Sunday, December 18, 2011

Eat your spinach.

I am typing this by the light of fluorescent bulbs. We didn't buy them to save the earth, we bought them because the 4-bulb overhead light fixture in the office here at Roseholme Cottage is lit most all day and well into the night. Even running sixty watt bulbs, that'll spin a meter, and when combined with the waste heat of as many as three computers, it can get pretty toasty in summer, so as the last round of incandescents burned out, one by one, they were replaced with their CFL equivalents.

I've been using CFLs for exactly that reason nearly as long as they've been around; the chandelier at my old crib chewed through 100W bulbs at a ferocious clip until I switched, and then the same four 100W-equivalent CFLs ran day and night for years, never needing replacement. (There are other places where I prefer incandescents, like for cozy little bedside reading lamps, or lamps that only go on and off rarely, like closets or the basement. Mostly, though, I prefer the choice of buying the bulb I want for the job I need, and the more choices, the better.)

I felt kinda cool and leading edge, and then the government announced that it was going to make everybody eat their CFL spinach. Suddenly, people who expose themselves to possibly harmful levels of noise and stand around breathing heavy metal vapors for a hobby dug in their heels and whined "They have mercury in them!" People who make fun of others for knowing the difference between beige, ecru, and eggshell were saying "I just don't like the quality of the light!" (perhaps unaware that 2700K CFLs have been available for years.)

It's much the same with fuel economy. I loved commuting on my Suzuki RF; not only would it out-accelerate a Ferrari, but it would also out-mileage a Civic, which was kinda important to me when my daily round-trip commute was 100 miles. Of course, the most important thing in a vehicle for me is performance, for others it's seating capacity, or how much trailer it will pull, but with all other things being equal, why wouldn't you pick the one that did it cheaper?

But no, Nanny Gov wants everybody to eat their fuel mileage spinach, too, and so otherwise-sane people brag about what crappy fuel economy their cars get. Hey, you want to know what wastes gas even faster than a Ford Earthf*cker? Pouring it on the ground and setting it on fire. If Ford released the Earthf*cker Gaia Edition tomorrow, that performed in every way identically to the original except for getting 25% better fuel economy, these people wouldn't buy it because apparently efficiency is effete and for hippies or something.

You see it with everything: People talk about preparedness and "grid down" and stuff like that, and what could be more prepared for grid-down than having a small wind turbine or solar array (or both) to back up your generator? But no, the government wants you to eat your "clean energy" spinach, too, and so that becomes verboten.

When are the nanny staters going to learn that there's a wide swath of the American public who are going to do exactly the opposite of what you tell them, because Americans don't like to be bossed around? The fastest way to encourage Americans to do something is to ban it. The fastest way to get them to stop doing something is to mandate it. We just don't like being told what to do.

And you know what? When the world started treating me like an adult, I found out I liked spinach just fine. As long as nobody was standing over me making me eat the stuff, because you still ain't the boss of me.


DanH said...

I recall reading something years and years ago that was about the same effect. It said that racism had become impossible because the government had passed an Anti-Miscegenation Act and it became so fashionable to marry someone of another race that in a generation or two everyone was mixed.
Wish I could remember the book.

Some people are just stubborn ;p

Anonymous said...

Wow, thats the most mature thing I've read this morning!
You are right, Americans talk a great talk...but when the crunch hits the fan....nobody will be ready.
And thats what our overlords are counting on.


bluesun said...

Oops... guilty.

og said...

Obviously you havent priced wind turbines and solar arrays. Besides, we can heat quite comfortably with wood. Id love to use cfls but the power in my neighborhood fluctuates so badly they burn out very quickly.

Tam said...

Yes, Og, I have priced them. Why do you ask?

Robert Fowler said...

Is that Ford available in a duelley?

I have the same problem with CFL's as Og. They don't seem to last very long compared to the price. Besides, I have a rather large stock of 100 watters.

Tam said...

Robert Fowler,

"I have the same problem with CFL's as Og. They don't seem to last very long compared to the price."

As I said, I replaced bunches of 100W incandescents from '02 to '03 in one light fixture. Replaced them with CFLs in '03. Those same four bulbs were still burning when I moved out in '08, having only been turned off when I was out of town.

Come to think of it, I'm not sure I've ever changed a CFL, not even the two that run 24/7 outdoors on the porches of Roseholme and have since before I moved here nearly four years ago.

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

And all those The Truth brand lurid anti smoking commercials really make me want to smoke, too. They need to either stop running those commercials or bring the price of cigarettes down, again.

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

And... some of the CFLs I've deployed last forever, some burn as fast or faster than incandescents. The only bulb I haven't replaced since 1999 is the incandescent in the hall.

perlhaqr said...

I dunno if it's just the power conditions around here or what, but I have the same issues as Og with CFLs in my house.

Now the LED lightbulbs I got are doing great. But the damned CFLS don't last any longer than incandescents (which, it must be said, also burn out here at a prodigious rate) and cost rather more.

I looked into whole house line conditioners, but, um, they're really expensive.

Tam said...

Huh. Because the power here at Roseholme and at my previous crib were both fairly flaky.

Plus, in winter and spring there are frequent reminders of the problems of long, above-ground runs in wooded areas...

Unknown said...

Please! Write a book, will ya? How smart are we really, if we throw a tantrum every single time some ideologue pushes one of out hot buttons?

I use CFLs as well. Incandescent bulbs burn out within a matter of weeks (in my house, anyway.) In 3 years, I've replaced 4 CFLs. A few years back when my old Nissan finally croaked, I had to use The Blue Beast (Chevy 4WD, Oorah!) to commute for a while. Some weeks gas ate up half of my paycheck. Solar panels and a wind turbine are near the top of my wish list, a) to save money, and b) I think it's unwise to take the utility infrastructure for granted. This is not politics, it's logic, pure and simple.

Yes, even brilliant people lose their objectivity when they're insulted, especially when the insult comes from the Absolute Lowest Common Denominator- the government. The government isn't quite as dumb as we like to think it is, though. It's run by people who thoroughly understand this dynamic. It benefits every time we get mad and start yelling. As long as we're busy thumping our chests and hollering at each other, we'll never marshal the strength we need to send the government packing. These people are puppeteers. Master puppeteers.

Chris said...

Almost all of our lightbulbs are CFLs, and like T-Bolt (we both live in MD), some last, some don't. Also had an incandescent in my daughter's room that lasted almost 20 years, The rest, not so much. Some of that is the age of the house (built in 1950-51), although we had an electrical upgrade done about 15 years ago. Some is that the power around here fluctuates a lot: we experience lighting hiccups several times a week, on average.

Al T. said...

"you still ain't the boss of me"

I see what you did there. :)

Weer'd Beard said...

Yep same here. I got a bunch of CFLs if only because they last longer and some bulbs are a bitch to change. Their light sucks, but frankly I don't have any Renaissance high-art that I'm viewing.

Also when kids get into the picture the possibilities of broken bulbs and people who can be really damaged by heavy metals shoots through the roof, then I'd chose something different.

Also in the end if the government gets the hell out of the way, somebody will invent an LED bulb that burns for ages, gives off quality light, has no "warm up" or severe temperature sensitivities for a price we'll buy.

And not because we want to save mother Gaea, but because we're CHEAP and like to save money.

Same goes to all the variable valve timing and computer controlled efi et al that gives Mom's grocery getter the same Horse Power as a 1980s Corvette, and the same fuel mileage of the VW Beetle she drove to her fist job.

We don't want to save the world...but it just works out that way naturally!

Anonymous said...

Add me to the "CFLs die young" list. It may be because the fixtures are slightly recessed and something is overheating, but they die after six weeks or so. In that room they are on from roughly 0800 to 1200, 1600-2200 daily. I actually like the heat output function from incandescents, but I'm not working with a large number of computers and bodies in the room.

I'd love to see a hybrid pickup. I'd probably buy it if it had enough cargo space and would pull hills at 65 mph while at max gross. But I still get my back up when someone tells me that they have decided what is in my best interests, especially when they use bad data to make their argument.


JeffJ said...

CFLs -if they are burning out too quickly contact the manufacturer, often they will replace them under warranty

Hybrid pickups -I drive a large SUV, for a number of reasons it's the right vehicle for me, I looked into the Hybrid Tahoe but the cost/unknown maintenance issues vs. the very small increase in fuel efficiency didn't seem to be worth it to me. Now, if the would put a small efficient diesel into a 1/2 ton truck/SUV then we would be getting somewhere.

Borepatch said...

Well, the EPA's CFL disposal recommendations runs to 3 pages in PDF. Agreed, arguing using an EPA reference is cheating, but seems somehow poetic justice to toss back in the smug faces of our Intellectual Betters who enjoy the process of compelling us.

I guess that's a long winded way of saying "you're not the boss of me" ...

Ruth said...

I've had mixed results with CFLs too, though again, some of it maybe power conditions in my old apartment. I also suspect the technology has improved at least a bit, some of my originial CFLs didn't last that long, but my newer ones lasted longer. I've got LEDs in a bunch of fixtures now, with CFLs in most of the rest, the power here at the house is pretty stable, its either up or down, so we'll see what happens.

I'd LOVE to have a solar/wind setup, money's prohibitive, but I HATE being reliant on the power company for my electricity.

the pawnbroker said...
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Tasso said...

Color rendition has nothing to do with color temperature.

Color rendition is based on the number of frequencies of light represented in the spectrum. Most CFLs have only 3 or 4 phosphor emission lines. The result is a light that isn't white, but instead monochromatic orange and green and purple at the same time. Your eyes look at the light and see white (because each of the types of rod in your eyes are being stimulated by the combination).

Unfortunately, real world objects do not reflect individual emission lines of orange, green, and purple the same that they would reflect a continuous spectrum. Thus the rendition of colors is broken. An object that should be blue ends up looking dark blue-gray, because it has no blue light shining on it, and instead is reflecting only orange, green and purple.

There are flourescents with good color rendition (e.g. Philips Natural Daylight), which are created by adding more phosphors. Efficiency drops, and they are much more expensive, but the quality is much better. Nevertheless, there is only one source of continuous spectrum light -- incandescence.

Tam said...


Believe it or not, I understand how this works, and in situations where absolute color fidelity was necessary, I'd...

Well, go outside, actually. ;)

Tasso said...

Then why did you say "2700K CFLs have been available for years"? That is exactly what color temperature is, and color rendition isn't.

And, a better example flowers, not ecru versus eggshell. Flowers reflect very narrow bands of color, and look totally different in continuous spectrum light.

Odysseus said...

*Stands and applauds*

Tam said...


Because, as I was trying to illustrate briefly with the "ecru & egshell" thing, I was referring to people who were unlikely to be complaining that their floral arrangements looked unnatural and would usually go on to say "...and everything looks cold and green", as though "flourescent" automatically equals "1980s institutional lighting".

Obviously, you'll want full-spectrum light for the room in which you keep your Renoirs. Probably not as important on the front porch or the computer room.

But more importantly, I just like the option of deciding what type of bulb I use for what application.

Brad K. said...


Much of the brouhaha over mileage traces back to union propaganda. Union propagandists are past masters at hiding their base goals (protect union jobs, denigrate imports, hate non-union employers). Other special interests do the same thing, it is just the union thugs that get under my skin -- I cannot remember the last time labor negotiations broke down because the union was unhappy that the proposal would hurt the business.

As for "But no, the government wants you to eat your "clean energy" spinach, too", we are getting ads now on how "Smart Grid" power meters are just like the old meters, but they protect your information, and help conserve energy. The ads don't mention that the old meters took a person to read the thing, and the only information there was how much the dials moved since the last time it was read. Now the power company reports to the Feds how much current you are using at the moment.

As for "conserve" that is slang for "we need to turn off Oklahoma so we can keep the California lights lit". Check it out -- they want to be able to do brownouts and rolling blackouts where they choose, to keep from dimming the lights where "they are needed". Talk about an invitation to graft and special interest interference.

Arizona had an earlier version of "smart" meter that I liked -- it charged $0.09 per kwh from 9pm to 9am, $0.18 per kwh during the day. That let me choose when to do the wash, to keep the utility bills down. I even set the thermostat by that.

The current round, though, isn't about conserving my home energy. They want to keep California lit as Californians keep turning off their power plants. After all, California doesn't want to offend Gaia by producing electricity. In California.

I wonder -- would your neighbors have to report you if you bought you a Ford EarthF*cker, and changed the engine to burn propane, and get decent performance and fuel efficiency? I mean, teachers and nurses are required by law to report suspected cases of child abuse (which I am *sure* never means an abused child *ever* failed to receive care for an injury).

Bubblehead Les. said...

I use CFL's because, in my neck of the woods, they seem to last a hell of a lot longer than those %&$^&*&*&%%*^^ Imported pieces of crap that seem to be the only ones out there.

I do wonder, however, when the Gooberment is going to FORCE all the Flashlight Makers to go to LED ONLY Bulbs? Will this mean all the Eart F*#ker's will start to whine even though they have $150 + Tacticool Lights in their Glove Boxes?

Mark Alger said...

Just because you don't know all the reasons why an idea is bad doesn't make it good.

"You're not the boss of me" is the only necessary answer, and it is entirely dispositive.

Sorry, but government's track record is entirely too abysmally FAIL-bound for me to take anything they say at face value.

Just the various answers in this thread -- hardly a scientific sampling, but still... -- ought to be persuasive that one-size-fits-all means everybody's-life-sucks-a-little.

Screw that.

I don't care which/what kind of light you choose, but you do have the right to choose, and the government doesn't get to waive your rights -- for ANY reason.


Tam said...


And where did I say any different?

Anonymous said...

You want to use CFLs, great. Like a hybrids performance, good for you. Its your money.

What burns my butt is the lecture on saving the Earth godess by someone who then jumps into their Earth Fu$ker to the airport, flys on their private ozone destroying jet to a home that uses gigawatts of TVA electricity.

That person can eat me.


Guffaw in AZ said...

Sounds iconoclastic?
I never had an interest in rifles, until President Clinton said there were some I shouldn't own!
I ended up with 5 EBRs, 1 AK clone, and many assorted magazines!
...and ammunition.
I've not been able to stock up on incandescent bulbs. At least now the deadline has been postponed.

the pawnbroker said...
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The Jack said...

Stubborn resistance to being ordered to do something is a fairly good "gross rule".

That's because if X really was a superior option then people would do it voluntarily.

See people that use some CFLs (count me in on that).

Being ordered to do something rankles because that's what one does to children, because children are not adults. Which produces the delicious irony of someone throwing a tantrum at being treated like a child.

And in addition to resenting being seen as a child by some "do gooder" comes the knowledge that said "do gooder" will exempt himself from said law and will likely materially benefit from the whole boondoggle.

og said...

"Yes, Og, I have priced them. Why do you ask?"

Ah, good. Then you know that enough solar panels or wind turbines to "back up" my generator would each cost more than a new car. And when I needed them, to, say, run my furnace, it would most likely be dark, or still. So as a "preparedness" option they are an extremely poor choice. Much rather spend that money on useful stuff. I have already lived for extended periods of time "off the grid", (though then people called it "being poor") Not my first rodeo.

Anonymous said...

Spot on again.The truth of the matter is that it's not about lightbulbs,or spinach,or whether or not your chosen conveyance is better for gaia than that one is.

It's about the liberty of making your own decision.Free from some pimply faced toad who isn't qualified to run a shoe shine box dictating to me what is in my best interest.

Wolfman said...

I have a theory that I'm building. Survivalist/Preparedness/Self-reliance types see the world as people on a single level, with differing types and amounts of personal power. We can deal with each other on an equal plane. Others are much more co-dependent. They need a rigid and reliable hierarchy. When making arguments, they tend to use classroom or family examples, ie, there is a teacher or parent making the rules. They seek to put themselves in a place of influence within that hierarchy. Mandating things that we would have done anyway is an effective way to appear as though they are in control; they ordered something, and it happened. Unfortunately, the US was built almost entirely by dissidents. Our natural response is to reject mandates out of hand. Our egalitarian worldview is a threat to their hierarchy because the co-dependent will assume that anyone not beneath them is equal or above them, hence, is a threat to their power. Thus, disconnect.

Mark Alger said...


"And where did I say any different?"


And where did I say you did?


Tasso said...

Did I say rod instead of cone? Gah. Your blog is too early for us western folks. Comments should only open after we've all had coffee.

Ruth said...

Og, thats why I'd also insist on a nice sized battery back up to supplement the generator....course, that adds to the cost....I HATE depending on National Grid for my power!!

Matt G said...

Very, very well said.

Justthisguy said...

I live in Southern Flarduh. I prefer incandescents in what little bit of winter we get here, because our houses are generally heated by electrical resistance anyway. In the summer I would prefer the latest and greatest LED lamps, but OMG they are still very dear in first cost.

I betcha the more Luddite-like greenies wouln't mind if we used candles and oil lamps, which "pollute" the air with carbon (that's how they make light) and when it comes to the ratio of heat versus light produced, are much much worse than incandescent lamps.

Kristophr said...
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Gewehr98 said...

Been switching to CFLs here for more than a couple years, as their incandescent predecessors die off. I've had a few cheap Harbor Freight CFLs die an early death, otherwise they've been chugging along nicely.

The outdoor lights, the unheated garage's lights, and the bathroom vanity lights are still heated filaments (as are the 6550C pentodes that drive my surround sound system).

Folks who want/need an EarthFu&@*r type of vehicle are perfectly entitled to do so, but are by no means entitled to badmouth others who go with more economical transport. As much as I hate the Toyota Pious, I know people buy them not to displease me, and it's no business of mine why they chose.

Likewise, I have a generator backed up with a solar system and battery/inverter rack, good for 3kW generator and 2kW solar for when the Wisconsin ice storms hit up here. I'm nowhere near totally off-grid yet, but I'd love someday to say I was. Living in hurricane-prone, flicker-and-flash grid Florida reminded me how fragile we really are...

Kristophr said...

If you want a cheap incandescent bulb that lasts for damned near forever, search for Sylvania 60 watt traffic light bulbs.

About $4 each, and rated for 8000 hours of hard use.

And they were exempted from the original CFL pimping bill.

Lighthouse said...

Hey, I love spinach :-)

But you are right on the nanny state issues.

A rundown of how energy efficiency regulations affect Buildings,
Cars, Washing machines etc
-- and why the supposed energy savings are not there,
most obviously because any cheaper use means more wasted use...

John A said...

The incandescent-bulb "ban" was not actually one, you could still manufacture them - all you would have to do is break a few laws of thermodynamics, or perhaps replace the filaments with platinum wire. Heh. Yeah, government lawyers are so very very smart, as shown by decades of auto_truck fuel-efficiency regulations...

And CFLs are not all the same. But when the incandescents were mostly two US brands, I noticed that one brand would last one or two years while the other burned out in about two months. After three replacements, I stopped buying brand B decades ago. Somehow brand B stayed in business, so choice was still available. Fine with me.

Electric cars? Ford, among others, produced them before W W One, about 125 miles per charge. Roughly the same as today's models. They've come a long way, right?

B.S. philosopher said...

Ya know those 100W bulbs last a lot longer if you use them in a fixture with a dimmer switch and run them about 50%.

I live in a brand new (well 2 years old) house in Florida. When we moved in the only light in the house was the 4 foot fluorescent in the kitchen and 4 60w incandescent bulbs in the bathroom fixtures.

I put CFLs in all the other fixtures but had to go with incandescents in the bedrooms because the inexpensive fans from Lowe's had small base sockets in them.

I dated all of the CFLs using a sharpie. I've had to replace ~50% of the CFls but I'm still running the original incandescents in the ceiling fans.

Thomas Smith said...

Just wait till LED lighting technology comes to your home. Save 90% off of the cost of similar incandescent costs. only reason you probably don't have them now is that it takes a rather large array to make light equal to a 4 bulb fixture, but to save 90% on electricity I'd do it tomorrow. Even if I had to replace the fixtures in my apartment myself.

NotClauswitz said...

Our home was built at the end of the 70's when Electricity cost nothing and the future was so bright you had to wear shades because down the coast the third Nuke plant was under construction and among kitchens AEK was the standard bearer, so much so that they put radiant electric heat IN THE 12-FOOT CEILING!
Then the Hippies rose to power and hair-shirts became en-vogue.
Nowadays PG&E is laughing all the way to the bank when they're not incinerating entire neighborhoods with shoddy gas mains and killing people by the dozen. We switched to CFL's so that our summer monthly bill only hits around $80 or so, winter is Teh Suck, but a $800 monthly bill was not uncommon until we started wearing layers of fleece and silk long underwear...

Angus McThag said...

My main objection to the greenie throat shoving is that I wish to live not merely survive.

They keep pushing bare survival energy.

Anonymous said...

CFLs tend to have a lot shorter life when they are turned on and off a lot. Also, their efficiency sucks until they get into their optimum operating range, which takes a lot longer than you might think. Turns out that unless the CFL is on for extended periods of time, like in an outdoor porch light, it is nearly as inefficient as an incandescent, and a LOT more expensive.

I tend to prefer lights that provide the kind of light my eyes were designed for - the soft even light of a warm yellow sun (incandescents), not the cold, hard light of a blue-white dwarf (pretty much everything else). Fewer headaches, less stress, FAR less depressing, and a LOT more relaxing.

Will said...

If you want an incandescent bulb that lasts, try finding "rough service" bulbs. These were intended for drop lights (hand held lights for mechanics), and have very heavy filaments with lots of support.

Anonymous said...

I am chief engineer for a large beachside hotel. About 8 yrs. ago I used incandescents for all room lights, about 600 total. Replacement rate was aprox. 20 bulbs per month.
Now the hotel is switched over to CFL , and my replacement rate is probably around 20 bulbs every 3 months !!
Not to mention that the power bill was reduced significantly.
No brainer eh.

Tam said...


Your confirmation bias is showing.

Did you even read the post, or did you just go into LALALALALALALAICAN'THEARYOU! mode when you saw the acronym "CFL"?

Tam said...


Hey, Tasso!

Did you see his "soft, warm" and "cold, blue" comments, there? That's exactly what I was talking about, upthread. ;)

Blackwing1 said...

A study by BC Hydro indicated that for an average home, CFL's made sense only if you were located south of around 40-degrees latitude. Living in Minnesnowta, we're way north of that. The only place we've got CFL's running are (like Roseholme) in the porch light, which is on 24/7. It fails about every two years (17,500 hours or so). The porch isn't heated, but with it running continuously the cold-start problem isn't one.

But every single light in our (un-heated) basement is an incandescent. For 11 months out of the year, the fact that they use 95% or so of their energy to produce heat rather than light is a feature, not a bug.

Let the market(s) decide how and where to put various types of lighting technology, not government dictat. We're adults, somehow we'll figure out if it saves us time, money (and customers) or not.

Jeff said...

Just don't cook my spinach. That's gross.

Sigivald said...

The fastest way to get them to stop doing something is to mandate it.


Portland (OR) just, last month, introduced a change in garbage collection (by complete fiat, as far as I can tell).

Trash every other week, from weekly, but we get a free @%$@& slop bin for citywide composting.

Same prices, so aren't we lucky they didn't raise our rates in order to meet their self-imposed composting goals?

(I kid you not; the wording on the fliers made me think they actually thought I should be grateful to trade half my service for a slop bin because they weren't raising rates.)

Naturally this just means I'm paying $10 a month more to put out TWO cans twice a month, and cursing the name of Mayor Sam Adams to Hell and Back.

I was never much for it, but now I will be damned if I ever consider composting a single gram of waste food for these overweening savages.

(The City has an "Office of Sustainable Development". And rolled all this crap out in the middle of a giant recession.

Guess who's never, ever voting for one of their little bonds or tax hikes no matter how much they swear they need it for The Childrens?

They've shown their priorities, and now they can choke on them. Hope the City goes bankrupt, frankly. Only chance we have of dialing that beast back.

Before, I really cared very little about City government. Now, they've succesfully made me hostile to their little projects. Congratulations!)

Brad K. said...

I wonder how long it will be before the EPA outlaws carbolic acid (CO2 dissolved in water -- sodas, and other soft drinks like Mountain Dew, sprite, etc.). I mean, the Obamas want to ban unhealthy eating, right? What better way than to ban soda machines and soda beverages? And just think of all the corn syrup that would become available to make ethanol, too! Or C02 used to chill industrial processes, or for shielding gas for welding. The mind boggles.

Anonymous said...

It's not so much the spinach, but the all spinach all the time that irks me. CFLs are not the perfect tool for every job. They are terrible in the cold. The 100 watts in the garage make light as soon as I turn them on even in 0 degree weather.

Anonymous said...

Lady, you done said a mouth full.