Also, anyone from Chicago-wards want to share in? I won't have the kid with me, and will have a car. Or maybe I can go in your car if you have space for a person, a suitcase, and a guitar. :->
It's been a long time since I actually posted a developmental update. And this isn't one, or at least not an exhaustive one.
Quickie breadcrumbs: She's currently the 'right' size for the high end of 4T clothes or the low end of 5T, with most 6T being 'wearably oversized'. So mostly I'm buying 6T/kid-small, to give her a running start. Some t-shirt necks are still too small for her 23" HEEEEID, so keyhole necks are awesome. Her shoes are mostly size 9 ... I say mostly because for a while now she's been fitting shoes by width not length, with 1/5-1/3 of the shoe empty in front of her toes. This is now changing, since she's STILL in 9s, but the empty space up front is gradually disappearing.
Also she got what I think were her first serious growing pains; mid-upper thigh, both legs, deep in the leg, bad enough she was sobbing uncontrollably; we ibuprofen'ed her and applied cognitive distraction until the Good Meds took effect.
But that's not really what I want to talk about.
Yesterday at my favorite thrift, I got a whole bunch of 6T sundresses, summer tops, and skirts-with-shorts-inside (a favorite garment-style for her, always chosen first out of the drawers). I also grabbed some books. They had a wad of Junie B. Jones'es we hadn't read yet, which Beka loves for 'long story' at bedtime.
They also had a Maisy compendium including four titles we'd not had before. As Maisy is a big favorite around here, I also snagged it.
Last night at bedtime, Daddy refused to read her the Maisy book and she picked something else.
Today at naptime, she read me two of the stories. Herself.
Now, I helped a little, but when I say 'a little' I mean I:
- Pointed at the next word to help her keep her place
- Pronounced all unfamiliar proper nouns, like the names of Maisy's friends Tallulah and Eddie
- Pronounced the hardest syllable of any really long words to give her a running start (like saying that through is "an ooo word").
Reader, I was amazed.
It wasn't fast and fluent yet, with pauses between each word as she decoded the next, but she WAS genuinely reading through them, parsing the syllabic stuff on the second occurrence of words that were unfamiliar the first time, and genuinely GETTING IT.
Then she grabbed a Junie B. Jones book and made it most of the way through the first paragraph, with increasing helps frequency, before getting frustrated. Junie B. Jones, apparently, "is harder than Maisy".
I have such an excite I don't even know how to handle it. :-> Now to bone up on nwe-to-her books of approximately the same reading level as Maisy to toss her at for more practice!
- Current Mood: excited
So we did.
All text is precisely as she specified it (along with her titles on the cover page); all drawings are hers. I did the paper cutouts to her request and specification. Shared largely without editorial comment; I'll transcribe the text below each image in case it's hard to make out. A couple of explanatory notes at the end.
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So I know I've been saying a lot (in person, if not here) that she keeps making quantum leaps in verbosity and ability to stick with a concept and logic at it, but wow did she just make another one.
Today when she came into the house after the school-and-commute, she began talking about her day. And (with occasional clarification/prompting questions from me) she continued talking about her day and what happened for about 20 straight minutes.
This has never happened before, even with us badgering her about it. Narrative! Narrative recountings of her day! So awesome.
There have been photos taken, but they're not edited and posted yet, so they'll go up in their own post.
Then a week ago, out of the blue, she did this:
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Representational art, that an outside observer can identify (probably) without needing to be told by her what they're looking at. That's a baby, by the way.
And on Thursday, her dad came in the door with her from their commute home in the evening. She was running on and on in a narrative stream, and he looked at me over her head and said, "Forty-five minutes of this." So yet another quantum of narrative/descriptive/verbal ability has been passed.
At bedtime, she seems to be following the plot of the long stories (currently a stream of Oz books, two chapters at a time), which is also relatively new. She'll react to plot happenings and ask questions, which she never used to.
Definitely growing up, I tell you what. Maybe by WisCon she'll be less melty-down in the afternoons/evenings, and everyone will have more fun at the con. :->
Edited to add: Oh, and she's recognizing more words on sight (though not reading fluently yet, or sounding-out-and-understanding). Her name, in all forms, she can recognize and type accurately. Her handwriting's a little rougher but she practices. And the other day in the car, she looked out the window and said, "That building says Open!" and it did. So did the one next to it. :->
My cousins are engaged in clearing out my grandmother's house of personal items so the estate sale can happen next Saturday (if you're Chicago-local and interested, it's at 9621 S Keeler in Oak Lawn, 9AM-5PM on Jan 12), and taking posession of all the photos and family-history-related items that nobody else called dibs on.
There are several bound journals with entries in them written by my great-grandmother (who I knew and baked cookies with; she died in 1992). I want to transcribe them -- apparently I am the only one of my cousinage who can make heads or tails of her handwriting! Years of practice on birthday and Christmas cards, I suppose. I may post 'good bits version' excerpts here; on the whole they appear fairly quotidian to my cursory flip-through.
I have also taken posession of a shoebox-like-amount of fairly big reels of 8MM home movies, and a projector for showing same -- any advice from the peanut gallery is welcome, if any of you have had to deal with archiving, viewing, or otherwise interacting with same. If it can be determined which of them have anything of interest on them, a collection might be taken in the family for digitization costs, I suppose. Of higher-quality digitization than me projecting them on a wall and aiming a video camera at them, which is about what I'm up to in-house. :->
Also magically turned up from the belly of some lost deep file-drawer are my mother's genealogical work on that side of the family, from 1975-79. Should be fun to go through sometime when I have time and energy to think about the tree, and see what of it I have since duplicated -- and what in there might be new to me.
- Jan 1: Night Work, by Laurie R. King [Kate Martinelli series]
- One Salt Sea, by Seanan McGuire [October Daye #5]
- Jan 5: The War of the Flowers, by Tad Williams
Loved this. Would recommend whole-heartedly to anyone into fae-and-our-modern-world books (like the Toby Daye ones, or Patricia Briggs' ones, or ...).
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- Current Mood: tired
Some of these books were suggested as good reads by panelists; others by my fellow conventiongoers; and two I got off the SF Outreach Project's free-books shelf and have already read (yum!), so I can recommend them personally. Mostly they are books; I should note a few are visual media of one sort or another. If any of these make you think of another title I might enjoy, please feel free to counter-recommend in the comments!
This has turned into Post 1 of 2, because the 'Queer Interest' category is so enormously huge I don't feel like typing it out today, but the rest are done, so I'll post and pique some interest.
I've read these recently and found them impressive, or at least entertaining. These are the only books on this page I have read myself; all other recc categories are hearsay -- but interesting hearsay.
- Containment, by Christian Cantrell. Apparently a first novel. Damned impressive, if so. I picked it up off the free-books shelf because its back blurb said it was about colonizing Venus (the hard-core, monkeys-in-tin-cans-solving-problems kind of colonizing Venus), and I thought it sounded interesting. It completely paid off all my expectations, and then halfway through took a turn I was completely not expecting and utterly refuse to spoiler that suddenly catapulted it into at least four times more awesome a book than I'd thought I was reading up to that point. Pick it up, this guy deserves a chance to sell his SECOND novel, if this is only his first. I read the yellow-orange covered one; apparently there was an older edition with grey cover art that is somewhat different.
- Marseguro, by Edward Willett. Another scoop from the free-books shelf at Chicon 7; I grabbed it because it claimed to be about a culture that has both ordinary 'nonmodded' humans and some seriously genetically altered amphibian 'Selkies' colonizing a new planet. And it was. Which I liked. :-> It addresses head-on a lot of difficult and uncomfortable moral dilemmas involving hate, upbringing, and the ethics of mass murder. Not as much of a sudden unexpected home-run of awesomeness as Containment is, but it's quite enjoyable, if that setup is the sort of thing you enjoy. I will definitely be seeking out other titles by this author, since there are some to seek.
- Vineart series, by Laura Anne Gilman (first title Flesh and Fire). Interestingly unique magic system, involving the careful growing of magical grapes and the processing of same into vin magica, which can then be consumed and used for various spell-like purposes. Disclaimer: there are lots of long, detailed passages about viniculture, wine-brewing, and wine-tasting; if this will be a turnoff, these books are not for you. I enjoyed them, and even more I enjoyed the protagonist (a former slave and probable asexual having to go far outside his comfort zone) and the gradual unfolding of plot and worldbuilding that had me turning every page wanting to know MOOOOORE and figure out ALL THE THINGS. I squeed at the author at Worldcon a bit and she warned me that an awful lot of people who liked the books have been extremely mad at her for the ending of the third; I've only read the first two, but I do relay the tendency. :-> She also struck me in conversation as very much My Kind of People, and the reading I attended for the first book in her inspired-by-Tam-Lin fae series made me want to go buy the book immediately. I must wait for its publication, alas.
Fantasy Worlds Beyond the Basic 'Europeanish'
Epic/magical fantasy that doesn't assume a sort of generically Tolkienny or fairy-taleish world of white people, Frenchish names, knights on steeds, and castles.
- Obsidian & Blood series, by Aliette de Bodard. (First title Servant of the Underworld) Aztec murder mysteries with magical/fanstical elements, apparently; I am very excited to read them soon.
- The Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad, by Minister Faust. Two Canadian Gen-Xers suddenly fall into the middle of a weird, wild, wonderful romp of fantasy with a hot, ass-kicking chick who may or may not be 2500 years old.
- The works of David Anthony Durham were highly recommended by everyone on the non-Western fantasy panel (entitled, by the way, F*k Your Knight and the White Horse He Rode In On). As best I can tell, the first book in his epic-fantasy series is entitled Acacia; he has also written historical novels involving the African-American experience and a novel about Carthage.
- The works of Sara Douglass were especially recommended as being interesting takes on religiously observant societies that don't work in Christianish ways; I don't recall any particular titles being mentioned.
Weirdly Awesome Worldbuilding
- Engine Summer, by John Crowley, was highly recommended by the half the SF Squeecast panel who had read it, both for being entertainingly weird post-apocalyptic-with-new-tribes, and for having a big twist somewhere near the end that everyone insisted should NOT be spoilered and contained ALL THE FEELS.
I even think I know what title and theme I'd want to go with this time (it would allow for guest pieces/other authors).
And I have some pieces part-written that were blogposts and could be beaten together into content ....
Previous routine: As close to 7:30PM as can be managed (so, sometimes 8:45 ...), kid gets told, "Tooth time!" In an ideal universe, she then goes into the bathroom, uses it, gets her final Toilet Candy of the night (if applicable), then we brush her teeth. Well, she picks a toothpaste and shoves the brush around and then one parent brushes her teeth for her. Then there's a shift-change and the other parent superintends changing from undies to diaper, putting on of sleepers, picking of Lap Story and Bed Story, and read-alouds from same books.
Then the Story Parent leaves and the kid goes to sleep. In theory. She would regularly sit up and make noise and read and play with toys and try to turn her room's light on, etc, meaning not ACTUALLY asleep till after 10PM, regularly, even if the Story Parent got to leave before 9.
Then, a month or so ago, she started having a lot of really emotional brain-growing, and started freaking out about being in her room alone. However, a parent sitting with her after conclusion of Bed Story led to her being awake and trying to talk and play with said parent.
We have implemented two new policies that seem to be making all the difference in terms of getting her down and actually ASLEEP in a reasonable amount of time, without one parent having to spend literal hours soothing her.
First up: The Glowy Bracelet Award for Good Bedtime Helping. We have always used the ability to take away stories as a threatened stick to head off bedtime-related faffing about, but now there's a carrot: If we make it through the entire bedtime routine straight through to picking stories without either parent having had to resort to counting (we do a 5->1 countdown as a warning measure that a Consequence is about to ensue if the oppositional behavior is not quashed) AT ALL, then Beka gets a glowy goth-bracelet ($1/15 at Michael's) to keep with her all night. Any time Faffing About is initiated, I stop her, ask her to look at me with her listening ears on, and remind her that if there is a GOOD bedtime with NO COUNTING, she will get a glowy bracelet, but that to get it, she has to HELP us all bedtime and no fighting.
This has cut short the amount of oppositional annoyance we have to deal with at bedtime significantly; she's getting a bracelet 3 nights out of 5, on average. We used to offer a sticker on a sticker-chart in the morning, but having the bracelet with her in bed seems to work better.
Second: a modified 'sit with' policy. At conclusion of Bed Story, she almost instantly asks for "Papa to staaaaaay a little while." Our new response is, "I will set the timer. If you can be flat and quiet until the timer goes beep-beep, I will come back in and stay with you for a little while." If she's noisy, the timer's interval (somewhere between 20 and 35min, depending on the night) is reset to full length. When we get to the beep with a full quiet interval, about 1/3 of the time she's already asleep. if still awake, I poke my head in and say, "Flat and quiet?" and she lies down and grins. Then I come sit at her bedside quietly. If she wants to talk or sit up, I say, "If you're not flat and quiet I can't stay, sweetie," which usually solves it. If not, I do leave (sometimes re-initiating a timer for my return).
So far I haven't had to sit for longer than 40min, which is far better than the previous sometimes-2hr interval. She gets quieter, and stays quieter, and seems more willing to genuinely relax into sleep.
Note: this is a somewhat-commercial post. But only on my own behalf.
I've been working through some online resources and search tools for genealogy for myself. Then I started doing it for a couple of friends. I'm finding that (a) I'm fairly good at it, and (b) other people don't have the time or inclination to necessarily do it themselves.
[ Rates and information last updated 18 Feb 2013 ]
( tl:dr -- I can do your tree for you. I have rates. Click for more.Collapse )
I spent a lot of my formative early-Internet years playing on text-based Pern roleplaying games, so it's a world I'm very invested in, while fully admitting it has its weird distastefulnesses built into the worldbuilding (Lessa growing to adore her rapist, and all the other tropes so lovingly sporked by Bear and Monette in their Giant Telepathic Wolf books).
To cover the 'bad' first: They're very first-novelly. They're very YA-ish. He's got this Thing about plagues (and does the same epidemiology infodump repeatedly in successive books). A lot of things that happen in them are cheesy or obvious to people who've spent the last 30 years reading SF voraciously. Sometimes the protagonists win because A Wizard Did It, or because the world just randomly fell out in the luckiest possible way.
But they're also very, very Perny; if you want some more Pern, they're definitely that. Also, he's doing kind of a neat structural thing where the last several books overlap a lot of the same timeframes of action (but from different perspectives: imagine if we had a Moreta/Nerilka thing, only with even more main characters and stretched over several Turns of action) and add up to far more than the sum of their parts.
Pern has a lot of unwritten-about history, and Todd is plugging into those gaps, making it clear that not only can Records be lost or destroyed, but what gets written down in them in the first place is usually quite edited from 'what actually happened'. It's fascinating to see a piece of Pernese history (the beginning of the Second Pass) that is distinctly later than the early, SFnal-with-tech settlement, but in which there are still people whose grandparents' grandparents knew the original settlers personally (and passed on garbled stories down the family line). Some social trends that Lessa and F'lar knew well are already underway; others haven't started yet, and I'm really digging what he's doing with the worldbuilding.
But the thing that finally gobsmacked me this morning is that he's got a polyamorous protagonist, AND a pair of lesbians prominent in the story. Old!Pern admitted to the existence of horny gay men, but you never got the idea the narrative really approved of them. Here, a lot of characters dismissively refer to the lesbians in ways that say they think only hets could possibly Impress gold ... but then, most of the same characters think girls could never Impress non-gold dragons, either, and we know there's room for that in the world.
They're in no way totally unproblematic, but each of them is definitely showing improvements in writerly craft ... I am now actively excited to see what he'll be writing in five or ten years (and will likely read a lot of what he produces in the interim).
- Current Mood: sad
However: it seems I shall be attending both FilKONtario (April 20-22, Toronto) and WisCon (May 25-28, Madison, WI) and do not yet have rooming arrangements for either. I will be toddler-enhanced at WisCon, though she's pretty good at sleeping through the night lately. FKO will be toddler-free.
If you have a room reservation and are willing to let me pay you for half a bed or so, I would love to do that thing. I have no particular modesty issues and am generally in favor of a nice full room (to split the bill maximally). Fannish-roommate references available if desired.
Also, if you're going but can't room, check in below in the comments; I'm also looking for dinner-run partners and general conversation, etc, and anybody still bothering to read this journal (after years of minimal activity) would probably enjoy what I'm like in person. :->
It should help out with gas and what used to be called 'pin money,' though I don't expect it to contribute thousands a month to our home economy. We'll see. I may not get it, after all, in which case, why worry how much it might have paid? Best-case, it may actually contribute useful funds, and will definitely bring my resume back current with recent work experience and potentially good reference letters. The boss seems like Good People; she is currently running a profitable (!!) business that was previously one-woman, for which she is attempting to slowly hire employees to bring her work week down from 85hrs+ to what she feels is a more manageable 60ish.
So, house. I forgot I hadn't posted here that we closed, back before Christmas (and right before leaving town for a week, JOY!). Major expenditures already committed to/paid for: New boiler, alarm system, new roof (!!!! gasp faint; still in progress). We have to complete some fairly pissant carpentry and interior painting as a condition of our FHA loan, after which completion (and inspection) we get back a large chunk of escrowed money ... with which we finish paying off the roof and the other repairs, with nothing left over. Sigh.
Today, I got a call from our Realtor about when might be good for a showing, though (!!!! yaaaaaay kermitflail), which is the first serious nibble we've had in a year. I told him if they didn't mind seeing it with stuff in it I was at his disposal to unlock and let in, and if they wanted it sans stuff it could be in that state (or close to it; showable) by mid-Feb, which it can, because the plan is to at least move in enough that we're sleeping there by the end of this month.
When we have a 'we are actually renting a truck on X day' date or a 'the come over and paint for free pizza and booze' date (which will come before the other one), I'll post it, on the off chance anyone here is interested in providing company or hands for such an enterprise.
If you have any recommendations for Chicago-area contractors/painters/carpenters you've worked with in the past and are happy with, drop me a line, we're still getting bids in.
- Current Mood: accomplished
Because I can't face prose right now, bullet points:
- Food: Her diet has contracted back to a relatively few dishes (noodles with parmesan, cornbread, wheat bread, bagels -- all bread products usually with jam or cream cheese -- breaded chicken nuggets or fish sticks, french fries, rice, broccoli, green peas, carrots, and occasionally mac-and-cheese. But only occasionally; sauce makes noodles 'dirty' and needs to be 'cleaned off'). I really miss being able to take her to restaurants and share what I get, or even make a single family dinner that everyone present will eat. Sigh. This too shall pass. Trying not to freak out about it.
- Jumping: She's getting the knack, though she does these weird stiff-legged uncoordinated crow-hops and only gets at most 1" off the ground. Still, sucking at it is the first step on the road to mastery, and she's definitely taking that step. Thanks to Sesame Street, she tries to hop on one foot, but it laughably fails to work so far.
- Fine motor: She holds an adult pencil about like an adult would, though she still makes random uncoordinated zigzags and squiggles. Enjoys subdividing her food finely with the edge of her spoon when she's not hungry anymore, and then sometimes eating it. Is half-decent at eating liquidy foods with a spoon, though she can't go bibless yet without messing a shirt. Loves Duplo, can stack her alphabet blocks at least 6 high and adjust them when they Jenga at her.
- Emotional life: She's clearly growing some neurons that lead to turmoil. This led to some really wacked-out nightmares for a couple of weeks, and a continuing sporadic tendency to grab some random soft thing to her chest and say "MINE, I NEED it!!!" Very emotionally labile in general. The turmoil comes in gusts. John and I can ruin things just by looking at them funny, or failing to give her the thing we're getting for her quite fast enough, which then leads to a long upsetness where she can't even deal with us until it passes.
- Emotional expressiveness: During a tantrum, she'll say pointedly, "No, I not want (thing). I very upSET wif you now." SImilarly, she'll tell us when she's crying, or angry, and even say things like, "I was a happy happy girl, but now I very upset." Clearly, school is working on verbalizing feelings, 'cause otherwise I have no idea where it's coming from. Kind of nice, though. She's also much better at being descriptive about particular localization of owwies.
- Potty learning: completely on hold. More than half her daycare room aged out into the 3-year-old group at once and was replaced by fresh new barely-2-year-olds, and now she's lost all interest in even trying to pee on the toilet, and refuses to tell us when she's made wet or poop in her diaper, or ask us to change it.
- Books are still the very bestest ever, though she does still sometimes start to tear pages or color in them. She will happily sit for a half-hour or more in her crib leafing through her books, either quietly or "reading loudy," which involves either talking about the pictures or reciting rhythmic rhyming gibberish as she turns the pages (which is adorable). She particularly loves and asks to be read Ursula Vernon's Dragonbreath books, and I don't blame her -- they're awesome.
- Transitions are apparently stressful for her now; I am taking steps to lampshade coming changes for her so she definitely knows they are coming and that a change is about to happen. I'm using an egg timer to do a 5-minute countdown for things like, "We're going to do teeth very soon, Beka. You can play one more (whatever), but when the egg goes bing, we will do your teeth." Teeth being the first step of the bedtime routine, of course.
- Dog interaction: She sometimes likes them and attempts to get them to play with her, but more often she'll be annoyed that they're in a chair she wants to sit in, or when she's sitting or lying down and they come to snuggle. Then she kicks them in the head and is generally angry. We're working on explaining how awesome dogsnuggles are, but she doesn't believe us yet. :-> She does randomly approach them for hugs and happy "MY doggie, MY Ajax, MY Bosson!" declarations.
- Tiredness symptoms: she's still a destructive hosebeast when she's tired (but only then). She still doesn't want to sleep, ever. We still can only GET her to sleep by putting her in her crib and leaving the room.
- Vocabulary: off the scale. I don't think I could count it out right now without serious effort. Her grammar is getting increasingly complex, both in guesses based on regularity ("You falled my cup, Papa!") and in actual self-correction (this/that distinctions, using some irregular verbs correctly, proper use of him/his/my/I).
- New favorite phrases: "But whyyy?" "Not yet."
- Screen time: We monitor and limit, but not draconically. Some days she doesn't have any; most commonly she gets ~30min in a whole day (one Backyardigans episode or half of a Sesame Street). On some days there's more, sometimes of her choice, sometimes when she's in the room while adults watch something WE want to watch. She only actually pays attention to the screen when she's too tired or cranky to enjoy doing anything else, so I'm not worried about cutting her off yet. This may change once her comprehension improves to the point where she can actually follow a 5-min storyline.
- Choices: we have implemented two new policies, which can be summarized as "no backsies" (once she affirms a particular choice, she doesn't get to change her mind right after we hand her the food and scream for something different) and "you pick, or I'll pick" (no more ten-minute-long ditherings and refusals to choose; we now offer several choices and say, e.g., "Moose sleeper, dino sleeper, stripey frog sleeper, or Papa picks?" Sometimes she does actually choose "Papa picks," and doesn't object to my choice afterwards, which is interesting). We think these are both developmentally appropriate new policies, and they will leads to great improvements in parental sanity.d
- Baths are once a week, on Sundays, unless she does something unusually filthy and needs one sooner.
- Current Mood: accomplished
But that's not what this entry is about. :->
I just joined Puzzle Pirates -- what do I need to know, and who should I hook up with in-game?
However, as of this week, I've seen four houses, brought John to two, and we've put an offer out on one. :-> Yes, we work fast, but (as I hope to be able to show you once it's ours) it's really an amazing house, right down the center of what we want in a house.
Also, in Chicago. In Albany Park, by some people's estimation, though others draw the neighborhood boundaries differently. Near Montrose and Pulaski, at least. Convenient to two different CTA trains, very up near several people I know and would love to visit more often. Huge house with a lot of original windows, decorative features, etc. ENORMOUS kitchen. Perfect for hosting housefilks and other gatherings.
Which doesn't mean I've quit window-shopping other listings online; I won't ask our realtor to schedule showings on any of them until we've given this offer a little while to marinate and see if they snap it up.
One of the ones I saw last week was promising enough I wanted John to see it; and since I had a slate of stuff to see today, he took the morning off and we saw them all together. Herewith below are the (very positive!) results.
tl:dr version of this post: we have several solid Oak Park prospects and will probably be signing yet more offer paperwork this weekend.
I could actually be very happy (all other things being equal) living for years in any of the four ones we quite liked, it's just a matter of finances, home-inspectiony details I'm not qualified to determine, and whether they'll take what we can offer ($150K max).
The differences between our four prospects are basically all a matter of swings and roundabouts, and the ranking I've chosen is at heart a little arbitrary. If I HAD to pick an order, it's the one I'd pick, but they're all between pretty good and awesome.
( Because not all of you care about all the gory details, I shall spare those who do not click here.Collapse )