Saturday, October 30, 2010

This and That

Walking from my village to catch
a bus on Friday after school.
I thought I would dedicate this entry to updating you on a number of different things going on the past couple of weeks.

1. The rainy season seems to have arrived on time this year. It typically begins in October, and I’ve noticed this past week a return to those days when it rains whenever it wants to, followed by sunshine. I have yet to experience that first torrential downpour of the season, but it will be fun to see when it happens. A torrential downpour in Samoa grabs all your attention and you are lured in by its pounding force and just stand at the window in hesitation, wondering if it could possibly rain any harder. Sometimes it does.

Unfortunately, because the rainy season is beginning, it makes life a bit more challenging. I’ve had to cancel my daily run for the past two days and finding a time to do laundry seems to be a losing bet against Mother Nature. But somehow I made it through last year, so I guess I can do it again.

2. Many Samoans eat corned beef from a can, otherwise known as pisupo in Samoan. It is extremely high in salt and fat and it is one thing I’ve chosen not to eat while here. However, on a few different occasions I have been given a can (or two) as a gift, and to turn down that gift would be culturally insensitive, so I always seem to have a stack of pisupo on my kitchen counter. On Thursday I decided I would open a can for the two teachers at my school. I knew that they liked it, so I thought it would be a good solution to get rid of it. I decided to cut some carrots up to make the meal somewhat healthy. I warmed the corned beef and took it over to the school. The teachers seemed really surprised and grateful. However, once they started eating it I could tell they didn’t care for it. I’m not sure if I overcooked it or if the expiration date had passed, but because they couldn’t just set the food aside, they thanked me for it after a couple bites and then called in some kids to finish the rest. I could hardly keep from laughing as the kids ate the food. I don’t think they cared for the carrots either.

3. Remember the term caveat emptor? It was a business principal that came from England which meant, “buyer beware.” Well I’ve found that it also applies in Samoa. I had been buying, and enjoying a chocolate breakfast cereal here that was very similar to Coco Puffs, although I’ve bought my last package a few weeks ago. The last batch I bought looked different when it was in the milk, and also tasted much different than all the other packages I had bought in the past. I checked the expiration date and that was fine, and it wasn’t the milk. I took the bag back to the convenient store where I bought it. Of course I didn’t have a receipt, but I tried to explain my situation. The store clerk said there wasn’t anything he could do because the food came from another distributor, but didn’t hesitate to sample some of the cereal just to make sure. He stuck his hand into the bag—the same hand that had been working the cash register all morning—and took a few bites. He said they tasted the same, but got a second opinion from his colleague behind the counter, who stuck her hand into the bag— the same hand that had been stocking shelves all morning—and she said they were the same. Just to be sure they were in fact the same taste, they both asked the lady waiting behind me in the check out line to try some, and she stuck her hand into the bag—I don’t know where her hand had been—but she delivered the same ruling as the first two.

Cereal is not cheap here, especially for someone on a Peace Corps budget, so I took the cereal back to my house with me in the hopes of figuring out what to do with it. A few days later at school, my year seven students had done a great job so it dawned on me, “give it to the kids.” They had never tasted the cereal before and would go crazy for cereal (most Samoans don’t buy cereal because of the price and because many families don’t have refrigerators for the milk). It ended up being a huge hit and the kids loved it. I even gave some to the teachers!

4. Thanks to Lisa, a Peace Corps Volunteer from Group 79, (who has just extended in Samoa for a fourth year!) I found a man who lives near Apia and makes soap at his house. I went out to his house with Lisa last Saturday and bought a small square block of soap for only 4 tala—less than $2.00 U.S. Dollars! He uses the coconut oil in making the soap and has many different scents and designs to choose from. I’ll be making a visit back there again soon.

5. I’ve had a fever twice within the past two weeks. This isn’t all that uncommon for volunteers, although I had gone several months with good health. Having a fever just slows me down here. It is hard being sick back home, but being sick in a foreign country is harder. The language, and daily routines seem a bit more harder on those days. But I’m back to feeling pretty good now and hopping it stays that way!

6. September and October have gone by so fast and November is going to do the same I’m sure. We start final exams at school in one more week and those will last two weeks. After that it will be all about end of the school year cleaning and preparing for prize giving (look for a future blog on this in December). Right now I have that feeling my mom always talked about at the end of the school year where she is trying to get stuff done with the kids. There is so much more I want to do with them, but I guess some of it will have to wait until next year.

7. I have further proof that the “coconut wireless” is alive and well here in Samoa. I told only my neighbors who I eat dinner with regularly, that I was going back home to the United States during Christmas; I purposefully only told my neighbors, wanting to see how fast the word would spread. In less than a week, most of my students seem to know and several people throughout the village who I’ve talked to, so I guess I won’t need to announce it any further.

8. It is continuing to get dark out later and light out earlier as we head towards Summer here in the Southern Hemisphere. Sunrise is somewhere around 7a.m. and sunset around 7:45p.m. And that reminded me about a neat feat that I will have accomplished once I return to Samoa in January. Within less than a month's time, I will have lived a part of every season. When I leave Samoa in December it will be spring here, but fall when I arrive home. Winter will begin while I’m at home and subsequently, when I return to Samoa in January it will then be summer! So let’s get this straight, the order of the seasons is spring, fall, winter, summer—right?

9. The new group of trainees (Group 83) arrived safely a few weeks ago. They will be sworn in as volunteers in December. We welcomed them a couple weeks ago with our traditional fiafia which included a night of Samoan dances, a great slide show put together by Matt from Group 81, and a buffet dinner cooked by us (or picked up by us if you got Chinese take-out like I did). They are currently out in the training villages for language, cultural, medical, safety and teaching training. Best of luck to them as they continue to slog through the first couple of months in country.

10. My last bit of news is actually about family. I found out on Thursday, October 21st that my cousin Anita and her husband, Phil, are expecting their first child! I received a text message from my sister announcing the fantastic news. Unfortunately, I’ll be in Samoa during her delivery, but I’ll be looking forward to meeting them after my close of service. Congratulations to Anita and Phil!

11. And just because I didn’t want this to turn into a “list of 10”, I’ll let you know that my birthday is on November 15th!

The waterfall I have to cross over was flowing pretty heavy on Friday.

The view as I walked from my village!

These two guys visited with me during the last part of my walk. They asked for me to take their picture.

My cousin Anita and her husband Phil, who are expecting their first child the middle of next year!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Char's Letter

I recently received a letter from a good friend of my mom’s, Char Snyder. In the letter Char asked a number of questions and then kindly apologized if she was too nosy asking any of them. But she had no need to apologize because they were great questions, and questions that help me reflect on my time here in Samoa. They are the types of questions which I never ask myself, yet great to-the-point types of questions that are important to think about. Therefore, I thought I would take this opportunity to look at a couple of the many she asked and share the answers with all of you.

Three questions stood out to me the most:

What do you miss the most? (other than family)

After living away from home for a year, you might think that this question would be easy to answer, when in fact, it is one of the hardest to respond to. The longer I’ve been away, the more I’ve realized that I can do without almost everything that I had before which made life convenient. I had a car, but now I can’t drive. I use to use a washing machine, and dishwasher on a weekly basis, but now I do those chores by hand. I use to walk into stores that had a sliding glass door, but now I have to pull or push. I use to peal off stamps and they’d already be sticky on the other side, but now I have to lick them. I use to pop popcorn in a microwave, now I pop it on the stove. I guess maybe this is what it was like to live in the 1970’s?

Each of these examples shows how life has changed for me, but to say that I miss something the most is very difficult to do. But perhaps the thing I miss most isn’t a thing, but a concept. What I really miss at times is the language and culture. Even though I’m living in a country where many people know at least some English, it has never been the same as when I was living at home.

While I’ve been living here and learning to speak a new language, I’m often thinking two thoughts in my head at any given time during a conversation. The first is, “what are the words I need to make this thought make sense?” The other is, “is this person understanding what I’m saying?” Recently I’ve noticed that when I’m watching a movie and two people are speaking to each other, I find that internally, I’m asking myself if the other person understands what the other person is saying. Or if one of them says a big word, I think to myself that the other person won’t know that word. And then I catch myself and say, “of course they understand, they are both speaking English.” That is when I miss being around those who speak English as a first language. Volunteers obviously have the opportunity to speak English when we are together, but it never seems to last long enough. I’m looking forward to the day when I can go from the morning to the night without thinking about what I’m saying or what others are saying to me. To go to the gas station and talk with the sales clerk, or go to a restaurant and be able to eavesdrop on the person sitting next to me will be an amazing experience.

Did you feel prepared?
Yes, but let me explain. I’m not sure if anyone can fully prepare for the experience that the Peace Corps throws at a volunteer, especially given the fact that each volunteer has unique situations that belong only to them. But at the same time, when I look back at all the challenges I’ve faced, I feel as though I had the right “tricks in the bag,” to solve the problems and come up with a reasonable solution to each.

What is the most unexpected delight about this adventure?
My unexpected delight has been being so highly thought of by the people in Samoa. This is a culture that is very friendly and very neighborly. As a Peace Corps volunteer, that places me at a certain level by itself in terms of the kind of respect I receive from Samoans. This is true wherever I may travel in the country. Many times when visiting with a taxi driver in the capital they will ask me what I’m doing here. When I tell them I’m a Peace Corps volunteer living and working here for two years I am frequently thanked by them for my service. This type of general respect exists throughout the entire country from village to village.

But then there is another type of respect that I receive within my village. This is the place where they know me much better than any taxi driver ever would. These are the families that live beside me and whose children I teach. I walk down the same road they do and ride the same bus they do. I speak the same language and wear the same cloths. Because of all of this, I am, in a way, a superstar in my village. It is a type of attention that many volunteers experience in posts all over the world, and a type of attention that Peace Corps reminds us will vanish once we return to the United States. Here in the village I am like the fish in the fishbowl with everyone looking in. But back home I’m just Kyle, not Kyle the Peace Corps volunteer.

It is hard for me to go for a walk through my village and not be followed by 10 children or waved to by 10 adults. When I go for a walk everyone watches and takes notice. I’m not saying that I like this type of attention, but it does make me feel special and loved within the village.

Once I return to the United States I hope to develop closer relationships with my neighbors wherever I may move to in the years ahead. As Americans we tend to stick to ourselves and maybe just wave or smile at our neighbors, instead of really getting to know them. I love how Samoans interact with one another and treat one another as family.

Random Photos:
My year 7 students loved cutting card holders for the backs of the library books! It kept their attention for a few hours and they wanted to do more!

Let's just say it was easier going up the coconut tree than going down it.

I realized one day how lucky I am to have such great tropical fruits available and for very little money if at all. The coconuts I had my neighbor get and the mango (front left) is from a kid at school. The bananas were just a couple tala at the market and the papaya (large, center)was a couple tala as well!

Teacher's Appreciation Day was in September and one student gave me an ula. Here we are together. He got some brownie points!

My sister Jennifer and I are famous at my school where the students have taken to using our names in their graffiti messages.

Friday, October 8, 2010


Recently several volunteers from group 80 have been completing their two years of service here in Samoa and heading back to the United States. Although it’s sad to see them go, they did leave us with some parting gifts. Actually, they left us with all the stuff they either didn’t want or couldn’t fit inside their suitcases. In the volunteers resource room at the Peace Corps office is a pile of stuff labeled “free.” There always seems to be a “free” pile somewhere in the office, but only accumulates good stuff when a group heads home.

A few weeks ago I found myself poking around in the pile, not expecting to find anything too exciting. But suddenly I spotted a black Sony radio. It was in good condition, but a bit outdated with a cassette player as a feature. The antenna was a bit worn, but overall it looked pretty good, and I could hardly complain since it was free. I had looked at radios several times in Apia, but never felt like spending the money on one. It was always one of those things I thought I could do without. Being a wise volunteer, I took the time to plug it into the wall and actually make sure the thing worked because it could have been completely possible someone put a broken piece of junk in the free pile. Luckily, it worked. I put it in my bag and went to catch my bus.

Later that week, I decided to test the radio out at my house. I turned it to FM and slid the tuner. There were a handful of stations in Samoan, but I was holding out for an English one. Most people in the villages have radios and love to crank the volume up to levels that can be annoying at times, so I’ve heard plenty of music off the radio the past nine 11 months, just not in English.

But then I got lucky. Turning the tuner as slowly as I could, I finally dialed in on an English station, 93-KHK, which was playing American music. I didn’t recognize the song though. I’ve probably only heard a handful of American songs the past 11 months. When it comes to my knowledge of current day hip hop back home I am out of the loop.

Soon I heard the radio announcer and realized the radio station was coming from American Samoa, a U.S. Territory just 60 miles to the east of Samoa. American Samoa has American money, it has more American fast food chains than Samoa (Samoa only has one McDonald’s). I was hearing advertisements for Carl’s Junior and KFC. It reminded me of home. The style of the radio announcer, and the tone in his voice made me think I was riding in the car back home. In the United Sates, the commercials on the radio became annoying really fast, but here I found myself glued to this radio in amazement. I had gone 11 months without this kind of access in my house, but all of a sudden I had this outlet to the outside world.

All day I kept the radio on, almost as a companion. I had it sitting on top of my refrigerator and every time I went to get a drink of water, I would find myself just standing there listening to the music or the announcer. I kind of felt like I stepped back into history and was sharing an experience my grandparents had when they all use to gather with their families around the radio. I never would have known that a radio could have been so enjoyable.

Later in the evening I was preparing dinner, I was listening once again and heard a Fox News update from the U.S. with the day’s top headlines. I heard that President Obama had been traveling in Ohio, pitching his new economic plan—which I didn’t know anything about. I’m someone who used to be in front of the T.V. at 6:30 every night for the evening news. They even played a sound bite of President Obama’s speech, and I heard his voice for the first time in months. For a brief moment I felt this weird connection to my former life.

October is the beginning of cyclone season here in Samoa and last year the winds were swirling as Cyclone Rene grazed the coast of Samoa. This left me trying to translate the radio updates in Samoan, coming from my neighbor’s house. It will be nice this season to have a radio signal to know the latest on any cyclones that may come our way.

As the months go on, I think I’ll use the radio in small doses though. There has always been something peaceful about being alone without having a ton of background noise. I guess it is the typical image that people relate to when they think about the Peace Corps experience. Yet, I’m thankful for my little black Sony radio with the cassette player. Of course I don’t have any cassettes to play, they were all packed into my memory box back home in the late 1990’s. But luckily I still have 93-KHK.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

525,600 Minutes

Editor’s note: This next week, October 7, 2010, will mark my one year anniversary of arriving here in Samoa. This type of occasion causes me to reflect on the past year and consider where I’ve come from, where I am, and where I plan to go. Recently, I sat down with Myself and answered some questions on a variety of topics. Below you will find the transcripts from the interview, which was conducted by Kyle.

Kyle: Congratulations Myself, on making it through your first year of Peace Corps service in Samoa! This must be a special moment in your service. Can you tell us what your feelings are after 12 months in Samoa?

Myself: Thank you for this opportunity to share some of my experiences from this past year. As this date has neared, I have been reminded about how I felt when I use to look forward to my four month anniversary and then five and six months. As each month passed, I felt a little bit stronger, and a bit more at ease. And that ease has continued along the way. Perhaps it is the best way to describe how I’m feeling now at my one year anniversary. I’ve been in this country long enough now to feel very relaxed and comfortable about where I am.

Kyle: Thinking back to who you were a year ago, how do you think you have changed?

Myself: I feel that change is so hard to mark during the Peace Corps service. Many of the ways I’ve changed I may not fully realize until I complete my service and get back home. Coming into this experience we all realize that we are going to change, and that leaves us volunteers often asking when the change is taking place and what is it that is changing us? But from what I’ve learned this past year, the change is very gradual. It is so hard to pinpoint one single date and say, “that is the day I started to change.” I think the change began the minute I clicked send on my application to the Peace Corps. From that moment on it has been a part of my daily vocabulary.

But realizing that change doesn’t happen at one single moment, I can say that I have become a more patient person as the months have gone on. Patience is required in so much of what I do. Being one of the most remote volunteers in the country leaves me relying on patience when traveling to and from the capital. Patience is tested when speaking the language, or trying to understand the culture. Patience was at work in those early months when I was still getting use to my house being infested with cockroaches. This patience thing comes in so many different forms that it really does start to slow your life down and cause you to reflect more and take a few deep breaths at times.

Kyle: Can you recall a particular day or moment when things just didn’t seem to be going right? What got you through those tough moments to where you are today?

Myself: I’ll never forget those first weeks out at my house after I moved in. It was mid December and almost Christmas, although it never felt like it here in the tropics. I can remember waking up each morning with this awful feeling in my stomach. I felt nervous and anxious and would just pace around inside my house wondering what I was doing here. I had never lived more than 45 minutes away from home in my entire life and then all of a sudden I made this huge move. I had always heard about homesickness, but never felt it. I’ve been on vacations before overseas where I start to miss home, but homesickness is a whole other level.

On one particular day I was getting ready to leave my house to go out into the village and do some introductory visits. I can remember getting all my stuff around. I got dressed, put sun block on and then locked the door. I began to walk up the hill near my house and into the village when I just froze. I turned around and went back into the house where I proceeded to fix a box of Kraft macaroni and cheese that I had been sent from home.

I eventually made it out of the house, but looking back on that moment I can now see how much I’ve grown. Back then I was longing for anything that would keep my mind close to home, such as that box of macaroni and cheese. Those were the days that I was growing the most though, I believe. They were the days when I was learning to live away from home and learn to live here.

Sometimes when I’m walking up that hill near my house, I smile and remember that day I turned around and went back inside. It gives me motivation to keep going and to see what new things lay ahead in this experience.

Kyle: I understand that you have been teaching at the primary school now for eight months. How are things going at school and how have you seen the students change this past year?

Myself: I think these kids are giving me the perfect gift for my one year anniversary: they are learning how to read! Within the past month I have seen some huge gains made by my students. One of my year seven students who was one of the lower students in the class is reading words he couldn’t, just a few months ago. Just this past week he had one of the higher scores on a test, where as he use to score the lowest. All along I had been telling myself I was making a difference for these kids, but now to have the proof in front of me each day is really inspiring.

Kyle: What other projects are you working on at the school?

Myself: The library has been a major project of mine for the past couple of months. We were able to get roughly 3,000 English books donated to our school from libraries in New Zealand. They are children’s books, easy readers, and there are also class sets of many books. One of the big hardware stores here in Samoa, Bluebird Hardware, was gracious enough to donate four gallons of paint to the school and I’ve been working with the students to paint the library’s walls and bookshelves. We are just about finished with the painting and getting ready to organize the books so that we can establish a check out system.

Kyle: I understand that many Peace Corps volunteers find a routine that helps them make life run smoothly. Can you tell us a little bit about your daily routine?

Myself: Well I normally wake up around 6:15a.m. and get breakfast started soon after. I’ve really enjoyed breakfast as a time to wake up and read while I’m eating. I enjoy fixing oatmeal, scrambled eggs and some days French Toast! While I’m eating the kids begin to arrive at school and walk right past my house. Every morning I have about 10 students say, “Good morning Kyle” (teacher’s in Samoa go by their first name with the students). Shortly after, I head over to school myself, which is about a seven second walk.

School starts at 8:00a.m. and normally finishes around 12:30 or 1:00 in the afternoon. After school I either work on lessons for the rest of the week or do work in the library. I normally grab a quick and simple lunch. By this time of the day it’s normally 95 degrees in my house and I don’t feel much like cooking too much. A salad is usually a good lunch.

In the afternoon I either do laundry, write letters or read. Most people stay inside their house and out of the sun during the afternoon because it’s just so hot out. I’ve tried to visit families during the afternoon but most of the time they are always sleeping!

In the late afternoon I normally do dishes and listen to the radio. Then I get ready to go jogging around 4 or 4:30. Before I go jogging I do my lifting, which consists of using a small wooden bench in my living room as a literal, bench-press. Then I’m off down the long, steep and winding road. I jog 20 minutes out, where I am able to get a cell phone signal to call home or text a Peace Corps volunteer. Normally after about 20 minutes the mosquitoes are starting to eat me alive so I head back in for another 20 minute jog.

When I get back I shower and then either go to my neighbor’s house for dinner or prepare my own dinner some nights of the week. If I go to my neighbors I normally go around dusk and they always have dinner ready for me when I get there. When I’m over there with them I try to speak only in Samoan. It has been a great way for me to develop my language skills. After we are done eating, we normally play cards for a bit. Most nights I help the kids with their English homework. After that, Milo, who is 12, and Alofa, who is seven, walk me back over to my house. I’m not afraid to walk by myself, but it’s kind of become tradition that they walk with me. We say goodnight and then I tuck myself away for the night. This is the time of day when I normally read my Bible, and write in my journal. I like to read one of several books I have going and then get ready for bed around 10 or 10:30.

All Peace Corps Volunteers have noted how early we seem to go to bed here. I remember when I was in college and would get out of marching band rehearsal at 8p.m. and eat dinner at 8:30 and start homework at 9:30!! But I’ve heard it mentioned more than once, that because we are dealing with a new language and culture every day, that can be exhausting and at 10:30 we are ready to crash.

Kyle: Is there something weird about your daily routine that makes you laugh?

Myself: Oh yes. Every night I have a procedure for getting into the mosquito net. First I tap around the outside to make sure there aren’t any huge spiders, cockroaches or centipedes lurking around. Then I shut the light off and quickly crawl under and tuck the net in under the foam mattress. I then take my flashlight and examine the interior of the net to make sure there are no centipedes. It does seem like a bit of a hassle and some nights I just laugh, but I’ve always been told that the one time you don’t check is the night you get bitten and centipede bites are the worst kind of bite you can get in Samoa! Luckily I haven’t experienced it and am just going by those who have.

Kyle: You mentioned a foam mattress? What is that like sleeping on?

Myself: Well considering during my first week at the house I went without the mattress and was just sleeping on woven sleeping mats, this feels like a plush mattress. It’s gotten indented in a few spots from regular wear and tear, but I guess the worst part is having to lay down on it during the rainy season when it doesn’t cool off below 90 in the house at night and the mattress is so full of humidity that I feel like I’m sleeping on a wet sponge. Other than that it’s great!

Kyle: Mail must help lift your spirits. Do you know how much mail you’ve received this past year?

Myself: I’m actually saving every letter that is sent to me, and as of today I have received 92 letters or cards from family and friends. This isn’t including the dozens of packages that I have received. My aunt Betty has sent me lots of chocolate and even some of her homemade strawberry jam. Aunt Carolyn has sent lots of pictures of the family and made me two pillow cases with a tropical pattern. My uncle Jamie has sent novels, such as On the Road, by Jack Kerouac, and a number of old Michigan History articles and magazines. Uncle Bruce has sent pictures from home and some Girl Scout cookies, among other things. My sister Jenny has sent countless CDs with her favorite songs for me to add to my i-pod. And my mom and Dad have been great sending anything and everything that I request from home. I’ve gotten Hostess cupcakes from my dad and several New York Times from my mom.

Kyle: So what’s the story behind your glasses?

Myself: Peace Corps discourages volunteers from wearing contacts because of the possibility of eye infections. We were required to bring two pairs of glasses with us. On two different occasions I’ve had to have my first pair of glasses sent back to the eye doctor’s office in Michigan. So my glasses first came here, went back to the U.S., were sent back here, and then when my sister came she took them with her back a second time and then they were once again sent back to me where they now rest on my face. To make a long story short: if my glasses could accumulate frequent flyer miles, they would have accumulated two, free round-trip tickets to the Far East.

Kyle: I hear a rumor that you are going home for Christmas. Can you confirm this for us?

Myself: Yes, your sources are correct. After much contemplation, I’ve decided to spend about a month at home over the holidays. The break coincides with our long school break here in Samoa so it will be a good time to take the leave. There are several other volunteers going home as well to spend time with family and friends. Originally, I had planned on taking a trip to New Zealand or Australia during that time, but a trip home will mean a lot more to me during the holidays. One of my grandmas is 95 and the other is 90 and I am looking forward to sharing this experience with them when I’m home. It will be great to be with them and my whole family for Christmas. I’m still planning on making it to Australia or New Zealand later in 2011.

Kyle: As you begin your second year in Samoa, tell me what your thoughts are.

Myself: At this point I’m going to continue taking it one month at a time. That is how I’ve done it from the beginning and it seems to be working well. The months are going by faster the longer I’m here. I can remember one night laying in bed and thinking maybe it was going too fast. I just want to take more time this second year to continue to learn about the culture and become even more integrated within my village. The hardest part is behind me though, in terms of settling in and meeting people and getting familiar with the language.

It’s like taking an introductory course to calculus. After you’ve gone through pre-calc, you can get on with the real business in calculus. I think this first year was my pre-calc year and now I’m looking to the future with more ambition and drive to solve the problems in the next part of the journey. It’s been a challenging and rewarding first year, but I’m anxious to see what unfolds in the next 525,600 minutes!