Sunday, June 28, 2015

Paradoxically Sized World I

"The Whole World Is Yours"

[This is one post in a series about my music mixes.  The series list has links to all posts in the series and also definitions of many of the terms I use.  You may wish to read the introduction for more background.

Like all my series, it is not necessarily contiguous—that is, I don’t guarantee that the next post in the series will be next week.  Just that I will eventually finish it, someday.  Unless I get hit by a bus.]

So far all but one of the mixes I’ve introduced have been downbeat of center.1  So, in the spirit of balance and paradox, I thought I’d rectify that with a more upbeat mix that also contains a fair amount of slower tracks.  And, hell: “paradox” is right there in the name of the mix.

The name is fairly obvious once you know that this mix was inspired by LittleBigPlanet.  This cute but addictive video game has a lot to recommend it, but its music is one of its best features.  It’s an electic mix of electronica, world, jazz, hip-hop, pop, and dream, with touches of funk, latin, new age, cinematic, classical, and medieval revival.  None of it fits together, and yet it forms a coherent whole.  The remarkably diverse music all just seems to flow, and you get to the point where you hear other music from random places and think “hey, they ought to use that in LBP.”

So I made a mix.

Now, let’s be clear about the parameters of this mix.  First of all, there’s quite a lot of original music composed for the game, but, with rare exception,2 I don’t put those songs on the mix.  That would be a very different type of mix altogether.  No, it’s the songs by real artists, off real albums, that I use.  And I go hunting down the original versions of those songs, which means that this mix often contains vocal versions where you would hear an instrumental version in the game.  In fact, LittleBigPlanet has been responsible for my discovering quite a few new artists that way that I’m pretty sure I would have never come across otherwise.  I now own several albums by LBP artists: Röyksopp, Trentemøller, Lullatone, Plaid, Ladytron, Mocean Worker, just to name a few.  And there are at least two bands—Ugress and Tashaki Miyaki3—that I now consider among my favorites.4  So, for me, LittleBigPlanet is not only a fun game to play with my kids, it’s also a music discovery service.

Now, as I mentioned, not all of the songs on this mix are actually from LittleBigPlanet.  Only about half are, in fact.  The remainder are just songs that seemed like they belonged in this grouping—perhaps other songs from LBP artists, or just, as I said above, songs that I felt ought to be in the game but weren’t.5  I also didn’t bother to restrict myself to those LBP games that I’ve actually played: we own LBP 1, 2, and 3, but there’s also LBP for PSP,6 LBP for PS Vita, and LBP Kart.  Thanks to the Internet, I know the names of most all the songs from all the different levels of all the different games, and I’m not shy about stealing whatever strikes my fancy.  Of course, I’m also not shy about rejecting music: just because a tune appears in LittleBigPlanet doesn’t mean it automatically lands on this mix.  Some of them just aren’t as good as others, and I continue to employ my usual artistic sensibilities when creating the mix.  That also means that you shouldn’t expect to find the music from the game in the same order you’d find it in the game.  Nor even expect to find it all in the same order that the games were released, although, since I started this mix between LBP 1 and LBP 2, you’ll get a rough approximation of that order.

In this first volume, the music is all from LBP 1 and LBP PSP, more or less alternating with non-LBP tracks.7  Most of the non-LBP artists I discovered via the “Zen” music channel of my television provider.8  There’s also one track by Lullatone, who I discovered via LBP 3.  Naming volumes in this mix is tough, as many of the songs are instrumental even in their original versions, and ofttimes the ones that do have words aren’t in English.9  In fact, there are only three songs on this entire volume with any words in English at all,10 so I chose a phrase from the spoken word intro to “The World Is All Mine” by Clutch Player.

In the mix list, I’ve thoughtfully added a note for all the tracks used in LittleBigPlanet games: either 1, 2, 3, PSP, PSV, or Kart.  If a track doesn’t have a note, it isn’t from an LBP game.11  All of the LBP artists on this volume were unfamiliar to me when I first heard them in game, except of course Thievery Corporation.12  The only non-LBP artists I didn’t first hear on the “Zen” channel was Transglobal Underground, who I talked about way back in Smokelit Flashback I.13

Paradoxically Sized World I
    [The Whole World is Yours]

        “Left Bank Two” by The Noveltones [Single]

        “The Awakening” by Tom Teasley, off Painting Time
        “Get It Together” by The Go! Team, off Thunder Lightning Strike 

        “Count the Daisies” by Chris Joss, off Teraphonic Overdubs
        “Dancing Drums” by Ananda Shankar, off A Life in Music: Best of the EMI Years [Compilation]

        “The World Is All Mine” by Clutch Player, off The Atlantic Connection All Stars
        “Satyam Shivam Sundaram” by Thievery Corporation, off The Cosmic Game 

        “Tapha Niang” by Toumani Diabaté's Symmetric Orchestra [Single]

        “Isis Unveiled” by Hossam Ramzy / Phil Thornton, off Eternal Egypt 

        “Flutter” by Bonobo, off Dial 'M' for Monkey
        “Cornman” by Kinky, off Kinky 

        “Jatayu” by Transglobal Underground, off International Times
        “2 Sips & Magic” by Nickodemus, off Sun People 

        “Curio” by Stratus, off Fear of Magnetism
        “Still Feeling the Waves When You Go to Bed” by Lullatone, off Summer Songs [EP]
Total:  15 tracks,  71:00

Two other things I’ll mention before I close.

If you are a fan of LittleBigPlanet, you’ll recognize most of the tracks here, especially “Left Bank Two” by the Noveltones, which is a piece of sixties “library “music,” but more famous as the music for the tutorial level in LBP 1.14  So I thought that made a good mix opener.  I believe the only surprise here among the LBP tracks is that I’ve used the vocal version of “Tapha Niang,” which is the music from The Savannah in LBP 1.  I’ve read that they originally wanted to use the vocal version in the game, but there was some legal hang-up with the copyright, so they ended up going with the instrumental version.  So now you can hear it as it was meant to be heard.  Probably my favorite of the game music on this volume, though, is “Dancing Drums” by Ananda Shankar, nephew of Ravi.15  Ananda put out some great music in the seventies, fusing traditional Indian music with jazz, along with touches of funk and psychedelia.  I’d never heard of him before playing LittleBigPlanet, but I’ve now picked up his greatest hits compilation, A Life in Music, and we’ll be hearing from him again in volume II.

Among the non-LBP tracks, “The Awakening” by Tom Teasley is so LBP that my children swear it’s a game track and fight over which level it’s in.  “Count the Daisies” by Chris Joss is another track that is quite strongly reminiscent of the game, but then again Joss’ music is primarily composed of retro-recreations of the music from movies of the late sixties and early seventies, so it’s not surprising it fits right in here.  Electronica artist Bonobo is also a natural fit, and we’ll hear more from him in future volumes.  “Jatayu” from International Times is one of the more upbeat tunes here, but it fits well with the world vibe and flows beautifully into “2 Sips & Magic” by New York spinner Nickodemus.  Stratus gives us “Curio” to help wind down, and we close out with the lovely “Still Feeling the Waves When You Go to Bed” by Lullatone, who would go on to provide the background music for the LBP 3 trailer.16  It’s a calm, relaxing piece which provides the perfect closing for this mostly upbeat mix.

There are several more volumes of PSW to come, but I like to keep things mixed up.17  Next time I think we’ll drift into even more instrumental territory, but take a darker turn.


1 The exception being Salsatic Vibrato, which is pretty upbeat.

2 Only twice so far, in fact.  But not until volume II.

3 One of which, as you can see, meets my criteria for being an “obscure band”; the other has no bio on AllMusic, but does have a Wikipedia article.  Although it occurs to me that, the Internet being forever, you may well be reading these words in a time when both those things exist for both these bands, and you’ll wonder what the hell I’m on about.  Just trust me when I tell you that, as of this writing, these bands are obscure enough that, without LBP, I doubt I would have ever discovered them at all.

4 Although, to be fair, my list of “favorite bands” is very long.

5 Yet.  By the time you read this, who knows?

6 The kids have played that one, but I never have

7 There’s one 3-track stretch of all LBP in the middle, and we close with 2 non-LBP in a row, but other than that, strict alternation.

8 Which happens to be DIRECTV.  But as far as I know they all have these sorts of music channels.

9 Not that I have anything against giving a mix volume a title in a foreign language, in principle.  But I like the names to be something I can remember, something that puts me in mind of the songs on the mix.  Rarely would a foreign phrase work in that way for me.

10 And two of those are more in the English-as-a-second-language camp.

11 At least as far as I know.  Lacking omniscience, I welcome corrections.

12 I’ll be telling you the story of how I discovered Thievery Corporation once I get to Smokelit Flashback III.

13 And Smokelit Flashback II, for that matter.

14 Unless you’re a Brit of a certain age, in which case I gather you’ll always think of it as the music for Vision On.

15 Ravi Shankar is perhaps best known for introducing George Harrison to the sitar, although he probably ought to be equally celebrated for fathering Norah Jones.

16 “Race Against the Sunset,” which is also used in the Needlepoint Peaks level.  We’ll see it show up on volume IV.

17 Pun not intended.  Though admittedly not removed after being noticed either.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Saladosity, Part 5: Further Adventures in Produce

[This is the fifth post in a long series.  You may wish to start at the beginning.  Like all my series, it is not necessarily contiguous—that is, I don’t guarantee that the next post in the series will be next week.  Just that I will eventually finish it, someday.  Unless I get hit by a bus.]

So at this point we’ve raided our produce section for the base veggies for our salad.  But that doesn’t mean we’re done here in produce.  On the contrary, there’s a good deal of other bits and bobs we’ll need for extras, dressings, etc.  Let’s break it down.

Fruit (eating)

Fresh fruit is awesome, and you should probably buy lots of it.  I don’t add it much to salads though.  I generally eat it straight, mostly in a desperate attempt to use it to replace sweets.  Sure, eating sugar-packed fruit is not necessarily the best choice you can make, but compared to eating candy, or cookies, or that sort of crap, it’s easily the better choice.

The biggest problem with fruit is keeping it from going bad.  So you not only have to buy fruit that you like to eat; you also have to make sure it’s going to survive in your fridge for a week.  ‘Cause, let’s face it: you’re not going to go to the grocery store more than once a week.  Maybe you want to, maybe you even should ... but you’re not gonna.  You just don’t have time.1  So concentrate on stuff you can both eat out of hand and keep around for a week without rotting.  My favorites are bananas, apples, grapes, and pineapple.  But pineapple only because my local TJ’s2 sells it precut.  There’s no way I’m going to chop up my own pineapple.  Way too much effort.

All this will last just fine for a week, all in the fridge except the bananas.  At the end of the week, whatever I have left over I freeze, or just toss out for the birds and squirrels.  (If you compost, that’s also a great choice.)  Never be afraid to throw out food and get fresh stuff.  Of course, some stuff will last two weeks: the grapes and apples generally will,3 and bananas I buy green as hell every week and let them ripen throughout the week while I work on last week’s bunch.  At the end of two weeks, though, into the freezer they go.  Pineapple, strawberries, blackberries, and cherries can only stay for a week.

Now, we will need a fresh fruit accent for one of our salads.  In a perfect world, I’d use pears.  But here’s the problem with pears: they don’t keep all that well, and I don’t like to eat them out of hand.  So, if I were to use pears, I’d only be able to have this salad toward the beginning of the week, and, if I missed my opportunity, I’d end up with pears lying around and nothing useful to do with them.  So I use apples instead.  Apples are just as good as pears, really, and much more likely to get eaten for other purposes.  And they last longer.

Get organic apples, and look for sweet varieties.  My TJ’s has recently started carrying opals, and I think they’re amazing.  (So do my kids.)  So that’s almost always what we buy these days, when they’re available.  Other good choices are pink ladies, galas, or honeycrisps.

Fruit (juicing)

You’re also going to need lemon juice, so buy some lemons.  You won’t need these every week (or even every other week, most likely).  I like to buy a bag of organic lemons, which generally contains about six or so lemons, and juice ’em all at once.  This will last anywhere from two weeks to a month before I need to buy lemons again, and, generally speaking, the lemon juice will last that long.  In my experience, lemon juice doesn’t go bad: it just gets extra sour.  But it’s so acidic anyway that I dunno if bacteria can live in there.  Keep it in small tupperware containers (I keep mine up in the butter area at the top of the refrigerator door), and, if it gets a bit cloudy, just skim off the white bits with a spoon.

You can substitute limes here if you prefer, or maybe Meyer lemons.  Mainly what we’re going to use it for is making mayonnaise, so, you know: however you want your mayo to taste.

Don’t be tempted to buy bottles of lemon juice though.  That crap almost always contains sulfites, which is not good.  I’ll show you how to juice lemons so it’s not a huge chore.  Promise.4


I always buy a bag of organic yellow onions, which I will cut up along with my base veggies.  But, strictly speaking, we won’t need those for any of our salads.  I just like to do all my veggie chopping for the week in one go.

On the other hand, we will need garlic.  I also buy organic garlic, which happily will last basically forever.  It’ll sprout, eventually, although I rarely keep any around that long.  And, even after it sprouts, most of the garlic is still good.  If you do manage to keep garlic around for more than, say, a month, it’ll get soft, and I consider that a sign that it’s time to toss.  As long as it stays firm, it should be fine.

I also love garlic, so, fair warning: I will advise you to use lots of it for those dressings where we need it.  If you don’t dig garlic as much as I do, you can tone down the amounts.  As I say, I buy organic, but that’s mostly on principle.  Garlic is actually one of the few items of produce that I can’t really taste any difference between organic and non-organic varities.

I suppose jalapeños aren’t technically aromatics, but I threw them in this section anyway.5  We’re going to make some cilantro dressing which needs a bit of heat, and jalapeños are an easy way to provide that.  Now, cutting up fresh jalapeños is a giant pain in the ass, although I will try to offer some tips to make it as easy as possible.  I used to buy them in little cans, pre-cut, but my TJ’s stopped selling them.  So I bit the bullet and started buying fresh.  TJ’s sells a small package containing about 3 or 4 peppers, which is enough to make 4 batches of dressing.  So what do you with the other 3 batches?  Simple: you freeze them.  And, since one batch of cilantro dressing will last a week and a half to two weeks, you only have to go through this giant pain in the ass once every six to eight weeks.  I can live with that.


I’m not huge on fresh herbs.  I’m perfectly happy with buying powdered or ground or pummeled whatever from the spice section.  But there’s one area where you really do need to buy fresh: cilantro.  If you can manage to grow it yourself, bonus for you.  But for me, TJ’s sells it in little flat plastic packs that’s a perfect amount for a single application (either cilantro dressing, or aloo gobi, which are the two things I use fresh cilantro for).  I also sometimes buy it at my local farmer’s market, but the smallest amount I can buy there is about 3 to 4 times what I need to use at a time, so then it becomes a challenge to keep it from going bad.  But I’m working on getting better at that.

So far I’ve not seen any organic cilantro.  (Although my local farmer’s market6 grows their produce using generally organic means, they don’t choose to get certified organic, so their products don’t have that label.)  Certainly if I saw it I would buy it.

That’ll do it for us in the produce department.  Next time, we’ll move on to nuts and dried fruits.


1 If you do, I doubt you’re reading this anyway.  You don’t need tips from me.

2 Remember how I said I was going to be a walking advertisement for Trader Joe’s?

3 Apples will in fact last much longer than two weeks if kept properly.  But they generally won’t last that long.

4 Although I will admit to using the bottled crap sometimes when I’m feeling lazy.  It does last forever.  But that’s primarily because it’s chock full of sulfites.  So I try to avoid it as much as possible.

5 Primarily because there’s wasn’t anywhere else good to put them.

6 Which, honestly, is not all that local, which is why I don’t go that often.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Perl blog post #40

This week I’ve been off with The Mother, her parents, her sister, our 3 human children, and our 1 canine child, on simultaneous vacation and work conference.  This year’s YAPC was in Salt Lake City, a mere 700 miles from our home and 550 from that of the grandparents and aunt.  So we met in the middle(ish) and rented a small vacation house.  I rode the train into the conference every day and brought the boys in at night for social activities.  If you’re interestd in the mostly technical details of my experience, feel free to check out my Other Blog.  But there’s also some non-technical stuff buried in there, so hopefully it’s of some value even to my non-geeky readership.  Assuming there’s any readership at all out there, despite my repeated warnings to the contrary.

But in any event, my YAPC reflections is all you get this week.  The vacation part was quite lovely, to be sure, and I’m quite glad we got away for a while, and quite glad we got to see the closest things I have to in-laws again.  Still, it’s an exhausting week: driving 1500 miles or so, sleeping not in one’s own bed, dietary changes (e.g. a hell of a lot more fast food than I’ve been eating lately), dealing with multitudes and multitudes of people.  So these few paragraphs are about all I can muster at the moment.  Next week I hope to return to my salad series.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Saladosity, Part 4: Choose Your Veggies

[This is the fourth post in a long series.  You may wish to start at the beginning.  Like all my series, it is not necessarily contiguous—that is, I don’t guarantee that the next post in the series will be next week.  Just that I will eventually finish it, someday.  Unless I get hit by a bus.]

Obviously the first step to making a good salad is buying good ingredients.  This time around I’m going to give you some tips on how to do just that.

First, let’s give ourselves some goals on what we’re looking for:

  1. We want veggies that taste good.
  2. We want veggies that provide a variety of tastes and textures.
  3. We want to buy organic as much as we possibly can.
  4. We want veggies that can stand to be in the fridge for at least a week, after they’ve been chopped up.

Hopefully it’s obvious why we want all these.  #1 is because, if they don’t taste good, you’re not going to eat them.  #2 is because, if your salad is boring, you’re not going to eat it.  #3 is because a) organic just tastes better, and b) it’s at least probably better for  you.1  And #4 is because chopping up veggies for salad is an annoying task, so you’re not going to want to do it very often.  You’re going to want to shoot for once a week, maybe twice a week at the most.  Any more often than that and you’re going to come to dread it, which means you won’t do it, which means you won’t have salad in your fridge when you want it, which means you’re not going to eat salad that often.  Severely counter-productive.

So, first off, find yourself a grocery store that’s not too far away and has decent prices on organic food, especially veggies.  For me, that’s Trader Joe’s, but you can use whatever you like.  (But I have to warn you: I buy just about everything at TJ’s, so I’m going to sound like a walking billboard for them throughout this discussion.)  Perhaps you find Whole Foods affordable.2  Or maybe it’s Fresh & Easy.  Or maybe even a local Wal-Mart which carries organic produce—whatever.  As long as it’s convenient and moderately cheap.  Expect it to be a little more expensive—never fret over paying more for healthy and delicious food—but not so much that you’re tempted to stop eating salad for budgetary reasons.  Again, counter-productive.

Next, you have to find the mix of veggies that you like.  For me it’s this:

  • lettuce
  • cucumbers
  • bell peppers
  • celery
  • scallions

Every single salad will use the same veggies.  Why?  Two reasons:  First, it’s just easier to distinguish salads with their extras rather than their base.  Secondly (and probably more importantly), if you have exactly one giant bowl of pre-chopped veggies in your fridge, making salads will be easier and more convenient.  And that’s what we’re shooting for.

Now, you don’t have to use my mix.  Maybe you like radishes.3  Maybe bell peppers give you gas.  Whatever.  Pick your own 5 or 6 veggies.  Experiment if you need to.  I strongly recommend you have some sort of lettuce, but, other than that, use what you like.  Go crazy.

Now let’s talk about the individual veggies.  I’m going to tell you how I choose my varieties; hopefully you can extract the general principles for yourself.


So, first let’s address the pervasive myth that “iceberg lettuce has no nutritional value whatsoever.”  This is not completely without merit, but it’s also a vast oversimplification.  The truth goes something like this: the greener the leaves, the more nutrition it has.  The dark green leaves are the best, the light green less so, the yellow leaves are pretty pathetic, and the white bits are mostly just water in plant form.  So, while it’s true that iceberg lettuce has more white than green, and what green it has is pretty light, that’s not the same as saying it has no nutritional value at all, now is it?  Not to mention that all types of lettuce have some yellow and white.

Furthermore, there’s a vast gulf between “not necessarily good for you” and “bad for you.”  The white bits of lettuce may not have a lot of nutrition, but you know what they do have?  Crunch.  Do not underestimate the value of crunch in a salad.  Crunch is crucial for a good salad, so don’t turn your nose up at the white bits of the lettuce.  They’re great for providing crunch, and if they don’t provide much else, who cares?  You’re still eating plants, not crap.

Now, all that having been said, I don’t use iceberg myself.4  But don’t be so quick to rush off to the romaine: in my experience, romaine will turn slimy in the fridge so fast it will make your head spin (and your stomach turn).  I tried romaine a few times, only to vow “never again.”

In my opinion, the best lettuce you can get is butter lettuce.  It has some crunch, some darker green leaves, and it will hold up in the fridge for at least a week.  This is perfect for salad purposes.

As always, buy organic if you can get it.  Although I find organic lettuce a lot harder to come by.  If all you can find is non-organic, that’s fine.  I buy mine in bags, just because that’s the most common way I find it.  Or buy heads if you can get them.


Cucumbers are absolutely my favorite salad vegetable.  You can generally find 3 varieties at your store:5 American, English, and Persian.  American cucumbers are the ones you’re probably most familiar with ... they’re fat, dark green, and about as long as your hand (or a bit longer).  English cucumbers are longer, skinnier, and lighter green, as well as far less regular in shape, but not a whole lot different, really.  Persians, on the other hand, are a whole different thing.  They’re small, thin, and vaguely cute—they fit easily in your hand, and they’ll keep well in the fridge.  Keep them in the fruit drawer—with the humidity cranked up—rather than the meat/veggie drawer; I’ve found this makes a huge difference in how long they’ll keep prior to cutting.

The best thing about Persians is that they’re firmer, crisper, and less mushy than the American or English varieties.  That means less water content, and that means they’ll last longer after they’re cut.  I buy organic only; they come in a little plastic container with about six in each.

I also sometimes throw an Americn or English cucumber into my mix.6  I used to do this very regularly, but it does limit how long your base salad mix will last, so I’m starting to discontinue this practice.  If you can eat all your salad in well under a week, that’s fine.  Otherwise, you may want to stick with just the Persians.


Not much to say here.  Celery provides a great crunch that even the whiter parts of the lettuce can’t achieve, and it tastes great too.  I buy organic celery when I can get it, which is most of the time.  You can buy precut stalks, but I usually just get the whole “heart” (comes two to a bag at my local TJ’s).  There aren’t different varities of these to choose from, at least not in my store.

Bell Peppers

Some people don’t care for peppers.  They are nightshades, and some people have a problem with the nightshades.7  However, in my opinion peppers provide even more of that great crunch you need, plus they have a great flavor: it’s not really spicy, like their cousins, but it certainly ain’t bland.  Plus they come in red, yellow, and orange, so they provide some color for your salad.8

Again, buy organic if at all possible.  My local store sells a bag with three organic bell peppers: one red, one yellow, and one orange.  So that’s what I get.  I personally can’t really taste much difference among the various colors, but perhaps you can.


Also known as green onions, a scallion is not just an immature onion (and, if that’s what you’re getting at your grocery store, you’re being sold a bill of goods).  A scallion is a whole different species which doesn’t form bulbs.  They’re milder than regular onions, making them perfect for salads.  At my store, they come anywhere from 6 to 12 in a bag, and I’ve never seen any organic ones.  I would certainly buy them if I could though.

I go to my store once a week and raid the produce department pretty heavily.  I generally plan to make one or two large batches of salad base, plus cut a few extra veggies along the way.  So my shopping list looks like this:

  • 2 or 3 bags of butter lettuce
  • 1 or 2 packages of Persian cucumbers (about 12 cucumbers)
  • 1 bag of celery (two celery hearts)
  • 1 bag of bell peppers (3 large-ish peppers)
  • 1 bag of scallions/green onions (6 to 12 stalks, depending on size)

Of course, this is just the base veggies I’ll need for my salad mix.  We’ll need more stuff from the produce department to make our various dressings.  But that’s a topic for next time.


1 Yes, that opinion is contested here and there, and people will also claim that not everything labeled “organic” is necessarily any healthier.  But I think it’s a generally accepted principle.  Besides, if it tastes better—and it really really does—who cares whether it’s any better for you or not?

2 Perhaps you’re in a very tiny minority.

3 Whereas I think they taste like dirt.  But, hey: to each his own.

4 Although I would in a pinch.  It’s still better than many of the alternatives.

5 At least that’s what I commonly encounter at my Trader Joe’s.

6 Yes, in addition to the Persians.  I really like cucumbers.

7 Or at least are convinced they do.  Or believe that there are health concerns.  Personally I don’t subscribe to this point of view.

8 As I’ll talk about later, I’m not a big “we eat with our eyes” sort of guy, but that doesn’t mean I think your salad should be monochromatically boring either.