Responsible parenting and leadership are a start. In between reaching for the sky (Toy Story rocks).

Screw the darkness. I prefer the lightness of Pop.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

We Actually Can

I stared at the clear gelatinous rectangle cuboid and wondered what the hell it was. There was a series of them each within a clear plastic display case. Inside each gelatinous cuboid was what looked like dried out weeds fanned out throughout.

But that's not what it was at all. Not even close. One of the San Jose Museum of Art volunteers told us it was part of new exhibit. She pointed to the monitor along one of the walls that highlighted the shooting of guns into the gelatinous cuboids (also known as ballistic gelatin) to trap the splintered bullets in time and space. One of the points of this exhibit was that the cuboids represented human flesh and what happens to it when bullets rip through us and explode inside.

It was only a few days after the shooting tragedy in Parkland, Florida. The day before we went to the museum I had listened to the Morning Joe news program as I worked out. I listened to them talk about each of the 17 victims and highlight something special about each one. About the teachers who sacrificed themselves by wrapping their bodies around those of the scared children trying to save themselves from the shooter. The children who got out and ran for their lives.

Then I listened the mother of one of the victims imploring our president to do something to make our schools safer. That one brought tears to my eyes. If you haven't seen it, you should.

Even conservative media is calling for a change:

"It is time for conservatives to embrace our new reality: today’s violence-prone society makes ownership of high-powered rapid-fire guns too dangerous."

I'm writing this because my wife and I care about the safety of our children first and foremost. There have been 1,600 mass shootings in America since Sandy Hook five years ago (that's about 4 victims or more on the average per shooting). Unfortunately our elected officials have done little to nothing to help stem the violence. And our children are dying.

We're supposed to be better than this. Aren't we? This isn't the other person's problem. This isn't a partisan problem. It's an American problem -- from our communities to state and federal government. Yes, we can and should choose more violence-free shows and media to consume for ourselves and our children. Yes, we can and should also choose how raise and empower our children with awareness and violence prevention.

On the other hand, California may have some of the most restrictive gun laws in the country, but damn if you can't still own an assault rifle and a whole lotta ammunition. Even my father, a retired police detective who passed away in 2012, who owned many guns himself, never agreed with the growing proliferation of assault rifles in this country. He didn't like regulation much either, but knew that something had to give somewhere for the average citizen.

And unfortunately that give continues to be us and our children. Which is why on the way to the San Jose Museum of Art referenced above, the Mama (what I lovingly call my wife) and I discussed as discretely as we could our safety plans and whether or not our girls' school was prepared for such a tragedy, while the girls listened to a Wow in the World podcast in the backseat. Even though we live in a community that appears to be much less likely to have a shooting like Parkland, the fact remains that this killing can occur anywhere at anytime.

Thankfully our school has an emergency active shooter safety plan (and we hope yours does, too). We discussed it and what would happen if our girls were out on the playground and something like this happened. Would they remember their Kidpower basics about safety first and run away and hide from harms way if they could? Would they remember to get under and stay under their desks if trapped in their classroom? Our girls haven't brought up what happened to us, but we're sure the older kids are talking about it, and we need to talk with them about it.

Ballistic gelatin is much more forgiving than human flesh. I'd bet we have much more rigorous regulation around the production of it than we do regulating the proliferation of assault rifles and exploding ammunition, guns and ammo that most of us would never touch in our lives, even with 30-40+ percent gun ownership in America.

I don't want to take anyone's gun ownership away (and couldn't even if I wanted to), but I don't have a problem pressuring state and federal elected officials to make it a much more rigorous process for you to own one and to purchase ammunition; if you're a serious and safe hunter or sports shooter you'll jump through the friggin' hoops to shoot. But making it easier for people with mental illnesses to purchase a gun sure as hell didn't help us make our country safer. And arming our teachers and administrators is also not a solution to help prevent this unnecessary violence.

After the Mama and I talked about our safety plans and what we would need to discuss with our girls, I couldn't help by helplessly imagine our children running for their lives and us not being able to do anything about it.

The good news is that we actually can.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

To Run for My Life with the Love of My Life

"Wake up
Run for your life with me
Wake up
Run for your life with me
In another perfect life
In another perfect light
We run
We run
We run..."

-Foo Fighters, Run

Wow. She actually told them. I knew we weren't hiding it from them, but it wasn't something to date that had come up in any context or conversation.

Until now.

I'm not even sure of the context actually; the Mama (what I lovingly call my wife) just said it out loud.

"You know, Daddy was married to someone before me."


"What?!?" said Beatrice. Bryce just stared at me.

"Yes, he was, but they didn't have any children," said the Mama.

"What happened? Did she die?"

Kids, they simply say whatever comes into their amazing little heads.

"No," I answered. "She didn't die. We broke up and got divorced."

I knew they knew what that meant, going to school with other kids of divorce.

"Where is she now?" Bea asked.

"I don't know," I said.

"Are you guys going to break up?"

We laughed. "No, honey. We love each other and love you both."

"Okay. Love you, too."

"I can't believe you told them that," I then said to the Mama. But I wasn't mad, just surprised.

"Why not?"

I know, right? Why not. But what they don't know yet is that our life wasn't all romantic neat-and-clean happy endings. It's much messier than that. Overlapping with of failure and sorrow and poor choices and sometimes we have to be pushed really friggin' hard to get moving in the right direction.

They don't know that, 20 years ago, when the Mama and I were already seeing each other and very much in love, that I was only separated from my ex, not divorced yet. I knew then that I wasn't going back; I was done and very unhappy with me and the relationship I had with my soon to be ex, no matter how good of a person she was. And she was.

Instead, I wallowed in limbo, not willing to pull myself out of the self-loathing sludge and get on with life. I wanted to, but wasn't willing.

At least not until the Mama inspired me with a little fight or flight adrenaline. I had wanted her to go with me to meet my entire family for my sister's birthday, which just happened (and still happens) to be the day before Valentine's Day.

She went to work one day and left me a note in the apartment I had at the time, basically saying she wasn't going with me anywhere until you get your shit together and move on with your life if you want to be with me.

Damn straight. She had shared a lot more passionate words than that in making her case, which was crystal clear to me. And so I moved on with my life.

Wake up.
Run for your life with me.

For weeks since we told the girls about my past, the above song has been full-throttle volume in my head. Although not really a romantic song to say the least, the very essence of it struck me as representative of that moment in time, to stop feeling sorry for myself and get on with living and being me. To run for my life with the love of my life. With all the stumbles and skinned knees along the way.

In another perfect life
In another perfect light
We run...

"Ooooo, why do you guys have to kiss all the time?" said Bea.

"Because we love each other," said the Mama.

"Indeed we do," I said. "And we love you, too!"

Happy Valentine's Day!

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Even With the Best of Friends

"Goddess in my garden
Sister in my soul
Angel in my armor
Actress in my role..."

-Rush, Animate

This is where I have to be careful. Where I need to step back and reflect. To attempt a limbic system recalibration to adjust what I'm seeing based on how I'm feeling. To not project me onto them.

No easy trick when you watch your eldest from the edge of a dance floor, shuffling back and forth, dancing a little here and there, and following various friends racing back and forth, seemingly just out of reach.

Plus, she actually wore a dress for the school Valentine's dance, something she doesn't do all that often. She was so excited to hang out with her friends and run around and dance. And she did, although every time our eyes met, she feigned a smile. I sensed anxious awkwardness and isolation that only comes with the social awakening in late childhood and the tween and teenage years. Sometimes extending throughout adulthood. I know, Beatrice, I thought. We get into our own heads and we can't get out.

But again, this is where I have to be careful. Because she does have friends and she does have play dates and she also likes being alone at times to recharge. Like many people do. Like I do and the Mama does (what I lovingly call my wife) and even our gregarious younger daughter. This is also the age where girls hang with girls, and boys hang with boys, and girls hang with boys, usually irrespective of gender. For now, anyway.

Recently the term "tomboy" came up. I don't know exactly what the specific context was, whether or not someone called Beatrice a tomboy directly, but it sounded like that. The Mama discussed it with her one day and asked her: "Does being called a tomboy bother you?"

"No," Bea said. It was a definitive no, devoid of emotion or hesitation. I don't think she knew what it meant, even after we attempted to define it, and still doesn't.

In the 16th-century the term first appeared and meant a "rude and boisterous boy." By the end of that century, it evolved to mean a "wild, romping girl, [a] girl who acts like a spirited boy." (There's a brief article on the history here.) While she is spirited, although much more muted compared to her little sister, her identity is more complex than calling her simply a tomboy.

Bryce, on the other hand, is just as complex, being a more traditional female, and yet can be highly aggressive and acts like a "spirited boy" at times. She may dress and act the part, but at the end of each day, she's playing a part all her very friggin' own, thank you very much. And there she was, dressed to the nines in her Valentine best and dancing the night away with her friends.

Either way tomboy can be dangerous since the term connotes a negative context of being a feminist and even gay, among not being a true feminine female, which wouldn't matter to the Mama or me either way. Unfortunately since the 16-century, it's been used as a derogatory sexist and even racist term (again, ready the brief history of it linked above) no matter how much we've romanticized it over generations.

And like being called a tomboy, I've been called a girly-man many a time over the years. For decades I've been in touch with my feminine side as "they" say (whoever they is) being more emotionally accessible and in touch with my feelings than the average heterosexual North American male. I'm more than comfortable with who and how I am, and I've also given my good friends plenty of rope to hang me with the "faggot" sentence. And for decades I haven't thought much about it, knowing they were teasing me, just like I teased them time and time again.

But when your identity is disparaged, even if you don't identify directly, it's just not okay anymore. I love my friends, and yet, I no longer like calling each other that. This has nothing to with being politically correct and everything to do with who we are as human beings -- complex individuals whose make-up is much more than the sum of subjective prejudiced observation. Of being forced into traditional gender roles with so-called "normal" sexual identities. We make it hard on each other for not sanctioning beyond our own biased comfort zones. We create separation and resentment with labels. We make it hard on each other by denying ourselves. Even with the best of friends.

And that's where I need to again step back and reflect and to not project me onto them. Because as parents, both the Mama and me know we can't live their lives for them. There are times we want to, where we identify with what they're going through because we went through it as well, or something similar. These are also the times we know they have to go through it, and we're just here to help as much as we can.

So I stood there at the dance a witness to my own competing amygdala messages flowing back and forth across my field of vision -- Bryce streaming by with friends in tow, the Mama streaming by talking to friends and other parents, Beatrice standing in the middle of the dance floor dressed to the nines herself in a red dress and leather jacket looking off in the distance with that awkward social signal, and me standing on the fringe mirroring the signal. Because sometimes we all feel alone again, even with the best of friends.

"Polarize me
Sensitize me
Criticize me
Civilize me
Compensate me
Animate me
Complicate me
Elevate me..."

-Rush, Animate

Sunday, February 4, 2018

The #SamStrong Perspective

"In the shadows of a golden age
A generation waits for dawn
Brave carry on
Bold and the strong..."

-Journey, Only the Young

I did not want to be there. From the moment I made the appointment, to parking the car in the lot across the street, to walking inside the lobby -- all I could selfishly think about was me not being there.

What was so wrong with that anyway? I had already recovered from multiple infections months earlier, feeling better and hoping (and praying) for it to never return. Yet, here I was waiting to talk with my doctor. Again.

"How are you doing today?" the physician assistant asked me.

"I don't want to be here, that much I know," I said.

She laughed. I was sure she heard that a lot. Then she added, "Let's take your blood pressure now."

I thought it would be higher since it sometimes spikes I get when I'm stressed, but thankfully it wasn't.

"Not bad," she said.

"Well, we'll see what the doc says."

She smiled. "I'm sure she'll have some good insight for you."

"The insight that nothing's there," I said.

Another smile. "All right, the doctor will see you shortly," she said and then she left.

Again, I waited alone in the examination room, only a sanitary paper blanket covering my lower half. Moments passed. I checked my watch in between each one. I felt cold. I rubbed my arms and read as many of the informative posters around the room that I could see from where I sat.

I checked work email on my phone and then I checked out Facebook. That's when I saw it again in the feed: the post titled I'm Still Standing. My wife's step-sister's husband had posted it two days earlier and it had been the latest update about their youngest son, two-year-old Sam.

Sam has acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). In less than two weeks after he had initially gotten sick, they didn't know what was wrong and had taken him to urgent care. Shortly after that he was diagnosed. According to St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital, acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is a cancer that affects the white blood cells. These cells fight infection and help protect the body against disease. Patients with ALL have too many immature white blood cells in their bone marrow. These cells crowd out normal white blood cells. Without enough normal white blood cells, the body has a harder time fighting infections.

I can't imagine. We can't imagine. Don't want to imagine. All their posts, updates and pictures with the hashtag #SamStrong that they've posted since his diagnosis have only captured a fraction of what they must be going through. He's scared and sick. They're scared and sick. They're all living in and out of the hospital while trying to continue any regularity of day-to-day life with work and school and another child, a big brother who probably doesn't really understand what the heck is going on.

The chemotherapy, while killing the cancer in Sam's body (and the cure rate is high for children), has now made their young son susceptible to other infections, wreaking havoc on his immune system. His fever keeps spiking, so now his hospital stay that should've ended was extended another few days.

What do you say to your young child who gets so sick like that? What do you say day after day of tests and treatments and long days and nights in the hospital? What do you say to each other? That it's going to be all right? You pray if you believe in God's healing, and/or you hope if you believe in the doctors' healing.

I remember when Beatrice was born, her difficult birth, and her delayed responses to the Apgar test, as she lay there wrapped up in hospital blankets. And then I remember the standard hearing test the next day when everything was fine, the diodes and wires strapped to her elongated forehead and her ears, and thought about how different it could have been. We worried that something could be wrong, the same somethings we will worry about their whole lives.

Even with the developmental delays Beatrice had early on, both our girls have been pretty healthy overall to date, and I'm so thankful for that, I thought. Both my wife and I have been pretty healthy, too. God bless Sam and his family. All we ever want is for our children to be healthy and outlive us.

I set my phone down atop my pants that sat like a lump on the chair next to me and waited for the doctor to arrive. I sat up straight and breathed in and out slowly, filling myself with a new resolve of family love and the #SamStrong perspective. It's going to be all right.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

What Science Is All About

Reluctantly, she sat in front of my laptop.

"Why do I have to watch this again?" asked my oldest daughter.

"Because," I said, "I want you to understand what kind of science fair project we're doing."

"But I do understand -- Sweetheart and Dragonlily are going to do the maze."

I nodded. "Yes, but this is still learning time for you to understand what other scientists have already done."


Slumped in the desk chair, Beatrice watched one minute of an old Yale University film about hungry rats and mazes. Even I had no idea what was going on and my major was psychology in college.

Super dry and super yawn.

"Wow, well, that's enough, but please just read these two pages about rats and maze experiments," I said.

"Do I have to?"

"Yes, you do. Thank you."

"Okay," she said.

Just prior to this, as I was researching relevant resources online for both our daughters to review for their school science fair project, I found strange and silly videos of kids and young adults spoofing rat-maze experiments, even dressing up as the rats literally and pretending to play rat and scientist around the house. Tolman gone awry (Tolman was an American psychologist best known for his studies of learning in rats using mazes).

Wow. Way too much time on their hands.

Weeks before, both the Mama (what I lovingly call my wife) and I had talked with the girls about what they wanted to do for this year's science fair. Both are interested in how things work and we do homemade science projects a lot, especially Bryce our youngest who's always investigating anything and everything.

They decided they really wanted to do something with our pets -- Sweetheart our guinea pig and Dragonlily our new rabbit.

The girls decided (with our help) to conduct a maze experiment, with the hypothesis that both the guinea pig and the rabbit would be able to complete the maze for food after five trials each. Maybe getting faster each time because they would learn how to do the maze, and because they were always hungry anyway, and that the rabbit would complete the maze much faster than the guinea pig, because the rabbit was already faster and seemed smarter. We did have to explain to the girls that although guinea pigs are rodents, rabbits are lagomorphs, something we didn't even realize ourselves.

Whatever the classification of each animal, it seemed a reasonable hypothesis, and both the Mama and me agreed.

But it wasn't what happened at all. Nope, not even close.

I built the maze with some help from the girls, having to make the walls wide enough to accommodate our very large guinea pig. And then the day came to conduct the experiment. Bea and Bryce were giddy with anticipation.

First trial: Sweetheart the guinea pig. We placed her at start of the maze, having to help her in little due to the fact that she spread her legs out and caught her claws on each side of the maze walls, almost as if she did not want to be put in the maze.

Once in, she just sat there. And sat. And sat. And never moved. Just sat and stared at me with her blank dark eyes.

And then she peed.

The girls bounced off the walls. Bryce couldn't help herself and kept put her face right in front of Sweetheart's, patting her bottom and encouraging her to move.

"C'mon, Sweetheart. You can do it!"

"Bryce, get back and let her try. You're scaring her," I kept insisting.

"I am back! C'mon, Sweetheart!"

We all cheered her on. Nothing. We even tried to put food closer to her to entice her, but nothing. Didn't budge. We did the other trials with the same result. And more pee.


Then it was Dragonlily the rabbit's turn. First trial: we placed him at the start of the maze. He didn't fight it like Sweetheart did and he actually began to move through the first straightaway of the maze.

"He's doing it!"

Within a few seconds, he jumped out of the maze. Because that's what rabbits do, they jump. All of us laughed. It was actually really funny.

We did the other trials with the same result, each time Dragonlily jumping out of the maze after a few seconds. And each time we all laughed.

"Well," I said, "we may have to scrap the experiment. The data just isn't there. They never even made through the first part of the maze."

"Maybe we should leave the room so Sweetheart can try. Maybe she's just scared," Bea said.

"We can try again," said the Mama. "Maybe we just put a fence around the maze so Dragonlily won't just out. That's what I thought before you even put the maze together."

"Yes, again! Again!" shrieked Bryce.

We need to write all this up, I thought. Our hypothesis was completely wrong, but that's part of the scientific method, of investigating the world around us and learning new things and correcting the things that we thought were correct in the first place. This is what the girls need to understand.

"We're going to still write all this up and turn it in, girls. This is what science is all about, that there's always something new to learn regardless of what we thought was going to happen."

Bryce had already moved on, chasing the rabbit around the house. Beatrice had the guinea pig on a towel on her lap feeding her vegetables.

"Sweetheart peed again," she said.

"Of course she did," I said.


Sunday, January 21, 2018

The Advocates Who Activate

And then I thought, What happened with the boy who hit Bea?

"Amy, whatever happened with the boy who hit Bea at recess that day?" I asked my wife.

It had already been a couple of weeks and I felt guilty about not following up, about not being a father and asserting myself as the patriarch protector of my girls. About not being a man.

The irony wasn't lost on me, considering that one of the sentiments I despise the most -- boys will be boys -- has written off many a legitimate abuse and acquiesced to the most aggressive provider/protector male behavior for thousands of years.

"No, but I can check. I did talk with the yard duty teacher after it happened, and she said she didn't see it happen, but would look into it," my wife said.

"Please do. Thank you."

I should've done something, I thought. I compartmentalized my guilt and frustration and went on with prepping for the day ahead, a day of community protest and political activism at the local Women's March. My wife had a Kidpower workshop to teach and would meet me and our two girls downtown.

At the time, what we could best glean from Beatrice about the recess incident, and what she initially told her Mom the day it happened, was that she was at recess playing with another friend when she accidentally kicked the boy (or something in the context of play), and he thought she did it on purpose. So he punched her in the stomach. Twice.

It's unclear if she used her voice to tell him to stop, something we've instilled in both girls, but she's still socially timid at times. We assumed it all happened so fast that the boy had moved on and then recess was over. She did say she told him to stop, but only after us asking her over and over, and I wonder if she knew that's what we wanted to hear. I told her that it's never okay for a boy (or another girl) to hit her like that. Never. She told us to stop talking about it. She was done.

Shortly after that, I read a Facebook comment from a woman who warned of the siren song, those women who lie about being harassed and/or assaulted to bring down the "great, able-bodied men who have built this nation." Oh, how I wanted to comment, but didn't, because I felt that either I wouldn't contribute any positive dialogue, and if I did, it would've been missed by those who agreed with her.

Of course there are those who fabricate abuse, but there are so many more who never speak their truth for fear of reprisal. These are the everyday women (and men) who aren't the high-profile cases we've come to know in the past year, who have to keep swimming upstream through toxic water.

And just because the boy hit my daughter in a moment of playground angst doesn't mean he'll grow up to be violent. (Although he does need to know that aggression like that needs to muted and reframed in dialogue and other constructive channels as he gets older.)

Two weeks later on a day that celebrated inclusivity and equality and social justice for women (and men) alike around the world, regardless of race, cultural background, religious affiliation or sexual orientation; a day that abhorred sexual harassment and assault with lifts from the #metoo and #timesup movements, I felt like I wasn't very good father, or even a good man for that matter. All because I wasn't there to protect my daughter on the playground and ensure justice for her.

My patriarchal guilt, thousands of years of socialized gender roles and the ever-present thin biological and religious arguments to "justify gender inequality and the continued oppression of women" dissipated for me when we made our way downtown to march with friends and about 30,000 people from our community. With my wife and daughters walking just in front of me, and the thousands of women (and men) all around me chanting phrases like "What does democracy look like? This is what democracy looks like!" -- I thought, The middle may thankfully hold, but the status quo cannot. 

After the march I sat at the CPVAW table among the 50 non-profits represented at Louden Nelson Community Center and talked with a variety of women and men from our community. I again realized what I already knew deep down -- something I had known for decades and that my own mother had instilled in me -- that we as men are just as important to the progressive equation of social justice and putting an end to sexual harassment and violence. And that we can and should be the advocates who activate other men around the world to nurture the lives of our sons and our daughters.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

So Bang and Burn Away

"Oh my dear Heaven is a big band now
Gotta get to sleep somehow
Bangin' on the ceiling
Bangin' on the ceiling
Keep it down..."

-Foo Fighters, The Sky Is A Neighborhood

The sky caught fire. 

"Beatrice, look," said the Mama, what I lovingly call my wife.


"Look at the sunset."


"I want to see!" shouted Bryce.

"Look, girls. Daddy, come look."

We all crowded in front of our living room window. Deep blue bled lavender and charcoal gray. A layer of rippled clouds fanned out above us from the northwest and burned softly like the embers of a dying fire. The orange and red flared and grew brighter as if stoked from above.

"If we go out on the porch we can see it better," said the Mama.

The view was better, but still somewhat obstructed by trees and buildings in front of us. 

"Oooooo," said the girls. 

"Gorgeous," I said.

"Let's go down to the water and see it," said the Mama. "There's time."

Bryce flailed on the couch. "No! I don't want to go anywhere!"

"Yes, let's go now before it's gone," I said. "Get your shoes on girls."

"Alexa, what time is the Santa Cruz sunset," the Mama asked our new Amazon gadget.

"The sunset in Santa Cruz today is 5:11 pm," Alexa replied. I looked at my watch -- it was 5:21 pm.

"C'mon, let's go," I said. "We have to do it know or we'll miss it."

We all had our sweatshirts and shoes on, and were ready by the front door, except Bryce.

"I don't want to go!"

"Fine, you can stay home by yourself," the Mama said, not serious of course. "We're going now."

"Whaaaaa!" Bryce fake whined and thrashed on the couch.

"Bryce, get your frickin' shoes on and let's go!" I insisted.

"Okay, okay! I'm coming!"

A few minutes later we were down by the ocean looking for a place to park. As was nearly most of Santa Cruz it seemed. Cars and people were everywhere. Street parking was full. The Natural Bridges State Beach 20-minute parking was full. I parked along the side of the road that led in and out of the state beach main parking, facing the exit. That way we could leave after watching the sunset for a few minutes. There wasn't time to drive all the way down to the main lot and park and walk onto the beach, the same one I workout on every week. We got out to watch the burning sky.

The time is always now again -- the now of every beat and breath and being completely in on each one, without distraction, no matter how unruly the universe gets. The next day there would be the kisses goodbye with my lovely wife and the hugs from my girls before I headed out to see my best friend for his birthday, each kiss and hug a time capsule to be repeatedly unearthed during my time away. 

Then there would be the time spent with my best friend of 40 years. Two men in their 50's, one able-bodied and one paralyzed since our senior year in high school, looking backward and projecting forward, never afraid to be emotionally accessible to one another, or take each other out with relentless one-liners.

But that was yet to come; the sky caught fire again. It glowed white-hot where the sun had set into the sea beyond, it's periphery pink and red, scorched black underneath. I took picture after picture, and in between, let the now embrace me again, and again. Muted oh's and ah's filled the spaces between all of us watching this glorious sunset. 

Now this is heaven, I thought. So bang and burn away.