Imma Imma Hustler

Typically, you don’t want to be replaced by an Aardvark. Especially because it moves faster than you do. Not to mention, it changed the game for other fast flyers to follow.

It seems I’ve gotten ahead of myself and have some explaining to do….

First, hello everyone! I hope that you had a Happy Mach 1 Day! For those who are new to this written world of my own creation, I annually celebrate the first supersonic flight made by Chuck Yeager on October 14, 1947 as a day I have christened Mach 1 Day! Today, I am keeping this shockwave going with a bit of intel on the first bomber to break the sound barrier.

The Convair B-58 Hustler was the first supersonic strategic bomber, meaning it was the first airplane built to carry and drop bombs that could also exceed the speed of sound. Yep, there are bombers that go Mach 1. In fact, the Hustler could go beyond Mach 2! The point was to craft a bomber that could traverse a great distance, hit its target, and then outrace any of those pesky enemy fighter jets that were sent up in pursuit. Older bombers were too large and not designed to make haste in such a way. The Hustler could do just as its name implied, it do do do do do do do do do do the hustle on out of the dropzone. This was helped immensely by the delta wing design. Nevertheless, attaining that speed came at the cost of shedding the bulk that allowed for greater cargo capacity. Still, this sucker could pack a punch with a full fist. Five nuclear weapons could be loaded onto the bottom of the aircraft on the outside along pylons built to hold the bombs in place of a more traditional bomb bay.

The three-pilot operated Hustler was in service from 1960-1970, but it was rarely smooth sailing, er, flying. The plane was fast, but janky in flight – that is to say, difficult to keep straight. However, its greatest drawback was the price tag it accrued. Maintenance was high, and after its first year, the Hustler costs the United States government around $3 billion. That’s closer to $60 billion today. Yikes!

Despite all this, the Hustler could hightail up, up, and way in a hurry. It could make an ascent over 230 meters per second. Remember Usain Bolt’s record-breaking run of the 200m dash at the 2009 World Championships? Me either; I had to look it up to see when he set it, but I knew it was him who did it. Anyway, Bolt – the most incredibly appropriate name for any athlete – posted a still standing record run of 19.19 seconds. Now add 30 meters, climb at a steady rate, and do it 19x faster, and then we’re matching the Hustler.

Okay, obviously Usain Bolt is not a machine (or is he?… A discussion for another day), but the point is, the Hustler, extravagant mess that it was, was what it was designed to be: really fucking fast. The reason it was eventually retired from service was because the Soviet Union developed better countermeasures. Once their missile defenses more than stood a chance to take down a Hustler the United States needed a new man. Or in this case, a new African burrowing animal. The next big deal in supersonic bombers was General Dynamics F-111 Aardvark, which revolutionized not only bombers, but aircraft in general with its sweep wings (see picture):

That’s an Aardvark showing off the key feature that help it maintain steadier flight when cruising and when whipping up beyond the speed of sound.

The Aardvark had a much lengthier military run from 1967-1998 in the US, and as recently 2010 in Australia, but the Hustler is still the Usain Bolt of the supersonic bomber world. It set 19 total speed records, and still holds the record for the longest supersonic flight. In 1963, a B-58 nicknamed “Greased Lightning” flew from Tokyo to London (over the Arctic Circle), greater than 8000 miles (almost 13000 km) in 8 hours, 35 minutes, and 20.4 seconds. 8000 miles in eight and a half hours! That is even with an afterburner burning out (well, breaking down, at least) and having to reduce speed for the final hour. Amazing!

Thanks for reading! Let me know if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions by sending them to monotrememadness@gmail.com. Be sure to whiz back here next week for more fun.

====)=====>

Alex

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We Got Lucky

Unfortunately for all of us, the question mark hanging over Tom Petty’s dire health status last Monday was answered definitively shortly after it’s announcement. The 66 year old rocker from Gainesville, Florida first hit it big with the group Mudcrutch, which he later rejoined in 2007 and toured with in between Heartbreakers tours. He also co-founded the supergroup Traveling Wilburys with his good friend George Harrison. Also working in that band with the Heartbreaker and Beatle were Jeff Lynne of ELO, Roy Orbison, yeah, and if that’s not enough also Bob freakin’ Dylan. But Petty is best remembered for his main act as leader of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, a band that just celebrated their 40th anniversary with a final tour that proved to be all too final for fans. I feel privileged to have gotten to see them on this last tour, but more than that, I feel privileged to have heard the Heartbreakers at all. Today, as I have done more times than I have liked, I am remembering the main man of the Heartbreakers in all his bizarre glory by compiling a list of 40 of my favorite songs of his in honor of his biggest band’s anniversary. However, I have a few entries from his time with the others I’ve mentioned. Let’s start with one of my favorites. It comes from the second Heartbreakers album, You’re Gonna Get It! which has my favorite cover of any of theirs (see above).

“Baby’s A Rock and Roller” – Loud, proud, and powerful Petty and the Heartbreakers. A distinctive announcement that their girl can rock and roll and so can they.


“A Woman in Love (It’s Not Me)”

“All or Nothing”

“Breakdown”

“Candy”

“Don’t Come Around Here No More” – One of Petty’s hilariously or disturbingly weird (or both) videos that doesn’t much relate to the context of the song, but is certainly entertaining. To be fair, the tales of Alice in Wonderland are always kooky.

“Don’t Do Me Like That”

“End of the Line” – One from the Wilburys that prominently features Petty.

“Even the Losers”

“Feel a Whole Lot Better” – A cover of The Byrds classic that deals out the same degree of “stay out of my life” declaration with Petty adding an extra dose of

“First Flash of Freedom”

“Handle With Care” – The most famous of The Traveling Wilburys songs. Roy Orbison is amazing on this. Petty mostly signs backup, but it’s still a great one he helped to make.

“Here Comes My Girl” – The most normal, well-behaved of his videos by far.

“Honey Bee” – Gotta love this rendition of the blues classic. Fun to play on guitar!

“I Need to Know”

“It’s Good to Be King” – What a weirdo.


“Jammin’ Me” – How I love him so.

“Learning to Fly” – Superior to the Pink Floyd song of the same name.


“Listen to Her Heart”

“Lover of the Bayou” – One from Mudcrutch.

“Makin’ Some Noise” – The final verse refers to a real occurrence when Petty heard a guitar being played in a California canyon and responded by playing his back. Soon they were jamming!

“Refugee” – My friend Mike’s favorite from Petty. At least back in college. Tastes change’ this song’s appeal has not. Still awesome.


“Running Man’s Bible”

“Running Down a Dream” – After a couple grounded videos we’re back to bizarre.


“Something Big” – One of my favorite of Petty’s “story songs” that tell a narrative of some character hewing out a rough existence whilst being thwarted by his own vices.

“The Damage You’ve Done”

“The Waiting”


“Too Much Ain’t Enough”

“Trailer” – My favorite from Mudcrutch.

“Walls” – A good song to have at your wedding. This “Circus” version is my favorite tempo.

“While My Guitar Gently Weeps” – This one has received a lot of attention in the last week as it features an all-star line up of Rock and Roll Hall of Famers playing at the Rock Hall’s Induction Ceremony in 2004 in honor of George Harrison who was inducted posthumously as a solo artist that year. The reason why it has popped up so frequently in the wake of Petty’s death is because it features him singing while then-newly inducted Prince – one of last year’s most notable and surprising deaths – shreds the living heck out of his guitar making it cry with intensity that is all to our delight. This was the only time that the two legends played together. Amazing. The look on George’s son, Dhani’s face as Prince comes up is the same as the look on all of ours.

Like Prince, Petty also had the honor to play the Halftime Show at the Super Bowl, and while I still maintain Prince played the greatest Halftime Show ever seen, Petty got to do it at the greatest Super Bowl ever played (Super Bowl XLII), and he put on quite a show too.


“Wildflowers” – Perhaps the most appropriate farewell song to the man himself”

“Yer So Bad”


“You Don’t Know How It Feels” – One of my favorite (I have said that a lot, but I mean it) songs to play when I’m not having a great time. I’ve never actually rolled another joint, or even an initial one, but I have sang about a ton whenever this song comes on.

“You Got Lucky” – Yes, we did, to get to hear this man’s magic.

“You Wreck Me” – Played this to great applause at wedding a few weeks back. Yes, much of it was mine, but many others clapped to! The easiest three chords to play to sound badass with.

“Mary Jane’s Last Dance” – The first of Petty’s songs that I listened to after hearing the initial report of his death. Creepy video; phenomenal song.


“I Won’t Back Down” – My sister’s favorite.

“American Girl”

“Free Fallin'” – My favorite!

Thanks for reading and listening! Be sure to fly on back here next week for the latest celebration of Mach 1 Day (October 14th). Until then, if you wish to drop me a line, send your regards to monotrememadness@gmail.com.

Keep kooky,

Alex

Don’t Do Me Like That

Tom Petty has lived up to his band’s name in the manner of his health situation and its impact on his many fans. The legendary rock and roller was hospitalized today after suffering cardiac arrest. The founder and frontman of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Petty is a wonderfully weird personality. With elements of Bowie and Zappa blended with Southern Charm and American energy, Tom has offered his own quirky humor and powerful guitar to the world of music, becoming one of the most beloved acts in rock and roll for the last 40 years.

While he is not in a good place right now, Tom Petty has not officially been declared dead by any reputable source. I was distraught after hearing about his heart attack, and later death… until I double-checked on the early reports and found that they done goofed! Read this article in the Washington Post that highlights how even in today’s information age, one reported jump to conclusion can set off a chain reaction of attempts to get the next bombshell dropped that overtake the pursuit of the truth. It feels like a modern version of false death reporting like what happened quite famously to Mark Twain.

The roughest part about all this is that while Petty is still alive, he may not return to full strength. Rather than fearfully dwell on what may occur, let’s wish for the best to come and reflect on the best that has.

Tom Petty was my white whale as far as concerts were concerned. Many of my college friends are happily obsessed with him and his Heartbreakers – my friend Mike saw him six times, or was it seven? The first time for him and our other pals to partake in Petty’s presence was after our freshman year of undergrad. I had to skip the trip to go to the show because I was taking summer classes, and missing a chemistry lab is much rougher than one lecture. Either way, I wish I had been less responsible and had skipped. I did get another chance a couple years later when Mike and his cousin traveled into their homestate of New York to see him upstate. This time, family responsibilities prevented me from making it. When my friends said that Petty was making a stop in Cleveland on his Heartbreakers 40th anniversary tour my curiosity was again piqued. Then I saw that Joe Walsh was the opening act. In a classic “You had my curiosity, but now you have my attention” moment. This summer I finally saw him, with Walsh and all, and it was worth it. The highlight of the experience was to take my younger sister to her first concert ever. A concert put on by her favorite artist, no less. Years ago, I bought a CD of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ Greatest Hits… and promptly lost it to my little sis. She played it on repeat so often that you could clearly see the tracks she preferred the most. Most starkly shining on the underside of disc was the middle track, her all-time favorite song, “I Won’t Back Down”.

This has now become a rallying cry urging the health rebound all of Tom’s fans are wishing for. Here’s hoping that he can make it happen; if anyone can, it’s this wacky sonofabitch. He may be a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, but his greatest honor is the admiration of the millions of fans like my sister whose lives have been brightened by his music.

Thanks for reading. Send any questions, comments, or suggestions to monotrememadness@gmail.com, and be sure to fly on back here next week, for hopefully some pleasant news.

Alex

Doom, Boom, Doom Went the Drums in the Deep

”                                                                                                                                            .”

“Moby Dick” by Led Zeppelin

37 years ago today, one of the greatest drummers of all time died after a fatally legendary night of drinking. Today, John Bonham is remembered in his music, especially with my favorite band, Led Zeppelin. Bonham was the heart of the band in that all that Zeppelin did was built on his beat, and after his death the band did not attempt to replace him as they knew it would be impossible. Instead, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, and John Paul Jones disbanded and ended Led Zeppelin.

The man known as Bonzo has been revered by many a drummer and rock fan since Led Zeppelin was released in 1969, including this list comprised by Legacy.com on the 30th anniversary of his death seven years ago. Today, I am going to take a look at this list and add some input where I see fit in the hope that you too will take a closer look, or rather listen, to one of the best musicians to master his instrument.

1. John Henry Bonham was born in Worcestershire, England on 31 May 1948.

Specifically, Bonham was born in Redditch, also the birthplace of Charles Dance (a.k.a. Tywin Lannister) and the home of the high school of John Taylor, bassist and founding member of Duran Duran.

2. He began teaching himself drums at age 5, making a primitive drum kit out of empty coffee containers, pots and pans, and other assorted kitchenware. He got his first real snare drum at age 10, and his first full kit at 15.

This would not be the last time he would play with unconventional instruments. Led Zeppelin utilized many unique sound tricks and items to make all sorts of sweet noise. Bonham frequently played with just his hands, and supposedly used a trash can as a drum on more than one occasion.

3. His early influences included big band jazz drummers like Gene Krupa, Joe Morello, and Buddy Rich.

Buddy Rich of course paricipated in the greatest drum battle of all time:

4. By 16 he was playing in his first semi-professional band. While they were recording a demo, the sound engineer told Bonham that he played too loud and was unrecordable. Bonham later sent him a gold record with a snarky note saying, “Thanks for your advice.”

5. A middle school principal once wrote on Bonham’s report card, “He’ll either be a dustman or a millionaire.”

Wouldn’t it be great for all of us to have one of these moments?

6. At 17 Bonham married Pat Phillips. A year later in 1966, they had their first child, Jason Bonham.

Jason has gone on to drum with the likes of many rock acts, both as a fill in for his father on some Led Zeppelin songs and with his own material. He has played with Zeppelin in his dad’s place for a few charity and tribute shows.

8. He first played with Robert Plant in a group called The Crawling King Snakes; the band took their name from a John Lee Hooker song.

This awesome blues track, in fact:

10. When Page and Plant began to form Led Zeppelin after the demise of the Yardbirds, other drummers they considered included Ginger Baker, Clem Cattini, Aynsley Dunbar, and B.J. Wilson.

Ginger Baker is the best known of these as he founded Cream, probably the most influential rock trio ever formed even though they only played for about three years from 1966-1968. Such is the case when you have Eric Clapton in his prime.

11. Bonham was at the time also considering offers from Joe Cocker and Chris Farlowe. Robert Plant and manager Peter Grant besieged the reluctant Bonham with dozens of telegrams sent to his favorite pub, until he finally agreed to join.

The pub is Bloxwich’s Three Men in a Boat.

17. They opened for acts like Vanilla Fudge, Iron Butterfly, and Country Joe and the Fish.

At many of the concerts that Led Zeppelin opened for, the fans would cheer for them to return the stage in preference to see more of them than the featured band.

Vanilla Fudge is best known for cover versions of “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” by The Supremes and “Season of the Witch” by Donovan; Iron Butterfly made the lengthy jam classic “Inna Gadda Da Vida”; and Country Joe and the Fish have the “Cheer/I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-to-Die-Rag”.

19. The band’s first album, Led Zeppelin, was recorded in only 36 hours. Released in early 1969 to generally poor reviews, it would nonetheless remain on the Billboard charts for 73 weeks and to date has reached sales in excess of 8 million in the United States alone.

The album equivalent of “look at me now, haters!”

20. Their second album, the imaginatively titled Led Zeppelin II, also released in 1969, has sold over 12 million copies and is widely considered as one of the most groundbreaking and influential albums of all time.

A rare instance of the sequel being better – a trend they would continue for a while.

22. Led Zeppelin IV, released in 1971, sold 37 million copies worldwide. It features a song you might have heard called “Stairway to Heaven.”

And “Black Dog”. And “Rock and Roll”. And “The Battle of Evermore”, “Misty Mountain Hop”, “Four Sticks”, and “Going to California”. Oh, and “When the Levee Breaks”. This album, which is actually technically untitled, is stacked, but then I don’t need to tell you that… because I already have.

23. Led Zeppelin’s excesses on tour were legendary. Bonham once drove a motorcycle – a gift for his 25th birthday – through the halls of the Continental Hyatt House Hotel in Los Angeles, where the band had rented out multiple floors for their entourage (both Keith Moon and Keith Richards reportedly dropped TVs out the windows of the same hotel, which acquired the nickname “The Riot House”).

Partying at the same level as the Keiths is a dangerous proposition that only a select few have been hardy enough for. Ozzy Osbourne also certainly falls into this exclusive unit.

27. In 1976 he appeared in the film Son of Dracula, along with Ringo Star, Keith Moon and Harry Nilsson. The rock ‘n’ roll vampire movie was poorly received and remains unavailable on either VHS or DVD.

At least they didn’t call it Drummercula.

29. The band did play a one-off, 2007 reunion show, with Jason Bonham taking his father’s seat behind the drum kit. Reunion tour rumors have arisen every year since.

Rumors of Jason replacing John began as soon as John Bonham died. The concerts with Led Zeppelin have merely more greatly encouraged this wishful thinking for fans.

Here’s one more for you from yours truly: John Bonham was the best man at Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi’s first wedding.

Thanks for reading, and hopefully for listening. Do yourself a favor and check out some of Bonham’s best songs from Led Zeppelin. “Moby Dick” is a great place to start, and you may as well work your way along chronologically through to “Bonzo’s Montreux”.

Check this site out again next week for more riveting posts!

Rock the fuck out of those drums!

Alex

Media Maelstrom

Houston, we’ve had a problem, and we continue to. It has been rough enough for the residents of Texas and Florida, not to mention the many others living throughout the Caribbean who have been affected by the recent hurricanes. Here in the USA, the pieces are still being picked up as another storm blows in. Thankfully, the early response for these and other storms has advanced greatly over the last century which has led to countless lives being saved by being able to leave or prepare for what’s to come. In that, the 24/7 availability of news and media outlets has helped. However, it has not been perfect coverage of such storms from the news – far from it, actually.

Today’s media, both televised and printed, but especially television news, has a nasty habit of presenting us with the spectacular side of a story at the expense of what is actually at the heart of it. Insofar as hurricane coverage (and any other natural disaster) is concerned, this approach is fairly formulaic in portraying the wake of the storm as something akin to a battlefield and painting the hurricane as the enemy force to be endured and defeated. The problem with this, is that is misidentifies what the real problem is, for it’s not a story of man versus nature, but man versus ignorance, in this case, man not paying sufficient attention to the need to maintain the natural spaces around him in order to provide himself with protection. Watch this video to see a more in depth discussion why it is vital we keep spaces such as wetlands, floodplains, and breakwaters in place for our own sake:

As you can see, there is more at stake with the sensationalized news coverage than misappropriating the true threat (climate change and overdevelopment), as poor media management can facilitate racism and purport myths.

Thanks for reading and watching. Continue to wish well for and help if you can those affected by the hurricanes.

Alex

“Let’s Roll”

It’s easy to say, “Never Forget”, and for those of us who witnessed any part of the news coverage or the actual attacks we will never be able to forget the horrors the United States endured on September 11, 2001. There are markers and memorials in the impacted areas in New York City, Arlington County, VA, and Stonycreek Township, PA that commemorate the people who died and the people who helped rescue those lucky enough to escape with their lives, so that everyone born after that date will forever be able to learn about the history of largest terrorist attacks in human history. Today, I would like to highlight a few specific heroes whose efforts 16 years ago helped to save the lives of many others in the hope that this will help us to continue to remember them and their sacrifices and contributions.

First, I want to salute a single individual named Todd Beamer. Beamer was a sales rep for IBM traveling for work from Newark to San Francisco onboard United Airlines Flight 93. United 93 was one of the four airplanes hijacked on September 11, 2001, and it appeared to be bound for Washington D.C. after the hijackers turned the plane southeast as they flew near Cleveland. The plane never made it to its target thanks to efforts of Beamer and fellow passengers, including Alan Beaven, Mark Bingham, Tom Burnett, William Cashman, Jeremy Glick, Linda Gronlund, Rich Guadagno, Lou Nacke, and Honor Elizabeth Waino, as well as flight attendants Sandra Bradshaw and Cee Cee Ross-Lyle. They called their loved ones, prayed together, and then stormed the cockpit.

Their brave efforts to fight back against the terrorists who had killed the pilots led to the United 93 crashing into the ground near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Todd led the charge to reclaim the plane, first calling on one of the plane’s seat phones and connecting with Lisa Jefferson, a supervisor at GTE Airfone who spoke with Todd about the situation and the passengers’ plan to retake the plane. She prayed with him and some passengers, then Todd checked with the group, asking if they were ready. When he was given an affirmative response, he said, “Let’s roll.” Sadly, all aboard perished in the crash, but their sacrifice ensured that no one else would suffer from another attack. Todd and the others on United 93 are American heroes and should be forever remembered as such. Thank you to them all.

 


All of us in the United States also owe a great debt to our northern neighbors who helped to safely redirect the flights that were already in the air after the attacks had begun. The attacks prompted the FAA (the United States Federal Aviation Administration) to ground all flights close down American airspace – the first time in history that such an immense action was taken. This left over 250 planes bound for US airports in the air with nowhere to land. Operation Yellow Ribbon was Canada’s response. Canada took in 255 airplanes at 17 of their airports in cities great and small, and at military bases. Canadian airspace was also shut down for departing flights, except those with emergency and military distinction.

The Canadian government and the airports with diverted planes helped secure lodging and meals for the passengers of each aircraft. The following year, Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien said,

9/11 will live long in memory as a day of terror and grief. But thanks to the countless acts of kindness and compassion done for those stranded visitors here in Gander and right across Canada it will live forever in memory as a day of comfort and of healing…. You did yourselves proud, ladies and gentlemen, and you did Canada proud.

To the entire nation of Canada, thank you.


Finally, a nod to astronaut Frank Culbertson, who was Station Commander on the International Space Station and took the title picture as ISS passed over New York City on the morning of September 11, 2001. Of the sight of the great smoke plume rising from the tower of the World Trade Center he went on to say,

“It’s horrible to see smoke pouring from wounds in your own country from such a fantastic vantage point. The dichotomy of being on a spacecraft dedicated to improving life on the earth and watching life being destroyed by such willful, terrible acts is jolting to the psyche, no matter who you are.”

Culbertson also wrote a couple of letters in response to learning of the attacks which you can read here. Near the end of the final letter, he expresses hope that their mission can be a beacon of hope and cooperation for future harmony:

I hope the example of cooperation and trust that this spacecraft and all the people in the program demonstrate daily will someday inspire the rest of the world to work the same way. They must!

I know many of us wholeheartedly agree.

Thanks for reading and watching. As we honor our heroes and remember our fallen from 16 years ago, let us continue to do what we can to aid in the efforts to brace and heal in Texas, Florida, the rest of the southeast US, and the Caribbean islands affected by the trio of hurricanes currently impacting America. Good luck to everyone seeking shelter and to all aiming to help them find it.

Alex

Wonderful Whitson

Happy Labor Day everyone! Today in the USA we honor American workers with a day off for (most) everyone. On this 2017 edition of the day, I would like to pay special props to an American whose work is literally out of this world.

Peggy Whitson has been logging some major merits in her career as an astronaut for NASA. She recently returned to Earth via Soyuz capsule to Kazakhstan after working the past 288 days aboard the International Space Station. After her most recent stint in space, Peggy owns records for being the first two-time female commander of ISS, the oldest woman in space (57), the most practiced woman to take a stroll in space with 10 space walks, oh, and now she has spent more time in space than any other American. In total over three missions onboard ISS, Whitson has accrued 665 days in orbit, longer than any woman in history. There are a few Russian cosmonauts who have stayed in space longer, including Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin who returned with her.

Whitson is a biochemist who started with NASA in 1989. She has been conducting research on a number of things, perhaps most notably on antibodies in zero-G. She has been awarded numerous medals from NASA, including their Outstanding Leadership Medal in 2006, and even served as Chief Astronaut for a time. Originally hailing from Iowa, she now lives in Houston, Texas where NASA is headquartered. She said that any trouble she may have adjusting back to life with greater gravity is nothing compared to the hardships of those affected by Hurricane Harvey, which includes some of her fellows at Mission Control.

Whitson may no longer venture into the cosmos, but she is still planning on working at NASA on the ground for spaceflight missions, as well as some other projects in the future that may involve a certain red planet.

Thanks for reading! If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, then send them my way at monotrememadness@gmail.com. Float on back here next week for more fun.

Shine on you American Space Ninja,

Alex

Making Mondays a little less Mondayish for all with words to educate, inspire, and try out my stand-up routine with.