The Faster And The Furiouser…

Another fun week of riding. I hit the 200 mile ballpark yet again. If I can maintain a minimum of 180 miles per week through June 14, 2020, then I will have a 10,000 mile year, beginning June 15, 2019. Though it’s not a calendar year, if I keep this pace, I will have ridden 10,000 miles in 365 days — a club I never thought I’d be a part of.

The first thing I do when I get off my bike is to click off my riding app to confirm my the time and distance. The app I use is Map My Ride. The instant I close the app though, I’m met with the faster and the furiouser — all the notifications I missed while I was detached from the world.

Between text messages, emails, and social media notifications, I might have 20-30 notifications to prioritize. As I walk through the door, take off my helmet, and lean my bike against the cedar chest in my living room, I attempt to triage the chaos of the moment.

My dog stares at me with the eyes of an 8th grade girlfriend as I walk right past him. He broadcasts a sense of…

“I won’t be ignored, Roy…“ in his best Glenn Close.

The cat sees me, jumps on the dining room table, which is reserved just for her, and prepares for me to feed her. I walk past her also. She meows and nudges her plate a single time with her left paw. Her eyes follow me as I head to my bathroom to change out of my sweaty gear.

My mother disrupts my path and asks me how my ride was. It’s her way of reminding me that she needs to eat too — every bit as much as the cat and dog.

Eventually, I make my way to the bathroom, change out of my sweaty clothes and into the dirty clothes I was wearing before my ride. I run a brush through my hair and put it back in a ponytail.

Through it all, I’m staring at the phone in my right hand trying to prioritize the messages and notifications I received while I was riding. I typically ignore the messages that matter most — those from my family. Sad, but true.

I put my phone down long enough to feed the cat, the dog, and my mom, in the order of whoever is making the most noise. This is typically the cat, though if mom is hungry, she’s capable of making some noise too. For his part, the dog is usually silent. Throughout the feeding process, I attempt replying to messages and notifications as I’m able.

Some of the messages that show up when I ride are work related — appointment confirmations, schedule changes, as well as eating and workout questions from clients. Work related messages take top priority. I might also get messages from family members, but unless they are noted as urgent, as mentioned, I generally reply to them later.

The social media notifications are the wildcard. There might be 15-20 of them popping up so quickly that they feel like grenades being lobbed in a war zone. Though I’m still focussed on feeding the animals and the old person, if a message warrants an immediate response, I’ll do my best to reply. If not, dismiss.

Once everyone is fed, the important messages have been returned, and if I don’t have a client waiting for me, I’ll take a minute and dictate a few bullet-points about my thoughts while riding. These highlights are put into a digital hopper, to be used in an essay to come, maybe. I have to do it though, or they’ll disappear from my mind immediately, never to be considered again.

Eventually, the chaos of my return eases. Everyone’s fed, important messages are returned, and I can catch my breath, if only for a while. Tomorrow, I’ll do it all again, just after I roll my bike through my front — the portal to the faster and the furiouser.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 6
198 miles
9,800’ climbing
15.0 mph avg
11,100 calories
13 hours 12 minutes seat time

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there’s this from George Harrison. Enjoy…

Still Feeling Out The Wormhole…

Like many, after a more than a decade, I still wonder how social media, Facebook in particular, should fit into my life. I still wonder whether it should be a part of my life at all. And in my quietest moments, I’m often concerned about the influence social media has had on my personality.

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In 2006 my life and business were on autopilot. My days were evenly divided between working, exercising, and reading books on religion and philosophy. I didn’t even own a television and I wouldn’t have changed anything. Well into my 40s, for the first time in years, I felt like I was in a good place.

Around that time, I started a fitness blog, partially to bring credibility to my business, but also to speak out about an industry that had become so perverted that I no longer recognized it. One day a friend, a tech-industry insider, suggested that the up and coming social media platform, Facebook, would be a great vehicle to share my writing. She felt Facebook would become, in a short amount of time, the most used form of mass-communication the world had ever seen.

At the time, my internet use was limited to my fitness blog and email only. There was no Netflix streaming, YouTube was in its infancy, and my time on keyboard each day could be measured in minutes, not hours.

Subtly though, over a period of just a couple of years, I began spending more more time on my computer. At that time, I still used a desktop PC — this was 2007 or so. Checking my email, Facebook, and responding to comments on my blog usually took place at the beginning of the day or at the end of the day. If time and circumstance allowed, I might check these media in the middle of the day, but not often.

In 2008, I bought my first laptop. With Wi-Fi being more established in restaurants, coffee houses, and other public places, I began taking my computer with me just about everywhere, mostly so I could write if I was so inspired, and if had the time. I also checked email and Facebook messages more frequently.

In 2013, I got my first smartphone, an iPhone 3. That’s when the quantity of wormholes, and the gravity inside them increased. The camera on my iPhone was better than the point-and-shoot camera I took with me on my hikes. I developed an affinity for smartphone photography. As better apps and filters were being developed to support my photo habit, more platforms manifest to share those pictures, such as Hipstamatic and later Instagram. I began a seamless progression onto the social media road that I still walk today.

Facebook though, was a superior outlet because I could share both my writing as well as my photographs. Facebook was growing fast though and changing form from week to week. The increasing network of warmholes and tunnels were so easily drawn into, that at least a part of my psyche began to reside there, even when I was away from my phone or computer.

Viscerally, I was becoming aware of the negative impact this could have on my time, but I was also becoming concerned about any impact it might have on my personality. I regularly questioned whether this increase of screen time was healthy, though I never answered those questions. This might be analogous to someone enjoying a glass of wine with dinner each evening, but on the inside, knowing the 2nd and 3rd glasses were not as easily justified.

My pattern has been pretty consistent for the last 4 or 5 years — I take a lot of pictures, I write, and I share. Seems harmless, and a good creative outlet, yes…?

“If you’re going to the prom, you best be prepared to dance with them who brung ya…” Bum Phillips

The world has changed a great deal in the last 13 or 14 years since Facebook and other social media platforms took off. What has changed the most, is the profound impact social media has had on journalism, institutions, as well the unscrupulous companies pitching their wares while simultaneously mining for personal data. It’s a web of agenda and manipulation the likes of which the world has never seen — one I willingly step into every day.

What began as a platform for social interconnectivity, not only gave everyone a vehicle for their own voice, but each vehicle came with its own road. Within a few years, people and institutions were speeding, changing lanes without looking, changing roads without looking, doing countless U-turns, and constantly changing directions — and there were few rules and even less enforcement. Using social media became a lot like driving in Athens — one is best served to have diligence, patience, a good eye for deception, and a backup plan.

What makes any technology worthwhile is when it’s used for its highest purpose and with the best of intentions. I have no problem saying that most people and most agencies don’t do this with Facebook and other social media platforms. People and institutions, for the most part, behave like children on an unsupervised playground.

I can say with honesty that Facebook and other platforms have enhanced my life in ways I would have never imagined back in 2006. Many aspects of my life have improved due to the connections I’ve made and the information that’s been shared among and between those connections. I’m grateful all of this happened in my lifetime.

Facebook is a generic term to me. It’s not a company, it’s an idea that would have happened anyway, and by any other name. Social media was going to happen no matter what. Facebook just got in line first. Facebook may be broken up by the government in time. It may sell itself into pieces — of its own accord. It may even go into bankrupt someday and come out with a completely different structure. It might even dissolve entirely, if pressed by a competitor which can offer more, although that’s not likely (see Microsoft).

If Facebook disappeared tomorrow, a vacuum would be formed so quickly, it would be replaced within weeks, or sooner. It isn’t Facebook the company which has changed the world so much. It’s been the ability to communicate so quickly and with so many people — social media is about the efficiency of being human. How we continue to use this technology is up to us, but it’s not going anywhere. I still plan to use it for purposes of good, how about you…?

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7
199 miles
8,900′ climbing
15.0 mph avg
1,1,200 calories

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there’s this from James Reyne. Enjoy…

The Spirit Of 114…

Just after a picture was taken, the one below with the lifeguard stand masking the sun setting into the pacific, I stepped into the Harbor Gift Shop to purchase a vegan cookie. It’s the 400-calorie treat I enjoy at the halfway point of my 30-mile ride from Bonsall to the coast and back.

Though I usually pay with a debit card, I had some change making noise in the bottom of my riding pack the other day so I decided to use it for the cookie — and to eliminate the annoying jingle coming from my pack. With my right hand, I pulled out the last $.25 needed for the $4.75 purchase. It was a bicentennial quarter.

The first bicentennial quarter I saw was in 1976. I was 14. I have a fuzzy memory of doing some quick math to determine whether I might live to someday hold and even spend a tricentennial quarter. By quick math, all I needed to do was add 100 to my age of 14, but I probably used a pen and paper.

That was the first time I seriously entertained the idea of living past the age of 100. Only months before, a woman from Okinawa who had been the oldest known person in the world (111, I believe), had passed away. Although it was unlikely, knowing that somebody made it to 111, led me to believe I might someday hold and spend a tricentennial quarter.

By age 14, I was already strength training daily and running several times a week. I was also paying better attention to the foods I put in my body than any of my social contemporaries. I became somewhat obsessed with the idea of living to be 100-years old, though the tricentennial thing — making it to 114, I knew was unlikely.

I’m now just passed the halfway point of making it 114 — of holding and spending a tricentennial quarter.

When I held that first bicentennial quarter in 1976, the microwave oven and pocket calculator had only been around for a couple of years. The electric typewriter had been around for a few years, but manual typewriters were much more common. Gas was $.54 per gallon, and Bruce Jenner was still a man and about to become an Olympic and cultural icon as the world’s greatest athlete. TaB was the best selling diet soda.

The world has changed much since 1976. Gas is nearly $4 per gallon. The phone I’m dictating this blog into (and not typing) also contains a pocket calculator. Bruce Jenner is now Caitlyn Marie Jenner, and Diet Coke, sadly, has replaced TaB.

Despite my daily fitness regimen, including the cycling that drives this page, I doubt I’ll live to be 114 years old. I’m not sure I want to — early 70s seems like a good stopping point. We’ll see.

There’s two relevantquestions though, that I have to ask myself, should I succeed and live to be 114 years old…

– In 2076, will we still be minting coins…?
– In 2076, will there still be a United States of America to celebrate its 300th birthday…?

At this point, I’m not sure I’d bet $.25 on either of those.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 6
178 miles
7,900′ climbing
15.3 mph avg
10,500 calories
11 hours 36 minutes seat time

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there’s this from Imperial State Electric. Enjoy…

Sipping On Humor…

Each morning in contemplative prayer, among the first things I express gratitude for is that my father raised me with a sense of humor. And if it was my father who raised me with humor, it was my older brother who helped me understand that could be applied to just about any difficult situation to make it more tolerable. To know frustration, anger, or pandemonium as a Cohen, is to do so looking for the punchline.


As a caregiver for my aging mother, humor has been my drug of choice to help cope with the all the stresses, surprises, and frustrations that go with caregiving. Humor has helped make difficult circumstances tolerable and helped keep my disposition in check, most of the time. Incorporating humor into difficult times, not only makes them less difficult, it can even make them fun and memorable, for both me and my mother. And that’s the hook for me — that when I make a joke around my mom, even if she’s a part of the joke, she laughs. Seeing a little old lady laugh can be as uplifting as watching an old dog run, something else I get to do nearly every day of my life.

I never use humor against my mother or place her as the object of my frustration. I don’t belittle her, insult her, or use jokes to make her feel poorly about herself, ever. I just throw her into the story somewhere —sometimes in the middle, more often in the periphery, and place my obnoxious or sarcastic comments around her. In a way, that humor acts like a shield, protecting her from the inner me.

In the course of a day, my mother is likely to lose something, drop something, forget something, and be unable to process a moment. When I say in the course of a day, I mean every couple of hours or so. As any of these unfold, they will most likely happen at inconvenient times. After four years, my ability to reach for a punchline rather than an F-bomb has become seamless.

I had thought of citing some examples to insert here, and had even outlined a few to be expanded on. I realized though, it’s one thing to make a joke involving my mother in the heat of a difficult moment. It’s something entirely different to try and explain that joke to people who may not even know me or her. Joking about one’s mother is one of those things that, the more you say, the worse you sound, so I’ll just end things right here.

Each morning in contemplative prayer, among the first things I express gratitude for is that my father raised me with a sense of humor. Immediately after that, I ask forgiveness for those moments when my sense of humor failed me and I lost my shit.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 6
202 miles
8,900′ climbing
15.7 mph avg
12,000 calories
12 hours 52 minutes seat time

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there’s this from Susto. Enjoy…

The Flags Of Fast Rain And High Water…

Leaving Fallbrook on my bike, I most always head south 6-8 miles to Highway 76. At that point I can either head west toward the coast or east toward the Pauma Valley, but I have to make a choice. Either way I choose, I’ll be riding along the San Luis Rey river basin. Most of the time I ride on the shoulder of the highway roughly 1,000 yards from riverbed. Other times, if I’m appropriately bike’d, I’ll ride on the dirt paths and single-track trails which can lead within a few yards from the almost dry river.

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The increase in homeless encampments in the river basin is noticeable. Three or four years ago, along a the same stretch trails, I might have seen a handful of tents, canopies, and makeshift shelters. Today there are dozens of them visible from the road and bike paths, and probably many more that are well hidden. I’ve said before and am still of the belief that in the 20-mile stretch of the river basin between I-15 and the coast, there are probably 1,000 or more people who call that area home. Perhaps many more. 

We’re in winter now. Though we haven’t equaled the frequency of storms we experienced last season, we’re still above average with rainfall by nearly two inches. The dry river isn’t currently dry, and like most river basins, the San Luis Rey is prone to flooding during heavy rains.

As I’ve ridden along the river basin this season, I’ve noticed a significant increase in one of the more poignant signs of life which manifests after the rains — I see more blankets and clothing hanging from tree branches and from makeshift clotheslines. This is what happens when one lives outdoors and in a floodplain — their belongings get soaked with every passing storm.

Since the rains that fill the riverbed with water are the same rains that have been falling on my own backyard in recent months, I know some of the more sudden storms have occurred overnight. It’s fair to surmise that some of these shelters may have been taken out by heavy rain and fast rising waters, suddenly and while people in them were sleeping. I can’t imagine.

Yesterday, while riding from Fallbrook to Oceanside, I saw roughly 20 blankets and dozens of articles of clothing hung out to dry. I call these the Flags Of Fast Rain And High Water. They are a reminder of how fortunate I am.

When I hang a blanket or piece of clothing on my clothesline throw them in my dryer, it’s always because I’ve previously washed them, by choice, never because they got soaked by an unexpected rain in the middle of the night. Never do I have a sudden need to dry the blankets or the clothes that keep me warm.

And it’s not just in the riverbed. I’ve seen these flags of the downtrodden just about anywhere I see open space these days. If you’re not paying attention, you may not notice it, but they are there — an obvious sign that homelessness is on the increase during some of the best economic times this nation has ever experienced. That math does not add up.
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Whatever one’s opinion of homelessness is — of the reasons why or of the damage done, if you ever see these Flags Of Fast Rain And High Water, please take a moment to reflect just how fortunate you are. You might also ask yourself, if the economy is really this good, why is this on the increase…?

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 6
171 miles
7,800′ climbing
15.8 mph avg
9,800 calories
10 hours 46 minutes seat time

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there’s this from Jarvis Cocker. Enjoy…

Let ‘Em Eat Cake…

My father’s been gone for nearly eight years. He spent his last years in assisted-living in Las Vegas. He was mostly bed-bound or wheelchair-bound during that time due to complications from Parkinson’s disease. Near the end, he was taking 19 different medications. When a person is on 19 medications, having a complementary diet is important. That’s what the doctors, nurses, and caregivers of his facility claimed.

On some level I know that’s true. Additives, preservatives, and chemicals in foods can have interactions with medications that cause them to fail, conflict with other medications, or conflict with organ function. With that in mind, my father’s diet while in assisted-living was bland and offered limited options.

For elderly in long-term care facilities, meals are often the most important part of the experience. For my father, eating was just another routine obligation — an unexciting dose of calories to be chased with a glass of water, just like his blood pressure medication. The joy of eating had been lost.

During that time, I visited my father as often as my schedule and my finances allowed. One ritual I practiced when visiting him, was to stop at Taco Bell or for Chinese takeout on my way, and surprise him with food he might not otherwise enjoy. His eyes lit up if he saw me walk into his room with little white boxes of Kung Pao Chicken or a bag full of burritos. He was so starved for exciting food that watching him eat these surprise meals wasn’t a sight for kids.

I have a clear memory, on one of our final visits, of watching him take the final bite of a Chinese takeout meal. When I thought about how much sodium and other chemicals were in that meal, and on consideration of his 19 medications, I was genuinely afraid I might have just killed him — that’s not a joke. It would be a good two hours before I became confident there wouldn’t be any negative interactions between the foods keeping him happy and the medications keeping him alive.

And this is where it gets blurry…

If my father had died, I later wondered, from eating General Tso’s chicken and an egg roll soaked in sweet & sour sauce while staring out the window at a parking lot full of scooters and golf carts, would it have been any worse than if he died later that evening from pneumonia while watching Family Feud…?

I’m taking care of my mother now — she’s 90-year-old. To put it bluntly, my mom eats like shit. Since I am largely responsible for her shopping, food choices, and meal preparation, I might someday be culpable in her premature demise resulting from lesser eating choices. She only takes a couple of medications, one for blood pressure and the other for her thyroid, but food quality and quantity can impact each of them.

Most of my mother’s meals are premade from the local grocery store. I occasionally attempt to cook or assemble something from our kitchen, but regardless of the source, she takes in very little at mealtime. If she eats 1/3rd of what I serve with each meal, I consider it a victory. Generally, she eats less.

In-between meals, like many seniors do, mom craves sweets. Moon Pies, Snickers Bites, soft peppermints, and 8-ounce glasses of Coke are her fix. Though she is more mobile than my father was, and is able to get out each day, I’m certain the best part of each of her days is tasting a bit of sugar on her tongue.

I have a hard time drawing a line between what’s right and what’s wrong when it comes to the elderly and eating. I know if I fed my mother a diet of plant-based foods, limited sugars, and forced her to adhere to it, it would serve her health better and possibly extend her life.

Is it my place though, to force a 90-year-old woman to eat things she doesn’t want, or to deprive her of the things she does…? I could end up with a shiv between my shoulder blades, and when I least expect it.

Mom came up through the depression, watched a world at war, served in the military, and after all of that, had a 45-year career as a nurse. Notwithstanding, that she raised two strong-willed sons and had a husband who was good at making life difficult. At this point, if she wants to consider soft peppermints a vegetable, who am I to argue…?

I eat better than most, I think. When he was my age, so did my father. When my mother was my age, she included a vegetable at every meal, including breakfast. My mother and father were both active well into their 70s. At some point, our bodies slow down — our lives slow down. Tastes change. Priorities change. The things that bring meaning to our lives become simpler.

It might be that we could all live longer lives and with a better quality, by eating more sensibly. The only question I have is, how long does somebody want to stare out the window all day at a parking lot full of scooters…? How many episodes of Dr. Phil mark a complete life…?

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 6
179 miles
7,200′ climbing
15.8 mph avg
9,700 calories
10 hours 43 minutes seat time

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there’s this from Al Kooper and John Mayall. Enjoy…

The Great Depression…

The hardest part of living with depression isn’t the pain it causes. The hardest part is covering it up all day so I can earn a living and fit in within my community.

The last few weeks have been a little rough in my head. Knowing that I’ll get on the road at some point during each day though, has helped me charge my way through it. Some days it just takes a little extra effort to hide the chaos between my ears so that it can’t be seen.

I’ve never stuck a needle in my arm or a spoon under my nose, but have to believe that putting two tires to pavement in splendid isolation has got to be the better way to go. As my heart-rate increases from pedaling, the serotonin exchange between receptors in my brain increases proportionately. That’s the same effect that cocaine has on the brain. I’ve never purchased cocaine, but it’s probably less expensive than a bicycle habit. Still, I think this is worth the price.

Once I’m on the road, it just all falls away. I feel like John Travolta after shooting up in Pulp Fiction, driving down the road under the night sky, smiling that secret smile and all is right with the world, if only for a while.

My tempo increases, the road passes under my feet, and I think about my long-kept retirement plan — to apprentice as a sheepherder on the interior of Sardinia. That idea becomes more attractive with every BREAKING NEWS story. When I see how people argue, dig trenches, and build walls around their coveted opinions, I long to be a baby harp seal in the arctic getting clubbed for my fur – certainly that would be less painful than going through my newsfeed each morning.

I’m mostly kidding. My morning feed brings me as much fun and amusement as it does anguish. It’s just that the weight of the anguish is greater than the fun and amusement.

I don’t talk about my depression as much as I should. Most people who live with it don’t. Stigma casts a long and wide shadow. My depression is viscerally biological, but is largely influenced and exacerbated by environment — by the people who fail to think before they speak and act.

I take no medication, although I do recognize the value and the need for medication in others. Medications enhance and enable many lives for the better and they’ve certainly saved lives, but I prefer to deal with my depression organically. These are some of the ways I cope with my depression each day…

1. Strength training and stretching
2. Walking in nature
3. Catering to my creative side, mostly through writing and taking pictures
4. Riding a bicycle, daily
5. Spending time with my pets, hourly

If I add up all the time I spend organically treating my depression, it comes out precisely to every waking moment that I’m not working. That is, I’m either working or engaged in something to take my mind off the sadness that inexplicably pops in and out of my head all day long.

What may not make sense to a person who doesn’t or has never experienced these feelings, is that I have a wonderful life. I make a good living. I don’t want for anything. I probably have too much of everything. I have friends and loved ones who know me and like me anyway. On a scale of 1 to 10, my life is an 11. Given the option, I wouldn’t want to be anyone else, except maybe Kenny Aronoff. Still, intermittently throughout each day, it just shows up knocking at my door. It’s a warning knock – not to announce its presence, but to let me know it’s coming in.

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The only weapons I have against my depression are creativity and physical movement. When I’m not otherwise engaged with work or taking care of my mother, I’m keeping my depression at bay.

If you’ve read this far, I hope you’ll consider that at some point this week you’ll be face-to-face with a dozen other people who look on the outside exactly as I do — confident, well-adjusted, and perhaps jovial. On the inside though, they may be battling every bit as much as me, some much more. Since you won’t know it to look at them, please give everyone you see a little bit of grace this week. It may be just what they need to get through the day.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 6
176 miles
7,800′ climbing
15.4 mph avg
10,050 calories
11 hours 26 minutes in the saddle

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there’s this from Daniel Lanois. Enjoy…