windy for a stroll when you're at sea at night! One of the comedians was a guy called Tucker – we all thought he was very good – cross between Brian Conley, Norman Wisdom and Lee Evans – good clean humour with a little innuendo thrown in. He was gifted about 10 minutes of material by the late arrival of several audience members who all fell for the same trick of thinking a door to a cupboard actually led somewhere! I'm laughing just thinking about it but you probably needed to be there to get it!

Enough for now – need to keep you wanting more (anyway my minds gone blank so you'll have to wait!), I'm off to bed with my paracetemol for company - I must try to be more considerate tonight and not cough so loudly hmmmmm.....

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

My musings from my cruising!

Oh wow! What a fantastic holiday – all the places I wanted to see but wasn't sure that I wanted to spend a week in! I won't bore you all with the intricate details but suffice to say it was absolutely brilliant.

We headed off from Dover on Thursday – that in itself was great because it meant no time wasted in airports. The embarkation process was seamless, we pulled up beside the ship in the car and off loaded the cases to very helpful porters (who weren't allowed to accept tips/gratuities!!) and then parked the car in the FREE car park, free minibus back to the ship and all aboard. Really short queues through immigration and security and very helpful pleasant staff – service with a smile – all round.

As seasoned cruisers (well, we have been once before!) we knew that we'd need our lifejackets for the compulsory drill before we set sail so went to our staterooms (cabins!) to collect them. Then the fun began – John H couldn't get his to clip together – that gave us the first of the many laughs we had over the 10 days!
The first night was incredibly bumpy, to say the least, I think we expected a more turbulent trip than the Caribbean but we were still surprised – especially when the shampoo bottle crashed from the rack in the bathroom scaring the whatever out of us! Friday at sea was wobbly but we soon got used to the roll and adjusted our walking accordingly knowing, as Linda so succinctly put, that as soon as we took the sharp right at the top of Denmark we would be in calmer waters.
Arrived in a beautifully sunny Copenhagen on Saturday, famous of course for the Little Mermaid, amongst other things. We decided to opt for the independent option and walked to the city centre form the boat, problem was we had no real idea of where we were headed! We eventually reached the city centre, desperate for a coffee which we drank in the square, we then headed off towards the Tivoli gardens but were disappointed to find that we had to pay to get in so decided to get the bus back to the ship and continue our hunt for the Little Mermaid, which when we eventually found it lived up to its name – ie it's a little mermaid!

Another sunny day greeted us on Sunday at Waernemund in Germany – we were warned that everything would be closed but were delighted to find ourselves in a vibrant seaside town with a local folk festival in full swing!

Monday dawned with another day at sea, which we spent wandering around the ship – even though the weather was lovely it was quite windy on deck.

Tuesday was Talinn, Estonia – a truly lovely place. We only wandered around the old town but were mesmerised by its traditional buildings and character, being very hilly it meant that we could see on the horizon where to head to – by this time our calf muscles were starting to talk to us!

Wednesday and Thursday meant St Petersburg. We decided to play safe and pre-book our tours rather than opt for visas to allow independent travel. First off was St Petersburg through the eyes of the Russian people. Our elderly tour guide took us through the back streets of St Petersburg to the Metro system after a short trip to a local supermarket. The Metro was something else, spotlessly clean and decorated in the most amazing ways – no photography permitted unfortunately due to anti-terrorism measures. Each station interior is full of marble, granite, mosaic, statues and friezes – all with a different theme. Then on to vodka tasting! Cranberry, delicious; Horseradish, hot; Siberian Nut, Aniseed like. All quaffed with traditional Russian greetings – I won't even try to write them down!

Thursday afternoon was the Peterhof gardens and fountains – over 250 fountains we only saw a few in the lower gardens. I don't think that any words I can write will do any justice to this fantastic place – although I will say that I think it's one of the places that you should visit before you die (along with the Grand Canyon et al)Wikipedia has a good description!

Friday another lovely day took us to Helsinki – possibly the least impressive place that we visited, I'm not sure. We took a guided tour on a London Routemaster bus! I thought the Sibelius monument was quite special (he wrote Finlandia and not Peter and the Wolf as I previously thought – thanks Julie!)

Saturday morning dawned bright and sunny in Stockholm – another fantastic place, sadly the ship was leaving at 4pm so we couldn't see as much as we would have hoped. We took the hop-on-hop-off ferry from island to island – all for £10 a ticket. John & I both said that we must go back there for a weekend (at least) to see more.

Sunday and Monday were sea days, the weather started to turn as we took the left at the top of Denmark but the sea was nowhere near as choppy as on the way there, Tuesday morning brought us back to a grey, dull, overcast Dover. The disembarkation process was as good as the embarkation, we left our cases outside the rooms for collection overnight and opted for a 7.50 disembark time. Apart from an elderly lady fainting in the gangway on the way out we were off the ship and on dry land in moments, a porter collected our cases and the process was reversed from arrival – oh, and the music system was playing Bye, Bye Baby by the Bay City Rollers as we walked through customs!!

If any of you lovely people want to see the whole sorry mess of photos you can get to them via this link - happy viewing!

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

All ashore who're going ashore...

Ah, terra ferme!(I don't know if I've spelt that right!) It's good to be home but I am so tired I can't manage to string anything interesting together! All home today for dinner for the first time in over three weeks and now they've all gone their separate ways again! Number 1 son and girlfriend off to the cinema (Harry Potter) and number 2 to house and dog sit for his girlfriend's family while they are off on a family holiday.

Look out for more tomorrow...over 250 photos taken, don't panic I won't post them all - just a select few!!

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Holiday minus one

I can't believe the day is finally here! We're packed and ready to go tomorrow heading off to Dover, via Colchester to pick up Linda & John. We're going in convoy as neither car is big enough for passengers and luggage! The ship sails at 4pm but we want to try to be among the first to board – the holiday starts the minute you get on board with the cocktail waiters on hand with gloriously coloured drinks to get you in the mood!
It's a real shame that the weather forecast is c**p! There's a huge ridge of low pressure right across the route – we're headed for Copenhagen first on Saturday after a day at sea. I have a feeling the day at sea may be a little inclement – bring on the Dramamine!

Slight change of subject, number 2 son got off safely on Monday morning, sent a text as soon as he arrived, phoned in the evening and phoned again this evening on the other hand not much communication from number 1 son much to his brother's disgust, how different they are at times like this.

OK – need to wrap up now, taking the laptop with me and will update when I can!

Bye for now!!!

Tuesday, 7 July 2009


I've just sat watching the Michael Jackson tribute and have to say I wasn't expecting to feel so emotional. I must say though that I felt the political undertones of some of the speakers was a little OTT and inappropriate. However, what I found most moving, perhaps obviously to those of you who also watched, was his daughter at the very end. Those children have spent all of their lives being obscured from public view, fuelling speculation about their true parentage – today should have dispelled those rumours. Three very brave children mourning the passing of their father in the most public of manners. RIP Michael – you really were an inspiration to many generations.

Courtesy of the friend I call...

...Julie, and no - these are not our portraits!!

My kind of diet...

       1 grapefruit
       1 slice whole wheat toast
       1 cup skim milk
       1 small portion lean, steamed chicken
       1 cup spinach
       1 cup herbal tea
       1 Hershey's kiss
       Afternoon Tea
       1 The rest of the Hershey Kisses in the bag
       1 tub of Hagen-Daaz ice cream with chocolate chips
       4 glasses of wine (red or white)
       2 loaves garlic bread
       1 family size supreme pizza
       3 Snickers Bars
       Late Night Snack
       1 whole Sarah Lee cheesecake (eaten directly from the freezer)
       Remember: Stressed spelled backward is desserts.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Getting there – sort of...

After waking up at stupid o'clock yesterday morning and getting up not much later, the weekend has been quite productive. After a trip to the hairdresser for the magic stuff that turns my hair a different colour from the grey that peppers it, John and I went into town with number 2 son. Now this is a very rare occurrence and only happened because he had an ulterior motive – needing new clothes for the new job (I don't think I actually ever said that he had decided to take it, it wasn't the best deal in the end but his view is that if he doesn't try it he will never know. Not a fantastic reward package so the bank of Mum & Dad have agreed a deal with him to get him through the next year, fingers crossed it doesn't take much more than that to get on the financial ladder). We had a very pleasant lunch and then progressed to Burtons for a suit and shirts. This was payback for all those times I had dragged him around the shops when he was younger. I sat on the very uncomfortable shoe-trying-on benches for over half an hour while he carefully selected a suit to try on – when he finally made his selection he looked every inch the young man about town. Then came the shirts – could it be that difficult, I mean the choice wasn't huge but it took another half an hour to choose five shirts, each one came with a tie which was handy, although why he needs five different ties is beyond me...

Moving on, with mission accomplished, we made our way home to the joy of washing all of the shirts so that they would be ready for when he starts work, John always insists on new shirts being washed before he wears them – something about getting the creases out, that's what I thought was the point of ironing!

Today dawned wet and a little cooler, I managed to waste I don't know how much time composing the post previous to this before getting my finger out and getting on with the things I needed to do – you know, ironing, washing, shopping for my own holiday. Number 2 son decided that he still had washing that he needed for his holiday! Two machine loads later, plus I don't know how much ironing he's ready to pack the clothes into the case that he brought downstairs first thing this morning and left in the middle of the front room floor – with clothes delicately piled all around it. For those of you who know him, this probably doesn't come as any surprise. As I write this he is only just packing – he leaves in about 6 hours and needs to pick his girlfriend up and try to get some sleep before they leave, he doesn't change.

We are going to have a disrupted night tonight, John is doing the airport run again, leaving at 2am this time, I think I'll say good bye before I go to bed tonight, I may just manage to sleep through their departure!

Only two days at work this week, leaving me Wednesday to get ready to go away on Thursday! I still need to sort my clothes out – might just make a start now...

Sunday Stealing

I've just come across this great site Sunday Stealing where every week they 'steal' a meme( click here for an explanation of meme) from a blog, I found it via Becky and thought I'd give it a go. Some of the threads are going to be quite difficult for me to answer, but here goes:

  1. I've come to realise that my chest size.......often gets in the way (when I come back from my holidays
  2. I've come to realise that my just that, it's important to me when I'm there but my family and friends are my life.
  3. I've come to realise that when I'm driving.........I need to be more aware of where I am, sometimes I am amazed at how I've got to where I've got to!
  4. I've come to realise that I need........a cleaner! Seriously, life is too short to spend all my spare time worrying about the housework and ironing (note to sons – this will not include your rooms unless you keep them tidy!!!)
  5. I've come to realise that I've lost.......the patience that I had with small children now that mine have grown up. I hope that it comes back when I eventually have grandchildren
  6. I've come to realise that I hate it when.......John and the boys get mad at other drivers, no matter how minor the irritation is, patience is a virtue my loves.
  7. I've come to realise that if I'm drunk......I'm going to feel real bad the next morning and for days to come, I actually don't get drunk (that often) any more
  8. I've come to realise that money.....really can't buy you love or happiness
  9. I've come to realise that certain people......really need to start thinking for themselves and to take some responsibility for their lives and decisions
  10. I've come to realise that I'll hard on myself no matter how many times I try not to
  11. I've come to realise that my sibling.....a hard one, died too young
  12. I've come to realise that my mum....another hard one, had a very hard and sad life and also died too young
  13. I've come to realise that my dad.... another hard one, was a weak man, very easily led by the stronger woman in his life to the detriment of our relationship
  14. I've come to realise that my mobile phone probably a total waste of money because I don't use it enough, it's also a source of annoyance to my family because I never hear it ring
  15. I've come to realise that when I woke up this morning....I'd slept much better and it was raining
  16. I've come to realise that last night before I went to sleep....I set the timer on the TV to turn off, as usual I fell asleep watching TV
  17. I've come to realise that now I'm thinking ......I'm hungry and need my breakfast and perhaps I shouldn't have started this now
  18. I've come to realise that when I get on's just another waste of time
  19. I've come to realise that today...... I must start packing for my holiday
  20. I've come to realise that tonight.....I will say goodbye to number 2 son and girlfriend when they go on their holiday
  21. I've come to realise that tomorrow....I will only have to work two more days before my holiday
  22. I've come to realise that I really want to..... have my breakfast – my tummy is rumbling but I'm on a roll and can't stop this meme
  23. I've come to realise that the person most likely to repost this is.......actually I don't know! Perhaps Kathy?
  24. I've come to realise that very precious, I must use it more wisely
  25. I've come to realise that this weekend......last year I was in Neosho, Missouri with Scott & Shirley, ahhh memories
  26. I've come to realise that the best music to listen to when I'm upset is......something loud and old
  27. I've come to realise that my friends are......always there for me, no matter the last time I made contact with them
  28. I've come to realise that this year is......a real milestone for us all. Silver wedding, my (whisper it)50th birthday and an engagement for number 1 son
  29. I've come to realise that my exes awful long time ago and part of my life's journey
  30. I've come to realise that maybe I should......take more time for me
  31. I've come to realise that I love......cruising and blogging!
  32. I've come to realise that I don't understand......what makes everybody tick
  33. I've come to realise that my me to where I m today, generally very comfortable with myself and my life
  34. I've come to realise that parties are......hard work if you are the host
  35. I've come to realise that I'm totally terrified of......losing my family and friends
  36. I've come to realise that my good right now

Wow – that was actually quite good fun (save for the hard ones) – must go now though because I'm starving and need my breakfast!

Friday, 3 July 2009

A little Independence

Without meaning to state the painfully obvious, it's July 4th tomorrow, to my American friends I wish you a Happy Independence Day, to my British friends – you need to know that I say that through gritted teeth! My real life US friends know what I mean by that, my virtual friends, please don't take me seriously! Until I had great friends in the US, I never realised the true meaning of the date – I mean, they actually celebrate Independence from Great Britain! Last year we had the good fortune to be in the US on the 4th and what a great experience! The whole country unites as one under the flag – true patriotism. We went to a show in Branson, Missouri which told the story of Independence through song – we learnt a lot from that, not least that they all think the English speak like Dick van Dyke in Mary Poppins!

One thing that never fails to amaze us when were in the US is the way they treat their veterans and armed forces members, we could learn a lot from that here in the UK. I noticed last Saturday was Armed Forces Day – it came and went with the minimum of fuss and was mainly celebrated in one town – my question has to be why? (Sorry – a bit of a rant there)

Back to life a la Ramblings. Finally got a text yesterday from number 1 son – having a good time, really hot, going on a pirate ship to paradise island to swim with dolphins! Oh – and they've made friends already, how lovely! The modern day postcard without the view or the corny jokes!

Number 2 son had his last day at his old job today, no fanfare goodbye, no good lucks - I told him that he should learn from the experience when he becomes a manager and not treat people the way he's been treated, I'm sure he'll soon forget about them when he joins the glamorous world of the estate agents.

Busy weekend coming up, really missed number 1 son this week because he does loads around the house, never mind, martyred mother will carry on regardless. Promised to treat number 2 son to new work clothes so will go on a shopping spree tomorrow – I really hope the weather's OK, rain is promised and for those of you who know Ipswich you know that will mean a wet shopping trip – no malls around this way, mores the pity.

Counting down big time to the holiday now – suitcases down at the weekend, then we'll really know we're on our way and after the day I've had at work today it can't come soon enough.

Bye for now – thanks for calling!

Wednesday, 1 July 2009


IMAGINE YOU ARE AT A PARTY on the tenth floor....
YOU'VE BEEN DRINKING......(not that you would...)
You open the door....



Courtesy of my great friend Scott...