17 Nov

I’m going to crawl into a cocoon.

Right now I feel like an ugly and broken caterpillar. Since my breakup I’ve really tried to put myself out there. I’ve been trying to meet people and make new friends. I’ve been doing anything I can to try and keep my greatest fear at bay: Being alone. I haven’t been very successful.

I don’t know when I became so afraid of being alone. I used to not mind it. I used to expect it and sometimes even enjoy it. I guess that’s before I fell in love. Now that that, and everything else is gone, being alone terrifies me. It’s a constant reminder of my pain.

I’ve been desperate to avoid that pain. It’s just too much and it drives me to do things I never thought I’d do. I surprise myself sometimes to the point that I don’t even know myself anymore. Each night has been a mission to not be alone. “Who am I going to see tonight?” becomes the question everyday. Who am I going to see to stave off that feeling of being unwanted, unloved, and alone. That mission would consume me some days. Sending out mass texts to multiple people, hoping someone would bite. I’ve come to see it as a number’s game and I’m playing the odds. Sometimes I’d even spend hours driving to far away cities just to have dinner with someone. Anything not to forget the hurt for an hour or so.

The results: I’ve met a handful of people, two of which have stuck, but I only see them now and then. The rest I never really hear from. I never really hear from anyone nowadays. I reactivated my facebook in order to use an app for meeting people. In the process I cleaned it up to just the people I actually interact with from time to time. As a result, I’ve got about 20 “friends” on facebook, the number of which I actually talk to semi-regularly I can count on one hand. I went through my google/phone contacts today and deleted all but 20 people.

I’ve tried interacting with a lot of people. The result just makes me feel all the more broken and unwanted . I downloaded an app on my phone where people make snap judgments on whether or not to talk to you based on your picture and the only interest I get is from people who are very physically unappealing. My housemate, on the other hand, uses the same app and is regularly juggling several different extremely attractive people. Since the app is based solely on looks and not on personality or charisma, this tells me that I’m not physically appealing in the least. I don’t even get any response from “average” looking girls.

I’ve met with extremely limited success in my efforts to hangout with new people. I’ll be chatting with them, either online, over the phone, or in person, but every time I suggest actually getting together to do something, it all falls flat. Regardless of how long I’ve been talking to them or the situation. Almost nobody wants to hang out with me. It’s like me even showing interest in hanging out with them is a demonstration that I think myself of a lower value then them and thus wish to associate myself with them.

I was never really into the whole “Pickup Artists” thing, but I had a friend once who was. He showed me a lot of things that I still think about from time to time. One of which is the concept of “Higher Value” vs “Lower Value”. Certain things are DHV (demonstration of higher value) and DLV (demonstration of lower value). People naturally want to be higher value and so they seek to associate with people they perceive as higher value. Doing something that is a DLV (in my case asking someone if they would like to hang out) subconsciously shows that you believe yourself to be beneath that person. Instead you’re supposed to do things that DHV, like be busy, make plans and break them, be hard to reach, always have somewhere to be. This will make the other person feel like they have to fight for your attention and will keep them coming to you. I’ve tried that but I can’t even turn people down because nobody asks in the first place.

This tells me that I’m not interesting enough, funny enough, cool enough, etc for people to want to hang out with me in the first place. I try to be all those things. I go on crazy solo adventures across the country, but even that’s not interesting enough for people to want to hang out with me.

And so I quit.

I’m not going to try to meet anyone anymore. I’m not going to put up walls if someone does want to see me, but I doubt that will happen given my previous experiences.

Instead I’m going to crawl into a cocoon.

I’m going to try and focus all my time and energy on myself, for clearly I’m and ugly, uninteresting and broken person.

I’m going to focus on eating right, going to the gym, and getting out of SC asap. (I’ve got a plan in the works for the latter)

I deleted all those social apps from my phone, I’ve closed all my dating site profiles and canceled my memberships.

I’m going to cocoon up and then fly away.

Everything is as it should be in Washington

4 Nov

“Washington is broken!” How long has that phrase been around? It’s a phrase that’s been uttered by activists of all stripes and colors. Well here’s an idea to consider:

Washington isn’t broken. Washington is working just as it is intended to work. The reason you think it’s broken is because you’re operating under the delusion that Washington is supposed to be working for you. It’s not and it doesn’t

Scientists learn about the world around them by making observations. Make an observation of Washington. Ask yourself “Who benefits from the status quo?” Therein lies who Washington serves. You’ll find, for them, Washington is working beautifully.

Someone always benefits from the status quo. Find out who benefits and you find out where the power really lies. (Hint: It’s not with the people)

You can’t play by the rules with the government

14 Jul

I’ve been thinking about laws a lot lately. Laws have been in the news quite a bit recently. Laws about gun control, laws about leaking government documents, heck, when I took a flight on a plane earlier this week I was told about laws prohibiting me from tampering with the smoke detectors.  I think it’s funny how some people think and act with regards to laws. One group of people who really make me laugh are those who think laws somehow stop something from happening; as if laws were some mystical force, or an invisible wall like in a video game. Don’t want something to happen? Make it against the law! Yeah, that’ll stop ’em! Sure that might deter some people from some activities, but if someone is really determined, or just simply doesn’t care, they’re going to do whatever it is you’ve made against the law. Yet here I’m just referring to law and its relation to everyday life in society. What’s really got me thinking about law lately is how it relates to the government.

When I think back to my early days of political activism in high school one memory sticks out. It’s the memory of my US Government teacher. He was once asked what he admired most about America. His responded that what he admired most was the fact that a single ordinary citizen was able to bring the most powerful government on earth to a screeching halt through the use of law. I think in his mind he imagined someone exercising their rights to refuse a search or to keep their home when the government wanted to build a highway. This memory has become one of my sorest and most poisoned points of cynicism.

I feel there are two realms to the law. There is the law as it affects everyday people and their daily lives. For example, laws regarding driving, civil contracts, or when the bars close reside in this realm. The second realm revolves around laws and how they relate to the government. Usually people say things like “Well the government can’t do X because it’s against the law” or “I’d like to Y in order to comply with the law.”  As a specific example, I was in an online forum discussing Julian Assange and his captivity in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. The police there are spending $16,000 a day to make sure he doesn’t leave the embassy. Someone in the forum was asking if there was any legal way for Assange to escape.

When people talk about law in relation to the government I get the impression that they think of it as a kind of game. The government and the person interacting with the government are both players in this game. The law governs what actions the players can and cannot take. The players then try to win the game by using the law to out maneuver their opponent. This could be in the form of a person attempting to avoid jail time or secure the ability to do something the government has tried to stop them from doing. Conversely, the government could use the law to prosecute someone or prevent a group of people from doing something.

I imagine most people conceptualize the law this way. Unfortunately there is a major flaw in this understanding of the law that undermines any chance of fair play:

The government writes the laws.

Imagine you’re trying to play a soccer game where you make your best effort to stay within the lines on the field and not commit any fouls. Now imagine that your opponent is not constricted by those lines and can commit whatever foul they want. The game would seem fixed and it would be extremely difficult to play. Now take it a step further. What if your opponent could actively redefine the lines on the field and what constituted a foul to their advantage? Any chance of a fair play would be impossible! There is no way you could win against that opponent. They have god-mode enabled.

That’s exactly the situation we’re faced with when using the law to interact with the government. Because of this, I can’t help but laugh whenever I overhear someone talking about trying to play by the rules with the government. I feel a lot of people fail to see this because it’s rare that this truth is so nakedly apparent, however, it’s rapidly becoming more apparent every day.

Everything the government does is governed by a cost/benefit ratio. The government can break its own laws at the cost of public disapproval. Historically, the bigger the breach, the bigger the public backlash, yet everything in life is governed by economics.  This ratio, like a currency, is not a fixed value. It fluctuates over time. At some points in time it might be more costly for a government to do a particular thing than at other points in time. For example: In the 1970’s, Nixon was involved in wiretapping the Democratic National Committee headquarters in DC. He was caught and the publish outcry eventually lead him to resign. Nowadays, Obama wiretaps the entire country along with many of our allies oversees and nothing really happens. The cost/benefit ratio of such actions has shifted.

Historically, public backlash against the government has been the force to keep the government in check. Lately, however, I feel this force has been losing its market value. What is causing the devaluation of public outcry? Several factors: public apathy and distraction is the cliche, but nonetheless still a major factor. (On a related side note, Portlandia did an amazing skit here demonstrating this.) Technology is another often overlooked factor. Technology allows the government to be more precise, efficient, and quick in applying its force. Wire-tapping everybody and monitoring everything gives the government better situational awareness and lets them effectively single out potential trouble makers and deal with them quickly. Governments are, after all, self-preserving organisms just like any other. The first law any government always passes is to make it illegal to overthrow the government.

So back to people failing to see this truth because of it rarely being apparent. Why is it rarely apparent and what are some examples of when it is apparent?

What is the difference between a “civil” society with laws and a society where the ruling party often and arbitrarily does whatever it wants? Stability.

Instability is bad for business, and again, everything is about economics. The government could start ruling with an iron fist and start imprisoning people and breaking laws en masse, but the cost of doing that is very high. It quickly lowers the threshold for open rebellion and we often see the outbreak of civil war quite quickly in regimes that resort to these tactics. For the most part, the government might allow itself to be constricted by its own laws for the sake of stability, but the whole point of laws is that, like rights, they’re supposed to be absolute.

If a right is not absolute then it is, by definition, not a right. It’s a privilege allowed to you by some other party, at risk of being revoked should the sentiments of that party change. A law is not a law if it is at risk of being ignored or broken by the government.

Nowadays, there are increasingly times when the government deems the cost of disregarding its own laws tolerable enough to do something that would otherwise be illegal. One example I’ve quoted on here before is the case of Megaupload. Megaupload was a file sharing site that the government, at the behest of powerful Hollywood lobyists, illegally shut down. They were waiting for SOPA, a bill giving them a legal pretense for exercising more control over the internet, to pass before they took down the site. When the bill failed due to public outcry, the government went ahead and took down the website anyways. Your average citizen didn’t know what Megaupload was, nor would they care, so the cost of taking it down illegal was very small. A much more high profile example lately is the government ease dropping on all communications. The NSA records all your phone calls, collects your e-mails, browser history, bank transactions, you name it. This information is collected automatically so it can be examined should you become a person of interest in the future.  The NSA is currently constructing a facility 5 times larger than Washington DC where they will store all this illegally gained information.  Another example is the targeted killings of Americans. (How can you read that sentence and keep a straight face?) There was seriously a discussion in this country a little while back about when it was ok for the president to extra-judicially execute an American citizen. No trial. No jury. No due process. Before that there was a discussion in this country about when the president could torture someone and lock them away in prison for years without a trial. How did the government get around the illegality of this?

Simple. They just rewrote the laws to make it legal.


News flash: “Crazy conspiracy theorists turn out to be right all along!”

8 Jun

So the big news this week is that Obama went to Verizon wireless and demanded phone records. “How many?” Verizon asked. “All of them” Obama replied. In other news to shock the sensibilities of respectable mainstream folk, the government has been working with tech companies to gather massive amounts of information on foreign nationals through a program called PRISM.

Through this program the government is able to retrieve and store e-mails, pictures, video, documents, you name it. They’re also building a massive facility in Utah, five times larger than the capitol, to house all this data. If knowledge is power, then the real seat of the government is in that secret facility in Utah. 

Imagine for a moment that you’re in a scenario where you are able do something ethically wrong and are guaranteed not to be caught. Would you do it?

Obviously the responses you’ll get depend on whom you ask and what the unethical act is but, regardless of those factors, the people who say no are saying so because they feel a sense of moral duty to do the right thing.

Now take that same question and ask the government, a beast that is immoral at its core.* Would you expect the government to do the right thing?

This is exactly the situation we have in front of us. The government has the potential to do something deeply unethical: destroy privacy and freedom by watching everything you do. Without a higher power to punish them and without empathy to guide them, how can we expect a fundamentally immoral creature to do the right thing?** 

We can’t. They say they are only using PRISM to spy on foreign nationals, but nothing is stopping them from turning those same powers in against those they see as internal threats to their existence.*** There will come a day when they are using this powers un-apologetically against their own people. I promise you.

What really infuriates me is how people still buy into this absurd notion that the government is the “good guy” and that you are thus doing the right thing by complying with their laws. A tech podcast I listen to, Security Now, is guilty of this. When talking about privacy and security they are practically tripping over themselves to declare how much they want to be in compliance with the law and help “the good guys” catch the “bad guys.”

What if the government are the bad guys? Just try to imagine it for a moment. What would the implications be? Trusting the government to do the right thing with your privacy and personal freedom is like handing the key to your liquor cabinet to a kleptomanic alcoholic and trusting they won’t drink all your booze. If you do then you’re a fucking idiot and deserve the consequences. 

Also, in regards to everyone being shocked by these new revelations of government abuse, I’ve just one thing I want to say:


I told you so.


*If (A), It is immoral to force your will on another person though violence and (B), A government derives its power from having a monopoly on socially sanctioned violence, then (C) the government has a monopoly on immorality.

** Yes I am brushing up against on the religion/morality thing on purpose. I’m referencing that tired old debate on “does morality come from a higher power.” No, morality comes from empathy and the government is unable to empathize and thus unable to do the right thing. Individual people within the government might be able to empathize, but they are only a small part of a much larger and powerful organism with a collective conscious that is unable to empathize.

*** Historically, as government abuses grow worse, the population becomes more irritated and eventually enraged. The population is then seen as a threat to a government’s power. This coincides with the militarization of the police. The police are “supposed” to protect the people, the military is supposed to protect the state from its enemies. When the police become the military, then the people become the enemies of the state.


Hey old friend, it’s been a while.

15 May

Hey, how’s it going? I’m sorry I neglected you for almost two months. My life’s really been busy over that time. I wanted to make a point of writing something here today because today is the three year anniversary of the roughest day in my life, and I really think I’ve come far. Three years ago today I graduated college and moved down to South Carolina. I won’t bother going over why it was the roughest day in my life, I’ve written why plenty of times here before. I’m long over most of that now, so that’s not really the point. I’m just amazed at how much I’ve changed in those three years; how much my life’s changed.

Back in the start of April I got a new job. I left the old one I was working at, the one I couldn’t stand, and started this new position closer to my house. I’ve been busier than I’ve ever been in my entire life. I regularly work 50 hour+ weeks. Despite all this, I love it. I love it because the people I work with are really amazing and my boss makes me feel valued and important. It’s the first time I’ve ever had job satisfaction like this. I just hope it lasts.

The job has kind of taken over my life for the time being. I was hoping to finish my atheism book by the start of April, but that didn’t happen. The whole project is on hold right at the moment. I have some more certifications I want to get, but I barely have any time when I get home to study. Outside of 1 weekend, I haven’t played any video games in a month. We’re looking at hiring more IT people at my job, and getting new servers, so my life should calm down considerably once that happens.

I’m still dating Kelly. She’s finally finished with her semester now. She’s got one more to go until she graduates! Oh, we planted a garden too:



She and I have been talking, and we’re thinking of getting married after she finishes school in December. We have a lot of the same life goals and values. We’re both atheists who want to move out of the US, travel, and don’t want kids. We really seem to “get” each other and I’d like to have her as a partner on journeys. She’s not too keen though on moving to Australia like I was planning. She made the point that, while it would be fun to visit, it’s a bit like a bigger Texas. Sure it has Melbourne and Sydney (and Perth), but other than that it’s pretty open and barren. I’m fine with that as a single guy, but she was hoping to live somewhere a little more urban and connected while she is still young. That’s fine. I just want out of the US. We can move around later. I’m thinking the most realistic and quickest way out is to Vancouver or Toronto. Personally Canada isn’t my first pick since it’s America lite, but at least they have healthcare.

But this is all stretching a bit. We’re going to finalize plans more as December gets closer. In the mean time my life has just been taking off. Three years ago I had no prospects and no friends. Now I’ve got an exciting job as a system admin (funny because I was running from that for the longest time) and an amazing woman to share life’s ups and downs with.


18 Mar

Before I even start, I want to save us both some time. If you’re thinking about saying anything negative about fasting along the lines of “it’s unhealthy” or “your body just eats muscle” or “you shouldn’t starve yourself” or “you’ll just instantly gain it all back!” don’t bother. Take your self-affirming platitudes and go somewhere else. If I seem defensive and hostile, it’s because I’m tired of running into the same shit over and over again from people who don’t understand and would rather parrot “common knowledge” than actually try to understand.  Because of this I can’t ever really talk about fasting in public. When I am fasting, I have to hide it from people or else get pelted with their bullshit advice and judgements.

Ok, now that that disclaimer is out of the way…

I’m so excited! I just completed my first week long water fast! I had dinner with my folks on Sunday the 10th and we finished around 7pm. From that moment on I started a timer and consumed only water, tea, black coffee, and powerade zero until 7pm Sunday the 17th. Each day I took two doses of  25mg of ephedrine and 200mg of caffeine, along with one multivitamin. The ephedrine and caffeine, known as an EC stack, raised my resting metabolism.

So how did I feel throughout all of this? Amazing! The first two days are a little tough. You get hungry in the normal sense where you’d like to eat something, but I never got the feeling of OMG, I’ve got to consume everything around me!!! I just kept busy and drank water throughout the day. I did not get any headaches, low blood sugar, nor did I feel weak. After day three I stopped getting any physical urge for food. This was extremely liberating. I just went about my day and the idea of eating just became like another chore, but one I didn’t have to do. I went on jogs with the dog, and even did a couple of pull-ups each day.

Previously my record was 4 days. That fast was a lot more difficult because I allowed myself chicken and beef broth throughout. I’ve found that it’s a lot easier if I abstain completely from calories. If I don’t, my digestive system never really goes dormant and it makes everything more difficult. At the end of that fast I made the colossal mistake of breaking it on an all you can eat steak dinner. My digestive system really didn’t like that. This time I’m trying to take it slow with live culture yogurt, soft fruits, and juice. I’ll slowly work my way back up to more solid foods.

This whole thing has provided me with an opportunity at a lifestyle reset. I feel it’s easier to start eating health now that I’m starting from zero. I also reset my portion size. I feel full faster and thus can be happy with much smaller portions.  Weight has always been an issue for me since I graduated high school. Everyone’s body and genetics are different, so what works for one person won’t always work for another. Over the years of trial and error I’ve come to the conclusion that the only thing that really works for me is limiting calories and trying to avoid sugars and carbs. I made my first real losses when I adopted a routine of oatmeal, a granola bar, a cup of tuna, and a small dinner. That was back when I was working my first real job. I cut out the granola bar and lost even more.

When you’re fasting you begin to realize how everything in our society is completely saturated in food. Eating is how we socialize. You’d be hard pressed to go out with friends and not consume something, be it a movie snack or a beer. I drove down to the hardware store the other day and was just amazed by how many places there are to eat. Seriously, look around. Most people never notice it, but you can hardly look in any direction while driving down a main road without seeing a plethora of fast food joints or sit down restaurants. Walk into a store and there’s food everywhere. It doesn’t even have to be a store focusing on food! The hardware store had shelves with soda and candy in the checkout line. It’s no wonder Americans are so obese.

Part of the reason I was successful in this week long fast was because I just removed myself from food as much as possible. My girlfriend was out of town for the week and it was just myself and the dog. I taped the fridge up to remove any temptation to open it (though in reality I never was tempted at any time) and I stayed at work while my coworkers went off to eat. It was impossible for me to lose weight at college and living with my parents because easy food was just there all the time. I was also required to eat when it was the designated time because that’s how we socialized.

Doing my research for this fast was a little challenging. It’s difficult finding good, authoritative sources on what exactly to expect and how to come off the fast. Fasting is unfortunately also associated with a lot of “woo” bullshit new age crap like detox. There are a lot of people out there that buy into this idea that your body is full of “toxins” (whatever that is, it’s never clearly defined) from all the bad genetically modified food we eat and the chemicals we use. To get rid of these nondescript toxins, people fast to detox. It’s all a bunch of bullshit because your body normally gets rid of “toxins” in normal bowel movements and whatever other “toxins” exist are never actually clearly defined in a way that they can be scientifically tested.  It’s the same bullshit as the vague notion of “energy” in new age circles. I had to wade through a lot of this to find good information.

So how did I do on this fast? Well I didn’t check my start weight because I’ve been avoiding going by the scale as a measure of success. Instead I’ve been going by what pant size I could fit in and how I felt physically.  Before my fast I fit in a 40 really comfortably, a 38 snugly, and couldn’t fit in a 36. This was back up from 6 months ago when I fit in a 36 nicely. Well after my fast 40 is loose, 38 is comfortable, and 36 is snug. I did check my weight and I’m back down to 215. The best I ever got at one point was 205, but then I got excited about getting so close to my goal, I fell off the wagon and went right back up. My short term goal is to fit comfortably in a 36 since that’s the size of most of my jeans. Ultimately I’d like to reach a 32, but I’ll be ecstatic if I hit 34.

Where do I go from here? Well I’m considering looking into doing a combination of keto (no sugar/carbs) and IF (intermittent fasting). This will help me keep my calorie intake low and make the calories that I do consume good calories. What I really don’t understand is my willpower. There will be times when I can just decide to make big lifestyle changes and then there are times when I feel like I have no willpower at all. For example: I’ve quit soda for several months now. I just decided one day “Hey, I’m not going to drink soda, not even diet” and I just stopped cold turkey. There will be other times when I’m doing fine and then I see a bag of chocolate and I just think to myself “fuck it” and I demolish the whole thing. I’m really not sure what’s going on with that. I would say that it’s an issue of being presented with temptation, but I’ve been presented with the opportunity to have a soda plenty of times, but I always never feel the urge.

Anyways, that’s something I’ll have to look into, but for the time being, I’m happy and feeling great.

New shoes

11 Mar

Over the past year or so I’ve been becoming more and more interested in male fashion. I feel caring how one looks is part of being an adult and I’d like to project a good image. Dressing better is pretty hard to do and it’s not easy to revamp your entire wardrobe overnight; it’s best if you do it in increments. I started by getting rid of a lot of clothes I never wore, especially after I lost some weight.

I would periodically make trips to department stores and thrift stores, but it was hard to find something when I didn’t have a good concept of what I was looking for. I’d collect inspiration albums of outfits I thought looked really sharp, but often I feel that the outfits look good only because the models wearing them look good. It’s true that if you look good without clothes, you’ll look good with clothes. The opposite is true too: If you look horrible without clothes then there isn’t too much clothes can do to conceal it. Sure there are some things, but generally it’s best to be in shape. I’ve been working on that and my wardrobe at the same time.

One of the best fashion discussion communities I’ve found is the Male Fashion Advice community on reddit. They have lots of really great guides designed to help someone move from just throwing on whatever is in the clean pile to actually dressing like a well put together adult. When you start to learn a little about how clothes should fit and hang on the body, you’ll quickly become aware of just how poorly the majority of people dress themselves. You’ll also start to notice and appreciate those who take the time to do it well.

One of the areas I’ve really wanted to improve upon is footwear. There’s something distinctly American about wearing sneakers everywhere. When traveling abroad you can usually pick out the American tourists by their shoes. Lots of people also tend to wear boxy, ugly, square toed shoes that don’t compliment the human form. Slip-ons are also a common sin. Over the years I’ve been really guilty of this. For a long time the shoe I wore everywhere was a Merrel Moc:


They were easy to put on and take off and were extremely comfortable. While they were great shoes, I wore them primarily as a teenager. My wardrobe didn’t go beyond jeans and an ill-fitting t-shirt.  My first big improvement after reading up on fashion was a pair of Bucks:


These shoes are great for casual wear around town. You can even wear them sock-less in the summer if you want, though I’m not too overly a fan of this. The only downside is that the sued darkens really quickly. Mine have gone from tan to a chocolate brown. The next improvement I had my eye on was a pair of wingtips. Wingtip shoes have little design patterns on them like this:


The dilemma now was to what shoe to get. There are plenty of wingtip shoes out there but most of them are cheaply made shoes by either Bostonian or Johnston & Murphy. All the research I did into which shoes to buy always said to not skimp on the shoes. A good pair of well constructed shoes might cost 5-6 times that of a cheaper pair, but they age much better and can last several decades if you take care of them. If I was going to try and get a genuinely nice pair of shoes I needed for them to be flexible enough to be worn with most anything. Brown is usually more flexible than black as far as shoes go, and lighter brown even more so.

The pair I had my heart set on was Allen Edmonds McAllister. I went to the fine clothing store downtown and place an order, but since I have such wide feet I had to wait a for a custom pair to be shipped in from the factory. Well after a month of waiting they’re here and they’re stunning.

P1000908 P1000913 P1000924

I’m so excited that they’re in, I’m giddy. I wore them around a little bit yesterday, but I’m being supper careful with them as they’re my baby. I know this might sound stupid, but I feel a big confidence boost by just wearing them. I still have a long way to go with both weight and wardrobe, but I imagine my confidence will continue to rise as I get better with both.