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When I get asked out by a creepy library patron, my default response is to say that I have a boyfriend.  Even if I didn’t have a boyfriend, I would probably say that because it seems to be the only way to tell an inappropriate and usually far too old man that not only are you not interested, but you have something else going on in that area of your life already.  The problem is, every time I say it, I feel frustrated with myself and think that there must be an equally good way to tell a gross old man to fuck off, without feeling anti-feminist.

In the case of the gentleman (16 years older than me, looks homeless but may not be) who presented me with a single pink rose on Valentine’s Day that he obviously bought at CVS and asked, “Would you like to go for a coffee sometime?” I wanted to say “No, I would not.”  I mentally wrestled with myself before I answered him and sighed heavily before finally saying, “I have a boyfriend.”

Somehow, it seems more rude to reject them outright without having a valid (in their eyes) reason.  Just saying, “No I don’t want to have coffee with you” is like me rejecting them as a person even though in actuality I can think of about a million things I would rather do than even be next to these men in the line at Dunkin Donuts.  I do reject them as people because I know that we would have nothing in common, I’m not interested in the slightest, and I’m not accepting new friends at this point in my life.

Unfortunately, playing the boyfriend card on my previous library stalker didn’t deter him from spending far too much time trapping me in conversation, giving me his phone number and writing a letter to my boss about my exceptional customer service that prompted her to ask me ‘Who is this guy?”  So even my go-to doesn’t even work as well as it should.

Perhaps what I need is to just stop thinking of these guys as people and just be rude to them.  How do other ladies deal with unwanted advances?  Is there a magic phrase, or is it case-by-case?  My stunt ring may have worked at my other job, but I haven’t worn it yet at my new places, and really am sick of having to take that tactic.

I haven’t had health insurance in three years, which is a fact that netted me extensive media coverage.  What better way to prove to the Republicans that we need national health care than to trot out my over-educated, do-gooder self.  The problem with that is, and always has been, that even when I have access to western medicine, I rarely seek it out.  I don’t like the doctor, I don’t like explaining myself and I never really feel like I’m sick enough to need to bother a clearly busy person with my tales of (minor) woe.

But I’m determined to turn that around.  I am determined to be proactive with my new health care and get regular check ups.  I am going to develop a rapport with a doctor who will establish a file on me with a detailed medical history.  Together, we will document my health adventures so that when I eventually get cancer, we will have seen it coming.

My insurance officially kicked in February 1st, and I’ve been shockingly organized about the whole thing.

  1. I went to a meeting with the lady from the health insurance company and learned all kinds of things
  2. I asked around for personal recommendations for primary care doctors
  3. I filled out the paperwork and gave it to the HR lady in a timely manner
  4. I got an health insurance card

Except, apparently the soonest available appointment my doctor has, is not until April.  This leads me to wonder: why the hell is she accepting new patients if she can’t see those patients for four months?  I was prepared to get everything arranged, and then make an appointment for early February.  I called in early January, so I thought that would be plenty of time, but apparently that’s not the case at all.

Now I’m resentful of the fact that I’m paying for insurance I’m not using, which is why I never elected to pay for insurance when I was underemployed (also, I couldn’t afford it).  I could try to get in with another doctor, but then I’d have to change my primary care physician with my insurance company in order for them to cover it, which would take a while, and it seems like more trouble than its worth.  Also, what if this is how it is with all doctors?  A friend who has lived in several different states told me that Rhode Island is the only place she’s ever sought medical care where it takes forever to see a doctor.  She said if you need to see a doctor right away, her physician always just says “go to an urgent care center.”

I also had to frantically try to find a solution to the issue of needing to have birth control, which my doctor’s receptionist was not helpful about at all.  “The doctor won’t give you a prescription if you haven’t met with her.” she told me, and the doctor has not a moment of spare time until April, so I had to figure something else out.

People talk about health insurance like it’s the greatest thing in the world, and I’m sure, if you’re really sick, it is, but I am decidedly underwhelmed right now.  I’m trying not to let me it get me down, but I’m sure by the time my appointment rolls around my stress level will be markedly higher than before I had insurance.

I’ve also been having some back trouble recently, for which I think I might like to see a chiropractor (maybe), but despite the facts that my insurance covers 20 visits, I cannot go to a chiropractor without a referral from my super-busy doctor.  Considering the fact that I’ve been gimping around like an old lady, and have only run nine miles in the month of February (because of the pain), I’d like to get this looked at/adjusted as soon as I can.

In order to see a new doctor, I have to change my primary health physician.  I have to find a doctor that accepts my HMO, notify my HMO of the change, make an appointment and then wait for a card to arrive in the mail.  The whole situation seems remarkably ham-fisted.

Also, I got my dental insurance card in the mail yesterday, and they spelled my last name wrong. *sigh*

Seventy percent of adventure is just showing up, or, in this case, having an obsessive friend who lives in the middle of nowhere and can’t quite live out his dreams the way he wants.

Backstory: The new The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo movie is coming out soon.  This is the one in English, but still takes place in Sweden (which is pretty annoying), and I was a bit indifferent toward until I actually saw the trailer.  Then I realized that I was actually going to, potentially, live a different kind of dream.

Backstory to the different type of dream that I’m living:  I can’t be the only person this has happened to.  Remember when you were younger, and you’d get an album that was like the soundtrack to your life?  You loved it, every song; it fit together seamlessly like a puzzle that’s worth framing and you eagerly anticipated the new album from that same band.  The new album comes out, and the band has started “growing” and “experimenting” and while it may sound ok, it’s just not the same.  That’s when you realize that what you actually wanted was not for this band to evolve, but to write a second album that sounds essentially the same, but one that has different lyrics to sing along to and different hooks to marvel at. But that never happens.

Except when there’s an English version of an already solid movie trilogy that not only stars talented folk, but is directed by someone who has made me happy in the past… this could be my second Silverchair/Bush/insert another band from 1994-1999 that had a shitty second album-album that doesn’t suck.

Where the obsessive friend comes in has to do with a contest that this film has been running that I was unaware of until around 12:20pm November 21st when Joe frantically emailed me a google map and said “There’s a “The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo” scavenger hunt taking place across the world. Today it’s in your town. GO!”  He told me to go to the location on the map, which is about a block from my house, find the instructions, follow them and I would be rewarded with a kick ass prize.

So I wandered down to this old call box across the street from the video store not really expecting to find anything.  There was a tiny envelope duct taped to the side of the box, and inside was this note:

Something about the use of the word package immediately made me feel like I was in a spy movie.  Everyone out and about in the neighborhood was immediately suspect, and I imagined that all of my running and purchasing sensible shoes would finally come in handy.  In reality, I walked quickly and without incident to The Curatorium and told the proprietor that I was there for the package.

He looked stunned and laughed, “I was really wondering if someone would actually come for this!”  We chatted briefly and a red-headed man came into the store.  “You’re just in time” the proprietor told him, “she just showed up.”

“I know,”the red-headed man said, “I was watching.”  Then he looked at me, “You were a woman on a mission.”

Clearly my paranoia was justified as I was, in fact, being followed.

The package, was actually a piece of art used in the movie:

Made to look like it had been sent to the person it was sent to in the movie–duh.

And this was inside:

I think it’s a juniper?  I have no clue, but it’s cool, came with David Fincher’s autograph, and a certificate saying that this is #20 out of 40 total–the only one in existence. Here’s everything else that has and will be found–mine’s in the upper left.

This whole experience was made all the more surreal by the fact that I wasn’t feeling well, hadn’t eaten, and had a fever.

I am the official owner of movie nerd gold.  Please don’t rob my house.

There’s an older deaf man who has been coming into my library for quite a while to use the computer.  At first, he always seemed annoyed with me and other staff because he had a hard time signing on.  When you sign on to our login system, you have to key in your 16 digit card number and last name exactly as we have it in our computer system.  Since his last name is St. ____, he has to put in both the period and the space, which kept tripping him up.

He spends his time online watching videos of car races.  Since he’s deaf, he frequently wouldn’t realize that the sound was on, and the normally quiet(ish) reference area would fill with the sounds of vrooming and squealing tires.  Then one of us would have to go over, tap him on the shoulder, and indicate that he needs to turn it down.  Since he can’t speak at all, when he needs help, he makes honking sounds and waves you over in an impatient way.

It didn’t take long before a lot of us got annoyed with the waving over, because we dislike being summoned like servants, but then something changed.  I was showing him how to sign in one day, and through a series of exaggerated movements, shrugs and occasional scribblings on a piece of paper, we were actually communicating.  He got over his annoyance and impatience, and I showed him how to do things for himself.  After that, we were totally bff.  When he came in, he’d wave hello, we’d communicate through a series of shrugs and thumbs up and seemed to always be on the same page.  I felt like I’d turned this once taciturn man into a happier human being through the power of teaching.

Then I got this email from a co-worker:

Turns out our deaf friend is also a paranoid schizophrenic. He threatened to kill his brother and burn down his house. There were 2 police, 3 EMTs, and a translator. He was very agitated and I felt really bad for him, even if I don’t care for his habit of barking at you when he needs assistance. I guess they took him in for observation

So there you go, it’s always the ones that I seem to connect with who end up being actually crazy.  I’m worried about him though, and he certainly never acted as crazy as most of our patrons who are not diagnosed schizophrenics.

My deaf friend, this is for you:

One of my biggest complaints now that I’m a grownup is that grownups don’t act as grown up as I was led to believe they are.  This may be because I’m in a female-dominated profession and women can bring the crazy like no other, but I think I just may have been duped or deluded for most of my youth.  I thought that there was a certain point where you just grow up.  You start wearing a suit to work, disciplining children (not even just your own), buying property, and the wisdom acquired from doing those things made you a thoughtful and reasonable person.

I’m finding that that is not the case at all, and now I’m mad at grownups in general.

Of course, this blog is not entitled I’m mad at grownups, it’s entitled Why I’m a hypocrite (see above).  I’m a hypocrite because for all of my bitching to any poor sucker who happens to be within earshot about how lame and immature adults are (and how that’s the opposite of adult); I’m currently embroiled in a cold war with the woman who lives one floor above me about our shared laundry space.

The scenario:

Mr. and Mrs. Upstairs are subletting the apartment on the 3rd floor while my landlord is off on sabbatical.  Mr. and Mrs. Upstairs are from London and are unfailingly polite/ slightly condescending in that way that only English people can be.  Initially, Gentleman Scholar and I wanted to please them desperately and show them, somehow, that we too drink copious amounts of tea and have opinions about biscuits, but we haven’t managed to succeed at this, and it’s time we call it a wash.

When Gentleman Scholar and I moved into our apartment two years ago, the only other person living in the building was Elderly Neighbor.  Elderly Neighbor sends his laundry out, so we had the washer and dryer in the basement to ourselves.  We were told by our former landlady, that the dryer runs off of the  2nd floor’s (our) electricity.  To make it fair for everyone to use the laundry, the other tenants would leave $1 for each tumble for the 2nd floor people to take.  Works for me.

When landlord (new landlord) sent us an email detailing his exotic sabbatical trip and giving us some info on our new subletting neighbors, he included the line “I told them about the washing machine.” This made no sense to me, so I ignored it, and continued to ignore it until Mrs. Upstairs came knocking on my door one afternoon asking why I plugged the washing machine into 3rd floor’s outlet.

I blinked at her like a moron until she explained that we were supposed to plug the washer into our outlet (neatly labeled) when we were using it, and she would plug the washer into her outlet when she was using it.  So that’s what the line in the email meant.  Then I explained to her about the issue with the dryer, and I thought we were fast friends.

Then her husband started leaving the back door to the building unlocked and sometimes wide open, on more occasions than I can count.  I never see him, so I mentioned to Mrs. Upstairs that while we live in a safe-ish neighborhood, we also live in a neighborhood with a lot of burglary, and I’ve already been robbed–didn’t like it.  She was contrite, I felt like a total Hall Monitor, but her husband continued to not lock the door.  I then emailed landlord who was in a Chinese hospital with dengue fever, and he said he’d email then with a gentle reminder.

After that, it was just one tiny thing after another.  These are mostly petty grievances that I feel like a crazy person bringing up, but that really irk me nonetheless.

  1. Mrs. Upstairs does a ton of laundry, and only puts a dollar in for the dryer for about every four tumbles.
  2. They only dig out their own car in the winter and didn’t help with any of the common areas or the sidewalk.  There was actually an exact line where they dug their car out just enough so they could leave.  We dug out my car and that of Elderly Neighbor, and shoveled the sidewalks.
  3. They keep shutting off the lightswitch to the outside motion sensor light, so when I come home from work at 10:30, I have to fumble for my keys in the dark.
  4. They piled a bunch of baby accessories up against our storage space door, then when we moved it out of the way, they put it back.
  5. They left a length of hose lying in the middle of the basement floor for a week, and then set it on my treadmill (that’s just baffling–we have no yard).

I’m sure they have plenty of stuff to be irked with us about too, but now my big grievance is that Mrs. Upstairs has started, inexplicably, using my laundry soap.

I noticed this the other day because the cap on mine was missing.  For some reason, she apparently fills the cap with soap and throws that in the wash with the clothes.  I took her clothes out of the washer to put in mine, and replaced the cap.  Later on that day, cap was off again and this time is lying on the dirty floor.  Afer consulting with Jewish Friend, I decided not to knock on Mrs. Upstair’s door and ask why she’s using my soap, but instead secreted it away in our storage space.

I’m contemplating leaving a passive-aggressive post-it on the outside light that they keep turning off, but I’m not sure how far I want to take this.  With each further action, I hate myself a little more.  When I was hiding the laundry soap away in the storage space, all I could think was “Why am I doing this? Who does this!?!?”  But it’s my soap!  If she needed to use some, she should have asked!

Maybe I’m spending too much time at home?  Maybe the rules of libraryland have started to affect my downtime, or maybe you just shouldn’t help yourself to other peoples’ laundry soap and then leave the cap on the ground.

Addendum: Turns out satire once again nails it.


There is a woman who comes into my place of work who has been calling me Jen for about four months now.  The first time she said it, she was walking quickly past my desk and threw out a pert “Hi Jen!”

I responded to the “Hi” part before I realized that she had called me Jen.  From then on, every time she came into the library, I would get either a “Hi Jen!” or a “Bye Jen!” I kept waiting for situations to present themselves that would straighten this out without me having to do anything about it.  I thought the time that she saw both Jen and I sitting at the desk together would clue her in, but she actually acted as if she had never seen me before, let me answer her question, and then an hour later said “Bye Jen!” as she was leaving.

I’m just leaving this alone.  The funny thing is, I don’t think she ever even talks to Jen, but I might be wrong.


There is a woman who lives along the route that I run every day.  No matter how early or late it is when I run by, she will be on her porch, sitting in a plastic chair, wearing what looks like a nightgown, smoking.  Occasionally, she has with her an oxygen tank, but she’s still smoking.  I run outdoors year round unless the sidewalks are so clogged with snow that they’re unpassable, but she’s always out there, smoking.  I wonder now if we’re friends just because we’ve seen each other so many times.  I imagine that she either admires me or loathes me.  Maybe she’s lonely and wishes I would stop and chat; maybe if I tried to stop and chat, she’d throw her lit cigarette at me.

I think I’m going to phase in a friendly smile and possibly a head nod, just to see what kind of a reaction I get.


There is a man who comes into my library and thinks that the two of us are best pals.  I don’t know his name, but he knows mine and has asked me out.  When I turned him down, he elected to keep me in “the friend zone” much to my dismay instead doing the thing where he awkwardly avoids eye contact or (even better) goes to a different library.  He keeps me up-to-date with what’s going on with him, even as I try to appear incredibly busy; and often pauses for long stretches which I assume are times for me to ask questions about whatever he’s prattling on about at the moment.

I refuse to ask questions.

Unfortunately, he is not dissuaded by my lack of question asking, and carries the conversation all on his own.

I’ve now taken the approach where I am trying to convince him that I’m a terrible human being.  This seemed like a logical next step after refusing to ask questions about his health or diabetes even when he would say things like “I’ve been having some health issues lately… was in Boston for a few days, that’s why you haven’t seen me.”  I put this new plan into effect when he recently asked if I had big plans for the weekend.

“I’m running a 1/2 marathon on Saturday.”

He then launched into a description of physical feats that he’s engaged in–mostly 5ks, it’s important to stay fit (he’s at least 40 pounds overweight).  Then he asked if I was doing it for some kind of charity.

“You mean, like am I raising money for cancer or something?” I asked.

He nodded.

“Oh absolutely not.  No way.  I just like running and getting medals.”

Then I waited, hoping that he would be incredibly disappointed in my lack of human decency, but he thought it was hilarious.

I need a new approach.

I’ve mentioned on numerous occasions the run-ins that I have with male library patrons.  I was catching up with International Friend via skype the other day when I finally admitted something that I’ve never said out loud before.

Let’s back up for a moment and recap all the lovely qualities of the men who have recently asked me out: one had no front teeth; another didn’t ask me out until he had already told me that he’s unemployed, divorced with kids and diabetic with no health insurance; another is closer to my parents’ ago than mine–actually, all of them are way too old, which makes it all very creepy.  The problem is, that I feel bad listing out their poor qualities like this.  I make excuses for them, tell myself that I’m sure they’re lovely people, when what they actually are are gross old men who make work uncomfortable for me.

And here’s the thing that I feel like the biggest bitch admitting: I would never date someone who had to come to the library to use the internet.

I am all about breaking down the digital divide, helping people get online who can’t afford their own computer and internet connection, but I don’t want that in my own life.  I confessed this to a friend who agreed “home internet access is a real indicator of socio-economic standing.” Putting it that way sounds so shallow and obnoxious, and I’m certainly not a rich lady, never will be, but opting out of the internet at home and using it exclusively at the public library is a whole nother thing, no?

So I put it to you, gentle reader, am I a snob? Is it snobby to put a moratorium on dating outside of your peer group, or is that something that everyone does anyway?  I’ve never been such a highly pursued female, so I’ve never had to think about my deal-breakers in this way.  If I met one of these guys at a neutral social event would I feel differently?

Someday I’ll write blogs that are less self-indulgent, I promise.

Fargo, ND was recently awarded the title America’s Worst Weather City by the Weather Channel.  This dubious honor is something I voted for three times, told my friends to vote for and filled me with pride when I found out that the place I spent eight years of my life is now considered the hardest to live in.  I don’t know why I’m so obsessed with being tough, but there it is.

Only problem, one of the custodians at work, independent of this contest, has picked up on the fact that Fargo, and North Dakota in general, has very miserable weather, and won’t stop talking to me about it.

At first it was funny, “Fargo is so cold!” “Yeah it is!”  har har har.  But now it’s getting really old.

I’ll be sitting at my desk working or on break, and he’ll come up to me and say something like:

“My dad was stationed at Minot Airforce Base.  He used to do the trick where he’d throw a glass of water outside and it would be frozen before it hit the ground… he was just miserable, after that he wanted to go to Vietnam.”

“Man, I can see why you left–48 days of below zero temperatures!  Who can live like that?  What’s wrong with people that they stay there?”

“Do your parents still live there?  Do you ever have to go visit them or do they just come here?  If I was them, I’d come here.”

This is officially out of bounds.  As the old saying goes, you can’t judge a man until you’ve walked a mile  in his shoes.  Or my versions: You can’t make fun of my parents because you haven’t had to live with them, and you certainly can’t make fun of North Dakota unless you’ve been there.  You haven’t earned it.  This is a rule that is very important to me.  This is a rule that has lead me to read many, many lousy books so that I can hate on them with authority.  Although I know his good-natured ribbing is intended to be good-natured, it has gone too far.

Let me dispel a couple myths about Fargo:

  1. Yeah, it’s cold, but it doesn’t feel that cold.  I lived in Fargo for eight years, and during that time, I barely wore gloves.  This wasn’t because I was a moron or wanted frostbite, I just didn’t really need them.  In talking to another North Dakotan who now lives in Providence, both of us have increased the amount of weather “gear” we own since moving east.  There is a constant blanket of snow in Fargo from November-April, and that makes it feel warmer, plus, it’s very dry.  I feel colder in New England than  I ever did in Fargo because here the air here is damp and it gets into your bones.  Also, New Englanders don’t seem to know how to heat their houses properly.
  2. It’s kind of an adventure.  My brother put it very succinctly recently when we were talking about the impending flood.  “It’s that ‘we’re all in this together’ bit. You put out sandbags, you work with your neighbors, and you know that everyone is putting up with the same thing as you so no one whines about it.”  Stoicism in action.  Whenever I try to make plans with baby-having best friend, she usually says something like, “well, I won’t be able to go then, we’ll probably be under water.”  But she never says it in a ‘woe is me’ way, it’s just a fact of life.  Every winter, there will be blizzards and every spring there will be a flood.  There might be a couple days of anxiety and a “Floodwatch!” graphic on the local news, but life goes on.  In Rhode Island, you get a few snowflakes every year, and everyone flies into a panic.

I may be romanticizing my time in Fargo, and I certainly don’t want to move back there, but I’m also sick of people who don’t know anything about it calling it Frozen Hell on Earth just based on looking at some numbers.  If you are a person who is terribly interested in slamming Fargo to everyone within earshot, please, go visit it first.  After you’ve been, I will join you in mocking the overabundance of strip malls, and that desolate stretch of road between 32nd ave and 45th street where you seem to run out of city and then meet up with civilization again, or the ridiculous Multiband Tower, which looks more like a blue wart on the Prairie than a tower of any kind.  But making fun of the weather?  It’s just unimaginative.

We have a very special patron in my library. One who is handled with kid gloves, given above-and-beyond service consistently and who, for reasons no one seems to understand, requests and receives a packet of scratch paper every time there is a holiday–federal, religious, secular, makes no difference.

She is a crazy person, and I cannot understand why we go to such great lengths to win her favor as she has treated most of us appalling poorly at one time or another.  But it’s not up to me.  This was the situation I rolled into, and I deal with it even going so far as to find her three red velvet cake recipes once just to make sure she had at least one that she liked (I never got any feedback on that).

Now something strange has happened.  This previously self-centered, “woe is me, the world is out to get me” woman has decided that my circumstances are worse than hers.  This is something no one could have anticipated as she once lectured one of my co-workers about how tragic her circumstances are after that co-worker’s father had just died.

One day, I was letting this sad sack into a typing room, and she asked me about my job situation.  Admittedly, when you think about it, my job situation is a bit pathetic–two masters degrees, no health or dental insurance, two days off a month, almost exclusively night shifts–but I don’t let it get me down!  Except when quizzed incessantly by someone who thinks the glass is less than half full, I guess I come off a bit pitiful.

“We single girls,” she told me knowingly, “No one takes care of us.”

At that moment, the already small, glassed-in typing room started to feel stifling and a bit like a jar bugs go into to die, but I fought her negativity using words like stepping stone and resume-builder.  I don’t think it made a difference.

I finally managed to extricate myself, but since that bonding session, I get the impression that the two of us are kindred spirits, and I don’t know how to stop it.  She understands me now, and even though what she understands is a projection of her own craziness, her understanding, like the inexplicable packet of scratch paper, is just another part of my life.

Given my snarky nature and disdain for New Year’s resolutions, I have waited until January 2 to tell the world my plans for 2011.  Mostly, I just panicked and realized that I may actually forget what I’ve been mulling over accomplishing, so here it is, written down, unforgettable.

I like to set goals with a number, that way it’s easier to  know when I’ve achieved that goal.  In the past, I’ve set goals like “get better at Spanish” and marveled over my creativity.  See, I could get better at Spanish very easily.  I just learn a couple new words and presto–better!  I will always trick myself in an effort to let laziness reign supreme, hence the numbers.

For 2011 I plan to:

Run 750 miles. Last year I ran 700–702 technically, but the goal was 700.  This was done partially as a response to my dad running 1000 miles, which is his annual goal… I think, at least he did it once.  1000 was far too much, so I focused on the more reasonable 700, which still sounds impressive.  This was also done partially, though I hate to admit it, as a response to the nurse who called me fat and sedentary.  Next time I see her, if I ever do, I plan to bring in a printout of my spreadsheet that details all the miles I’ve covered and say something just scathing that lets her know that just because a girl weighs a lot doesn’t mean she’s fat!  Some people are heavy because their legs are like tree trunks and they have a running habit.

Read 100 books.  This is kind of always my goal, but this year, I’m actually going to keep track.  I ran into a situation recently where a friend and fellow librarian asked me for one of the best books I’ve read in the last year.  The only books I can remember reading are those I read for the Rhode Island Teen Book Award, mostly because I had to write mini-review of them and give them a score.  I do read grownup books!  I just can’t ever remember them under pressure.  So that will have a spreadsheet now where I will dutifully record title and author, unless I get bored doing this by March, which is very likely to happen.

I also have some personal finance goals that I’ve detailed on my personal finance blog.  I think I had another idea, but I’ve forgotten it already…