Monday, November 30, 2009

Uppity neighbors

Well? Aren't you going to share that pumpkin pie?

Thanksgiving means sharing what you have with the natives. Does that still apply when the natives are really annoying? The rest of my neighbors don't sit on my fence and stare at me while I'm working at my computer, which is a major plus in their favor.

I'm wondering if those pictures you see of St. Francis of Assisi hanging out with squirrels weren't photoshopped. Squirrels have some serious attitude. The ones 'round my place, at least. (Don't believe me? If you click on the picture above, it enlarges. Check out the look in that rodent's eye. He looks like he's going to go for my throat. I've got mutant killer squirrels for neighbors.)

All the older portraits and frescoes of St. Francis show him hanging out with birds, wolves, or people. Who can be annoying too, but at least they don't sit on your fence and stare at you while you type.

Exercise du jour: Couch to 5k Week 2 Day 1 Brisk five-minute warmup walk. Then alternate 90 seconds of jogging and two minutes of walking for a total of 20 minutes.
Done! Plus an hour's worth of yoga, she said smugly.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

My Secret Addiction

Yes, here it is.

The labels look so cute!

However, I'm not alone in my addiction. Gardening while intoxicated says this kind of behavior is perfectly normal. And you have to trust someone whose blog has a title like that, don't you?

I keep buying these bags of bulbs with their pretty pretty labels, and then they sit there sneering at my lack of follow through.

I'm posting this picture because it's not enough to merely look at the pretty bulbs on the labels. Time to get these suckers into the ground before nature gets serious about cold weather.

Exercise du jour:

One problem I have with running is that there is no convenient place to do it around my home. One solution that I'm trying is to run by my work first thing in the morning. I'm lucky enough to work near the Nike headquarters, which has a running trail all around its perimeter. The major, major drawback here is that it means getting up Early in the morning, which is completely against my nature. Nature vs. getting thin-and-fit? We'll see which one wins out.

Couch to 5k week 1 day 3 Brisk five-minute warmup walk. Then alternate 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes.

Done! Manuel was ridden hard and put away wet.
Just a note about my progress (for future reference). I remember the last time I tried the C25K on the treadmill, I sluggishly jogged what felt like endless minutes of dreariness. This time, for the first 4 sessions at least, I actually ran on the treadmill, and the time passed as swiftly as the treadmill band beneath my feet. Mind you, after the first 4 sessions, the calves started to cramp up and the quads started to complain and I had to run around the house to loosen up the muscles a bit. Even so, I count as a victory those moments when I was flying.

Also, 30 minutes yoga.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Helping others and ignoring the inner critic

Chances to give

A lot of people are spending (pun intended) today shopping. If instead you want to give to other people, here are two ways you can help:
  • 266 has a giveaway set up so that you can earn $1 toward food for the needy -- all you have to do is comment on the giveaway post. Plus, two other commenters have volunteered to do a dollar-for-dollar match for each dollar's worth of comments that you leave.

  • If you'd like to help someone directly, one on one, you can contribute to help Ari 1965 so that she can make her car and mortgage payments this month. (There's a Donate button on her blog.) She's been out of work for over a year. Reading her blog is a sober reminder that a lot of us don't have much of a safety net, especially those of us who live alone.

Being flexible and turning the tables on the inner critic

Today I'm being flexible, in both senses of the word. I was originally scheduled to do a nice three mile walk, but my shins are still complaining. I know from past experience that if I ignore their warnings, I'll be in trouble.

So instead I turned to the yoga DVD. I have to say, it does help. At least, I had no idea how stiff my calves were until I went into the first downward dog pose. So doing yoga does make you aware of your body. I figure the body probably appreciates the attention once in awhile.

You know the negative little voice that hangs out in the back of your mind and criticizes you? This time, the sneaky little devil was crafty enough to put on a yoga outfit and pose as a yoga expert. While I was doing the poses, listening to the instructor's calm, soothing voice, I could hear this little voice in the back of my mind "You're doing that wrong!" "Honestly, anybody could do that pose." "Do you suppose you could at least try to do a good job here?"

At first I treated the voice as if it were another instructor, then the absurdity of it struck me. I can't imagine any yoga instructor worth listening to who would be so constantly negative. I turned tables on the little voice and started chiding it for doing such an obviously clumsy job of criticism. That shut it up. Didn't hear from it for the rest of the DVD.

Exercise du jour: 30 minutes am/pm yoga DVD.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Hot to trot... straight toward dessert?

Exercise du jour:
Four mile jog/walk, the Turkey Trot benefit for the Portland Zoo.

Week 1 Day 2 C25K ... around the neighborhood. My shins are still hurting, but I'm going to try the ice-and-ibuprofen routine and see if they'll let me mosey at a gentle pace. (Brisk five-minute warm up walk. Then alternate 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes.)

Today, I will be thankful for my body, which is for the most part pretty healthy, and for my good friends.

What are you thankful for?

Done! It helped to schedule this post ahead of time. Then, as the time got closer for it to be published, I felt obliged to haul myself up and get on the treadmill. (I was going to run outside, even though it is raining, but the dog gave me this stricken, bereft look "You're LEAVING ME? For HALF an HOUR?????" and I caved in. She has me well trained.)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Be that way, legs. See if I care.

Quote du jour: I want patience and I want it right now!

Warning: post contains four-letter words that might be objectionable (to my mother, at least).

Damn. Damn, damn, damn.

Yes, those were the words. It's safe now.

I'm peeved.

I thought you should know.

Well all right, I thought I should vent and you happened to be looking at blogs and ran across me behaving like a two-year-old who's stayed up waaaaay past nap time.

Exercise du jour: 90 minutes walking. Legs felt just fine, thankyouverymuch.

Went down (up? over?) to the Zoo to pick up my race bib & shirt for the Turkey Trot. Legs were quite happy.

Got back on the Max to go home, and the legs started to hurt. For No Friggin' Good Reason. By the time I got home, the legs (shins, where the front of the leg meets the foot) were quite unhappy. Why? If you have a clue, please let me know.

I mean, I was looking forward to getting up at 6 on a cold, cloudy morning to go do the four mile Turkey Trot. Or at least I was looking forward to getting a four-mile walk in on Thanksgiving morning. (Yeah, I didn't think you would buy that part about looking forward to get up that early.)

And why did my legs have to start kicking up a fuss now? If it were delayed muscle soreness from last night's jog/walk, it took its damn (sorry mom) time showing up.

Sadly, I learned from the Columbia Crossing that only very foolish Merrys push their legs when the legs are already complaining. If it's still hurting tomorrow morning, I might try the C25k run around home, where I don't have to face a two-mile walk up a steep hill if the legs start to complain.

All right, legs, fine. Be that way. Hurt as much as you like. That's not going to stop me. Well, not much. Hopefully.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The incident of the cupcakes in the night time

What can I say. They were there. (Which is in itself odd, since I do NOT buy cupcakes or twinkies or whatever. Must have been leftover from a PMS-craving shopping session.)

Whatever. They were there, I ate them. No guilt.

I don't like the way tracking my food has made me more aware of food. I refuse to feel any guilt for the silly/decadent/spineless behavior. What the hell. Done now. Moving on.

Or maybe I don't like tracking my food because it's making me more aware of my habits? Whatever.

What I can't figure out is why simply joining Weight Watchers would have caused me to lose over two pounds this week. It's not as if I did anything I haven't been doing all along. The only thing I did different this week was write it down. Not that I'm complaining about losing these pounds. Merely puzzled.

Physical evidence of the change -- on a whim, I tried on Those Pants, the ones that I didn't fit into and certainly couldn't walk around in a couple months ago. They fit. I can walk, talk, and sit while wearing them.

Maybe I should've tried them on in the interim. I figured that since the scale was telling me such depressing numbers, I wouldn't even bother testing the pants.

Bloody hell, maybe I really did gain muscle somewhere along the line? I'm going to do measurements, see what the inch report is now.

The meeting tonight:
Um, nice, but puzzling. I didn't want to ask too many dumb questions, but I wondered. Why did she hand me a bookmark? Am I supposed to use it for some virtuous purpose? I got a little star-shaped sticker marked 'bravo' -- was that for losing the two pounds? I'm confused!

Still, excellent meeting, and I say that even though I loathe all meetings on principle. The talk was about people who use food to show love, and how you can try to make them feel loved without getting stuffed to the gills with food that you'd rather not eat. Since my mother feels that if I don't eat her food, I must not love her (if I don't eat her food, she's a bad mother?), this hit home.

Exercise du jour:
Couch to 5k week 1 day 1 Brisk five-minute warm up walk. Then alternate 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes.

Jogged back from the Weight Watchers meeting. How smugly virtuous can you get?

Cupcake imagery courtesy of

Monday, November 23, 2009

A running start...

Completed the 100 push up challenge... now what?

Now I want to improve my aerobic capacity. Which frankly stinks.

Looked at the Presidential Fitness statistics for a woman my age.


Apparently I can do more push ups than 95% of the women my age. Fair enough, most women have more sense than to try these challenge things. But what bothers me is the aerobics section. According to this site, 85% of the women in my group can walk a faster mile. Really?

I played around with the numbers trying to see what 50% of the population could do. It looks like they think 65% of the women in my age group can jog a mile and a half in 15 minutes. If my math is up to snuff, that means 65% of these women can run a mile in 10 minutes.

I don't think so. From what I've seen out there, there are two categories. The majority of women that I've seen out walking could stumble a mile in 15 minutes. There's also a slim (pun intended) minority who can run a mile in 7 minutes and then go on to run several more miles before breakfast.

In other words, I don't think these statistics have much to do with reality. It's frustrating, because I would like to find a measurement that I can compare myself to and judge my progress. I haven't wanted to measure how slowly I run because it would be a depressing number. Kind of like women who know they're overweight but don't want to go near a scale.

Exercise du jour: Back to the couch to 5k. I know, I know, I already did that once. But then I was trying to see if this body could actually go for 30 minutes at a time without suffering some kind of breakdown of the knees or ankles or sundry ligaments. Now that I know it can, and I've been walking several miles on a weekly basis, I figure this would be a good time to try to speed things up. Not just move faster than a walk, not just a slug-jog, but actually to run. I still don't think I'll ever be doing a 10 minute mile, but so long as it's getting my lungs working and my legs moving, it's good. I hope.

There are several different c25k schedules out there. The one below is the one I'm starting out with. I also just found this site, which links to a number of different music-based c25k podcasts. The run/walk times on these are slightly different, but I'm not sure if that matters all that much. So long as they're all geared toward the clueless and the out-of-shape, can't I get a good workout from any of them? We'll see.

Just don't want to do anything that involves my arms. Which are rather sore today.

Couch to 5k week 1 day 1 Brisk five-minute warm up walk. Then alternate 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes.

Fail on the jog/walk, but I did walk for 70 minutes, so I still get a star. Run tomorrow.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Goal met: 100 push up challenge

The prep:
- Several cups of coffee
- A few minutes of watching scary adrenaline-rush scenes from a movie
- 10 warm up push ups

The test:
- 80 push ups
- pause for 15 seconds
- 20 push ups

The result:
Done! I wanted to do it, and I did. There's a small voice that tells me that the 15-second rest period was a cheat and I didn't 'really' pass. What I figure is, if I only needed to stop for 15 seconds, then I could have gone on and done another week of prep and passed straight through. I'm taking a shortcut here, but it's so minor as to not tarnish the icon up on my sidebar. I figure I earned it.

Note: In another nine days, it will be a full year since I first tried, and failed, to do one single full body push up.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Push ups: are we there yet?

Quote du jour: The road to success is lined with many tempting parking spaces.

Yikes du jour: Egads. A co-worker looked at the picture of Hugh Jackman I put up a few weeks ago (the black-and-white version, not I repeat not the golf-playing towel-wearing version) and said, and I quote, "Hey, that looks like the boss!"

And when I looked at the photo -- damn, she's right. Damn, damn, damn. Boss man is a perfectly nice guy, and yes he's quite handsome, but I don't want people to think I'm putting his picture up here. (He's really not a ringer for Hugh Jackman; it's an illusion due to the angle the photo was taken from. ) So I'm sticking with definitely-not-boss-like pictures of Hugh.

Exercise du jour:

Am I really there? Is this the end of the 100 push up challenge? I'll see how the neck feels by the end of the day. Maybe I'll take the final test on Sunday; maybe I'll do another week. Stay tuned.

Week 6 of the (full) 100 push up challenge
Day 3
(45 seconds rest in between)
Set 1 - 13
Set 2 - 13
Set 3 - 17
Set 4 - 17
Set 5 - 16
Set 6 - 16
Set 7 - 14
Set 8 - 14
Set 9 - 50!!!! argh gasp thump
Done! Damn, but I don't think I'm going to make the 100 this week. I gave up three times during the set of 50. (Okay, so I only gave up for two seconds, but three times? That bodes. That bodes ominous.)

Photo thanks to:

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Feast or... well, let's think of it as the other feast, okay?

Coach sez, if we win this  tonight we get a whole carrot - EACH!
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Okay, so it's back to the vegetables. I lost ten pounds by eating a 90% vegetable diet. I got so I liked eating vegetables and good stuff. Then my innards got so crantankerous that I went back to eating a diet of mostly saturated fat. Last week, the doctor said "IBS" and gave me lots of pills that are supposed to let me eat all the veggies I want.

Except now I'm out of the habit and don't want to eat good no more.

Operation brainwash commences. Carrot crunching shall now ensue. Note: if I seem a wee bit cranky this next week, it's ain't PMS. (Yes, I am also being a good girl and eating all my Weight Watcher points. I'm not trying to deny myself fattening food. I am trying to train my taste buds to like vegetables again. It worked before.)

Exercise du jour: Walk five miles today.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The little gap makes a big difference

Quote du jour: "If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem. But I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve (or save) the world and a desire to enjoy (or savor) the world. This makes it hard to plan the day." - E.B. White*

It's funny. The push ups for today seem so much easier than the ones I did on Sunday. I try not to add up the total until I've done them (otherwise it's more intimidating) but today I'm doing 20 more push ups than I did last time. 45 seconds might seem like a short amount of time when it comes to some things, but when it comes to push ups it makes a big difference.

Exercise du jour:
Week 6 of the (full) 100 push up challenge
Day 2
(45 seconds rest in between)
Set 1 - 14
Set 2 - 14
Set 3 - 15
Set 4 - 15
Set 5 - 14
Set 6 - 14
Set 7 - 10
Set 8 - 10
Set 9 - 44!!!
Done! Though by the end, the count sounded like "forty-one............ forty-two............. forty-three..........forty.......four....."
Plus, walked 2-1/2 miles

*Thanks to Ishbadiddle for the correct version of this quote.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A mighty idea

jabba the hutt
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No exercise posted today, except for incidental walking. What I'm going to do instead is force my antisocial loner self through the doors of a place that's holding a Weight Watchers meeting. Apparently you can show up to a meeting free, to test the waters. If it turns out that they don't actually indulge in ritual human sacrifice or other arcane and unpleasant activities, I might want to start going on a regular basis.

That's a pretty big might for one antisocial loner of a woman. I figure if I post it here, I'll be obliged to go. Otherwise, I would be sure to talk myself out of it. We'll see how it goes.

Actually, I should be giving this star to you. If it hadn't been for the comments, and the knowledge that people out there were expecting me to follow through on what I'd posted, I would never have gone to that meeting tonight. Which I survived.
As it happens, the leader did not have horns on her head and a forked tail -- but I understand those can be surgically removed. And the people attending were friendly without being pushy, but that could merely be a wile designed to lure me in. We'll see.
All I know is that this works for some people, and I need a kick from someone, so I'll try it for a month and see if I survive the ordeal more or less intact. Hopefully less.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Plotting: it gives the dog something to do

funny pictures of dogs with captions
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Found the dog sweater. In the back of the yard, behind the laurel bushes. For some reason, there were a number of large sticks woven through the leg holes.

I think she's made it her job to find new ways to de-sweater herself. German Shepherds are known for their intelligence, and she spends a lot of time alone in a back yard. She's probably enjoying herself... at least a little.

The good thing is that it looks like she's wearing the sweater for some time after I've left, which means she's wearing it when it's really cold outside. Hopefully she doesn't take it off until the day's warmed up a bit.

Exercise du jour: I aim to walk four miles. If I happen to jog a wee bit along the way, well, that's okay too.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Stronger than I knew

Huh. I'm stronger than I knew.

The neck pain has almost completely died down. For the past week, I've been thinking I should try the push ups, see how it feels. I've been putting it off -- the mere idea of doing push ups was so unappealing that it took very little to distract me from the goal.

But I hate the thought of quitting so close to the goal. Besides, I found something even more unappealing -- working from home over the weekend -- to procrastinate about. So today I got down and did 30 push ups, just to see how it felt. And it felt okay, so I did 25 more. Then I said "what the hell" and did all the push ups for day 1, week 6.

My arms haven't fallen off, nor does the neck hurt (much). This, to me, is success. I am surprised that I could do this straight off the bat, after not having tried a push up in almost a month.

Exercise du jour:
Week 6 of the (full) 100 push up challenge
Day 1
(60 seconds rest in between)
Set 1 - 25
Set 2 - 30
Set 3 - 20
Set 4 - 15
Set 5 - 40!!!

Done! The 40 was hard.

Photo courtesy of

Friday, November 13, 2009

If it's Friday, there must be bulldozers

Oh for heaven’s sake. Déjà vu all over again.

Not only a pile of gravel and a deep channel across the road, but a bulldozer actively digging right behind my car.

This time I took a lot more pictures. I mean, I can get away once with telling the boss that I’m late for work because there’s construction in front of my house. It sounds a lot less convincing the second time, especially since it means I'm going to be running late two Fridays in a row, haha, yes that is an odd coincidence boss, haha.

I really think it wouldn’t hurt if these guys gave a little notice, like a note on my door the night before? It would only have to be a very little note. And also some advance notice when they’re planning on turning the water off. Would that be too much to ask?

When I went out to take pictures, I probably looked a little irate. At least, I think that was why the construction worker took one look at me and decided to turn on the charm. "Hi there!" He had quite a nice smile, I must admit.

I told him I was taking a picture so my boss would believe me.

“Bosses,” he said. “I know how they can be.”

He said it would be more convincing if he were standing next to the bulldozer, holding his shovel “like they did on Green Acres,” just so the boss knew actual work was in progress.

As he promised, they were done by the end of the day. I still have running water, so there's a victory. I've also got a lawn full of deep holes, but on the plus side there's a whole lot of brand new gravel on my parking strip. Plus I got smiled at by a friendly guy, which is nothing to sneeze at.

Exercise du jour: Ended up having to walk to the doctor's office, to the store, and to the Max & work. Total walking for the day, five miles.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

And she ain't saying

In the struggle of woman vs. dog ... the saga continues thusly.

It got down to the mid-30s this morning. I threw the sweater in the dryer for about a minute, which warmed it up nicely. Her ladyship had been outside for awhile and, yes, was shivering. Didn't seem to mind the sweater when I put it on, and she was still wearing it when I left for work a few minutes later.

And I haven't seen the sweater since.

Can't find it anywhere.

Dog only knows what happened to it.

Exercise du jour: Been walking a couple miles a day. The legs are cool with it. Hopefully by next week work will calm down a bit so I can get some time in on the exercise front.

Friday, November 06, 2009

One way to tell God really wants you to exercise today

I opened my front door this morning and found my driveway blocked by a big mound of gravel. And a ditch in the street where they're laying a new water pipe.

The guys cheerfully told me that they'd move the gravel if I wanted to wait awhile. I got the feeling God wanted me to walk (to the Max station) today.

Well, God and the Water Department.
I'm starting to feel like Arthur Dent

Exercise du jour:
Thanks to God, and the Water Department, and my co-walking co-worker at lunch, walked one hour, 45 minutes. No leg pain!

Slaps forehead I knew something was missing. How could I have forgotten the sparkly gold star?

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Revenge of the human

Warning: post contains photos that are either excessively sentimental or graphic in nature (i.e. nekkid dogs).

This is what I did to my dog today.
Are there treats involved in this?

It's mean of me, but I must confess I kinda enjoy it.
Seriously. I'm not doing this for nothin'.

Granted, I can't leave her wearing this while I go off to work. She got out of the sweater in five minutes. If left on her own she'd get out of this coat faster than a stripper who's late for her next bachelor party. But just for right now, she's warm.

Five minutes? I'd be out of this in five seconds.

If I were feeling really mean, well... the little red button lights up.

This is an updated picture of what the dog looks like without her sweater.

So she'd better get used to wearing outfits.

At the moment, I can't give her any prednisone or other steroids. She's what the vet called "immune compromised." He put her on a couple different antibiotics, which should help. Maybe.

It occurs to me that she really is turning into some kind of chihuahua. When she's outside she's usually shivering. She has to wear outfits. I have to lift her into the car or up the steps. Might as well start carrying her around like an accessory. (Hey, she's only 70 pounds. It's good exercise.)

Exercise du jour: Went for an hour long walk at lunch, today and yesterday. (And the day before, for that matter.) So that's three days walking in a row, and no complaints. I think the legs are back in business. Now all I have to do is get the neck better and I'll be able to get back on track. Probably. And least until I catch the consonant flu or until the dog Strikes Back.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Arguments with a bitch (yes, canine)

Here's a snatch of recent dialog that I had to undergo.

Me: Look, you ungrateful mangy mutt,* hand me your paw so I can make sure your paws are dry.
Tanji: I'd rather not, thank you.
Me: Hey, it's not as if you're an unschooled fresh-from-the-pound Mutt. You were very well trained as a pup, so hand it over.
Tanji: Maybe we could discuss this indoors?
Me: You're not setting paw indoors until I make sure your paws are dry. Those are genuine refinished hardwood floors, you German Shedder, and I do not want you tracking mud or moisture over them. Got that?
Tanji: You're getting upset over nothing. Let's discuss this inside, where it's warm.
Me: Warm, schwarm. I'm not negotiating this.
Tanji: Look, if you're stressed, a nice belly rub will calm you down. Why don't we step inside and you can give me one?
Me: Argh!

Dog update: Yes, she's done it again. For the third year running, her ladyship has let the allergies get to her. As a result, she's scratched off half the fur on her sides. This is better than previous years (so far) as there are still patches of fur on her, but even so she's gotten rid of all the nice, warm insulating undercoat just in time for winter.

Last year, I feverishly knitted her a sweater to wear in the cold weather. Note: this is a Whole Lot More Work than it sounds. I do not knit. When people talk knitting or crocheting or felting, my normal response is to put my fingers in my ears and hum loudly until they go away. Nevertheless, like a good human, I got a How-To-Knit book and some yarn and knitted her what turned out to be the canine equivalent of a muumuu.
Lana Turner, eat your heart out

This morning, the weather was in the 30s when I left for work. So, I brought out the ole sweater and put it on the dog.

Judging by where I found it when I got home tonight, it was on her for about 4.3 minutes.**

@#$, @#$, and @#!$!^%!@$#!@#$!@#%!#!

I'm thinking out a new plan. I figure I'll let her deal with 30 degree temperatures tomorrow.

Yes, this does cause me a pang, but she's so stubborn! She won't believe me when I tell her it's too cold to go bare skinned. Better now than in December.

Then, the next day, I'll let her outside long enough to roll in the grass (and hopefully catch her before any lawn scrapage occurs) while putting her sweater in the dryer for a minute or so. After it's warm and she's cold, I figure she might get the idea that sweaters are a Good Thing. It's worth a try.

Exercise du jour: Went for an hour's walk at lunch with a colleague. The only strange part was that he seemed to think I'd never walked this route before. I've been at this office for over four years now and walked this scenic path several times. But still, he was nice and it was good to have the company. Not all my co-workers believe in the Importance of Walks, so it is nice to find one who does.

*Okay, a purebred Mutt with an impeccable if a trifle linebred pedigree
** She has a routine. Every morning when I put her out, she scratches another new pit in my nice green lawn*** and rolls around trying to scratch her back. I found the sweater by the latest pit.
*** Well yes, if I could catch her digging the pit, I could chastise her. Doing it after the fact doesn't help the situation much.