Author Topic: Many general questions.  (Read 5094 times)

Offline Blinky

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Many general questions.
« on: July 04, 2007, 06:54:01 PM »
I've been thinking about starting for a long time, but have ignored the subject for almost a year now. Sorry if this gets lengthy!

I'm a 16 year old Male, about 5'11 and 155-160 pounds. I have decent stamina -- nothing exceptional, but fairly good. Other than that, not that great. I'm not strong, probably because I haven't been keeping up AT ALL with working out, which I told myself I would do. I haven't really played any sports for about four years other than tennis, and that is probably what has caused my lack of strength.

I really want to get started with this, but it seems like I'm going to have to do months of training before I can do anything. I'm not flexible, I'm not strong, I'm very slightly over-weight, I'm not fast, and I suck at jumping. All that I see out of people that take part in Parkour are extremely fit people.

I'm not really sure what I'm trying to ask for, other than suggestions. What should I do? Whenever I work out, I get lazy and quit before I'm anywhere near done. I don't eat too much; however, I don't eat healthy. I'm fairly weak, and I think I'm looking for a lot faster results from working out than it has actually given in the past. I have terrible work ethic, and I somehow doubt that I'll ever be able to really put myself to this, get in shape, and practice.

Any thoughts?  :-\

Offline Josh Klute

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Re: Many general questions.
« Reply #1 on: July 04, 2007, 07:50:54 PM »
I can assure you that a large portion of the parkour community started out in a similar situation as you.  The best thing that I can think to recommend is to find something that you love to do.  I know it can be very difficult to love working at anything at times, but you have to find some way to get motivated.  Friends are great in this kind of situation (especially if you are even the least bit competitive), it is far easier to push yourself when you are working with someone. 

The reality is that it takes effort and hard work to achieve anything in life and by working at the small things you will be able to excel in the large things.  If you set aside some time to train or work out regularly you will begin to get into better condition.  You should start slowly in whatever you decide to do, that should help keep you motivated and healthy.   

Just incase that was all over the place here's bullets for you  ;)

- Find someone to train with
- Start small (baby steps)
- Make sure you are doing something that you love
- Set aside some time to train
- Push yourself  ;)

One other thing you might try is using music, certain frequencies and sounds are proven to act as stimulants.  Good luck, keep us updated on how things go.   :)
“All around you people will be tip-toeing through life, just to arrive at death safely.  But dear children, do not tiptoe.  Run, hop, skip, or dance, just don’t tiptoe.”

Offline Blinky

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Re: Many general questions.
« Reply #2 on: July 04, 2007, 08:42:17 PM »
May I ask what you mean by "make sure you are doing something that you love"? Are you saying that I should search for a physical activity that I enjoy, and do that a lot? It seems like it's going to be a lot more working out, which is definitely not something that I "enjoy"... although I don't mind running.

Thanks for the input.

Offline Alissa J. Bratz

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Re: Many general questions.
« Reply #3 on: July 04, 2007, 10:29:47 PM »
Hey there, Blinky!

Cheetah gave some great advice, and I second what he said. Let me put my own little spin on it, though, and add some things as well.

I don't want to put words in his mouth, but I'm guessing what Cheetah meant about "find something you love" was just what you thought. Poke around, find a sport or activity that you enjoy, and throw yourself into it! The important thing is to get out and try lots of new things. Maybe for you it will be parkour, maybe not. That's fine. It might be ballroom dance or fencing. You may try all of these things and more, love them for a while, and then discard them as your interests change. That's totally cool too. As long as you keep moving, you'll get fit.

Speaking of getting fit... 5' 11" and 155 is NOT overweight at all. You may feel as though you're overweight because you may be noticing that you lack muscle tone, but you do not need to lose weight. Those numbers look quite healthy to me. What you may need to do is lose fat while you add muscle, and that's easily done through consistent, hard work, and a good diet.

Like Cheetah pointed out, getting fit is really a matter of making consistent baby steps that add up over time. If you eat healthy food for one day, it's not going to make a large difference. But if you do it every day for a week, then a month, then a year, it will add up before you know it.

I would start with running, since you say that's something you don't mind doing. I envy you, because for me I *hate* running (although I am trying to learn to like it because it's a part of parkour training, and parkour is something I love). Run every day, even if you don't feel like it. Commit to "microactions." Break the action into the smallest possible thing. Instead of saying "I'm going to run a mile," commit to only "I'm going to run to the end of the block." Chances are, once you get to the end of the block, you'll keep going, because a half block run feels silly; but even if you don't, you at least ran a little bit, which was more than you were running before. Keep doing this every day. Build on your commitment little by little. Each day's goal should be yesterday's goal +1. And no matter what, don't give yourself a "day off." If you're starting small enough (and you absolutely should be), then you shouldn't need a day off until several days in, when the habit is firmly established. Most people make the mistake of going full bore the first day, and then they're too sore and tired to continue for several days afterwards. That defeats the purpose. Your very first goal should be to build the habit of running/working out. Then other goals can follow from there. So since your first goal is just to build the habit, then if you can gear up and run to the end of the block every day for three weeks, you've accomplished that goal, and then you can move on to new goals like building up distance and speed.

You're right that parkour requires a lot of physical conditioning that has to be built up gradually. I have been doing parkour for only six weeks now, and pretty much the only thing I can do is roll, and even those aren't terribly consistent. In the meantime I'm working on strength exercises and also building up stamina, since that's a weakness for me. Some people are very adamant about attaining a certain degree of conditioning before you do any parkour at all, and I can see the logic in that. However there is another philosophy that says that the best way to learn parkour is to do parkour, and it can be motivating to try a few small parkour movements while you're developing your strength and conditioning your body. By "small" I mean rolls, drops of about a foot in height only, some low precisions (e.g. onto curbs or parking lot stopper thingies), etc. Basically ground-level stuff. Because that way you feel like you're doing parkour instead of just "waiting to be ready to do parkour," and also are starting to build a small skill foundation in a safe way.

Probably the biggest motivating factor, at least for parkour, is to find a group of people. It can be very hard, but often the best way to find people is to tell as many people as you can what you're doing. If nothing else, you'll get people interested. Nothing wrong with being in a group of beginners. At least you can all train together. (I'm speaking from personal experience here)

What I've found is helpful too is to just go to a playground and mess around on the equipment. I guarantee that climbing up and down the jungle gym 50 times will work out plenty of muscle groups and will test your stamina and coordination. With a group this is even more fun. Come on, when was the last time you played "tag" or "hot lava"? It's a work out, let me tell you. Plus it sends a message to all those little tykes on the playground: you're never too old to play! That's a powerful, powerful thing, in the larger scheme.

Plus it's way more fun than treading away on a machine.

When you say "working out" are you talking about going to a gym and getting on machines, or using free weights? I can see how that could get boring. Instead, try bodyweight exercises, like the ones featured in the APK WODs. These tend to be more interesting/challenging because they work a lot of muscle groups at once, and they also challenge your balance and coordination. In my view, from a psychological perspective, they are also good because the exercise becomes about you and your body, not about a piece of equipment, and that sends a positive message to your body, I think.

To sum up, and to reiterate Cheetah's points, since they're pretty much the same as mine:

-Baby steps: set yourself the smallest goals you can think of (one of my current goals is to do one pullup. ONE!), not because you want to "settle for less," but because you're being realistic. No one ever sets as a goal something they can already do. Even the smallest change can take a big effort. But it can be discouraging if your goal is too hard. How can I, for example, set 5 pullups as my goal when I'm currently not able to do one? 5 is a goal for later, for me. But if I went out and tried to do 5 pullups every time, and barely got one, that frames me in failure: I didn't get five, as opposed to I'm working towards one. Does that make sense?

-Have fun! Using your body, seeing what it can do, learning how it moves, is FUN! If it's not fun, you're doing something wrong. Granted, some days you're tired and sore, and it's unpleasant; but it should still be part of a larger, fun thing. I mean, little kids go nuts on the playground at recess for a reason. They're not sitting on the blacktop knitting, for Pete's sake. Find something physical that's fun, and do it. Be okay with the fact that you'll need to look around for a bit, maybe, to find it. It's not a failing on your part; everyone is different. I adore ballet dancing. Not a lot of other people do; nothing wrong with that. A lot of those people run instead, which is something I dislike greatly. :P Put your emphasis on having fun moving, not on "getting in shape."

-Do it every day. Even if it's a small space of time, even if you run one day and walk the next. Same Bat-time, same Bat-channel. Commit to every day for a week, then two weeks, then a month. Consistency is simply a matter of renewing your goal every day, to be "yesterday's goal, +1."

Regarding diet, it's kind of the same thing: One day at a time, every day. The fresher and more colorful, the better. The less you eat out of a box or a can, the better. This is much easier if you know how to cook. If not, learn. Processed food out of a box or can, no matter how "healthy" is fifteen kinds of horrible for you, at least. Veggies and lean proteins, and whole grains.

I think I rambled and repeated myself like 15 times... it's super late. You probably think I'm crazy. But I hope you found at least something helpful in here.

;)

Good luck to you. Just remember: "Do not be afraid of growing slowly, only of standing still."

She followed slowly, taking a long time,
as though there were some obstacle in the way;
and yet: as though, once it was overcome,
she would be beyond all walking, and would fly.
--excerpt from Going Blind, Rainer Maria Rilke

www.madisonparkour.com

Offline Blinky

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Re: Many general questions.
« Reply #4 on: July 05, 2007, 11:14:48 AM »
Thanks for all the input -- I read every last word very carefully.

To sum most of my thoughts up: I have not tried Parkour, but I love it. It's amazing what people can do, and I want it... hopefully bad enough to get myself to do it. Heres the thing: I think I'll have a much easier time getting myself to do it if I'm learning ANY small steps of Parkour whatsoever; at least I'll be able to tell myself "I'll be so much better at doing this and be able to do so many more things if I keep training". I hate the idea of spending a few months to just get into shape before starting -- I'm impatient. I don't expect to be able to do really cool things at the beginning, but I want SOMETHING to work on that's half-way interesting. Something to get better at, so that at one point it WILL be really "cool"/interesting.

Any suggestions to where I should start on tutorials? It sounds like rolls are very important -- I'm really interested in jumping. Lots, and lots of jumping. Jumping onto things, jumping over things, jumping off of things... which is ironic, because I don't have any "ups" at all. Don't think that I have not read both of your suggestions to what to start with -- I just really don't know where I should. I'd really like to find something to start with that, like I said, can be an "advanced" level skill, but takes a long time to build up. I don't really know if there's anything like that... I don't really seem to know what I'm talking about, so hopefully you do. Essentially, I want to try some things that I will fail at, or be able to do at a very, very minimal level. Doing something like this will probably really help me motivation wise.

Offline Alissa J. Bratz

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Re: Many general questions.
« Reply #5 on: July 05, 2007, 12:32:10 PM »
Here's what I recommend to get started. I'm no expert, but this is kind of what I set up for myself. I'm a ballet dancer too, so there's ballet in there for that, but you can either ignore that or sub in some other strength/coordination-building activity of your choice.

1. Get familiar with the history and terminology of parkour and freerunning.

2. Read this article and read/watch the tutorials, specifically for rolling and landing.

3. Decide on some goals. It's best to make them specific and measurable (e.g. "One pullup by August" vs. "Get better at pullups"). Write them down. It may help to categorize them (e.g: Endurance goals, strength goals, parkour goals, etc). It may also be helpful to declare them publicly in the Training Journals section of the forum. Lots of people here will encourage you on your goals, and if motivation is tough for you, holding yourself accountable by knowing you have to publicly state what you worked on every day may keep you motivated (it works for me; the people here are so great, I don't want to let them down!)

4. Use your goals to help you design your workout plan. For instance, if one of your goals is to run a mile in a certain amount of time, you should include some running in your regime, either daily or every other day or whatever seems to work for you. Steve has a great article here about how to set up a workout routine, so that's a great place to look when you're setting it up. The APK WOD is an excellent starting point for all-around conditioning. I try to do the APK warmup (or at least elements of it) daily; I am not up to a fitness level yet where I can do the whole WOD, although I hope to be one day.

5. For parkour, I would suggest going to some local playgrounds and just focusing on rolls. Do, say, 25 rolls every day, really concentrating on doing them well, smoothly, correctly, rather than just knocking out your 25 and being done. When those start to feel comfortable, try rolling from standing, then from jumping off of something that's just 6" tall, and so on. The number is arbitrary; pick a number that feels right to you, and have that be your number so you get some good consistent repetition in.

6. You mentioned jumping. Practicing landing techniques is a great way to do this. Again, start with something maybe 6" high. Follow the tutorials, concentrate on form and technique, approach it like you do your rolls. Another thing that might help is to just hurdle/jump over low stuff (rocks, sticks, etc. in your path as you go for a run, just to get used to springing around.

As you start to get more comfortable with how your body moves, you may notice that you're starting to develop "parkour eyes." You start to see things you can do on and around obstacles that before you maybe didn't see. Use what your parkour eyes are telling you to come up with new things to do. Playgrounds are great for this.

7. As you get more in shape and feel more comfortable with your rolls and landings, you can add the next thing from the tutorial, which I think is a type of vault, I'm not sure. Approach this the same way you did your drops and rolls: incrementally, on small things, a little bit every day. Eventually your experience will be able to inform your training much more than it is now.

There is no way around needing to condition. I am in exceptionally good shape from ballet, but when it comes to parkour I have glaring weaknesses, so there are lots of conditioning-type things I need to do every day. I think you have a thorough grasp of the need to condition though so I won't beat a dead horse. :)

If you're looking for structural guidance, try the links I provided. Alternatively, nose around on peoples' Training Journals to get an idea of what other people are doing. They're all very different because everyone has varying skill levels and different goals, but it's a great way to get ideas and there's a lot of learning that can happen there, so take a look.

Basically if you have some daily combination of the APK WOD and some basic PK skills training, it should be a good start, and then you can customize/add on from there.

However it sounds to me like part of your post is saying, "I have a hard time being motivated when I exercise. How can I get more motivated?" and really that's something you have to find inside yourself, no matter how much we may encourage you (and we are! People here are so friendly, and we all want every newcomer to succeed and find the joy).

Ultimately, the way to start training is... pretty much... just to start. :) Just do it, you know? ;)
She followed slowly, taking a long time,
as though there were some obstacle in the way;
and yet: as though, once it was overcome,
she would be beyond all walking, and would fly.
--excerpt from Going Blind, Rainer Maria Rilke

www.madisonparkour.com

Offline Josh Klute

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Re: Many general questions.
« Reply #6 on: July 05, 2007, 02:28:23 PM »
Wow, thank you.  You clarified my thoughts better than I ever could have and you added some really excellent advice. 

Blinky, I honestly can't put it any better than that, like she said true motivation comes from within yourself.  Of course it is always nice to have someone to physically push you.  If you are really serious about this (which I think you are) please do your best to find someone to help you (in person) we can only do so much through the internet ;)

Good luck!  :)
“All around you people will be tip-toeing through life, just to arrive at death safely.  But dear children, do not tiptoe.  Run, hop, skip, or dance, just don’t tiptoe.”

Offline Alissa J. Bratz

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Re: Many general questions.
« Reply #7 on: July 05, 2007, 03:05:29 PM »
That's very kind of you, Cheetah. Thank you. :)

I just realized I never linked you to my training log, Blinky, which was what I intended to do when I was all, "Well this is what I have set up, but there's ballet in there, but ignore it"

Heh. Sorry about that. Here's a sample:

Friday 6/15:


Current Goals:

Endurance
- Run 20 minutes, or one mile, without stopping to walk

Strength
- One pullup
- 25 pushups
- Balanced, confident handstand for at least 10 seconds

Parkour
- Organize a training group of at least 5 people, on a regular training/meetup schedule, and a well-used communication system (e.g. internet message board)
- Smooth/proficient rolls
-Proficient landings
-Lazy vault

Ballet (these are going to take a loooong time):
- Extension to front, side, and back to 160 degrees
- “Six o’ clock” penchée arabesque
- Triple pirouette en pointe from 5th and 4th
- Clean fouettés en tournant (at least 12 in flats, at least 4 en pointe… they are soooo sloppy right now!)
- Entrechat six (another bête noire)
________________________________________________________________________

Today's Training:

Endurance Training:
- ran 8 minutes (moderate pace; just above a jog) without stopping (was going for 10) :(
-2 laps breast stroke in pool

Strength Training:
- pushups: 5 with full bodyweight, 10 more with knees down
- handstand: held (with spotter holding legs) 10 seconds… strength is there, just need to find the center!
- Pilates (light workout today): Hundred, Rollup, Single leg circles, Rolling like a ball, “Abdominal five” series, spine stretch forward; added Teasers at the end just to see how many I could do… I did 5.

Parkour Training:
At playground (this was after a full day of working out, plus the APK warmup… running out of steam here!):
-drop drills from 1 ft. (10)
-QM on a flat rail (Man, that’s hard! I still favor my legs quite a bit), 5ft.
-1 ft. drops into a roll (3… still need to work this out; did one awesome roll, two jankity ones. I should do more rolling drills at ground level before I do this again. :P)
-QM along the playground structure, up the slide, from level to level
-balance practice on chains

Ballet Training:
-full ballet barre in pool (also strength training)

Other Training:

-20-minute yoga flow, emphasis on stamina, balance; some inverted poses (upper body strengthening)

-APK Warmup at the playground:

*squats: 25 x 3

*pull-ups: 10 with assistance (Mr. Muse spotting/lifting me; he did most of the work!), 2 sets each of 5 + 5 negatives with assistance (on lower bar with legs assisting from ground)

*agility: no ladder; modified agility work on playground equipment (three parallel low chains about 5 ft long, 6” off ground, 8” apart)—sidestepping, high knees forward and back in a zigzag pattern, etc. Did them randomly until I started to lose agility/hit the chains with my feet, maybe 2 min.

*Shoulders hurting, Burpees seemed like too much for today.

Ended workout day with:

-20-minute yoga flow, emphasis on flexibility and breath

-seated meditation

Diet:

Breakfast: coffee, poached egg, 4oz low-fat, low-sugar yogurt with soy protein, 1 banana, ¼ liter water

Snack: ½ liter water, 1 fake crab stick

Lunch: “breadless sandwich” (4 slices turkey, fresh spinach leaves, between two slices cheddar cheese), raw broccoli w/ ranch dip, ½ liter water

Snack: 1 liter water, 4oz low-fat, low-sugar yogurt with soy protein, 1 oz. cashews, 6 oz V8 juice

Dinner: 2 broiled turkey burger patties with cheese, ½ cup green grapes, broccoli w/ ranch dip, green salad

Cheat: ½ glass shiraz with dinner

________________________________________________________________________

Accomplishments:

-Training group goal: www.madparkour.com site up, blog up, content added to both, one user registered for madparkour.com, posted madparkour url on meetup.com, madparkour url crosslisted on Facebook (thanks, aggreenvln!), tentative group training date set for Monday with 2-3 other traceurs

-Handstand goal: Held for 10 seconds with spotter holding legs. Now just need to find the center to balance it on my own

________________________________________________________________________

Other Notes:

-totally forgot to do muscle-ups in pool today! Oops.
-right shoulder hurting: rear delt or rotator cuff? Thank goodness tomorrow is a rest day. I’ll do no upper-body work tomorrow; maybe just a jog and some yoga (without inverted poses), and ice ice baby. :)

She followed slowly, taking a long time,
as though there were some obstacle in the way;
and yet: as though, once it was overcome,
she would be beyond all walking, and would fly.
--excerpt from Going Blind, Rainer Maria Rilke

www.madisonparkour.com

Offline Blinky

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Re: Many general questions.
« Reply #8 on: July 05, 2007, 06:32:38 PM »
Well, at least I got outside today. I jumped on my trampoline a lot until I was really sweaty. I played basketball, ran around for a bit, and ran around my block finding small things to jump onto/off of, nothing more. Just from thinking about if I've already developed the "parkour eyes", where I'll spot out every little thing that I could attempt to do something with. Sadly, all I know how to do is jump on and off things  :-X but I'll start reading some of those tutorials tonight, and doing them tomorrow. At least I have a good reason to start doing more physical activities.

Quote
- Balanced, confident handstand for at least 10 seconds
:-\ I doubt I can do a handstand for one.

I also don't have a pullup bar. I've seen people talking about doors... maybe I'll try that.

Thanks again for all of the help. I'm definitely motivated, at least right now -- I really want to get good at this. We'll see what happens.
« Last Edit: July 05, 2007, 06:34:09 PM by Blinky »

Offline Blinky

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Re: Many general questions.
« Reply #9 on: July 05, 2007, 06:44:30 PM »
Also, where is the APK warm up? I seem to have lost where the edit button is, so... 2nd post.

Offline Alissa J. Bratz

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Re: Many general questions.
« Reply #10 on: July 07, 2007, 08:06:17 AM »
Sounds like a good start!

Regarding the handstand, let that be a goal, if you wish: to hold a handstand for one second. It's as good a goal as any. :)

The APK WOD is on the front page every day: http://www.americanparkour.com/ on the right above the "Parkour Around The World" thing. The APK Warmup is always included in the WOD, and there is a link to a description of the exercises. Here is a link to just the warmup for convenience's sake:
http://www.americanparkour.com/content/view/254/223/

I don't think it's sad at all that you know how to jump on and off things. I think it's great! You've started! In my view, starting something is much, much, much harder than finishing it; especially if it's something new.

If you're ready to start, I would encourage you to put further notes about your progress in the Training Journals section. :)

Good luck!
She followed slowly, taking a long time,
as though there were some obstacle in the way;
and yet: as though, once it was overcome,
she would be beyond all walking, and would fly.
--excerpt from Going Blind, Rainer Maria Rilke

www.madisonparkour.com

Offline Matthew Menze

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Re: Many general questions.
« Reply #11 on: July 11, 2007, 02:01:04 PM »
Don't worry about the shape you are in...If you can jump 3 inches, you can vault a waist high railing. And after a few months of parkour, you'll probably be in better shape than most of your friends.

Before I started parkour, I could do 2 pullups...at my worst I was like 5'8'' and 165-170 pounds...now I am 5'10'' 150 pounds, I have a 7 pack, (I can't seem to make it split into a 8...don't ask me why) I can do fifteen pullups with only moderate effort, and I can do every vault except maybe dash at chest high,  and a few near shoulder. Point is, parkour gets you in shape, without needing to be in great shape to start.

I think this goes against a lot of people, but rather than learn and master one move at a time, I would learn EVERY move to a usable level, then polish them all up...But then, I need variety to enjoy training.

Learning them like that allows you to use your parkour much quicker, and makes it alot easier to notice improvement. It's how I started, and I remember 3-4 weeks in, I was doing things I never even imagined myself doing.

Though, one point I really agree with is keep your drops low for a while, by a while i mean at least a year, if not more. A good rule of thumb I use is nothing over head height as far as drops.

Not sure how much that helped...I feel a bit incoherent today, but I tried my best, lol.

Matt
"With my feet upon the ground, I lose myself
 between the sounds and open wide to suck it in, I feel it move across my skin. I'm reaching up and reaching out, I'm reaching for the random or what ever will bewilder me. And following our will and wind we may just go where no one's been. "

Offline TheWallabee123

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Re: Many general questions.
« Reply #12 on: August 08, 2007, 11:41:27 PM »
Hey, I'm pretty new to parkour too. I remember the feeling you had quite vividly; not wanting to work out and practice anything. I just wanted to be able to do backflips off of rooftops and the like. It's hard to start something that's new and unusual, but once you start working with parkour it feels really good. Just over the last couple of weeks since I started my journey as a traceur, I've seen great improvements in my body and my skills. Once you start seeing the changes within you (it feels great to feel more in shape!) you'll have no problem continuing, trust me  ;)