Friday, March 31, 2006

I Do Believe It's Someone's Birthday

Who You Are:

You love: computers, music, science fiction, ice cream, your friends and family.

You dislike (hate!): Oliver Twist, Jane Eyre (you can read more about this entertaining antipathy here), oatmeal.

You are Cameron: witty, (sometimes) wise, entertaining, logical. GREEN (in personality, and clothes). Fifteen.

What You've Said (the abbreviated list):

"Ice cream is one of the basic necessities of life." (14)

"You know, sometimes I'd like to be able to close my ears. But God just didn't make me with ear-closing mechanisms." (14)

"Money isn't my God. I'm the god of money." (13)

"See you t'later," and, "Let's go to Mc-mc-Donalds." (The Early Years)

What We (Your Family and Friends) Would Like to Say To You on this Most Felicitious of Occasions:

Hey buddy. It's a good life, isn't it. I mean, a rockin' sound card, electric guitar, cool bike, awesome parents and way cool brother and sisters. We rock! Seriously though...happy birthday. I love you a lot, and I'm really glad that I have you as a son (versus some filthy rich millionaire dude) - don't you agree? Happy birthday.

Happy birthday, Cameron.

Dear Cameron, I hope you have a nice 15th birthday! Eat a slice of cake for me.

Happy birthday, dude.
~Daniel ["Hey! You didn't give my name a link." Allison: "But you don't have a blog." Daniel: "That's beside the point."]~

Warm wishes for a happy, happy birthday, Cameron. May your year of being fifteen be filled with family adventures, new friendships enjoyed, great new music discovered, and technological wonders explored. We miss you and love you. See you in June.

Happy birthday, Cameron. I love you, and hope you have a wonderful day, and I'm glad that our cousins are here. Best wishes for you.

Happy birthday, Cameron! Congratulations on survivin... er, turning 15! You have my wishes of good luck for surviving anothe... er, I mean, wishes to have a great 16th year. Yeah, that's what I meant to say. Seriously.

Dear Cameron, Happy 15th Birthday! Hope your day is fan-tas-tic, too cool, and over the top. Hugs and kisses.

Happy Birthday, younger bro (unfortunately 'little' is no longer applicable since you are fully a head taller than me!), you are. . . .
Easy going
Not dirty
and way more.
Wishing you the best on your special day.

Cameron, you know you like totally rock. But that's really beside the point. The point is that I had something great to say, but I've been working on this post for approximately two hours now, and the words of congratulations got lost somewhere between the "Your HTML tag is unfinished" warning and the picture alignment complications. You'd better be worth all this trouble! (Have a great birthday)

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Monday, March 27, 2006

Enjoying a Classical Laugh

Mary Katherine, I'm stealing from you. Blatantly. Thanks for a great post.

Love And Latin
"Amo, Amare, Amavi, Amatum."

Dear girls, never marry for knowledge,
(Though that, of course, should form a part)
For often the head, while at college,
Gets wise at the cost of the heart.
Let me tell you a fact that is real--
I once had a beau, in my youth,
My brightest and best beau ideal
Of manliness, goodness, and truth.

Oh, he talked of the Greeks and the Romans,
Of Normans, and Saxons, and Celt;
And he quoted from Virgil and Homer,
And Plato, and--somebody else.
And he told of his deathless affection,
By means of a thousand strange herbs,
With numberless words in connections,
Derived from the roots--of Greek verbs.

One night, as a slight innuendo,
When nature was mantled in snow,
He wrote in the frost on the window,
A sweet word in Latin--"amo."
Oh, it needed no words for expression,
For that I had long understood,
But there was his written confession--
Present tense and indicative mood.

But oh, how man's passion will vary!
For scarcely a year had passed by,
When he changed the "amo" to "amare,"
But instead of an "e" was a "y."
Yes, a Mary had certainly taken
The heart once so fondly my own,
And I, the rejected, forsaken,
Was left to reflection alone.

Since then I've a horror of Latin,
And students uncommonly smart;
True love, one should always put that in,
To balance the head by the heart.
To be a fine scholar and linguist,
Is much to one's credit, I know,
But "I love" should be said in plain English,
And not with a Latin "amo."


Friday, March 24, 2006

"And what about socialization?"

[Homeschool mom, Dr. Karim] says that finding positive social outlets for her children is a breeze. “It’s not ‘how do you get socialized?’ she says, but rather ‘how do you stop being pulled in different directions?’”
These days our family rarely gets "The Socialization" question (the last time someone asked me about it, she was worried because I was going to miss the senior prom), but it's still out there floating around. Dr. Karim's answer exactly coincides with my own. Our problem isn't a lack of resources, it's a lack of time.

You can read the rest of the doctor-turned-homeschool-mom's story right here.

HT: The 12th Carnival of Homeschooling

Thursday, March 23, 2006

The Library

Books have molded my life; and from the time that I was able to sound out letters, and read THE CAT SAT ON THE MAT, the library has been my muse .

The first library I remember regularly visiting was ten or fifteen minutes away from our house. It was a severe, angular building, painted in two shades of an ancient brown. Its entrance faced a gray expanse of gritty pavement; and in the hot, California summers, waves of heat would shimmer along the ground, frying the shins and blistering the faces of the intrepid few who dared to cross the parking lot to the library.

I didn't mind though. As soon as my feet hit that roasting rock, I would dash across the cement with my book bag (a pink and white vinyl creation that grew a little dingier every day), and plunge through the library doors into the cool, dim foyer. Inside I would slow my pace to a walk—past the metal drinking fountains at my right, past the meeting room where the magicians and story tellers sometimes performed, and between the strange black towers that kept over-anxious little girls from surreptitiously stealing coveted books. I always went straight to the children's section, which was on the right side of the building.

In the children's section there was a long table that had two slanted surfaces with wooden rims along their bottom edges; one could read a book at exactly the right angle without having to hold it up. Against the wall that ran behind this table were bins filled with picture books of all sizes: short, tall, skinny—some of them were well-worn, with gray finger-prints painting the plastic covers, others might be brand-new, they had bright jackets and crisp pages that smelt fresh and clean, and which crackled a little when one turned them. I always preferred the new ones.

But all the delights the library held for me grew pale beneath the glorious shadow of the fiction shelves. These ran all the way along the back wall of the children's section, behind the non-fiction rows, and they had black metal stools ranged along the floor below them. When I stood on top of one of these stools, I could reach the upper shelves all by myself; I used to measure my height by how many shelves I could reach.

After a while, I got so I could tell you exactly what books were where (without looking at the letters that were taped to the bottom of each book's spine). Caddy Woodlawn? Indian In the Cupboard? Brian Jacques? Here. There. Right over this way. There's a reason I got a job at a library nine years later.

When I took my trips to the library, Juvenile Fiction was the first place I visited in the children's section. I would skip along that long back aisle, letting the tips of my fingers bump along the book bindings. Sometimes I was looking for something in particular. Sometimes I was browsing. More often I was browsing. And I began to pile on the books. I would pull the books from the shelves, I would look at the cover. If it was a good cover, I read the inside flap. Then, if that was good, I flipped through the pages. And smelled them.

This was serious business, and when I surfaced, ages later I usually had seven or eight volumes in my arms. I would grip them tightly and trot to the front desk.

"Card, please.” The librarian held out her hand, and I would scrabble for the piece of plastic in my pocket, or my purse, or my book bag. You had to be prompt around these women at the front desk. Prompt and silent.

"All of these?” The librarian would ask as she read the names of my books with the machine on her desk.

"Yes.” I would pause, and then maybe dare a few more words: “But I'll finish them this week so I'll have to come back.”

She stamped the reminder cards and slipped them into the book pockets. She raised her eyebrows. “You must read a lot.”

"Yes.” You betcha! “I do.” I spoke in a whisper.

"A lot,” she said again, stacking my books into a neat pile and pushing them toward me across the counter.

"Thank you.” I folded the stack in my arms and marched between the electronic sentinels once more (holding my breath in case they grew alarmed and the librarian raised her eyebrows). But then I was past them, and through the echoey foyer. When I pushed open the tinted glass doors, the heat raced around my feet and soared up around my head to stifle my breath.

I didn't notice it though. My head was down, and I was counting the books in my bag. Now. Which one should I start first?

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Robin Hood: A Story in Signs

Back in California, we had two roads running along the bottom of "our valley" called Oxford and Cambridge; I thought that was unusual. But take a walk along one main road in our new town and you'll discover something more intriguing:

Other street signs I was unable to picture for you: "Locksley" (Robin's supposed place of birth), "Kirklee" (the abbey where he died), and "Canterbury." Looks like we're set for a story.

And is it just me? Or is there something ironic about the fact that this legendary road dead-ends in the parking lot of a Catholic church? Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Monday, March 20, 2006

Welcome, Spring!

 Posted by Picasa

The Plagiarized Life

I am reading nine books right now. That's right: n-i-n-e. It's a great blend of literature: I have fiction and non-fiction, easy-reading and mind-boggling tomes; but all this reading does funny things to my life. It's not just that the things that I'm reading (or will read) have the capacity to change what I believe. It's that what I read changes the way I voice my thoughts. It changes the way I interpret the small things in my life.

A few Sundays ago we drove to the coast. It was a truly lovely drive. The sun had come out after a long week of rain. The Oregon country-side was at its best: green hills rolling up into pine-shaded mountains, pastures and meadows of long, rain-tipped grass—and then we saw it. On our left was a massive oak tree, and nested in its canopy was a truck. Yes, I said a truck. It was a very patriotic truck, too. The owners had striped it with with red, white, and blue paint. So. There was the oak, stripped of all foliage. And there, in its topmost branches, balanced the truck. And what was I thinking about? Annie Dillard, of course. In the split second it took my eyes to register that bizarre image, my mind was already calling up a scene from Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. A scene where the author comes to a bend in the road and discovers “a massive bur oak” covered with clothes “carefully spread, splayed as if to dry, on the outer leaves of the great oak's crown.” It was an inconsequential connection, really: my tree, and hers. But my own tree, the whole moment, became more significant somehow, when backed by that vivid image from Annie Dillard's book.

Later that same day, I was clambering over some wave-washed rocks, peering into tide pools at the sea urchins and anemones. I was thinking, of course, about the creatures I was seeing, but the words that came to my mind weren't words that Allison uses. They were words that Annie Dillard would use.

On Monday I took a walk down a nearby road, and the name of that road, for whatever reason, always calls to mind scenes from Elizabeth Gaskell's novel North and South. Of course, the fact that I live in a mill town does help my fancies along. But this link between my life and her book, made the things I saw on that walk unforgettable, and more beautiful.

I live a plagiarized life. Ask anyone in my family, and you'll discover that I tend to “live” my books: right down to the funky accents, and figures of speech (although I like to think that I'm growing out of some of that now). What I read is what I see - and write - and talk. In fact, SisterBlogger once told me, whilst reading over a rough-draft of mine, that she could tell exactly what I was reading when I wrote it. Maybe that's a bad thing. Maybe I'm living in a dream world. But I really don't think so; and that's not really the point. The point is that I can look at a dusty mill, and piles of raw logs, and interpret it all with a little more clarity (even if I am borrowing Gaskell's words). The point is that I can peer into tide pools and use the patterns of Annie Dillard's writing to describe what I see. The point is that by thinking after the writing style of “real” books (good books! great books! not just any books, mind you!), I am laying for myself a foundation of good writing that will, in the years to come, allow me to speak and write about, and interpret, the smallest things in my world with good writing, and good thoughts, of my own.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Welcome, MamaBlogger!

After much persuasion (on my part), and a good deal of frustration (blogspot wasn't cooperating), MamaBlogger has joined the blogosphere. A Learning Life is her record of our family's journey down the Knowledge Path (and a way to share pictures with all our dear friends back in California: "We miss you!").

Please hop on over and give her a warm welcome.

(I love you, MamaBlogger. Post again soon!)

Friday, March 17, 2006

What Do You See?

A chair? A fireplace? Carpet? Laundry laid out to dry? Correct! but I know you can be more creative than that. Here's what I saw:
The left behind shirt of a raptured saint.
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The Beauty of My Life

The Carnival of Beauty is over at Two Talent Living this week. Among the submissions are posts from the bloggers at SpunkyHomeschool, Mom2Mom Connection, and She Lives. My favorite? Mary's post on the Beauty of My Life in France.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Isolation with a Small House of Eight

It's hard work being in a new place. Since our move over three months ago, we've been to a different church almost every Sunday; we have yet to find a homeschool group; and we spend our weeks wondering if we'll ever meet anyone. Anyone at all. "Isolated" is a good word for us. But they say that all clouds have a silver lining, and I think I've found the filigree on ours.

You see, if we're not bounding across the county with baskets full of activities, where are we? We're at home. And what does that mean? Well, in our small house it means that we have to talk to each other. Sometimes that's not a good thing. But right now I'm making an exception. I'm looking at the bright side.

Talking to each other means that we have rousing theological discussions at Bible time (it sure beats listening to Scripture apathetically - or falling asleep over the "begats"). It means that we argue about the definition of words during school hours (because now we all have to fit at the same table). It means that at dinner time, and in the car, we laugh over the strangest, and most undefinable, jokes - simply because we haven't had the chance to tell them to anybody else.

It's not that we couldn't do all this before we moved. We could, all of it; right down to sharing the same school table, if we wanted to. And sometimes we did do all of this (and more), but we didn't do it nearly as frequently. Why? Maybe because we had already told our jokes to someone else; or maybe because we weren't all together as much. But I suspect that it had a lot to with how we looked at each other: as "just family" instead of "our best, and only, friends".

Someday, of course, we'll make friends here. And that's just fine with me. I like people; and friends are even better. But I hope that when we do have an outer life, we won't forget the camraderie we shared in these "good old days." The days when we lived in isolation - with a small house of eight.

Monday, March 13, 2006


AustenBlog is a compendium of news about Jane Austen in popular culture: mentions in newspaper articles, books and magazines; film adaptations; paraliterature such as continuations of the novels or modern retellings; Austen-related events; and other manifestations of the delightful way in which Jane Austen and her work have informed today’s popular culture. As our tagline says, “She’s everywhere.”
This is probably only interesting news for those Austen devotees among us; but AustenBlog does look like a great resource, as well as some good reading. You can find out more about AustenBlog's purpose, and the ladies who created it, here and here.

I'll Take a Drink with That!

Tomorrow morning, get up a little earlier, preferably before everyone else in your household wakes up. Brew a pot of your preferred elixir or go to a cafĂ© and sit down. Take out a book that you’ve wanted to read for some time, and indulge in a chapter or two before officially beginning your day.
You can read the rest of this delightful blog post over at The Library Girl. I fell in love with The Library Girl's blog when I visited it through the Literature Carnival over at Much Madness is Divinest Sense. Lovely design, and intriguing book reviews; it doesn't get much better than this. In the future, you will be able to find a link to her blog in my "Around the Blogosphere" column at right.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

In the Bookstore

I discovered Second Chance Books last summer when we were driving through our soon-to-be-new town in our soon-to-be-new state. We found the second-hand book store almost by accident, right in the middle of our drive home. Actually, it was by accident.

Being the bibiliophiles that we are, we couldn't resist stopping for a quick peek. And forty-five minutes later (which was really a "quick peek" for us) we were piling out of the store with arms full of books. There was something for everyone: Harold Bell Wright, P.G. Wodehouse, Gardening Graphics, children's books (and I use the generic term because I really can't remember what we bought anymore).

The next few months, as we prepared to move, I kept my memory of Second Chance Books polished and close to my heart. It was something to look forward to in a maze of goodbyes. Something that brought pleasure in the midst of chaos.

Since our move, we've been back only a few times. Mama doesn't like to go too often because our kind of book browsing is hard on the pocket book.

Today, in between trips to our storage unit where we are disposing of the excess of our "632 pieces of 'household' goods", I managed to make it over to Second Chance Books for a trade-in. I had a whole pile of books in varying states of newness and decay, and I racked up a tidy sum on my in-store account for handing them over. So did B. We were both well-pleased when the book-vendor showed us the figures on our index cards. Not bad for a few minutes of picking up unused/old books around the house.

Friday, March 10, 2006


We woke up this morning to a light blanket of snow. A walk in the park produced these pictures.

 Posted by Picasa

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Hot Drinks for a Snowy Day

It's been snowing off and on all day. Look out our living room window and, like as not, you'll see "fat snow flying against the sky" (as Annie Dillard says). It's not the sticking kind, unfortunately. But it is lovely just the same. Lovely enough for us to seriously consider the consequences of a day off of school.

Not happening.

The drinks of choice at lunch time? Hot chocolate and Earl Grey tea.

It doesn't get much better than this (even if we still have to plug away at the books).
 Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

It's The Autumn Rain in Spring Colors!

Welcome to a whole new look! Spring fever has hit this blogger, and I decided it was time for a change.

Thanks to A Circle of Quiet for being my HTML guru as I formatted the new template; and to my two brothers, three sisters, and parents for patiently critiquing and exclaiming over the details.

Pull up a chair, pilgrims. And please, Enjoy!

Four Things That Make This Family Happy

New Red Socks

New (but alread broken in) Rubber Boots

a la Tasha Tudor (they have green soles!) .

"Emergency UFO Relief" Packages
Thanks, Mrs. B.! (You can read her son's blog here)

A Functioning Washer and Dryer
No more trips to the laundromat!

When the Angst Is Worth the Beauty

Only two chapters in, and I was already crying. “You're sentimental,” my self says to me.

“I am not,” I protest. “Not sentimental, just—”


“Just. . .”


“I'm not, really, I'm not. It's just that it's so beautiful.”

“Ha! I told you you were sentimental.”

I didn't used to cry over books. I tell you the honest truth: I used to laugh at people who cried over stories. “Sentimental,” I said. “I don't cry. I never will.” Wrong. I think I learn to cry a little harder each year. Is that a good thing?

I was reading Katherine Paterson's Jacob Have I Loved. I knew nothing about it three weeks ago when I pulled it from its place in the school cupboard (we were still in the hotel then) and sat down in the armchair by the window. I was crying almost before I knew it. Not because the book was particularly sad, but because Mrs. Paterson tells Sara Louise Bradshaw's story with an artistry and empathy that captivated me from the first page.

Jacob Have I Loved is the story of Louise or “Wheeze” (as most people call her), a young teen who has spent most of her life in the shadow of her twin sister, Caroline. Caroline is talented and beautiful (of course). And Wheeze, as things usually go in these stories, is not-so-talented, and has a penchant for fishing which leaves the scent of crab hanging around her most days. Wheeze often reflects that the birth of the sisters is emblematic of her entire life: Caroline had to be rushed to the hospital while she, Wheeze, was forgotten—left “washed and dressed and lying in a basket . . . clean and cold and motherless.”

I read Newbery winner books skeptically—and with a good-sized grain of salt beneath my tongue. I know that “their” great YA (Young Adult) fiction is generally a far cry from my idea of good literature for teens. This book, though, caught me off my guard. The lyrical quality, and authenticity, of Mrs. Paterson's prose, the ingenuity of her plot, and her clever cyclical ending were not just treats in their own rights, they were a four course dinner, with dessert. (The dessert was discovering that Mrs. Paterson was a missionary kid and has a master's degree in English Bible; she spent four years in Japan as a Christian Education Assistant. As a budding writer, this information makes me very hopeful. “So Christian authors can win Newbery Medals!” I say.)

One of the first things that drew me into the book was its treatment of the sea. I love the sea. I love reading about the sea. And I love reading about the sea when the author knows what she's talking about. This book is well-researched. Mrs. Paterson has loads of information about the habits of crabs, fishing methods in Chesapeake Bay, storms, and seasons. Read the “Acknowledgments” which the author prints at the very beginning of her book, and you will see that her research was extensive and thorough. She also makes all that information sound good too:
We tongers [Wheeze says] stood perched on the washboards of our tiny boats, and, just as our fathers and grandfathers had before us, used our fir-wood tongs, three or four times taller than our own bodies, to reach down gently to the oyster bed, [and] feel the bottom until we came to a patch of market-sized oysters. . .

Of course, the book isn't all info. Where Mrs. Paterson doesn't tell us about the scientific side of life on Rass Island, she writes astute character sketches, and vignettes of village life. There are stories of songs under the stars, days on the water, the terrible beauty of growing up. I guess I am sentimental after all.

I think, however, that the most powerful element of the story is Louise's search for herself, and for the God she believes has rejected her. As she struggles to step out from beneath Caroline's shadow, and the shadow of her grandmother's perverted version of Christianity, she makes some challenging statements that believers would do well to ponder. Even though I have never had to deal with the specific situations Louise faces, I find it very easy to empathize with her spiritual and emotional journey. I may not have asked the questions she does, or faced her problems, but I have am asking questions, and facing problems of my own.

Finally, as a word of warning: Jacob Have I Loved is most emphatically a “coming-of-age” novel. It contains what in my household we call “um, er—thematic elements—ahem!” But Mrs. Paterson throws in far less bodily details than, for example, Shadow Spinner, does. If the book had been less tasteful, I might have thrown out the book when, midway into the novel, Louise develops a crush on a man about fifty years her senior.

I suppose I could quibble even more. I could mention Louise's rebellious, bitter attitude throughout much of the book. I could mention the negative portrayal of Rass Island Christianity. I could even, if I looked hard enough, accuse the book of feminism. But I don't think I will. The ending, that gloriously redemptive ending (and I mean “redemptive” in a spiritual sense), made every bit of the novel worth my while. The spiritual weight that gently knots together the last, loose strands of the story made me realize that it was not so anti-Christian as I had thought.

Only a few hours after I finished the last paragraph, I went into the living room to gather my books for a few more hours of studying. My sister was on the couch, finishing up Jacob Have I Loved.

“I told you you'd like the ending,” I said, noticing her intent expression.

“Yes.” And there was a slight catch in her voice.

“Why, you're crying! Are you all right?”

“Of course,” she said, blotting her eyes and sniffing a little, “It's just that it's so wonderful. . .”

Friday, March 03, 2006

It's Good To Be A Year Away

Dinner time again. We're getting the neighborhood news via our talkative "littles".

"They were telling us about their pets, Mom."

"Yeah, they said they 'only had three cats, a dog, and two goldfish.'"

The brother grimaces. "That's three cats, a dog, and two goldfish more than I would want."

We had pets once. Our last one was a bird, a finch. She was dove-grey with a striped head and a yellow beak. We called her Miss Priss because she would bounce from nest to roost to roost, preening her feathers and tossing her head. When wild birds flew by the window where her cage sat, she would go wild herself, flitting angrily from one side of the wire wall to the other. She was a casualty of The Bad Weeks.

February was not a good month last year, neither were the first days of March. Just about this time twelve months ago, my brother was in hospital with acute appendicitis. It took two trips to the emergency room, a call to 911, two surgeries and ten days to fix him up.And somewhere in the midst of hospital visits, and late, anxious nights, I forgot about Miss Priss.

The first thing I noticed was her silence. "Where are you?" I asked, stooping over her cage and peering into her nest. I tapped on the wire walls, I shook the rungs a little. There came no flutter of wings or querulous chirps. My lip trembled a little as I saw the empty seed husks in the feed container and the tepid water. Starved.

"I guess we'd better take you outside."

When our first bird died, he got a proper funeral. That night Miss Priss's departure made only the slightest ripple in the family circle. I buried her alone, in the dark of the backyard. And then I went inside to hear the latest news about the invalid.

It's a year later, and now the invalid is home. And you know, it feels pretty good to be out of that intoxicating vortex of hostipal beds and IVs. It's nice to know that my brother's still around here somewhere, with a faded scar and unplumbable energy. It's even better to sit down to dinner every night - with the whole family. But every so often, I still think of our bird, and miss her.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The Girl Who Couldn't Fly

Naturally a week of great books had a great soundtrack to go with it, and Kate Rusby's The Girl Who Couldn't Fly proved to be a superb accompaniment to the lyrical phrases of I Capture the Castle.
I discovered this CD back in early February during our annual trip to Borders. I remember standing in the music aisle listening to clips of Miss Rusby's songs with tears in my eyes. Not because they were sad, but because they were so extraordinarily beautiful.
I'm not a big fan of folk music, but Miss Rusby, a folk singer from Yorkshire, manages to infuse the old tunes and love lyrics (as well as her own compostitions) with an incredible freshness and timelessness. Her husband, John McCusker, produced the album, and the acoustic accompaniments which he and his wife have arranged exactly suit her clear, Celtic voice.
UK reviewer, Kevin Maidment, writes, "If the current British folk scene is to produce a genuine household name, it's likely to be Kate Rusby."
I couldn't agree more.