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Florida Bait Shop Fined for Displaying US Constitution

When Herb Quintero, owner of the Complete Angler, painted a game fish on his store, Clearwater, Fla. officials fined him for violating a ban on businesses that display a depiction of the product it sells.

So when they ordered Quintero to paint over it, he covered it with a banner instead. A banner that had the text of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution on it.

Quintero is now facing a $500 a day fine instead, instead of the $700 total he was already facing because the last thing Clearwater sign code enforcement officials like is a smartass. (Benito Mussolini is smiling from his special place in Hell.)

Now the American Civil Liberties Union is suing the city of Clearwater in federal court for violating Quintero's First Amendment rights.

“Only in Florida could a business owner be targeted and fined for displaying artwork; and then in protest of the fine, display the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution—and then be ticketed for that,” Howard Simon, executive director of the …

Deckers Family, Inc. 2009 Annual Report

Deckers Family, Inc. 2009 Annual ReportErik Deckers
Laughing Stalk syndicate
Copyright 2009

To: All members of Deckers Family, Inc.
From: President Daddy
RE: Yearly Evaluation Report

Dear Employees of DFI:

Based on a series of miscalculations, scheduling conflicts, and the fact that I can't think of another topic for this week's column, I am pleased to file my Yearly Evaluation Report for the Deckers Family, Inc.

My last report was in May 2008, which not only makes this the second year in a row for filing the report, but I'm even two months ahead of schedule. All things considered, this a dramatic improvement, and a prime indicator of the organization's perseverance and never-say-die attitude.

(Assistant Manager of Daughter Operations, please consult Appendix A for an extensive list of other "never-say" words and phrases.)

This year's report comes on the heels of yet another move for DFI corporate headquarters. After another round of downsizing our corporate tangib…

Embarrassing Celebrity Ads in Other Countries

You gotta love the Internet. Without it, we wouldn't know about dancing babies, Christian Bale's a-hole rant on a movie set, or Nick Cage's weird Sankyo Pachinko commercial from Japan.



Cracked.com just posted an article on 8 humiliating celebrity ads, including Sylvester Stallone selling ham and sausage, a 1980s John Travolta pumping iron for Tokyo Drink, and Paul Newman winking and pointing for Maxwell Blendy. My favorite is Brad Pitt, in a bad Italian accent, demanding people look at his ass in his Edwin jeans.

Many American celebs who won't do commercials in the U.S. because it cheapens their image will think nothing of accepting a few million bucks to embarrass themselves in a foreign country, because they thought no one would see it. But now, thanks to YouTube and an increasingly snarky U.S. population, these never-before-seen videos are now available for our pointing and laughing.

So check out the Cracked.com article and have a good laugh. It's oishi!

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Indianapolis Children Faces Peanut Allergy Peril (sort of)

Last week's column, British Supermarket Bans Girl's Balloons, was about Tesco supermarket, a store that won't allow balloons into their locations. This year, it was an excuse that a helium balloon could block a fire sprinkler. Back in 2007, they told a clown, Barney Baloney, that latex balloons could cause allergic reactions in some kids (assuming they rubbed themselves all over with said balloon for several hours).

The problem was Tesco just seemed to be making this up as they went along, rather than having some addle-minded corporate ass-covering definitive policies in place after the first time they ran into this.

This all reminded me of a sign I saw at one of my new favorite hamburger places. (I won't name them, because they make awesome hamburgers, and I'd hate for them to ban me.)

This restaurant offers free peanuts for people to eat while they wait for their burgers to cook, but they don't want people taking them out of the store. Why? The sign says they mi…

School Gives Kid a Timeout, Parents Give School a Lawsuit

Child psychology experts tell parents not to spank their children, but to use timeouts instead.

Helicopter parents who over-pamper their children tell schools not to give their kids timeouts, or they'll sue them instead.

Parents of a Greenfield (Wisconsin) Middle School girl filed a legal claim against the school for $50,000 because they put their precious daughter in a timeout room. They say the timeout caused her to "hyperventilate and feel nauseous."

Because, as we all know, hyperventilation and feeling nauseated (not nauseous. Get with the program, Journal-Sentinel.") is worth 50 grand.

Since when is a stress-related stomachache the problem of the school? If the girl has stress-related issues with being disciplined for acting out, then the parents should look at 1) themselves and the environment they've created, and 2) that's it. The problem starts and ends at home.

The suit also says a teacher allowed students to "commit a battery" against the girl…

The Thrill of Curling, The Agony of Obscurity

In honor of Curling Is Cool Day (see my recent column, Odd February Holidays), I'm reposting a column from 2006, when I wrote about curling as part of my coverage of that year's Winter Olympics, when I discovered curling for the very first time. The column netted me several readers in New Zealand who are nuts about the sport of curling.

Indianapolis also has its own curling club, the Circle City Curling Club.


The Thrill of Curling, The Agony of ObscurityErik Deckers
Laughing Stalk Syndicate
Copyright 2006

In the past few weeks, I made an astonishing personal discovery, one that I never thought would ever happen in a million years: I think curling is an exciting sport.

That's right, curling.

For those of you who missed the Winter Olympics, curling is that sport where they slide smooth round rocks down a rectangular ice court (called a "rink"). The sport is noted for the precision and skill at which it can make millions of Canadians scream in delirious ecstasy.

Each rock i…

Legal Loophole for Leased Cars and Red Light Cameras

As much as I hate and detest governmental and legal writing, there are times the specificity of the language is important.

Like in Cleveland, Ohio, where a court ruling about red-light and speed cameras could spell trouble for the city. There's a loophole in the code section big enough to drive a leased car through. At least that's what attorney Blake Dickson found out.

The code says that the "owner of the vehicle shall be eligible for the penalty." However, if you lease or rent a car, you're not the owner.

Cleveland attorney, Blake Dickson, whose law firm leases cars, appealed a ticket by the camera.

"I think the lessee of the vehicle is not liable under this Cleveland code section," Dickson told NewsNet5, Cleveland's ABC affiliate.

He appealed to Ohio district court and won because the code only targeted the owners of cars, not lessees or renters.

"Somebody made the argument until this is changed, every owner has an argument because it's an un…

HP Sauce: Weapon or Condiment?

British police officers were rushed to the hospital after coming in contact with something brown and with an "unusual smell."

London's Metropolitan Police said a couple of officers in Enfield, North London were investigating reports of a heinous smell coming through a car window. The officers who came into contact with the substance were taken to the hospital.

The sauce was later identified as HP Sauce, a British brown sauce similar to Heinz A-1 steak sauce, an American brown sauce that has had fewer police health scares.

I used to enjoy HP Sauce with my fish and chips when I worked at Fionn MacCool's, an Irish pub in Fishers, Indiana. It's not my favorite, but I learned to enjoy it.

A police spokesman told the BBC: "Officers who came into contact with the substance were taken to hospital as a precautionary measure."

They were released with a side of chips and pint of lager.


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Bad Manners in Public? That's a Clubbing

A lack of manners in one man, and a sarcastic attempt to teach them by another, led to a golf club attack on a 50-year-old Falmouth, Mass. man by an irate d-bag with anger issues.

According to the Cape Cod Times, Carlos Navarro was at a Hess gas station in Falmouth, when the victim held the door open for Navarro. When Navarro failed to say thank you, the other man sarcastically said "thank you." That's when Navarro decided to share his passion for golf with the man.

Navarro told the police he felt insulted, and the two began to argue. Police said Navarro "allegedly" retrieved a wooden golf club from his car, and whacked the 50-year-old man in the stomach and legs.

The unidentified man received only minor injuries, and Navarro was charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and failing to yell "fore" before swinging. He is scheduled to appear in court on March 31.

I'll bet he learns his manners in prison.

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British Supermarket Bans Girl's Balloons

British Supermarket Bans Little Girl's BalloonErik Deckers
Laughing Stalk Syndicate
Copyright 2009

British supermarket chain, Tesco, is in the news for not allowing a helium balloon into their store. Again.

Alex Pearson, a nine-year-old girl, had been given a helium balloon while she was eating lunch at a local restaurant. She walked with her mother to the Tesco store afterward, enjoying her balloon, and looking forward to spending some of her own money there.

I remember when I was that age, spending my own money was a huge deal. It made me feel special, so I can imagine how she felt.

But little Alex – sweet, cute widdle Alex who onwy wanted to spend her vewwy own money to buy a nice pwesent – was told by a big, mean security guard that she wasn't allowed to bring her balloon into the store.

It's a health and safety risk, the security guard said.

"Health and safety risk" is a term British bureaucrats like to trot out when they can't think of a good explanation for th…

New Legal Maneuver May Temporarily Stop Foreclosures

Kathy Lovelace of Zephyrillis, Florida was a few weeks away from losing her house to foreclosure, until she stopped the bank dead in their tracks.

She asked the bank to show her the original mortgage paperwork.

That did it. They stopped sending letters, stopped the procedure, stopped everything.

According to a story in the Associated Press, homeowners like Lovelace are throwing a wrench into the banks' plans to take their house by asking to see the original note they signed.

The banks created the mess by selling and reselling mortgages, which were bundled into securities, and sold again to investors. As a result, the original loan note was stored in some warehouse, has been lost, or was destroyed.

It's a legal maneuver that's driving the banks crazy.

"I'm going to hang on for dear life until they can prove to me it belongs to them," Lovelace told the AP. "I'll try everything I can because it's all I have left." Lovelace owns a $200,000 home near T…

Lamb Head-Butted Golden Eagle

Apparently, some Scottish lambs can be quite aggressive, says the 10th-ever Outer Hebrides Bird Report.

In other news, there have been nine other Outer Hebrides Bird Reports.

One lamb was seen head-butting a golden eagle, Scotland's second largest bird of prey (the sea eagle is first), at Baile Ailean on the Western Isles of the Outer Hebrides.

A headbutt is also known as a Glasgow Kiss in Glaswegian slang. It's a common fighting method by many Scots men, although I would think you have to be pretty desperate, or crazy, to think your forehead would make a great weapon. However, I've been smashed in the face by my then-4-year-old, breaking my glasses, so I understand its effectiveness.

The 240-page report, funded by Scottish Natural Heritage, said defensive action is not uncommon. Older sheep, including pregnant females, will often headbutt enemies and predators; lambs and adult sheep will headbutt as part of their play, or to show dominance. They also drink lager and love the …

Australian Ambulance Drivers May Learn Verbal Judo

This past Saturday (February 14), two Australian paramedics had to lock themselves in their ambulance, after being attacked by 40 punks with golf clubs and cricket bats.

The drivers escaped unhurt, but to avoid future incidents like this, the Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS) said they would arm their drivers and train them to defend themselves.

No, I'm just kidding. They're going to train them in the fine art of "verbal judo." Because everyone knows that the best way for two unarmed ambulance drivers to face down an angry mob of armed teenagers is with logic and linguistic cleverness.

QAS commissioner David Melville told Australia's News.com: "There's a number of options we're looking at with self-defence training, and an emphasis on de-escalation and communication skills rather than actual physical self-defence."

Melville said paramedics might benefit from the "verbal judo" techniques used by Australian cops.

Paramedics will be trained i…

Never Pick a Fight With Someone Who Has No Need for Ink

From the "You Know We Can Hear You, Right?" files:

There's an old newspaper adage that says "Never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel."

In the 21st century, that has changed to "Never pick a fight with someone who has no need for ink." Or who'll get your outburst publicized on the Interweb.

The (Canadian) National Post Reporter David George-Cosh got into an F-word filled pissing match with marketing pro April Dunford. Actually, April stayed pretty calm and level-headed, so George-Cosh just ended up getting himself wet.

It started when George-Cosh (@SirDavid on Twitter) called April Dunford (@AprilDunford) for a comment on an article he was writing. But April didn't call back right away.

That's when it got all cussy.

sirdavid: @aprildunford what the fuck. I called you for comment two days ago. What did you expect when you called me back? Don’t post that shit onlinesirdavid: @aprildunford furthermore, I called you several times i…

Hey, That Guy We Robbed Stole Our Van!

Patrick Rosario threw a wrench into the plans of two burglars who were robbing his house.

He stole their van.

The two at-large burglars were upstairs in his Bellevue, Washington home while he was down in the basement. He sneaked out of his house, called 911, and then spotted a white van sitting in his driveway, engine running, keys in the ignition. He hopped in and drove it up a steep hill a few blocks away to a friend's house, then yelled "neener neener neener!." (Okay, he didn't do that last part.)

When the two guys got outside, and saw the van missing, they ran off. They left three flat-screen TVs, video game consoles, a laptop, a jewelry box, and a trail of urine leading toward the highway.

"I kept a pretty cool head," Rosario told the Seattle Times. "You never know how you're going to react until you're in that situation."

A passing driver told police he saw the thieves leave the house, and that "the males looked back... and appeared …

Two More Food Attacks in Florida

More food related attacks in the Sunshine State. On January 16, 2009, 19-year-old Zachary Moir from Deltona, Fla. hit his mom with a taco.

According to a story in the Orlando Sentinel, Zachary's mom, Dena, told police she had called her son "several times," before finally going to his room and unplugging his Xbox. He pushed her, called her names, and told her to get out of his room.

Dena said her old-enough-to-move-out son finally came down to eat, and that she pushed him aside, because she was cleaning the kitchen and he was in the way. So Zach, feeling the love, smacked her on the arm, called her a name, and threw his taco in her face.

Zachary is being held without bail, charged with domestic violence battery.

Normally, there is usually only one Florida food-related attack every few weeks, but as luck would have it, there was another one two days later, on January 18.

In St. Petersburg, Cassady Catolico was arrested for hitting Steven Bunaisky in the head with a bagel. She …

Getting Ready for Valentine's Date

Getting Ready for Valentine's DateErik Deckers
Laughing Stalk Syndicate
Copyright 2009

"Has anyone seen my socks?"

"No, Sweetie, not my gym socks. My green ones."

"Eww, put those down."

"Not on me!"

"Because they're stinky."

"They're gym socks. They're supposed to be stinky."

"Yeah, Mommy doesn't believe that either."

"Just put them down."

"Not on Mommy's pillow."

"Because she'd be mad."

"Think of it this way: How would you feel if your brother put his socks on your pillow?"

"Now imagine what you would do if you could punish him for it."

"That's better."

"No, you can't lock your brother in the closet."

"Because you can't punish him for anything."

"Not even if he took Bob the Donkey."

"Buddy, you can come out of there."

"She did not lock you in the closet."

"Because it's a sliding …

How the Rejected Became the Rejector: My Job Search Victory

In the past 18 or so years, I have sent out enough résumés to wipe out a small forest. I have received enough rejection letters to wallpaper a room, if I ever wanted to wallow in my own self-pity for extended periods.

Now, thanks to the Internet, I can send an electronic résumé, receive my automated rejection email 2 minutes later (that actually happened once, no kidding), and delete it, thus reducing my self-pity wallowing by a good 67%. This then saves me enough time to send out more résumés, which in turn allows me to wallow in more self-pity.

Still, I actually enjoyed receiving my latest job application email, because I actually got to do something I've never done before: come back with a witty response.

Thank you for submitting your information to xxxxxxx. We are dedicated to acquiring the best talent and certainly take each candidate seriously. We have reviewed your information and feel that you are not the right candidate for us at this time. Many times these issues are a mann…

Maryland Comptroller Releases Video Spoof. Public Asks "We Have a Comptroller?"

The Maryland Comptroller's office released a video spoof, "Real Taxpayers of Genius," to get Maryland taxpayers to file their taxes online rather than via paper, which could save the state $1.60 per return.

While the video isn't as hysterically funny as the Bud Light "Real Men of Genius" commercials (which aren't hysterically funny either; they're more mildly amusing), I was pleased to see a state government agency 1) thinking outside their cubicles, 2) joining us in the 21st century by embracing Web 2.0 technology, 3) could find someone to sing. Sort of.



I used to work for a state government agency, and we weren't always so eager to embrace new technology. So I'm impressed that the Maryland Comptroller's office was more than willing to take adopt this technology and try something new.

We salute you, Mr. Found a Way to Circumvent the Martinets.


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Ho hum, Texas Hackers Hack Into Electronic Highway Sign. Again.

This is getting tedious. It was funny the first time, it was humorous the second time, but now the electronic highway sign hackers are just getting boring.

This past Friday, February 6, hackers changed a Lubbock, Texas sign to read "OMG The British R coming. They R watching you."

Not so funny. Maybe it's because Texas was already attacked by zombies and Indianapolis battled raptors last week.

In a statement to the press, Austin Bridge & Road, the sign's owner, says someone "with a questionable sense of humor" is responsible for the attack.

Questionable? You're just being polite. I would have used words like "unoriginal," "uninspired," "derivative," or "hackneyed."

What's next in your career of has-been humor? Maybe you could write more Monica Lewinsky-Bill Clinton jokes for Jay Leno? How about jokes about how George W. Bush is stupid? Ooh, I know, do something about "Germans love David Hasselhoff."

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134 Ice Fishermen Have to Be Rescued From Lake Erie

When I lived in Syracuse, Indiana, you couldn't drive past a lake, channel, or deep puddle in winter without seeing at least one insane person sitting on an upturned bucket, staring at a hole in the ice.

Ice fishing has always struck me as one of the craziest activities mankind could take part in. With the possible exception of ferret-legging (the Scottish "sport" of putting two pissed-off ferrets down your pants and seeing how long you can take it), no other sport seems to bring out the weirdos and committed (as in "he was committed to a mental institution for observation").

Indiana ice fishermen are a little weirder than most, because unlike Minnesota ice fishermen, they don't use shacks. At least not around Syracuse. Syracuse ice fishermen sit outside in upturned buckets, wearing two pairs of long underwear, pants, and the ice fiserhman's uniform, Carhartt coveralls.

I would drive past in my nice warm truck and shake my head at the loons sitting out on …

British Education Minister Needs Spelling Help

British Schools Minister Jim Knight got himself into a little hot water this past week when his blog contained several egregious spelling errors that made international news.

Needless to say, the British press crucified Knight, figuring that as the Minister in charge of Schools, he ought to know better. The Sun even marked up the offending page from his blog, and then mocked up a photo of Knight wearing a dunce cap.

Still, he has faced his embarrassment rather well, and even addressed his errors in his blog.

"I update my own blog and facebook page," said Knight on his blog (forgetting to capitalize – sorry, capitalise, for our British friends – Facebook), "often from my phone when I am on the move. As a result, mistakes do occasionally creep in. In the future, I ‘must do better’ and always check my work."

Fair enough. He owned his mistakes in a public manner, and promised to do better. But a couple of his constituents couldn't let it go.

Phil Weedon Message left at …

Apple Introduces the New Mac Wheel Laptop

Apple started attracting a lot of attention a few weeks ago with the news of their new No-Keyboard laptop. According to the ONN (Onion News Network), the new keyboard uses the same click-wheel currently found on the iPod Classic.


Apple Introduces Revolutionary New Laptop With No Keyboard

Surprisingly, a lot of people in the blogosphere haven't realized The Onion is a news satire site that publishes fake news stories several times a day.

Including the No-Keyboard Laptop.

Not too surprisingly, the blogosphere is filled with people who have unfortunately missed the joke completely. (You can find some great comments here -- #4 is especially funny.)

While these Mac Wheel haters are griping that people are so stupid, they'll buy any shiny thing with a click wheel, it sounds like the real goobers are the ones who refuse to buy the product, because typing on a wheel is "stupid."

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Golfer Blinds Himself, Sues Golf Course

Golfer Blinds Himself, Sues Golf CourseErik Deckers
Laughing Stalk Syndicate
Copyright 2009

If you run into a tree with your car, do you sue the tree's owner? No. If you cut yourself with your knife, do you sue the knife maker? No. So, if you hit yourself in the eye with your own golf ball and go blind in that eye, do you sue the golf course?

The correct answer is no. Everyone got that right, except for Paul Sanchez of Manchester, N.H., and his lawyer, Barry Scotch.

Sanchez, 67, was golfing with a few friends at the Candia Woods Golf Links in September 2006, when it happened. He hit the ball, it bounced off a yardage marker, and smacked him in the right eye.

Needless to say, his friends had their worst games ever. It was hit the ball, drag Sanchez, hit the ball, drag Sanchez. (No, seriously, he was taken to the hospital by an ambulance.)

Scotch told the Manchester Union Leader, "Before he could even – pardon the expression – blink, he was hit. It just ricocheted right back at him.&q…

Missouri Senator Wanted Death Penalty for Litterers

Missouri Senator Kevin Engler (R-Farmington) hates litter so much that he wanted to kill Missourians who did it. So on January 29, 2009, he sponsored a bill (SB 273) that would give litterers the death penalty.

"I think that if we kill just a couple of people we catch, the rest will catch on," he said in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

To really help his cause and win votes for his next election, he called people who litter "white trash" and "rednecks."

Later in the day, he said he was joking about the bill

“I’m doing this tongue in cheek, obviously,” he said. Engler then withdrew the bill, thus wasting valuable time the Missouri Senate could have devoted to actually doing something useful.

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Thunder God Thor Stops Home Burglary in Edinburgh, Scotland

Torvald Alexander of Edinburgh, Scotland had just come home from a New Year's Eve fancy dress party (that's English for costume party), when he surprised a burglar in his apartment.

Alexander, who was dressed up as Marvel Comics hero Thor, charged at the intruder, red cape flying behind him. The burglar jumped out of a first-floor window and ran off.

Alexander told police, "As soon as he saw me, his eyes went wide with terror. He looked like he had had a few drinks and decided to do a late night break-in, but he hadn't counted on the God of Thunder living here."

Alexander remained true to his alter ego and leaped into action.

"We were both startled but then the instant reaction was that I ran at him and he just jumped straight out of the window," Alexander said. "I think I would be quite scared if someone looking almost like a gladiator ran at them."

Mixed pronouns notwithstanding, Alexander's actions stopped the thief from taking anything. In …

Indianapolis Area Attacked by Raptors

First Austin, Texas was attacked by zombies, now Carmel, Indiana (a north Indianapolis suburb) was under attack by raptors.

According to an article on WRTV 6, Indy's ABC affilliate, "someone apparently" – apparently? No kidding! – "hacked into an electronic road sign" and changed the message to "Raptors Ahead Caution."

"It's kind of crazy. I'm totally confused," one motorist told WRTV, not recognizing a prankish attempt at humor. "I'm kind of expecting … dinosaurs to run down the road, or something."

The sign follows a couple of hacked signs in Austin warned of zombie attacks with "Caution! Zombies Ahead" and "Nazi Zombies! Run!!!"

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Hoosier Bride Attacked by Her Sister at Wedding

Quiz time:

You're purposely not invited to your sister's wedding reception. Do you:

a) Reexamine your relationship and try to make amends before the reception?
b) Stay at home, get drunk, and feel sorry for yourself?
c) Show up anyway, and pull out clumps of your sister's hair?

If you're Annmarie Bricker of Vaparaiso, Ind. you choose C.

The 23-year-old woman was arrested for battery, a misdemeanor, after she showed up at a reception for Lori Kappes and Nicholas Landry and attacked Kappes. The attack took place in Hebron, Indiana. Bricker allegedly pulled out clumps of her hair, hit her in the head, and wrestled her to the ground. Kappes did not need medical attention.

Bricker told police/her employer -- she was a Porter County 911 dispatcher, until she resigned -- that she only wanted to talk to her sister and parents about family parents.

Bricker said she never touched her sister, but five people said otherwise. She told police an "old lady had jumped on my back" an…

Google Earth Leads Swiss Police to Marijuana Field

When Google Earth first came out, a friend told me how his son had discovered his wife had been cheating on him. The son searched for his house on Google Earth, and saw a truck in his driveway that belonged to his wife's ex-boyfriend. Needless to say, that ended the marriage.

Now Google Earth is helping Swiss police track down ne'er-do-wells. Even if it is by accident.

Dude, I can see your pot from hereThis past Thursday, they discovered a marijuana plantation while using Google Earth. They spotted the two acre plantation inside a corn field while they were trying to find the address of two farmers they suspected were involved in a drug ring.

"It was an interesting chance discovery," Norbert Klossner, head of the Zurich police narcotics unit, told the Associated Press.

Police discovered the field last year, and it led to the arrest of 16 people and seizure of 1.2 US tons of marijuana as well as cash and valuables worth $780,000.

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