Titans’ Season Is Sacked

titans
Titans give up one of their six sacks against the Texans

They have a saying around here when the Tennessee Titans play to “Titan Up” but after last night’s embarrassing loss to the Houston Texans I think all the screws have come off on the 2018 season.

My rant follows….

This is a team that had lots of promise coming into this season.  New coach.  New uniforms.  New attitude.  The Titans came off a surprising playoff run in 2017 with a win over the Kansas City Chiefs.  The 2018 season has not lived up to that promise.

I may not be an expert in football knowledge but I am experienced in following frustrating teams having been an Atlanta Falcons’ fan for most of my life.  It ended with that Super Bowl collapse against New England.  I moved to Nashville in 2014 and have gradually adopted the Titans.  Once again, I am dealt with yet another frustrating NFL team to follow.

Last night the Titans jumped out to a 10-0 lead.  It didn’t last long.  Then came “the call” in the 2nd quarter when the Titans had the ball at the 3-yard-line and decided to go for it on 4th-and-inches.  In a call no one in the football play calling universe can explain, QB Marcus Mariota handed the ball off to Tight End Luke Stocker for his FIRST NFL carry and was stuffed.  On the very next play, Lamar Miller burst through the Titans for a 97-yard touchdown run.   After that, the Titans were done.  Mariota had to scramble for his life the rest of the game and was sacked six times.  I wanted them to take him out and put in another quarterback.  He was getting killed back there.

Some glaring weaknesses which have hurt the Titans all season.  Weak offensive line, inconsistent running game and terrible pass defense.

The offensive line has given up a boat-load of sacks this year.  They lead the league with 39 sacks.  In their game against the Baltimore Ravens on October 14th, the Ravens had a record number of sacks in the game.  I don’t care who you hire as an offensive coordinator, if you can’t give the offense time no play is going to work.  The Titans signed Dion Lewis in the offseason to help with the running game but just because Lewis had previously been with the New England Patriots doesn’t mean much.  If he was good they would have kept him don’t you think?  Same is true for cornerback  Malcolm Butler.   Derrick Henry is a good running back but he isn’t consistent.  He has flashes of greatness but not enough.  The Titans really need a solid running back.

The Titans have had their moments.  They beat the Super Bowl teams from last season but then get blown out by the Colts and Texans.  I would have to relive a Dennis Green interview of the past and say the same thing about the Colts and Texans.  They aren’t as good as people think they are.  Plus the AFC South is a very weak division.

And playoffs?  You want to talk about playoffs?  Again I have to summon up an old clip from Jim Mora when I think of the Titans’ chances of making the playoffs.  No, they aren’t mathematically eliminated but I think they might as well be.  They are currently seventh in the wildcard race.  They are now three games behind division-leading Houston.  The Titans play four of their last five games at home.  I have no confidence that they can go 5-0 which is probably what they need to do to make the playoffs.  Their remaining opponents are the Jets, Jaguars, Giants, Redskins and Colts.  I don’t feel good about any of these games.  Having followed frustrating teams before I would say it will go like this:  The Titans will beat the Jets and Jaguars but then fall flat against the Giants.  That would make their record 7-7 and needing to win their final two games against the Redskins and Colts.  By then, even a remote possibility of a 9-7 record would not be enough when it comes down to tiebreakers against teams who are ahead of them in the wildcard standings.  All of their losses so far have been to teams in the AFC.  That’s not going to help.

I’m done.  I’m not putting myself through it.  Let’s go Preds!

 

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Help Wanted: Be An Encourager

People need to be encouraged. This is something that everyone of us have the ability to do. You don’t need any special training to encourage someone. The challenge is in actually doing it.

We live in a world that is selfish and quick to anger. Examples of this appears in our news every day. Shootings, assaults and random acts of violence dominate the headlines. This world is in desperate need of some superheroes. The world need encouragers.

So how can we do this?

  • Look for ways to help someone in need. If it’s a hot day and you see a worker outside, give them a bottled water. If someone needs help, help them.
  • Smile. It’s amazing how just a smile can do so much good.
  • Treat people with respect. Be patient with the cashier or the person working behind the counter at a fast food restaurant. If they do something good, compliment them for it. We are too quick to complain but forget to compliment.
  • Treat someone. Buy an extra coffee for someone or something someone would appreciate. If you know someone likes a certain treat, surprise them with it.
  • Say “Thank You”. Don’t act like you are entitled. Be thankful.
  • Be a good listener. Some people just want someone who will listen to them and their stories. They also want someone they can trust who won’t spread gossip.
  • Tell people that you appreciate them. Don’t assume people know. Tell them.
  • Pay it forward. This has been a trend and a good way to encourage others.

Sometimes just a word of encouragement can change someone’s entire day. Encouragement is the most direct way you can impact someone’s life.  There are too many people that are quick to criticize.  There are people we all come in contact with that could use an uplifting word or deed.  We should look for opportunities to do good and build up, not tear someone down.

Being an encourager is not something super spiritual and you don’t have to wait on a sign from God to do it. It is never wrong to encourage someone to do good. When you encourage someone it will say much more than quoting a list of Bible verses.

The purpose of encouraging others isn’t to bring attention to ourselves. Sometimes doing something anonymously is the appropriate thing to do and sometimes the most fulfilling.

Do you know someone who needs some compassion today? Is there someone who would benefit from your words of encouragement? None of us know how long we have to make a difference in another person’s life. Make the most of the opportunities God gives you. When you are offering encouragement to others you are being God to them.

“Be an Encourager: When you encourage others, you boost their self-esteem, enhance their self-confidence, make them work harder, lift their spirits and make them successful in their endeavors. Encouragement goes straight to the heart and is always available. Be an encourager. Always.”   Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

Nashville Sports Loses Nightwatch gains Power

nightwatch.pngPowerMost people won’t hear about it on the local news but the more obscure sports in the Music City has lost one franchise but gained another recently.

The Nashville Nightwatch professional ultimate frisbee team announced this week that they will no longer field a team in the American Ultimate Disc League (AUDL).  The Nightwatch played four seasons in the AUDL’s Southern Division but never had a winning season.  They showed a lot of promise at times but could only post an 8-44 record and finished last place each season.  In their Facebook announcement this week the team posted:

“We would like to thank our players and supporters from the last 4 years. Going forward we will not be playing in the AUDL. We are going to turn our efforts into building our community through club efforts and focusing on our Professional Women’s team, Nashville NightShade. We will be forming a club team with the goal of competing at the highest level. Our experiences learned in the AUDL will allow us to give our club team a pro experience and grow with our community. More information to come, and thank you for your support.”

The Nightwatch organization has been one of the more influential franchises in promoting women’s ultimate so it appears that the Nightwatch could live on through their female counterparts.  I’m not sure how the club team will work out and competing at the “highest level” will look like but with the AUDL being the only professional ultimate league, this announcement will leave a void.

The Nightwatch could never get the following necessary to sustain a start-up professional franchise, especially in a non-major sport.  The press never really helped the Nightwatch plus the fact that they could not field a competitive team on the field.  The team also could never find a good home as they began at Tennessee State University in their inaugural season then moved to Overton High School in their second season and then a terrible move to Hunter’s Lane High School in North Nashville the following season and finally to an awkward field at Vanderbilt University.  The move to the Vanderbilt area was one I thought would help but the home field was not really a spectator-friendly venue.

With the demise of the Nightwatch, another team has moved into the void as the Nashville Power brings the city their first indoor football team since the Nashville Venom played in 2014-2015 at the Municipal City Auditorium.  The Power will also call the Auditorium home when they kick off their season in the spring of 2019.  The Power will play in the Elite Indoor Football League which is basically a semi-pro type league in comparison to the bigger leagues.  The Power will join 12 other teams located throughout the East and Southeast.

Although they are playing in an obscure league, they will have a local favorite involved.  One of the greatest arena league players of all-time, Cory Fleming, is the Power’s defensive coordinator. Fleming played for the Kats (1997-2001, 2006), Carolina (2002) and Orlando (2003-05). The former Stratford and Tennessee star was inducted into the Arena Football Hall of Fame in 2013.

Will this new indoor team make it?  I doubt it.  The league looks pretty weak.  There had been rumors of the return of the Nashville Kats franchise in the National Arena League (NAL) or even a new team in the Arena Football League (AFL) but nothing has been made public.

Don’t be surprised if the Power doesn’t last any longer than the Nightwatch.

Friday Flashback: Coldest Ever High School Football Game

Tonight in the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) state quarterfinals, The Warner Robins Demons will host the Clarke Central Gladiators.  This matchup takes me back to the 1985 State Championship game which was played between these two teams in Athens, Georgia.  In fact, I start shivering immediately when I think about it.  It was the coldest high school football game I have ever attended.  I had to pull up the weather history to find the exact temperature which was 29 degrees at kickoff.  That was cold.

The 1985 season was my first full season of attending Warner Robins football games.  The team finished the regular season undefeated at 10-0 which was capped with a thrilling 21-14 overtime win over crosstown rivals Northside.  Warner Robins defeated Southwest Macon 40-14 and then Northside again 27-0 in the region playoffs.  Warner Robins edged Lowndes 8-7 in penetration in the first round and then beat Bradwell Institute 28-14 in the semifinals.

I decided to make the two-hour trip to Athens for the game.  At the time I was a single 21-year-old man in the Air Force and I was able to convince a date to go with me to the game.  More on that later.  When I arrived at the game I had general admission tickets and the only seats I could find were the front row of bleacher seats in one of the end zones.  I had a blanket and attempted to keep warm but the cold weather made the blanket as stiff as a sheet of plywood.  The bleachers were also full of some Clarke Central fans – one of which would purposely yell in my frozen ear every time his team made a big play.  I might have moved had I not been frozen to the bleacher.  I think every part of my body was cold that night.  I certainly wasn’t a whimp to the cold weather since I had just been transferred to Robins Air Force Base from Thule, Greenland and it was a painfully freezing reminder of Greenland.

Although the game was statistically close, Clarke Central recovered three Warner Robins fumbles, turning the first two into a pair of field goals (31 and 41 yards) by John Kasay, who also put four of five kickoffs deep into the end zone to help keep the Warner Robins offense backed up. Additionally both Gladiator touchdowns were big plays, the first a 53-yard pass from Robbie Kamerschen to Tommy Stewart on the Gladiators’ first possession of the second quarter and the second a 54-yard run by tailback Richard Jewel on Clarke’s first possession of the third period.

In comparison, the Gladiators committed only one turnover, a fumble at their own 42 late in the second quarter. After recovering, the Demons moved to a first down on the 4-yard line, but the Clarke Central defense held on three straight running plays inside the 2 and took over on downs, preserving a 13-7 halftime lead.

Kamerschen and Jewel accounted for the majority of Clarke’s 291 yards total offense, as the senior quarterback completed four of eight passes for 122 yards while the senior tailback rushed 14 times for 108 yards.

Warner Robins, which totaled 245 yards offense and led 14-13 in first downs, got 101 rushing yards on 16 carries from junior Jeff Thompson. But 98 of those came in the first half. Warner Robins totaled just 53 yards and two first downs after intermission.

The game was a disappointment. I had to drive the long trip back home.  The only consolation was that my car had heat and I would be able to thaw out on the drive.  I also had my date with me.

About that.

On the drive back I got that “You’re a nice guy but I just want to be friends” line.  Ouch.  My football team and my dating suffered a bitter defeat that night. That night was cold on so many levels.

But, as they say, it all worked out for the best.  As for Warner Robins, it took three seasons before they captured the state title and demolished Brookwood in 1988.

No high school game was colder than that night in Athens.

IMHO…Death Is Not The End!

paradiseAsk anyone their opinion about life after death and you’re going to get a variety of answers to this question that has puzzled mankind since the beginning of time.

What happens when you die?  Is that the end?

Here are some theories about life after death:

  • According to some, life starts over immediately after death.  This belief is an explanation of feelings of deja vu we experience throughout our lifetime.
  • We move into a paranormal realm where we become ghosts or other spirits
  • Hindus believe in reincarnation and that we will be reincarnated 52 million times as a plant, animal, etc. before returning to human form.
  • One of six destinies awaits Buddhists when they die.  They may be reincarnated as gods, demi-gods, humans, animals, ghosts or sent to the realms of hells.  If you were a good person, chances are you will be reborn in one of the first three categories.
  • Some believe that when you are dead, you’re dead.  Period.
  • According to the movie Beetlejuice, when we die, we continue to live in the form of ghosts stuck in a parallel dimension from which only an iconoclast exorcist can free us.
  • Plato had a theory that after death our souls were judged.  Good souls were placed on islands of the blessed and bad souls were punished.
  • For the pharaohs of ancient Egypt, death was temporary.  This is why it was so important to them to properly preserve bodies by mummification so they could be in their best possible state for their second life.
  • If you believe the Stranger Things theory, the deceased aren’t truly dead.  Some of them simply go to “The Upside Down” which is a parallel universe from which you can communicate through light bulbs.
  • For about $300,000 your body can be preserved at an extremely low temperature to stop your cells from evolving until medicine finds a cure for your death and brings you back to life.
  • Quantum physicists believe that life creates the universe and not the opposite so when bodies die our consciousness continues to exist.
  • The egocentric theory is you are the only person who exists and the entire universe is your own imagination so when you die, the universe will no longer exist.

There are some wild theories out there.

I have read and heard opinions out there so allow me to add my own here.  I mean this is MY blog and I am free to express my own opinions about this.  If you don’t agree, that’s okay.  Don’t be mean about it.  You are entitled to your opinion too.

I have had years of Bible teaching throughout my life.  No, I do not hold a degree in theology but I am capable of making up my own mind and attempt to sort this out myself.  So, with that disclaimer, let’s take a look at my own view of death.

I have concluded that my own personal belief about death is based upon one of the most popular Bible verses.  John 3:16.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

If a person believes in Jesus Christ this verse guarantees us eternal life.  It isn’t a requirement that you have to be Baptist, Catholic, Seventh Day Adventist or any other named religion.  As shocking as it may be to some, there isn’t a “Baptist Heaven” or a “Catholic Heaven” or “Church of God Heaven”.  This is a place is simply a place that Jesus has prepared for believers.

It is my belief that when we die, our soul separates from our physical bodies.  A believer goes immediately to be with Jesus in paradise.  That’s what Jesus told one of the thieves on the cross next to him when he said “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”   Paradise is a temporary heaven because, according to the Book of Revelation (which I am not even going to try to explain) tells us that there will be a new Heaven and a new Earth.  There’s a lot of other things that is supposed to happen but I’m just narrowing this to what happens when we die.

When our soul separates from our physical bodies, we go to paradise.  Before we can fully enjoy paradise, we must spend time in an “in-between place” which Catholics refer to as purgatory.  It doesn’t matter how good of a person we are or how righteous we are, none of us are perfect and we all have issues that must be resolved before we can move on.  This in-between place allows us to resolve these issues.  For the religious folks out there, I’m not saying that sin is okay but we all have things that are imperfect about us.  In order to enter into a perfect place, these things have to be cleansed.  I think of it as TSA to get into paradise.  So if we have any unresolved issues we will be forced to deal with them at that time.  All who die in God’s grace are assured of their eternal salvation but still must undergo a purification.   I’m not really sure what goes on in the in-between place but I envision it as a video replay of things we need to resolve.  It could be a time of deep soul searching and confession.  How long we spend in the in-between place depends upon how long it takes us to resolve these issues.

Once we have passed through the in-between place, we then enter into the main population of paradise where we will be reunited with our loved ones who have gone before us.  I think this paradise is a place that is beyond any beauty that we have seen on Earth or could even imagine with our minds.  We will also have no concept of time.  There really won’t be any need for it.  Most people think of heaven as a place where people are floating on clouds playing harps.   Now that would be pretty boring don’t you think?  Some have said that we will have jobs or hobbies that we will enjoy doing.  I believe we will do things that we enjoy as well as being in the presence of the Lord.  I don’t think any of us can truly comprehend it.

So will we have bodies or floating around as spirit beings?

I have pondered on this a lot and I have mixed thinking about it.  Since the Bible talks about us being reunited with our physical bodies and resurrected when the Lord returns to the Earth, I’m thinking that when we die that it will be our souls in paradise and not some physical recreation of our bodies.  Our souls will recognize our loved ones but not necessarily the physical attributes that we remember such as the last time we saw them.  I also have no idea what a “soul” could possibly look like.  I don’t think it will be a like a ghostly existence but possibly some form.  Like I told you earlier, some of this stuff is a little hard to explain.  I’m not saying I’m right but no one really knows for sure.  Even the Bible can be a bit difficult to translate into something we can understand.

The other question I have had was if our loved ones can see what we are doing here on Earth.  Can they watch us?  How can they see what we are doing?

Most people think that when we die we become angels but that is false.  Angels are separate created beings.  None of us get wings or become angels who watch over those back on Earth.  I believe that God allows them to see what He wants them to see.  I don’t think they are looking down on us 24/7 because that would be a little creepy wouldn’t it?  I honestly don’t think they have time for that anyway.  I have a feeling that they do get updates on us.  Maybe it’s something like heavenly mail or newsflash about us.  I also think they are praying for us.  Maybe they have knowledge of what we are praying and what we are going through.  I really can’t give a definitive opinion on this.

So what about hell?  Do people go there?  Is there such a place?

I would have to think that people who are completely void of a conscious will go to a place of torment much like the rich man in the story of Lazarus.   Luke 16 says that in Hades he was in torment.  While this passage is a parable and not an actual experience, I think it gives a clear message on what happens to evil people.

This is all my own personal opinion.  I have no proof for or against what I have posted here.  We all have to make up our own minds.  I’m certainly not going to convince you.  We all have to figure it out for ourselves.  We are all shaped in our opinions based on something.  While mine is based mostly on Christian beliefs, others might base theirs on science or other spiritualist reasoning.

Whether you believe my version of life after death or not I urge you to think about it.  We’re all going to die sometime.  Figure it out for yourself.  Do some soul searching and ask yourself why you believe the way you believe?  For me, my opinion hinges upon the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  He said:  “I am the resurrection and the life, He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and  believes in me will never die.”  (John 11:25-26).   I don’t think that’s too far-fetched compared to these other theories do you?   Sure, I might be wrong on certain details but I do not believe that death is the end.   Easter is one of my favorite times of the year where I experience the story of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  It encourages me and gives me hope of eternal life.

This is my belief and I won’t apologize for it.   In the end, whatever happens will happen and I have absolutely no control over it.  Maybe that’s why we fear death.  We fear the unknown and we try to explain it with all of these beliefs.

For me, I choose faith.

 

 

The Other Side Of Grief

griefFor the first time, I have been directly impacted by the death of a loved one.  It has been an eye-opening experience for me.  While I can’t say that I have been overcome with grief, it has had its moments of difficulty.  I have been amazed at the things that have to be done and how people respond to you during these times.  Let me give you my view on this side of it:

How People Respond

This one is all over the place.  Everyone responds differently.  I have had people text or call me directly to let me know they were thinking about me.  This has meant a lot to me.  I have had flowers sent to me which touched me deeply.  While people really don’t know what to say, just acknowledging it helps a lot.  Some people say nothing or ignore the subject completely.  I think I can understand that because they simply don’t know what to say and they don’t want to make me sad.  However, having been through this, I think I would rather people say something than nothing at all.  Co-workers have had an interesting response as well.  I have had some who just said they were sorry for my loss and then others that lead with that and then into what they need me to do.  That’s pretty tacky in my opinion.  At least send separate emails.  People are funny and you really don’t know what to expect from them.

Funeral Preparation

Who came up with the idea of the traditional funeral obviously had no regard for the ones grieving.  I’m amazed at the decisions that need to be made even if the deceased had planned their funeral.  Do I really need to decide on what color scheme the pallbearers should wear?  What color does the casket need to be?  Do I prefer a flag or no flag on the casket?  Opened or closed casket?  These are some decisions I never thought I would ever have to make.  I can’t imagine if it were someone totally overcome with grief doing this.  I’m sorry but I also don’t not like funerals.  The visitation seems to be more like a family reunion.  The funeral service itself and then yet another ceremony at the cemetery.  A grieving person has to go through this over and over again.  People like to use the words “closure” or “paying your respects” but it is torture.

The Will

I was not made the executor of my loved one’s Will but let me caution you to be totally informed of what you’re getting into if you are ever asked to do this.  I would highly advise to have a neutral person who is not related to the family to carry out the responsibility.  It is much too overwhelming for a family member to do regardless of the size of the estate.  If you are making out a Will, make it easy as possible to disperse things you wish to give to those left behind.  Don’t make it a burden.  The execution of the Will only prolongs the process.  It is difficult to move on when you are having to deal with what’s left behind.

Family

I have been surprised with the response of my relatives.  Their reaction was not what I had expected.  I have lost contact with most of my family over the years and regardless of that, they responded and have been very supportive.  I’m still not ready for a family reunion but I have added several to my contact list and hope to remain in touch with them.

The Grief Process

Although I can’t say that I’m overcome with grieve but I can tell you that it’s a strange feeling.  There are moments I will have a flashback with no warning or cry without notice.  How someone grieves is not the same for everyone.  There is also no time limit.  I know most people expect you to get over something in 30 days or so but it really depends on the individual.  It also doesn’t help to ask continually “What’s wrong?”.  It helps much more to ask “Are you okay?” or “How are you doing?”.   Believe me.  There is a difference.  I have moments of sadness but also times of anger over what could have been or things that could have been different.  It helps to do things and to keep living your life.

Like I said in the beginning, I’m new at this.  This is my first experience with grief and the experiences that goes with it.  I think with everything that happens in life, you learn from it.  I think that I have learned a lot better in how to respond to others when they are going through it.  If nothing else, just knowing people care mean a lot.  You know that you are not alone.  My wife has been through this herself and she has been a rock for me.  She can relate and she is guiding me through this new area for me.  That means a lot.  You’re not always capable of thinking clearly or keeping your focus so it is important that you have someone you can lean on when you aren’t totally yourself.  We all need a little help don’t we?

No, I don’t like being on this side of grief but it is comforting to know I am not alone.  I will get through this and I will press on.

 

What Are You Doing With Your Vapor?

You never think about how short life is until you experience death. We like to avoid the subject because it is uncomfortable for us to face. It is a depressing subject for sure but it is the painful reality of life. We all have 100% chance of dying. It is certain to happen, we just don’t know when it will happen.

The Bible says that “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. James 4:14

A vapor. That’s our life.

The current life expectancy is 78.7 years in the United States. That number is far away when you are in your 20s or 30s but when you reach 50, that magic number comes into focus.

So what can we do about it? Not much really but when our time comes it comes. There are two things that we can do. We can make our “vapor” an influence while it exists and we can also plan for what comes next.

Let’s look at the present. What are we doing with our vapor now? Are we using the gifts and talents we have been given? We all have something that we can do to make the world around us better. We all have a calling. It may be our jobs, our hobbies or just being a good person that can impact the lives of others around us. We shouldn’t waste it. If you don’t feel like you have done much or look back and lament over the wasted time behind you, start today and focus on what you should be doing with your vapor.

The best way we can influence people is be kind and help others. The world has a serious shortage in kind people. Don’t believe me? Get out in traffic. That will settle it pretty quickly. People are so impatient and selfish. It can be quite demoralizing. Being kind to others doesn’t require a college degree or even religion. Just treat people right and have some integrity. This is something that will impact people more than any charity we could do. Kindness is contagious. This is how we can make our vapor effective while it lasts.

We must also decide what is going to happen next. Life after death. Some people deny anything happens after death. They think when you die then that’s it. The end.

While there is no absolute proof that there is life after death, we can’t ignore the feeling that there has to be more than this. Death can’t be the end. How we live our life depends a lot on what we believe about death.

So what happens when we die? No one really knows for sure but the Bible tells us that when we leave our body, our soul goes to be with the Lord until the resurrection of believers when the spirit will be reunited with the body. Yeah I know this is a leap for most people to believe and I’m not sure I can properly explain the Biblical view of what happens when we die but a life after death transition isn’t something we can comprehend.

There are many beliefs on what happens s after death but it is hard to deny that something does indeed happen to our soul. It is up to you to decide for yourself. I choose to believe in what the Bible says. It is my personal conviction that Jesus Christ was God’s only son who was sent to earth to become a sacrifice for my sins and my belief in him is a promise that I will have eternal life. I’m not forcing you to believe it but you will need to decide it at some point.

78.7

That’s what we have.

Maybe more. Maybe less.

What are we going to do with it?