Clones

No, not Star Wars. lol I’m curious why so many gay men have an issue with couples that look similar to each other or are “clones.” This is not a new phenomenon but I stumbled across several examples in the last few weeks. Some of the commentary was downright vicious and got my curiosity going.

On some level I guess people assume both are extreme narcissists, so of course they are into clones of themselves. And for some that may be true. Unfortunately, a lot of the couples I see targeted rarely seem to fit the mold. They often have one or two similar features that set it off. I actually rarely see couples where the guys are similar enough to the point of looking like brothers or cousins.

One couple on FB broke up and the side commentary was pretty nasty. The only thing they really seemed to have in common was lots of very dark body hair and beards. This gave them a very similar look but only at a very superficial glance.

On IG, there was a story floating around about a couple that was fighting because one was cheating with another guy. The cheater and the other guy were both naturally smooth looking and had blond hair in a similar style.1 And the queens were just downright vicious with some of the clone comments. I guess in this example it could have been an extension of anger over the cheating.

I like a lot of the physical traits I have in others. While I’ve never dated anyone who would be considered my clone, so what if I did? And science tends to think that people who gravitate toward others with similar physical traits is quite normal. I found no less then 3 different peer reviewed studies on the subject doing a few quick Google searches.2

Do gay guys feel threatened or deprived because they feel a sort of unfairness is involved? Is it jealousy? Why does it seem to invoke such a visceral reaction? Why the hell do you care!? If two people are happy, and they happen to be look-a-likes, then leave them alone or support their happiness. Don’t be a caddy bitch.

  1. Forgetting for a moment, no one wants to see or hear your dirty laundry aired out on social media. []
  2. Notice I said “peer-reviewed”, not someone’s blog rants like mine! heehee []

Follow?

I get so tickled at some of the games people play on social media. If you use Instagram (IG) at all, I’m sure you’ve seen the “follow for follow” or “unfollow = unfollow” comments in profiles.

Bitch, if I unfollow you I don’t really care if you unfollow me. I ain’t following you anymore so why would I care? lol This happens because ‘follows’ have become a bit of a game where scam profiles (or even legit ones) follow a bunch of other accounts in the hopes of quickly gaining followers. Once you follow them, they often unfollow you. Since IG doesn’t display this you technically don’t know they have unfollowed you. Having a lot of followers on IG is like being rich in monopoly money. Why I certainly enjoy when I get new followers, much like my blog, it is not my purpose. I go out of my way to track and block fake accounts.

It all panders to our insecurities and need for approval. Bitch, I tackled those demons years ago. As Bianca would say, “Not today, Satan! Not today!” lol1

I only like to follow folks that interest me in someway. To be frank, I follow a lot of muscle guys for motivation to get my ass in the gym. I typically follow guys that are bigger than me but not huge. I honestly don’t find huge guys attractive or motivational. At some point, you just look gross IMO.2 Of course, like most homos, I follow accounts of guys I’m attracted to as well. So you can see my IG is pretty shallow most days. lolol And I’m ok with that because it serves a purpose without really impacting me in a way I find detrimental. I don’t obsess over guys I consider more attractive. Nor do I put myself down because I haven’t reached a fitness goal that nears perfection. I already know I’ll never reach that level and don’t plan to.3 I use the profiles/pics for motivation to remind me to get my lazy ass to the gym. And yes, the occasional stimulation doesn’t hurt none either. heehee

If you follow me there, you know most of my posts are selfies from the gym, trips, and dogs. That about sums it up. You might get inspired, bored, or neither. That is ok cause I on there for me. I appreciate comments and likes but I don’t go out of my way to capture the ‘perfect selfie’. Most of time, it is very spur of the moment pics.

Besides, does anyone really need hundreds of thousands or even tens of thousands of followers? Who could possibly keep up with that? Not me. I’m get tired just scrolling thru all the bulldog profiles!

  1. Speaking of, going to see her on 11.15.19, can’t wait! []
  2. And don’t go getting triggered. I ain’t “yuck-ing your yum”, I just don’t like it for myself. []
  3. It is way too much damn work for one. []

Bias

If you know me, you know I talk about personal bias a lot. Everyone has biases. It is a natural process as humans grow. As our morals (or lack thereof) are shaped thru our environment and our brains learn to label things, bias is inevitable. But, we also have something called logical reasoning. This allows us to recognize and potentially overcome our biases when they are wrong or misguided. That is, if we chose to examine our feelings or try to separate our bias from facts.

In society today, bias rules supreme on social media. IMO it is one of the single largest failings of “social media”. It has allowed people to isolate themselves from opposing opinions or anyone who disagrees with xyz topic. It also allows folks to reach out and find others who think in similar terms, which only serves to reinforce one’s bias.

Sadly, this has lead us to the ‘fake news’ era and a flat out unwillingness of people to believe facts. Don’t even get me started on the never ending fake sites that pop up alleging malicious acts or crimes against persons they are against. The rise in anti-intellectualism stems from an unwillingness to let go or overcome one’s own bias.

And this brings me to my rant today. You can’t call yourself a moral, christian, or even a good person when you ignore facts in favor of bias. When you simply decide “I do not believe that” in favor of bias, then you are not in fact a moral, christian, or even a good person. Faith in an idea, person, or even religion should be dependent on denying truth. As a moral or ethical person, you should care about truth above biases, even your own. More importantly, you should be willing to challenge your own bias to see if it is grounded in fact or fiction.

D2

I’m still playing Destiny 2. I keep threatening to give it up as they really botched this game disc by getting greedy. It seems common sense (or the expanding community backlash) has prevailed to a degree and they are bringing back some of the core functions in the upcoming DLC (DownLoadable Content)) they left out from disc 1. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t blame Bungie for trying to squeeze dollars out of the game but they went way overboard and people in general were pissed. Daily users dropped dramatically and haven’t really picked back up anywhere near the levels they were in D1.

This week, they released a sort of free mini to everyone that has me scratching my head as well. If you’ve never played, the game is setup so they can randomly add special challenges based on holidays, special occasions or the like. They usually run several months. This one only runs from this week until roughly the end of August. (The new DLC drops September 4th.) This by itself wouldn’t be a problem except the challenges require a lot of grinding (like a lot). So much so, I probably won’t even bother. If I’m lucky, I can squeeze in about 6-8 hours a week, including weekends. It seems counter productive to release a new series of challenges to complete for gear to raise your light level that you’ll never see because you won’t have time to finish even half of them. That or they’ll be obsolete when the new DLC hits as your maximum light levels will go up again. (Light level is basically how strong your player is. The higher the light level, the stronger the player)

I had planned to skip the new DLC a few months ago. This would have pretty much meant the end of the game for me. My interest in the game has drifted off and I barely complete the weekly goals as it is. However, the new DLC got rave reviews, even from some of the harshest critics, and after reading up on it, I buckled and pre-ordered it. We’ll see how it goes. I’m cautiously optimistic. There are so many little things I miss about the mechanics from D1, I’m hoping it revives my love for the game. If not, I’ve got a shit ton of games in my queue to get to. I’m also currently working on Far Cry 5, Fallout 4, and replaying Destroy all Humans.1  A bitch has things to do so Bungie better get their act together. heehee

 

  1. Corny old school PS3 game ported to PS4 recently. []

Don’t Give Up

One of the sadder parts of my job this time of year is the increase in suicides. People get extra lonely and/or their demons ramp up because of the apparent isolation of the holiday season. I’ve been there myself so I always take these calls to heart. I’m not currently on the dispatch floor; however, I had to pull one for court recently. It made me so sad to hear the person feeling so alone. He was straight but it didn’t matter. His pain was once my pain and it touched me to my core. *I’m feeling a bit long-winded today. Grab some caffeine!*

I’m sad to say it but many of these wounds are often self-inflicted. And I say that not as a judgement. Much of my pain from back in the day was my own doing. And while you’d never have known it to see me, holidays were absolute torture. And I inflicted it upon myself over and over again every year. I wouldn’t wish that sort of pain on my worst enemy. It is my hope that my sharing struggles and how I survived it will help others.

*

When I put myself on my journey to discover myself, I developed a few axioms to live my life by. Psychologists often teach us to put reminders in our daily lives to overcome our personal conflicts. For me, it turned into blogging. My blog became my therapy. And thru it, I posted my new found axioms (at the time) in the ‘about’ section here for many years as a daily reminder to myself.

  • What you think of me is really none of my business.
  • No one can make you feel inferior without your permission.
  • Be the type of man you’d like to date.
  • Treat others the way you want to be treated.

These are still a big part of my life. They are the foundation of much of my personal growth over the last 25 years. If you are feeling down, sad, worthless, or unloved, these apply to you. Dear soul, you are not alone. So many of us go thru it. Some of us overcome it, some of us avoid it by maintaining unhealthy relationships or setting standards so high no one can ever measure up, some of us deny it, and some of us just suffer thru it. Regardless of where you are, know that I understand 100%. I’ve been there.

It took many years of working on myself to overcome it. Here is my best advice to help you overcome it. But, and it is a very big but1 to overcome. You have to face yourself and be brutally honest. This simple step will stop everything if you can’t do it. If you can then:

What you think of my is none of my business. It takes a bit of time to wrap your head around this one. Many of our internalized insecurities we inflict upon ourselves. Primarily because of how we think others see us or how we think others want to see us. We twist ourselves into pretzels trying to avoid negative views or stereotypes. The reality is you have to let go of that. Modeling your image after what you think others want you to be will just make you miserable. And you’ll never live up to it because this idea is different from person to person. Or, you will mold yourself into an image so constrained by the view of others you will be even less happy. This is a dangerous path to go down. Instead, just let it go. Focus on what you think. Your opinions, ideas, and thoughts matter. You matter. Don’t worry if someone doesn’t like xyz-thing about you. Focus on making yourself happy. Focus on what you think and believe. This all might sound kind of trite but it will bring power to your struggle, and with power comes confidence!

No one can make you feel inferior without your permission. Happiness within is something only you have control over. If someone tries to put you down, shame you, or otherwise be negative, you have to agree or ‘let them’ make you feel a certain way. If you didn’t believe it yourself, it wouldn’t matter. When you reach a point where you are happy within, this one becomes much easier. You find other people’s projections onto you roll away. Stop focusing on what others think of you and focus on what YOU think of you.

I was fortunate enough to realize I wasn’t happy with myself in my late 20’s. I was even more fortunate to realize I didn’t hate myself so much as I didn’t love myself. I felt woefully inadequate and insecure. Childhood mental/physical traumas left me feeling utterly worthless and undeserving of love. This drove me to believe love was all I needed in my life to “fix” me. I desperately wanted to be loved so being loved would fix everything right? Wrong.  I could post several novels worth of text from my old written journal of me lamenting this.

And when things didn’t work out with someone, I always felt something was wrong with me. Anytime someone rebuffed or ignored my interest it was back to being unworthy in my mind. I stayed in unhealthy relationships out of fear of being alone. These were and are self-inflicted wounds. And they don’t just go away. They become set pathways in our brains. We have to fight to overcome and change them daily. Examine the moments that make you sad when engaging with others, be it in person, online, etc. Find you trigger and examine why you think that way and then work on changing it. It is a slow painful process. It will bring up even more self-loathing until you finally break the cycle.

Listen to my words. Stop focusing on what you need from someone else and start focusing on yourself. It took me years of continual effort changing small behaviors and examining my triggers to do it. Honestly, I didn’t even realize I had until well after the fact. It just sort of snuck up on me. And even then, some of my new found “adulting” made me an enabler for others. I had to then break thru that as well. It isn’t an easy process but it is beyond words worth it.

Be the man (or woman) you’d like to date. I know for many of us in the LGBT umbrella, loneliness and a sense of belonging are severely lacking.2  Ironically, it dawned on me once while a previous boyfriend who I’d remained friends with was at dinner with me ranting and railing about ‘where have all the good men have gone‘.  I finally got so annoyed I just blurted out, “why don’t you focus on being a good man first!”  He wasn’t amused to say the least. However, that moment was more of an epiphany for me than him. I felt many of the things he wined about. At least he was detoxing by getting it all out.

As part of the struggle to actually be a man you’d like to date, you will discover you become a better man. Until you let go of the idea that someone or something else is needed to ‘fix’ you, you will never over come this. You will continually get into codependent relationships that feed on your insecurities. I know from experience! I spent so many years torturing myself with ‘if onlys’. If only I could find a man to love me. If only I could be more masculine. If only I could be more attractive. If only, if only, if only, if only…  It never ends!

When you finally start living for you, not for what’s missing, you’ll find the better man is less of a focus and that yearning for a ‘fix’ will dissipate. You might still want a partner in crime and then again you might not. Either way, the idea will shift from being unhealthy and painful to a healthy pursuit of a life goal.

You might also be pleasantly surprised that more men will be into you. We are innately drawn to confidence in others, romantic or platonic. When you tackle this and overcome it, your natural confidence will increase and I guarantee you others will notice.

Treat others the way you like to be treated. This is routinely known as the golden rule. And it is. How you treat others should be more important to you than how others treat you. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t to imply you should let people treat you poorly. However, when this becomes a mantra, you find it reinforces the first one above. You cannot control the actions of others. You can control YOUR actions. Being a better man doesn’t mean always being right. This is a painful lesson in the gay community. A big one for me revolved around the sexual conquest that is so much a part of being male. In our carnal or romantic pursuits, we tend to value others we see as less-attractive less. This lends to treating them poorly or as unworthy. This is one of many examples. I mention it because it touched me personally. Your struggle here might be different.

*

These four little phrases drastically changed my life. I still strive to live by them. And I don’t always succeed. But like any goal, it is the struggle to get there that gives it meaning. You are struggling this year, reach out to those closest to you. Even if they don’t understand, they can listen. They can help YOU get it off your chest. Just the act of admitting it out loud can be therapeutic. It doesn’t have to be family, it can be a friend, a coworker, or an old booty call you connected with. If not, call a local hotline. A quick google search will give you help. Don’t let it beat you. You are worthy.  If this once utterly broken soul can do it, so can you.

If you made it thru my rant, I wish you love, warmth and happiness.

And as always, hope springs eternal….

  1. hardy har-har. pun intended. []
  2. And let us not forget the folks who deliberately feel alienated by the stereotypical view of our community. This angst is also self-inflicted. []

Old Gay & the Gym

Someone asked me the other day1 if I thought going to gym was a waste of time since I “clearly wasn’t ripped” and I’m getting older. I originally thought the person was just trying to get in a jab out of some misplaced shortcomings. Then I got to wondering if other gay guys really think that way.

First, I don’t go to the gym to get ripped. I go to keep myself in shape. And while I tend to fall off the wagon from time to time, I don’t see that as a failure. I don’t live for the gym. It isn’t my sole focus. And my own shortcomings, be it laziness or my schedule, are part of the equation. I don’t have an expectation I always have to be at my fittest or that others have to constantly validate my attendance with compliments. If you’re going to the gym for any of those reasons, you’re doing it wrong! I gave that up in my mid 20’s.

To answer the main question, I do not feel going to the gym is ‘wasted’ because I’m not ripped. I don’t want to be ripped. That has never been my goal. I like to eat way too much to ever get to that level. I’m ok with that. I go to the gym, regardless of my current weight set, to stay in shape. I get lazy, complacent, or just willful at times and don’t go. I always seem to gravitate back though. I like how I feel after a hard workout. And as much as a bitch and moan about cardio, I’m getting used to it. I like feeling in shape and fit.

As for my age, I don’t see that as a deterrent.  If anything, it motivates me more. Study after study after study has shown that working out prolongs your health and life into old age. Is it a silver bullet? Of course not. However, if it helps me stay active and healthy longer, I’m all for it.

On a totally narcissistic view, I hate droopy skin. Lawd baby jeebus help me stave it off as long as possible! I’m not kicking anyone as it eventually comes to us all, but I hope to avoid it as long as I can. Call it one of my few vanities.2  And don’t even get me started on the flabby booty. Oh, hell naw!

Joking aside, I hope no one reading this thinks they are too old to go to the gym or that it isn’t worth it because they can’t achieve perfection.

 

  1. rather sarcastically I might add []
  2. I have no idea if I’m using that word right, but I’m too lazy to look it up right now. []

Eating Habits

I need to get my eating under control. Ugh! I eat out way too much and it is showing on my waistline. I don’t eat fast food as much as just eating out.

While on vacation last week, I ate like a pig. I’ve been hitting the gym consistently but with my eating habits, it shouldn’t really surprise me I haven’t lost any weight. And while I’m not overweight in the traditional sense, I am too heavy for my own comfort. I feel like a fat-ass.

Part of my problem is I procrastinate on weekends about doing my meal prep. I have almost no free time during the work week so if it doesn’t get done on the weekend, it doesn’t happen. This last weekend I was pretty good since I didn’t have an excuse. I got all my meal prep ordered, delivered, and prepped. Of course, due to the holiday, it is also a short work week for me. haha1  Since Shawn works Friday’ when I’m off, I really have no excuse for not getting it done. Well, no excuse except laziness!

*

On a related tangent, I’ve been asked a few times if I’m “ok” or “how I’m doing” in the sense of being depressed. I do not get depressed over being unhappy with my body. One, I’m usually just not prone to depression. Two, I’m not that far outside my range to get too down on myself. I chastise and scold myself but I also keep it focused to my procrastination, not my self-worth. I so rarely get down on myself these days. Overall, my life is damn good and it would be selfish and a bit self-absorbed to let such little things overwhelm my sense of self.2  There are so many bigger more important things to focus on. And at the end of the day it isn’t anyone’s fault but my own. If I want to change it, it is up to me to get it done. So, as a clarification, when I rant here about my failures I am doing so based on the best perspective I can have in relation to my well-being.

  1. The struggle is real, yo! []
  2. Please don’t misunderstand this as a belittlement of those who suffer from clinical depression. Completely different beast. []

United We Stand

So I’ve gotten more than a few questions about my opinion on the whole United debacle. I relented and commented on a few FB friend’s posts regarding it. I say relented because I pretty much avoid FB for anything other than fun chat and dog videos. It has become too toxic and successful discourse is rarely possible anymore. 

Anyway, how do you think I feel? I’m appalled. The idea that a passenger who paid full fare for a ticket can be physically yanked off a plane for overbooking is reprehensible. I don’t care if it was United Express (contracted by United). I don’t care that it was a security official not an actual United employee who did the beating/dragging. I don’t care that it’s in the fine print a paying customer can be booted off a flight for virtually any reason. Greed should not be more important that humans.1  I don’t care about all the reasons why he could have complied. This person paid full-fare to board a plane and fly home. It is not his fault the flight was overbooked out of the misplaced idea that profit is more important than good service. None of that matters. We should all be appalled at the very idea this can be allowed.  And lastly, I don’t care another flight might have been delayed or *gasp* other people might have been inconvenienced. You know what?  Sometimes we get inconvenienced. The world does not revolved around our personal bubble of existence. There were plenty of better ways to handle this. 

Don’t get it bent, I’m not dragging out the lynch mob torch for United just yet. Frankly, I think people are missing the forest for the trees here. This could just as easily have happened on any airline. United just ended up being the unlucky beneficiary. I know many United employees (from the both the old Continental and United) who are very dedicated to their jobs and I’m sure many of them are struggling to fend off drama from both sides right now. And being a long time Southwest customer, I can tell you first hand they routinely kick people off flights. All major airlines have the same or similar policy. The big picture here is how many people feel it was perfectly justified. It was NOT ok. And the fallout witch hunt to demean and degrade the victim aftewards was just as disgusting. When your moral code justifies physically dragging a paying customer of a plane to avoid inconveniencing someone else, perhaps you should re-examine your sense of morality. That is the real tragedy IMO. 

Our society is crumbling around us bit by bit. Greed, anti-intellectualism, and personal indifference are destroying our sense of right and wrong. I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it as long as I have breath to say it. The one good thing out of this debacle is the outrage was so bad I’m pretty sure no airline will ever try this again. Maybe we’ll see some good reforms put in place to ensure something we used to take for granted would never happen will actually never happen again. Either way, I’m sure everyone will have forgotten all about it next week when the next faux scandal comes along.  

  1. Notice I said ‘should not be’ vs ‘isn’t. This clearly demonstrates it’s past tense now. []

How to Respond? 

An interesting situation presented itself to me recently. Not too long after I moved to SF, I was flirting with a guy online I had seen at the gym and around town several times. In my view he was damn near perfect. Perfect is always a subjective term but he definitely turned my crank.  Now keep in mind, this was pre-mobile app world and even before blogging. Hehehe  Anyway, he went out of his way to demean me and attempted to shame me for assuming I was at his level. At the time, I was still pretty dysfunctional and while I didn’t let him know it, his comments hurt my feelings pretty bad. I still had such low self-worth back then and it just fed into my compulsive behavior and insecurities.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago, he literally  runs into me at the gym, and clearly not realizing who I was, proceeds to put the moves on me pretty hard. How should one respond to that? How would you have responded?

*

Before I give my actual response, let me step back for a second. I’m not the man I was back then. I’ve found myself. I’ve struggled for sure but gone are the days where such comments would even phase me. While I certainly recovered from his slight, it did give me enough pause at the time to wonder if I had made a mistake in moving to SF.

Besides the internal changes I’ve made over the years, I’ve also packed on quite a few pounds of muscle from those days. Maybe that’s why he’s sudden change of “heart.”?  Honestly, the why doesn’t really concern me. And in the simple act of realizing I don’t need to know what changed his mind, I was given an affirmation of my struggle. An affirmation to the near death of my crippling insecurities from those days. And I know I’ve posted several times over the last couple years about my random affirmations or epiphanies. I think there is a deep part of my id that refuses to accept my transformation. A tiny seed of doubt is still there. And because I recognize it, I stay vigilant against it ever growing into anything more than a seed.

*

At that moment, a lot of things ran thru my head pretty quickly. I admit a tiny part of me was tempted to say yes. I mean I am an opportunist after all, and he is still pretty hot in my eyes Heehee  But My first thoughts were “why now?” And then my second thought was “why do I care why now?” That spawned an idea to test the waters so to speak. I declined his advance and began to walk away. As I did, I heard him mutter, “your loss.”  I wasn’t even tempted to reply or act as if I’d heard his obvious barb. I just kept walking and went back to my workout.

A few things occurred to me as I walked away. One, he clearly hasn’t grown or changed since the first time we met. Two, the potentially delicious joy of rubbing his face in it after we’d hooked up would have been more about revenge than attraction. And three, I felt a great swell of pity for him. He is trapped by his own insecurities and his protective coping mechanisms are crippling him much like mine did to me. The problem is as he ages those protective acts/thoughts won’t hold up to the harsh realities around him.

Straight Dude

Ugh, I’m so over our every increasing need to make straights into secret gays. Every day there is some new tag-line or nonsense story about “straight dudes having gay sex but they are totally straight, gay for pay, brojobs, on the DL, straight but curious, etc”. It’s all nonsense. 

Newsflash! If you’re having gay sex, regardless of the reasons, you aren’t entirely straight. Our sensationalist style media doesn’t help either. They know coining it this way leads to more ad-clicks. Greed is king.  But calling yourself “straight” or performing linguistic gymnastics doesn’t change the truth. If you’re putting your cock in another dude, for any reason including money, you’re a “little bit gay.” Society may help you repress or ignore it but it’s still there.
To quote Gore Vidal, “Trust a nitwit society like this one to think that there are only two categories — gay and straight1  Our genetics makes us incredibly varied in our forms and behaviors. Why we cling to this idea that we can only be gay or straight is beyond me, especially now. Don’t even get me started on the whole straight fetish scene either. I get it, for some it is the allure that ‘straight’ dudes are somehow more masculine. Whatever pops your cork, but don’t for a minute think you are fooling anyone.

To be fair, we do see more folks admitting they are sexually fluid these days, Sexually fluid is just another term for being bisexual but if it makes it sound nicer, who am I to argue? 

It is natural for us to label things and people. Labels help our brains process and identify our reality. It makes everything “more real” in our minds. However, we also have something called logic and reason. Don’t fall for these silly attempts at pretense. Own it. Be your most authentic self. And don’t fall for the idea you have to identify as this or that to feel more accepted. If you’re mostly ‘straight’ but occassionaly like a little d*ck on the side, own it. Don’t pretend a very real part of you doesn’t exist and don’t try to ignore it. Our id will not be ignored. It will come out at some point, and often not in a good way. Be whatever makes you feel happiest and/or the most fulfilled. Don’t fall for these shameful scams at avoiding being labeled gay. It discredits our right to be. There isn’t anything wrong with being gay or straight or anywhere in between. Being gay doesn’t make you less manly or masculine anymore than being straight makes you more so. And if you feel the need to avoid the label, ask yourself why?  It might help you face your own demons. Regardless, we owe it to ourselves not to reinforce these stereotypes. 

/rant 

  1. He actually said “fag” but the quote gets cleaned up from time to time []