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Monday, September 25, 2017

The long way home

I'm home!  Back to reality.

I wasn't too impressed, although I knew that it was as hot here as it was back in Missouri.  What's with the weather?  This is the end of September.  Fortunately we were on an airplane or out of the sun in the airport which was air conditioned. Ronda and Laura were sweltering in the car even with the air conditioning on.

Des Moines is a fairly small airport so we were good to get all of our stuff checked in.  I NEVER check luggage when I travel.  I carry a small suitcase and that works for me. So much so that I had to pack that thread box in there and a whole lot of fabric stuff, including what I had purchased when we were in Hannabal which I never even thought to give to Ronda to carry in the car!  I had to put the tape gun in there as well that we used to seal our boxes PLUS my clothes!   It all fit but it was a wee bit heavy.  Thankfully I had a tent that I had to bring home so I checked everything on the plane.  Let's not go there as to how that happened.

We were a few minutes late leaving Des Moines for a number of reasons but we made it to Chicago early. Now how did that happen?  Probably lots of fuel!

We had a two hour layover in Chicago and we didn't even get lost looking for our next gate. That is a huge airport!  I had to pack in such a hurry when I left that I forgot to pack my book that I was reading.

Now here's the funny thing about this book.  It's by Caleb Carr called the Alienist. We were chatting about books on the way to Missouir and Laura pipes up about this great book called the Alienist. I said I was just starting to read it. How bizarre was that?  And on the way home, they heard that there is a new TV series based on the book.  Now that's even more bizarre.  This obscure book written in 1994 that has been on my shelf forever and I choose NOW to read it!

So I'm waiting at the airport and after one hour, I decide that I need a book to read. I wander over to the bookstore and find what appeared to be an interestinng book.  I NEVER buy novels, but here I was about to shell out $16 US for a novel.  I know - it hurt but the book was worth it.  I bought "The Couple Next Door" by Shari Lapena.  Oh boy - what a book.  This is this author's first novel and it's quite the book. I do believe she is Canadian.  All I can say is that I finished the 308 page book before I went to bed last night. I was exhausted and kept wanting to go to sleep but I couldn't - that says something for this book.

I will warn you  - the book is filled with plot twists and a very interesting - VERY interesting premise.  I really enjoyed it. Shari has a second book out and I guess I'm going to have to find it. Hopefully in the library!

So when I finally got home - after 4 PM by the time I collected my luggage, I spent the rest of the day reading instead of getting some quilting, cutting and other stuff done.

Well - it's short and sweet today - I've so much work over the next couple of weeks that I had better get myself organized and get to work!

Have a great day!


Sunday, September 24, 2017

Birthday Bash - Day Three

I don't have a lot of time this morning.  I don't think there is much left on the battery on my laptop and we have a plane to catch!

It was hot again yesterday and it seemed to be hotter than the previous days as there was less breeze. But we survived!

It was JC Penny days in Hamilton. JC Penny was born in Hamilton in case you didn't know and one of the MSQC shops is called Pennys and the original sign from the JC Penny storefront is in that shop on the wall.

The fire department was putting on a pancake breakfast as part of the JCPenny days. It was a couple of blocks away and so I slipped away for that. Let's just say that those firemen know how to cook sausages and pancakes!!!!

Let me set the record straight - I did this AFTER our booth was set up.  We were out there at 7 AM to get our booth set up as we had to take down and set up each day.  Not a huge thing but we had to lash our quilts to our tent so that took a wee bit more time.  Then Patti went to the grocery store and I went for pancakes!

The main street was closed in the downtown area and lots of local vendors brought out their wares. Let's not forget that we are in middle America and there was a fellow there with guns - right out in the open for sale.  Rifles - lots and lots of rifles!!   I was amazed but then there were a couple of people from New York and they were amazed as well so I guess it's a middle America thing!  Some very cute things but there was NO space to ship or bring anything home!

Lots more people today but like all events, the last day is always the quietest.  As a result, we shut the booths down at 3 PM which was good. We had to decide which items were being brought back to Toronto on the plane and which items would get shipped.

And then we had time to go shopping!  Yeah because there was no time when we were in the booth the entire day and for the same time frame that the shops were open.  Let's just say that a few items found their way into my shopping bag and at the end, I qualified for all the free items which included a big plastic thread box.   Hmm - I only have my small suitcase with me and our boxes are packed.  No worries - I'll find a way.

Oh - I should mention that we chatted about buying a rifle and we could put it in our tent bag to bring home!  We thought it might not be a good idea to try and smuggle a gun across the border since we do not have paperwork!

I just threw all my bags into the car and we headed out for Des Moines to the airport.  When we arrived at the hotel, I repacked my bags and I was able to fit EVERYTHING into my little suitcase and my backpack.  I'm a good packer and trust me - I have three pairs of shoes with me, pants AND shorts!

I can't wait to get home and fondle it all - there was no time for that here.

Then we were out to have some cool beverages and a nice dinner where I actually had to put my NEW sweatshirt on my shoulders because it was just cool in the restaurant - not freezing cold, but cool.

It's still hot here - stinking hot, but then I think it's stinking hot at home as well!

We had loads of fun but WAIT - before you get too jealous - just remember that the day started at 7 AM with setting up the booth and officially ended at 5:30 once our booth was packed up and we had to stand in the heat all day. Then in the evening, I was off to do something else for the charity bakeoff!  It was exhausting but loads of fun and just the kind of thing that I love to do!!

Now back to reality.  I won't get home until later this afternoon and I've got a ton of fabric that has to be cut for tomorrow morning.  Yeah me!!!

On that note, I've got a plane to catch!

Have a great day!


Saturday, September 23, 2017

Birthday Bash - Day Two

Thank goodness Greek yogurt is thick cause I have to eat mine with a fork this morning as I threw my spoon away yesterday morning!

Wow ---  this place is amazing. And not because we are here in Hamilton, Missouri - no - it's because it's so flipping hot and humid!  And we're outside the entire day!  Well - I've had to run in several times and I'm doing a demo each day at noon so I can't complain to get those brief spells of cool.  Patti has braved it out all day by manning the booth!

It's just hot - stinking hot!  But what I hate even more is that the buildings are flipping COLD.  I'm freezing and would love to have my sweatshirt which I think is history so I must remember to buy a new one before we leave.   The huge range of temperature difference is what I hate about air conditioning.  Give me the same temp - moderate temp and I'm good.

So - take two of setting up the vendor tents.  This time we were spaced out a bit differently and I think the layout was better - more open and friendly except one booth got direct sun pretty much the entire day!  We were pretty lucky where we were.  No tents went flying today, the winds were moderate, but there were a couple of gusts that could have spelled danger, except that we were lashed to anything and everything. The main tent, buckets of water, concrete blocks - you name it - it became an anchor for us!  We lashed out quilts to our tent with rope - I knew that 100-foot rope would come in handy and we were good. Nothing was out of place the entire day!

We had a steady stream of people all day and busloads were coming in.  What surprised me is the number of people who just happened to be passing through and here's this birthday bash happening.  How fortunate for them!  And we've met lots of people who are within a one-hour drive away.  Imagine!

We've met people who have been with MSQC since day one!  That's so cool and we've met people who are new employees!  By the way, they are hiring in case you're looking for a job!  And this town needs additional services to manage/support the people who visit - does anyone want to relocate?

After we were finished in our booth yesterday, it was time to long arm all those quilts.  I also enquired about having a tour of the warehouse.  I mean - who wouldn't want to see this warehouse!  We had a brief walkthrough of the spaces which some of the parts, they've already outgrown and this is the SECOND warehouse on the property!  We were escorted to the upstairs of the original section of the warehouse to the long arm facility.

Patti and I were there and both of us are long arm quilters, but nothing prepped us for what we saw. The number of long arms - a HUGE number. The number of quilts to be unpacked that are waiting to be quilted by MSQC and shipped back before Christmas - HUGE.  The number of quilts already unpacked and waiting to be quilted and shipped to their owners by Christmas - ASTRONOMICALLY HUGE!!!!!   HUGE   - I wouldn't have believed it if you had of told me.  This was something you had to see in person - HUGE!!!!

I've never worked on this brand of long arm before and so we had one of the employees in this section get the quilt loaded and she was our babysitter for the evening.  I've never done a quilt using a computer before either and so she walked me through that part.  And soon, the machine was working away while I watched and guided the edges.  I'm not sure I would have done everything the way they did, but not my machine.  I was just soaking up the experience. Patti meanwhile was off to help bind quilts.

Oh - I should mention that I had carefully selected the quilt top that I had done the day before and after a wee bit of confusion, I was able to get that one loaded.  And Patti bound my quilt.  It was just easier that way!

I'm down in the sewing center of the retreat house and I see the quilts are sitting here. Some waiting to be bound and some are already done.  I was going to volunteer this morning, but I won't have time since we need to set up our booth.  I think the goal was 32 quilts and I think they probably made that number.  It was amazing to see last night, but there were probably 26 quilts being quilted at the same time last night!   It was amazing to see and Jenny's original machine is still in service in the facility.

You have to remember that that is how she started the business - with one long arm.  They've come a long way!

I see the Daily Deal is something that I wanted to get so I may pop over to a shop to get it.  The problem with being a vendor is that there is zero time to shop!   So it was lucky that we had to close down shop a wee bit early the other day because that gave us a chance to visit the shops a bit.  We hope to spell each other off today as we imagine it will be quieter today than the previous days.

I had spied a couple of things in one of the shops and I should have bought them then instead of having to go back now!

If you want to come to the Birthday Bash next year - the dates are September 19 - 22.   I think it's worth it to come here at least once in your lifetime.  It will blow your mind!

On that note, I'm off to finish getting ready - can't wait to carry everything from the basement to our tent  - oh yes - the glamorous part of a trade show!  And then to enjoy that heat all day!   Can't wait!

At least we have access to LOTS and LOTS of cold water.  At one point I grabbed a couple of ice cubes and they literally melted in my hand within minutes!

Have a great day!!!!


Friday, September 22, 2017

Birthday Bash - Day One

We survived Day One of the Birthday Bash at Missouri Star, but what a day!  It was long, it was hot and it was fun!

After I closed off my blog, I got ready to move everything we needed from the storage area to where the tents were going to be set up.  I had never set up one of those pop-up tents before, but there were enough hands around to make that happen. Then to carry all our stuff up out of the basement storage area. Thankfully our tent is pretty much by the stairs.

Oh did I mention that it's hot here?  For some reason, I envisioned that it was going to be cool in the morning - yeah - cool moving boxes of stuff.  I left my sweatshirt - my grey hoodie that I wear all the time on a bench and it was only when I was getting ready for bed that I realized that I had left it on a bench outside. Oh - probably gone but I'll check. I was contemplating buying a MSQC sweatshirt and now I may have to.  No way I'm going on a plane without something to keep me warm!

We got set up and changed into more respectable clothes, although by the end of the day, we all looked pretty funny. Wait for that!

People were stopping by to see what we were up to and the event hadn't officially opened. But soon we were on our way.  There are quite a few of us (vendors - even though we're not selling anything)

I had brought a few extra quilts which turned out to be a good thing because we could hang the quilts on the outside of the booth.  Having not done an outdoor show before, I had no idea what to expect.

We needed the iPads in our booth and to my dismay when I opened one of them, it was dead!  The other one was at 15% which was weird because I know that both of them were supposedly charged or so I thought.  So I plugged in the dead one and used the other one. I had to keep swapping them out which meant I had to zip into the retreat house to our room.  It so happened that Rob - Man Sewing was using the space for his lecture. I had to zip up and down the stairs a few times while he was talking until someone reminded me that there was a front set of stairs!  DUH!!!!   Oh well!   Now I know for today but hopefully both iPads held their charge from last night and we are good to go today!

Our quilts fell a couple of times and we kept rigging them up so they wouldn't.  Let's just say that the wind picked up later in the afternoon and we were debating whether to drop the tents or what. As is usual for these type of events, the crowds tend to drift off so we weren't busy with them. We were busy with holding things down. And when one of the tents across from us literally blew up and onto someone else's tent, we called it a day!  It was 3:30 PM.   It was crazy.  I had a customer in our booth and I'm trying to get her prize to her and Patti is holding down the tent and everyone else is running around because the tents were lifting and blowing.  But we got everything safely stowed away. Hopefully we'll have something to help hold down the tents today because I hear it's going to be windy again.  No rain although it looked very threatening at one point.

And the silver lining to that?  We got to shop!  Well, we got to look around. I didn't buy anything, but Patti and I stopped by the Northcott section and we tidied it up!  We couldn't help ourselves.

We met up with Ronda and Laura and had a pretty decent burger at the little burger place in town.

Then it was onto the Charity Bake Off which was held in the retreat center.  We started at 6 and we sewed and sewed and sewed. Someone did the cutting and someone did the pressing.  Is there no end to these blocks??  When I was about finished the blocks and getting close to my limit of consciousness, it was realized that we had enough blocks to make TWO quilts.  A slight miscalculation there!   Drat - because I could easily have completed the top.  Let's just say that there were a few issues and we're not going to go there!

I volunteered to get up early and finsih my top which I'm going to quilt tonight. Then I can see how wonky my seams are!   So yes, here I am after a long day yesterday up at 5 AM today and getting the blog to you so I can go and finish sewing my quilt top.  I see that they left only ONE of the tops at my sewing station.  Someone else can do the other!   Ronda and Laura were on the same team and I think they realized the situation about the number of blocks and did NOT sew all of them, but started to work on a quilt top.

I did mention how windy it got, but I didn't really mention how hot it was. You know there is hot and then there is HOT.  This was even HOTTER than hot!   It was humid, it was hot and I know we didn't drink enough even though there was water right by us. It was hard as we had farily steady business all day and no time for a quick break and really no need so we must get more water in us today!

On that note, I'm out of here.  By the way, the ttaffic is a lot quieter this morning.

Have a great day!


Thursday, September 21, 2017

Someone is having a birthday!!

I'm super excited as I write this - you wouldn't believe where I am!   I'm sitting in the retreat center at Missouri Star Quilting Company!  Yes - I'm looking out the front window across the main street and at 5:30 AM  (their time) there's a lot of traffic on this street.  Where are all these people going at this time of the day?  This is a small town, but I guess there is lots of stuff happening so people need to get it organized????

Across the street from me is the gorgeous new mural and the huge storefronts where eight of their shops are located. I think there are 13 in total?

Missouri Star Quilt Company is celebrating their 9th birthday and holding a HUGE (3 day) party to celebrate. Northcott is one of the companies sponsoring the event and we're here to play games and have fun!

Let me get back to our day yesterday. We were up a decent time - we all slept like logs!  No snoring in the room - I think our bodies were too tired to even consider that possibility. We had breakfast at Denny's and then on the road again.  We still had a significant drive and we had a time frame to deal with as the dinner was at 6 PM.  I think all of us found the drive a bit tedious - I'm not sure how people can drive for days on end.  I think the fact that we had a deadline was the big factor. We were not able to stop along the way.

However, we did make one stop in Hannibal, Missouri.  This is the home of Mark Twain and not one, but TWO amazing quilt shops. When I came through here in May, I was with non-quilters and I was driving so we didn't know.  But honestly - if ever you come this way, the shops are amazing.  Bits and Pieces and Hickory Stick Quilt Shop. Yes - we had to make a few purchases and we got license plates for Row by Row at each one of them.

It was my turn to drive and two and a half hours to Hamilton, Missouri. We made it in good time - I just set that cruise control to - well I won't say what and we made good time.  We arrived shortly after Patti did and we got ourselves organized. I unloaded all of our supplies and put with the rest of the stuff that was waiting for us.

We got our rooms at the retreat house.  This is so perfect - instead of staying at a hotel which there aren't any nearby - well about a 20-minute drive, here we are right in the middle of everything.  I think there are 10 vendors who have booths and I think most of us are here, but not all.  Imagine sleeping under the same roof as all the competitors.  Should something happen, all the marketing departments of the major fabric companies - well we won't go there!

Then it was off to the dinner at the local church. The guests of honor, of course, were the Doan family.  Jenny and her husband Ron and various children and in-laws.   The MC was BJ who does all the consumer shows and is an amazing host. He had us in stitches.  There was a HUGE contingent from Canada - all from the Arnprior area where Jenny had done a trunk show earlier this year. They also made and donated 150 pillowcases for some of the Hurricane Harvey people who had lost everything.

This is the third year they've done a celebration. Two years ago, there were 40 people at the dinner. Last year, there were 40 people at the dinner. This year, the event sold out with 200 people in attendance.  Unbelievable and for many, this was their first time to Hamilton! It truly is a place you have to come at least once!

Dinner was great and we were sitting with Rob Appell - yes - Man Sewing himself. He really is a hyper guy but a very nice person who has been involved in the quilting business for a very long time. His mother owned a quilt shop!  And we sat beside the FreeSpirit team!

After dinner, they played a game - Family Feud - The Doan Girls against The Doan Boys.  As Jenny mentioned, NOTHING leaves that room.  Let's just say that it was a hoot.  BJ was amazing as the MC and he could get a job in Hollywood - he could replace whoever the host is on Family Feud - I think it's still going on!  I couldn't find my camera before I left - just way too much going on, but I'm taking pictures with my phone.

I believe that this morning, there is a company picture being taken right at that mural across the street.  I heard some unbelievable number of 455 employees???   I'll get pictures because we should be setting up our booth about that same time.

When we got back from dinner, there were a few girls cutting in the retreat sewing room.  I volunteered to help. I wasn't doing anything else and too early for bed.  Turns out they are part of the Kansas City Modern Quilting Guild and they are the ones organizing the Charity Bake Off.  Their goal is to make 32 quilts over the next three days.  COMPLETED!!!!  I helped them cut for about a half hour and then I was done!  I needed some sleep.

Well - it's now 6 AM here and this place is starting to hop.  People are getting up and well I'm sure it isn't going to be quiet too much longer.

We didn't get to the grocery store before it closed last night to pick up supplies so we may have to wait a teeny bit for breakfast.  There's an opportunity for someone to start up a breakfast place - I think this retreat place gets a lot of business!  Anyone want to build a small hotel here?  Personally, I'm glad we're here in the retreat center!

What can I say - I love my job!  HOwever, before you get all jealous - remember it is sweltering hot!  Our tents (booths) are OUTSIDE - so we have to set up in the humidity and we have to tear down in the humidity and we have to stay outside in the humidity all day.  Yes - we can pop into the air-conditioned retreat center to cool off, but it's going to be warm and hopefully no rain!

All I can say is that MSQC is a machine. There is no other way to put it.  A lot of thought has gone into making this company what it is - a LOT!  Oh - by the way, we did get the Row by Row license plate yesterday. That was our priority when we got out of the car. GET that plate before they are all gone!

Apparently, there are thousands of people expected over the next couple of days. Tons of games, tons of prizes to be won. And let's not forget that there are tons of fabric to be bought!

On that note, I'm out of here to get the day started!

Have a super day!!!!    Let the games begin!


PS - now let's check out this daily deal. Nothing more exciting than buying the daily deal in person!   Just checked - the daily deal is Northcott!!!   I guess I won't be buying that one!!!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Road Trip!

I think I said this yesterday and I'll say it again - the day before you leave on a trip or the day you leave - business or pleasure is always stupid! Yesterday was no exception.

I had to get some last minute things done at work so I was in super early to try and get them all done before I was scheduled to leave at 12.  Cut fabric, cut more fabric.  E-mails.  Oh - one more little item that we need for the trip.  And finally, I flew out of the office.  Just as I'm leaving, I get a call from Ronda who was in the car.  OH - you are NOT on your way to my house because I'm not ready.  I still had two errands.  I got to my house when I said I would and everything was done except to pack!

Yep - packing is the least priority thing for me.  I threw stuff in the suitcase (later I realized that I had forgotten my toothbrush but that is an easy thing to fix!). Then more e-mails to answer and well, we had to make a slight detour back to Ronda's house.

On the way, we witnessed an accident - a stupid accident and we were almost caught in the middle of it. A small car was flying from a merge lane trying to beat the traffic from the light that had just turned green.  Of course, they didn't make it and the car in front of us got nailed. He swerved to the left to avoid the oncoming idiot and the car beside him swerved and hit the concrete barrier so I think that two cars got hit on both sides.  For a second we thought the idiot wasn't going to stop but they did, but it didn't look like they were going to.  Here's where things get sketchy.  I thought it was two girls in the car, Ronda thought the driver was a guy with long hair - I don't think so.  We probably wouldn't be good witnesses so we drove on!!!

We were picking up Laura from downtown.  It was her last day at her current job and she was having a really really bad day as she left her bag of technology toys on the GO train!!  A good Samaritan turned them in but it took time for all that to happen. Then we were downtown later than expected and we got stuck in traffic.

Without going into a lot of details, we were much later getting out of the city than planned. Much!  And the traffic on the 403 - there was a big accident but thanks to WAZE - we were able to avoid it, but then so did a bunch of others.

We stopped somewhere for a bite to eat - you can't survive on candy for the entire day! And then it was my turn to drive as we were getting somewhat close to the border and Ronda wanted me to be the driver as we went over the border.  That way I couldn't complain about how she answered the questions.

We drove over the bridge at Port Huron which is the same bridge that I road my bike under several weeks back in Sarnia!  A big scary bridge but it was dark so I couldn't' see!

The border crossing guy was pretty grumpy. But I answered those yes and no questions - he wasn't getting ANY extra information from me. And in a few minutes, we were on our way!!!

Between us - we have enough technology to stock a small store. New phones, old phones, GPS, iPads, etc.  So we knew where we were going and how long it was going to take!

I drove until about 12:30  and then that was it for me.  I couldn't drive any further.  It was Laura's turn to finish the day. She got the worst shift as it was night, it was dark and the roads were filled with construction at that point.  Not fun!  But we made it to Joliette, Indiana - well close to Joliette.  So we've another 6 hours or so to get to Hamilton, Missouri. Yes - we've got a date with Jenny Doan tonight for dinner!!!

We stayed in a motel along the way (well that's where we are now!) and guess who got the cot in the middle?  Yep - that would be me!  And I plugged my phone in to find it dead this morning because when we turned the lights out - the power went out to that outlet!!!

And let's just say that what happened in the blue van stays in the blue van.  A lot of laughs - a LOT!

Crap - well Laura has left the room. Ronda will be ready in a few minutes and I had better close this off.

Have a super day!!!!  


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Don't panic!

If you are observant, you'll notice that the top of the blog page is different. That's what happens when you hire a consultant (your daughter) to take a look and see what can be changed and then things change immediately!  It's all good as I've been meaning to move those tutorials to a separate page but that just didn't happen.  If you still want to look at the tutorials, they are in a tab marked tutorials at the top of the page. They haven't disappeared. I do need to go through them, update them, delete a couple that are no longer relevant and make new ones!

Ah - to have a 30 hour day!

It was a crazy day at work. Well, part of that day was spent with the Monday group as we madly sewed up a storm for this crazy project.  They were good!  Over half of the sewing got done or was taken home for sewing and there was only a handful of them there.

Then off to work for a crazy day of cutting fabric. Rolls of fabric were flying right and left - OK - not exactly but I got a lot done. But I've got a lot more to do today and I leave - I have to be in the car by 1 PM.

Did I get my quilt top done last night and my quilt done on the long arm?  NOPE - neither got done. By the time I got home, there was only time to get this table runner quilted that I need for this week. I had so much fun quilting it and it looks amazing. You only get to see the back until later this week.

Table runner quilted
 The runner is quilted, trimmed and I sewed the binding on this morning. I'm going to hand stitch it to the back in the car - we have a LONG drive ahead of us!

I thought I would share with you my newest Row by Row license plate.  Yes - it's so neat!!!   Thanks Cathy for picking that up!  I love it and I got it at our Modern Quilt Guild meeting which was very appropriate.

Here is one piece of advice about machine quilting and I'm going to say that it's the MOST IMPORTANT advice that anyone can give you. Whether you're experienced or just learning or somewhere inbetween. You MUST (absolutely MUST) stop criticizing yourself. If the lines aren't straight - who cares?  Make them straighter next time or just forget about perfectly straight lines.  What are we? Engineers??  We shouldn't care about that. What if the squiggles are a wee bit wonky?  Who cares?  Get over this - quilting is a hobby and we should be having fun.  If we're not, then we should think about a different hobby.

I will show you the quilting on my table runner later this week.  It's not perfect, but it looks perfect enough. Well, at least it looks pretty cool.  That's all we aim for.  And having fun and learning what will work for the next time.

Speaking of which - I INSIST that you check out QUILTsocial this morning.  Seriously - there is more good advice regarding quilting.

On that note, I'm out of here.  I can't wait for 1 PM - that means that I will have packed, bought rope, got money and a whole lot more!

I'm not sure how available the internet will be where we're going so I may only be posting on Facebook.

Have a super day!!!