Monday, February 17, 2020

Would you tether yourself to this ship,
not knowing how far it may drift in the night?

Or would you stay on the shore,
and watch the waves from a distance?

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Things have been pretty ok.

You only have to try something new once for it to become something that you've done before.

Has really been ramping up, so I have been expending a lot of mental energy during work hours trying to get everything done and keep track of things.  I can almost feel all of the calories that I've been burning, haha.  I'm doing alright with that so far, but as always, it's important to remember that it's a marathon, not a sprint, and pacing is an important thing.

I'm hosting a dance and some private lessons at the GCC this coming Friday, which should be fun.  It's been a while since I did any lessons, so looking forward to those.  Hopefully I will be able to be useful. :x  Rest of the dance itself is pretty much all set, though I will be giving the setlist one extra lookover in case I want to swap anything.  It's hard to know how much to balance my music choices between what I know people like, keeping a good variety so that no one feels left out, choosing what's familiar and playing things that I enjoy personally.  Thinking about it a little more, it's funnily similar to how I was feeling confused about my reasons for dancing, in the sense that I felt a lot of external pressures clouding my internal compass of what I feel I should be doing.

Stopped by South Bay Fusion again this past Thursday -- I haven't been going every week and certainly don't plan to, but it's something I think I'll be doing every once in a while now that their new location is that much closer to where I live.  Fusion will never be my "home" dance, but SBF is perhaps a nice atmosphere for where I am at currently -- in terms of making sure that I am remembering what I believe in and not forgetting about myself in the midst of thinking about external pressures.  I say this because SBF (and probably the larger fusion scene) is a place where you can very strongly feel that you are =not= pressured into being a certain way, into dancing a certain way, into dancing a certain role, into anything at all.  The people there were generally quite pleasant to dance with and doing so actually made me realize that I generally =don't= automatically expect that from all dancers I meet because that just isn't always the case in other places.  Being put into a place where I did not always NEED that "cautious and wary" mindset ready to defend myself made me very conscious of that being an actual intuition that I've developed.  I can't really say whether that's a good reflection on SBF or just a bad reflection on other places, but it a thing, I guess.

Gumbo has definitely solidified itself as a recipe in my repertoire now, albeit a more involved one since you gotta make a roux first.  I also had some pretty good success making kalbi at home, which was yum!  The next thing I'm going to try making is actually shrimp and grits with some gruyere cheese, mushrooms, and bacon :3  We'll see how that turns out!

Had a pretty good session, where I figured some stuff out -- some stuff in the Fox/Falco matchup, but also a lot of things in Falcon/Falco, by just grinding the matchup a ton.  I feel like I was starting to get a better sense of how you need to mix up between taking a laser and dashing back vs trying to call out a laser with a more aggressive/approaching option.  I figured out one or two "plans" for edgeguarding as well (always respect the side-b), and realized I need to be more like wizzrobe and cover the option =after= they get to ledge rather than focus so much on preventing them from getting to ledge.  More importantly, I realized my reliance on dthrow techchases was actually preventing me from developing the sort of "set play" stomp/knee followups that makes falcon an actual good character, and that I was relying too heavily on "safe" options like nair/uair/grabs in neutral even at higher percents when I ought to just be looking for opportunities to call out movement and land a stomp/knee or something, which is what actually makes Falcon a scary character.  Even if you only land that knee once out of every 5 times, it's still gonna just lead to a stock, rather than just "trying to be safe" and using options might win neutral but just don't lead to any kills.  Also I had completely forgotten the percentages for uthrow->fsmash on no DI (80-90% ish??).

Haunting of Hill House
I'm not really a Netflix person but watched this series on recommendation of my best friend.  It was really good!  The horror element of the series definitely went up and then back down...episode 5 (the halfway point) was definitely the most intense and chilling part of the whole thing.  I chose to take a short break from the series after watching that episode, which in hindsight (hindsight...) maybe ended up being harder to deal with; I definitely didn't want to deal with something MORE intense after that so I chose to play it safe, but honestly if I had just kept watching another episode or two it probably would have made things a bit easier.

Aaaaaanyways, yes!  As with a lot of haunted/ghost stories this is, naturally, a story about the past.  They treated the subject quite respectfully, neither glorifying nor shunning the past.  The storytelling was quite interesting as well and it's just a well-done series in general, but that's the part I wanted to call out, is that it does not present an "answer" to the problem of past vs present/future -- but teaches about why each one is important, and follows these characters as they themselves learn this for themselves and about themselves.  Zombies, ghosts, and the like are all symbols of an unresolved past, but resolving them is not always so simple as "vanquishing" them.  For the Haunting of Hill House, it could be said in the end that the past itself is what gives these people the strength to move forward, and that is an idea that I really respect a lot.

Have not been doing a whole lot here, but for poi I have started to practice stall chasers.  Not sure what I will work on next, probably just....bunch of random stuff that I already know, trying to get it all better.  Stalls especially, they are pretty useful and can always be worked on.
I keep on wanting to do some rando runs but it's sometimes hard to set aside the 1-3 hours needed to really do it.
This weekend I've been working on finishing up an old music WIP that I originally made for One Hour Compo -- as always, it feels great to be actually working on music outside of One Hour Compo.  Scheduling in time for your hobbies and projects is always a challenging thing...I happen to have been particularly good at it over the years, but even I am only mortal and have stretches of time where I neglect some things that I fully intend on doing.  But like clockwork, I always think about them, and come back to them, sooner rather than later.  That's the best way...for me, at least.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

You're right.  People are really stupid.  But I guess I've always known that...ever since I started saying that people suck dirt, back in high school.  It took me much longer to realize that other people really have a lot of worth, too.  But that doesn't change the fact that sometimes, people suck dirt.  And meowmies are better than people.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Sometimes it's a bit unexpected who has chosen, in the end, to hang onto their end of the thread when you give it a tug after so long.  After all is said and done, history and experience always shines a light on the truth of the matter, regardless of how flighty or not someone seems.

Wrap your wings around me, and lift me gently from the stream.  Just...don't carry me too far, okay?

Not every rock crumbles, at least not while you are on it.

Somewhere out there, my twin angel is living their life without a care in the world for me.  But "goodbye" is not something that I have ever needed to say.

Will I be safe?  Out here in this space.

I need you with me.

Monday, February 3, 2020

Viennese Ball 2020

Last year's post is here.  Last year, I wrote about how VBall had continued to not be an event where I really catch up with many friends and acquaintances from the dance world, pushing myself every year in dance, how I put a lot into the contests and how they were exhausting.

This year I feel like I have a lot to talk about.  Let's see if I can get to it all.  I'll warn you -- it's a bunch.

I realize that I don't really know how many of these things I've been to.  This kind of thing is where blog entries really come in handy -- a quick search reveals that it was 2011 when I first attended, so I guess that would make this my 10th VBall.  Yeah, a lot has changed, since then.

Like the trend in years past, I did not find this year's Viennese Ball to be a place for me to catch up with a bunch of people.  That didn't really surprise me though -- I think because that's just not something I was particularly looking for.  I think that is perhaps because I realize that the people who I only see at this event are people with whom I only have surface level relations, and that wasn't something I cared to spend a lot of time and energy seeking out here.

The beginning of the ball was a bit of an odd experience for me as I got caught in an instance of line con waiting to get in.  It was somewhat of a a humorous experience, holding my Journey cosplay and bag, waiting in a long snaking line -- I felt much like I was at some Anime convention waiting in line for registration (though that tends to happen a bit less nowadays due to a number of improvements in streamlining the process).  I don't normally run into this, but nevertheless, I came prepared -- I plugged in my earbuds and started jammin out to some tunes while playing Puyo Puyo.  Like I said, very very much like I was in line at a con...

By the time I got in it was pretty clear that there was little to no hope of really catching much of the opening ceremony and even if there was, it would involve dealing with crowds (mye myeh myeh), so instead I scurried away into a different room.  I am sure it went just fine, as always.  I'd be lying if I said that any of the previous N years of watching opening performances really stuck out in my mind as opposed to just becoming another hazy memory of yet another year.  But I have long since ceased to be the target audience for these kinds of things.  I'll hang onto my memory of Decadance performing "Numb" in 2012 instead, thank you very much.

I spent a good deal of my time this year in the contemporary room, not because it was the "cool" thing to do [insert jaded/dogmatic muttering here], but because Lillian Zhu's music selection was simply awesome.  Maybe it helped that I recognized so many of the songs, but even the ones that I didn't, I enjoyed dancing, feeling, and moving to.  I honestly can't remember the last time I ever enjoyed the music at an event this much.  The floor in that room was pretty well filled with people dancing as well, which was a great energy to have.  There is something about having good music and a good energy that really allows for a certain flow state of movement.  I guess I'm just glad I was in the right mood to appreciate it.  I realize that half the time I was just being the weird antisocial weird guy glowsticking off in the corner, but honestly I had so much fun doing that that I didn't really care.  I cracked two pairs of 5-min ultras over the course of the night, and had some really good songs using them.

So yeah, it wasn't that hard to choose that earlier in the night over the live orchestral music playing in the waltz room.  Don't get me wrong, the classical pieces are always very pleasant to dance to, and (as always?) I felt bad for the musicians, who certainly deserved some more respectful applause from the dancers. =(  That is something I will have to try and encourage a little more proactively next time.  I do wonder, whether the Don Neely Swingtet had a more respectful reception over in the Swing room, than the Saratoga Symphony did.  I've always been of the impression that swing dancers are generally better with this sort of thing.  A cultural difference, perhaps?

But anyhow, the feelings in these songs, while being perfectly suited for this event, are not the feelings that I strive to express with my dance.  I guess it goes back a little more to what I said about opening performances -- everyone's got their own passions, their own aesthetics.  We're all different.  But this event still manages to bring together so many of these different people.  Older dancers who don't even really bother to social dance much anymore.  Fresh faces who have no idea what the ball is like.  Swing dancers, waltz dancers, latin dancers.  I tend to dislike seeing dance events and communities become increasingly insular and catered towards specific groups at the expense of others, so it is nice to know that this event seems to draw out groups of all sorts, though of course not everyone. (though it certainly seemed so at times -- there were more people than ever before packed into the main ballroom, which was part of the reason I ran away to the Contemporary room)

I missed Swingtime's performance AGAIN this year -- I seem to just have terrible luck with that.  I peeked into the room, saw that they were already dancing the Shim Sham in there, and said to myself "oh drat, I guess I missed Swingtime's performance, which was before the Shim Sham."  Of course, 40 minutes later as I checked the schedule I realized that Swingtime was performing AFTER the Shim Sham........derp.

I entered the Cross-Step Waltz contest together with Talia this year.  My feelings on dancing in the contest this year were overwhelmingly positive, but......complicated to explain.  I guess I can try?

Ok, so some background.  There have been a number of issues in past years about a very vague "rule" (if it could even be called that) of past contest winners not being allowed to proceed to the final rounds of the competitions.  I could not tell you what the exact criteria for this was because it was simply not known.  Besides feeling very unclear, it was also an inconsistent thing -- I've placed 1st in the Cross-step contest in 2014, but even then it felt a bit..."off" since I knew for a fact that the most skilled dancers were not in the final rounds of that competition.  In 2016 (?) I chose to "abstain" from entering any competitions at all because I figured if I did that I would maybe be "allowed" to compete normally again??  And indeed, in 2017 I placed 1st in the Rotary Waltz contest.  However, later in 2019 me and my partner would go on to be tapped out early from the Cross-Step Waltz contest because we had previously won a contest....yet, somehow, we were still allowed to place in the Rotary Waltz competition again??

And no, before you ask -- I'm not just being full of myself and thinking that I "deserved" to advanced to the finals...One of the contest judges in 2019 later told me in person that they as a group had decided that me and my partner had to be eliminated because of past results.

Anyways, as you can imagine, this all felt very unclear and arbitrary and if I had to guess I don't really think the judges were always all on the same page in terms of knowing what "the rule" was, leading to some....weird situations.  (Judging is an entirely stressful and time-pressured job, so I don't really blame them if that was the case)  I really didn't think it was my place to argue though, and besides, it's just a dumb contest, who the hell even CARES -_-  However, the 2019 instance felt, especially given the number of strangers who came up to me and my partner afterwards and told us that we should have won.  To make matters worse, a member of the opening committee told me "what was that?  That was messed up." and one of the finalists themselves came up to me personally to tell me (and I quote) "I'm so sorry.  You should have been there instead of me."

This was all very....uncomfortable feeling, and I had basically stopped thinking like any of these results meant anything at all besides whether an arbitrary an inconsistent rule had been chosen to apply to me or not.  Dancing in a contest was no longer a question of "will I dance well enough?" or "will I be appreciated enough?", it was a question of "who will randomly be decided to be eligible?"  I had stopped trying to win these competitions because it was simply out of my control.

Fortunately, Emily Hu is an amazing Steering Chair and despite having =countless= other more important things to do, she took the time to both solidify a transparent and fair ruling on the matter as well as make a clear and well-written posting regarding the updated restrictions. (which left me and Talia eligible to compete and/or place this year)  THANK YOU EMILY!

Which meant I no longer had to worry about whether or not I would be arbitrarily disqualified before I had even done anything.  So did I try my best to win the competition together with my partner this year?  You see, for all the silly paragraphs I've written about this thing, I...kind of hate competing.  I really dislike it.  Truly, the only reason I've still kept doing it for this long is because many people have approached me since our performance in 2017 and told me that it inspired them.  People STILL tell me that today -- even at this very event, someone came up to me and told me that they wanted to dance like I did.  And if my dancing can inspire someone and make them feel like Waltz is the next cool thing a dance they really want to do, then isn't that reason enough?

The thing is, though, all of this thinking about "showing the world what waltz can be", trying to be inspiring for others, the pressure to perform well, all of the silliness with the eligibility rules....all of it was really, really, really quite draining.  As I thought about things more and more over the past week, I started to feel like I was doing this for all of the wrong reasons.  I was really just tired of thinking about everyone else except myself.

And at some point I realized that I needed to just let it all go and dance for =me=.  Because that is something that I was simply forgetting how to do.  No showing off, no worrying about the audience, no worrying about the judges, no worrying about technique, no worrying about anything except for the one and only thing that has ever truly mattered to me -- the music.  To me, this "contest" was a means of soul-searching, a means of regaining my own agency in something that felt so muddled with external pressures that I had lost sight of myself.

Talia was gracious enough to offer her full support and wonderful partnering in my admittedly somewhat selfish pursuit and we danced together -- a dance where we did not strive to push ourselves higher than ever before, but rather sought to be one with the spirit of each of the three songs that were played.  I blocked everything else out and focused on my breathing, and the music.  And I remembered again, why the hell I have been doing this thing for 10 years.  It was a wonderful feeling.

And when we were politely told that we were being eliminated, I accepted it with peace, knowing that it was not due to some arbitrary rule that I did not understand, and knowing, that I had proved something to myself.  This silly meaningless contest that I hate how much it bothered me (so stupid!!), finally I could simply look back on it as something that I felt positively about.

I chose not to enter the rotary waltz contest this year, because -- looking back on my notes from last year, I had written that it was =damn tiring= to enter to.  I definitely don't regret that decision, lol.

Speaking of getting tired, though I had felt a bit tired over the first hour at the ball (it didn't help that that was when it felt the most crowded....soooo many students and people that I didn't know, arghh), the great energy in the contemporary room seemed to carry me through and over to the cross-step waltz dancing and then through the rest of the night.

I did however get mighty hungry around 11:30 or so and for ONCE I happened to actually be out wandering about in the lobby when some food was brought out.  I think this is literally the first (or possibly second) time I have ever had a chance to have some of the food at VBall (mostly because I never wanted to bother waiting in line before....)...hey, 10 years in and I can still appreciate something new for the first time, eh?  (that food hit the spot btw, yessshh)

Viennese Ball is, like Fanime, one of those events that happens every year, yet still manages to be a little bit different each year.  Perhaps part of that is because of the different organizers that cycle through and work so hard to put on the event itself, but I am sure that a large part of that is also due to the changes in the people attending, as well as ourselves.  Overall I have to say that this was one of the best times I've ever had at a Viennese Ball event.  It makes sense when I think about it, because when I think back to the night, the two things I remember are great dances (shoutouts to all of the wonderful friends I had the pleasure of sharing a dance with), really feeling the music, and pleasantly interacting with a few people one on one.  What more could I really ask for?


I wrote on Saturday night that in addition to having proved some things to myself that night, I had also learned some new things.  Sometimes, ....sometimes, being my quiet and supportive self is not enough.  I have said again and again that growth must come from a place of comfort, and I will be the first to tell you that there are many days when I simply need to take care of myself, and that to do so I must find inner peace in a type of "tranquil complacency", as it were.  Being approachable takes effort.  Interacting with people is tiring.  After 10 years of dancing, even the simple act of asking a friend to dance somehow devolves into some sort of herculean effort.  But do you know what else takes a lot of effort?  Doing the right thing.  Being supportive of others.  Striving to be inclusive of people from all walks of life.  Making a newcomer feel comfortable.  Calling someone out when they are behaving inappropriately.  It's easy to be a bystander, and there is nothing wrong with that.  Some days I really need nothing more than to bystand to my heart's content.  But on the days when I have the strength, I've learned that I sometimes need to take a step out into the light.  For the sake of all of the other people...some who, like me, hide in the gentle darkness, and others who dare to stand in the warm heat of the sun.

For I know, that the one who lives inside of me, is not simply quiet and shy, but also compassionate and supportive.

Another thing I learned this night: I should really take the effort to look my best more than simply twice every year (VBall and Fanime...)...


Thank you to Emily, Filip, and the countless others who made my 10th Viennese Ball stand out a little more amongst all the others.  This is one for the books...

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Tonight, there were some things that I learned, and some things that I proved to myself.  Both were really important.

I guess I will write about it later.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

You can always become a better person.  But to do so, you must first accept your flaws.

Celeste talks about this as well.

In your heart you already know this, but dealing with insecurity is never as simple as being a matter of "getting better".  It's about accepting the fact that you are weak, and will fail.

Throughout my upbringing I was steered clear of failure.  My very nature, in fact, as a creature of comfort, is to avoid it.  That is only human, after all.  But from time to time it becomes necessary to stand up against -- no, to accept -- that fear.  The dark side of yourself that you so violently tried to push away.  You may not think that your weakness is a vital part of you, but it is something that you need to bring along with you as you move forward.

What is it that I can do?  Where is it that I went wrong?  It is difficult to move forward, when all you see are mistakes.  During these times, I find that I latch onto a spark.  A small idea, no matter how quaint, that gives me hope that the future, though dark, might be slightly warmer.

It is painful to realize that you have made a mistake, even if the "mistake" was to simply not do anything at all.  But my high school self knows that this is but a springboard to launch myself into a sense of conviction.  To do the things that I can.  Small, insignificant things, but they are mine and mine alone.

And I trust that I will follow through.  I always have, after all.  That is simply what it means to be me.  To follow through, until the very end.  Even if I fail, I will not forget.  You must not ever forget.  The promises of your past depend on you, and no one else.

Celeste: Farewell

Aaaaand we're back.

Not many probably noticed that I was off the grid for the week, but well, that's that.  Part of the reason for hopping back on ye old mundane social media stream is, but the other main reason is because I'm feeling better now.  I did some soul searching on Monday, found some things that I thought were important, found some other things that I thought were important to AVOID, and so on and so forth.

In addition to being emotionally off-kelter and in need of some answers for my self-motivation as well answers for external pressures, I ended up getting a little sick as well -- nothing too major, honestly probably helped me sleep better in the end.  Twas an off week for sure, but I definitely want to write about the thing that brought me back full-strength, and that is that I've finally sat down and played through the Celeste DLC, "Farewell".  This is a new chapter of Celeste that released around last September and that has sat quietly on my computer as I waited for "the right time" to experience it.  That right time was this week.

While I have not attempted the "extra" challenge of the m*o* *e**y, I actually spent basically ~4 hours last night playing through almost all of the DLC "level" (if you could really call 4 hours of content a single "level").  I stopped at the final screen, but finished that up this evening (honestly without =too= much difficulty).  I am thinking that I will come back for the aforementioned extra challenge at some point, probably at a later time, but that's it for me -- no golden berries, no dashless chapter 1, none of that.  At that time, if I want more Celeste, I'll probably just replay everything that's there (it has been a while since my first climb, after all), or alternatively go and play some custom levels.  Or perhaps just replay IWBTG or IWBTFG or something haha....

But back to the topic at hand.  Celeste's 9th chapter, "Farewell", is....not really your traditional "cherry on the cake".  Celeste is an amazing game -- and even before the existence of DLC I would have been happy to call it my favorite overall game of all time.  But Chapter 9 is =bursting= with additional content...I mean, 4 hours???  It kept on going on and on, screen after screen, long, long, long after I thought that it would have stopped.  And truly, I savored every moment of it.  These screens were challenging, clever, and made you really work to get through them.  They tested not only my control and reflexes, but also my problem solving abilities and my resolve.

But I knew that I could do it.  And as I progressed through these screens, a wonderful feeling began to permeate my soul -- the feeling that I was strong, that I was capable, that I had accomplished great things.  The self-doubt and stress over all of the problems I had been struggling with over the past week seemed to melt away and I found that I....was =believing= in myself, more than I ever have been in a long while.  "You can do this." I told myself out loud.  "You've got this."

After failing the final screen a number of times, Madeline's mirror self appears and asks her, "Are you alright, Madeline?"  She responds with "We're so close, but it feels impossible."  And her mirror self tells her, "We can do this...come on, just a few more tries."  It felt like it had echoed an internal conversation I had just been having with myself.

Celeste has great gameplay, level design, and, well, everything else.  I mean, that much is obvious -- it's an amazing game.  The level design in Farewell really astonished me as well, and I think this is where Noel and crew really took the gloves off and showed us what was really possible in this world, pulling out all the stunts and all the tricks for one last, final hurrah.  But I think even more than that what resonated with me was the emotional feeling of accomplishment, of persistence, of triumph.  This is something that Celeste has always been amazingly good with, especially in Chapter 7 (the summit).  But I think Chapter 9, being an even greater challenge -- a massive challenge, both in length and difficulty, really -- held that true even more.

I'd like to think that I can imagine why people scale mountains in real life now.  This emotional feeling of struggling against an incredibly difficult challenge and then coming out of it triumphantly on the other really did wonders for me.  Playing through these 4 hours of levels was some of the best I've felt in a long time.  And as I said, all of my other problems felt so meaningless in comparison.  So what if I don't mesh well with other people?  So what if I don't meet their expectations, or don't get along with them, or don't =want= to get along with them, or don't fit in?  Does it matter that I don't have XYZ trait and am not such-and-such enough?  No.  No, it doesn't matter.  Because playing this game, I believed in my own strength.

I did it.  I really did it.  I knew that I could, and I did.

Farewell, Celeste.  I know I'll be seeing you again, someday.  Thank you.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

ALTTPR first seed

I finished I guess what you could call my first "real" Link to the Past: Randomizer seed, clocking in at 2 hours 41 minutes.  The seed actually started opening up pretty quickly, though I made some kind of egregious mistakes along the way.  However the biggest two time losses were 1) Hunting around for tempered sword a bunch even after go mode because I wasn't sure whether (or how?) I could do Ganon with Master Sword (spoiler: it's not terribly bad, just use spin slashes and take your time), and I carelessly flooded the key on left side of Swamp Palace accidentally (nooo).  There were some other times when I made some random mistakes because I wasn't really paying attention, etc.  Here's some bad stuff I remember happening:

- Did the usual save+quit from kakariko but should have kept going since I had shovel
- Took an early death in mini moldorm cave since I didn't really know how to go accomplish that without bombs...
- Decided to go into back of escape only to realize I had 0 bombs left...
- Stupidly tried to see if I could do the Hera bomb jump without a sword (yea no), then didn't realize I needed to fall into the top end of the hole to do it the normal way, d'oh
- Took a death at Blind, I had cane of byrna but didn't account for how quickly it would drain meter without half magic.  I was still swordless at the time so had to just give up and come back later...
- I need to learn how to route skull forest...
- I need to remember the key logic for PoD...
- I need to learn how to route ice palace...
- I couldn't check digging game because I had picked up gary's chest...
- Lanmolas fight in GT took way longer than it should have, I was trying to be clever and use silvers but should have just fell back to fire rod from the beginning
- Was trying to splash deletion flipper glitch to check waterfall cave (since I had forgotten to fake flipper earlier) but couldn't exactly remember how
- Stumbling through ice palace with master sword only trying to deal with the pengators was kind of painful

On the plus side I was still sub-3 hours despite boots being in Ganon's Tower (!) so I was basically forced to go without boots for most of the game.  I didn't even get fighter sword until over an hour in (!) so considering all that I guess it wasn't too bad...

Twas fun...