Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Wir schaffen was!

Judging from a few other blog posts I've read lately, we bloggers who started out a few years ago focusing on the interesting differences between life in Germany and life in the homeland are running out of material. What was at first surprising, shocking, perplexing, frustrating or downright maddening is now just normal. Take this post from nearly four years ago. There's nothing listed there that is even noteworthy to me today.

My musings these days are turning darker, I suppose.

One pointed difference on a significant topic is immigrants and borders. On September 4, 2015 Angela Merkel welcomed the throng of refugees stuck at the Hauptbahnhof in Budapest who were seeking asylum in Europe. She basically tossed the immigration rule book out the window and made a decision in favor of humanity. The road from there has not been easy for her, her government, or for the refugees who have come to Europe, including many of my former students who have become my friends.

Just days ago the president of my homeland had asylum-seekers at the US-Mexican border tear-gassed.

I understand there are no easy answers, but frankly, I prefer the humanitarian approach.

Merkel uttered her now-famous words "Wir schaffen das!" ("We can handle this!"). Where there's a will, there's a way. Thinking positively. How very un-German.

In Nagold this week there is an exhibit of posters sponsored by the Diakonieverband Nördlicher Schwarzwald entitled "Wir schaffen was" ("We are accomplishing something"), a play on Frau Merkel's words. The posters highlight refugees in the area who have made something of themselves, have learned German and found jobs and friends. A student and friend of mine, who was in the main station of Budapest on that September night in 2015, is featured on one of the posters. I am very proud of him!

Fotos: Fotografie © Birgit Betzelt
  used with permission

For a number of reasons, including selfish ones since I have made quite a few friends due to her action, I am glad for Frau Merkel's compassionate approach.


While I'm taking what might be my last shot at comparing life in the USA vs. in Germany, I thought I'd share some numbers I came across just today.

Population 2018355,724,39082,353,315
Refugees & Asylum seekers 201684,989280,000
Refugees & Asylum seekers 201729,022186,000
Refugees & Asylum seekers cap45,000not applicable

In terms of land area, Germany (357,386 km2) could fit into the USA (9,834,000 km2) 27.5 times. For an enormous country that was once seen as a land of immigrants ("Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses..."), the number of refugees and asylum seekers it is willing to accept today is pathetic and embarrassing.

Set aside the argument about illegal vs. legal immigration: How many human beings fleeing war, poverty, inhumane conditions, corruption, and persecution is the United States government willing to allow into this "great" country? 45,000. Since 1980 the limit has been established by the president each year, and #45 chose this historic low for 2018. For a country so rich and prosperous, is that not a bit sad and selfish?

"Charity begins at home. We should focus on our own." There are poor, hungry, and homeless people living in Germany as well, and still Germany accepts multiple times more refugees and asylum seekers than the US each year.

Be honest. The reason is likely more along the lines of "Who cares about them? They look different, they don't talk English so good [sic], and they have strange customs. What if they take the jobs none of us want? What if they move into our neighborhood?! What if they commit crimes? What if they breed? Then there will be more of them, and...OMG...those children will be US citizens!"

America, I'm not impressed.

But tomorrow evening I will feel more positive. I am going with Mohammad to the opening of the exhibit "Wir schaffen was" where we will listen to a few speeches, meet the photographer and the person in charge of the project, and see the rest of the posters that have been displayed around Nagold. The exhibit will then go on tour, beginning in Stuttgart.

For more information, see this article (in German only).

From the opening on Thursday evening:

Mohammad's friend Kais also
participated in this project

Saturday, November 3, 2018

A New Adventure: Der Jagdschein

I am on the brink of starting a new and daunting project, and I’m going to good-naturedly “blame” Tanja Brandt, Ingo, Poldi and Rüdi for this.

About a year ago I came across Tanja’s first book about Ingo and Poldi, and since then I have read everything that comes out about them – and the rest of Tanja’s troop of dogs, owls, and Greifvögel (birds of prey). Since then she has published four books and produced postcards, calendars, and bookmarks, and in her online shop one can also order shirts and knickers, bags and sofa pillows, cups and posters. I also just found a link to several videos about animal photography featuring Tanja, Ingo and Gandalf – just in time for Christmas, as M sits here next to me filling out an order form…

Poldi on the cover of a photography magazine

But what is my daunting project? I am going for my hunting license. Wait…Whaaaat? How are these two related?

In Germany in order to become a Falkner, one must first earn a hunting license. I don’t want to shoot a gun – like, ever – and I don’t want to hunt. But I want to work with owls and birds of prey, and M wants to photograph them. Maybe one day we’ll even see about getting a Harris hawk or a Steinkauz.

Harris Hawk
But that’s a long way away, since I first need to tackle this:

The class I need to take consists of a minimum of 130 hours of instruction - theoretical and practical. In Wisconsin the optional (for someone born before Jan. 1, 1973) hunter education class is  approximately 10 hours.

I made contact with a Jägerschule near Stuttgart, and they have space in a 3-week Blockkurs in April. I have since re-thought that plan and will probably register at the Landesjagdschule instead. Their course is stretched out more during the summer months, giving me time for self-studying in between weeks of class. I bought a study book for the Jägerprüfung a while ago already, but now I’m digging in in earnest. I started the other day with chapter one, which is all about Jagdrecht (hunting rights & laws). Yikes. I abandoned that chapter and skipped to something I can better handle for now – dogs. 

As an example of how I need to prepare for the test, I need to be able to recognize and know the attributes of at least 34 breeds of hunting dogs. In German. Fortunately for me, identifying dog breeds has been a fun pastime of mine since I was young, and therefore I knew more than half of them already. I need to know how the dogs hunt (a pointer hunts differently than a hound or a terrier) and what they are expected to do before and after the hunter shoots. Illnesses, general dog care, training methods & tools, breeding… All this despite the fact that M and I will never have a dog, but it’s part of what a hunter in Germany needs to know. If I understand correctly, for most types of hunting in Germany, the hunter is required to have a “brauchbarer Hund” (suitable and well-trained dog) with him or her.

I recently found and printed off the 117 questions from the pool of questions* on the test for Baden-Württemberg about dogs. M bought a laminator two weeks ago for a different purpose, but now I also have 34 laminated flashcards of the dog breeds to aid my studying (some shown in above photo). I can confidently identify all but 5 of them, and probably I’ll have those identified by the time I publish this post.

*There are 1250 questions in the pool for the entire test, covering five different subjects. The whole "dogs" topic is one section of one of the five subjects.

The thing that makes this project more challenging for me as an expat is that I am not only learning the Jägersprache (hunter’s language, which all potential hunters need to learn), but there are also a lot of regular German words I need to look up along the way. That gets frustrating, especially when a word is not unfamiliar to me – I should know this word, but I don’t.

I don’t know if there is such a thing as a Jägersprache in the US. These are words that are not even familiar to Germans unless they hunt, and they usually don’t appear in a regular dictionary: Brackieren, buschieren, spurlaut, Waidlaut, bogenrein, schnallen, schliefen… And since these words are special to the Jägersprache, there is often no fitting English translation available, or none at all. Sometimes I come across a word that is used in regular German, but it means something else or something more specific in the Jägersprache. An example is "stöbern". In regular German that means "to rummage," but in Jägersprache it is a certain type of hunting that a certain type of hunting dog does.

At any rate, this will be quite an adventure and a challenge, and I'm both freaked out by the sheer amount of stuff I have to learn and eager to learn it.

I spent four hours recently with the former Landesjägermeister of Baden-Württemberg and his wife, who are family friends. Landesjägermeister is another word that doesn't translate into English because, at least in the US, there is no such person. He was the master hunter of the state for many years. In other words, concerning all things hunting, the buck stopped with him. He helped me come to some decisions about how I can tackle this project, and his wife served Hirschgulasch for lunch (the Hirsch shot by him, of course!). I am incredibly grateful for their help and advice.

This is my end goal:

...perhaps minus the cool medieval leather dresses. But I want to work with Eulen und Greifvögeln and get involved with a Falknerei. I want to learn more about these majestic birds and also how to help sick or injured wild ones - who are often victims of automobiles or wind turbines - and rehabilitate them.

Tomorrow we're heading to Burg Hornberg for the Flugvorführung of a new (for us) Falkner! I need to keep my eye on the end ball, so that I hopefully do not lose my nerve or my resolve along the way.

Wish me luck. In Jägersprache, that's...


Sunday, October 14, 2018

Worldwide Photo Walk

photo credit: M
Earlier this month M and I did something very unusual for us – something social involving strangers! You have no idea how far out of our comfort zone this was. To add to the nerve-racking adventure, we took the train! That’s nothing to me, but taking public transportation raises M’s danders and defenses. It was a quiet ride until we reached Rottenburg and a gang of middle-aged Volksfest-goers got on. They were loud, shrill, wearing Dirndl and Lederhosen, and clearly heading for a good time. 

The event we were going to join was Scott Kelby’s Worldwide Photo Walk. This has been going on for 11 years, but I only recently heard about it. In mid-August Kelby announces the walk and opens his site for registrations, and the walk takes place on the first Saturday of October. Volunteers who are interested and willing apply to lead a walk – in any city in the world! – and then people can sign up to join them. For a while the closest one to us was in Ulm, but more recently a walk in Tübingen popped up. That’s a mere 40-minute train ride from our village, so we signed up!

What’s the point? You can go to this FAQ page for lots of information I don't need to repeat here. Basically it’s an opportunity for folks interested in photography to meet each other, get together, talk photography, and take pictures while ambling through a town or city. The advanced version is to try to take pictures that tell a story of some kind. This is going on in cities all around the world on the same day. Something worldwide and peaceful - imagine being a part of something like that! 

At the end of the walk the group may decide to go together for a meal or drinks, and a few days later there is an optional contest for walkers to submit their best photo. The photo must be one taken during the walk, though - submitting one from a different day or even time of day that you like better is cheating! All the photos in this blog post were taken during our walk, even though I have hundreds of other pictures from Tübingen, many of which are better than what I took that day.

Worldwide Photo Walkers in action
This year there were 932 walks and 17,464 walkers registered around the world!

We were a group of six: 2 Germans, 3 Americans, and a Brit! We all had DSLR or mirrorless cameras (though there’s nothing that says you can’t do a photo walk with just your smartphone). We were a rather eclectic group, and we got on well together. I guess you never know with a group – there’s usually “that one guy” who is annoying, or “that one woman” who won’t stop talking… But this was not the case for us! At the Brauerei at the end we exchanged contact information and agreed to stay in contact.

We all took general photos of the corners of Tübingen our leader, Frank, took us to and through, but also went for artistic shots of bicycles, benches, baskets, and Blumen (flowers). And although I thought I had already seen most of the pretty spots in Tübingen, Frank, who has lived there since his college days, showed us places unfamiliar to me!

One of our group, Jim, writes a photography blog in which you can see his creative photos, how he sets them up, and the settings he uses. His portfolio is impressive as well - and less reading for those who just want to see great photos! Frank does photography at mainly concerts on the side of his "day job," and he had some tales to tell about that scene! James also has a website of his photography and the services he offers. James took a class from the great Ansel Adams years ago and shared some of what he learned from him with us as well as some stories. When he first shared that, this was me: "Wait...You met ANSEL ADAMS?!?" What a dork (me, not Ansel).

Looking at truly exceptional photos taken by real people I've actually met has rather inspired me to finally really learn how to use my camera rather than stumbling around and hoping for the best, and to get around to becoming comfortable with Light Room / Photoshop. I am going to do this! It's long past time for me to stop handing my memory card to M and asking him to tweak a photo for me...

Although we were only 6 walkers*, we got quite some looks from people sitting in the Straßencafés as we passed by with our big cameras, long lenses, and tripods. Since most common folk are content with their smartphone photos, they tend to think people with cameras like ours are journalists. I've been asked more than once which newspaper I'm with, and it always makes me grin. If they only knew how clueless I am...
*My son tells me the zombies in "The Walking Dead" are also called "Walkers"!

a deep discussion about...something I didn't understand
Before we left for Tübingen I wrote to my dad in Wisconsin and told him what we were up to. When he woke up he got online and found a walk registered about an hour from him. From his description the experience wasn't quite like ours. but he's glad he did it.
photo credit: mein Vater
Cedarburg, WI USA
We're already talking about next year. Esslingen just screams, "DO A PHOTO WALK HERE!!!", and I proposed to my dad that it might be kind of fun to add a sister-city twist to the photo walk. So M and I organize a walk in Esslingen, my parents do one in Sheboygan, and we share that as a sister city activity. Schau'n mer mal. We'll see.

After I earn my Falknerschein, then wouldn't it be cool to organize a "Worldwide Photo Walk with a Hawk"?!? Yeah, I'm full of ideas.

In case you read this far, here are my tips for participating in Scott Kelby's Worldwide Photo Walk:

  1. DO IT!!
  2. Find a walk somewhere near you, and if there isn't one check back often - walks are added every day.
  3. Register on Kelby's site so the leader of your walk knows you're coming.
  4. Join the WWPW Facebook group. It is so cool to see how many different cities around the world are represented and the often brilliant photos people post afterwards!
  5. If you realize you can't make it, go back online and unregister so the group doesn't wait for you. Though if you register for my or my dad's walk, don't worry about it - we won't wait for you anyway if you're late.
  6. Watch what the other photo walkers are taking pictures of, especially the walkers you sense are skilled photographers. Good photographers have an artistic eye that the rest of us often lack. This is a link to James' photos from our Tübingen walk. How many people would think to photograph that bench? I certainly walked right past it without even seeing it. Both James and M saw it, though! A bicycle among flowers caught both Mark's and M's eye, while I stood there saying, "Gee, too bad for the bike - I'd otherwise photograph the flowers." Learn from the others!
  7. If your leader has organized a meal or coffee afterwards, join in! 
  8. Share your photos with whatever social media platform your group organizes. Our group used Instagram, and though I don't have an account, I can still view the others' photos, and I sent a few of mine via old-fashioned email.

That's it! 

What do you think? Would you do a Photo Walk? What about next year?
Next worldwide walk: Saturday, October 5, 2019

photo credit: M

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Eagle Island - Mull

In the months leading up to our week on the Isle of Mull, we joined the Facebook group "Scotland from the Roadside." Members there post beautiful photos from all over Scotland - scenery, wildlife, crowded or early morning city streets, mountains, waterfalls, and birds of prey. The folks and their photos have been an inspiration to us, and we had visions of capturing wild birds with our DSLR cameras and fancy lenses.

posted with permission
Photos like the above are what I had in mind - a Seeadler (White-tailed eagle) having just caught his dinner! This is not one of our photos, however. Ryan Wemyss is a talented photographer who frequently posts photos of beautiful Rotmilane (Red kites) and Seeadler - the latter from Mull!

Or how about this one? Again a Seeadler soaring majestically in uncertain skies...

posted with permission
Here's my first attempt. It's not an eagle, but a Mäusebussard (common buzzard).

Nailed it!
Uhm, so...yeah. Not quite what I had in mind. Undeterred, we set out as often as we could, content with buzzards but hoping we'd see eagles. Mull is called "Eagle Island," after all!

To give you an idea of the wing span of these Greifvögel (birds of prey), we include this photo from inside Glengorm's Nature Center (next to the coffee shop). The Seeadler's wingspan is longer than mine and longer than M is tall! And when you compare the size of the Seeadler and the Mäusebussard, it's hard to imagine mixing up the two when you see them - but when they're soaring in the sky it's hard to judge how large they are.

I also picked up some new books and a laminated pamphlet in the bookshop in Tobermory to take on our walks to help us identify the birds we hoped to see.

We ventured out to Glengorm's nature hide on Loch Mingary, a sea loch in the north of Mull. Not long after we got settled, M noticed a large bird fly into the trees. I grabbed my binoculars and he set up the tripod. Sure enough, two white-tailed eagles were sitting together on the same branch! They were at such a distance that we weren't sure at first they were eagles, but when they flew off - about an hour later - it was clear.

I was rather pleased that we were able to see eagles on our own rather than on a tour with a local and/or wildlife expert pointing them out to us. We did book an outing with Mull Eagle Watch, which we enjoyed. We were actually further from the birds than on Loch Mingary, so I won't include the photos we have. We did learn quite a bit from the ranger, Meryl, and we were glad to have the opportunity to visit their hide as well. She had a good scope, so we were able to see the two eagles, Hope and Star, clearly.

But seriously, how do we get photos like Ryan's?? We could retire, move to the island, and spend every day on the coastline of Loch Na Keal, where some of the eagles hunt. Not realistic. We could buy wellies and wetsuits and try to get closer to the birds when we see them at Loch Mingary, but we do not want to disturb them! So also no. We could spend €13,000 on a more powerful lens, but I wouldn't be able to lift it, and if I fell with it into a bog I'd be lost forever.

I eventually found the answer. I contacted Ryan to ask what camera equipment he uses (and to get his permission to use a photo or two for this post). It's not all that different from ours. I also found out from the Facebook group that we can book a boat tour ("Oh no, not again") with Martin Keivers of Mull Charters. He knows where the eagles spend some of their time, and it is possible, if the tour is timed right, that we might see the eagles hunting for fish rather than just sitting in trees. Sounds good!

I really, really don't like boats. Next to airplanes, they're my least favorite method of transportation. I like my feet on firm and solid ground. Even a bog will do if it must, but water or air, no thank you! If you want to fully explore the beauty of the Scottish islands, however, you need to get your ass on a boat. I've been to Iona, Staffa, and Lunga on two different trips and survived. So, next year we'll do this. To see the eagles more closely and to get the photos that I have in my mind.

On our last day on the island we returned to the hide on Loch Mingary. Skipping to the third of our nearly three hours there (we are very patient when we know what we want), I spied a suspicious lump out near the coast. Here:

That is basically what I saw with my naked eye, but my binoculars helped. There was clearly a large bird, and as another flew in we were able to see that there were actually four there! I don't think adult eagles hang out together, so we guessed they were a family.

No kidding, one by one three of them flew from the coast, pretty much right over the hide. I was breathless. The first two were clearly - by now we're such experts... - juveniles. We'd learned from Meryl that juvenile white-tailed eagles don't have white tails (and juvenile golden eagles DO!).

juvenile White-tailed eagle
Then one of the adults flew overhead as well, and circled a few times. This is what I meant in an earlier post when I said that Scotland and its wildlife will reward those who are patient. You can't expect to spend 10 minutes in a hide and expect to see the beauty and wonder of this place.

adult White-tailed eagle

If he looks a bit shabby, it's most likely because he's in the Mauser
I am so lucky that M has always been interested in photography and that his interest in Greifvögel has grown with mine. We have been to Mull six times including last year and have photographed many bits of the northern part, but we were never even slightly interested in birds of prey until this year. Yet he is willing to tromp through forests, bogs, and rivers carrying his fully-laden camera backpack and tripod just in case we'll see an eagle, a Turmfalke (kestrel), or even buzzards.

Our photos may not yet be at the quality of Ryan's, but we're not dissatisified with our efforts, especially since we saw them alone without help from a wildlife expert. And M is looking forward to a boat trip next year to get even closer to these beautiful birds. I know I'll enjoy it as well, once I get over the whole "being on a boat in the ocean" thing.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Falconry Experience

"Es wird immer Menschen geben, die der Faszination anhängen, wilde Geschöpfe an sich zu binden, um ihnen immer wieder die Freiheit zu geben." ~Horst Stern

("There will always be people who cherish the fascination of taming wild creatures, in order to give them their freedom again and again." ~Horst Stern)

One of the many highlights during our recent trip to Scotland was an afternoon with Paul Finnigan of Finn Falconry. Readers who have been with me for the last year know of my growing interest in Greifvögel (birds of prey) and Eulen (owls), especially Steinkäuze. The more I learn, the more interested I become. M is equally fascinated by these majestic creatures, and since we're also both into hobby photography, the two combine well into activities we enjoy together. An upcoming post will feature the wild birds we saw on our own while on Mull.

Freya, the Gyr-Saker Falcon
Paul is based in Oban, but he offers Hawk Walks, a 2- or 3-hour Falconry Experience, and much more from the Inverawe Country Park. We signed on for the 3-hour experience, and are ever so glad we did.

During the first two hours Paul gave us loads of information about falconry and his birds while handling them and allowing us to handle and photograph them as well. He's got eight birds and owls, and the three who accompanied him that day were Freya, a Gyr-Saker falcon (pictured above), Khalifa, a Barbary falcon, and Albus, a Harris hawk.

For anyone who thinks a bird is a bird and they don't have personalities, I challenge you to spend a few hours with these three characters - and their human.

Freya is young (ca. 8 months), is new to Paul's team, and is still learning the drill, so after she flies around, egged on by the Federspiel (lure), and lands on it, she "mantels" and can only be enticed off the lure by Paul. Manteln is what a bird does when its kill is threatened - she spreads her wings over it as if to say, "MINE!! Mine-mine-mine-MINE!!" Fair enough - she's the one who had to work for it! She hasn't learned yet that her kill is safe because we humans really don't want the raw quail she's devouring.

Here you see her doing the Manteln.
And here she's spitting out the quail feathers she didn't want to swallow.
She's also a very messy eater, getting blood all over her chest and feet and spitting feathers everywhere, but she's a ham for the camera and absolutely beautiful.

"You know you're supposed to focus on my eyes, right?"
(Yes, she has her head on backwards here.)
Paul told us that falcons can swivel their heads around similarly to owls - roughly 270°, as Freya is demonstrating above so nicely.

She's a hybrid, a cross between a Gyrfalcon and a Saker falcon. I've read that Gyrfalcons are testy and unforgiving - make a mistake with them and they hold a grudge for weeks - but by mixing the breeds it's possible that the offspring takes on the positive qualities of both types. Paul indicated this seemed to be the case for Freya.
Freya in flight
Then there's Khalifa. He's older and more experienced than Freya, so after he flies he's ok being called back to the glove by one of us silly tourists. Paul handed me a raw chicken leg from Lidl, and after some coaxing, Khalifa left the Federspiel and flew up to my glove to tear apart the tidbit I held onto tightly. He's strong for such a little bugger!

still on the Federspiel
Khalifa is a Barbary falcon, which is a bit smaller than a Wanderfalke (peregrine). He flew swiftly and gracefully and was hard to capture on film in flight! Naturally I spent my time playing with the birds, having even left my camera in the car, while M caught what he could. He's better with the camera anyway - and took hundreds of photos that afternoon!

We spent the last hour of the afternoon with Albus the Harris hawk. Perhaps because we spent the most time with him, he was my favorite (in the way that you have three children you adore, but that one bakes you pie and calls you once a week). He is rather fresh to this job, having spent the first 2.5 years of his life with his family unit, even helping to raise and feed his younger siblings! Harris hawks live in family groups, which is unique in the world of Greifvögel. Albus had only been doing this "hawk walk" business for a week when we arrived, so we were treated to both "newbie" mistakes and veteran moves. I love this gorgeous bird!

Albus doing his fruit bat impersonation.
He tried to land on a branch that was too thin and got all twisted. A rookie mistake...

...but he recovered marvelously!

He kept a close watch on Paul. The human (sometimes with the help of a dog)
flushes out the prey, and the hawk kills it.
We walked through a wood and around a wee loch, and it rained on and off the whole time. Harris Hawks (called Wüstenbussarde in German) aren't waterproof, and when they get soaked through, they don't fly well or happily. They're native to Arizona and the hot and dry regions south of there, and they soak up rain like a sponge. What this meant was that I got to carry him for the last 10 minutes of our "Hawk Walk," after he was rewarded with a Lidl chicken leg. I loved it. The hawk walk, not the chicken leg.

Generally when a Greifvogel rests on one leg with the other tucked in,
it means he's content with the world and relaxed.
It does not mean he's injured!

Albus is wearing his anti-panic hood.
I need one of those for when M is driving in Scotland...
Paul gave us a different answer to the question "Why do the birds come back to you, when they are free to fly wherever they want to?" than we have heard from other Falkner. He said the birds don't need him for food - they are perfectly capable of hunting for themselves. In fact one of his Harris hawks did fly off and was gone for several weeks! She returned every now and then to their station at the Inverawe Country Park to see what they were up to, but she came back on her own terms after she presumably got tired of the wild life. He tries to create a bond with the birds, spending time with and flying them every day (when they're not in the Mauser - molting - which makes them vulnerable). It's the Verbindung - connection - and partnership to the Falkner that returns them to the glove, Federspiel, Sprenkel, etc. It's not just about the raw quail or chicken buffet. From what I have seen with the Falkner in our area, it seems quite believable that this is the case. They clearly care about their birds, and I like to think the birds feel a bond with them as well.

We booked our falconer experience back in March, and we learned at the start of the month that he was booked all through September - so it was good we'd planned ahead! If you think you'd be interested in a few hours with Paul and his beautiful Greifvögel, and trust me - it's an unforgettable experience! - plan ahead and book early.

Thanks, Paul! Truly.