Saturday, March 28, 2009

Apparently, "Born Again" Christians Don't Get the Joke

I've never understood what some Christians mean when they describe themselves as "born again." Growing up in a mainline-to-liberal Presbyterian church, I never encountered the phrase. I think the first time I heard it may have been in a conversation with a female high-school classmate of mine, who, after I identified myself as Christian, narrowed her eyes suspiciously and asked,

"But, are you Born Again?"

I wasn't sure what she meant. Over a decade later, I'm still not sure. But last Sunday, in church, my minister addressed the origins of this phrase, and it was a real revelation.

Apparently, there are only two references to being "born again" in the Bible. The main one comes from the Gospel of John (the other is a relatively obscure passing reference in one of the Epistles). Here's the relevant passage, Revised King James version:

3:3 Jesus answered and said to him, Truly, truly, I say to you, Unless a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
3:4 Nicodemus said to him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter a second time into his mother's womb, and be born?
3:5 Jesus answered, Truly, truly, I say to you, Unless a man is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

Now, this passage has been the crux of Evangelical Christianity's insistence on being "born again" as a ticket to Heaven. After all, Jesus said it, right? "Unless a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God!" Pretty clear stuff.

Except . . . it was a pun.

Yeah, that's right, a pun. We tend to forget that what we now know as the Bible originated as a rich oral tradition of storytelling that included a fair amount of humor. In this case, the Greek word Jesus uses that gets translated as "born again" is ANWQEN, which can mean either "born once more" (again) or "born from above" (or, of Spirit).

Unfortuntely, puns don't usually translate very well. Here's a better attempt:

3:3 Jesus answered and said to him, Truly, truly, I say to you, Unless a man is ANWQEN (born again/born from above), he cannot see the kingdom of God.
3:4 Nicodemus said to him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter a second time into his mother's womb, and be born? ("Born again?" What do you mean, "born again?")
3:5 Jesus answered, Truly, truly, I say to you, Unless a man is born of water and the Spirit (born from above), he cannot enter the kingdom of God. (i.e., You silly Nicodemus, did you really think I meant "born again?" I meant "born from above." Duh!)

In light of this, it would seem that when it comes to "Born Again" Christians . . . the joke's on them.

Incidentally, while Catholics have wisely avoided the strange fixation on the "born again" theme, in researching this entry I discovered that many Catholics (at least, the ones with a prominent Internet presence) have a similarly ill-conceived interpretation of this passage . They cite the line, "Unless a man is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God" as evidence that baptism (being "born of water") is an essential component of one's ticket to Heaven.

Given what we've just learned, it seems pretty clear to me that in this context, "born of water" refers to being born from the womb. Jesus seems to be saying in order to enter the kingdom of God (which I think denotes not a "ticket to Heaven," but rather that source of Divinity which exists within each of us), one must exist both as body and as Spirit.

Now that, I think I just might understand.

Friday, March 27, 2009

My Greatest Chess Triumph, Part III

The next morning I awoke feeling excited and nervous. Just two games, I kept thinking over and over. Just two games. I had to win them both.

As I generously partook of the hotel's breakfast buffet, chess players all around were discussing their standings in the tournament. Someone asked me how I was doing, and I told him. He was impressed. "Good luck today," he said as we parted ways.

I checked the pairings for the day's first game, and my opponent's name seemed familiar. I then remembered that we had played in a tournament a few months ago. I had won that game.


The knowledge that I had already beaten this player gave me a needed confidence boost as we all made our way to our respective boards. True, in that game I had been White and today I had Black, but I felt a certain psychological edge all the same. As my opponent (an overweight, thirtysomething man) arrived, I sensed that he was not looking forward to having to play me again.

Round 6: My opponent plays an unusually passive opening as White, allowing me to command a fair share of the center. It's not clear to me how best to take advantage of this, though. I try to claim an outpost in the center with my knight, but this only results in some exchanges that leave me with a vulnerable advanced pawn. I can defend this pawn by pushing another pawn forward, but I fear this would leave some dangerous holes in the structure of my position.

We both castle queenside and, as expected, he moves to attack my undefended pawn. This is my last chance to save it, but do I want to? I have a long think and try to visualize the future course of the game if I simply give up the pawn. Apart from the obvious disadvantage of being down a pawn, my position would be fine. Try and hang on to the pawn, and I may be in a weak, defensive position for the forseeable future.

I let him have the pawn, which surprises him. Good. I try to coordinate my queen, bishop, and rook in an attack on his king, but he pushes his pawns forward and attacks my rook, and it seems that I will have to retreat.

Or do I?

If I retreat now, I will likely not get another chance to put any pressure on his position. I enter a long think and meditate on the position. His pawns now form a continuous, solid wall across the length of the board, neatly dividing up out respective territories. His pieces appear safe, hiding behind his wall of pawns.

As I contemplate the position something in my mind crystallizes and I suddently perceive the chessboard in a new way, as a three-dimensional battlefield. My forces are all trapped on one side of the wall. Neither side has any knights left, making jumping over the wall impossible. How am I going to get through?

Can I get him to open the wall for me?

With this thought I hit upon a plan, a shrewd trap that I suspect he will be unable to resist. Instead of retreating my rook I move it to the side of the board, where it risks being vulnerable to the enemy pawns. But if he wants to go after my rook, he'll need to open the wall. And I'll be ready.

I intentionally move my pieces close together so that he can push a pawn to attack my rook, and next move push the same pawn to attack both my queen and my bishop. It works beautifully. I let him think that he is winning material, but then sacrifice my bishop two of his pawns. The wall is now open, and my pieces are perfectly positioned; he can do nothing to stop my from trapping his queen.

Oh, he's pissed at me now. He has to give up his queen for my rook, and now the game is all but over. My queen sweeps into his position and picks up a pawn, and then my remaining rook enters the fray, and together they win another rook.

Game over.

Yes! I thought to myself as I left the playing area. I had a hard time believing just how well my little trap had worked. For the first time this weekend I actually had a bit of a break: the last game wouldn't start for another two-and-a-half hours. I went outside, and the weather was positively Spring-like. Sunny, with temperature easily in the mid-fifties. In January! I went for a walk around downtown Philadelphia, had some lunch, and stopped by the nearby Franklin Institute. When I returned to the hotel for the seventh and final game I felt refreshed, and peaceful.

Round 7: My opponent is a somewhat elderly man, probably a real tournament veteran. I have White. He plays the Sicilian and I again play the unusual Alapin variation, which he seems ready for. His position out of the opening is fine, and I have to be careful about keeping a strong enough presence in the center, but then he misses a chance to go after my central pawn and now everything is okay. The game becomes open, with all central pawns exchanged, and I claim the open central files for my rooks. Then, he misses a tactic, which I quickly take advantage of: I take his pawn with my knight, and after he retakes with his knight, my bishop can fork his king and knight.

One pawn up.

Will it be enough to win? Maybe, but only if I keep putting pressure on his position. I move my pieces and pawns forward, keeping him on the defensive. I manage to plant my knight firmly on the sixth rank, making it difficult for him to manoeuver.

He's not going to go away quietly, though: he makes some solid defensive moves and keeps me from making more progress. Several moves transpire without either side gaining much. It's about seven-thirty in the evening now, and I try to stifle a small voice in my head reminding me that still have a five-hour drive to make tonight.

He tries to break free from the bind he is in and manages to do so, but at the cost of exchanging more pieces, which should benefit me. Now we have reached a rook endgame where I still have one extra pawn. Often the weaker side can draw this sort of endgame, but I'm determined to do whatever I can to win it. Most of the games are done now, and the playing area is emptying, but I keep trying to manoeuver my king and rook to where they can help advance one of my pawns forward. My opponent plays a bit too passively, and allows me the time to do this.

I manage to advance one of pawns forward to the sixth rank before he can block it with his rook, and on the other side of the board I start to advance another pawn. He stops and captures this pawn with his king, but this allows my own king to march into battle, heading towards the enemy rook. The blockade is broken. To save his rook he has to flee to the side of the board, leaving the path open for my passed pawn. To keep my pawn from becoming a queen he would have to sacrifice his rook, leaving me with an extra rook and a trivially easy win.

He resigns.

Only now did I let my concentration relax. I looked up from the board for the first time in a while and saw that the hall was nearly empty. It was almost ten o'clock. I felt surprisingly peaceful during that last game: intensely focused, but serene. Somehow I had lost any awareness of my surroundings, and it takes a few moments for me to adjust back to reality.

I looked at the standings and confirmed what I thought would be the case: the win puts me in a three-way tie for first place. Sweet. I waited around for another forty-five minutes to pick up my check: seven hundred dollars.

Of course, my expenses for the trip were over half of that amount. Put in perspective, perhaps it wasn't really a lot of money. But I had won it, and with that knowledge came a profound feeling of self-validation.

I finally left Philadelphia at eleven o'clock and made it home at four o'clock in the morning. I napped for a couple hours, then got up and went to work overseeing a math tutoring lab and teaching a class, staying awake and alert on pure adrenaline. Over the next few days as I caught up on sleep and life returned to normal, I was aware that I was different somehow. The experience had changed me in subtle but important ways--I was more confident, more willing to trust my intuition in matters that were wholly unrelated to chess.

You see, my victiories on the chessboard had given me a glimpse of what I was capable of.

They still do today.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Sharp Quills

The following is a public service announcement for those readers who used to write at*

*actually, this is for everyone, but former TIBUers in particular.

Former TIBU writer HarmoniMcG has launched a new website,, which has the potential to be all that TIBU was and more. Go check it out!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

My Greatest Chess Triumph, Part II

I woke up well before my alarm went off feeling strangely awake. The deadline for re-entering was still a couple of hours away.

What did I want to do?

After a moment's reflection I knew the answer: I wanted to re-enter. I wanted a fresh start and the chance to win the tournament. But should I? This was already an expensive trip--could I really justify making it more expensive?

I'd re-entered a major tournament once before. That time I had lost the first two games, decided to re-enter, and then lost the first two games the next day as well. How would I feel if something similar happened here?

I also hoped to be able to see something of Philadelphia this trip. If I re-entered, I'd be playing five games today instead of two, leaving no time for any activity other than playing chess.

After showering and getting dressed I wandered outside the hotel. It was quite warm for January, but also very windy, so windy that even walking down the block was difficult. I'm not going to be doing much exploring of Philadelphia regardless, I thought. I halted my steps and stood there, still, feeling the wind rush past me, listening to its voice.

And then somehow I knew: I was going to re-enter.

An hour and a half later I was sitting down for my first game of the day--now officially my first game of the tournament. The first four games today would all have a (relatively) fast time control to catch us up with the other schedules, before they all merged for the fifth game tonight. Usually I liked playing with the slower time controls, with plenty of time to ponder over each move, but I resolved to concentrate extra hard and avoid time trouble.

Round 1: My first opponent of the day is an African-American gentleman who seems a bit nervous. Before the start of the game he asks to use his chess clock, which is an old-fashioned analog clock, rather than my digital clock. The newer, digital clocks have a five-second time-delay feature that makes time trouble less of a problem late in the game. They are also the preferred, default clocks now, which means that I could insist on using my own clock. But something tells me that I should agree to his request, that I might be able to use his own clock against him.

I have the White pieces. Like the first round yesterday the game starts as a French Defense, but it quickly becomes very unusual: on the second move I move my queen's pawn forward one square (rather than the usual two), trying to reach the King's Indian Attack, and he responds by moving his king's pawn a second time. The position now resembles a double king's pawn opening. As play progresses I provoke him into making some weakening pawn moves, giving me a slight edge. I fail to take full advantage of this, though, as my opponent succeeds in exchanging off several pieces and we reach an equal endgame in which each of us has a queen, knight, and several pawns.

At this point both of us have only a few minutes remaining on the clock and the game becomes a race: can we continue to make good moves, or at least avoid making any blunders, while not losing on time? The pace of play becomes faster and faster. Somehow the queens and many of the pawns get exchanged, and I end up with one extra pawn in the process--I have just a knight and one pawn, while he has just the knight. All he has to do now is sacrifice his knight for my last pawn, and the game will be declared a draw, with neither side being able to mate the other. A couple more moves and he will be able to do this, but then, just in time, his flag falls. I immediately claim the win on time.

An even uglier win then yesterday's first round, but again, a win. I reflect on the amazing correctness of whatever instinct led me to agree to use his clock. I can't reflect for long, though, as soon I have to get ready for the next round.

Round 2: My opponent is a young man of Middle-Eastern descent. He has White and opens with his king's knight rather than one of his pawns; this is a somewhat unusual opening that I am not really prepared for. We end up in some sort of Queen's Gambit position in which my opponent has an isolated queen's pawn that is vulnerable to attack. I am able to tie up his pieces in defending this pawn and take over the initiative. Soon most of the pieces are exchanged and we reach a rook endgame; I am a bit better because of the pawn structure, but will it be enough to win? Objectively my opponent should be able to draw, but I have all the winning chances.

He soon finds himself unable to defend all of his weak pawns and gives one up while activating his rook. After he checks my king and I interpose with my own rook, my opponent has a big decision: exchange the last pair of rooks and enter a king-and-pawn endgame (one pawn down), or keep the rooks on the board? He decides to exchange rooks, which turns out to be a big mistake: in the ensuing position, my extra pawn becomes decisive. Soon he is unable to stop the advancing of one of my pawns down the board, where it will eventually become a queen.

Two for two.

Round 3: I have White against a friendly Indian man who plays the Petroff Defense. The line I choose to play leads to a fairly simplified position in which both sides have time to maneuver their forces. As the game progresses I grab more space on the queenside but he has some advantage in the center, which he skillfully exploits: soon I am on the defensive. Just as I think I have successfully repelled his attack, I overlook a simple tactic and lose a pawn.

I try to stay calm and defend my inferior position, but I am already getting low on time and my prospects are not good. Soon my opponent is able to win a second pawn, and I can do little but watch as he skillfully converts his material advantage into victory.

A definite setback. Still, I have two wins in three games, and am certainly better off for having re-entered the tournament.

Round 4: I have White against a Caucasian kid who I think is in high school. He plays the French Defense but makes some strange moves early on, allowing me to develop an attack on the kingside. I am able to capture one of his kingside pawns with my bishop, but at a price: my bishop may well became trapped where it is. The outcome of the game hinges on whether I will be able to rescue my bishop and keep my extra pawn.

I maneuver my queen so as to join my other pieces on the kingside. In the process I give him an opportunity to corner and capture my bishop, but he misses it: now it is too late, as my knight hops deep into his position and attacks both of his rooks. He does manage to capture by bishop but I am able to grab a knight and another pawn. More importantly, my pieces are still aggressively posted around his king. He tries to fight back but misses a tactic and I win the game in style, sacrificing my knight by checking his king and winning both of his rooks, prompting his resignation.

Round 5: The fast time control games are all over now. I try to mentally adjust myself to the slower time control. I'm getting tired, so the change is probably a good thing. My opponent is a high-school-age girl, just like last night, and I resolve that the similarities between the two games will end there.

I have Black and play the Pirc Defense. She plays an active line that involves immediately exchanging my dangerous dark-squared bishop and castling queenside. She tries to attack my king but in doing so leaves her central pawns under-defended. As a result, early in the middlegame her position completely collapses, and I win a whole piece.

This is an absolutely fantastic start, but I remind myself of how I blew my winning position in last night's game and tell myself not to relax yet. Indeed, my opponent seems determined to try to make a comeback. I develop my remaining pieces and try stay on the offensive, continually focusing on the center of the board. I manage to force the exchange of queens and both pairs of rooks, effectively ending her attacking chances. My opponent chooses to play on well past the point where most players would resign, but her position is hopeless: I use my extra piece to win a pawn, then another pawn, advance one of my pawns to where it transforms into a queen, and deliver checkmate.

The day had been a great success. Four wins in five games, and only two games left to play tomorrow. I felt a strange mix of excitement, fatigue, and contentment. I treated myself to a drink at the hotel bar (as a sleep aid, I told myself) and went to bed eager for the next day's challenges.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Two Weeks Down

It's been two weeks now since I've eaten any meat. During that time, I've had to make some adjustments--mostly consisting of things I should do anyway, such as virtually eliminating fast food* from my diet.

*Though at the chess tournament last weekend, I needed to grab a quick meal before a game and there seemed to be no available options other than the nearby Burger King or McDonald's. I chose Burger King, scanned the menu for meatless options, and ended up ordering a fish sandwich.

I'd never had a Burger King fish sandwich before. I hope to never, ever have one again.

But, on the whole, I'm surprised by how easy this has been.

Oh sure, it was annoying when I was at the hotel restaurant buffet and couldn't have any bacon or sausage. And I miss my chicken dishes. But not as much as I thought I would.

What's more, while this hasn't been anything resembling a controlled experiment, I must say that I generally feel healthier and more energetic.

I have no idea whether I will decide to continue this practice past Lent. But it's sure good to know that I can.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Tournament Recap (and more)

So, my results this weekend were not good: 1 win, 2 draws, 2 losses. I could, of course, blame these results on my health*, which certainly may have been a factor, but I think only a small one. No, I've actually been in something of a chess slump for a few months.

*Incidentally, I'm doing better now--very tired from the weekend's activities, but that chest cough is finally letting up.

My results were actually as follows: loss, loss, draw, draw, win. As you can see, I can at least claim that I improved during the course of the event. And indeed, somewhere near the end of the second game I had an possible insight into the nature of my slump--and even, perhaps, into much more.

To put it simply: I've had difficulty making choices. I will often reach positions in which I have many possible options--expand on the queenside, push in the center, attack the enemy king? Any or all of these options may be promising. However, in all but rare circumstances, there is only time to do one effectively.

My problem is, I'm liable to try to do all three. Which often results in accomplishing none.

Each move is a choice that affects the possible future course of the game. Each move also is, by its very nature, a limiting choice. Once the decision is made to attack on the kingside, it's too late the change course and attack on the queenside. Once a pawn is pushed forward, it can no longer be pushed back.

The fear of making choices, of making decisions that affect the future in permanent and irrevokable ways, is not limited to my chess game. I often find myself wanting to do so much, wanting to experience and discover all that there is, that I become paralyzed, unable to do anything at all.

Each move we make, in chess or in life, limits what choices will be available in our future. To live, then, consists of making choices that lead to a certain path while losing the ability to explore other, formerly potential paths.

Each choice consists of loss. But if we fail to make those choices, fail to experience that loss and embrace the path we have chosen, then we are not really living.

Perhaps this is what the Buddhists mean about life being suffering.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Sick, Tired, and Hungry ... but Undeterred

I had hoped to finish writing Part II (or even Parts II and III) of "My Greatest Chess Triumph" this week, but a few days ago I came down with a nasty chest cold that essentially sapped my creative impulse. I'm doing a bit better but still not great; last night the combination of coughing and not being able to breathe normally kept me to a few hours of sleep. It's also one of those colds that seems to double your appetite, making my little Lenten experiment particularly trying.

And, of course, this weekend is the big chess tournament. Perfect timing.

Given my current state, I briefly considered not going. But I've noticed that people's greatest triumphs often come through inauspicious circumstances. Also, there's nothing worse than not knowing what could have been, if only you were willing to try.

So I'm packing this morning for a chess excursion to Massachusetts. The first round begins this evening at 7 pm.

Who knows, when I come home next week and finish writing "My Greatest Chess Triumph," perhaps its title will no longer apply.

Monday, March 2, 2009

My Greatest Chess Triumph, Part I

I arrived at the Wyndham Hotel in downtown Philadephia late on a Friday evening in January 2006. The next morning I would begin competing in the Liberty Bell Open, a seven-round, three-day event with top section prizes of a thousand dollars. As I waited at the check-in line, I stared across the vast hotel lobby, noting a number of other chessplayers--they can usually be recognized by their portable chess set cases and/or a generally unkempt appearance. Wanting to familiarize myself with where tomorrow's battles would take place, I stopped by the playing area before going up to my room: two gigantic rooms on the hotel's second floor.

I had been looking forward to this tournament for a while. I had just had a couple weeks off from work for the winter break, and I had spent them going over my chess books, studying tactics, and playing practice games online. On Tuesday the new semester would start and I would be very busy, but for now, I had nothing to distract myself from chess.

I tried to get to bed early, but tossed and turned with thoughts of what tomorrow might bring. Eventually I drifted off to sleeep, the mental chess pieces still moving back and forth somewhere in my subconscious.

I awoke the next morning feeling confident and ready for battle. There would be three games today, followed by two each of the following days.

Round 1: My first opponent is an Asian-looking man in his thirties or forties. I have the White pieces, and the game begins as a French Defense. In the early middlegame my opponent misses a tactic and I win a pawn, while keeping control of the position. So far so good. A few moves later, though, I make a mistake and he wins the pawn back. In the process, most of the pieces are exchanged and we have reached a roughly equal endgame. Damn.

At this point both of us are getting short on time. Neither of wants a draw, and so we keep searching for a way to improve our positions, ideally by promoting one of our pawns.

Then, a kind of miracle occurs: my opponent's cell phone goes off.

Cell phones are a major taboo in tournament chess. As you might imagine, the sound of a cell phone is extremely distracting to all the intensely concentrating players in the vicinity. Accordingly, there are strict sanctions for a player's phone ringing during a round: half of your time (up to twenty minutes) can be deducted from your clock.

A nearby tournament arbiter hears the offending noise and immediately rushes to our table, giving a stern look to my opponent. The arbiter informs him that he must reduce his alotted time remaining from four minutes to two minutes. My opponent protests, saying that his phone didn't actually ring, but was merely beeping to let him know that he had a message or a low battery or something. This may be true, but it doesn't really matter.

The game resumes. Having more time on the clock now gives me an edge, but more importantly, my opponent is clearly rattled. He soon blunders, I win a pawn, and proceed to push my advantage and win the game.

Not a pretty win, but a victory all the same.

Round 2: My opponent is a friendlly, college-age guy. I have the Black pieces and play the Pirc defense. He is able to initiate a dangerous attack against my king, but I defend coolly, managing to exchange queens and reaching an equal position. Seeing that he no longer has any advantage, my opponent offers a draw.

I examine the position and see that it is indeed equal, and that if either of us push too hard to try to win, we would easily risk being worse. But I didn't come all the way here to draw; I'm playing to win. I refuse the offer, and we keep playing.

Before long I regret my decision: one inaccurate move and now my opponent is in control, penetrating into my position with his rooks and cornering one of my isolated pawns. I try to shut out the inner voices yelling at me for passing up the offered draw and put up a solid defence, but to no avail. My position crumbles, and the game is lost.

Round 3: I try to shake off the loss and focus on my next game. I have White against a high-school-age girl, who seems a bit nervous and unsure of herself. She plays the Sicilian, against which I play the somewhat unusual Alapin variation, which she is not ready for. Early in the game she makes a big mistake, allowing me to trap her bishop--I win her bishop for two pawns on only the thirteenth move.

Yes! This is more like it, I think to myself. I relax, confident now that my position is winning.

My opponent, though, is determined to put up a good fight. Suddenly focused, she tries to minimize the impact of her lost piece and maximize the power of her extra pawns, slowly but surely advancing them. It takes me a while to realize that her plan is potentially very dangerous. In other words, lulled into a false sense of security, I completely misplay the position. She keeps me on the defensive until I finally collapse, giving up a piece and leaving her with an advanced pawn that will soon promote to a queen. Another loss.


I left the playing area feeling stunned. In the last two games, I had managed to turn what should have been a draw and a win into two losses. What had I done? Had all of my preparation been for nothing? Was I destined to never improve at this game, always squandering these opportunities? And yet, there was the knowledge that I could have, should have, two-and-a-half points now instead of one. That counted for something, right? Surely I was a better chessplayer than I had shown so far.

Unfortunately, with two losses already, I would have no chance of winning the tournament. But I did have an option: I could withdraw and "re-enter" into the 2-day sechedule. The 2-day schedule would have five games tomorrow instead of two: fairly fast time controls for the first four games before merging with the other sections that evening. The tournament organizers, knowing that there would be many disgruntled players after the first day and not missing a profitable opportunity, tacitly encouraged this practice by offering discounted re-entry rates.

I sulked my way back to my hotel room and called my wife to tell her the bad news. I also asked what she thought of the idea of my re-entering, spending more of our money on what seemed to be an increasingly foolhardy venture. "Do what you think is best," she said, but I sensed that she was not at all confident I would fare any better if I did.

I sunk into my plush hotel bed and turned on the TV, trying to forget about the day's disappointments. On Showtime or Cinemax or one of those channels there was a lesbian-themed horror-comedy playing. Eventually I sank into sleep, still not knowing what I would do in the morning.