“LandYacht” Tour 2017 Kicks off!!!

Fair Winds from the LandYacht “Whispering Wheat” on the macadam seas of the Eastern seaboard! – we’ve got her all dolled up and ship shape, there’s lots of new material we’re bringing along with, some songs and some instrumental pieces, some fun new merch and we’re really excited to hit the road and share all the new music with you all. Our schedule is fantastic – great venues and enough time to get a few days at Sleeping Brotherhood Studios in Denver, CO with our good friend and partner Kyle Jones. Yes , yes – that means we’re working on a new recording project!

   We’ve had many requests from our friends asking for a new record – unfortunately, that is not part of the plan. We’ve decided to change gears a bit and rather move to releasing singles and video projects throughout the year. This format is a great fit for our lifestyle – gypsies that when not on the sea hit the road. It’s part of how things are going in the biz…all the kids are doin’ it and it saves on waste. We’re stoked to have a new focus – change can have a real positive effect on our work if we let it!

 When we get to Colorado we’ll be doing most of the shows with either a trio or quartet – with Scott Messersmith on percussion along with Keith Moseley from the String Cheese Incident and Eric Thorin on bass. It’s really a reflection of how the new recording project will go – a slightly larger format than “Vela,” with an expanded percussion section, bass, and many more surprises. Colorado is really where we first got into producing our own music, and it will be great to be back home at the console again with Kyle.

 

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Photo: James Dewalt Gold Hill Inn, Colorado 2016

  The leadup has been real busy – what with #onecupatatime, our stint from Scotland to Spain with Cpt. Steven on “Falco” and all. These breaks are all really important, though – very few bands or musical acts are on tour for 4 years with no real breaks, and we needed a bit to digest our experiences into new material and just refocus ourselves a bit. This tour is gonna be great, and we’re biting at the bit to get it rolling. Make sure to share the schedule with friends and keep up with us on FB and Instagram for Live Video feeds from shows and sessions, right along with some  surprise material.

 

We’re heading West…See you at the shows!!!

 

Stell and Snuggs

  

Sailing in Scotland, and “speaking out loud” against Plastic Pollution

Donate #onecupatatime

As you can see, we’ve been busy. 10 days ago we were in St. Croix – we laid the boat up in 22 hours, including stepping the mast. Catherine’s got a small below waterline repair that needs a dry-out period before attending. After a show in NJ, and in NY, Snuggs is here in Scotland jumping on the transit of @clubfalco from Copenhagen to the Mediterranean Sea.

We started a campaign to reduce plastic pollution: #onecupatatime

Several days ago was #worldoceansday, and on this day our parternship with the Moorings really came out. The team there decided to formally announce their support in their newsletter, so big shouts to Ian and the rest of the crew at The Moorings for believing in us – without solid partnerships we’re “dead-in-the-water.” Here is the LINK.
As pristine as Scotland is, it is no stranger to this plastic thing. Reality is, there are so few places, if any, on the entire planet that are. Of course the marinas here have some floaters – every single one does. It’s not like folks are just tossing plastic in the sea, it’s all accidental. I guess we should call it neglect – but until we stop using them entirely we’ll have to include ourselves in that pile of humanity. Saints to waste we are not, and it would be impossible to say that we’ve never had a single thing fly of the boat at one point or another. We’ve all got to get next to that fact, accept it and move forward.


A big deal here is the “take-away” food spots – fish and chips so huge and delicious you just gotta have it. That means lots of styro-foam and plastic forks. I will say that most of the places have a choice for a sweet printed cardboard box, but you better be specific and clear about it. If not, you’re getting the foam. There are plenty of areas in the states that are the same, and it never fails to stun me that we as humans are still even using the stuff. It goes to show how these things become so engrained as acceptable, the amount of time it takes to make changes just seems insane. Are we addicted? Complacent? It’s really hard to tell, and only shrouds the issue in further contention as to where the blame lies. A piece of advice – we start with ourselves and the choices we make. And how those choices affect others, human or otherwise.


Even though you expect a good pint in a glass here, we’ve managed to bump in to a couple of busy nights where the plastic comes out to play. I actually had to turn down some cask ale due to this as I hadn’t brought my own mug with me – my overly-romanticised view of the region just couldn’t stand the thought of anything other than the perfect pint. At least there was a security guard spending much of his time collecting the spent vessels, prior to their decommissioning.
One use and that’s it – how the heck did we get her as a race, so afraid of a little beer in the bottom tainting our “clean” mouths that we couldn’t possibly reuse the thing for the night. Oh no. My mouth is sacred – right. I wonder if you did the math for the night here, the cost of all the cups and of the percentage of the security guard’s wage in dealing with them, and compared them to washing how that would work out? Saying no to the pint wasn’t fun, but I had a nice whiskey instead served in glass. No one here in their right mind would be so daft as to serve that in plastic, that’s just plain sacrilege! Next time I won’t forget the mug – I’ll deal with the odd stare or two and enjoy the hell out of that pint knowing I’m on the level.
That’s what makes the campaign of #onecupatatime so important – it’s not but the location – everywhere in the world has this damn problem. It’s about the source of the problem, and that is us. We’ve got to stop saying “Screw it, I’ll save myself the effort” and see the backside of that equation. Just like any other there is an equal sign in the middle, and what goes in must come out. We’re just so busy making a buck or looking cool that we aren’t willing to jump two steps forward. It’s truly ridiculous and not changing anytime soon. Humans have become lazy in our technological advances. We just hire someone else to deal with it, and in the process of these things being recycled or disposed of “properly” the stragglers that get away are wreaking havoc in our waters – from the busiest cities to the most remote islands on earth.


The slow advances we have made are not nearly enough nor are they moving at a good enough clip. In this we ask for your help – not only to donate but to share and help us spread the word. We don’t want to do this thing perpetually – we want to prove the impact of a small decision by taking a sample group and providing them with a tool to use, one that no amount of social media hash-tagging is going to convince em to just “bring along on vacation.” We want to prove that plastic isn’t some system that we have to beat, it’s a material that we have allowed ourselves to become married to due to its inexpensiveness. It’s cheap, and when we over use it we become cheap, while still spending more money and resources on the material itself. It’s cheap in the mindset, which migrates through other behaviors as well.
It is the worst when we are having the most fun – on vacation, at a concert, at a bar that’s just “too busy to wash” or concerned about safety and breakage. We can’t leave it up to businesses, we’ve got to show them what we want. We want our bevvies! We want ’em tall! And when we’re dealing with the next morning, we want a clear conscience no matter how foggy the mind.

Thanks for being a part of it – bottoms’ up!!

Team One Cup

THE PASSAGE:

What a stunning part of the world these Isles are – the sights and people of Scotland and Ireland are absolutely incredible. Rugged, yet still with a sweetness likened to the morning dew. While transiting the Caledonia Canal we made through Lochness, and lucked out with 15 knots of wind on a dead run, wing-on-wing with the pole out. Falco crossed Lochness well inside of 3 hours. Epic.
After a night in Fort Augustus (about midway through the 60 mile system), we hit the next section and took a nice little dip in Loch Lochy – this of course after we realized we had run out of cooking fuel and a post-dip hot tea would be put of the question. A nice lunch of cold haggis and scotch will substitute anytime in my book. After a 2 second swim we kept on moving, and made the entry to Neptunes Ladder round 6pm. This is the last set of locks before you exit the canal.
Once we popped through the locks it was 30 some-odd nautical miles to the port of Oban (pronounced “O-ben), the “seafood” capital of Scotland. Very nice city, and as usual the people are colorful as they come. Speaking of color, enter “Eric the Fiddler,” whom we met at a lovely pub on the backside of town. A few pints later the stories were simply amazing – the man is a bit of everything from a linguist to an engineer, and we shared some lovely tunes with yours truly playing some ill-acquired spoons. Myself along with the rest of this delivery crew – Cpt. Steven, Jesse, and Dillon – we were real lucky to have had the privilege of the man’s company for a bit. A real taste of the country.
After Oban the winds pushed us on to Belfast about 115 nm South through the Sea of the Southern Coast of Scotland (how’s that for a mouthful?). No lie, charts call it by name. We know Belfast and it’s rich shipbuilding history (birthplace of the White Star Line, of “Titanic” fame), and while I was in the back of my mind expecting a bit of a dingy, blue-collar industrial type town, I was immediately smacked in the face by a truly interesting and happening little city.
The port entry is tight, but you roll through a vibrant shipping and ferry dock zone – one whole which is currently devoted to the construction of wind generators, the big-un’s. These folks aren’t like us Americans – they love to see their seasides dotted with windfarms that steadily unlatch this small country from the teet of fossil and nuclear power, all the while putting good shipsmen (or Ulstermen as they are referred to) to work sans hazard pay. The pic looks like some kind of giant aliean musical instrument – what the organ in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” should’ve been.
The only marina for small private vessels is adjacent to the Titanic Museum and a stadium. For you old Rock n’ Roll buffs out there, Stone Roses was playing the night after we arrived. Just about 5 – 10 minutes walk from the city proper, it is a great stop off point in the region I couldn’t recommend it enough. The marina is really inexpensive and well-kept, and such a short walk into town makes this a night-owl’s delight. Top that off with an extra few hours of light in the sky due to the high altitude and there is no limit to the trouble one can find if one wants…


So now we’re in the Isle of Man – 4 dudes on a boat, no-less. Isla des Mano, Quatro des Mano awaiting some more wind to get further South and start losing the layers. For the time being, though, we’re all having a great time – lots of hot tea and coffee going around at sea and toasty scotch and whiskey ashore with Northern Gannets, Muir and gulls a plenty. Now if we could only figure out how to land a fish…

Plastic, plastic, plastic…

   On a day off, we decided to have a nice family day snorkeling off Great Dog, an uninhabited island just North of Virgin Gorda in the British West Indies. This place has a world renowned reputation due it’s natural beauty, and certainly not without reason. After a few weeks of our regular performance schedule and a 2 week visit from some friends we were definitely in need of some family time – and the snorkelling was fantastic. The overall condition of the reef was pretty good and the time with the fam just priceless – that is, of course, until we decided to go to the beach. 

 
   I could see there was some “debris” on the beach from where we moored the boat, so were not expecting a pristine beach excursion by any means. I was not expecting to be so appalled that I would spend the next two hours with my family gathering up all the debris into one pile and creating this sign. We all felt it – the giant cosmic “Why!!?!?!!” that screams through your brain when there isn’t someone available to beat senseless in blame. The worst part? What we were looking at was just one small beach on one tiny island in one minuscule part of the world. Truth is that this shit is going on EVERYWHERE.

   
       You’ve heard of it, I’m sure, everyone has. If you say you haven’t you’re lying or ignorant or both. There’s no excuse for not knowing anymore aside from purposefully putting the blinders on to avoid any sense of responsibility. And while we can easily place blame on others to say that we’ve no part in the problem is an equally appalling set of self imposed lies. That you’ve either never or absolutely no longer purchase, own, or use any products that could be associated with disposable plastics is a near impossibility even in the most remote parts of the world. Even the Maasai in Africa are handed bottles of drinking water by some ignoramus with the Red Cross or what-have-you at some juncture. There’s so much to go around we’ll figure out a way to give it away in a remote African desert, for cryin’ out loud! 

  

  
   It is a thing that bothers me to no end, our endless lack of responsibility with plastics as a species. We know how to stop it but lack the will to do so. Hell, there was a time before plastics – a mixture of old and new techniques of shipping and storing things would could get us moving in the right direction. But no, why reusable when you can go disposable? I hate to sound ungrateful, but even through our experience with Hurricane Sandy I found myself terribly focused on the waste. Already there was enough waste just from the damage done – drywall, furniture, carpeting, you name it. On top of that we were handing out thousands of disposable soup cups, coffee cups, lids and utensils every day. That was just our crew, and it went on for months. On top of what we were doing there were the Occupy folks, the Red Cross, Church groups, and many others. Every one with the best of intentions, the ramifications of which having been left up for discussion at a later date.

  
   We’d accept another heartfelt delivery from churches, VFW’s, fire departments, even some of our friends from out of state, all who organized truckloads of donations, and sure enough there would be cases upon cases upon cases of bottled water. Gazillions of bottles, caps, and of course the stupid wrapper that tells you it’s water inside and how many friggin calories it has. I mean really? Are we that friggin thick in the head that we actually need to be told that? Or could we possibly try to go without that extra layer of plastic for a minute and just call it “Bottled water from some source. Safe and drinkable.” As I understood our situation with Sandy, the water supply in NYC was at no point in jeopardy. Still some of the cleanest of any city in America, with some minor accesibility issues during the power outage phase. Yet the bottles of water flowed with unceasing numbers, so many in fact that we actually had a difficult time giving them away. And here some of them are, right in the BVI on this beautiful beach. (If you’re wondering what my beef with bottled water is, look no further than the Ohio-Nestle public water battle)

  
   Alright, your right. There’s no way for me to know that any one of these bottles here on this very beach came from NYC. There’s no way to know that it ain’t, either. And if you’re “cool,” maybe you’re thinking a little bigger than your backyard when it comes to plastics in the sea. Maybe you can picture a bottle cap landing in the ocean and making a trek in the currents South in the Labrador, then North to East in the Gulf Stream halfway to Europe, then in some gyre and heading South again for months, maybe years, then finally making it’s landing on this very beach. Whether true or not it is a possibility given what little we know about the larger scale currents of the sea, and I certainly think about my hand in it often.

  
   This whole problem goes right to the core of our work as performers – aside from the medical field, what business is more wasteful with disposable plastics than the food/ beverage/ entertainment industry? From a beach bar to a stadium the attitude of “well, this is a one-time event, soooo….” is prevalent. Even artists who claim to be enviro-friendly/ conscious on their tours are full of crap. Yeah, ok – you made the caterer purchase compostable plastics for your crew backstage. Except they aren’t going to be composted at all, are they? NO. Your caterers were up at 5 am making your crew breakfast, and didn’t stop until WELL after the last roadie head out of the theatre. You really think they’re in the mood to gather up all that compostable crap you made them buy and find a proper place to take it? Both doubtful and unreasonable to request. To all major artists who are touring with their enviro-blinders on: figure that portion of your rider out yourself, or remain an ass. We provision our own vessel while touring, why the hell don’t you? Only then can you claim your enviro-consciousness, only when you are in control of the ENTIRE process, start to finish. 

  
   There is not much any of us can do but share this problem with each other, every day that we think of it. Is it just about the percentage of seabirds with plastic in their gut growing from 10% in the 60’s to an estimated 95% now? Is it about those horrible scenes of various sea life entangled in webs of varying forms of plastic doomed to die of drowning or asphyxiation? Is it about the ginormous islands of plastic waste found in the gyre currents of EVERY ONE OF THE WORLDS MAJOR OCEANS? No – It’s even bigger than just the trash – or dare I say, smaller. 

  
   Now we’ve discovered that all that stuff just breaks down and breaks down until it is nearly microscopic in size. And what happens to it then? Out of sight out of mind, right? If nothing can get trapped in it, and it’s that small, what harm could it do? If you aren’t yet aware, the majority of the Earth’s biomass is held up in the planktonic life of the world’s oceans. At certain points of the year, nearly 90% of the planet’s oxygen is produced by phytoplanktonic life. Microscopic plants, freely floating in the sea, and they’re much more efficient at doing photosynthesis than all the plants and trees on land in the world by a longshot. The zooplantkonic life bed – the beginning of the “animal side” of the food chain – depends largely on that phytoplankton for sustenance. And it is on the zooplankton that all the remaining life of the sea depends in one form or another. And there’s your basic ocean food chain lesson in a nutshell. 
   You’ve read this far, so you’re intelligent – let’s not bore you with unnecessary details. You know what happens if one portion of the food chain collapses – and the lower the portion of collapse, the larger scale the effects will be. As it just so happens, the damn zooplankton are EATING THE DAMN MICROSCOPIC PLASTIC!!!! What in the hell does that mean!?!! Another great “we don’t friggin know, but rather than stop it let’s just wait and see, shall we!??!?” Speculations as to the effects range from clogged gut (uh, death) to reduced ability to procreate to somehow allowing all that microscopic plastic to make it’s way up the chain to collect in the tissues or blood streams of the larger animals in the sea – fishes, whales, dolphins, seals. All those critters we seem to care so much about and will stop at nothing to save – except that plastic bag, that wrapper, that toothbrush, TV, and so on ad nauseum. 
   Naysayers are of course on the scene already – thanks to the accessibility of the internet any arse with a smartphone can set up a blog. Damn, I miss the days before the internet. But any reasonable human being can be nothing but shocked and possibly even a bit concerned at these findings. What you should be even more concerned about is how difficult it really is to make even a small attempt to go plastic-free. Try it – go to your grocery store and try one shopping trip that doesn’t bring ANY plastic into your home. It is sadly a nearly impossible task, nearly no matter where you are in the world. The reason? Plastics are really useful, and altered our species ability accomplish everyday tasks so greatly that we are nearly unable to conceive of human life on earth without them. It is the very thing we desire most that in the end may poison us – irony at it’s best. 
   And now for my disclaimer – I’m as guilty as the next chump. My family lives on a sailboat made of plastic. Hull? Plastic. Sails? Plastic. Water and engine hoses? Plastic. Gaskets? Plastic. Seat cushions? Plastic. Foam in my mattress? Plastic. Lines, halyards, sheets? Plastic. Navigational aids? Plastic. Life preservers? Plastic. Hell, it you stripped our boat of all plastic all you’d have left is a mast, engine block, BBQ grill, a propeller and shaft and some winches and pulleys. None of that shit floats well on its own, that is for certain. But these things have an extended service life, and when cared for properly can easily last as long as their wood and metal counterparts. Although not permanent in nature, they would not be    classified as “disposable.” And that is the keyword of the day, folks. 
  Let’s discuss the word “disposable” for a moment, shall we? If you’re still reading you either give a crap or want to hit me in the head with a rock, and on the latter I wish you good luck. Here is the Webster definition: 

1. an article designed to be thrown away after use.

   Ex. “don’t buy disposables, such as razors, cups, and plates”

   I love the grammatical example given by Webster – really choice for this discussion, no? “Thrown away after use…” Hmmm… Where away? Away from ourselves, that’s where, for someone or thing else to deal with in whatever manner. We’ve used it for it’s little purpose and just don’t care what happens to it. That’s the problem right there, the conundrum of disposables. Thankfully we are at least beginning to recycle things. Let’s face it, though, we clearly are doing a crappy job. How crappy is it, really? Unknown. Yup. We have a better idea of how many galaxies and stars there are in the universe than how bad this really is. Estimates of the plastic “island” within the North Pacific gyre ALONE range from the size of Texas to TWICE the area of the continental US. You read it correctly. Go on back again and re-read it. That’s what you would call a major discrepancy. It is primarily due to the microscopic bits I discussed earlier, which cannot yet be detected via satellite imagery but only via water sampling. And that is only one of the aforementioned “plastic islands” out in the seas of the world. The island is the part we see, but the plastic “sediment,” which may sink or float depending on the type, is the real unknown. 
   So what do we do about it? I can’t speak for you – you’re going to do whatever you’re going to do, and I can’t hold your hand or admonish you for whatever choices you make as an individual. Know this, though – the choices you make DO have an effect, no matter how small. A discussion on this subject with your friends and family will have an effect. Simple decisions, like “no, I’ve got my own bags,” or “please don’t double bag those,” or better yet how about just putting the apples in your cart without that super thin, worthless produce bag that you are going to tear open as soon as you get home anyway? I’m always amazed at the number of comments by cashiers and baggers at a grocer on the latter two. Yes, I can make it work with just one bag if I forgot my own, and yes, I am going to wash those apples anyway and don’t need the produce bag. Is there some form of ecoli on your countertop that I should be made aware of, or do you clean the place somewhat regular? Oh, good – because nearly everything in here is edible, and keeping the place clean should be a bit of a priority. Thanks. 
   No, I can’t change you. I can’t even change the world – sorry optimists. But I CAN change my habits and at least greatly economize my use of plastics wherever possible. In many cases, doing so is going to both save me money and/ or drive me to consuming healthier foods with less processing and packaging. I always say to folks that are interested in this subject that if you’d like to find an immediate source of economic waste in your life (meaning money down the tubes), look in your trash. Are you unnecessarily replacing cell phones, computers, TV’s, and the like? Do you dote over your children in excess and constantly purchase new plastic toys as opposed to maybe finding some second-hand ones and engaging in more of a “trade” system? There are great resources out there set up by folks who really give a deuce about this where you can find good quality and well cared for items in these departments – ebay is just one of them, but a great example. Whether they give a care or not about the environment, they put re-use on the map as a major economic driver – nearly 18 BILLION dollars in net revenue for 2014 – this of course doesn’t account for the used/ new differentiation, but is a TON of cash regardless and larger than the GDP of many countries. This is significant any way you shake it. And most of the things I’ve ever bought from ebay came to me in re-used boxes and packing materials. Not so much as a solution as a good start, and I’ll take it for now. 
  

  
The real underlying question is this: do we want change, or do we want TO change? 

That’s up to each and every one of us, and for those decisions we will at some point be held to account, so let’s all be better by doing better. 

Thanks for reading. 

Contact!

Our good friends! Today is the day we leave Atlantic City and head South. We really can’t express our thanks enough for all the support and love in the past year – now we spin all that energy into something wonderful. Music, Love, and a Freedom we’ve not yet experienced. There are some ways we would like to keep you all posted on our progress and location (ahem….should you wish to book us…). First, here is a link to a live map that gives our location: https://share.delorme.com/JaradAstin . If you’ve received an email from us looking for work and don’t here back right away, a quick look at this might tell you why. We hope to transit from Hampton Bay, VA to the BVI from Nov4 to Nov18. Leave us an email and we’ll get back as soon as possible! Next, we are traveling with the Salty Dawg rally – loaded with over 100 vessels full of folks looking for a change of pace. The rally website is loaded with information, including live tracking and much more, and can be found here: http://saltydawgrally.org/fall-2013-salty-dawg-rally/ . May the wind be at your back, may the sun shine warmly on your face, and may the rain fall gentle upon your fields. More to come soon!Logo 2

Many thanks to our friend, Chris Klein for the amazing artwork!!!

 

On music and automobiles

Jeep_5_millionth_4.0_engine_f

After months of discussing what we’ll do with our land-vehicle while on our “tour de sail,” we decided to sell the poor guy. And we’ve been putting so much effort into our new tour vehicle that we’ve neglected our trusty 4-wheeled steed “Roja,” a ’98 Jeep Cherokee. Given those two things, and of course the necessary injection of Murphy’s Law, I am “pleased’ to announce that for the first time in 20 years we broke down en route to Annapolis for a performance during the Annapolis Sailboat show. You see, cars have ears. And a soul. And they do NOT appreciate being put out to pasture when they’ve so reliably gotten your sorry arse from one gig to the next without so much as a whimper. Once Roja saw his opportunity to strike, the wheels were set in motion.
It seemed barely a day after making this decision that I get a call from Stell describing some hellacious noises coming from Roja’s underbelly. A knock? A tick? A tap? He still made it home, but within another 24 hours decided he’d like to have a new exhaust before leaving us as well. So much for a free lunch! This guy’s robbing food right out of the baby’s mouth! And after a blistering day en route to Annapolis from NYC, which included a quick stop in Cape May to purchase a used Radar for “Catherine” and a feverish ride to make the ferry with one minute to spare, all seemed so well with the world. We actually made it, could relax for a nice ride across the Delaware, and continue our jaunt to see some friends before making it to Annapolis for the show. “Not-a-so-much,” in the words of the great Borat. No sooner did we roll off the ferry ramp than I see the stomach-wrenching “Check Guages” light come about. Sheisse. No voltage.
Luckily for us we were visiting our adopted parents, also on vacay from Brooklyn – I figured we’d press on, make it as far as we could, and break out the celly to see how they were doing…So close yet so far meant a full conkout 10 miles shy of our destination topped off with a pickup and tow truck ride to farm we were all crashing upon. Can’t truly complain – Roja did make it nearly 50 miles with a dead alternator. Not easy to do with a V6. We luckily made it to the gig by borrowing our boys’ car, then gnabbed a new genny from the nearest auto parts spot. Did I mention the rain?
Oh, the rain. The never-ending rain. Don’t get me wrong, the previous few weeks were amazing. But of course, as soon as I’ve got to dive into a nice greasy engine compartment, the universe sees fit to cover that all in mud and dust. Good for the skin, I suppose. A few hours later, beyond the shouting of expletives at my trusty (and not working so well) ratchet and overall lack of proper tools, we managed to get the sucker in and fire Roja up once again. Even got a little fishing in on Reed creek before sundown…
In the end, a great trip filled to the gills with adventure. Nonetheless, I despise being mechanically competent. I could have had the thing towed to a garage and sipped a nice cold Bohemian while I waited…but I suppose the old liver was thankful for the break.