Friday, December 11, 2009

Cookies, Christmas cheer, and a new painting

I have been really emotional lately. It's not PMS. Well, it might be. That, and my fatiguing seasonal part time gig, the holidays and an upcoming b-day. Yesterday I was running on the beach and the beauty of the morning, the way the storm clouds darkened everything but a bright ribbon of light on the nearly still ocean water in the far distance, yada, yada, brought tears to my eyes. This morning, once again provoked to tears by the beauty of nature in the morning light, I ran through a big and tangled inventory of feelings. 1. I am really, really happy to still be alive. But 2. a little scared I will have another bout of heart trouble even though I 3. doubt I will have another one since my heart seems to be recovering nicely. 4. Sad that my dream job is still eluding me. 5. Hopeful and optimistic that it's just around the corner. 6. Frustrated to still be living in the apartment I thought would only be temporary and that I haven't had a boyfriend in like ages and ages. Damn, why did I turn that threesome opportunity down? Why? 7. Annoyed that L. has been depressed and therefor not much fun for the past several months. 8. Guilty that I am annoyed with L. for being depressed. 9. Grateful and 10. amused that after many months of searching for work I finally land a (seasonal) job as a Nestle Tollhouse cookie baker. Six to eight hours, three days a week baking three hundred and sixty cookies per hour. And I am supposed to say, but just can't, I really can't, say, Nestle baked some love for you today. Fuck they did. Well, is holiday money. And I do love the smell of fresh baked cookies. 11. Lazy. I love sleeping in, not having to get anywhere by a certain minute and a day stretching before me to fill any way I want. There's nothing like a part time non-dream job to make me 12. appreciate my time. Today, after my run, I checked my email, worked on my next illustration, had a late night hot chocolate with L. and wrote this blog post. 13. Disappointed not to be spending five weeks in Paris but am 14. looking forward to a week in New York City instead. Who cares if it'll be freezing cold there, I love New York! Lastly, I feel 15. eager to experience more of life, whatever happens, even if it means more birthdays.

Some photos from some of my lazy days off...
the Christmas display at the Hyatt, SF.

Thompson Street, Alameda, where every house looks like this for the holidays...

Kelly Reemston's art reception...
then drinks at The Pied Piper Bar, The Palace Hotel, SF...
A busker playing in the Powell Street Bart station...
some jewelry store displays, Union Square, SF...
I love the delicate details of these puppets.
My latest illustration, which took me longer to complete (because of the part time gig) than anticipated. I'm putting together a book of short stories, each one I hope to illustrate in a different style. This one, obviously, is about a girl who can fly...

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Art (not mine) and other November things

I had the worst of all nightmares in a string of nightmares last week. My brother and I were sleeping in the same bed as if we were kids again. But that's not the bad part. My dad, feeling lonely and sorry for himself as he so often does, climbs in between us and holds me like he sometimes did when I was really little and still scared of the dark making me feel trapped and angry. Cut to, as if this were a movie, a nunnery under attack. And one young novice gets the bright idea of putting a big fish from the dining room table over her head to protect her from harm. Yes, a fish over the head is just what the manual says to do in just this kind of situation! So over her head the fish goes but the knight who reaches her first slashes her down anyway, fish and all. But, God knows why, somehow her clever fish trick works, though not in the way she had intended. Cut to the Mother Superior praising this dead nun for her quick thinking, and her sacrifice, which saved the rest of them from suffering the same fate. Cut to me again. My dad is now standing beside the bed, by the door, and I am relieved but also upset to see him spit on my brother, his saliva glowing in the dark.

In waking life this plays out as me playing go between for my brother and sister and our dad. Which is rewarded by my being the only one he treats with common decency. Which makes me feel good for having let go of childhood traumas and being able to have a somewhat peaceful and mature relationship with my father. Cut to my sister once again shutting him out of her life last week, just in time for Thanksgiving, and my dad turns on me with such contempt I feel like I have been spiritually attacked. Only to repent as he suddenly remembers I am a human being. Only to relapse the next time he loses patience. And so on. Making me feel what else but trapped and angry.

But, let's not think about that. Am not that kid anymore. No fish over the head panic attacks over annoying but passing occurrences like that. Breathe in. Breath out.

I am feeling way, way better this week. But have been reconsidering birthday trip to Paris, which is disappointing, but necessary. Talking things over with my sister she pointed out that what I was doing was looking for an escape, but Paris would be nothing more than a temporary one. The moment I come back I'd be in the same place I am now. Only without money. Much better to use money on some kind of brilliant career move like, literally, moving out of my puny apartment which I've been wanting to do for years. Or, as my brother advocates, upgrading to the latest super cool computer. Or... not sure yet.

Anyway, here's a few images from my November album...
three Doggie Diner heads. What were they doing there? I don't know.

Some artwork enhanced by natural light...

The Golden Gate Bridge...
and boats.

If Dashiell Hammett were around today he might look like this guy...

Kelly Reemsten's amazing artwork at the Caldwell Snyder Gallery...
Why didn't I think of that?!!!! Damn, she's good.

Buskers I should have tipped...
But didn't.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Nightmares and dreams

I've had nightmares every night this week. Can't remember Monday's but I did wake up with a start and had to take one of the anti panic pills the doctor gave me. Excellent stuff, I must say, but am trying hard not to rely too much on them. Tuesday woke up after a nightmare in which I'd been shoe shopping in this really nice boutique where I flirted like crazy with the cute sales guy. But as I was paying for my purchase and I was trying to work up the courage to give him my number, he suddenly seemed to lose interest in me because he'd seen that there was something physically wrong with me. Wondering what he'd seen I found myself in front of a mirror examining myself and I realized I'd lost a lot of hair on my left side (heart = left side = hmmm.). A neat row of it was just gone like it had been mowed off with sheers. Wednesday I woke up in a good enough mood to think I'd gone a night without a nightmare until later when the nightmare I'd had that morning popped back into my head while I was brushing my teeth.

I always have nightmares when I'm working through difficult issues. A few years ago, when I was on the verge of cutting things off with my brother, I dreamt I was flying through this black and white Sin City type place on my way out of there but before I could get away I had to find someone so I flew into a building, into this dark, dreary kitchen because someone in there needed my help. After an anxious search I found him and took him by the hand then lifted his sleeping or unconscious form into the air like he was a big sack of flour. Up and over the rooftops we flew while whoever it was we were escaping from slowly gained on us. And the closer this menacing figure came the heavier the man I carried seemed to be until his feet were nearly brushing the top of the street lamps and it took all my strength to keep him from hitting them which would have slowed us down even further. I remember getting so frustrated with him for not being able to help me, for his weighing me down and putting us even closer in harms way. Then I woke up.

Another time, when my father was still my number one least favorite person, I dreamt I was literally trying to escape from him by running through the horrible cookie cutter suburb we used to live in until I took off into the air and I was flying over a Pixar-like Irish landscape, a country so lush, vivid and breathtaking that everything else, all fear and hopelessness fell away, and what had started off as a nightmare had become one of the best dreams I ever had.

Last week my brother was the only person I told in person about my little heart troubles. He then told my mother who then told my sister who then told my dad (and an old friend who I was so glad to hear from) even though she'd sworn never to speak to him again. As soon as he heard he dropped everything and drove over to my place to see if I was alright. It really was heartwarming to see him so worried about me especially, I guess, considering how I spent most of my growing up years wishing he'd either disappear or die in order to spare us the misery that was his presence. Dad bought me groceries, took me to an excellent Japanese restaurant for lunch, then told me to drop my crappy health insurance for something better and not to worry about the cost cause he'll pay for it.

Tonight I'm hoping for more flying dreams, maybe one where I fly over to see the Northern Lights and because this is a dream I don't feel cold at all. Or maybe I'll fly over the Himalayas to see the Dalai Lama. Or both.

(Current work in progress. It'll be one of the illustrations in a book of illustrated short stories I'm currently working on.)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Hey everyone

Darn, I really didn't mean to stay away for this long. Well, after dozens of calls to my phone and DSL providers, and three technician visits, I am now back online. I'm leaving out of that short summary a month's worth of frustrations. For example, on the second tech support visit, I tell him I have no dial tone. He laughs as if to say, lady, you saw how much work I just did, how I figured out the problem is with your modem, and now you want me to do even more work? Hmm, I think, being the nice person I am, maybe he's right, the problem's with my DSL modem, not my phone line. (Even though, from the very beginning, I felt the problem was with the wiring. A wire was going to the wrong place, which of course would mean it was my phone company's fault.) Do you have a phone I can check for dial tone? he asks. No, I say, sheepishly. I only use my cell phone. He shakes his head, laughing some more, as if to say, She has no phone! She's worried about her dial tone - and she has no phone! Before I can get offended he says he'll look into it and get back to me, meaning (I realize later) he'll do nothing whatsoever about it and leave me wondering if I'm going crazy. Later, I would also realize, hang on! If the problem's with my modem, and not my Mac or land line, then logging onto the internet on my laptop through dial up should be no problem. But after some experimenting, I confirmed that there was indeed no dial tone, just like I'd told no. two dufus AT&T tech guy. A fact confirmed by no. three tech guy. The wire was in fact wired to the wrong place! (Ha! In your face no. two!!!) How and why wired to the wrong place, can only guess. Quelle nightmare, quelle month, but is over.

I don't mean that having no internet for a month made life into an ordeal. But it did help feed my tendency to wrestle with my dark side. Sometimes I'd be working on something and I'd think, oh, why bother when I can't even post the darned thing? Or, because I was a little bored and couldn't turn to my usual amusements or distractions, I'd ruminate about how those closest to me have annoyed or offended me. (Oh, I so don't enjoy doing that! So why do I still do it?) And so September, a happy month which ended with my winning lots of money in Vegas (from football bets), turned into glum October during which I got a traffic ticket, had cross words with a close friend, and suffered heart palpitations forcing me to give up caffeine perhaps forever, though I hope not. I know, I could have spent some of my time at some wifi spot with my laptop, but I'd determined when I got it that I'd never weigh it down with internet since it's my artwork and writing computer.

Anyway, anyway...huhh...back to normal. And good things from past month: I have begun running and strength training every day again as better means of dealing with stress and strengthening heart so it never palpitates again, I now speak more to strangers (not that I never did before but now am so very glad for any chance to converse), a few things off chest with close friend I had words with, I still have all my Vegas winnings which will use for birthday trip to...Paris? The south of France? Lisbon, Prague or Naples? I want to go somewhere, anywhere, where I can spend at least two weeks outside of my usual environment as means of dealing with and looking forward to the yearly trauma most western women must endure, that reminderer that one, at least in this culture...well, you know how it goes...ugh...

One thing I wanted to post about earlier this month was my trip to Vegas for a Journey concert with my mother. She's crazy about Journey which makes me very happy because she needs more fun in her life. Here she is having lots of fun...
Here's a copy of the Trevi fountain...
Inside the Venetian...I know, every tourist gets this shot. But wow!...One of the pools at The Bellaggio. I want one of these in my backyard one day...We didn't eat here. I just thought it was funny. Trop chic, ce restaurant! The Eiffel and the Palais Garnier together at last...Inside the Parisian...Gambling, (indoor)outdoor cafes, ten dollar crepes, I love Vegas! However campy and unnatural it is, everyone must see it at least once.

One last story: even though I felt pretty lucky in Vegas, on the slots I kept winning small amounts or breaking even. There was one machine in particular which, as my mother puts it, kept calling to me, even though playing it meant betting more than my usual. Well, on my fifth go, wouldn't you know it, jackpot! ($110) except...because I'd grown so used to betting the median to least amount, to playing it safe in other words, I didn't qualify to actually win the jackpot. I was so upset (I had a feeling about that machine!! So why did I still hold back?) I didn't want to play anymore after that.

So my mother told me about a man she used to work with who went to Vegas and played a machine with a jackpot of over a hundred grand. Of course he won the jackpot. But since he only bet the least amount his winnings only came to about a thousand dollars. "Oh! he was cryyiiing!" she said, laughing, "But no one felt bad for him! The cheapskate. That's what you get for betting the least amount. If you're not willing to risk everything every time, then don't even play."

Good advice, mom.

The artwork at the top of the post, by the way, is one of my latest. More later, or you can check out my recently updated illustration portfolio.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Most rare Sunday post

Some ink and marker practice...
Someone found my blog the other day with these search words - what book? and the day came when the risk to remain in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to bloom? anais nin

Most awesome. And fitting.

Still listening to Bobby Chiu. His common sense stay on track message is exactly what I need right now. Another thing he keeps saying over and over again is that if you want to enjoy more success you have to learn to control your mind. Don't let anything distract you from your goals. Don't complain all the time. Don't dwell on the bad things. Like people being mean to you. And wouldn't you know it, someone, a total stranger, was super mean to me today (Saturday) on purpose and for no good reason. I almost let it ruin my evening trying to make sense of a senseless act of unkindness. But I kept reminding myself of his advice: take control of my mind, decide how I want to feel. So I did some screaming therapy in my car (anyone who says I'm quiet ought to hear me scream) and went on to have a great evening at the ball park listening to Il Trovatore with friends. Not that the incident didn't flash in my mind now and then threatening to make me someone not fun to be around. But I kept reminding myself of where I was, in a ball park, on a beautiful if chilly September evening, listening to exquisite music. I told myself it was a test. Can I decide how I want to feel or not? Think of the opera. A woman throws her own baby into a fire by accident, most of the main characters die. My life is a piece of cake compared to those tragic lives.

Enough for now. I'm spending Sunday in a park, listening to comedians making me laugh at life's absurdities (Comedy Day, GG Park), with friends or without them, and sketching.

Monday morning addition
Robin Williams accepting a comedy award, the best five minutes of Comedy Day (which was only five hours actually). Just before him, some poor comedian completely bombed, a few titters, but mostly complete silence. (The equivalent, I imagine, of people walking by without glancing at your work in an art show.) So, it was even more striking when the audience roared with excitement and rose up to get a better look at him. He was hilarious of course.

This being San Francisco... a gorgeous afternoon in the park turned into a foggy evening.

Friday, September 18, 2009

I believe...

I am an excellent painter. Despite last week's failure's that is... I could make them work if/when I paint over them. But...I need to move on to other things.

This one...
I'm more satisfied with. It's an older piece I'd originally finished with flat overlays of color. Because of course I didn't believe I could handle anything more difficult. This time I started with the monotone figures in the middle (easy peazy), then went on to the more difficult figures on either side (not so easy, especially the hands).

Speaking of belief...

In my first semester of art school, my artist self still an eager pile of unmolded clay, I had the misfortune to have a rotten art instructor. One who, when I proudly handed in my final project (a watercolor painting I'd worked all week and all night on), eyed my work this way and that, hand on chin, before saying, without conviction, "Well...I guess you'll be an OK day." Well. I'm not one to cry in front of strangers (I prefer bathroom stalls), but after that parting shot from instructor dumbass, I bawled - crying out loud bawled - for five city blocks, all the way from school to the Powell Street BART station, on my way back home.

Later, I would face the terrifying Barbara Bradley. An icon from the golden age of illustration. Towards the end of each semester she would take each of her students aside, during non class hours, for a talk about their progress. Every student dreaded this meeting. Even the superstars (so they said). Because we'd all heard how former students of hers had been permanently scarred by this fifteen minute interview. Some, legend went, had even dropped out of school because of it.

My last name putting me among the first in line, I didn't have the build up of dread most of the others felt. Also I was too busy drawing all the time. So why did I still suck? That's the question she addressed during our talk.

Basically, it came down to me being too much of a tight ass. It looks like you don't trust yourself, she said. How could she know just from looking at my sketchbook?!!! But she zeroed in on my exact problem. I didn't trust myself. I didn't believe in my own abilities. Damn she was good.

It didn't help that I belonged to an unusually promising year of students. Among them were the future head of storyboarding at Lucas, future animators, art directors, story boarders, concept artists, etc., for Blue Sky, Pixar, Dreamworks, Disney, etc. Students who would go on to work on films such as Men in Black, Cars, Star Wars II and III, Madagascar and basically every major animated film since the year 2000. Studios were recruiting them even before we left school. And then there were students like me, students who, some teachers assured us, would inevitably bloom after graduation.

I tried hard to believe this. But the philosophy at the Academy was that not every student was meant to make it. The majority of you, one teacher told us, will not be working in the art field five years after graduation. So you better work your butts off.

And I did, determined not to be one of the majority. But when I languished in job after job, always waiting to take off but never quite leaving the ground, I began to wonder if I was fighting the obvious, that I was one of the majority who wasn't going to make it.

But now I see my mistake was to always take whatever job came to me first. One classmate of mine turned down Disney soon after graduating because the job they were offering wasn't quite what she had in mind - even though her remaining in the country depended on getting work. I thought she was crazy. But a year later she was hired by Pixar, to do precisely what she'd wanted to do all along, and she's been happy there ever since.

If only I could go back in time and talk some sense into myself. But here I am, older, wiser...

and starting to believe in myself at last.

Some free day at the Academy of Science sketching...With the summer tourists gone and the kids back in school there were no lines to wait through.
This fish stared at me the whole time I was drawing him. I wonder what he was thinking? The museum has been newly renovated, with lots of new aquariums - but no fish roundabout! So, even though I give the place a thumbs up for cleanliness and architectural design, it was missing something without that fish roundabout. The experience of standing in a gigantic room watching large fish swim round and round you made you feel like you were in their world, not the other way around. So, boo Academy of Science! What were you thinking leaving that out?!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Thank you, Bobby Chiu

Last Monday morning I was running through my mental to do list, trying to decide what to work on that day, what new piece of artwork which could, if it was good enough, get me into the studio, gallery or agency of my dreams.

But where to start? What to do? An illustration or painting? Some character designs or the short story I'd left unfinished? In one week I'd received three rejections. Three more to add to that already thick pile. So whatever I did it had to be better than good. Because the walls of my apartment were shrinking. And pressure - from parents, from depressed friends demanding I be problem free for them (could I ask them to return the favor without sounding like a bitch?), bills, my own unfulfilled expectations, all of them pushing in on me from every side. I was drowning and feared sinking deeper if I applied my time to the wrong choice. And my sister, my support of last resort, was unreachable, in Fiji, until she called with her new number. So round and round I went. Until I'd given myself a better than good migraine and had to lie down the rest of the morning.

Great. Just great.

Later, my head still aching in a dull, unrelenting way, I wandered around the internet looking for useful things, or something useful to do, ending up on the Imaginism blog. I clicked on one of their Youtube tutorials. Then another, and another. What I'd taken to be lessons on storyboarding or digital painting were instead the artist, Bobby Chiu's meditations on life and advice on how to succeed as an artist as he paints a digital illustration in forty minutes or less. Tutorials, basically, on how to persist in the creative endeavor no matter what.

In one video he explains how artists should never take a crappy art job just for the money...Like I've done. Time and again. Because I assumed any art job was better than not working at all. It robs them of their enthusiasm for art, he says. You go home, after a long day of creating crappy art, art that is useless for your portfolio, and you're not going to feel like working on your own stuff. And before you know it, your skills have stagnated along with your career. Viola. My life.

Another thing he talks about. Practice. Like an athlete, hands, tone, line, color. The work of other artists, how do they think? What can you learn from them? Practice, for ten, fifteen hours a day. Always pushing oneself to the next level. Have I been doing that? Now and then, yes. But consistently, no. I've gotten lazy. I've been spending more time looking for work, or distracting myself from my state of unemployment, than I've done practicing the very skills I want to be hired for. The drive I had in school, where I went from all day drawing classes to extra life drawing workshops at night, every day of the week (except Sunday where I went sketching) had been burned away by too many crappy art jobs.

But not any more. Inspired by Mr. Chiu, I dusted off the Wacom and began painting digitally, a skill I've long desired to learn but had deemed so difficult, so frustrating and counterintuitive to one used to the feel of oils and brushes, that I gave up after two or three very tight but not very good paintings.

Back in school I would have continued on despite the frustration because my drive to improve was so intense. Frustration, he says over and over again, is nothing more than the cracks in the dam. It means I'm starting to learn. And I'd given up just as I was starting to take off. Never mind. Nothing for it but to start again. Eight hours later I'd completed the image in my previous post. A nice start. Pat myself on the back.

Another subject he talks at length about, his theory that bad things now equals great things in the future. Because current difficulty, he says, is nothing more than the universe asking you, Are you sure you really want this? Because if you are then you're going to dust yourself off, despite setbacks and disappointments that would make less resilient souls consider plan B, and plow forward. Where good things await. Have faith.

I listened to these videos every day last week. And much of this week, too, as I worked for eight, ten, twelve hours each day. (Except Sunday and Monday when I went out sketching. Sunshine + sketching = happiness. My dream studio has glass walls, and a glass ceiling, with trees on one side and the ocean on the other.) I am retraining myself to work at the level of enthusiasm I used to work at, to have the same kind of optimism and belief in my future I had back then. I imagine, throughout the day, a more satisfying way of living, one without so much struggle, a life I am fully capable of achieving. And, at night, I see my next painting in my imagination, and I can feel how it should be painted, though I'm not at that level yet. But, as I said somewhere last week, I know I will get there. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Filling the blank page

Hey folks,
Sorry I haven't been visiting so much this week. I'm still keeping busy. But instead of trying to distract myself from my situation, running off to the seaside for half the day and so on, I'm diving into my artwork, taking advantage of this opportunity to learn and improve as much as possible.

I've got a lot to learn. But I'll get there.
more details later,

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

My week in photos

I did this illustration Sunday night. I was inspired by the work of Jonas Bergstrand (dot com) who combines computer drawn elements with photos (hand drawn, then scanned, in mine). I love the freedom and possibilities this approach gives you. I also love how quickly I can complete an image. This one took me about two hours. Hope this cinches the magic formula that lands me another creative agency (sent my portfolio out to over two dozen Monday). If not I will try again. And again. And again. I already belong to Emerging Blue (dot com). I'm even one of their featured artists. Nice people. Wish they had more clients...

I mentioned last week that I was going to the Academy of Sciences to take advantage of it's once a month free day. Well, I went. Didn't go in, though. Because of this line...
I asked someone in front how long he'd been waiting. "Four hours. We've been here since ten." What? After the Smithsonian museums, where even on crowded days one can just walk in for free ($25!!! at the Academy), I was incensed by how expensive museums can be over here, forcing many to wait in ridiculous lines during free days without any assurance of getting in. But remembering I was there to de-stress, not to find something else to rant about, I went for a pleasant park hike (in dreary SF summer weather) instead.

I don't take a lot of nature photos, but I was struck here by the patterns...

Afterwards, Japantown, the new New People store. Hmm, what do you think? I find this style utterly hideous and can't see it catching on here. But I might be wrong.

Friday, I took another 'day off,' this time to Half Moon Bay. In restless moody moods I sometimes crave the open ocean and sunshine. But I spent most of my time there wandering through cute little stores...
I want this dish set. I would love to walk into my kitchen at night and see my dishes glowing neon green.

Friday night, L. and I went here...
The Saddle Rack. I don't like country music, but this kind of dancing, the kind with steps with or without a partner, I do like. One guy there, must have been in his seventies or eighties, danced every dance with a new partner each time. I bet he gets marriage proposals.

Saturday morning at Peet's...
I love the expression on the face of the girl on the right. Priceless. It's like she's never heard this kind of music nor ever seen anyone dressed like that before.

Saturday night L. & I went to the picturesque little seaside town of Capitola for this landscape photography club meeting I'd signed up for.
Injured woman and her child on the Capitola esplenade...What would you have done? I took this photo because I saw a moving moment happening. But afterwards, especially after the friend or husband of the woman stepped in front of her (to prevent me from getting a clearer photo, I think), I felt guilty. Then again I was glad I got the photo. Ruthlessness for the sake of art. The child stayed there the entire time, even while the paramedics examined her, by the way. And the woman I presume, since she was allowed to go home, was alright.

I took this policeman's photo (I asked his permission first) because I'd never seen a policeman, on the job, in a wheelchair before. I had to ask (though maybe I shouldn't have) if he ever chased any bad guys (so to speak). Sometimes, he said. I tried not to picture it.
Hmm, that was kind of a mean thought. I should have asked him to be my apres goth model. What images would I have ended up with then? And I'd see him as more than a policeman in a wheelchair. An opportunity lost...

I did these squirrelized photos because I have too much time on my hands..
This is my adorable niece Vivienne. I just want to reach through the screen and pinch those fat, little cheeks. Hers of course.

Hey guys! Look behind you!

This is my favorite...
Something about the squirrel in contrast to Mr Dark Night of the Soul makes me chuckle every time. I know, I'm a child. But what's funnier than moody self absorption? ;-)

A cartoonized version of the squirrel...
Hee, hee, hee... Yah, too much time on my hands.