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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Silly Putty Queen

I would like to publicly* announce that I am the Silly Putty queen.
A little bas-relief smirk
This guy looks like one of my customers. Hope he doesn't read my blog.
 And that my husband is husband of the year for bringing me home a little egg of the stuff to play with. I love him.

Random running crap giveaway winners were selected by asking my husband to pick numbers. 
Momma on the Run, you got yourself a very used Spibelt.
Nelly, you may now learn to run like a Chi, as long as you ignore coffee stains on the pages.
Julie from Trailing Along, you can be as confused as I was by the Runner's World book.

Please email me your mailing addresses at
And yes, I'm using one of my work emails so if any psychos read this they can only stalk me at work and not my safe and cozy home.

*Every time I type the word "public" I am scared I'll type "pubic" and my spell-check will not catch it.

Monday, August 29, 2011

My next race...

I just signed up for the Clarence DeMar marathon.
The race is in lovely Keene, NH.

It's September 25th.
So, I kind of have to do a sort of accelerated training. Heehee!
I picked this race because I have a good chance of seeing some pretty fall leaves and let me tell you, that's something this transplanted Yankee misses.
Oh for a cup of cider and a cold fall day! Even such a day which requires 26 miles of running.
So, my plan is to do my long runs on the next few weekends:
16 miles   < Did that this Saturday
18 miles
20 miles
12 miles

The rest of the week I'll keep the same. Right now I'm on a semi-schedule that looks like this:
Monday: Easy 3 - 8  miles
Tuesday: Ten miles at 7:30 to 8:00 pace
Wednesday: Gym - full body weights
Thursday: "Speedwork" for 3-5 miles (I am attempting to do real speedwork but I usually degenerate to pathetic fartleks)
Friday: Easy 3 - 8 miles
Saturday: Long run (used to be 8-14 miles but I'll be ramping that up)
Sunday: My choice of cross train, short fartlek run, or rest day

Has anyone else done a short-notice marathon?
I think I'll be ok since I have a base of 30 - 40 miles a week already, and this is my "throw away" race to kick the season off. I need one race to gauge my fitness and guide me in my goals for other races later in the year.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Giveaway of running crap

You might have noticed that I don't do blog giveaways. This is because companies who have things to give away look at my esoteric lifestyle and decide that I'm a bad brand ambassador. Then they look at the six people who read this blog and decide a give away isn't worth six new customers anyway.
But today I'm giving away some old crap I don't want.
1. First there's this book.

I bought this book because the tagline says, "The ultimate eating plan that will make every runner (and walker) leaner, faster, and fitter." Who doesn't want to be leaner, faster, and fitter? I bought this when I was forming some race goals and decided that ambitious race times meant I needed to watch my diet and weight more closely. This book seemed to have just the eating plan I needed to maintain my weight and keep a good ratio of lean muscle to body fat.
It doesn't. It's more of a diet book in the sense of weight loss than a what-to-eat guide for runners. I should have read more than just the title.
I think it is appropriate for people planning to use running to aid weight loss, especially new or returning runners. A lot of it is good info, it just doesn't apply to me.

2. The second piece of crap sitting in my house taking up room is this Spibelt. I bought it on Ebay, so it's twice-used. I wore it once, for a marathon, and I hated it. It just felt weird to me. Like running in a belt. Because it was running in a belt.

3. And another book. I bought this used, too, back when I had runner's knee. This is way back, more than a year ago, before I caught on to the fact that I should be in a neutral shoe and the guys at my local running store were kind but mistaken. I thought Chi running would fix my knees, but honestly it just takes too much effort. I don't like thinking about my running or thinking about my form - it takes all the fun out of running and I run primarily for enjoyment.
The yellow page edges are courtesy of spilled coffee. Librarians hate me.
So, how to get one of these gems?
1. Follow the blog, obviously, I'm not giving my high quality used books away to complete strangers.
2. Tell me which item you want.

If more than one person wants an item I'll have to do a random drawing, so I guess you have until August 31st. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Nike Tempo Vs. Target C-9

Today I am going to compare Nike tempo running shorts to Target's C-9 version of them. You are welcome for taking 7,000 mirror photos in an attempt to demonstrate fit.
First off, a price comparison. Tempos are usually $28 -$32 but often go on sale for less. I paid $14.99 for the Target shorts, which I still think is a lot.
Next, fit.
Target C-9 running shorts

Nike tempos (at this point I found my flash)
 Here's the deal with this: Tempos have a unique tapered leg design. I think this is to prevent upper-thigh-flashing incidents, but honestly it's kind of weird. Note the bizarre ballooning going on here in the tempos...
The front and back seem to be cut exactly the same. Weird.
...Whereas the C-9's have a more traditional straight leg. It seems that the Nike's have too much fabric and it bunches and billows, and the C-9's have a flatter fit.
It would make sense to solve the problem by going down a size in the tempos, but it doesn't work that way. These are smalls, and the lining and waistband fit me. There is just extra outer fabric. If I got XS shorts the waistband would cut me in half.
Crappy useless pocket

Decent pocket
Speaking of waistbands, let's discuss quality of design. Waistband features here...the Nike's have elastic in the waist and a kind of faux drawstring. The C-9's however, have a functional front drawstring. I personally prefer elastic over drawstring for the way it feels and the movement it allows. Another little quality concern is the key pocket design. The C-9's have this rinky-dink little front pocket that can barely hold a key, instead of the lining pocket the tempos have. And while I'm on the subject of quality, notice anything about the side strip on the Target shorts? Yeah, that gray used to be white. The color bled when I washed these.

Lastly I want to touch on the moisture wicking properties. This is the big claim to fame for tempos, which are made with Nike dri-FIT technology. And I've got to say, it works pretty well. I get soaked with sweat during summer long runs, and my tempos definitely get sweaty, but when I wear my C-9 shorts saturated fabric slaps my legs (spraying sweat droplets) for the last half of the run. It is extremely uncomfortable to run in soaked fabric - it rides up your legs, sweat dribbles down the backs of your legs, fabric bunches wetly.

So the verdict? Although I like the cut of the C-9 shorts better than the tempos, I rely so much on the moisture wicking fabric that the tempos win on that strength alone. 

What's the most important thing to you when you buy workout clothes?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Sewing clothes without a pattern

I like designing clothes, and I'm a passable seamstress, so occasionally I whip up a little dress or jacket that strikes my fancy. After years using an old industrial Kenmore with only one stitch (I made my wedding dress on that thing!) my husband surprised me at graduation with a new machine. Sadly, the gift coincided with the cessation of Wal-mart's fabric department. Luckily, it looks like my favorite dollar-a-yard source is back and I recently bought some fabric that toes the fine line between cute and frumpy.
Is it "aw" or "maw maw"?
I only had 1.3 yards of 45" fabric, so I knew I had to make a simple dress, but with a floral pattern you have to be careful not to make a housedress or mumu.
When I design and sew without a pattern, first I sketch the finished dress, and usually I also sketch out what particular pattern pieces will look like.
This time I decided on a simple one-shoulder dress with an oriental look. I put in an elastic waist to create shape since I planned on having a blousy, gathered top and skirt. I tapered the hem of the skirt to add more structure.
Once I make a design, I free-hand draw a pattern on the fabric with pencil. Sometimes I trace other pieces of clothes - for example, if I want to make a short sleeve, I might use another short sleeve top to get the armhole and sleeve right. You can also use a measuring tape and body measurements, of course.
Don't forget to add seam allowance! I also leave extra fabric if I'm unsure how something will hang or fit - I did that with the neckline on this dress since I have not sewn a one-shoulder dress before.
Before doing any sewing, I try the clothes on pinned together and make adjustments.
Try it on with the shoes you would wear it with.
Then once stitched, I do a try-on and take a picture. I study the picture to look for flaws. You can see that the side hem is messed up on the skirt one side here - my tension was too tight and it looks wavy from very slight puckering. These things are hard to miss in a mirror, which is why I take a picture.
When I fixed the skirt hem I also made it a little less full.
 The finished product got lots of  compliments! The loose fit on the top made this dress ideal for walking outside in the August heat, so I wore it for Dirty Linen Night. The only problem is that I had to skip the pockets I had planned to put in the skirt - there just wasn't enough fabric leftover!

If you were choosing a cocktail-style dress that had to be the last one you ever bought, would you choose basic black off the rack or a completely unique brightly colored frock designed just for you?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Summer beach days.

I can't wait for summer to end. I don't like the weather here in New Orleans in the summer at all, and I pine for crisp New England autumn days. For all I care we could just skip summer.
My little nephew Lüc and I in Waveland, MS
 But maybe I could just keep those days at the beach playing with the nephews. I mean, that's pretty cute. I'd hate to miss out on those witty bitty baby goggles.

What's your least favorite season?

Running Fads

Chi running.
Jeff Galloway.
Barefoot running.
Couch to 5k.
Heel strike.
Running skirts.
Heart rate training.
Ice baths.
Minimal footwear.
Run less, run faster.
Compression wear.

Running fads cycle in and out, a lot like fashion, and - also like fashion - they can be a mix of dos and don'ts. You ever see a model in an outfit and say, "It works for her, but I could never pull it off"? Well, that's a healthy attitude toward fads, too.
Now I'm not saying barefoot running is bad or Chi running will injure you. What I am saying is that these surges of popularity are accompanied by testimonials and reports that elevate certain techniques and styles to the level of a magical cure. But they aren't. No one gait, shoe, technique, pace, or training plan will work for everyone, and none of those things are the secret to a fantastic PR unless they are accompanied by common sense and hard work.

The following statement applies to all running fads: This won't work for everyone. You need to know your own body and abilities well before trying something new, and you absolutely need to ease into any change slowly to avoid injury. Be smart. Be careful.
And above all, don't fix what isn't broken. If you are running fast, happy, and injury-free, and if you are setting and achieving goals, I think you've hit the sweet spot. Don't change a thing.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Cheap Date Wednsday: Dirty Linen Night

It's too late for you to take advantage of Dirty Linen Night this year, but I'll give it a shout-out anyway since you can do nearly the same thing on any given weekday by roaming the French Quarter for open galleries. Dirty Linen night is the quarter's answer to Julia Street's uppity White Linen night. True to its roots, it's funkier and boozier (most galleries were serving alcohol) and the entertainment is the same old street performers who are out every night.
Always get the seafood martini at the Pelican Club, especially if you try the COOLinary menu.
 David and I enjoyed dinner at the Pelican Club, taking advantage of the summer COOLinary menus, then walked the quarter and looked at art. The galleries in the quarter are a mix of older art bought by dealers and sold in galleries, plenty of tourist-bait "art", and some original artists with showings (Julia Street is almost entirely shows by local artists). It's a different vibe, too - more relaxed, more drinking and eating, more varied clothes.
Including red dresses. Dirty Linen fell on the same day as the red dress run, and plenty of guys and gals in red dresses were still on the streets.

I'm a wimp so I only have shots of back views!
 David and I rarely brave the French Quarter, but some of the art was inspiring. This trip made me decide to make these visits more frequently. After all, some people take vacations here just for the quarter! I suppose I should appreciate it. Where else can you see men in red dresses asking their friends if they have panty lines?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Do I have to take Synthroid?

The thyroid story: When I was 19, I woke up one morning with a lump as big as a golf ball on my neck. It hadn't been there the night before - I know, because I'd worn a tight choker-style necklace and it fit just fine, but wouldn't meet around my neck the next morning. Boom, lump overnight. I'd actually never been to a doctor except for stitches at this point, but I took this seriously and had a fine needle aspiration and radioactive uptake scan. I was home from college for the summer and returned to school before I got the results, and because of an error by the receptionist (she pulled the wrong file when I called to get the results: this was before the days of HIPAA and you could still get results over the phone!) I thought I had a benign goiter that would go away with some iodine.
Well, a few months later I ended up in surgery, having a 55 mm encapsulated tumor removed, along with most of my thyroid. I recovered well, and took levothyroxine for about a year. One day I read about thyroid regeneration in the young and decided to quit taking my levothyroxine. I did, and my next blood test results were in the normal range, although my TSH was significantly higher than the last test. Nonetheless, I stayed off levothyroxine for years.
Look at that brachydactyl thumb!
I thought so. Unfortunately it looks like I'm back on the stuff. I returned to my doctor a few weeks ago after my hubby urged me to because he was sick of cleaning up hair balls all over the floor. My steady hair loss plus dermatological changes made me think my thyroid was hypoactive, and after I got my blood work back I found out that it is. Am I disappointed? Well, yes. I don't like taking medications at all. I'm bad at it: I forget, I eat right afterwards, and I forget to get my refills. Of course I'd rather not need to take anything because I'd rather be naturally healthy! But I'm going to take it. Hopefully it will combat the symptoms mentioned above, along with the I-don't-want-to-get-up lethargy.
How about you - have you ever had to take medication but you didn't want to?
Are you good about taking a daily dose? As a pharmacist, I should be, but I'm not. I need to hear your view to give me better insight to my patients!

Monday, August 15, 2011

NOTC anniversary race report: It WAS a disaster!

See the guy with white hair? He rocks. This is the only time I've ever beaten him.

I knew my gray jog bra would be bad luck.
I chose to run to City Park to the start of this race, since it was just a 3-miler, thinking this would give me 13 for the day (I ended up taking a short cut at the last minute which knocked a whole mile off. Did you know that Orleans Ave meets Marconi Dr?! Midcity's angled streets have me permanently confused).
Well, it was a blistering hot day, and the race didn't start until 7:45. The sun was up and the temps steamy by the time I arrived to pick up my number. I regularly run in just a jog bra, but I don't like to race that way so I was wearing a shirt - the extra layer plus the lack of water on my four mile run in combined to leave me uncomfortably overheated by the time I arrived. I drank water sparingly, not wanting to cramp during the race, and steamed under a tree waiting for the delayed start (now 8 am). The race was short, hot, and challenging. I felt very tired and warm and only dragged my butt to the finish. Cute surprise, the hubby came out to see me finish, which worked out perfectly because I gave him my race T-shirt to bring home. It's a nice shirt: technical T, and good looking too:
Front has a nice logo...

Back has nothing! No sponsors! Oddly appealing!

I realized after I finished that I was 4th female, which means everyone struggled, but I cold have kicked myself: the third finisher was just seconds ahead of me and I could have kicked past her but didn't; based on my time I didn't think I was even in the top ten women. Oh well. I will have to start cranking this up a notch come Fall. I've gotten too lazy in my running!
As far as the race goes, it was standard NOTC stuff, which means fun and flat, but the anniversaries are special because the shirts are nice and the entry fee is cheap ($15 for members). I didn't stay for the after party - I ran home, which felt completely awful - but it looked like fun.
Summary: I am crap at short distances and only blue jog bras are appropriate for races. 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Disaster waiting to happen

This is a picture of disaster waiting to happen.

It is my race clothes, all laid out in preparation for the 5k this morning. This clearly indicates disaster because I set out my gray jog bra rather than my light blue jog bra, and ever since I started running I have worn the light blue one for races.

The truth is that I think the blue ones are a little softer, actually. I know. I'm demented. It's ok, let me have my quirks.
Off to run 5 miles to the race! I'm getting 13 in today!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Ask a Pharmacist: What can I do for chronic bad breath?

1. Talk to your dentist in case you have gum disease.
2. Floss twice daily. You can run the floss through some mouthwash before using for extra effectiveness. Pay attention to ill-fitting crowns as you floss: they may need dental work.
3. And if all else fails, you simply use the magic cure. It really is magic, but it's hard to find. I've been recommending Lavoris for years, and I've had women come tell me that it saved their marriage. My own hubby uses it, because he's paranoid about his breath.

It's full of food coloring and sickly sweet, but it really works. Gargle before bed. Oh and don't use the mint flavor, only the cinnamon seems to be effective.
If you can't find Lavoris in a tiny little mom and pop drug store, ask the pharmacist to order it for you.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Whitney White Linen Night

Well, we did it again: got seduced into attending White Linen Night, aka The Great New Orleans Sweat Stain Rodeo.
I think this time we kind of got it right: we staged a car downtown early in the day to set up a quick get-away, then took the streetcar later that day. We came prepared with a chilled bottle of white wine, a grapefruit-club soda concoction,  and cups (usually lines for refreshments are tragically long, but this year the process seemed smoother, so we might skip the BYOB next time).
Hiding behind the Monster van pouring our drinks

We made sure we were early enough to see some of the galleries before the crowds were too large. We ran into oodles of friends, as usual, and left before the streets were too packed and warm. I ordered sushi take out and we picked it up on the way home so we could enjoy something light to snack on.
Look at all the white people!

The sushi was an afterthought, but the original plan was to have ice cream at the house, and we made sure we ate the ice cream, too. It was welcome after a long warm evening!
Abe shaved his head. Dig the scalp sunburn!
Oh and of course, must do a white linen outfit review:

I bought a frumpy tube top dress for cheap and folded it over to cute it up, and added color with turquoise canvas wedges and mother of pearl and crystal jewelry. And then I carried a turquoise book around with me all night because it matched so well.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

August humidity

Pretty much every run starts like this:
Like my husband's classy bike seat cover?

And ends more like this:
Blazing sun!

The strange thing is that those dark, overcast skies are much harder to run under. It's so muggy and humid I struggle to breathe, and when the sun rises and burns off some of the moisture I actually grow more comfortable. The hard part about running in the deep south is that there really is no break from the hot temps. Even when we have a "good" year like this one (by that I mean no record breaking heat), our heat is so consistent throughout the day that there just isn't a cool morning or evening time to run. For example, this morning I would have had to start my run at 3:00 to save 2 degrees F temperature, but the humidity would have been exactly the same.
It sucks.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Thoughts from my morning run.

I'm probably the only runner in the world with a high-heels injury. Too many date nights.

We have a Quaker meeting house in New Orleans (We do. It meets in the Methodist church on Carrollton.)? I wonder if anyone I know is a Quaker?

A mimosa date! How cute (A couple passed, one carrying OJ and the other carrying champagne).

Um, lady, while you're chatting on your cell phone your dog is eating another dog's poo and your kid just threw his paci out of the stroller. Here's your paci kid, this isn't a game. I'm not picking it up next time!

One of these days I'm going to die up on this levee, run over by a texting biker.

Ouch. Those spandex bike suits aren't for everyone.

This is very interesting. A dog is chasing a rabbit down the side of the levee, which spooked a horse who skittered into a goat's path and now a guy in his underwear is trying to catch the goat. I thought I lived in the city.

Ha! Those are Christmas boxers!

Gah! Train! I hear a train! Must speed up! Must sprint! Must beat train!

Oh, that was a tug boat, not a train.

What the heck are they doing in the river? Ah, dredging the Mississippi. That's interesting, and a little messy (It's very messy. I got a thin dirt film just from running by).

Hi mayor Landrieu.

Five miles in and I can wring about a cup of sweat out of my clothes .

You know how we call the fruit and color both orange? I wonder if that translates to other languages? As in, are the Dutch words for color and the fruit the same, too?

If that kid leaves that Gatorade by that tree I'm stealing it.

Hi James Carville.

No giraffes out at the zoo today (My run takes me past Audubon Zoo). Maybe it's too hot. Or maybe they're off necking. Tee hee!

I'm not going to stop to cross Magazine Street. I have a crosswalk and I'm not afraid to use it!

Eh, maybe I am afraid to use it. Why is there an 18-wheeler on Magazine Street anyway?

I've said it before and I'll say it again. Your dogs do NOT want to be friends. They just want to fight or mate. Stop trying to introduce them mid-walk.

Oh gosh lady, please put your lovely hair in a ponytail, I'm hot just looking at it all sticking to your neck.

Will that mom notice if I snitch her kid's Cheerios out of the stroller as I pass? 

Hi guy from church who never recognizes me outside of the pew (and whose name I don't know).

Shoes are saturated. This should make my closet smell lovely later.

I wonder if the milk is too far gone to use in pancakes? 

Oh, heavens! A herd of bikers beat me to the water fountain! What shall I do! I think I will honestly die if I have to wait two more seconds for water!

Ah! Help! Now they're all taking turns filling their water bottles! Nooooooo!

I guess I'll wring out my clothes again while I wait. That should scare 'em. Must be at least another cup (I think it worked).

Why is it that "natural" fluorescent bulbs always look the least natural?

Hi Arnie Fielkow.

Didn't I just pass that lady three minutes ago? Or is it just that everyone wears the same race T-shirts?

Please, no traffic on St. Charles, if I have to stop to cross the street I won't want to run again.

Yay! Last block! Almost home! I might make it home before heat stroke sets in!

CRAP, where is the house key?! Oh yeah, in my key pocket, duh. 

Should I strip on the porch and wring my clothes out one more time? Nah, that's not nice to the neighbors....

Friday, August 5, 2011

Foody Friday: A nice Malbec

I adore Malbec, especially alone: just a nice glass of wine for dessert (or in addition to dessert. Or as pre-dessert. Whatever).
Crios Malbec with the cool smiling hand

You should try this one, it's lovely.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

I wear tacky shoes

I'm getting old. You want to know how I can tell?*  I bought a pair of incredibly tacky shoes - in full knowledge of their tackiness - simply because they are comfortable. And that, my friends, is a true sign of aging.
I gave you a break from my linoleum to show off my hardwood floors
These are silver flip flops. And by silver I mean mirror-shiny, perhaps to trick you into thinking that they are genuine sterling. This blinding shininess is topped with a truly superfluous rhinestone at the thong. Oh, and the soles have embossed leopard pattern on them.
But they have awesomely comfy straps.
*Besides the wrinkles and the affinity for coupons, I mean.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Nate's visit

Last week...yeah, a week behind, I family came over to see my younger brother Nate while he was in town for a wedding. He moved to Pennsylvania last year for grad school, and we hadn't seen him since.
Nate is crazy.
He's in school to teach and he fits the "absent minded professor" bill nicely. For example:

He stayed overnight with us while he was in town, but "forgot" to tell us that his friend was staying, too. We do not have a spare bedroom and we only have one sofa. Someone got the floor.
He borrowed our spare house key, but when he left he put an extra key on the coffee table...the WRONG key. I do not know where this key came from but it's not ours.
We planned a brunch with him and the family, which he was excited about, and then he made plans to have breakfast with a former professor. So he had brunch and breakfast, back to back.
He traveled with just one small backpack. I assumed a change of shoes or clothes would be in there. Nope. Just his wedding gift for the bride and groom and some big heavy book.
He forgot to check into his flight early both on the way there and back.
He threw out his boarding pass when David checked in for him (Nate frustrates David, who is ultra-prepared for any situation) but I fished it out of the garbage.

Sometimes I wonder how that child is still alive, or how he went to Europe this summer and didn't get kidnapped or robbed.
Does your family have an absent minded professor?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Date night, Anniversary-style

This week David and I celebrated our third wedding anniversary, or so I told everyone. Really it was our fourth. I told you I'm no good at math.
On our wedding day we had dinner at Emeril's NOLA restaurant (we had a morning wedding and knew we'd be hungry after an early brunch) and we make it a habit to return there each anniversary, just to confuse the waiters. They read notes in their "client files" about a wedding on July 28th and think it's our wedding every time we come in (my brother was a waiter there when we got married and made extensive notes to make sure we had exquisite service).
For the second time in our four years of visits, we got prime parking. If you've ever been to the French Quarter you know what a bear parking is. Please observe this dark image from the interior of our vehicle. Note the restaurant sign right across the street! The trick is that the "No parking loading zone" signs across the street say "From 8 am to 6 pm" in tiny print underneath. Score!

I wore a very unflattering little black dress I bought on Ebay for $1 (free shipping) several years ago. I have altered it twice and it stills fits oddly. Basically if I cut off my boobs everything would be in the right place, but then none of my other clothes would fit, so that would be a dumb move.

Yes, we keep a football on our bookshelf.
Of course the food was delicious. It always is. And since the portions were large I took the rest of mine to work later. Yummy!
We don't normally do gifts for our anniversaries, but David surprised me with gold earrings. Back in December I mentioned that I wanted real gold hoops - they are so practical and it's just not worth it to buy plated jewelry, it ages so fast. David went out and bought them and has been saving them since January for an occasion! But it does make me feel a little like a kept woman. I'd be more comfortable if he'd holler at me to put dinner on the table and iron his shirts or something. 

If you're attached, how do you celebrate anniversaries? 
And would you rather...
Get a gift for an occasion (like a birthday)
Celebrate by going out to dinner, a concert, or another event?