Debating Hobby

Since the SCOTUS ruling, I’ve been enjoying the occasional troll and debate on the Hobby Lobby decision.  I fully understand how narrowly the court has defined its position.  I also appreciate that its intent was to exclude forms of birth control that someone might interpret to have an “abortive” effect. I recognize that, by keeping it narrow, SCOTUS deliberately rejected the Constitutional issue–they did not consider it relevant for judging this case.

However, I also recognize that, politically, this ruling was not about the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), but rather Citizens United.  The Roberts Court invested its integrity–some might even say its legacy–on the concept of corporate personhood in 2010, to much criticism by the public, politicians, the media, and even members of the bar. Allowing a for-profit retail corporation that is not engaged in religious business to negate a law under the pretense of having a religious affiliation is inane regardless of the technicalities involved, and only serves to shore up the legal construct that companies are people.

I don’t agree with the decision, regardless of its narrowly-defined correctness, because I do not agree that (1) corporations are essentially people and should be treated equal under the law in all instances, (2) life begins at conception, (3) an employer’s religious principles should supersede an employee’s own health care decisions, and (4) this is fundamentally non-discriminatory.

Rather, I believe that allowing this narrow point even to be heard by SCOTUS, let alone upheld by them, is using incorporation as a vehicle to drive an agenda that allows public and legal acceptance of religious, gender, and sexual orientation discrimination.  This decision contributes to the death by a thousand cuts of real personhood and equality.

Many people I’ve encountered and read have ranted against covering contraceptives at all.  This is the consolidated and paraphrased line of thought offered by them in discourse:

Contraceptives are not a basic health care need, and exist primarily to provide women with the ability to seek sexual gratification without meaningful consequences.  Therefore, employers should not be forced to subsidize their employees’ lifestyle choices by covering contraceptives in their health insurance.

This is a statement loaded with assumptions, each of which can be dismantled on its own lack of merit, but let’s deal with the whole statement as one body of thought first, before it gets broken down.

The logical deduction from the whole would be this:  IF contraceptives are not a health care need and are for sexual gratification only, and a person believes that such things should not be covered by health care insurance, THEN the person should be equally angry about similar meds and procedures that directly relate to male choices for sexual gratification–e.g., penis pumps, penile implants, sexual dysfunction drugs like Viagra, and vasectomies, all of which are covered under the ACA–and willing to advocate as hotly for their removal as they do on the birth control issue.

And yet, shockingly, no one in support of striking contraceptive coverage is even talking about the male sexual health benefits, let alone going to the mattresses for getting such coverage removed.  To target only female forms of sexual health care on such grounds, and not even discuss male forms of sexual health care, is sexist and possibly a symptom of embedded cultural misogyny.

Now, I’m going to break it down into its parts:

 

     1.     “Contraceptives are not a basic health care need, …”

Prima facie, this is incorrect.  Hormonal treatment is used for many things in women’s health issues.  Many women are on such treatments to alleviate the symptoms of PMS and menopause, to rectify a chemical imbalance, and to reduce the risk of endometrial and ovarian cancer. Taking the Pill for 12 years reduces the risk of contracting such cancers by more than 70 percent. If you are a woman with a family history of it, it behooves you to be on birth control.  Furthermore, estrogen clears scarring and blemishes from recurring acne caused by too much native testosterone.  It also alleviates endometriosis, a condition in which uterine-lining tissue grows in other pelvic areas, which can lead to scarring, severe pain, and sometimes infertility; the right hormonal cocktail will stop the growth of such tissue.  It ameliorates the symptoms of polycystic ovarian syndrome, a condition which triggers irregular periods, excessive hair growth, and skin problems. Basically, most modern contraceptives are a chemical treatment that address all manner of health problems. Even previously non-hormonal BC forms like IUDs can now be gotten with a mild hormone additive, just to make sure everything balances out.

Furthermore, there are some kinds of birth control that become precluded with certain life changes and choices.  Women with diabetes, high blood pressure, and/or using tobacco are discouraged from using the pill, the vaginal ring, and the implants. The pressure to switch to non-hormonal forms of birth control, like the IUD, increases as women age; during perimenopause our chemical levels fluctuate anyway. At some point after 40, doctors will stop prescribing BC meds with a high hormone content. When that happens, a plain IUD is most often recommended by OB/GYNs. IUDs were two of the four types excluded from coverage in the SCOTUS decision.  For those who do not know, the average age of menopause is 51, so we’re talking about 11 child-bearing years during which some of the most reliable forms of birth control are denied to women under current medical practice.

A woman who is on birth control does not have to prove to an employer, a judge, or the kangaroo court of public opinion that she’s on it for health reasons only or even primarily. It is sufficient for purposes of law and public debate to know that there are many valid health reasons that inform an individual’s choice on when to use birth control and what kind she should use.  Boiling them all down to “women just want to have free sex on the public dime” is frigid, childish, and wildly hypocritical.  Most people over the age of 18 do have sex, men included.  And most of the time, it is the woman who purchases the birth control–as a gender we spend 68% more on it per year than men do.  Which leads us directly into the next statement to unpack.

     2.     “… and exist primarily to provide women with the ability to seek sexual gratification without meaningful consequences.”

Also incorrect.  Most women do not consider sex to be without meaningful consequences, which is why birth control is so important to women. There are few things more meaningful (and nothing more life-changing) than choosing to give birth and raise a child. It is difficult enough for women to navigate modern relationships while building a career without also bearing sole responsibility for any pregnancies that may result from sexual congress.

Furthermore, it is delusional to pretend that we still live in or could live in the morality of “The Donna Reed Show” and “Leave It to Beaver.” Our country’s morality and attitude on premarital sex has changed in the past 60 years. In spite of the virtuosity permeating then-current media, only 11% of the population “waited until marriage” in the 1950s. So, our impression that virginity before marriage was the norm back in the 1950s is erroneous and “keeping one’s knees closed” certainly did not happen in practice. 

Now, the social norms expect a couple to explore their sexuality prior to walking down the aisle.  Compared to 11% from 1954-1963, merely 3% of the current population waits until marriage.  Even among highly religious groups (e.g., Texas Southern Baptists), only 20% of young religious people polled successfully waited until marriage. In case you can’t translate the math, that means only 1 out of 5 fundamentally Christian kids under age 25 stay virgins until marriage these days. Clearly still a minority.

Does that mean that 97% of all sexually active adults are indiscriminate whores unworthy of having our sexual health attended to and covered by insurance? Or does it mean that the laws should change to reflect the new moral normal?

While premarital sex is (and apparently always has been) normal, the family unit has changed drastically over the same period of time. What happens when a woman gets knocked up? Once upon a time (five decades ago), a pregnancy would have required a shotgun wedding. Out-of-wedlock births have since skyrocketed with the demise of that practice. 

In the early 1960s, about 66% of premarital pregnancies resulted in a rushed marriage.  Thirty years later, in the early 1990s, the percentage had dropped to 25%.  Now, more unexpectedly expecting couples choose co-habitation over marriage, if they choose to stay together at all.  Only 7% of out-of-wedlock pregnancies result in a marriage. Add in the rise in divorce rates, the decline in the “happily ever after” dream, and the gender revolution allowing more women the means to support themselves, and an unintended pregnancy more frequently results in a single mother who is both primary caretaker and primary breadwinner by the time the child is three years old.  That’s some heavy shit.

In the current social environment, it is necessary for women to have individual control of their sexual lives and decisions:  It is a completely fair and natural consequence of evolving out of a social system which treated women as subservient at best and chattel at worst. Biological facts dictate that women cannot avoid being the vessels for reproduction and, therefore, get stuck with the brunt of the child-making decisions.  (Trust me, if we could take turns with men on that score, we truly would. Every. Single. One of us.)  Birth control is the equalizer which allows women the freedom to choose when and how often we produce offspring.

So no.  Women don’t use birth control to make meaningless sexual choices.  In the phrase “birth control,” the word “control” is more important than “birth.” If one defines the years of sexual activity as 18-51, it is easy to calculate the difference in cost of contraceptives covered and not covered by insurance. 

  • The Pill:  Covered = $11, 842; Uncovered = $66,644
  • The Patch:  Covered = $11,842; Uncovered = $66,644
  • Vaginal Ring:  Covered = $11,842; Uncovered = $66,644
  • Depo Shots:  Covered = $10,740; Uncovered = $32,496
  • Implants:  Covered =  $8,910; Uncovered = $19,601
  • IUDs:  Covered = $4,089; Uncovered = $8,178
  • Tubal Ligation:  Covered = $1,500; Uncovered = $6,000

The costs of uncovered birth control are huge for women who are making minimum wage. Even at Hobby Lobby’s full-time rate of $14/hour, that’s only a $28,000 gross annual income.  It’s not much to support a child on, and many women who use birth control already have children and are trying to limit their reproduction to an affordable number of kids.

According to Guttmacher Institute, “a much higher proportion of married than of never-married women use a contraceptive method (77% vs. 42%). This is largely because married women are more likely to be sexually active. But even among those at risk of unintended pregnancy, contraceptive use is higher among currently married women than among never-married women (93% vs. 83%).”

And that leads us to the last piece to unpack.

     3.     “Therefore, employers should not be forced to subsidize their employees lifestyle choices by covering contraceptives in their health insurance.”

One can point out the logical fallacy of this in two different ways.

(a)  Employers are “forced to subsidize” many other lifestyle choices through insurance, such as the intended or unintended effects of drug, alcohol, and tobacco use; obesity, heart disease, and diabetes from overeating or eating the wrong foods; STD treatments (ooh! Another category we should cut from coverage!); hospitalization and care from sports injuries and stupid human accidents; and so on.  Furthermore, if one objects to lifestyle choices being covered, that slippery slope leads to employer-provided health insurance not covering the cost of pregnancy and childbirth, too.  It is, after all, as much a personal decision to have a kid as to not have one.  Storks don’t drop babies on random doorsteps.

(b)  Employers are not bearing the whole financial burden of providing health insurance. Employees are not getting their health coverage for “free.” They are getting it in exchange for work, as a part of their employment package.  Every worker pays some portion of the basic coverage–either before or after taxes, in dollars or in work equity–and every worker shells out for co-pays and deductions when medical services are used. Employers have never been more than a middleman agent providing a pool of customers to an insurance company for a bulk-rate discount in order to make their company more attractive to qualified workers.  The employee him/herself benefits from the coverage if used, and the employee him/herself often has the option of increasing and reducing types of coverage in his/her policy for a price.

Use whichever argument floats your boat–use both!  Either way, the premise has little merit and is easily ripped apart.

Hedonistic Calculus

I came across this on J.Truelove’s blog after pressing a couple of days ago, and was attracted by the mention of Louis CK in the title.  Caveat: Truelove’s blog touches on sexual themes I don’t practice. That said, I think if we are honest, the majority of us have been in love with two or more people at a time and I found nothing offensive about the post.

Rather, there was something kind of brilliant about it. It was a stream of consciousness showing an attempt to calculate our personal relationships the way we calculate our capital and social worth in general.

Americans do have a tendency to bring everything down to that winners-losers, competitive edge attitude which is detrimental to forming the kind of trust required to make a long-term relationship long term. My short answer to the question at the end is “No. It’s not good.”

Given that the one common denominator in the emotional content of everyone I’ve met is the need for real, loving human relationships, it’s worth exploring why and how we do so much damage to ourselves. Because I also hold this to be true: Most of the damage we take from our relationships we do to ourselves. There’s a hedonistic calculus involved, and we become our own crappy karma.

WomanSpeak: Object Lesson 1

< Object Lesson 1 >

Women don’t expect the moon, but they do expect courtesy in matters of communication. Every man (and many women) dread having “The Talk,” regardless of what the underlying issue is. But men do something when there’s a Talk on the horizon that inevitably worsens the experience for them. Sometimes I wonder if this bad communication habit is instinctual, since it seems to be universal.

Sample Exchange
It’s the morning approximately 1.5 days after a stalemated disagreement between a dating couple. The woman finds out her evening engagement canceled. She is at loose ends.

10:22 a.m. Woman (via FB message while Man is “online”):  Would you like to grab dinner together later? [no response]

10:25 a.m. [Man checks out of FB]

4:30 p.m. Woman (via text message to Man’s cellphone):  About dinner, did you see my FB message? Are we on?  Leaving the office by 6. Can pick something up on the way over. [no response]

6:12 p.m. Woman calls Man’s cell phone. It goes to voicemail. Woman hangs up without leaving message. Goes to store, grabs dinner for one and drives to her place, pissed off.

Whatever else may going on in the relationship, the question about dinner needed to be answered out of common courtesy. It bears no relationship to any argument that happened before or any issues the Man might have to deal with individually. Blowing off the question is not an acceptable response. Here are some acceptable responses:

  1. Sorry. Made plans with [best friend, roommate, dog, family, work colleague].
  2. Maybe. How about I call you around 6 pm and let you know.
  3. Dinner sounds good, but I’m tired. Come over after work and we’ll order in?
  4. No, I really need some space after our argument. How about we get together [insert timeframe here] instead? I’ll call you [pick a day near timeframe] and we’ll plan to do something together.
  5. Thanks for thinking of it, but I need an evening alone. Raincheck?
  6. Cool. Eat out? I can meet you somewhere/make reservations if you want.

These varied responses leave plenty of room for a man to avoid his lady for the night. But they don’t ignore her immediate concern about food and her evening. Even the ones that turn down her dinner offer are clear and valuable communications, as they free her up to make other plans for herself. This heads off that “generally pissed off” feeling. Why would you want to head that off? It’s not rocket science to understand that lack of communication on the simple matters (dinner, household chores, weekend plans) will feed whatever is festering underneath.

Most women in such circumstances aren’t looking to take up The Talk again either. Most women are simply looking to do something for dinner. They expect an adult to have both the common sense to know that a question about dinner isn’t an invitation to argument and the common courtesy to reply to the easy, direct question. Failing to act like an adult gives the woman more fuel for whatever confrontation might be on the horizon.

In many of the response examples above, I specifically showed the man promising to contact the woman at a future time. Yeah, that doesn’t happen in real life, either, but it is a good practice to adopt and/or follow. Follow-Up language tells a woman three things: (1) the approximate amount of space the man needs; (2) approximately when she should leave a time block free to be with him again; and (3) that there is an intention on his part for the relationship to continue or for him to follow through at some point. For the man’s immediate benefit, this extra consideration means she is less likely to nag him in the interim, less likely to hold his silence against him, and more likely to give him some credit for maturity and thoughtfulness when they finally do get around to The Talk.

Instead, what often happens is the blow off. The blow off puts an ellipse at the end of that stalemated disagreement, extending the silent treatment until every blow off becomes an offense to be held against the man in the woman’s court of law when The Talk finally occurs. (And it always occurs.)

I sometimes think men presume that once an argument begins to brew that all communication will lead back to the argument, so they shut down. This doesn’t have to happen. The women I know don’t tend to conflate the “need to Talk” with a need to communicate. The former (as everyone knows, to his or her dread) means there’s an issue to flush out. The latter means that there’s a certain amount of coordination required to get something done. It’s only the former that threatens to be an agonizingly involved, possibly dramatic dialogue. The latter is often very simple and can be done with short sentences in a civil manner.

A couple that cannot negotiate the simple matters with courtesy will not make it through the rough stuff at all. If the man wants to avoid The Talk, but doesn’t want the woman to walk, it’s best to stay open and communicative about the simple stuff. Conflating the two allows her to build a federal case in her head over the period of time the silent treatment lasts, which means that when The Talk happens it will be just as ugly (if not uglier) than he feared.

< / Object Lesson 1 >

It Was a Peri Good Year

WARNING:  NSFW and probably TMI.  This post will talk about my experience being a late-40-something single woman going through perimenopause. If you get cold sweats hearing about hot flashes, move along. This is not the blog post you’re looking for.

I started a category called “Advice I’d Give My Daughter” because I have a lot of younger female friends, sisters, nieces, 2nd cousins, and the like with whom I rarely get a chance to talk for lengths of time in person about personal matters. Like many of my other posts, this is geared toward the wonderful women in my life. That said, let’s get into it.

The Hot Flashes:  There are few things more humiliating than having your face turn beet red in the middle of a board or public meeting because your latest hot flash chose Wednesday at 6 pm to make an appearance. Since I have a Scot’s florid undertone to my fair skin, I can go from milk white to glowing crimson in under 10 seconds. Nothing undermines a woman’s professionalism like the the implication that she is emotionally out of control, and a beet-red face says to every man at the table that you are about to lose control. It only gets worse if you try to explain that it’s not your emotions that are running high, it’s your body temperature. There’s a reason why male linguists have formed the words “hysteria” and “hysterectomy” from the same Greek root.

Rule #1 of Peri: You will have to stop taking and presenting yourself so seriously. You can’t pretend it’s not happening, but you can make others more comfortable if you shake hands with your whack hormonal function. Learn to breathe deeply and make jokes to diffuse whatever is showing on your face. (Yogic breathing techniques help and you can find plenty of YB instruction online.)

For some this may be the hardest thing to adopt, too, because there will be times when perimenopause will suck the patience out of your attitude and the bounce out of your step. You will go to bed tired and wake up grumpier. Separating the fatigue from the moment takes practice.

The Irregular Periods & Cramps:  I have a (male) friend who (still) jokes about not trusting anything that can bleed for five days and not die. Try bleeding for twelve. Everyone says that when you go through perimenopause you may have irregular periods. Boy howdy! I thought that meant I might miss a few here and there. I didn’t think that meant when Aunt Ruby returned I’d have to change out tampons every 3 hours for days on end.

Buy a Sckoon cup. Better, buy two–one large and one small–to swap out as needed. Even during heaviest, the large Sckoon lasts an entire workday and it’s more comfortable than a super-plus tampon. In fact, if you are female and menstruating at all, just go to a cup now. Once you get used to placing (and I would recommend that you practice that before your period) and cleaning it, you’ll find it’s easier to deal with than pads and tampons. You can put it in before your flow arrives and, if it’s late, you can keep the cup in place until it starts with no toxic shock risk. If you need to empty it before getting to the privacy of your own bathroom, you can swipe it clean with any small moisture wipe and place it back inside. I carry a pack of Burts Bees in my purse anyway, for a quick freshen between work and evening meetings. Both the Baby Bees and the Facial Towelettes function as multipurpose wipes that won’t leave a harsh residue on the cup. Plus you’ll save money and waste over a long period of time. A good, reusable cup will last 5-7 years before needing to be replaced. (2 Cups = ~$80; 5 years of tampons & pads = ~$600.)

For more and increasingly intense menstrual cramps, three solutions have killed the problem for me: (1) Raspberry anything, (2) kundalini yoga (which I get into below), and (3) sex. For the first, make sure it’s real raspberry (not raspberry-flavored)–I tend to eat the raw berries or raspberry yogurt, or drink raspberry tea. For the second, yoga and swimming (an especially good substitute in summer) allow me to stretch and exercise that area fully. For the third, if you don’t have a good man, use a good vibrator. An orgasm a day makes cramps go away. I use all three, every month, in rotation.

I figure that a good mom will point out raspberry tea and yoga stretches as relief. But I’m pretty sure most moms don’t tell their daughters to go masturbate in order to alleviate cramps. Even if Mom knows (and she may not), saying it violates many of the 10 Commandments of Parenting. It’s the kind of thing your older Bohemian cousin, or your racy aunt spills the beans on. You can call me “Aunt Tat.”

Rule #2 of Peri: Irregular menstruation is not unmanageable but if it frustrates you, then consider switching to a more flexible tool which deals with it better. (Aside: Intense cramping is not as manageable, but I’ve found three naturally effective methods that, when used together, work better than a bottle of ibuprofen with a Cabernet chaser for me. Try them instead of the Midol cocktail next month and see if they help you.)

The Birth Control:  I never thought I had a problem with hormonal birth control methods until I went off them for a while and went back on them recently. What happened when I did kicked my ass.

Perimenopause is a form of natural hormone therapy. Many women (I am not one) choose to get hormone replacement therapy to counterbalance it. Sometimes that therapy is the same as birth control, sometimes it’s in addition. My recommendation? Just don’t. Your body needs to adjust to menopause and you need to adjust to your body. Use condoms, get a copper IUD, get a tubal ligation if you can afford it, but don’t add more chemicals to the mix. (Caveat: I am not a medical doctor. I am speaking from my own experience.)

When I went in for new birth control in the first week of June, I was given the choice of a Depo-Provera shot ($155) and a hormonal IUD (Mirena, $550), in some part due to my age. I went for the Depo shot; it was short-term cheaper and just as effective. It was a mistake.

The first two weeks were great. Then dryness and a decreased libido crept in. By one month into the three-month shot, it was much harder to reach orgasm, even through masturbation. The first period never showed up; neither did the second. I started bleeding again in mid-August. My period has lasted (thus far) eighteen days. No joke.  (Amended: It’s now a month.)

If I had gotten pregnant in June or July, I would still be clueless, because the shot is supposed to be effective until September and I would have assumed all three missed periods were due to Depo. I’d be in my second trimester by the time I was knew there was anything seriously amiss. It was not worth it. When I go back, I’m getting a ParaGard copper IUD.

Rule #3 of Peri: Do not screw with your period. You will have problems with it through the natural process. You do not need to compound those problems with hormonal birth control. Also, you do not want to have a surprise pregnancy at 40+ years of age, you do not want to lose all interest in sex, and you really will want to know when you reach menopause (which is impossible to know when you skip periods for chunks of a year due to some form of hormonal birth control).

Corollary: Life Rule #163: Do not do Depo. Ever. For any reason, at any age. And if you’ve done Depo and are on the continuous bleed, here’s some advice from a real M.D. on how to deal with it.

The Sex: Contrary to common experience, other than the Summer of Depo, my appetite for sex has not decreased, and I’ve been exhibiting symptoms of peri since 2006. I anticipate being in peri for another 4-6 years, based on the experiences of the women in my family. It may not happen this way for most women, or even you in the particular, but someone needs to acknowledge it: Some women develop a sex drive during peri that would make lions and pigs jealous.  (For those who never saw that old chain e-mail, a pair of lions will mate 40-60 times a day and a pig’s orgasm can last up to 30 minutes.)

If your appetite is strong but you’re drying out too fast to enjoy it, then find a good, natural lube that doesn’t irritate, so that you can use it as often as you like. Sylk, Good Clean Love, and others make lubes that can put sex back on the menu.

If your libido is flagging, take up kundalini yoga. It helps your blood and energy circulate through your pelvis. (I self-taught using Gurmukh videos, and I highly recommend her.) If that doesn’t help, then maybe you need to buy a better vibrator.

Rule #4 of Peri: Your hormones will change but you don’t have to sacrifice your sex life to the Goddess of Menses. Just listen to your body–stay aware and be proactive, unless you want a slow slide into eventual sexlessness.

I remember my mom dropped off two books on menopause when I first complained of hot flashes. It was her way of preparing me. There was nothing in those books I couldn’t have found on Google. I wish she had sat down and shared her stories with me, instead. Now the women in my life have some of mine. Any time you want to swap stories, my door is open. I’ll put on some raspberry tea.

alone’s first thought

alone’s first thought
is birdsong (it matters not the
where or the why or the whohownow) buzzing
in this tenderness of air.

while humanity sleeps to the whirrhumclick
of its own devices,
the world yawns,
scratches its hindparts,
and lumbers about its morning routine.

wren and robin hop in dewlight
and nothing (not minute nor macro nor
mysteriously more) disturbs
the flesh-tipped dawn that is not
miraculously natural.

alone’s first thought
is birdsong.

TLPatten (c) 2004

Mo Cridhe

The poem I do not write
Is set in music
The sudor of lust, the thrill of illicity

It is —
Bridling half-met needs, deeply
passionate and directionless
A shuddering reverence suckled out through
the nipple
Control and trust, thrust again!

This is no common eroticism.

Do not ask me why I love!
My answers are opaque,
Incommensurate with the
emotional charges laid at my bare feet.

The poem I do no write is a
challenge yet unmet

Meet me again to unravel its rhymes;
Maybe reasons will follow –

But I hope not

TLPatten (c) 2013

Virginia Needs a New Slogan

Republican AG & Gubernatorial hopeful Ken Cuccinelli wants to be in your bedroom, and not in that creepy, Anthony Weiner way, either. Rather, in that creepier, Orwellian, NSA way.

From fathers’ rights to personhood bills, from anti-sodomy laws and same-sex marriage bans to building regs that prevent current abortion clinics from providing abortions, it is safe to say that Cuch is one of the least popular figures in Virginia politics when it comes to sexual freedom, reproductive health, women’s issues, and LGBT rights.

If Cuccinelli gets any traction in November, Virginia will need a new slogan. It certainly won’t be for lovers anymore.

Right now, the Magic 8 Ball says a Cuch win is “Looking unlikely,” but I’m sure that someone will dig up a McAuliffe scandal in the next 4-6 weeks which will allow Cuch to surge in the polls again.