The Frogs Have Come Out To Play

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There is quite clearly a link between the election and a sudden rise in cyber-harassment, which I have personally experienced. In the four days after the election I received more hate-tweets and garbage posts on my Twitter feed that I have in the previous 7 years combined.

My FaceBook wall has been rummaged through by Trolls, Frogs and hateful, spittle-flecked shrieking strangers who tell me to grow up, get over it and to leave the country.

‘Frogs’ is my label for the hate-filled Men’s Rights Activists (MRAs) mostly found on 4Chan who are proudly racist, bigoted, homophobes that think women who have been raped have been done a favor. They are open Nazi supporters who use Pepe the Frog as their mascot: An image designated by the Anti-Defamation League as a hate symbol alongside swastikas and burning crosses.

In short: The people who embrace this image are Trump’s red meat base.

Frog is my ‘Fetch’, and I’m trying to make it happen.

It is not a pejorative – because it’s based on something people have control over: Their embrace of hatred, and the willingness to disenfranchise marginalized minorities and women.

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A no-longer-silent dog whistle was blown when Trump was elected, and now the Frogs think the internet belongs to them.

I had one rude crazy woman go to my FB page and assume my post about a rude crazy woman was about her. She became incensed – took a screen shot. Demanded… I’m not sure what. But, she seemed to think that screen shot was something valuable. It seemed an oddly appropriate metaphor to what has been happening on Social Media these last few days.

I’ve been physically threatened posting in a general forum, being told my mouth was writing checks my ass couldn’t cash – when I was reciting facts. (not ‘truths’)

I’d call them Poor Winners – but that  would imply that there isn’t REAL violence going on right now across the country.

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Regarding my Twitter account, some quick research shows that this is a targeted attack to specific high traffic websites. Yesterday I tweeted 10 times (before the shitstorm – and NO I’m not proud I fed the trolls), yet I received some 50-odd tweets back regarding an original post on that had only received 60 views  in 12 hours. (96 views 24 hours later) That site? The New York Times. The Tweet for which I received the second biggest hate-spew was to USA Today, whence I was told to delete my account, take benzodiazepine, fuck myself and leave the country.

Yesterday’s provocative tweet?  “Yay for Gerrymandering and Voter suppression”, in response to an article about our deeply divided nation that is half conservative and half liberal, but nearly all levels of government are run by the GOP.

That’s pretty normal for me – I’ve been tweeting like this for years with a collective yawn by the internet. Yet, amazingly I’m getting all kinds of negative attention, and the only thing that has changed is the President-elect.

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This morning I got up to find a ‘friend’ of a childhood friend has tracked shit on my wall because he didn’t agree with an opinion that I left on my friend’s page – FWIW she and I are horrified at the results. He felt the need to mock and belittle a total stranger. There was no attempt at dialogue or even arrogant fact reciting. It was just pure vitriol: Being an asshole for the sake of being an asshole. I’ve had it happen with at least 5 total strangers in 4 days.  Not to mention said crazy woman above.

I had a peer seek out my page to start an argument after I walked away from her utter lack of compassion regarding my taking Trump at his word when he promises to end the ACA, and with it my pre-existing condition exclusion. After telling her in great detail how this would mean bankruptcy, divorce (sign away assets to get Medicaid) or become a medical refugee, her sentiments (if not exact words, because I refuse to bugger myself by going back to that awful conversation to quote her exactly): Your insurance is not my concern.

I refused to engage further with someone who could reduce that situation to: Not My Problem.

I decided to unfollow her for a few weeks until things calmed down – that way she wouldn’t see my posts, I wouldn’t see hers, and we could go back to being civil. Instead, she decided to take the fight to me by seeking out my page to read what I was writing so that she could be offended.

As is habit with these folks, when faced with something they don’t like they change the subject at the top of their lungs. I don’t play the Red Herring game, though.

Her Waterloo was a post where I said that Trump voters fucking OWN the KKK Victory Parade celebrating Trump’s victory. Without irony – this woman who supports a candidate that blames all Muslims for the actions of a few – took umbrage at holding people accountable for voting for a man who campaigned on racism, bigotry, homophobia and misogyny.

She refused to defend any of the dozen or so direct Trump quotes that show what a horrible shit-bag he is – including the one where he pretends he doesn’t know what the KKK is. She sidled right up to an Ad Hominem attack, and decided calling the *conversation* stupid was more diplomatic than outright calling *me* stupid. She then did the most adult thing she could think of to do – she unfriended me.

That should be a comfortable meeting the next time we show up for the advocacy group we both volunteer for and donate to. With her being in a position on the board I don’t worry at all that she’ll be punitive. Nope. I don’t worry that the woman who couldn’t let a disagreement go and needed to turn it into a full-fledged drama complete with unfriending will hold a grudge.

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I don’t ever remember the trolling ever being this bad. These hate-filled pus bags have been emboldened and their racist, bigoted, anti-Gay MRA agenda has been validated. They emulate the bully they voted in.

Not everyone who voted for Trump is a Neo-Nazi -But, they ARE totally okay with belonging to a group that not only tolerates, but encourages them.

The hate speech will continue because Trump refuses to say during his 3 am Rage-Tweet sessions: “I don’t want the support of the KKK and renounce racism and bigotry.”

He’d still have 72 characters left to tell us how big his hands are or “Grab Them By The Pussy!!”

But, he won’t – and that’s why the Frogs have come out to play.

It’s going to be a long 4 years.

“I don’t know what group you’re talking about. You wouldn’t want me to condemn a group that I know nothing about. … I will do research on them and certainly I would disavow if I thought there was something wrong.” Trump on the Klan 2/28/16

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I’m A Bad Sport Bitch

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It’s 1991, and I’ve been hired at WKRC in Cincinnati (it’s a real station, look it up). They’re changing formats – sort of. They want to be part of the great Talk Experiment, and it’s my first full time gig. The problem is they only want a talk show from 10 am- 2 pm M-F; the rest of the time it’s oldies music. Oh, and then there’s the cinder block wall of a half hour newscast from Noon to 12:30, followed by 15 minutes of Paul Harvey.

Thinking I had a shot of making that horrible format work (ah, youth!), I took the job they offered me at the interview and agreed to move my family to Cincinnati in a few weeks. I was to start Monday.

That first day – April 1st – I’m ready to prove my mettle: The news ends, the sweeper plays and I’m waiting for “Wild, Wild West” by Escape Club to play. Instead the guitar riff from ‘The Bitch Is Back’ by Elton john starts cold.

I sit there for a minute blinking. First, I think the producer has made a mistake, but then I see the look on his face, he’s smiling. I’m confused and am trying to focus on opening my first show, and I realize the PD is at the door laughing, along with any number of male colleagues. It dawns on me what music is playing and I am hurt: Mortified, angry, humiliated. I feel the sting of tears in my eyes as I realize what they are doing to me. I swallow, breathe, smile like I’m in on the joke and open the mic and the show.

What I assumed was an April Fool’s first-day-on-the-job hazing was to be my regular music: My PD refused to allow me to use any other intro but ‘The Bitch Is Back.” Every. Single. Show.

Walking into that studio to hear myself called a bitch everyday was beyond degrading, but my male colleagues made sure I knew I was in a ‘Man’s Business’ and heaped the humiliation on me.

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WKRC Part 2 – “You’re just not a good sport,” my Program Director was telling me at the end of my first week. You know, the one that started with my being forced to use ‘The Bitch Is Back’ as my theme music.

I’m sitting in my PD’s office for a sound check and show meeting – an event that shouldn’t even happen for a few weeks that he has turned into a daily exercise in torture that lasted at least an hour.

My ‘not being a good sport’ was because I had complained to him that the day before I found the picture of my 3 1/2 year-old son I had put on my cubical wall with red thumb tacks driven through the eyes. I was furious, and put a note up next to the picture, “This isn’t funny. This is a picture of my son, who is 1,200 miles away and whom I miss very much. His grandma sent me this picture.” That morning when I got to work the tacks were back in his eyes and more tacks outlined his smile, with 2 pennies taped to the note. I was apoplectic. The morning guy’s producer sauntered by and informed me that I had no sense of humor and admitted his boss had done it. Maybe I was not fit to be in radio, opined the teenager who had never – EVER – been on the air.

I listened to my boss tell me how I needed to roll with the punches, him being oblivious at how he utterly abused and misused the metaphor. You’re not supposed to dodge punches from your co-workers!

I couldn’t get back to my hotel room at the Omni fast enough, so I could call my son and ground myself – remind myself why I was doing this. As I was changing from my suit into my sweats I had the radio on, listening to the station. A promo came on that made me stop dead – my foot poised above my sweat pants. “Win lunch for your office for Secretary’s Day!! All you have to do is send Claudia Lamb a picture of you sitting in your bosses lap!!”

I tripped on my sweat pants, sprawling on the floor in my rush for the telephone to ask my boss what the hell was going on.

“Isn’t it great?” said my PD – I could hear him leering on the phone.

I spoke eloquently about how dehumanizing and sexist this promotion was and how it contributed to a culture of misogyny, and how I didn’t want the stink of it on me. He admitted that it was a publicity stunt he dreamed up to get some cheap publicity for my show. I was aghast and strenuously objected, but I was contractually obligated to participate.

The following Monday I read the promo liner cards in my utmost cardboard voice. I was white hot furious at being dragged into a sexist promotion. It was bad enough they were still calling it Secretary’s Day, but to drag me into humiliating people so they can eat? A few minutes later one of my callers lit into me, she couldn’t believe I’d do something so sexist. I told her that I found the whole thing in appallingly bad taste, but that I was a professional and would meet the terms of my contract.

The blow-back was swift and severe, and for the most part I avoided being the brunt of it. People were furious at my boss and the calls poured in that first afternoon – my boss grinning and loving it. The next day someone in corporate HR told him that the station could be liable if there were a sexual harassment suit filed and that promotion was pulled like a needle across a record.

He saved face by giving the prize to a small business owned by a married couple. He honestly thought the avalanche of shit he brought down for his sexist promotion was a success.

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WKRC Part 3 – The hits kept coming when, about a month after I stared pushing a rock uphill for 4 hours a day, my PD announced we would be getting station jackets. He had decided on a Members Only-style silver satin jacket with the station logo on the back, and the employee’s name embroidered on the front.

Sure the style may have been half a decade late, but the good news was we would have to pay for it ourselves. This was something the PD didn’t bother to tell anyone before taking their size and ordering. I remember him walking around the station hitting people up for $60 to pay for their own company branding, and the stunned looks on everyone’s face. One person told him they’d have never ordered the jacket had they known they would have to pay for it themselves, and the PD grinning, “I know. That’s why I didn’t tell anybody. I wanted everybody to be wearing one!”

When the big day came and the jackets finally arrived the PD stood with a crowd gathered, handing them out of the box in a fashion that suggested they were gifts he had paid for. He made a show of handing each person their jacket.

Mine was one of the first he handed out – when the crowd was the largest. The PD took it out of the plastic bag it was in and held it up for all to see, first showing it to the left and to the right.

‘Bitch’ was embroidered in large cursive letters on the left breast. The assembled crowd roared with laughter. That asshole made me pay for my own jacket, and then ruined it with the repulsive epithet he knew offended me.

I again felt the sting of tears, but wouldn’t give them the satisfaction of seeing me cry, and gamely grinned. I snatched my jacket out of his hand and left the laughing crowd, going back to the desk upon which I knew I couldn’t put a picture of my family without it being defaced.

That night at home I took a pair of manicure scissors and tweezers and carefully cut that vile epithet off of my jacket. I painstakingly pulled every black thread out of the silver satin, and in the morning took it to a tailor on the way in to work, explaining what I wanted done.

A few days later I sported my WKRC jacket into work – with the name Claudia embroidered in cursive over my left breast. My PD was angry I’d changed the jacket he was so proud of. I was again told how little sense of humor I had – I was a bad sport.

Thankfully that job lasted only 4 months. The parent company switched formats again, and paid off my contract in full.

I earned every penny the hard way.

 

The sad thing is: I haven’t finished telling the worst stories of the sexism I have experienced over the years, and ‘Grab them by the pussy’ is long out of the news cycle. Sexual assault is passé and old news.

And that, my friends, is how rape culture festers: Society loses interest in the issue, and in doing so tells those who have survived that their story really doesn’t matter that much. Or, worse, in revealing what actually happened to us we will be judged or met with disbelief.

It wasn’t okay then, It’s #NotOkay now. #SexismIsReal
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With the election of Trump and the validation of racism, sexism misogyny and homophobia it’s only a matter of time until the bullying begins again.

For fuck’s sake – We elected a man who bragged about sexual assault.

Shame on us.

 

It wasn’t an agenda, dammit. It was information.

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Welcome to the post-fact world.

It is a place where your opinion is as good as empirical proof. You’re ‘feels’ count as much as peer-reviewed Scientific Evidence. And if what you don’t like is on tape ? Wave your hands and repeat this magic charm: “Lib-rul Mee-Dia, Lib-rul Mee-Dia, Lib-rul Mee-Dia” and suddenly proof of your candidate boasting “Grab Them By The Pussy!!” isn’t sexual assault anymore.

Don’t like those pesky ‘facts’ the Lügenpresse has inconveniently dug up? Vilify them and threaten them with murder! Why not? The GOP Presidential candidate is openly encouraging physical violence against the Press, saying they have too much freedom and should be jailed. It’s bad enough this bloviating Fascist (with a capital F) is saying it, but he’s doing so to the cheers of tens of millions of Americans rabid to destroy our First Amendment rights – and all with the endorsement and monetary backing of the Republican Party.

Now we are asked to indulgently chuckle when Deplorables wear shirts advocating murdering the Press, and the overthrow of our Constitution.

I know several journalists who are near the breaking point: Burnout, depression, disgust and hopelessness now have a new colleague: FEAR. They are all are asking if it is worth it to be constantly vilified and have your motives questioned or be outright disbelieved, all while being terrifically underpaid and having to face a shitstorm when they print actual facts.

At the same time I know dozens of out of work journalists who are dying a million deaths at this election’s coverage and the propaganda churning out 24/7. We feel helpless and wish we could use our expertise to bring some context to stories that are either ignored or blown out of proportion. We long to put a halt to the continual indignation cycle the News has become.

When corporations pulled the plug on Newspapers and quit funding Television and Radio Newsrooms adequately, and when they decided clicks were more important than truth they fired tens of thousands of people whose job it was to research and write about facts. Most folks don’t realize the skill it takes for a producer to research any given subject, and put together pieces and write questions for their anchors. It is a lost art.

People don’t realize it, but all of those unemployed people were the screen that separated the facts from the bullshit. We gave you a baseline from which to start the discussion about social and economic issues, as well as local and international events. It wasn’t an agenda, dammit. It was information.

But, you fired us – and they fired us. They couldn’t make enough profit by employing an adequate number of educated professionals to ensure accuracy and excellence. You couldn’t be arsed to pay for a quality product. Do you pay $10 a month for Netflix but won’t pony up $5 to subscribe to a news site like the New York Times? Congratulations – you’re part of the problem.

The collapse of Traditional News has left a void that blogs have filled, which has given rise and fed the needs of modern Conspiracy Theorists.

I used to deal with Conspiracy Theorists when I was a Talk Radio Host in the 80s and 90s, before Talk was all taken over by screeching hatred, thanks to the Mays brothers of Cheap Channel fame. People like this were a novelty and a hoot to put on the air. The longer they talked the more they just showed how bug-nuts crazy they were. FWIW: Just like today, the Conspiracy Theorists then glommed onto the New World Order, The Illuminati, The Jews and the UN taking over the US. I’ve been hearing that any day now the Dems are coming for your guns. Any. Day. Now. Oh, and Chemtrails are REAL, man (and fluoride and vaccines). None of that has changed in 30 years.

What has changed is that AM radio was taken over by the Alt-Right a quarter of a century ago, when the Mays Brothers shit canned anyone who wasn’t Frog Marching to their ultra-conservative tune. Liberal, Progressive, Middle-of-the-Road and Soft Republicans (those who believed in compromise) were no longer welcome in their 500 station cross-country monopoly that had a stranglehold on the industry.

Soon AM radio became a vacuum of hate speech and lies. Rush Limbaugh defended his pathological lying by saying he was an entertainer, not a news person. Glenn Beck simultaneously cheated thousands of old people out of their life savings in a bogus gold investment scheme, while managing to poison them with convoluted non-sensical conspiracies about Obama’s secret S.S. Civilian Army and the Boston Bombing ‘Cover-Up’. Anti-Journalist and Supreme Radio Hack Sean Hannity was rewarded for years of lying on behalf of the GOP with a plum job at Fox, where it appears Trump’s hand is up his puppet ass this very moment.

AM Talk Radio encouraged sick, gullible, uneducated and mentally unstable people to plumb the depths of their paranoia. No conspiracy was too obscure or far-fetched, and for these lost souls that conspiracy made them feel smarter than everyone else and in control.

The saturation of the AM dial with non-stop conspiracies is what tilled the ground for this current Conspiracy Theory movement.

The internet, which tends to make smart people smarter and dumb people dumber, has given these Conspiracy Theorists an echo chamber that validates them and gives their insane theories credibility. They are no longer at the margins of media, where people point out just how mentally unstable they sound. They don’t have to wait on hold to get on the air and be crazy – they can go online 24/7 and get their biases confirmed and their paranoia stoked. Now, people like Alex Jones are revered, instead of being revealed for the whack-job charlatan he really is.

30 years of encouraging the worst in people and stoking paranoia leads in a direct line to Candidate Trump, and the flaming Porta-Potty of his campaign this election cycle.

Sure, Trump may not get elected tomorrow, but the Conspiracy Theorists won’t be going away any time soon. They’ve been emboldened by a misogynistic, bigoted, racist, homophobic candidate. Their nuttery has been sanctioned by the GOP, and their hypocrisy encouraged by Evangelical Christians who apparently think the Commandments are actually the 10 Suggestions.

If Trump loses expect to see these people lose it mentally, because people in positions of power (I’m looking at you Paul Ryan and Ted Cruz and Mitch McConnell and John McCain) haven’t insisted on the Facts being recited any time in recent memory. They chose, instead, to endure the repeated lies for the sake of political expedience.

There’s a smorgasbord of conspiracies to choose from. Would you like a Truther, Birther or Vaxxer conspiracy? Can I interest you in some Jadehelm? Or, would you like something from Secretary Clinton? She is, after all, a dead, sick, Manchurian Candidate who murders political opponents.

Or, would you like the total bullshit conspiracy being screamed by Trump in full-throated rage that the election system is rigged if he doesn’t win– and that it’s being rigged by the Press? You know – the conspiracy that has called for the open murder by hanging of the Fourth Estate, while simultaneously choking the shit out of the Constitution until it dies.

Is it any wonder my friends still left working in the Press are disillusion and scared shitless?

If you’re not concerned you should be, because they’re just getting warmed up,  and no matter who wins it’s going to be a very long 4 years. I’ve a feeling they’re equally as poor at winning as they are at losing.

Oh, and don’t bother arguing the facts with these folks, it’s a waste of time.

Lack of evidence is proof of conspiracy.

It’s a Post Fact World, baby. Strap in.

The Barber and the Campfire Girl

camp-fire-girlThe first time I was skeeved on by a man I was 9 – he was the barber up at Laurel Canyon and Strathern, across from the 7-11.

I walked home alone from school once in a while. He would talk to me when I would walk by. One day he offered me a dollar to stay and talk with him for a while. I felt uneasy, but he was an adult, so I went inside and sat down in a chair. I could see into his back room and the walls plastered with hard core porn, there must have been hundreds of magazine pages.

Seeing the pictures made me scared and I got up to leave; as I did so the barber insisted on picking me up to see ‘how much I weighed’. I remember trying to maneuver away and him grabbing and lifting me, his hands across my non-existent breasts.

Just then a customer came in, and I remember the barber getting flustered and telling the confused customer that I was his niece as I made my escape. I was shaking so hard it was difficult to walk home. I said nothing to my mother, instinctively knowing I would get yelled at.

I NEVER – EVER – rode my bike past or walked past his shop again. I avoided that place like the plague. I would turn left at the light and walk down to Cantara (praying he wouldn’t see me at the only light we could use) or ride my bike behind the Corner Store, using their parking lot to avoid riding in front of his shop.

At 9 years old I learned that men could be predatory, and the barber made me feel unsafe in my own neighborhood.

Don’t tell me you’re sorry – speak up yourselves! Give voice to your story, or put a stop to harassment and assault whenever or wherever you see it. #ItsNotOkay #SexualHarassmentIsReal #NotOkay

 

Uncle Conrad’s Hot Throat Cream

claudia-kcmo-1When I hosted the morning show at KCMO, in Kansas City, Conrad Dobler exposed himself to me on a regular basis in the studio. A former Oakland Raider, he was dubbed ‘The Dirtiest Player in Football’.

He once whipped it out and asked if I wanted some of ‘Uncle Conrad’s Hot Throat Cream’ for my sore throat. He would stick maxi pads to my desk marked with a red sharpie, and even defaced a picture of my child.

The GM refused to put a stop to his behavior, saying with a shrug, “What can I do?” Dobler’s harassment became so bad I abandoned my desk in the talk pit, instead sharing a desk in the small room between the AM & FM studios with a lady who was fighting her own sexism battles.

I didn’t speak out because women in radio who complained about sexual harassment never worked again.

Oh, and the Asshole GM told a bunch of other GMs I’d sued them for sexual harassment, even though I hadn’t. It brought my price down at my next job.

This shit is REAL. #NotOkay

Grab Them By The Pussy!!!

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In February of 1994 I spent an evening with Orville Redenbacher’s hand welded to my ass against my will.

I was a talk show host at KHOW in Denver. There was a cross-promotion at the station with Redenbacher and it involved an in-studio interview, and both of us doing personal appearances at the Wyncoop Brewery (Governor Hickenlooper’s place).

When I met Orville he was in a gray suit with a white shirt and the iconic bow tie. I went to shake his hand – he was in his 80s – but he grasped my hand and pulled me forward in the tiny studio, looking for a hug. Surprised, I complied, and found the old coot’s hands all over my ass, and he tried to kiss me. I fended him off, and we did the interview. He flirted with me during the commercials.

Before he left he gave me his phone number and told me he’d love to have me come visit him in San Diego where he lived. He gave me a grin and pinched my ass. I was flabbergasted. Folks at the station ribbed me for the handsy old perv’s behavior – made me feel bad that Redenbacher has harassed me.

That evening at the event I was prepared, but since it was a joint appearance I couldn’t separate myself from him. When I showed up he did another grope-hug, trying to kiss me on the mouth, and put his hand on my ass. There it stayed, rubbing circles and occasionally squeezing my toned 30 year old ass. I really didn’t know what to do. He was a powerful, famous man who was an important client to the station. So I let him rub, pinch, pat and squeeze my ass the whole time.

When the appearance was over and he’d made me promise to call him in San Diego I felt like I needed a Silkwood shower. I disentangled myself from his 17 arms and gaping maw and went to gather my coat and briefcase.

Suddenly Orville’s grandson, who had been traveling with him, was looming over me. “Don’t even THINK of calling Grandpa.”

“What?”

“I saw you all over him and saw him give you his number. We screen his calls. We keep him away from gold diggers,” he snarled. He said again for emphasis, “Don’t even THINK of calling grandpa.”

I was stunned. The old octopus had been all over me for hours, and yet his grandson saw ME as the aggressive party. The obnoxious shit stood there and tried to gaslight me through physical intimidation.

I never called good old Orville. But you can bet your sweet ass I saved his phone number. I have it in a book that served as my phone book from my teens to my 30s. I kept it to remind myself that I hadn’t dreamed the whole disgusting episode.

Remember – this is REAL. It is happening to your sister, your mother, your wife and your friends. It’s time to change the paradigm.

#SexualAssaultIsReal #NotOkay