Monday, December 18, 2023

Some Trouble at the Gate

 Some Trouble at the Gate

Saturday we did our Christmas party. It went quite well. Almost all of our friends came over. The house was full and noisy, and there was a bunch of food. The problem with playing host is that I seldom manage to get enough to eat at these gatherings. It's go here, talk there, go for a bite, but wait! Something or other needs done, and before I know it the evening is over, I'm dizzy tired, and I haven't stopped moving all day.
Then typically, I find I'm too keyed up to sleep despite being all tired out.
So my tank was less than half full when I went out, and got to work on the big rock Sunday morning.
The task of the day was simple enough. The stone has a good flat surface for a base, but there was a drill scar that ran about three quarters of the way across the flat bottom. 

I had shoved the rock around so that the drill scar lined up with the edge of the patio pavement. Even with part of the base hanging off the edge the stone sat stable. Today's task was to eliminate the drill scar, and chisel away enough stone so that I could run the base line around where I cut the material away. This would leave some rock hanging out over the edge of the base, but I figured I could work with that easily enough.
Didn't quite work out that way.

The rock still sits flat and stable, but to my eye, there is just way too much material hanging over the one edge of that base. I under-estimated just how much overhang there would be. It does not make for a pleasing form.


This isn't the first time something like this has happened, and I've always found some way to correct an awkward basic shape.

But along with my greatly dimished level of physical energy has come a dimished level of confidence. It feels like a major fuck-up. I shoulda' known better, planned better...
But, like I said, this is not the first time I've made a less-than-perfect move. I've got some ideas. It'll work out.

Saturday, December 16, 2023

And So It Begins

 And So It Begins

Wednesday, December 13, 2023 I wrestled the big rock out of the pile, and got it propped up at the bottom of an  eight foot long ramp of 3/4 inch plywood laid over a robust length of 2X6 board. But that was as far as I got. The rock weighs 125 pounds. I can drag and shove it around the ground, but I do not have the juice to lift it. Nor did I have the juice to work it up the ramp to the tabletop. I had to wait for Thursday when Juan came by to take care of our lawn. Even so, it did take the two of us to get the rock safely up on the table. Here it is:

And now I'm faced with a new set of problems, in getting this project underway. Ususally, the first step is to grind the surface of the rock smooth with the angle grinder. But that would mean picking it up off the table, and taking it out into the yard... No can do. Same with setting a flat base. The rock does have a flat surface, but, again- it's too heavy to do what I usually do.

So the first few steps are going to be fairly big excavations. You can see the drill hole at the left end of the base. That hole runs almost all the way across the width of the stone, and it's going to mark the outside edge of the base cut. I already tried sitting the stone flat with that straight drill line hanging off the edge of the pavement. It's quite stable, and will make for a nice, roughly round foundation for the sculpture. There's going to be some serious rock-breaking, and  heavy work with the bow saw, and point chisel coming up. Once I've cleared about thirty five, or forty pounds of rock away, I'll have something a little easier to manipulate.
This is going to be a long series. It's Friday night as I sit here typing, just putting a cap on a long day. Today was lost to housework, because tomorrow, Saturday, we're doing our Christmas open house/potluck thing. Maybe Sunday I can strike the first blows on this monster.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

Monday, December 11, 2023

September Stone on the Shelf

 September Stone on the Shelf

I just don't know what it is with me and titles. Most writers want a catchy title to pique readers' interests. You know- just a hint at the content, and maybe a teaser that there is going to be something titillating somewhere in the story. I just throw up whatever stupid thing pops into my head, and in this case, give away the whole plot before the first sentence is even written. So try to guess what this post is going to be about. 
Anyway, here it is.

Here's how it started:

...and how it ended up:

I've been working on the finishing for the last few days. Today was a long, long session. I'm pleased with the effort, even though I know I'll look at it tomorrow morning, and find a bunch of little things that need to be touched up. 

 I left a lot of the natural shape of the top part of the stone as it was, and went with a hand-drawn, slightly funky presentation, rather than work everything into a 'machine perfect' arc and spiral.  I have a feeling that this one may sell. I hope to get one more sculpture done before the Santa Fe Springs show this spring. But the next one has to be a big, significant effort. I've had my eye on the big stone that has been sitting weathering away in the pile for over a year now. It's a big chunky rough cube of milky translucence. I have only a vague idea of what I want to do with it, but a lot of good things start out with a sort of vague idea. Only problem is that I can't lift the damn thing. I'll think up somethin'...


Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Wingin' into Winter

 Wingin' into Winter

Work has been spotty as of late. It seems I just can't get locked into a steady routine anymore. I get a little done here and there, but stuff comes up. Now, I don't have a clue what "stuff" is, exactly. I don't have to be too many places other than here but days slip out from under me, and nothing much gets accomplished, not even the "stuff" that keeps me from getting the stone work done. So here is where the spiral stone stands:

I'm shaping the drop in the center right now, slowly working it into a globe. I'm leaving a lot of the natural shape of the stone intact on this one. I'm liking the contrasts in the transition from the folded teardrop base, to the irregular outer ring, and into the more exact coil in the center.

Thanksgiving came and went. We had a good gathering with eleven people at the table. It's a big expense, and an awful lot of work to throw that feast together. Everyone had a very nice time, but I left the kitchen only long enough to eat. I don't mind. Our whole circle of friends is old, and nobody has children. If Mary and I hadn't stepped up, everyone would have spent the day alone.

 The week before, we had both my brothers here in town which is rare. Ross and his friend Pacho came in from New York. Don had the 24 hour flight from Thailand. Lani came in from Colorado, and Ian came up from San Diego. We had the whole very small clan over here for a BBQ. It was good. I guess that accounts for some of the recent "stuff" that got between me and getting my stone work done.

To the good, I have my work on display at a really for real Art Gallery. Here's the link.
Mary and I are driving up there to drop the three stones off tomorrow. There will be an Art walk/show up there this Saturday.

 The other stuff was the Lost Era film. We held the first showing at Whittier Museum this last Saturday. There was an afternoon, and an early evening show, 2:00, and 5:30. The early show had a couple dozen people come out to see, including my good friend Penny, from the bike gang. I hadn't seen Penny, or any of the gang since back in May. We had a burger at Mimo's, and she seemed to enjoy the film. (HT Penny for the pic) The later show had fewer in attendance. That was fine, actually. Julie C and her family came a long way out here to see the film. I've been trading notes on line with Julie for a very long time. Her husband and family were absolutely great. We all went out to dinner after the show. Seldom have I had such a fine evening of company and conversation. This was another great highlight for the season.

 The program was very well received.
 Lost Era is a strange piece of work. The forty minute film features about two hundred twenty four still pictures, slides of Pete Hampton's paintings, with narration, background music, and sound effects. It tells a story in seven vignettes of Pete's childhood life up in the hills above La Habra back in the early 1940's. 

One of the difficulties is context, and background. I need to preface the film with a fairly detailed introduction, telling about Pete, his life, his mission to save the hills, and his purpose in creating the slideshow. That means getting up before the audience for about a ten or fifteen minute talk before the film, and a Q&A session after it's over. Normally I don't have a problem speaking up in front of a group, but I was nervous enough to print out a few pages of notes before going in to this presentation. I didn't get the stage fright, but the notes served me well, nonetheless. 
I can convey the idea that Pete was quite an eccentric character, and that I made an extraordinary effort to put this piece together. Past that, the show has to stand on its own. Does it? I believe it does, but it's hard to know how others are going to respond to it. 

And where is this thing going to go? What is the goal? What would success look like in this endeavor?
I am not sure. But I'll find out, eventually.

And since I'm just kind of rambling here, I guess I could mention the rat. Every once in a long while we get one. A little over a week ago I got up, and when I went to feed the cats, I saw Skinnies charge over to  the refigerator and start looking behind it where he couldn't fit in. I got a flashlight, and looked. A rat had jumped up, and was crouching on the electric cord about four feet off the floor. I grabbed a yardstick, and tried to smack him out onto the floor so Skinnies could get him, but he escaped.

Thus began the war of the rat. I have three rat traps, two of the classic Victor traps, and a plastic claw type thing, sort of like a miniature bear trap. I never caught anything in the claw trap, and mostly use it for a clamp on the cat food bag.

I baited the Victor trap with a pice of muffin, and some peanut butter, and set it behind the refrigerator. Rat ate the bait, and didn't snap the trap. So I tried again, this time baiting both Victor traps with a piece of apple, and peanut butter.

Rat ate the bait again. So I tried baiting with an almond. Rat ate the bait. I tried peanut butter and cracker. Same result. So I bought a couple of sticky traps. Rat ate the bait, and left a paw print and some fur on the trap.
I was getting pissed.

I detest rats. The last several (and I mean several) who got in the house died under the heel of my shoe. There is nothing to recommend that task. This one was sly. He was not going to give me the opportunity to stomp his rat ass. I had hoped the sticky trap would get him, if, for no other reason, it would give me the pleasure of killing the damned thing myself. I wanted that thing to suffer.

But every morning, the traps were empty, and unsprung (even the claw trap).
I decided to click it up a notch, and blew seventy five bucks on an electronic rat zap trap. I put it behind the stove.


To add insult to all this I was finding rat shit on the stove, and in the kitchen sink, and on the counter. And I found a hole in a bag of apples I bought, and one apple gnawed away.

New strategy. I left a sticky trap, that zap trap, and a Victor trap, and, for good measure, even the claw trap that never worked- left them all set and baited on the kitchen counter. But I baited them with pieces of the apple that already had rat teeth marks all over it. I figured the rat would smell himself, and get a little careless.

Usually I'm the first one up in the morning, and it falls to me to feed the cats, check the traps, and make the coffee. I slept in, and Mary came in to wake me. "You got the rat."

Did I ever.
There it was on the floor with its head in the jaws of the claw trap that never worked. Until now. There was blood all over everything. The claw damn near decapitated the rat, and both rat and trap were in a big puddle of dried blood right near the corner of the stove. There must have been a hell of a struggle for that rat to thrash around enough to drop off the edge of the counter. 

Well, I was angry enough to want the rat to suffer, and it looked like he did. He suffered big, if not for long. 
No, I didn't feel bad about it.
And now I have a brand new, unused, electronic rat zapper.  Just what I need.
It would be cheating to return it to the store.

Monday, November 13, 2023

Mid November. Time so Fast

 Mid November. Time so Fast

I seem to remember deciding to keep a weekly post up here at the blog, but I have not done so. No excuses. I just get lazy, and distracted. I drop notes over on pbird's blog, and Founding Questions, and a few of the other stops I make in the morning, but then I feel like I've done enough internetting for the day. I'm getting my strength back at long last, albeit slowly. I've talked to a few other people who said it took them a good six months or even more after they came down with the bug. That eases the fear. It shouldn't be hard to forget, but it's amazing how quickly I lose track of being seventy one years old, which is past any pretense of being in "post-middle age." I'm still dealing with breathing issues, and having to hit the inhaler periodically. But I'm back on the bike, and I can do the fifteen miles on the local bike trail without much trouble. Maybe I'll be able to get back to Cyclone Coaster, and riding with what remains of the bike club.
Too, this last week has been eventful. Both my brothers were in town, which very seldom happens. We had a few good gatherings during the week.
And I have been pecking away on the stone project, even though I have been lax in taking pictures of my slow progress.
What else?
Oh, yeah. The Lost Era film.
We finally got the event posted up on the Whittier Museum calendar. I'll be giving two presentations at the museum on Saturday, November 25th. at 2:00, and 5:30. I'l also be showing at the Whittier Art Gallery in December, but that show is contingent on getting the use of a projector. We'll see what happens. I'm looking forward to doing this. The screening last August got very good responses from people. This time the Lost Era is the show, and not just an unplanned opening event. I'll have to get up in front of whatever audience we have, give an introduction to the piece, and answer some questions (if there are any) afterwords. So that means I have to prepare notes, and rehearse the pitch. I'll have to be concise. The whole affair is not a story that can easily be condensed into a few sentences, and even though I've told the story many times I find it very easy to get sidetracked, and run on too long.

So, anyway, let's look at the stone stuff. First is a small piece I prepared for the miniature show at the gallery in December. The orange stone is one of the first things I carved. Originally the top of the carving was a loop, but It got knocked off the shelf in an earthquake some years back. I had glued it back together, but it got knocked over and broken again. So I rounded the ends of the broken stubs, and put the bird-like heads on them, so they lean into one another without touching. Sort of creates a little dynamic tension between the the two bodies if the piece. I made the base from a scrap of some very cool green alabaster, and glued the two pieces together with Liquid Steel. I bought the green stone in Utah when Mary and I were on our honeymoon. I wanted a high gloss finish on the base, but I also wanted the natural texture of the rough stone, Can't have both. So I did something I've though of before, but never did because it seemed like cheating. I sprayed it with urethane. Came out good too.

Finally, here's the progress on the September Stone. Once again, I thought of doing something easy that wouldn't take a lot of difficult shaping, but ended up cutting a spiral out of the center of the rock. 

So I'm back to a task that proceeds slowly, and takes a lot of attention to detail. And it's going to get harder and harder the farther along I get. 

Not a problem, though. I like the shape that's emerging from this piece of rock, and it will have that three-dimensional Rorschach quality that always seems to surface in my work.  All to the good. So that's it from here for now. Thanksgiving and the Lost Era show rolling around next week. More to the good there.

Saturday, October 28, 2023

28 October

 28 October

Just after dinner. Mary made quesadillas with chicken left over from the BBQ from the other day. They were great, and I'm stuffed.

Right now I'm unaccountably tired, but I've been so for what seems like a very long time, now. Ever since June. I've been having breathing issues as of late, and I've been depending on inhalers for shortness of breath. I got tested at Kaiser, and they said I have a mild case of COPD. Has to be, at least in part, my just deserts for fifty five years of smoking weed. But I haven't smoked since June. But too, there was the covid in August. I'm barely beginning to get my strength back from that. It's an evil fucking bug, designed by evil fucking people. Hell cannot be deep enough or hot enough for them. 

The doc started me on a new puffer this week: just one blast in the morning. Today was the first day I haven't had to hit the tweeter since that morning spritz. Maybe it's going to work.  Joys of post-middle age, I guess. 


 I remember when I was much younger, hearing old folks say how strange it was, because they don't feel old, but physically they just couldn't do what they did not long ago. Now I get it. Sit still, and close your eyes. Shut out all the distractions you can. What's left? Just the awareness of... you. That sense of "I am." That little microcosm of God. It's the same now as it was when you were a child. It never changes. What changes is the container, the housing.

Mine is old.

I  got some small work done on the stone. I've dialed in the form of the project, and today I drilled. I'm not as accurate with the drill as I was twenty years ago, but I did an acceptable job placing the holes. I have one more to go, which is the long hole through the base. I'll need to set up the big drill, and the jig to make sure it comes out right. Then it will be the slow process of carving out the spiral in the top section while shaping the curves and tapers on the base. It all has to proceed together. It won't do to concentrate on one part at a time.

 I'm looking forward to showing The Lost Era slideshow movie at the Whittier Museum next month. Nick hasn't posted the November calendar yet. I've had one niggling concern on the project, and that's the use of the excerpts from the Beethoven symphonies. I have heard that the copyright holders can cause a work to be unplatformed if stuff is used without official permission. Now this is more of a concern when using pop music, or movie themes for a commercial project. I doubt if The Lost Era is ever going to have the kind of reach that it would come up on some corporate radar. But film festivals do check to make sure that those ducks are in a row. Too, I'd like to upload it to Vimeo, or some site other than youtube

 So, just to be sure, I looked up the protocols for requesting permission from the corporate copyright holder. I found a letter template on line, filled it out, and sent it off to the big office on the 12th of October. I got an email from them this last week, and traded a few notes with one of their people to clarify what I wanted to use the excerpts for. We'll see what happens.

Now I'm just running a test. Blogger won't let me comment on my own goddamn blog.

Monday, September 25, 2023

Cracks n' Stuff

 Cracks n' Stuff

Alabaster is gypsum, which is a soft stone. It comes in at just a notch above soapstone at #2 on the mohs scale, although some alabasters are harder, and other alabasters are downright mushy. The Anza Borrego stone comes from the US Gypsum quarries, way deep in the Anza Borrego Desert in the wilds of San Diego County. It is not quarried out for sculpting. The colors in the material I've been working on for the last couple of years are impurities in the gypsum that render the stone unfit for crushing into powder to be used as the matrix for drywall. The stuff does not get careful treatment. Rather, it is plowed out of the mountainside with huge earth moving machines, broken up, scooped up, and dumped. Even alabaster that is quarried for sculpting is full of cracks. It's just a natural feature. These pieces are fragments of broken rock. Sometimes the cracking is the aforementioned natural property of alabaster, but just as often a piece may be shot through with fissures. Usually, that means just getting out the five pound mallet, and smacking a big chunk out of the stone before beginning work.
It sometimes happens that the fissures don't show up until a carving is well underway, and when that happens, it causes problems.
You might guess that this is what I'm dealing with right now. At least, with an abstract figure this means adjusting the shape in progress. There is always some room for improvisation. You can't do that with a bust, or a statue.

Uh, well, umm, yeah it's supposed to be a guy with no arm, and right shoulder. I planned that way to uhh- make a statement, that's it!

Enter Starbond. The super-glue that you get at the grocery store is watered down. Starbond is the real deal. It comes from Japan, and it's a little bit treacherous to work with. You can easily weld your fingertips to each other, or anything they may touch. It come with needle fine dispensing tips so you can drip it into a crack with some precision. Even so, the fluid is very thin and it runs all over the place before it sets up. If the fissure is fine enough, the Starbond can keep the edges from flaking, and keep the fissure from spreading and causing a chunk to fall out of the stone.
In this case, the crack is on the left side near the bottom where I've been shaping the butt end of the rock into a wedge. The Starbond is the wet looking patches. You can see the drip in the top pic as well. We'll just have to see how it works out. I may have the fissure under control here. If it continues to give me trouble I have the option of cutting much of the tail end away.

  Again, this is the freedom that you have when working an abstract form. It doesn't mean anything goes. It is entirely possible to wreck the composition by hacking the wrong way. So now, it is time to slow down a little, give attention to other parts of the figure, and as always, spend a lot of time just staring at the stone.

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Drawing on the Stone

Drawing on the Stone

I haven't put up a post in a few days, because up until today there wasn't any sort of progress to show. I have been working, but this part of the project is simply staring at the stone. Truth to tell, I don't draw vey well. I seldom make sketches on paper, because I do poorly trying to translate a three dimensional idea onto a two dimensional plane. It is much easier for me to sketch directly onto the stone. It's not exactly a spectator sport. I did have an idea, and I drew it out on the face of the rock, but somehow, it just didn't seem right. I messed with it for a few days, but ended up just saying, "No." Maybe something more simple, more elegant. 
Of course, opting for a more simple design sets off the nagging inner voice I call the Carp. Carp will say, "You're just too lazy to do a difficult design. You've lost your touch. It'll look like something you already did. People will see it and say, "Anyone could do that. What's the big deal?" And on, and on. 

I sketched out the design on one side of the stone, then flipped the rock over to put the mirror image on the other side. It's surprising how difficult that can be, even with a simple design. I kept making the same mistakes over and over. I'd look, and say, "That isn't right," then had the devil's own time figuring out what was wrong. 

Eventually I got it down, but it took an inordinate amount of time to do it. Of course, the sketch just looks like a big "S"curve, because that's what it is. There will be more to it than just a big "S".

I got the point chisels out today. and started cutting, then drew a line for a base, and scribed it in.

So the project is underway. I know right from the gate that, unless I get some really brilliant flash of inspiration, it's probably not going to be one of my prize-winning pieces. I need to work, and I'm happy to feel well enough to do it, but I don't have much in the way of creative fire just now.
My energy level, physical, mental, and psychic is still uncomfortably low. I've made the observation before, that we do not age on a bell curve. The faculties do not decline in a gradual slope. They fall off like a series of stair steps, sometimes small steps, but more often in big ones. I'm realizing, and none too graciously, that the illness of this last summer kicked me down a solid step or two. I won't come back all the way from it. I need to accept that there has been a decline, and it isn't a temporary setback. It's a decline.

I'm realizing, too, that my efforts with The Lost Canyon Project may come to naught as well. I refer the "The Lost Canyon Project" as the overall effort to see my late friend Pete Hampton's work recognized for its greatness.

The Lost Era blog, book, and now movie are the vehicles for that effort. The blog gets very little traffic except for the Singapore scumbags trawling through Blogger to plant scams, and viruses. I have not made too much effort toward trying to publish the book, but the queries I've sent out haven't been fruitful. The Lost Era got off to an encouraging start at the Arkhaven Comic site, but traffic has fallen way off, and now it's running about the same number of views as The Little Red Hen which is simply scans of an old children's book. I've sent out quite a few downloads of the slideshow movie, and given out a few SD cards, and thumb drives. This has had mixed results. All but a couple of people who have seen it were very impressed. The flip side of that is that over half the people I've given it out to haven't bothered to watch it.
The next effort will be the show at Whittier Historic Museum. This will take place on November 11. I'll be giving an afternoon, and an early evening show. Hope I don't end up sitting there all alone. We'll see.

Thursday, September 14, 2023



Remember I mentioned getting a lot of "visits" from Singapore? Last night I was checking the Blogger dashboard, and just happened to click on the comments button. This shows a neat list of all the comments that have been posted on the blog since day one. Guess what I found? The comments were littered with spam, and phishing attempts. I nuked close to a hundred of them. Those Singapore web crawlers are cyber cockroaches that drop their nasty eggs all over where you won't see them. They are products of the human roaches in Singapore who do this out of malice, or do it in hopes of being able to get hold of your data, and ultimately, your money. I wish them the fate of cockroaches everywhere when the exterminator shows up with his spray tanks.

Anyway. Let's get on with the post

Now how's that for a fancy, high-tech, super scientific sounding title? You'd think I was engaged in some sort of highly mathematical nuclear atomic physics  engineering project that could blow up at any moment, and send us all to kingdom come.

What it really means is that the base cut that I made the other day left the stone leaning awkwardly to one side. Now sometimes a little asymmetry is a good thing. Sometimes a little awkwardness can be endearing. But just as often it means that it just doesn't look right.  

I don't always see it at first glance. I did not really notice it until I began rounding some corners, and working the raw rock into a basic shape that will grow into a  finished composition. Nothing precise, or mathematical about it. It either looks right, or it doesn't. It didn't.

 What this meant is that I had to do another base cut. This is not the first time I've had to do this with a project. Even so, it feels like a mistake that I could have, and should have avoided.

But the making the cut was surprisingly easy. A new blade in the bow saw certainly helped. Then, a return to the sanding board, which also went much easier than I thought it would. (hooray!)





Add a little water:

Ready to Rock n' Roll! (note most clever pun!)

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

September Stone

 September Stone

I come up with these snazzy titles in hopes of drawing the zillions of viewers who are surely out there just waiting to hear what I have to say. Actually I've been getting a whole bunch of views, but they're all from Singapore. Singapore? I cannot imagine that anyone in Singapore gives a crap about some cranky old fart like me pecking away at a vanity blog here in So Cal. Furthermore, I have slightly less than zero interest in cultivating a readership there. The only way it makes any sense is if the visits from Asia are bots of some sort scouring the web for something to steal, or feed into some AI program, the better to respond to image prompts, or mimic American speech patterns. In any case, I'd block them, or tell them to piss off if I could.
 Now that that is out of the way...
This has been a good day, and it started with that most rare of occurrences, a very pleasant dream in the early hours of the morning. One of the things I like about smoking dope is that when you go to bed with a buzz, you don't dream, you just sleep. The dream energy is used up fueling the flight of  imagination when the weed kicks in. I like that aspect of smoking because most all of my dreams are some degree of unpleasant, and often fall into night terrors.
But I haven't had a buzz since June, and I really don't want to catch one. Kinda' done with it, y'know? To everything there is a season, and all that.
Today is the first day since I got sick that I feel like I'm running on something like my normal level of energy, so I got to work on a new stone. The pics up top are the raw material. It's a forty pound chunk of Anza Borrego Alabaster, mostly black but with some white layered in, and maybe even some red. Some of the white on the face has some translucence. Maybe the inner layers, too. We'll see. 

The first step is what I call the take down. I got out the angle grinder with a 50 grit disc, shaved all the weathered material off the face, and ground it smooth enough to sketch on. Then I stood it on end, found the point of balance, scribed a pencil line around the stone and cut the base with a bow saw. The base cut is done by sawing along the pencil line, going slowly around and around the stone.
Add a little water to bring up the color:

Next is the sanding board. The base has to, of course, sit perfectly flat on a table without wobbling. This next part is tedious, but necessary...