Archive for the ‘Events/ Visiting Attractions’ category

Day 180: Crashing A wedding

July 31, 2011

Movies make everything look glamorous. I believe this to be especially true when it comes to the movie Wedding Crashers. Perfect wedding, perfect crash. Just how it should be. Or not. We’d like to think that we can make our lives, make reality like a movie. But real life is far from the prefect ending, and tonight I found myself far from the perfect wedding.

All dolled-up, but not too flashy to attract attention, Bec, Dana and I arrive at the scene. Hotel Bethlehem, known for their beautiful (and ritzy) weddings, was all abuzz with two wedding receptions underway, one upstairs and one downstairs. We picked this venue based on a previous experience there. Attending a rehearsal dinner, we noticed how easy it would’ve been to slip into one of the reception halls unnoticed. The bars were outside in the lobby, and guests (most half-drunk) were milling all around. If tonight was anything like that, we’d be on the dance floor doing the electric slide with the bride and groom in no time! Unfortunately, that “if” turned into an “if only”- a wish for something that wasn’t.

Enter mean, intimidating, looming, wired, security guards. The minute we walked into the hotel, they had us sniffed out like dogs to a meat bone. I, however, did not know this, and so I was able to enjoy the first 10 minutes of our “scoping out” with a naive sense of anticipation and anxiety. We passed the Johnston wedding and made our way upstairs to see what the Taylor wedding had to offer us. Between the barricaded, closed doors, and the posse of hotel staff lingering outside in the hall, it was clear that we were being offered, well… nothing.

And this was the minute where Dana informed us that we had been and were being watched by the big guys. We were now playing a whole new game. We were in the big leagues.

We headed back downstairs to the Johnston wedding and I started making my way over to the entrance, trying to blend in with the guests in the lobby. The bride was standing right inside the reception hall, making it impossible for us to go all the way in to where the real party was happening. While skimming the “welcoming” table, I read about old Opa, grandfather to the bride, and looked at some pictures. I tried to add my congratulations to the happy couple on their “memory” plate, but the dumb dry-erase marker had run out. It’s too bad. I’m sure the Johnstons would have really appreciated it.

We were trying to figure out how to make our way into the party, when the bride came out into the lobby with some bridesmaids and headed toward the bathroom. Now was our perfect chance to get to the dance floor. And then Bec let out a gasp.

“OH MY GOSH! I know the bride! I know the bride! From work! I can’t go in, what if she sees me? I don’t want anything to happen!” And she was right, of course. What could she say? “Oh hey, how was your time at your wedding? Mine was great. Yea, I unknowingly crashed your wedding. Oops.”? I don’t think so.

All at once, our dreams of the electric slide and pictures with the groomsmen fell to the floor in a puddle of a wedding crash gone wrong. One of us knew one of them! We were doomed. And that wasn’t our only problem.

All the while, the big guys with the earpieces were slowly closing in on us. We escaped the laughing and marital bliss and headed to the bathroom, running into another wedding guest. We started chatting it up with “Betty”.  She asked if we were attending the wedding upstairs to which we quickly replied, “yes”. We sweet-talked her up, telling her that the wedding she was at sounded and probably was way more fun than ours (if the guests we had run into at both were any indication, this was definitely the truth!). She loved it.

She was wearing a glowstick bracelet, which we found out was part of the fun. Apparently the DJ was handing them out and all the guests had them. And then, something beautiful happened. She gave me her bracelet! This was my in! And, it matched my dress!

We happily made our way from the bathroom, Dana and I ready to hit the dance floor with my new, shiny bracelet. Our happiness was short-lived. Walking out of the bathroom, I practically ran head-on into a security guy. Bec and Dana turned back into the bathroom, and I was left to fend for myself. I watched him out of the corner of my eye and acted cool. He went over to the banister overlooking  the lobby and stood there, all nonchalant-like . So… I went over to the banister overlooking the lobby and stood there, all nonchalant-like.

Finally, Bec and Dana made an appearance and we all made our way downstairs, our tail keeping close.

This was not happening. Our crash was over. The guests were great, the music was great, the happy couple looked great, but the dancing? Well, we’ll never know if that was great. But I must say, I would totally be up for having my wedding at Hotel Bethlehem. At least I know the security is tight enough to protect my cake (or ice cream sundae bar:) from any crashers. I’d like to see Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson make it into that one!

P.S. We left our phones in the car, so no pictures were taken. Here is one of me after the fact with my special wedding bracelet!

Thanks for the bracelet, Mr. and Mrs. Johnston! Congrats!

Day 167: The Philadelphia Merrell Down & Dirty Mud Run

July 17, 2011

For those of us who aren’t quite ready to put ourselves through the pain and embarrassment of the Tough Mudder, there is an easier, much more fun alternative: The Merrell Down & Dirty Mud Run. The Mud Run is either a 10 or 5k race that involves military-style obstacles and one long, deep, disgusting mud pit that participants have to crawl through at the finish. Sounds fabulous, doesn’t it? When I stumbled upon this event, my first thought was “Why the heck would anyone want to do that?” My second thought was, “Why do I feel like I want to do that??”

Before I knew it, my sister, Liz, and I were signed up. A bit later we roped our sister, Bec, to join us, and after weeks of anticipation, the three of us packed extra clothes, piled into the car and were finally off to Philly, our future filled with mud.

By the time we arrived, the 10k was well underway and we were able to see the aftermath of this mud run. It was… dirty. Some of the people coming from the finish line weren’t too muddy (they must have been trying really hard), but the majority were so covered in mud that I didn’t want to get within 5 feet of them, afraid I’d become a puddle myself. It’d be me soon enough, coming out covered in mud, so why rush the process? Here is a quick clip I got while we waited for our 5k to start.

It was finally time for us to line up. It was really cool the way they had it set up. You joined small sections according to your anticipated mile pace, and every 4 minutes, they would let another section start. This kept the course from getting congested (and I think it also motivated me a little more when 4 minutes in, I heard a gunshot and knew that I had a horde of people racing towards me!). So we got in our section and the first thing I noticed ere the 3 girls in tutus next to me. Then I noticed the very intensely-dressed guy (with pants up to his belly button) that was jumping around like crazy and making grunting sounds, pumping himself up. To our left, there was a man with a prosthetic leg who had one of those curved, metal feet. The variety of runners was awesome, and the feel in the air was one of excitement and fun.

The gun shot sounded in the air and we were off… straight up a hill. What a way to start!

Now, we really had no idea what to expect when it came to the course and the obstacles, so it was hard to know how to pace yourself. All of this caused a bit of nervousness while running and waiting to hit the first obstacle, which turned out to be army-crawling underneath a long, low net. I thought of my nephew, Jake, as my knees got banged on the rough ground. He’d probably have us all beat, crawling so fast, without a care for his knees.

I realized, after feeling the effect from the first obstacle, just how much damage the obstacles were going to cause in keeping a steady pace. My heart was pounding from the disruption in the running. The next few obstacles were unfortunately scattered amongst more hills. At one point, fter climbing over a wood-slotted wall, I overheard a conversation between two guys behind me.

“Did you make it over that OK?”

“Yea, but the top was awkward and challenging.”

“Tell me about it. I don’t know if I’ll be able to have children.”

It was conversations like this, knowing I wasn’t the only one struggling, that kept me going. That is, until the last mile. More than halfway through the course, we hit an obstacle that was basically a mini mud pit. And here I though I would get to run mud-free until the end! Once again, I got down on my knees and sloshed through what felt like liquid pudding. (If only it had smelled and tasted like liquid pudding.) The second we got out and grabbed a cup from a water station, we turned a corner and found ourselves face-to-face with the biggest hill yet. Now, had we been running on flat ground for a bit, we might have been able to continue up the hill, but coming directly from an obstacle provided a challenge. A quarter of the way up the hill, we had to walk. For a split second I felt some disappointment. And then I noticed that almost every single person in front of us, around us and behind us, was also walking. A man nearby shared his surprise that they had such a steep hill right after an obstacle. I silently agreed. Or actually, I agreed very loudly with my huffs and puffs.

We conquered the hill and then picked up the running for another leg of the course. a few more obstacles and hills later, we rounded a bend and saw the end in sight. But first we had to get up a slanted wall with a knotted rope that stopped at shoulder height. And let’s not forget the wall was now covered in mud. As I approached it and watched others struggle and slide, I thought I was about to have one big flop. I pushed the thought aside, and with a determination so fierce, grabbed the rope and pulled myself up, higher and higher. Man, I owned that wall! It was by far my favorite obstacle!

In a matter of seconds, we faced the  mud pit. It was grose. And from my vantage point, it seemed to be a lot longer than I remembered! We slid down the side, and sunk. People lined up on either side were cheering us on and laughing at our antics. The bottom felt like it was covered in gritty sand, and my knees started getting scratched up. So… I decided to do the crocodile walk. I walked on my hands and let the rest of my body float on top of the mud. It actually felt awesome! And it was very cooling compared to the hot sun. I was enjoying it so much, I almost wanted to stay in it and play! And I just might have done that if it wasn’t for the fact that thousands of sweaty, dirty people had been crawling through it before me. Nasty disease? No thank you!

We pulled ourselves out of the pit, our clothes hanging off of us like weighed-down rags, and crossed the finish line! I felt great! Well, at least my insides felt great. My outsides… not so much.

My sisters and I completed the race in 39:39. Not too bad for all the hills, obstacles and walking, not too bad at all.

Now as much fun as the race was, the best part of the day came next. Showering. There were two huge tank trucks filled with water, and connected to them were multiple hose stations. The cold, clean water felt so good, I could’ve stayed under it forever. And I almost did! I don’t know which took longer- the race or the clean-up?

Once I was cleaned and fed, I almost felt sad. I wanted to do it again! Turns out, I do like mud!

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Day 166: The GRAVITRON

July 16, 2011

It was many years ago, at the Hellertown carnival, when I first set my sights on the Gravitron. I remember thinking it looked like an alien spacecraft, and being to chicken to ride it myself, listened to my sisters describe their gravity-defying experience. I haven’t been the same since.

Tonight, opportunity had once more stepped up to the pitcher’s mound, and I stepped up to home plate. I stepped foot onto the alien spacecraft, I defied gravity. I rode the Gravitron.

… And it was awesome. What have I been doing all these years?! I have been missing out on the second most wonderful man-made thing (after ice cream, of course)! I have never experienced this before, and I am telling you I haven’t laughed that hard for that long in as far back as I can remember! Basically, the Gravitron is this big empty, circular spaceship. You stand along the wall on one of these long pads, and it starts spinning so fast that you are suction-cupped to the wall. The ship also rotates up and down, and this causes your pad to slide to the roof or back to the floor, taking you with it. No strapping-in required. You just stand there.

I convinced my sister, Bec, to go to the carnival with me, however, I knew I would be riding the Gravitron alone. Apparently she didn’t have the greatest memories of it. (I don’t know why my memory of her memories are awesome, but oh well) Yet, once she saw the enchanting piece of metal, she couldn’t help herself and we both got in the ticket line.

Now picture this: the carnival is dead. Not many people are walking around and workers are just waiting for someone to walk up to their ride. The Gravitron was no exception. The ride looked dead. So much so, that we first asked him if it was even still running. Thank goodness it was! So walking up to the ride, we are realizing that it might just be the two of us on it. We were wrong.

As we entered the the spaceship, our eyes adjusted to the dim light, and the first thing we noticed was a man to our left, standing against the side of the wall. Well, he wasn’t just standing, really. He was pressed up against the wall, completely still, his eyes wide, his face showing his nervous state. Frankly, it looked as if he had no friends, never got out of his house, and had to use every piece of will power to get himself to step into this ride, thinking it the craziest, scariest thing ever. One brief glance had told me all this, and it was hysterical. Not even looking at each other, but immediately sensing what the other was thinking, Bec and I burst out laughing. I just couldn’t help it!  This turned out to be a good forecast of what was to come, because laugh was all I did the next 2 minutes. And I laughed hard.  Like “your stomach is cramping up and your face is covered in tears” hard. The spaceship started spinning faster and faster and faster, causing our bodies to be pressed up against the wall so intensely that we had the ability to turn upside if we wanted to. Not that I did, although, Bec had done it so many years ago, so we knew it was possible.

As my tears got pulled out of my eyes and across my cheeks to the wall, my vision became a blur of twinkling lights and all I could focus on was the sound of Bec’s and my laughter mixed with Usher’s smooth voice belting out “More”. Oh and did I mention the funny guy across the way was making noises akin to an owl’s “whoo”-ing? Yes, he just got funnier.

Walking off that ride was so sad. I mean, we were still laughing hysterically until we were like 50 feet away, but in my mind I was so sad. I couldn’t stop laughing from the dizzy, happy sensation that had come over me, but I just wanted to turn around and run back on for more! Usher sang it right, I wanted more. It was awesome. Seriously, I just want to be on it right now.

You must check out your local carnival and see if they have this ride. I actually don’t know if the Gravitron is the proper name for it, or if that’s just what my sister called it, haha, but it is worth every cent of your over-priced carnival tickets!

OOOH I just looked at my pictures and it’s called the Starship! But I’m still calling it the Gravitron.

 

Day 165: Midnight movie premiere: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II

July 15, 2011

I was sitting in my car, frustrated and determined to find a parking spot that was near the theater. No way was I going to walk across the entire Promenade with a jagged scar on my forehead. And with my luck, the fast walk in the heat would cause forehead sweat which, in turn, would cause my scar to drip down my face. Oh, wait… did you think I meant a real scar? No, this scar was the product of eye liner and some serious Harry Potter-picture concentration. I was getting ready to attend the premiere of the latest and last fixture in the Harry Potter series: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II. I had been anticipating this night for weeks now, and had come almost 2 hours early to pick up my tickets and beat the traffic rush. Yes, I would find a parking spot in this lot.

Someone finally decided their stomach was full enough, and was leaving a restaurant near the theater. I triumphantly snagged the spot.

As I approached the theater, I couldn’t believe what my eyes were seeing. Wizards and Harry Potters had taken over the promenade! And, wait a second, you have got to be kidding me. The local 69 News Station is here?

I quickly summed up the enormity surrounding this movie. I mean, sure, I like Harry Potter, but I would never have paid $15 dollars to see it in theater or drawn on my face were it not for my blog. Apparently, I was surrounded by people whose feeling were a bit stronger than mine. OK, 500,000,000 times stronger than mine. There were at least 200 people waiting in a line in front of the theater. My heart sank. This was going to take forever to get these tickets and get in. And then I noticed that all these people were roped off in a section that read “12:30 IMAX”. Oh phew! Those people were all waiting for a different showing, a later one then my own 3D 12:01 showing. As I walked past them, a realization hit me: If the fans waiting outside the theater were for a later showing, then where were the fans for my earlier showing??

As I stepped up to the ticket counter, and for a second was surprised that there wasn’t much of a line at all for tickets. Then I realized that like me, everyone had bought these tickets the hour they went on sale a week ago. I talked to the guy behind the counter and my worries  had come true. They had let everyone into the theaters for the 12:01 showings already. He said people were lined up at 5. AT FIVE! (I would gladly wait in line for much longer if I were to see Harry Windsor, but Harry Potter? No.) Well, this was just not good. Two of my friends who met me there went in to try to save us some seats, and I waited for the other 2 friends I was meeting, fully entertained by the crazed fans around me and the costumes they were in. The funny thing was that the workers at the theater seemed totally un-phased by it. I was just laughing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While I was waiting, I kept getting texts from my friends saving seats. Good news was she found some together. Bad news was, she wasn’t going to be able to stand against the angry and disapproving stares for long. We needed to come fill those seats asap. I was getting nervous at this point, feeling very rushed and panicked, but I didn’t know why! All the commotion and excitement around me was taking over!

Fifteen minutes later, the five of use were all in our seats, safe and sound… well, except for the fact that we were surrounded by crazies. We now had to wait an hour for the movie to start. Fortunately for us, our theater buddies kept us well entertained. And fortunately for you, I got some on video.

This made me laugh. This just made made me feel bad for the girls with no life.

Finally the movie started. By this point, I was so, so excited to see it. I had watching the two HP movies leading up to this one in the two days before, and was so glad that I didn’t have to wait any longer to see the final one.

Too bad I’m not going to tell you what happens. But, I will tell you that it was AWESOME. I’m not a huge fan of 3D movies, but this one was totally great. I felt like I was right there, battling it out against Lord Voldemort.

Towards the end of the movie, when all the big action happened, the whole theater would cheer or boo or laugh at all the right moments. It was great. The clapping at the end, I thought would never stop, and when the lights came back on, I found myself laughing all over again at the costumes. I had momentarily forgotten that I was sitting among wizards and elves and Potters, until they all starting getting up out of their seats.

When we walked out, I was in for another surprise. Getting out was almost as hard as getting in! The halls were packed with people waiting in lines outside every theater for the next showings. We pushed through the crowd and I shouted ‘Hey’s to different people that I knew. We were like one big, happy, harry family.

I'll admit- I did love the Harry Potter glasses!

 

 

 

 

Day 161: The VAST

July 13, 2011

Tonight, I attended my first coalition meeting. I wasn’t anxious about it at all, because this meeting was also the coalition’s first meeting. The VAST coalition is “The (Lehigh) Valley Against Sex Trafficking”. It’s co-founders are my sister, Bec, and a friend of ours also from the valley, Heather.

Human trafficking is one of the most horrendous acts that is going on in the world today, and when I say “world”, I don’t just mean far away countries and I don’t just mean big tourist cities. I mean all over the world. Even in your town. The Lehigh Valley is no exception.

I was pleasantly surprised when over 20 people were at The VAST’s first meeting. I had had my doubts. I was even more surprised to see that there were a few men there! This shouldn’t have surprised me, but it did.

Anyways, instead of telling you all about the details of the meeting (there were some pretty interesting characters there!), I just want to give you some information about The VAST and urge you to look into how you can make yourself and your community aware and active in this fight.

VAST (Valley Against Sex Trafficking) is a united movement dedicated to resist the spread of the human trafficking in our Lehigh Valley, PA region and world, to remove its demand and to ensure care and restoration for its victims.

The mission of VAST is “to unite and empower individuals towards awareness, prevention, action, and aftercare efforts in eradicating sex trafficking and exploitation in our communities.”

The next meeting for VAST is September 12 at 7 p.m. at the Truth For Women office in Bethlehem, PA

If you have not before been aware of or knowledgeable on the subject of human trafficking, I urge you to become so. Here is a video If you live in the Lehigh Valley and want to become connected with VAST, you can speak with me or email “thevalleyast@gmail.com”. If you are not in the Lehigh Valley, look into the resources and organizations in your area. It is so important to reach out and help the men, women, and children in need.

Day 146: Cult Classic VW car show

June 27, 2011

I would love to be able to say that I am a car fanatic and that I know and appreciate them, but I can’t. I mean, I am capable of saying that, but it would be a lie. I really don’t know anything when it comes to cars except that my toyota, Lucy, is sitting out in the driveway right now with what is probably an empty oil tank. (I actually need to go remedy that now before I forget like I have the past 5 days, seriously… one second)

OK, she’s happy. So back to my lack of knowledge about cars. I have never gone to a car show because a) I’ve never waned to, and b) even if I did, I wouldn’t know how to find one or who to go with or what to do once I’m there.

Lucky me, I had a perfect opportunity to change that. Today I went to a Cult Classic VW car show. And it was beautiful.

My friend, Josh, is the owner of Nothing Leaves Stock, a custom car shop in Coopersburg, and is a lover of VW cars. For the past few years, NLS has been hosting a Cult Classic VW car show, and this year, it was bigger than ever. Not only were there hundreds of cars, but there was good food, music, sports, prizes, sponsors’ booths, and a dunk tank with proceeds going towards a family who needs medical financial help for their little boy. If you’re thinking that this car show sounds awesome, you’re right. It was awesome.

When I pulled into the lot, I felt immediate embarrassment over the dirty Toyota (that is missing a hubcap) I was driving. I made a quick exit so as not to be associated with it. I have never had enough pride in my car to motivate me to keep it super clean on the outside, but I was now wishing I had scrubbed every nook and cranny before coming. Almost every car in sight was a VW, washed, waxed and blinged-out! It was beautiful! (And I’m not even a huge fan of VWs! Oops- sorry, Josh!)  There were so many cars lined up in rows, spread over the field that I just stood there, not sure where to begin. I didn’t even know that many VWs were in the area! (I later found out that there were 350+ cars registered- and that doesn’t include all the VWs parked in the lot!)

My next observation was the people. They were just as interesting as the cars. Crazy tattoos, hair spiked and ‘hawked, chains, gages… you name it, they had it. I was quickly starting to realize that VW drivers are a subculture of their own. And I loved it!

I started talking to my friend, Arlene, who was running the registration booth, and she asked me if I could help vote on the cars. Vote on the cars?! I thought she was crazy, and wasted no time in telling her that I new nothing- nothing– about VWs. “Oh no, we just need some women to vote for the car they think is the prettiest.” Bingo! Now that changes things, doesn’t it? This was right up my alley, and I quickly agreed and headed out to find me a beauty. I had it narrowed down to 4, then 3, then 2: one was an old shiny lime green truck (it was so small it looked like a toy!), and the other was a black convertible with beige interior and gold and silver rims. It was a tough decision, but in the end I picked the convertible. It was slightly reminiscent of my dream car (a 1968 Pontiac Firebird convertible- just in case anyone wants to buy me one)… sort of. I almost picked this other car that was semi-pretty just because the kid who owned it was still shining it up with a rag (as if it could get any shinier), but the convertible won out. (I’m so mad I forgot to take a picture of it!)Feeling very official, I handed my vote over to Arlene and headed towards the dunk tank.

Overall, the car show was a blast. I actually enjoyed the cars! I even learned some VW vocab! The weather was great, the food and games a hit, hundreds of people had a wonderful time, a family in need was helped, beautiful cars were enjoyed… yea, I’d say it was Coopersburg’s event of the year. At least until next year’s show!

This is an update! The owner of the convertible “La Bety” that I voted to win contacted me, and here is a link to a picture of the car! Thank you, Jose!

Day 142: The Plaza Grower’s Market (and Downtown Allentown)

June 22, 2011

All my life I’ve lived on the edge of Allentown, the city that might be most known from Billy Joel’s hit, “Allentown”, and yet I have never spent much time downtown. Take away my trips to the Baum School of Art, Crocodile Rock Cafe, and the Symphony Hall, and all you’ve got is a handful of visits to friends and some happen-stance trips resulting from getting lost.

Downtown Allentown hosts a lot of really cool events and there always seems to be something to do. One such thing is the Plaza Grower’s Market that is held every Wedne- wait a minute… today is Wednesday! Exactly. Can you see where I’m going with this?

I figured that if I was going to make the trip over there and put money in a meter, I might as well add a few more dimes and nickels and explore a bit. But first it was off to the market!

I’m a sucker for live music outdoors. It just draws me in and makes me feel so happy. So it’s no surprise that, when I round the street corner the market’s on and hear live music, I practically run into the next few people and cars, not paying attention to my surroundings.

The market was smaller than I had hoped. I spoke with one of the vendors there and she told me that it’s still picking up for this season. I looked over the tables laid with vegetables and fruits, honeys and incense, and teas galore. I wasn’t hungry at the moment so none of the food called my name (I’m finally learning to not go shopping when I’m hungry:)), but the tea vendor definitely did. I don’t like hot drinks, but I will drink black tea or iced green tea every now and then, and my mom and sisters really like tea, so I thought I would get some. There was only one problem- I couldn’t choose between them all! I narrowed my options down, and finally stood with two teas in my hand; a black Scottish breakfast tea and a green tea I couldn’t pronounce, but the label looked exotic. In my effort to push off deciding, I started to look at everything else (I always catch myself doing this), and a shelf filled with tea accessories caught my eye. Sitting on top was a cute loose-leaf tea strainer for a tea pots! It even had a little tea cup as the charm on the end of the chain. I immediately remembered my sister, Susanna, was going to get a whole new tea pot with a built-in strainer because she had loose-leaf tea, and decided this was the best solution to her problem. I simultaneously scooped it off the shelf and dropped the tea bags back on the table. Problem solved.

I then started to walk down the street, looking at the random mix of stores, cafes, and businesses. Most seemed to be getting run-down and I envisioned what this city must have looked like 20 years ago. I was thinking of turning around to go back to my car, when a window display of shoes and a sale sign across the street got my attention. I love shoes!

I made a bee-line towards the store, this time remembering to watch for people and cars, and ten minutes later walked out of the store with a new pair of shoes in my hand. I’m a sucker for shoes. (This last part was nothing new in my life. I’m always looking for sales and always buying shoes.)

When I got back to my car, the meter was just running out and I headed home with a happy smile.