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R.I.P. Target Hand Spear (5/20/96-10/22/14)

Target Hand Spear passed away peacefully today after battling multiple myeloma and kidney disease during the past year. He was 18 years old.

Target was born in the Los Angeles area and moved with his family to the Jersey Shore at the age of 3. The family eventually relocated to the suburbs of Philadelphia where Target spent the last six years of his life. For 15 years Target alternately played with, annoyed, and ignored his sisters Razzle and Misty, who preceded him in death.

Target was 1/2 Bengal and throughout his life he entertained us with many behaviors common to that breed of cat. Life with Target was certainly never boring and we are so glad that we were able to share our lives with him for 18 years.

We are grateful to Dr. Rufus and Bob at Colonial Animal Hospital in Newtown Square and to the staff at Mid-Atlantic Veterinary Specialists (EVS/Emergency Veterinary Services) in Malvern, especially Dr. Kumrow and Dr. Hamilton, for the quality care they provided Target during this final chapter of his life.

We love you, Targeee, and we will miss you forever.

Target Hand Spear, Best Cat In The World.
Target, Oct. 22, 2014.


Sharing my love of Halloween and Hello Kitty ...

… with my little angels.

Halloween Hello Kitty


Where do all the hippies meet? SOUTH STREET! SOUTH STREET!

Spent the afternoon with my niece Janet visiting the Philadelphia Magic Gardens on South Street in South Philly. Took lots of pictures with my Lensbaby Composer lens (with Sweet 35 optic). Did some thrift store shopping on South Street, then had dinner at the Melrose Diner. Overall great day!

Photos can be seen here.

Magic Gardens in South Philly.
Mosaic artwork by Isaiah Zagar. Photo © Kathy Hand Spear 2012.

R.I.P. Misty "Mistella" Hand Spear

Misty "Mistella" Hand Spear passed away on Friday, August 10, 2012. She was 17 years old.

Misty was born in Southern California and moved to New Jersey at the age of four. Eight years later, she and her family settled in the western suburbs of Philadelphia, where she spent the last five years of her life.

Misty is survived by her adopted brother Target and her human companions, Dan, Kathy, and Chloe Spear.

Misty was a beautiful tortoise-shell cat with a sweet personality. Her greatest pleasure was sitting on Dan's lap (always with her special blanket!) as he watched television. The living room will seem so empty without you, Mistella!

Misty Hand Spear
Misty Hand Spear. (4/1/95 - 8/10/12)

Misty sleeping on my old, fat monitor.
Misty sleeping on my old, fat monitor.

Yes, I like it up here. Why?
"Yes, I like it up here. Why?"


R.I.P. Razzle Bolton Hand Spear

Razzle Bolton Hand Spear passed away on Monday, September 20, 2010, following a short illness. She was 18 years old.

Razzle spent her early years in Toronto, Canada. She relocated to Southern California at the age of 6. A year later she and her family moved to New Jersey. For the past two years she lived in the western suburbs of Philadelphia.

Razzle is survived by two adopted siblings, Target and Misty Hand Spear, and her human companions, Dan, Kathy, and Chloe Spear.

We miss you, Razzie!

Baby Razzle
Baby Razzle. Toronto.

Senior Citizen Razzle.
Razzle, age 16-ish. Toms River, NJ.


It's baby deer season!

Mama deer and her 3 babies visit our front door.

Snapped these guys outside our front door yesterday. You can only see two of the babies but she actually has three. One is hidden by the bushes.

iTunes is currently playing: Apron Strings from the album Acoustic by Everything But The Girl.


I [heart] Apple to death!

You know how sometimes, when you find yourself surrounding by rude obnoxious people gabbing on cell phones, you wish the damn things had never been invented? Well, watch this iPhone commercial and think about it the next time the guy sitting behind you on the train takes out his cell phone and you want to smack him.

Directed by Sam Mendes. "When You're Smiling" sung by Louis Armstrong. Apple, you rock!

iTunes is currently playing: I Love To See You Smile by Randy Newman.


MoveMe / PCmover in Japanese

Isn't it cute? I wonder how many people worldwide have benefited from my husband's genius. :)

Japanese version of PCmover from Laplink (formerly known as MoveMe from Spearit Software).

Japanese version of PCmover from Laplink (formerly known as MoveMe from Spearit Software). Above: front of box. Below: back of box.

Japanese version of PCmover from Laplink (formerly known as MoveMe from Spearit Software).

iTunes is currently playing: Move It On Over from the album 20 of Hank Williams' Greatest Hits by Hank Williams.


Poor little guys!

It's hard to find deer food under a foot and a half of snow!

iTunes is currently playing: Dig Down Deep from the album Marc Cohn by Marc Cohn.

Time to book a cruise.

It started about 5 p.m. yesterday. Still coming down at noon.

This is our back deck. Our estimate: at least 20" on the patio table.

Open the front door and this is what you see.

Looking out the front window. Our poor little cars. But at least we have learned to move our cars up toward the top of the driveway (near the street) when snow is predicted.

iTunes is currently playing: Snow Is Lightly Falling from the album Winter Solstice On Ice by Nightnoise.


What would you expect to learn ...

... from a candy bar hotline? [Thanks, Nan!]

Call the Nestle Crunch Hotline at 800-295-0051. When you are asked if you want to continue in English or Spanish, just wait quietly for about 10 seconds and you will smile. Promise! Keep going and press 4. Listen to the options and then press 7. If you aren't smiling by now, check and make sure you still have a pulse.

iTunes is currently playing: Candy Everybody Wants from the album MTV Unplugged by 10,000 Maniacs.


Makes us ex-pats wanna cry.

From the [Gary] Post-Tribune:

The fiancee of Gary's latest homicide victim said she asked him not to visit the Brunswick neighborhood where he was shot and killed Wednesday. Terry Flournoy Jr., 36, became the fifth person in six days to be killed in Gary when he failed to heed that warning. Witnesses said they heard several gunshots before Flournoy was found dead in a purple Pontiac Sunfire in the 700 block of Hovey Street. "People have been getting killed left and right over here," Mya Gauldin, ... said.

From GoogleMaps:

iTunes is currently playing: Lonesome For A Place I Know from the album "Idlewild" by Everything But The Girl.


American Life in Poetry #226 (Travel-themed!)

Occasionally I post an issue of Ted Kooser's American Life in Poetry column, when its featured poem particularly hits home with me. The following poem reminds me of the afternoon we spent whale watching with a group of folks who cruised Alaska with us on the Diamond Princess last May. We saw so many whales that afternoon! It was one of the highlights of our cruise, and it was wonderful to share the experience with so many others. If you have ever traveled in a group, the poem may touch a chord with you, too.

American Life in Poetry: Column 226


Elizabeth Bishop, one of our greatest American poets, once wrote a long poem in which the sudden appearance of a moose on a highway creates a community among a group of strangers on a bus. Here Ronald Wallace, a Wisconsin poet, gives us a sighting with similar results.


Australia. Phillip Island. The Tasman Sea.
Dusk. The craggy coastline at low tide in fog.
Two thousand tourists milling in the stands
as one by one, and then in groups, the fairy penguins
mass up on the sand like so much sea wrack and
debris. And then, as on command, the improbable
parade begins: all day they've been out fishing
for their chicks, and now, somehow, they find them
squawking in their burrows in the dunes, one by one,
two by two, such comical solemnity, as wobbling by
they catch our eager eyes until we're squawking, too,
in English, French, and Japanese, Yiddish and Swahili,
like some happy wedding party brought to tears
by whatever in the ceremony repairs the rifts
between us. The rain stops. The fog lifts. Stars.
And we go home, less hungry, satisfied, to friends
and family, regurgitating all we've heard and seen.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. "Sustenance" from "For A Limited Time Only," by Ronald Wallace, (c) 2008. Used by permission of the University of Pittsburgh Press. The poem first appeared in "Poetry Northwest," Vol. 41, no. 4, 2001. Introduction copyright (c)2009 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.

iTunes is currently playing: Universal Traveler from the album Talkie Walkie by Air.


A big improvement? You be the judge.

I love my new door!


Kathy and Dan's old door.
Our original door was much larger than a standard-sized door and had a big round doorknob the size of a grapefruit on the outside.


Kathy and Dan's NEW door.
Target checks out the new door. The installer had to build a frame around the door because the old one was so big.

Close-up of the window on our new door.
Here is a close-up view of the stained glass window in the door.

iTunes is currently playing: This House (Album Version) from the album Hoodoo by Alison Moyet.


I had company for lunch today.

Deer hanging out by the kitchen window.

Deer hanging out by the kitchen window.

iTunes is currently playing: Animals from the album Fear Of Music by Talking Heads.

What I want to know is ...

... does anyone actually deposit checks like this in his or her bank account? (Yes, that is a check for FIVE CENTS.)

Refund check from Verizon for 5 cents.

iTunes is currently playing: What Is This Going To Get Us? from the album The Man I Love - Past Perfect, Disc 7 by Billie Holiday.


One of the few things I'll miss ...

... about NJ is cheap gas. In PA we pay 30 to 40 cents more per gallon for self-service gas than folks in NJ pay for full service. And I must admit I didn't expect to see gas at this price ever again, even in NJ.

Cheap NJ gas.

iTunes is currently playing: Driving from the album The Language Of Life by Everything But The Girl.


"Those were the days, my friend ..."

"We thought they'd never end ..."

Icy roadsign in Gary, Indiana.

iTunes is currently playing: Lonesome For A Place I Know from the album Idlewild by Everything But The Girl.

I have the best family ever!!

Cemetery decorated for Halloween.

Thanks for putting up the Halloween decorations. [Aunt Ann? Nancy?] You guys rock.

iTunes is currently playing: Lost Child (String Quartet Remix) from the album Moto.Tronic by Ryuichi Sakamoto.


I love our pet deer.

Okay, so they are not really pets. I know that. But they are so tame they are almost like pets.

Deer hanging out by Dan's car.

iTunes is currently playing: From My Window from the album A Drop Of Water by Keiko Matsui.


One of the places on my "to go" list ...

... is Alaska and I'm hoping that I can convince some of my relatives to join us for a cruise up that way in the next couple of years. Maybe this will help.

This 26-minute film from Princess Cruises called "The Heart of Alaska" won the "Best Cinematography" award at the NY Independent Film & Video Festival.

The Heart of Alaska" is a high-definition documentary that showcases the Princess cruise-tour experience by depicting the land, wildlife and people of Alaska. The 26-minute film, photographed and directed by Princess video producer Scott Martin, features interviews with some of the people who tell their stories of life in Alaska's interior.

Viewers meet rangers from both Denali and Wrangell-St. Elias national parks, Alaska natives, homesteaders and dog mushers who share an insider's perspective of life in the 49th state. Other voices include a bush pilot, a captain from Fairbanks' iconic riverboat and a mountain climber. The film also brings the audience up-close to the wildlife of Denali National Park, including bears, moose, Dall sheep, and caribou. Soaring photography takes viewers high above the world's tallest peaks, including Mount McKinley.

It is a beautiful (and interesting) film and makes me want to book that cruise. Anybody want to come along?

iTunes is currently playing: Leader Of The Band from the album The Collection by Dan Fogelberg, which always makes me think of Dad.


We are family ... I got all my sisters with me ...

Well, not ALL of my sisters ... but I'm working on the ones who haven't said "yes" yet.


I'll take rain over snow any day of the week ...

... but even so ... after a few months of depressing grey days ... I NEED SUN!

Downtown Toms River, NJ - Mid-January, ~ 5:00 p.m.

James Taylor - JT - Another Grey Morning
... is currently playing: Another Grey Morning from the album JT by James Taylor.

What I want for Christmas.

From the L.A.Times:

$31million home in Laguna Beach.

Bryan Ferry - More Than This - The Best of Bryan Ferry and Roxy Music
iTunes is currently playing: Windswept from the album Boys and Girls by Bryan Ferry.

It looks as if Chloe is being …

... dragged into her dorm kicking and screaming, doesn't it. Actually, she could hardly wait until she got her ID/key card so she could move her things in. The first thing she did was to add accessories to the bay window in her room, which she claims is the main reason she applied to Skidmore.

I added an album of pictures from our trip to Skidmore. Click here to go to my Album page OR here to go directly to the Skidmore page.

Chloe and Dad at McClellan Hall.

Sting - Brand New Day - Brand New Day
iTunes is currently playing: Brand New Day from the album Brand New Day by Sting.

“You may ask yourself: HOW DID I GET HERE?”

... or ...

"You may say to yourself: MY GOD, WHAT HAVE I DONE!?"

Old people from Florida spend the summer at the Jersey Shore.

iTunes is currently playing: Once In A Lifetime from the album Stop Making Sense by Talking Heads.

Finally … pictures of Tracie & Waylon’s Wonderful Wedding

Click here to see the photo album.

iTunes is currently playing: Two Hearts from the album Phil Collins: Hits by Phil Collins.
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When we were in Vegas, Dan played in his first WSOP event, a $1500 No Limit Hold'em tournament. (A few days earlier, he won a tournament in Seattle that, interestingly, paid $1500 for first!) Although he did not cash in the WSOP event, he did outlast over 2000 players, finishing around 300th.

The whole experience was a blast for both of us. Anyone can wander around the Rio and watch the tournaments. I spent part of the day watching Dan and part of the day star-gazing. I saw the following pros: Doyle Brunson, Todd Brunson, Jennifer Tilly, Phil Gordon, Phil Hellmuth, Sean "Sheiky" Sheikan, Barry "Robin Hood" Greenstein, "The Professor" Howard Lederer, Greg "Fossilman" Raymer, Hassan Habib, Daniel Negraneau, Kristy Gazes, Kenna James, Andrew Black, Eli Elezra (who won his first bracelet while playing in another tournament on the other side of the room), Lee Watkinson (who played at Dan's table for quite a while), David "the Dragon" Phan (who also played at Dan's table), Men "The Master" Nguyen, Vanessa Rousseau, Chad Brown, Paul Wolfe, Nam Le, John Juanda, Isabelle "No Mercy" Mercier, Erick Lindgren, Dutch Boyd, Chris "Jesus" Ferguson, and Ted Forrest. Dan also saw: Mike Sexton, Gavin Smith, Annie Duke, Jennifer Harman, John Phan, Marcel Luske, David Williams, Chau Giang, David Benyamine, and Phil Ivey. Next time around I hope to see Sammy Farha, who is one of my faves.

They have a lot of rules about photography (no cameras with interchangeable lenses, no lenses longer than 2 inches, no flash) so it was hard to get decent pics, but here are a few that didn't come out too bad.

Dan gets off to a great start at his first WSOP event.

Barry Greenstein, the "Robin Hood of Poker", gives all his tournament winnings to charity.

Annie Duke's brother, Howard Lederer (aka "The Professor"), ponders his next move.

Former world champ and class act, Greg "Fossilman" Raymer, plays without his goofy sunglasses.

Sean "Sheiky" Sheikan gives no hint of how annoying he can be in this picture.

iTunes is currently playing: Take Me To The River from the album Stop Making Sense by Talking Heads.

Yes, I am married to a programming god.

PCmover at Fry's in Las Vegas

iTunes is currently playing: Move It On Over from the album 24 Greatest Hits by Hank Williams.

A Christmas celebration minus Christmas equals …

... a celebration of nothing.

CHICAGO (AP) - A public Christmas festival is no place for the Christmas story, the city says. Officials have asked organizers of a downtown Christmas festival, the German Christkindlmarket, to reconsider using a movie studio as a sponsor because it is worried ads for its film "The Nativity Story" might offend non-Christians.

New Line Cinema, which said it was dropped, had planned to play a loop of the new film on televisions at the event. The decision had both the studio and a prominent Christian group shaking their heads.

"The last time I checked, the first six letters of Christmas still spell out Christ," said Paul Braoudakis, spokesman for the Barrington, Ill.-based Willow Creek Association, a group of more than 11,000 churches of various denominations. "It's tantamount to celebrating Lincoln's birthday without talking about Abraham Lincoln."

The city does not want to appear to endorse one religion over another, said Cindy Gatziolis, a spokeswoman for the Mayor's Office of Special Events.

"Our guidance was that this very prominently placed advertisement would not only be insensitive to the many people of different faiths who come to enjoy the market for its food and unique gifts, but also it would be contrary to acceptable advertising standards suggested to the many festivals holding events on Daley Plaza," Jim Law, executive director of the office, said in a statement.

Personally, I was glad to be demeaned by birth control!

From Christopher Lee at the Washington Post:

The Bush administration has appointed a new chief of family-planning programs at the Department of Health and Human Services ... The federal family-planning program, created in 1970, supports a network of 4,600 family-planning clinics that provide information and counseling to 5 million people a year. Services include patient education and counseling, breast and pelvic exams, pregnancy diagnosis and counseling, and screenings for cervical cancer, sexually transmitted diseases and HIV.

[The new chief] will advise Secretary Mike Leavitt on matters such as reproductive health and adolescent pregnancy. He will oversee $283 million in annual family-planning grants that, according to HHS, are "designed to provide access to contraceptive supplies and information to all who want and need them with priority given to low-income persons."

So who did President Bush choose to fill this position? Dr. Eric Keroack, an OB/GYN who is medical director for A Woman's Concern, a nonprofit group based in Dorchester, Mass. that opposes contraception and does not distribute information promoting birth control at its six centers in eastern Massachusetts.

"A Woman's Concern is persuaded that the crass commercialization and distribution of birth control is demeaning to women, degrading of human sexuality and adverse to human health and happiness," the group's Web site says.

Apparently, Dr. Keroack believes it is better for a woman to churn out a baby every 10 months throughout her child-bearing years than for her to be DEMEANED and DEGRADED by the use of birth control.

Why is it that when we go into the voting booth, we have to choose between two parties composed of extremist lunatics?!

Sigh ...

iTunes is currently playing: Bad Girls from the album On The Radio - Greatest Hits Volumes I & II by Donna Summer.


another cemetery visit …

... and so much to think about afterwards ...

If you have been in a cemetery lately -- at least one in which people have been buried in the last several years -- you have probably seen stones with laser-etched designs on them. Etching has become quite popular and these newer stones give cemeteries a very different look. Supposedly, this technique will last 500+ years in an outdoor setting. I guess that seems like forever to most people. Or maybe they figure in 500 years nobody will care who is buried in these graveyards anyway, so they don't worry that the design will disappear eventually.

As I walked among the stones, I was surprised to see so many of them decorated for Halloween. It has never occurred to me to go to the cemetery and put Halloween decorations up. I think that if I did, some of my relatives would totally understand and some of them would think I was bonkers.

Anyway, a few stones, in particular, caught my eye today.

Ryder was just two and a half years old when he died. I assume his death was accidental, because there is a small, round plaque below his picture that indicates his organs were donated. I love the etched images of a little boy angel playing football and swinging in heaven. :)

Arionna was less than five months old when she died. I always want to know what happened to the babies.

Most people who die before the age of 40 are the victim of an accident, right? I wonder if Robert Altman's motorcylce was involved in his early death. But wouldn't that just be too weird, if he died in a motorcycle accident and the family still chose to include that image on the stone?

iTunes is currently playing: Light Above The Trees from the album A Drop Of Water by Keiko Matsui.


new treatment for Hunter Syndrome (MPS II)

[Hunter Syndrome is in the same group of diseases as San Filippo Syndrome. San Filippo Syndrome is MPS III.]

On Monday, July 24, 2006 Shire Human Genetic Therapeutics announced that Elaprase™, the enzyme replacement therapy for MPS II (Hunter Syndrome), was approved by the FDA.

Hunter syndrome is a rare, life-threatening genetic condition that results from the absence or insufficient levels of the lysosomal enzyme iduronate-2-sulfatase. Without this enzyme, cellular waste products accumulate in tissues and organs, which then begin to malfunction.

ELAPRASE is the first and only treatment approved for people suffering from Hunter syndrome. The product, which is given as weekly infusions, replaces the missing enzyme that Hunter syndrome patients fail to produce in sufficient quantities.

“Regulatory approval of ELAPRASE will enable physicians to move needy patients beyond palliative care and make Hunter syndrome a treatable disease,” said Joseph Muenzer, MD., Ph.D, of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “Until today, there were no options for addressing the underlying cause of this devastating disease.”

Shire expects to launch ELAPRASE in the United States within the next 30 days.

iTunes is currently playing: The Dreams Of Children from the album The Dreams Of Children by Shadowfax.


Happy Birthday …

... to an angel who would have turned 32 today.

Love, Mom.

iTunes is currently playing: Simon Smith and the Amazing Dancing Bear from the album Guilty: 30 Years of Randy Newman by Randy Newman.
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Valentine’s Day Flowers

an aging actress stares at a photo in a silver frame.
speaks to her husband dead forty years of anniversary roses.
white for truth, red for passion.
all we ever needed, she says.

from "Flowers on Ice (1988)"

iTunes is currently playing: Hearts And Flowers from the album Hearts And Flowers by Joan Armatrading.

A Blast from the Past (almost)

I went to a concert/dance tonight. (For those who find that hard to believe, I have the video to prove it! Someone even asked me to dance. Imagine that :) )

A local band called Together played at the East Chicago Marina (near the floating casinos). I never knew that East Chicago had a marina. Maybe it is new (as in "built since I moved away in 1979").

In any case, the band was great. They played soul from the 60's (Temptations, the Dells, Rare Earth...) along with salsa, Sinatra, and a bit of disco thrown in for good measure. Robin says that some of the guys played with the Enchanters, a band we danced to in high school. If I ever throw a party with live music, I'll get these guys to play.

Here is a picture of a little girl who attended the concert but was more interested in the fireworks show which was to follow the music and dancing. Isn't she cute?

iTunes is currently playing: Dance Away from the album Heart Still Beating by Roxy Music.

I Love Cemeteries

They contain so many stories, the details of which we can only guess. These gravestones, located near my family's plots in Northwest Indiana, are two of my favorites. I want to know so much more than what appears on the stones...

iTunes is currently playing: Lost Child (String Quartet Remix) from the album Moto.Tronic by Ryuichi Sakamoto.

Donnelly at the Yellow Balloon

To test the enhanced WordPress blog-by-email plug-in which allows one to post messages with inline graphics (written by John Blade) I selected this shot of Donnelly Jacobson (son of Ken and Nicole Jacobson) getting his first haircut at the Yellow Balloon on Ventura Blvd. If a picture appears below, it worked!

(You can download the plug-in here .)


Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood

I was thinking about Thanksgiving today. I know where most members of my immediate family spent the day but I have no idea what my sister Janice did or what she usually does that day.

Does she typically go someplace for Thanksgiving dinner -- to the home of some relative or in-law, perhaps? Or does she make Thanksgiving dinner herself?

And it occurs to me that I have no idea if she knows how to cook a turkey. In fact, I don't know if she knows how to cook at all.

How is it possible that I don't know this about my sister?

iTunes is currently playing: This One's for the Girls from the album Martina by Martina McBride.
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Burgers and Bytes

I just got back from Las Vegas, where I spent a few days exploring some of the newly-built master-planned communities that are springing up in all directions out there.

One of the best things about visiting the western portion of the country is that I get to visit my favorite restaurants and stores -- places I grew to love when I lived in L.A. and made frequent visits to Vegas. Sadly, many of them are not found on the East Coast :(

Here are two of my favorites, which I was (happily) able to visit while I was there:

In-N-Out Burger

(I hit two different In-N-Outs in three days!)


This new Fry's Electronics seems bigger and brighter than the L.A. stores -- at least bigger and brighter than they were several years ago. I bought a game while I was there -- an animated Hearts game on a PC/Mac hybrid CD. It's really cute!! But I haven't played Hearts for so long that I can't remember how to play. Yes, boys and girls, that is what happens when you hit the big FIVE O!! Your brain turns to mush.

iTunes is currently playing: Promise Land from the album Hearts And Flowers by Joan Armatrading.

Early Morning Fright

A few minutes ago I looked up from my computer to see a police officer coming up the walk toward our front door. I ran downstairs to find out who was injured or dead (the main reason cops make house calls) but he was there to find out if we had vaccinated and registered our dog.

We don't have a dog.

My heart is still pounding.

iTunes is currently playing: While My Heart Is Still Beating from the album Heart Still Beating by Roxy Music.