CFFC: Pastel Colors

Join in on Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge. This week’s theme is: pastel colors. Here’s my entry…

I took this photo while out sailing with friends off Puerto Vallarta a couple of years ago. It has some beautiful pastel colors. I was taking the TEFL course and this was one of the perks. I still haven’t gone to teach English, but I have done some teaching of maritime subjects and getting more comfortable in front of a classroom. 🙂

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Dancing

Yesterday’s prompt from the Daily Post was “dancing“.

I’ve always loved to watch people dance and wished I could dance as well myself. I’m just not what you’d call ‘light on my feet’. I never got the hang of it and almost never even try any more. I’d rather just enjoy watching.

line dancing ladies from Lebanon

Those first 3 were taken during my last vacation (I can’t believe it’s already been a year- but I’ve really been jonesing lately). I took a dinner cruise down the Bosphorus. That’s the waterway that divides the European and Asian sides of Istanbul.

It was a really nice cruise. We had an interesting dinner of local appetizers- olives, stuffed grape leaves, hummus, carrot salad, sliced meat, cheese and then a choice of chicken or fish. The crew put flags around the tables of each person’s nationality. It helped make for many good conversations.

After dinner, we had entertainment. We started with a performance by a whirling dervish. Then the crew dressed in costumes and danced the different traditional styles from all over Turkey. Later the belly dancers came out and got everyone going. By the time they finished, everyone was ready to get out on the floor themselves.

Besides the dinner and dancing, the sights outside the windows were beckoning too. I sat out on the deck watching the shipping traffic pass by and enjoying the fresh cool breeze along the water. I was so excited to see all the minarets poking up from the mosques lit up in the night. Over the low hum of the engines I could hear the faint calls to prayer. It all drove home exotic Istanbul for me.

These next 3 were from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. I went down there last February to get certified to teach English as a foreign language (TEFL). I stayed for about a month. I would’ve stayed longer but I had a promising call about a real job (offshore- I had already been out of work for over 6 months), so I flew back home. Sadly, the job fell through.

I loved PV! I lived right next door to the language school and just a couple of blocks from the ocean. There were only 4 other students in my class, so we all got to know each other. Every weekend, our teacher would take us all on a field trip. I had a blast!

I loved to take the bus to the old town. I would walk up and down the Malecon, take pictures and talk to people. There was always something going on. Every weekend there was a farmers market at the square down there. Friday nights were for dancing!

The local dance schools put on a show for everyone that was free for all. They danced the different dances from all over Mexico. Their dancing was fantastic, especially considering how young some of them were. You could tell they were having a good time together. Their costumes were so colorful. I really loved watching them. 🙂

I haven’t been back to start teaching yet, but I’m missing Mexico more and more.

8:00 Friday Night

…And I’ve been nodding off for the last half hour.

What the hell is happening to me?

Yeah, I know I’m getting older, but I used to be up til 2-3 in the morning every weekend. I never went to bed before midnight even during the week when I had early classes. I was quite the party girl for a lot of years. You would never know it now. 😦

Now, I’m almost always in bed by 11 pm. I might read for a few minutes. But I used to read for a couple of hours, or even all night if it was a good book. Now, I’m too tired and sleeping within a half hour no matter how good the book is.

I can’t even blame it on getting up early. The only time I wake up early now is when I go to work in Houston (3-5 days/month). That wipes me out for the week. I go up there Monday-Tuesday. So I’m up til 1-2 in the morning Sunday night. Get up at 0430 Monday morning. To sleep around midnight Monday night. Up at 0430 Tuesday. And a good thing they cancelled work Wednesday cause I’ve been so sleepy driving to and from work.

I’ve been home since December, other than my month in Puerto Vallarta getting TEFL certified. In all that time, I haven’t accomplished anything, partly due to nodding off half the time. I think the stress of being in limbo is really getting to me. 😦

The Daily Post: Beach

I haven’t posted the last couple of days. I needed a break after finishing up the A to Z Challenge. I’m not used to posting every day and it was exhausting. It was fun and a great way to meet other bloggers, but I’m glad it’s over.

Today I’m back with a post for the Daily Post. The first one in a while I feel like I can respond to. I don’t really like what they’ve been doing lately with their ‘one word’ challenges. But I do know a lot about the beach. 😉

I’m from Florida. I spent a lot of time on the beach where I grew up, around Madeira Beach. It used to be so nice, quiet and peaceful. It was very relaxed and we were able to enjoy it pretty much every day.

I was never into sun bathing. As a redhead, I get sun burned easily, so I try to avoid just roasting myself. I liked to go swimming and snorkeling, shell hunting, observing the plants and animals, and just walking along the water. Friends would start up a game of frisbee, touch football, or volleyball. Sometimes we would have a BBQ with a bonfire.

I remember going out to Egmont Key, just outside Tampa Bay. We would head out in the Island Girl and raft up with a bunch of other sailors. We would spend the weekend out there, playing with our friends (all ages- from babies to oldsters). We had some really great times.

When I moved to Texas, I used to spend a lot of time on the beach at Surfside and Bryan Beach. My class would go down there to practice taking sights for our celestial navigation. We would go camp out for the weekends, have a bonfire where we’d cook out, sing songs, tell sea stories and play music.

I still like to go to Surfside. I love to go in the Winter when it’s quiet. I like to sit and watch the water, listen to the wind and the waves, watch the birds, look for shells, and just enjoy the peace away from everybody.

I travel a lot and there’s usually a beach involved at some point there too. In Thailand, it’s Phuket. In Indonesia (Bali), it’s Kuta. In Mexico, it’s Cancun, but I have to say Puerto Vallarta is hard to beat. 😉

Do you have a favorite beach? Which one? Why?

A to Z: TEFL

Todays post for the A to Z Challenge is: TEFL-teaching English as a foreign language. This is something I’ve been considering since we first went to Thailand to find the cause of the tsunami when I was still working for Oceaneering.

I really loved Thailand and wanted to figure out a way to move there. I started looking into what it would take to move there permanently. I found out that I would not be allowed to work as anything other than an English teacher.

Of course, if I wasn’t working- if I wanted to open a business and hire locals, or I was rich enough to ‘retire’ with a steady income- then I would be welcome. I just wouldn’t be allowed to take any job from a local.

Turns out, it was pretty much the same story in every other country I looked into. 😦

For years, taking the TEFL course was in the back of my mind. I was interested in doing it, but as long as I was working offshore, I just couldn’t justify giving up that lifestyle.

Well, things have changed drastically around here lately. I got laid off last September. I did manage to find a job after that, but it didn’t last long. I work a couple of days a month up in Houston. I’m still hoping to get a call to go back offshore any day, but it’s getting harder to keep that hope going as the days keep passing with no calls, no response to emails or online applications, nothing. 😦

I finally went to take the course and get certified in TEFL. I had a great time while taking the course in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico a couple of months ago. I got to teach and I actually kind of enjoyed it. I think once I get used to it, I might like it.

I came back home because I was supposed to ship out for a short job. Short, but long enough to stock up the savings again. I had planned to go right back down to Mexico to start teaching. I had to put that on hold. I’m still waiting to ship out. 😦

Dance

Here’s a photo for the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Dance. 

I took this photo one Friday night at the Fiesta Mexicana in Old Puerto Vallarta.

I was down there for a month getting certified to teach English as a foreign language (TEFL). Every Friday night there were dance shows downtown by the beach. I never got there early enough to get a good seat, it was always packed at least a half hour before the show started. It was a real challenge to get any decent pictures.

This is one of my favorites. The show started with Spanish dances. 🙂

Moving Day

Class is over and they’ve already started picking up new students for next months class. I need to move out of this apartment I’ve been staying in all month.

I found a nice looking place downtown. I’ll be packing up and moving out later this morning. I still have some food here, I’ll give it to the other girls in the class. They’re all staying on here for at least a few days.

We went out for a celebratory drink last night. We found a place right on the beach with margaritas for only 15 pesos (less than $1)!

I would try to put up a couple of photos, but my computer is refusing to let me see them! It is apparently stuffed full and I need to delete some programs to make room. I’ve already been storing all my photos on thumbdrives, they’re not even on the computer. I have no idea what I can delete without screwing up something I need. I guess that means I can’t look at any photos til I get home to see the computer guy. 😦

Graduation!

It’s over. The time flew by so fast. My time in Puerto Vallarta is coming to an end.

I went to class this morning only to have any last minute questions answered and to receive my final documents. I got my TEFL certificate and letter of recommendation. I have an official TEFL website now and it doesn’t look too bad. Check it out! Let me know what you think. 🙂

We had our class photo taken with our newly minted diplomas, and that was it!

Los Arcos to Las Animas

Sunday the whole group of us from our school went out sailing Bay of Banderas on a friends boat (thanks again Memo!). We had a great time.

We left around 1030 and came back in around 1930. We cruised from the Puerto Vallarta marina down to Los Arcos. We set out a couple of fishing rods and trolled along as we made our way. We passed schools of fish and a few dolphins along the way. It was so nice.

We stopped for a swim at Los Arcos, a big bunch of rocks just offshore. The water was a clear blue-green. There were hundreds of fish swimming around. There were a few other boats there before us and people were busy feeding the fish, swimming, kayaking, and just generally having a good time.

It was so nice to dive in and luxuriate in the cool, clean, clear water. I swam around and took pictures of the fish. I wasn’t brave enough to try swimming through the arches and caves, but some people did.

We headed back out to sail some more after our nice swim, we were on our way to Las Animas Beach. Raul kept watch on the boat as the water taxi ferried us in to the beach. We had lunch over a couple of big margaritas at Los Conos.

The beach was actually pretty busy. Los Conos is right up on the beach. The view of the boats swaying on the bay and the kids making sandcastles on the beach was so relaxing. The few peddlers who wandered by were mostly entertaining, especially this one guy with his pet iguana. He was hilarious. 🙂

The restaurant was busy and the staff was a little overwhelmed, but they brought us our drinks quickly and the food was good. I had cheese quesadillas. I’m not big on seafood and that’s more their specialty. Everyone’s fish and shrimp looked very well prepared and no one complained about the food. 🙂

The water ferry took us back out to the boat and we clambered back aboard the Bella Maria. As we were getting underway, friends pulled up to say hi. They were in a little speedboat (the Calypso) and just out having a good time on the water.

We challenged each other with beer and raicilla, whistling and dancing to loud Mexican music. We rode together for about an hour before they got tired of poking around so slow with us and took off for home, leaving us in their wake. Who cared? We still had plenty of beer. They did make off with the last of the raicilla tho. 😦

We sailed back towards the marina as the sun set to port and the full moon rose to starboard. It was a magical time. Everyone was in good spirits and happy to have spent the day together.

Cancelled Class

I got up at 0530 this morning to get ready for my 0700 class. I was in the classroom, had my whiteboard ready and my CD cued up. Then I waited nervously for my students to show up.

They skipped class today.

OK with me, but that means I have to double up tomorrow. AND, it means I’ll have to wake up early again. I’m NOT a morning person. 😦

I have my lesson plan ready for the 0700 class, I’ll just use the one I wrote for this morning’s class since we didn’t have class. I’ll have to wait until tomorrow to find out which other class I’ll be teaching (tomorrow evening) and then spend time in the afternoon preparing the lesson plan for that one.

Final Week

Class will finish up this week, so things will be busy around here for a couple of days. Actually, I’ve been fairly busy all along. I haven’t been posting much (and probably won’t be) because the internet has been really bad the last couple of days and I can’t stand sitting here trying to work (and not able to get anything done) while I should be out enjoying Puerto Vallarta.

Saturday I spent the morning taking it easy. I had breakfast at the little cantina downstairs, picked up my laundry, picked up a few things at the store. I took the bus down to the marina after it started cooling off a little bit.

I was a little disappointed that it wasn’t bigger. Other than that, it was about what I expected. Lots of expensive shops and plenty of tourists. A few big yachts but most looked like they were actually used and not just show boats like a lot of them you see in Miami or Houston.

As expected, the gates to the docks were locked. I couldn’t get down to the boats to talk to any crew members. I figured there wasn’t much hope, but still worth a try. I wouldn’t mind working on a private vessel again. It might even be fun for a change.

I wandered around for a while, hoping to find a good sailors bar where I could hang out for a while and get the scoop over a few drinks. Sorry to say, I didn’t find any place that looked likely for real sailors to hang out.

I rode the elevator up to the top of the lighthouse (El Faro). I thought I might have a snack and watch the sunset. It was a gorgeous view. They only had chicken wings and I just wasn’t in the mood for those, so I took a few pictures and headed back down to wander some more.

I met a nice guy from Tennessee. He was a former USCG mariner so we had a pretty good conversation. It was nice talking to someone who ‘gets it’. I really miss being on the water. Most people just don’t understand. It gets in your blood.

I had a nice steak dinner at a place called the Rincon de Buenos Aires (Argentinian Steak House). They had a special offering of green salad, baked potato and skirt steak for 195 pesos. I paid about $15 for dinner and a drink.

The steak was great, cooked perfectly and plenty big. I could hardly finish it. The baked potato was big, but they didn’t put anything on it but butter. I asked for sour cream and they brought some, but it was not the same thing we get at home. The salad was big, but they only had Italian dressing and it wasn’t really very flavorful. They brought out a bread basket with chimichurra sauce, but I didn’t want to fill up on bread.

I did really enjoy my steak, but I wasn’t real impressed with the restaurant other than that. First of all, it was very hot. I was dripping. The hostess tried to help me by pulling my table (which was up against the wall in a dark corner) out so that it was under a ceiling fan. I appreciated the effort, but it didn’t help much.

The waiters were all polite and helpful, but it was very busy so they were slow to come by. A man at the next table flagged them down for me once after I had been waving at them for about 10 minutes.

It was definitely a very popular place. I would go back for the food, but only if I made sure beforehand it was a slow time.

Sunday morning we got to go out sailing with Erica and her friend Memo. He has a beautiful sailboat and kindly offered to take our whole class out sailing for the day. I’ll have more on that later.

Today was Monday. Back to school. I got my last 2 teaching assignments this morning, and so spent some time working on my lesson plans this afternoon. I’ve got early classes tomorrow and Wednesday, and we have another essay due Wednesday too, so I’ll be busy for the next couple of days with school work.

It’s already 2300. I need to get off here and get some sleep. I need to get up EARLY tomorrow! 😦

Marina

Last night I went to watch the dancers again (will upload photos later). I got there 45 minutes early and STILL couldn’t get a seat where I could see to take good pictures. So I stood again for the whole show ( 2 hours +45 mins). My back was killing me by the time it was over, but I did at least manage to get some decent pictures this time.

I met my friends from the TEFL course there and we wandered down the Malecon afterwards. We stopped to have dinner and a couple of margaritas. I had plain and they had strawberry. Instead of salt on the rim, they had spicy pepper! I’m glad I stuck with the regular. They were strong! Dinner (for 1) and 6 margaritas for $15! Our waiter turned out to be from Houston.

Doesn’t it make you wonder about our supposed economic recovery (and “free country” status) when so many Mexicans are leaving the US and finding things much better in Mexico? I’ve certainly found things much better here than at home. I would love to live here permanently and I’m seriously considering it. That’s the whole reason I’m getting certified in TEFL. It will finally allow me a way to get out of the US.

I’ll just have to adjust to a serious pay cut (about 90%!) and so far I’m not really ready to accept that.

Today, I’m going to the marina. I’m hoping I can get in to wander around the docks and talk to people there. I’d like to find out about the possibilities of working on some of those yachts. If I can’t get down on the docks (which is more and more common today and a SERIOUS disadvantage to those of us who work aboard), then I’ll try to find a bar where the sailors hang out.

I’ll try to find  out through word of mouth if anyone is looking for crew, or if there is someplace with a bulletin board, or if there are any other hang outs. That has worked for me before. When I finished high school on the sailing ships and was supposed to have a job working my way home on a ship from London and it fell through, luckily I found a job helping out on a Thames sailing barge for the summer. I had the best time that summer!

I wouldn’t mind doing something like that again. 🙂

Sunset

Today we had ourselves videotaped. We were all nervous in class and spent every minute practicing our grammar points and introductions. We went over to the other classroom (out of the glare) and we each got to present our grammar points in front of the camera. I’ll put up a link when they make it available.

Afterwards, I taught my one student again, we reviewed adverbs and adjectives and then had a few conversations to try and get the idea of how we show interest in English across. I think it went pretty well. Tomorrow we’ll start a new lesson and then it’s the weekend!

I went to watch the sunset on the beach right behind my apartment. There was a girl sitting out near the water with her little dachshund puppy. I enjoyed watching it running around and having so much fun.

It was a beautiful sunset, the tide was low today so I didn’t get soaked like last time. It was nice, with a little breeze and watching the sailboats, birds and the little puppy on the beach. Puerto Vallarta really is a great place to spend time. I could definitely see myself staying here for a while. 🙂

Mega

Today was a fairly slow day. Class this morning from 10-1300. Then I worked on my lesson plan for my teaching practice this afternoon. I had the same class as yesterday so it was much easier to prepare the plan today. I practiced my grammar point for the video they’re going to do tomorrow.

I’m going to do the simple past tense. At least I do understand that one. I have the rules down. I just hope I can remember to say them all when I’m in front of the camera. 😉

I taught my class this afternoon from 16-1700. It went well. I only had one student show up and she’s a pretty smart girl. She did all her homework and so we were able to cover most of the material. I think I still need to reinforce the difference between adjectives and adverbs. I have to try to make it very simple since I don’t speak much Spanish at all and she doesn’t have a very large English vocabulary. It’s really very challenging.

After class was over I went home (it’s almost right next door) and tried to catch up on my email. I actually saw a couple of job postings so I immediately sent them emails. It would be nice, but I doubt I’ll get any replies. I’m pretty sure one of them was in Ukraine and they almost never crew up with Americans.

I took a walk down to the Mega to find a few things I’d been craving. It’s a big superstore, almost like a super Walmart. It has everything. Groceries, to sporting goods, to electronics. I loaded up 3 bags of groceries (mostly junk food which is even more expensive here than it is at home).

I got peanut butter and jelly, bread, ruffles potato chips, ham, sliced cheese, block cheese, 6 cans of chicken (to make salad), sweet relish, butter, apples, onions, cranberries, TP, fresh baked orange muffins, and about a half dozen packs of M&Ms. I paid only $24.66!

Halfway There!

Today I had my 5th teaching practice. I have 5 more to go, so I’m halfway there! We passed the halfway mark for the class already. It will be finished on Feb 26th. It seems like it has been going by so fast.

The pace of the class has been picking up this week. We’re all very busy with our lesson plans and teaching assignments, we have another essay due Wednesday, and Thursday we have to make our presentations to be video taped.

Sarah gives us a grammar lesson

Sarah gives us a grammar lesson

I’m still confused over a lot of the verb tenses. I don’t remember ever hearing about most of them before. No, never in my life! I remember the past, present and future, but now all of the sudden there are 12 of them! WTF?! What are they and when do we use them all? I still don’t know but I am learning.

Maybe by the time the course is over I will actually know what I’m doing. 😉

Farmers Greens

Here’s another entry for Jennifer’s Color Your World challenge for the color green.

I took these photos at the farmers market, downtown Puerto Vallarta last Saturday. There were plenty of ‘greens’ to be seen. 😉

Fresh Bread

Today was the farmers market in the old town. The park was crowded with snowbirds and locals, all out shopping for the weekly needs. I saw people selling home made healthy pet food, potted plants, flowers, home-made clothing, art objects and food. Food from Mexico, India, Thailand, Malaysia, China and the US (gourmet hot dogs).

I was especially impressed with the bread. Check it out…

This is what got me to post the earlier one I did (for the recipe on how to make some great bread at home). Another issue with the new blog is that I can’t ‘press this’ on here. I still can on my old blog.

PS- same thing as yesterday, the photos aren’t showing up here. Click on my new blog to see them http://www.captainjillsjourneys.com

 

Mardi Gras on the Malecon!

Yesterday I finished early and went down to the Malecon in time for the Mardi Gras parade. I walked around the pier and watched the sun set, watched the pirate ship come in and talked to some of the artists.

When the sirens started going off, I followed the crowds up the street to watch the parade go by. I posted tons of photos on here, but they’re not showing up. If you want to see them (and you do!), go look at my new blog! www.captainjillsjourneys.com

It was pretty good. Much smaller than what I imagine New Orleans or Rio to be. I liked the fact that anyone was welcome to join in. I loved that there were hardly any crowds. It was great to be able to see everything clearly. I was able to get some decent photos. The only problem I had was that they were moving by so quickly and a lot of them were dancing. It was hard to get good, clear, sharp pictures.

Everyone was having a great time. The costumes were ‘fabulous’. I loved watching the dancers. Those guys were really hot! Too bad they were mostly all gay. I kept thinking to myself, “what a waste!” The crowd seemed pretty subdued for a Mardi Gras parade. Maybe it was still too early? I do notice the crowd here in Puerto Vallarta is much older than in New Orleans.

After the parade, I went back to the Malecon to watch the pirates shoot off their fireworks. I’ve noticed they usually start right after 2100, they waited til after the parade. I’m not sure why since the fireworks only last about 5 minutes.

The clowns were putting on a show at the arches again and there was a pretty big audience. I wish I understood Spanish better so I could really get what they’re saying. Clowns are funny anyway, but these particular ones seem to talk alot. 😉

I got home in plenty of time to get a good nights sleep (but stayed up late on the computer again).

Teaching Practice #1

I’m nervous. I still feel like I don’t know what I’m doing. I have zero confidence. I don’t feel at home or comfortable up in front of a group of strangers, especially when I don’t really know what I’m talking about.

I’d feel a lot better with a few margaritas in me. I do pretty good karaoke that way, but I don’t think that’s allowed. 😦

Tomorrow is my first teaching practice session. I’ve had a few chances to observe already. I’ve been trying to concentrate on learning the techniques the teachers are using to get the information across and manage their classrooms. But they seem very comfortable with it and it’s obvious they know their material very well. I don’t.

Sure, I can speak English. I can read, write and spell it too. But I don’t know how to explain grammar. I don’t know all the rules and details. I struggle to use proper punctuation!

I spent about 4 hours this afternoon working on my lesson plan (for a 1 hour class). I’m still lost. Thank god there is a pretty good book to follow!

I’ll go over my notes again in the morning and try and get through this. After all, it’s not like they’re going to shoot me or anything. I should be happy to have the opportunity to work through my stage fright, right? 🙂

Playa Colomitos

We loaded up the van and headed out of town to Colomitos Beach. Driving along narrow, twisting mountain roads, we caught glimpses of the ocean between beautifully built houses and ritzy resorts. We passed by Los Arcos, and not too much further came to the turn-off for Bocas de Tomatlan.

It’s a funky little fishing town, most well known for the beach side restaurants and as the place to catch the water taxi for more remote beaches up the coast. Laura found her own shoe store!

From Bocas, we hiked up and over (and around and down) the path to Colomitos Beach. I had to stop and rest a few times, my legs were getting shaky. It’s not the way to go if you’re knees are weak. I should have just taken the water taxi.

only about 1/4 there!

only about 1/4 there!

I was SO ready to dive in the water, it looked so inviting. And I was so tired, hot and sweaty from the hike. I wished I could’ve just jumped in from the hills, but figured I might really hurt myself. The beach was clean and surprisingly crowded. After that hike, I thought it would be empty.

As soon as we hit the sand, we dumped our stuff and ran into the surf. It was COLD. But only for a minute, then it was just perfect!

I was disappointed not to see more interesting sea life. I only saw a couple of fish flit by on the sandy bottom. There weren’t even any fish around the rocks.

Colomitos was getting more crowded, so we decided to move on. To the waterfalls? Or the next beach? Since the little stream that cut through the beach wasn’t even able to reach the sea, we figured the waterfalls wouldn’t be too impressive at this point. We decided to head to the next beach.

A couple more students from our school made the trek with us with their cute little girl and their puppy. I felt a little embarrassed that she could make the hike with no problems and I was huffing and puffing all the way. But I did eventually make it. 🙂

Again, it was worth it. Another gorgeous little sandy beach, divided by rock piles at each end. The views back towards Colomitos and Puerto Vallarta were beautiful. The beach was much quieter. Our group was pretty much the only one there.

We had a few snacks, walked up the beach, swam some more, relaxed into the sun and sand, and when we were ready to leave, we just waved at a passing water taxi. They drove right up onto the beach and picked us up for the ride back to Bocas.

We had a late lunch at one of the little beach bars; fajitas, fish tacos, tostadas, seafood cocktails, coconut shrimp. All very fresh and they served big plates, so much food I could only eat about half. Very reasonably priced too.

We finished up and headed home. I’m staying in tonight, I have to get up early for class tomorrow. My last observation before I start teaching. (oh nooooooo…)