Jul 31, 2009

Why it pays to read the terms of service or Why your Mac needs internet security software

Hi all - I just recently became aware of this so I thought I'd share. This is just a public service announcement for those of you who don't think you need an antivirus program because you have a Mac. And it has nothing to do with viruses

If you connect to online banking using said Mac, or your retirement account or your investment account, it is very likely that their terms of service say that you are covered in the event of fraud or hacking or whatnot but only if proper precautions are taken on your computer.
Which means if the machine you access the account from does not have internet security software installed you are not protected against financial loss.

It is not true in every case but definitely worth running the software if you aren't up for reading your terms of service.

Apr 30, 2009

Ok.. I admit it.

I'm panicking about swine flu.

Fine.. everyone I talk to is being all too-cool and  calm and detatched and jokey and tsk tsking the media for being all inflammatory and overreacting and making fun of people walking around in masks, but me? I'm nervous.

Maybe its because I stupidly read everything i could find on the 1918 flu.
Maybe its because I'm vaguely nuts anyway. Or because I'm asthmatic.  Or because I live in a densely populated metropolitan area and take public transportation with people who cough, sneeze and drool all over everything. Or because the background on my Twitter page is a flu virus.  Or because I have an internet connection and an unbearable compulsion to read.  Whatever it is, I can't seem to get calm about this.

There, I said it - anyone else?

Apr 29, 2009

Um. so yeah.. that was a Joke..

So for those of you who were genuinely concerned that I might have a Madame DeFarge/Richard Nixon complex.. No, I do not really have an enemies list.  Unless you count walnuts, mohair, health insurance companies and oak pollen as enemies (which at the moment, I do).



(p.s. does anyone know where my Optivar eye drops are?)

Apr 28, 2009

Knittiing Updates

The Cashmere neckwarmer is mostly finished, It needs to be blocked and have buttons added. and the ends woven in. I'm actually considering adding a single crochet border to compensate for the weird mistake where its wider in one spot than others. Its driving me a little crazy. Ok. a lot crazy. I have this bad habit of permanently back-burnering projects when i've discovered I've made a mistake and it is too far back to fix, so it was a really big deal for me that I actually went thru and finished this

When I was a kid and took piano lessons my instructor always used to yell at me because if I made a mistake I had to go back to the beginning of the piece and start over. I see I've brought that compulsion forward.

I liked knitting this, Its just simple enough that I can do it on the train while watching tv on my phone, and the yarn is gorgeous. (Artyarns 5 ply cashmere) I've started a second one (to be given as a gift) solely to be worked on on the train. (and other periods where I want to knit but can't pay attention to it) . As I discovered this morning, I can even balance a cup of coffee while knitting this pattern and watching tv on the train- perfect.

For non-train knitting I've revived my Falling Water Scarf. I'd completely forgotten I started one and was glad I could easily figure out where I left off. I was looking thru my ravelry page and saw this listed in my projects, and had no memory of it at all. Fortunately it was one of two things I've managed to list in Ravelry (I have tons of others i've been meaning to) because it was the only way I remembered what yarn I was using. (Malabrigo Silky Merino)

My goal for the summer is to finish or frog every project that was left stranded in the middle.
Seems reasonable.

Apr 23, 2009

Well. this will clearly need blocking.

Originally uploaded by weaselrina
The scarf is nearly done, it will SO need to be blocked
and while i really like it, the one break in the color pattern is driving me batty. I may do a duplicate stitch over it.

How does my enemies list look? ;)

Apr 22, 2009

There are two types of people in this world.

Ok.. so apparently I fell asleep last night before posting this because I took a benadryl and it knocked me out and I just noticed it sitting in my drafts.
I intended to include more links
but now I don't remember what they were.
Seriously, benadryl should be a controlled substance.

There are two types of people in this world.
And a million ways to finish that sentence.
The first time remember hearing that opener it was followed by "Beatles people and Rolling Stones People"
and the most unusual one I'd heard was "Those that like Halvah and those that don't"

Growing up in Brooklyn in the late 70s and into the very early 80s there truly were two types of people in the world: Those that listened to Rock and those that listened to Disco. I distinctly remember narrowly escaping several fistfights that were precipitated by someone throwing down the "rock sucks" or "disco sucks" gauntlet
And if you happened to be in Junior High at the time, everything about your existence was defined by which of these you chose. Who your friends were, what clothes you wore, where you hung out, what hairstyle you had.. all of these fell in line behind your musical choice.
I was a rock person, driven, at least in part, by my lack of desire to style my hair every morning. Rock people definitely had it easier in terms of the personal maintenance, and I think my wardrobe for a few years consisted largely of black rock concert t-shirts. Perhaps if i had the easily-styled hair that neatly and easily fell into those Farrah Fawcett flips, the entire course of my liie might have been different.

Fortunately Junior High ended and we all moved on to more meaningful pursuits and became passionate about more important things, such as Atkins vs. Weight Watchers, Facebook vs. Twitter and the all-important Mac vs. PC . . Musical rivalries of this type do still exist though (the styles have changed but the dynamics haven't).

So anyway, my point. Because I grew up in such a volatile musical climate, it suprised me tremendously when I first learned that the artists don't always share the same allegiences as their fans. For this reason I always enjoy hearing musical artists talk about their influences and likes and have them be things that you would never associate with them.

Here we have Wyclef talking about Bruce Springsteen:

An article on Frank Sinatra and a whole bunch of people:


On a related note: I also really got a big kick out of seeing Dee Snider singing "Tradition" from Fiddler on the Roof on one of those VH1 "I love a decade that isn't this one" things. I would love to see a remake of Fiddler starring Dee Snider as Tevye.

Apr 12, 2009

Creative aging.

When I was a kid, my mother gradually developed diminished hearing in one of her ears. 
She said it was the best thing that had ever happened to her, and gleefully pointed her deaf ear at anyone she didn't feel like listening to.  It was  indicative of her personality for sure, but I'd imagine teaching first grade for 30 years made her appreciate quiet when she heard it.
My father had the same joyful reaction to losing his sense of smell as he got older.  As a life-long New Yorker, this I understood  immediately.

As my mother's hearing in her (left i think) ear worsened, she would often 
mishear things in peculiar ways.  Most memorable to me was a public service annoucement that New York City ran in the late 70s encouraging people to put their garbage in garbage bags (as opposed to piling their refuse in the cans, attracting all manner of wildlife --->>). I don't remember most of the song, but the chorus was the repeated words "bag it, bag it", prompting my mother to run in all offended at the insulting language and to yell at me for listening to such things.

Imagine my sense of nostalgia today as we drove home from our luxurious weekend in Danbury CT (yes, really), and Kanye West's "Amazing" came on the radio, and I turned  to my husband to say .. "Ok, so I know he can't really be singing about raisins, can he?".  (At another point, it sounded like "Raisinettes" too).
I can only imagine this is going to get worse.  

I didn't mind the song per se, but it sounded like he was singing Karaoke,  rather than a song,  (the vocal track sounded completely disconnected from the music -  DH's observation)

On a completely different note,  today I discovered yet another difference between living in the suburbs (as I have for the last year and a half),  and NYC where i spent the preceding 40 1/2 years.  Living in Brooklyn for that many years, you grow used to hearing people scream at sporting events.  You can hear them from blocks away.  When the Rangers finally won the Stanley Cup after 54 years, people were going to their windows in between periods and bellowing random gutteral sounds out the window.  

Here in Westchester, they scream at golf.
on television.
I'm not kidding
I came home from my weekend away to hear someone screaming "Attaboy Tiger" from behind their closed door. 

Its a whole new world.

Apr 10, 2009

So I still remember how to knit.. who knew..

I love long weekends.
And I've been in dire need of a break.
Never content to have one thing going on at a time, I was seduced into picking up a second project heading into my long weekend.

To backtrack a little - my husband and I never seem to have time to work on the stuff we enjoy.. life tends to interfere. So we committed to spending this weekend doing the things we never seem to get to - in my case its knittng and blog stuff.

I started the weekend in Katonah Yarn where I picked up some Artyarns Cashmere 5 in a blend of purply colors to make this Cashmere neckwarmer  (note: links to a pdf).

I'm enjoying this so far, and its looking pretty good...

The only real complaint I have, is that the two projects I have going at the moment are this, and the baby raglan sweater made from the yak/marino blend, and both yarns are stranded rather than plyed so I'm constantly splitting stitches, which is starting to drive me a little nuts.
Make that two complaints - or one and a half really, this scarf has a psso 2 purl stitches on the purl side, and with the splittiness of the yarn it gets a little wearing. 

Still, its yummy, soft, and easy and fast, exactly what I needed for this weekend.

Oh yeah.. went to Stew Leonards today too - forget the Disney folk, this is truly the happiest place on earth

Mar 29, 2009

Yes, I really am this immature

But I saw this and couldn't stop giggling.

I am a 12 year old.

Mar 28, 2009

Give me a Y... Give me an A...

I'm knitting I'm knitting!!

It has been ages since I've picked up the needles to do anything.  Partly because I've been so hideously busy, and partly because I just have too many hobbies  to devote enough time to any of them.  But I've missed my yarn so much and I'm happy that I finally broke into the stash and looked around.

Of course the stash is like a museum visit,  but I'm not doing stash knitting.  I felt like I had to buy something new.
Just like I always do. I'm facilitating economic recovery, don't judge ;)

I went to School Products yesterday where I picked up some yummy 50/50 Yak/Merino blend in a textured looking brown (with rust tones blended in, much more nuanced than it appears here It is is color #4.  I also picked up my eleventeenth size 8 Addis.  I don't know where any of the others are.  I suspect they are in the same vortex occupied by the cat's toy mice and most of my odd socks.

And I will be knitting the house pattern - a ribbed baby raglan turtleneck. 
Which is cute and squishy and probably won't fit any children I actually know but its small and has more than a 50 percent chance of being finished so i'm knitting it anyway.

I've come to understand that most knitters have completion issues on projects, and that it is often caused by the desire to start the next new wonderful thing, but mine are more often than not caused by the following:

1. I make a mistake, and spend the next 3 inches of the project wondering if I should ignore it or go back and fix it. 
2. I decide to ignore it, after all noone will likely notice it but me.
3. I change my mind and decide can no longer ignore said mistake because in my mind it has grown to be a giant angry blemish on the face of my otherwise happy garment.
4. I procrastinate un-knitting because that isn't nearly as much fun and put the project aside.
5. I lose the row counter that tells me how far along I was on this project so that..
6. When I pick it up again, it seems too confusing to go back and deal with it.

So it sits, with the needles in it.

Which is how i end up with 15 million row counters I can't find, a lifetime supply of duplicate needles and a list of unfinished projects.

But I'm an optimist.
I've already cast on this sweater.
And I've already made my first mistake (in 2x2 ribbing no less.. how is that even possible?!)
We'll see how far I make it.

Mar 24, 2009

We have a winner! (or two)

Kostia is the winner in category one (for the most specific answer, and she correctly identified 'store brand")
Stephanie in category two. (you would have won this even if others had entered I think, Inspired! :)

More on what you have both won  later this evening an when I'm home from work!

Congrats both!

Mar 22, 2009

Fighting the Sunday Blahs

With a teeny tiny contest.

Here's how it goes.

I went to the "other" supermarket in my area yesterday and saw the following sign.
Evidently the A & P guy has been moonlighting.

Your job is to post in the comments  and tell me what product is being sold here. (winner 1)
Or to give me a really amusing wrong answer. (winner 2)
you can also email in your comment to thomasp5ina@gmail.com

If more than one person actually enters, and gets the right answer  I'll use some super scientific method of determining the winner. (eeny meeny miney mo) So don't hesitate to answer if you see your answer already.

Its actually pretty easy I think.  

Winners will get their choice of

A. A mug tailored just for them from cafepress
B. A wee little garden gnome kit (blame  @rickenbakr ) for this suggestion
C. Something from my yarn stash if you are a knitter.

You have until Monday at midnight.
PS I'm keeping the comments in moderation until all entries are in :)

Mar 21, 2009

Stuck in the Car.

There are so many ways that technology has changed my life over the last 16 years - The ability (curse) of being able to work from wherever I am,  improved communication, food ordering, reviews, etc, the list is truly endless.  But there are very few technological advancements that that I appreciate as much as the ability to instantly identify music.

Remember before Google and Shazam. back when you'd hear a song on the radio (usually in the car) and if the DJ didn't announce the song title before you were out of earshot, you'd probably never be able to identify the song? I hated that.  I always felt like there was so much good music that I simply lost because I never could figure out what it was. 

Some of my favorite songs, came from times that I'd just refuse to leave the car (or wherever the radio was), until I knew what I was listening to. (This made me very popular with the driver,  especially during no-commercial marathons).  Without exception, if a song compels  me to sit there, unwilling to leave  until I have identified it..  it will be a song I listen to for the next 20 years. (so far)

1. Driver 8 - REM.    Driving (passengering in my case) down Huguenot Avenue in Staten Island, sometime in late 1985/early 1986. when I heard this on the radio and couldn't believe how much emotion Stipe had in his voice, particularly since he didn't oversing it.  I had no idea who R.E.M. were, really,  and there was no way I was leaving without the name of the song.

2. The Obvious Child - Paul Simon.   This one, I recognized the artist right away, but Rhythm of the Saints had just come out and I had no idea that he'd released a new album.  The drums just completely captivated me, and his relatively gentle voice over such large music was irresistible.  While he got much more acclaim for Graceland, I will always love this album, and this song remains a pick-me-up when I need it. I saw him in concert on this tour, and it was a stage full of musicians, I think four drummers played this live, and there he was, in his t-shirt and baseball cap, looking small but sounding huge, and never once getting lost amid the 20 or so people on stqge with him

3. Hotel Yorba - The White Stripes.    My boyfriend at the time lived on Long Island and I remember sitting in his truck outside his house until the local modern rock station identified who this was.  It sounded like nothing else current, and I spent much of the time trying to figure out if it was an old song I hadn't heard before, or something new.   I've always been a sucker for countrified rock, and this song (which reminds me still of the Kink's Muswell Hillbilly) was just a perfect blend of genres. That coupled with the anguished tone in Jack White's voice  pretty much made me an instant fan.

Now that I have Shazam on my iPhone, I can tell what a song is in 10 seconds.
I'm grateful for the ability to find the songs, and I know that anyone who drives me is grateful for the ability to get out of the car in a timely manner. I do hope, however, that I can still be as engaged by a new song, even if I don't have to be trapped in the car to do so.

Mar 8, 2009

What drugs is the guy at the A & P on?

After week of the flu follwed by a 6 day coughing fit,  we're back.

I started listening to some music, and should have a music post tomorrow,  but today was about grocery shopping.

All day.

First there was Costco, where I ate something that my body may never forgive me for (one of those sausages), and then purchased a lifetime supply of everything.   I know this place is supposed to save you money, but I can never seem to get out of there without spending a bazillion dollars.  And no matter how much stuff we actually buy we never seem to end up with actual, edible food.  

Then, after a brief visit to the pool at the Y.. since we didn't actually have groceries after the Costco trip..it was off to the supermarket! 

We have two major supermarket choices.. The Stop n Shop, which has a good selection and the worst music I've ever heard.. or the A & P which has better music, but a rogue sign printer who can't spell. Actually I'm not sure its just a spelling problem, more like a spelling, typing and abbreviating problem.

Today's visit was the A & P and I had a lot of fun reading while listening to the oldies.. (seriously, this is the better choice musically - the other has unsigned easy-listening artists)
First up we have something that I read as  Trogly Bastard (which makes just about as much sense as what it does say)

Then we have some morning-inspired tea

Right.. and the only word i can make out here is 'booty'... in which case that is a good price

No.. I don't know why he's a schmuck and I do not know how he came to fart apricots

Um  what?.

I'll be back tomorrow with a music post if I can ever recover from listening to "Kiss Me Through the Phone". 

Feb 22, 2009

I have had nothing to say


I've spent the last 3 days in bed with the flu, and haven't even been able to muster the strength to listen to music.    

This is not helped at all by the fact that twitter was all aflutter today with stories about potential breakthroughs in flu prevention/treatment


Uh great news but I don't need to hear it right now.

Anyway.. I'll be back after the oscars and/or when my fever breaks.

Feb 16, 2009

It's not all about the music

To clear up any misunderstandings about the purpose of this here thing.. (ok. to clear up my fear that if anyone reads this, they'll misunderstand it),  this is not, exclusively either a music or a knitting thing.  Its a regular all-purpose exercise in self indulgence,  in which I discuss both music and knitting on a semi-regular (heretofore highly irregular) basis.   Which means, I'll still talk about knitting should I do any. I'll still talk about yarn,  and I'll still talk about stuff other than music.  The music thing just gives me an incentive to post regularly.


I saw the movie Milk yesterday.  I liked the movie well enough.. but felt it was a little Oliver Stoney in its glorification of the title character.  I think Harvey Milk was an impressive person who accomplished impressive things.  The world ne
eded him, and the world could stand to learn about him now.  But I would have been happier seeing a more humanizing portrayal of him,  one in which  I appreciated his flaws in greater detail, and appreciated his strengths more because of it.  That said, I thought Sean Penn was beyond excellent in his portrayal, and the supportin
g cast was great as well.

I'm sort of amazed at how much I either never knew, or managed to forget about Harvey Milk.
For instance, I forgot that the mayor was assassinated at the same time he was. 

I either forgot,  or never knew, that the infamous Twinkie defense was connected to this case.  That was remembered as one of  the most outrageous legal defenses in history, and not much since has come along to challenge it (even the Robert Chambers "rough sex" defense paled).  Interestingly, if Snopes.com is to be believed, it is also something of an urban legend  It was not his defense,  but evidence of his defense.   Interesting.  
And just to keep this from being a picture-free post, here is a random shot from my computer.  These were the kitchen cabinets (and countertops) from my old house - picked by my mother in 1975 or so.  Kitchen cabinets for dummies.  Scary.

Feb 15, 2009

Its all in the attitude

So yesterday we were in the car, heading home from another sublime Trader Joe's run..  

We bought one of these for dinner tonight (don't scoff.. they're delicious)  and picked up a few other treats for later in the week, most of which we've already started eating.  

Car rides offer a great opportunity to explore music so I broke out the trusty iphone,  and fired up Shazam

Shazam, if you don't know it, is a music identifying program, that identifies songs from 10+ second clips.  This is a complete lifesaver for those of us who can't leave the car before we know what that song we just heard was.  I can't tell you how much fun I'm having with this thing.  If I didn't already love my iPhone, this would have been enough to make me fall in love with it all by itself.  It works great, even identifies cover versions reliably.

Now a week ago, when i started this mess, I spent 1/2 hour doing my first listen to the top 10 in the hot 100, and I made notes  on what i thought.  Most of which were very snotty.
This, for instance was from the first listen I gave to the top 10:

Lady GaGa Featuring Colby O'Donis - Just Dance
Just stop.. really.  I couldn't take more than 72 seconds before I had to turn it off.

So yesterday we're riding in the car, and a song comes on and I say  "what is this? I like it?",  and i turn on the tag feature in Shazam, point it at the speaker,  and 10 second later, I learn it is.. surprise...  "Just Dance".  I thought it was energetic and fun.

This is not the first time in my life, that not knowing what something was improved my opinion of it.  (For about a decade, I liked Sinead O'Connor songs only when I didn't know they were her.)  and it suggests that my 'open mind for music' needs a little work.  It also suggests from here on out that i should try and do blind listens and see what I really think.

The next song, on the same station, was Prince - "When Doves Cry".  Purple Rain was absolutley HUGE in my senior year of  high school (a very very long time ago), and I've always liked it.    So i'm listening to the song, and making fun of the lyrics (which are silly in places), and I realized that if I had applied my current level of scrutiny to music, back when I was younger, I never would have liked anything.    So I'm going to try and take a more detached listening approach, and see how I react to stuff before I start digging into it, and see if i like things more.

Anyway, I'm off to do some household maintenance, and then going to see "Milk" with a few friends, and then home to eat Tofurkey.   Don't knock it till you've tried it.

Feb 11, 2009

I'm not anti hip-hop. Or anti-rap for that matter

If anything I'm pre-disposed to like it.

However, I have to give this # 5 on the R & B/Hip-Hop charts an enthusiastic UGH.

Jim Jones & Ron Browz Featuring Juelz Santana
Pop Champagne

Very silly lyrics. (I think i would have enjoyed this a lot more had I not been reading the lyrics when listening to it, sometimes ignorance really is bliss)
and, not on key enough for my taste.

Oh.. and I'm not a fan of bodily functions in pop culture, Maybe its just me, but I think there are some things that are better left to the imagination. I was ok with the Archie Bunker toilet flush, but beyond that its just TMI. I haven't been a fan of the recent trend of showing people vomiting on camera (I'm not sure if the Sopranos, or SuperSize Me was the starter of this trend, but it seems rampant these days)... and I really could have done without the suggestion of this guy "spitting up"his beverage.

Feb 9, 2009

My first success, and the Grammys

First.. a disclaimer: I don't have the music vocabulary that a great many of my friends do. I love music, and I'm an enthusiastic consumer, but I am not good at coming up with intelligent-sounding analyses of songs, fraught with insightful comparisons to past music.  

I just know what stuff sounds like to me... which sometimes makes perfect sense to others.. ( as in the case of  Aerosmith's  Living on the Edge   having the same intro as The Kinks' Have Another Drink) And sometimes it makes sense only to me..  -   The White Stripes Hotel Yorba completely reminded me of The Kinks'  Muswell Hillbilly  (Wow.. two Kinks references and I'm not even that much of a fan)

I bring this up  because my er.. reviews? (if you can call them that).. while sometimes elaborate,  will more often than not be  something like "gee.. I liked this song".  

Which brings us to the first thing I liked..  Glasvegas - Flowers and Football Tops
This came off the CMJ top 20 album chart (its on one of those albums),  and I REALLY liked it.
Granted, the CMJ chart is an easier sell for me, than say Billboard's Hot 100, but I figured I deserved a break from the more mainstream stuff after the 11 hours of Grammy's last night (more on that below)

I had a passing familiarity with Glasvegas because their cover of  Be My Baby made it into the last Coverville podcast.  

Flowers and Football Tops  sounds like (to me) what would happen if the Jesus and Mary Chain did a U2 vocal impersonation and set it to a late 50s pop sound.   It is way too long,  I really didn't need nearly 7 minutes of it, but the good news is that if you picked out any 3 1/2 minutes of it, at any point in the song,  I would have liked it.     Between  Be My Baby and this.. I think I am well on my way to liking these guys.

Now, here are my few Grammy related points
  1. Sugarland blew me away.   I had no expectation that I would like them, and their performance was riveting.  
  2. I liked Miley Cyrus and Taylor Swift together. I thought the two unusual voices melded very well.  I was surprised, but by no means alone in this, it was everyone's guilty pleasure of the night.
  3. I don't care what M.I.A. looked like in her  non-maternity wear, I love her!
  4. The only thing T.I. has done so far that I've liked is the Chevy commercial from a year or two back.
  5. Estelle was awesome.
  6. I liked Lil Wayne.  Particularly on the New Orlean's thing.

Feb 8, 2009

What the kids are listening to these days..

I've had a desire, of late to revive my blog.  However, its been, to date, a  knitting blog, and its pretty hard to revive it when I haven't been knitting at all.  (I do stare longingly at the yarn all around my house and plan to knit, but thusfar, nuthin. )So I've been keeping my eyes (and mind) open for another reason to write.. and today was finally given my answer.

Tonight is the Grammy awards.  I LOVE award shows and have been silently practicing acceptance speeches for all sorts of awards since I was a little kid.   As a music fan, the Grammys have always been a favorite.   

When I was younger, I swore I'd never become one of those adults who always liked the music of my youth better than the current stuff, and that when I grew up, I'd always be relatively on top of contemporary music.   Neither of those promises have worked out too well.     When I read over the list of Grammy nominees, I realized  that A.  I've become a geezer music snob  and b. I had no idea what half this stuff was.  I mean I'd heard of it,  but If I had to identify it, I probably couldn't, and I was predisposed to dislike it.  

And so I made a (very late? Chinese New Year perhaps)  New Years resolution.  I will spend the next 12 months being "on top" of contemporary music.  

I will do this by familiarizing myself with the top 10 of (at least) one singles chart each of the following 
Billboard chart categories

1. Hot/Pop (right now the Mainstream top 40 chart seems like a good start but so does the hot 100)
2. R & B/Hip Hop/Rap (chart still being decided, I may need to do two to really cover this category)
3. Country
4. Rock  (this may require multiple charts too)
5. and the top 20 from the CMJ radio 200 chart 

And the rules go like this:
a. I'm not going to overtax myself. I just need to listen to every one of the 60 songs or so at least once in a 2 week period, 
b. listen with an open mind
c. report here (at least) once a week on anything I particularly like or don't.
d. I will solicit, and listen to any suggestion given to me for something contemporary that i MUST listen to.

And thats it.  I'll see how I do.     If anyone ends up reading this at any point,  your input would be welcomed.