Monday, October 29, 2007
Friday night I went to the Museum of Modern Art with my friend Lori, the one night a week that the museum is completely free of charge, thanks to a generous grant from Target Stores. However, this made the experience somewhat lacking to say the least, as the galleries were as crowded as Penn Station the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Literally, you could not take two steps without having to avoid somebody in some of the popular galleries, such as the one with Vincent Van Gogh's The Starry Night. That one reminded me of the crowd in front of the Mona Lisa in the Louvre in Paris, where you had to wade through a crowd 10 rows deep to get close enough to see the painting. Here, people were having their pictures taken with the painting like it was some kind of rock star.
Far from being a "museum of squiggles" as some might think, there are lots of very significant and recognizable works in their collection as one of the preeminent museums in the world, including Henri Matisse's Dance (1), Salvador Dali's Persistence of Memory, (which is not currently on display however); Andrew Wyeth's Christina's World and Pablo Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, which turns 100 years old this year, and part of the museum's world-class collection of Picassos. There are also some impressive works by Monet, Chagall, Cezanne, Seurat, Modigliani, Pollock, Rothko, Warhol, Rodin, Gauguin, and of course many others. I look forward to bringing my family to see this museum on a quieter, non-free day.
Saturday I had a lab appointment to get some blood drawn, but I slept right through it, so I had to reschedule. The rest of the afternoon I did my errands and then went to pick up Bee as I was taking her to a spa treatment Saturday night after she got off work. We went to @Ease Spa in Hilldale, where she got a facial and I got a full-body massage. It was her first time at a spa, and we both had a fun and relaxing time.
Afterwards we met up with Tara and Bug at the local Fuddrucker's to eat dinner and listen to some obscure 80s music they were playing in the restaurant. I put this Duran Duran CD on my Christmas list, and we had a wonderful time laughing together over our meal, which was admittedly not quite up to what we expect from Fudd's, but didn't matter because we had so much fun.
Sunday I woke up a bit early and did some shopping before all the churchgoers let out, then went home and relaxed for the better part of the day, alternating some reading and TV watching on the couch with vaccuming and straightening up the apartment. I went out briefly in the late afternoon to buy a vanity tray for my small collection of scents, then entertained Tara at my place for a few hours in the late evening before bed.
And that was the extent of my weekend activity.
Friday, October 26, 2007
There are three categories where prizes will be awarded - most creative, scariest and funniest. Carving was prohibited because it would be messy and increased risk of injury for employees (this is a work event, after all). We brainstormed on some ideas gathered from Web sites like ExtremePumpkins.com, where I saw one of a spider made by two pumpkins attached together. I originally wanted to go a whole set of five pumpkins painted yellow to represent the Simpsons family, but that was going to take too long, and we only had a day and a half to do it. One of the other girls suggested a "Hairy Potter" theme along the same line, but I didn't think that was particularly creative or funny. So we settled on the spider model and wanted to make it scary.
We started by jamming two chopsticks into each fruit to join them together, wrapping the joint with some black felt to cover up the gap. Then we painted both black using the poster paint provided to us. We punched holes in the felt and attached the pipe cleaner legs. The two big eyes were plastic half eyeballs and the small ones are pistachio shells, both painted with purplish-black nail polish, then a coat of clear on top to make them glassy. The fangs are whole cashew nuts, filed down with a nail file on one end to superglue them to the pumpkin, then painted with white correction fluid and tipped with blood-red nail polish. The Black Widow mark on the spider's abdomen was created by simply scratching out the familiar hourglass shape with a pencil, then carefully peeling the dried poster paint away, exposing the orange of the pumpkin skin underneath.
We sat our creation on a table spread with fake spider webbing, then scattered in the web tiny rubber mice, little glittery spiders, ladybugs made with red pipe cleaners rolled into balls and dabbed with black paint, and some feathers to suggest avian prey. The word "flack" is a derogatory name for what we do, public relations ("spin doctor" is a less offensive euphemism). The whole setup reminds me of Hagrid's pet spider Aragog as seen in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Or maybe Shelob's lair in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.
The competition was surprising intense. I kept our project carefully under wraps the entire time so no one would steal any of our ideas, even going as far as locking my door when I left, and keeping the spider under newspaper wrapping during the day when it sat on my desk. Every once in a while, competing teams would swing by and beg for a peek, but I turned them all away. It got to the point where I caught one guy trying to sneak into my office while I was out! But the result was that there were some very strong entries. Here's my vote for funniest:
The VP was very impressed with our work (she couldn't actually participate as much because, well, she's a VP). When we were setting it up, she commented that she's never seen me so competitive. My ex used to say that too, and my family has also remarked on it. My personality is that I've very competitive on things that are supposed to be fun, like games, sports and contests (especially those that involve being creative). However, when it comes to things in life, like work, getting ahead, making money - I'm really not that aggressive. It's not in my nature to screw people over or get tough with people to get ahead or get important work done. My ex used to wish I had as much drive to succeed in business as I do to win a game of backgammon, but that's not me. I suppose we all have to have an outlet for the competitive fires that drive us. Most of us put it in our work, some put it in art, and some put it into games and contests. It's just our nature.
Anyway, in other news, I see that the Angel box set is coming out at the end of the month, so that's on my Christmas wish list!
I visited Karina today when I had to go out to the drugstore this morning next to her office to buy some superglue for the spider eyes and fangs. Her teeth are much better now, and we talked about the idea of her making a career change. She's not happy at the bank and is looking for something else to do. Tonight I'm going with Lori to visit MOMA for the first time, and it should be fun. I ate way too much at our staff lunch of Mexican food, so I won't be eating dinner tonight.
I've got my fingers crossed on the outcome of the Halloween contest which should be announced in about an hour. Wish me luck!
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
House leaders delay ENDA vote
Bush advisers recommend veto of bill
Last night was an up-and-down drama-fest with Tara, which I'm not thrilled about. It started out pretty good - we went our local bookstore so I could return my damaged copy of Neil Gaiman's Absolute Sandman Vol. 2 (I found a pristine copy at the bookstore near my office in the city) and we browsed around for a while and I was enjoying myself. Then a simple question about our plans for the upcoming holidays led to some major unpleasantness. Love can be difficult sometimes - it's not always sunshine and flowers, but it's always worth it.
Karina called me this morning - she's been having a difficult time with her teeth. Her dentist performed a root canal, which got infected, causing her a great deal of pain this weekend. Her dentist was unsympathetic, insisting there should not be any reason for her pain. She eventually got to see another dentist who discovered the infection and is treating it now. As much as I bitch and moan about my dental trials (I had five root canals in two months last year), at least my dentist wasn't so incompetent as hers. Infections scare me - I've been reading about the antibiotic-resistant staph infections that are going around in New York schools, and it's making me think about The Hot Zone.
Blessedly, it's extra quiet in the office today, since my big boss is still traveling, and my next-in-line boss is working from home, so I'm the highest ranking person in my group that's actually here today. The rain is starting to fall outside, and the temperatures are dropping, and my allergies are improving. I hope this cold weather sticks.
I'm looking forward to this weekend already - I have a MOMA visit planned for Friday night, then a spa date with Bee on Saturday night. Plus on Saturday I might go for a test drive at the Mini dealer. Sunday if the weather holds, maybe we'll try our city adventure we had planned last week again.
Monday, October 22, 2007
Lesbian Sex Mafia presents Beyond Roleplay: Invocations and Evocations for Ritual Work and BDSM, a workshop with Lee Harrington
Role play is about simply putting on a mask and becoming something fun for a moment, right? Not for everyone - some of us need to go further. Whether calling upon a persona that is inherent in our very being, or calling down God-forms, animal roles, or our yet-unmet Daddy persona, invocation and evocation can be powerful tools for both BDSM exploration and intense ritual work. From wardrobe to rituals, dabbling in persona manifestation to evoking emotional responses, getting into *and* out of head space, we'll discuss what these tools can mean for your life and desires.
Lee Harrington is an eclectic artist, spiritual and erotic educator, gender radical and published author on human sexuality and spiritual experience. Well known for his fun and informative approach to education, ze approaches sexuality as yet another art to master, or simply an art to enjoy to its fullest! Ze has been an active part of the international kink and sex positive communities for over 11 years, and his stories make people laugh while showing you that eroticism can be as serious, sexy, or silly as you make it. $5 members, $10 non-members Lesbian Sex Mafia (LSM) NYC - Est. 1981 Safe, consensual and confidential!
Before the 8 p.m. presentation, Lori took me to Queen of Sheba, a favorite Ethiopian restaurant. It was the first time I'd ever had Ethiopian food, and it was very good. It sort of blended elements of Chinese, Mediterranean and Asian food all together, but the spices were unique. I ordered the spicy lamb stew, and Lori had the vegetarian sampler. Everything is served on a single large platter the size of a pizza tray, on top of injera, which is a type of thick crepe or pancake. It has a sponge like texture to it, and frankly, seeing them folded on a serving tray, it would be hard to distinguish them from the dishrags in my kitchen. Also, being sponge like, they tend to be quite filling when eaten with a big glass of water, like lembas or Elvish waybread ("one small bite can fill the stomach of a grown man").
After dinner we went to the Center, and we were quite early, so we browsed through the used book sale, where I bought a copy of Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient. I also got hit on by some creepy older guy who came up to me and complimented my hands. The presentation was interesting and quite funny at times - the speaker had fun with one girl's penchant for evoking her "inner baby Godzilla." But much of the presentation I could relate to invoking the goddess in pagan rituals, so in that respect it was educational for me, because I have never tried BDSM, nor am I much interested in doing it.
On Saturday I dragged Tara to our local Mini Cooper dealership in Mahwah because I'm considering buying a Mini Cooper and wanted to sit in one to try it out. I've longed for a Mini ever since I first saw one at a BMW dealer where I was putting on a charity go-kart race for a client back in Houston many years ago. Even though I've never driven one, they seem like fun cars to drive, like souped up go-karts. Plus, they are actually pretty spacious inside, at least for two people. I don't need a new car per se, since Yoshi is working fine for a vehicle with about 115,000 miles on him. It's just that driving a minivan is very much linked to my old life, pretty much the only major possession I have from that time period and I'm not thrilled about that. Like everything else, it's time for my car to reflect the person I am, not the one I was.
Later in the evening, I went to Target and bought some new jeans because my old ones are getting too loose from the weight loss. I found some on the sale rack in a juniors size 15 that fit me, only they were a bit short, so I ripped the seams to let them out at the bottom, ironed out the creases and now they look great. I also found a bookcase for my bedroom to put my TV on, although I had to exchange it for the right color on Sunday. Sunday I also went to Loehmans and bought some winter coats and other items with my bonus coupons that expire today.
Today I have some pretty bad allergies, but hopefully it will be a quiet day at work and I can get home early and rest. The weather was beautiful this weekend and the trees are really starting to turn colors, which is a sight to behold. It's supposed to be hot and rainy all this week but hopefully next weekend will be nice too.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
I saw this quote in the elevator this morning on the way to work, and it has nothing to do with anything. I just admire the way he was able to capture the idea so eloquently and memorably that it sticks with you.
It's been a quiet week so far. My boss is again traveling around the world, and won't be back until after Thanksgiving. However, I did get a couple new projects to keep me busy - a law firm, a pharmaceutical company and a pitch for a media advertising company. Plus I'm still doing some work on the Qatar pitch. But generally it's quiet work that doesn't require a lot of meetings and phone calls.
Last Friday I had dinner with a new friend I met online, a freelance writer named Lori who lives in Queens. We were supposed to meet at the Barnes & Noble store near my office, but she went to a different one further downtown by mistake. Once we finally got together, we went to Marrakesh, a Middle Eastern bistro nearby, then back to the bookstore to shop. When the store closed at 9 p.m. (which is dreadfully early for a B&N), we went back to my office and I gave her the nickel tour. This Friday we're planning to visit the Museum of Modern Art, which I've been meaning to for ages.
I also met another new friend, purely by chance. A couple weeks ago I saw an ad in the paper for high interest rates on certificates of deposit at Wachovia and I decided to put some of my money away to earn more interest. I went to my local Wachovia branch about two blocks down Third Avenue and saw the financial specialist about the CD. Her name was Karina, and she was very helpful - we hit it off well because she is Polish and oddly enough there seems to be a disproportionate number of Poles in my circle of friends. However, nothing happened on that first visit, and I walked out of the bank with my CD, intending to return in six months when it matures.
However, when I tried to sign up for their online banking, I found that Karina had not given me a 4-digit PIN, so I went back on Tuesday and saw her again. Our second visit was very chatty and we found we have a lot in common. She had an invitation to go to an outdoor sculpture opening at lunchtime and asked if I wanted to come, so we took a walk at lunch to 49th and Second, which is a block away from the United Nations building. We watched a Hungarian band play for the opening, then took a walk around the block and saw the UN building, a first for me. She is studying hard for classes and to pass financial exams for work, plus she lives in Westchester, NY, so we probably won't be doing much together other than an occasional lunch, but it was nice to find a friendly, down-to-earth person working nearby in the city.
Monday, October 15, 2007
This weekend was a celebration of one of the happiest events of my life so far - meeting the three people I call my family here in New Jersey on October 14, 2005. On that date two years ago, I got on a plane from Houston (a midday flight because I overslept and missed my morning flight) and after many delays due to weather and air traffic congestion, I arrived at New York La Guardia airport and took a shuttle bus to Grand Central Station, then hopped in a cab to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
It was about 30 minutes before closing time when I pulled up on Fifth Avenue in front of the museum, where I met Bee and gave her a quick hug before going in and meeting Tara in our special place (that is currently closed for remodeling - ugh). We got kicked out of the museum shortly after and drove home to pick up Bug and have dinner at our local diner. So every Oct. 14 we celebrate the anniversary of our first meeting in person at the Met.
Saturday Tara and I went back to that great museum in the afternooon and spent some time checking out a new African exhibit and a photography exhibit before walking across Central Park to grab a bite to eat.
We sampled hot dogs at Gray's Papaya and it turned out to indeed be a nearly-exact clone of our beloved Papaya King. I got a Subway sandwich and Tara had her daily allowance of saturated fat at McDonald's before walking over to the Beacon Theater to see the Porcupine Tree concert. We each bought copies of their new EP album Nil Recurring, which is only available at concerts and from their Web site. Unlike the last concert at the Nokia Theater in May we attended with Bee, we actually got to sit down in seats, although we had a couple of tall people sitting in front of us and again, we had to put up with clouds of smoke from potheads. The show was terrific, and the lightshow was even better than the last concert.
After the concert we went to a nearby Haagen-Daas for ice cream (yes, I took a night off the diet) and hopped a cab back to the Met. It was nearly midnight, and the deserted area was lit with preturnaturally soft lighting that captured the moment perfectly. We took some pictures and found a new spot to celebrate our anniversary, one that couldn't be closed for remodeling!
Sunday, the 14th, I honored the anniversary by repeating the mistake of oversleeping, but to much less deleterious effect. We were taking a day trip out to Cooperstown, New York, to visit major league baseball's Hall of Fame, so leaving about a half-hour later than expected wasn't too much of an inconvenience. We drove north and saw some impressive views of the fall foliage covering the Catskills region, plus some herds of very cute Holstein cows.
Upon arriving we sat in the bleachers of Doubleday field and watched two local baseball teams warm up before having lunch at T.J.'s Cafe. After eating, we sat and watched an inning of the game, seeing a no-hitter broken up in the third inning and a couple of errors in the field. It reminded me of the movie Field of Dreams, which coincidentally I was watching late Saturday night after the P-Tree concert.
We left the game and walked up the historic main street a few blocks to the hall of fame, where baseball's greatest players are enshrined and the history of the game is preserved for future generations. My family comes here a few times a year on average, but it was my first ever visit. Perhaps we will come back for Craig Biggio's induction ceremony in a few years.
After a quick tour of the hall, we walked out to Otsego Lake and took pictures of the magnificent mountain vistas surrounding the area. Words probably aren't necessary when we have such pictures to look at, so I'll just close by saying - Happy Anniversary Bee, Bug and Tara. <3
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
I followed up dinner with a long bedtime phone talk and unfortunately got to bed a little later than I had intended and slept through my alarm clock this morning. I think it's only about the second or third time it's happened since I started this job 15 months ago, but I'm surprised it doesn't happen more often with my crazy hours. When I was in high school, the only time I ever got detention was due to excessive tardiness from not being able to wake up in the morning. I was such a good kid, just habitually lazy and a night owl to boot.
I also got the news this morning that client meeting in Utah scheduled for the end of October has been postponed to January. This is good news because by January there should be enough snow for skiing, and I'll have plenty of vacation time to extend the trip into the weekend so I can ski without having to pay for a plane ticket. Utah is such a good place to ski too, and I know the terrain well from skiing there several times in the past. I should get some rollerblades and start training since I'm so out of shape for skiing (or for anything else, for that matter). I have found in the past that getting good on blades makes a HUGE difference on the slopes. This also means I need to shop for some skiwear, which I obviously don't have anymore. I just hope some of my co-workers or clients also want to stay over, so I won't have to ski alone.
Lastly, I'm so happy the heat wave finally broke. It's rainy and drizzly here for the rest of the week, but at least the temperatures are out of the flippin' 80s! Hopefully this weekend will be wonderful for a trip into the city.
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Diet and Fat: A Severe Case of Mistaken Consensus
Aside from the fact that it appears that eating fat does not actually lead to bad things like heart disease, the real interest in this article is how it's an example of the dark side of democracy in a sense. The point is that if you get enough reputable people to agree on one thing, there are social forces that can compel a group to reach the wrong conclusion, one that is based on assumptions and not hard data.
If the long-held idea that consuming fat leads to a shorter lifespan has such a dirty secret origin, it tends to make me suspicious of any conclusion made by the so-called experts of the world. And of course, don't get me started on the politicians that perpetuate fallacies for their own agendas. I guess the lesson is that we all need to think for ourselves and not rely too heavily on expert opinions.
I got a new assignment today to help prepare a pitch for a governmental agency in the country of Qatar, which is located on a peninsula in the Persian Gulf. I narrowly avoided having to actually go there to present the pitch, since my boss wasn't able to go, but another VP stepped up and volunteered. Part of me does like the idea of traveling overseas, but the idea of being alone on business in a Middle Eastern country, even a relatively liberal on like Qatar, doesn't sound like my idea of fun.
And by the way, it's hard breaking the habit of reaching for the "u" key on the keyboard when typing Qatar! There's also been some disagreement on the correct pronunciation - some call it "Kay-TAR" and others say "CUT-ter." Anyway, new project, so I'll be learning about this country with the funny name.
The Yankees lost last night, so their season is over. My family is taking it really hard, being lifelong Yankees fans. For myself, I have the comfort of merging right into the basketball season, where I still follow my beloved hometown Houston Rockets on NBA League Pass. That's pretty much the biggest reason I even bothered to get cable installed last weekend.
Plus, as the weather gets cooler, I'm looking forward to going out to the park and shooting some baskets with my brand-new ball I bought last year and never took out of the box. I think the fact that the Rockets won their two NBA championships in 1985 and 1986 during my formative years has something to do with my being a lifelong fan. Being part of a sports championship is a very special thing for a sports fan - you have to be a fan of the right team at the right time, unless you're the fair weather type of fan that jumps on any championship bandwagon.
And besides, how many other women can say they've shot baskets one-on-one with the great Rockets center Hakeem Olajuwon on the court of Hofheinz Pavilion at our alma mater, the University of Houston, as I did when I was in college?
Monday, October 08, 2007
Friday night I went to the New York LGBT Center for the Cuddle Party, which was pretty much what I expected and fun, although I didn't quite feel comfortable enough on my first time to fully participate in the non-structured part of the gathering. We went through exercises on how to ask for what we wanted, and how to say yes, and how to say no without hurting others' feelings. All these things are practiced in my family, so it wasn't completely unfamiliar, but it's all still new to me. I come from a culture where many behaviors stem from unspoken expectations and obligations (a high context culture, for those of you familiar with communication theory), so it will take some time for the idea of explicit, honest and open communication to become second nature to me.
Toward the end of the party, I met a few nice people I just felt comfortable talking to, a pagan couple and a very bubbly cat-lover. I'm actually a little disappointed with myself for being so inhibited, but I knew this was going to be a challenge for me to let go a little. But I think now I know what to expect, if I have the opportunity to attend another party I will probably be able to participate more fully.
Saturday I had my cable TV installed in the early afternoon and spent some time tweaking and setting things up properly. Then Tara and I took a trip into the city to the Ziegfeld Theater, which is probably the largest movie theater I've ever been to, one of the old-fashioned one-screen movie palaces I've always dreamed of visiting. This weekend was the opening of Ridley Scott's final cut of his classic sci-fi film noir Blade Runner.
The sound and picture of this new digital presentation was breathtaking - I don't remember ever being so impressed with the quality of a movie screening, and this is a restored movie that's 25 years old. Scott's cut of the movie wasn't much different from the version on DVD, but it seemed to me to be a little more linear in the storytelling. After the screening, we took some time to fill out the questionnaire for the film's marketing team, since this is an exclusive engagement at this one theater for now.
Sunday I went over to my family's house to watch the Yankees game, and fortunately they won their elimination game against the Cleveland Indians, which means there will be a Game 4 tomorrow night. Go Yanks!
Saturday, October 06, 2007
Visually, the movie is a feast, and maybe that's what got to me a little. There's so much kinetic energy and wild choreography that it is almost exhausting to watch. I wonder - if I watched it over and over, would I burn more calories than watching TV? Of course, the music by the Beatles is faultless, and it's fun listening to new voices sing these familiar songs. I enjoy the soundtrack to Honeymoon in Vegas for the same reason. If it's one thing I didn't feel the movie did enough was to reach me on an emotional level, choosing perhaps too many distractions with multiple characters and non-stop musical numbers. Conversely, I'd have liked to see more of the Asian lesbian character - besides her opening musical scene, she is barely heard from through the rest of the movie.
Friday night I'm going to what is billed as "an All-Gender Super Massive Cuddle Party at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center in New York. Cuddle Party is a structured, safe workshop on boundaries, communication, intimacy and affection. This playful, fun space gives people the opportunity to rediscover non-sexual touch in a relaxed drug and alcohol-free environment. It’s a laboratory where individuals can explore and experiment with what makes them feel safe and good."
Aside from the promotion-speak, personally I'm looking at the event as an opportunity to make progress in feeling more comfortable with my own body, because my formative years have left me feeling disconnected at times to my physical self. It's part of my continuing growth and healing as a person who has suffered from negative body image issues and was raised in an environment where affectionate touching was discouraged to boot.
Monday, October 01, 2007
"Trying to Out-Noodle the Japanese" - Wall Street Journal, Sept. 29-30, 2007
It was a relatively uneventful weekend, other than some personal drama on Saturday. Mostly, I spent the weekend shopping for clothes, as this was my final chance to use my birthday discount at Loehmann's, on top of the other discounts and coupons they were offering. Friday night after work I went to the Manhattan store located on 16th Street and bought a couple of shirts, and Saturday night I visited the store nearest to me in New Jersey and bought a purse, a black pantsuit for my upcoming business trip to Utah, and several skirts, a couple of which were of the evening wear variety. I don't really expect to have any occasion to actually wear these, but they were so beautiful I just had to have them "just in case". I'm sure any shopaholic knows what I'm talking about.
Sunday I went to Target to pick up a few necessities, and noticed there was a lot of stuff on the sale racks since summer clothes are being phased out. I found a couple nice shirts that fit me well, plus a few more skirts. All in all, it was quite the shopping adventure this weekend.
So today I was poking around the Net looking for something to do this Friday, the night that the rest of my family is occupied with their own individual pursuits. I was checking out the New York LGBT Center calendar and saw a listing for a "Super Massive Cuddle Party" this Friday night. If you don't know what a cuddle party is, here's a list of frequently asked questions.
Despite what it sounds like, there's nothing sexual about it - it's all about learning to express yourself through touching, which has been one of my areas of interest for a long time. The first time I'd heard of cuddle parties was a couple years ago on a Lifetime channel show about non-traditional social practices that included a woman who taught other women how to striptease for their husbands and similar such topics. In the vein of having new and different experiences, I'm happy that there's a opportunity to participate here. It should be interesting if nothing else.
Funnily enough, this morning I was taking some required sensitivity training at work, and the message was repeatedly brought up that there should never be a reason for employees to touch each other in the workplace (other than handshakes, etc.). While of course I understand the reasoning behind this rule, part of me feels it's really a shame that touching has become such a taboo in business environments. At least that hasn't stopped some infrequent-visitor clients and employees from sharing a hug now and then, for which I'm grateful.