Monday, June 30, 2008

Lost (and found) weekend

Firstly thanks to CBQ for "collage 31" (above) which sums up in a rather nice pictorial shorthand the major activities here over the weekend. I reckon that over 100 brave souls partied away till at least 2am, some managing till 6am after starting at lunch time the previous day. I escaped with very few burns and only slight injuries and no hangover as we celebrated a huge birthday for Emma and then a farewell to Emma and Kevin, now bound for one of the colonies (not Zimbabwe) for the next few years. It rained, the sun shone, the wind blew and nobody really cared much once the party got going. Next day I was up at the crack of mid-summer to walk across the Forth Road Bridge as part a sponsored fundraiser for my son's football team, a good cure for stiff party joints and a creaking back. Now it's Monday and I'm back home, sane and in my right mind. I won't even begin to try to describe the condition of the house and garden on Sunday, I'm only glad that a passing group of elves and fairies popped in to clean the whole place up.

P.S. Pop up full size gazebos I now know are less keen on popping back down and into their rightful place in a storage bag. Ali and I struggled for a while to collapse what felt like a scale model of the Blackpool Tower, bending, twisting, shoving and getting nowhere. I injured a few pieces accidentally in the process and became only slightly angry with myself and the construction - I was in control. It was about then (20 minutes into the task)that Ali suggested we read the instructions and of course this resulted in the beast giving way and packing itself up perfectly. The moral of the story is...

Friday, June 27, 2008

Escape to the gazebo

When life becomes over complicated, things don't work out and you need a place to think and chill out, why not head for your pop-up Gazebo, as we do (or will do one of these days). So the experimental non-time traveling gazebo was erected in double quick time with little or no injuries sustained in the process. I wonder if the squirrels will move in?
If I wasn't tired I'd probably watch Glastonbury 2008 on the wall to wall red-buttoned BBC coverage. I dislike the "Glasto" tag, the inverted snobbery, the over enthusiastic pundits and the raucous guitar bands in hoodies and trainers and various boring soul singers in funny shoes. Perhaps somebody good will appear on the stage with an unusual guitar I can admire and when the interviews start I'll just drift away into the gazebo.
Injured art works saved. I may open a clinic for poor, neglected pieces of driftwood and scrap iron art. A squirt with No More Nails, a swish with a hand brush and a quick spray with a black aerosol of paint and they can be released back into the wild to hunt, run and be free.
A dead frog in the coal bucket, a single sad sight I saw this afternoon and then reflected upon. This was followed by a live frog in the rain on the steps, so the cosmic balance was restored. I think it is frog season again.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Nelson speaks out

So the great white Nelson has almost spoken out against Robert Mugabe and Golden Brown is going to strip away his knight-hood (how long has that taken?). Well at least they are capable of doing something, a shame it can only be described as pathetic and about five years to late. It does make you wonder how "normal" our politicians and leaders are in terms of their judgement and ability to react. Meanwhile Robert M and his generals will hang on to the bitter end, cracking skulls, laughing at the UK and even worse than that at their own African neighbours, all of whom seem frozen, indifferent and so bottled out they can hardly say a thing. Truth has fallen (did it ever stand?).

Meanwhile I've discovered that the NHS Cafe (in a Fife hospital) has banned the sale of Coca-Cola as it contains too much sugar. However in a brilliant piece of food policing they continue to sell cakes, sweets, Irn-Bru, Pot Noodles etc. etc. There's nothing like this kind of ridiculous "healthy" posturing to destroy credibility and completely baffle patients and punters alike.

Song of the day - Frankie's Gun by the Felice Brothers.
Meal of the day - Six Pack by Burger King,
Shirt of the day - White George at about £7.99.
Riff of the day - Black Dog.
Athlete's foot of the day - Small red patch on right pinkie toe.
Question of the day - What's on in Madison Square Garden this summer?
Result of the day - 3 - 0 to Spain.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


A shortage of muffins and cakes but a decent scoop of ice cream.

Stuffed crust pizza, chips and cocktail sausages.

Rain that plays with the hair on the back of your neck under brooding skies.

Mid-summer in Finland, heavy rock, vodka and fish heads.

The wind blows a party and horse trials down our un-named street.

The changing colours of the inside of the compost heap.

Recycling unnecessary packaging again and again.

The postman brings materials, gifts and bits for i.pods from Amazon.

Driving on summer headlights.

Another day at the office and far away puddles.

Things past remembered and the concept of negative time (before time) explored.

Monday, June 23, 2008

A few things are wrong

A few things are wrong with me, primarily physically (but you can never really know the root cause of anything) and mainly minor. Most irritating is a mysterious tiny red blob on the ball of my foot (thankfully not the foot of my...etc.). I'm crediting this new crippling and annoying red mass to an insect bite of some kind. Insects being small and only able to bite or sting are of course easy to blame for things and because of their inherent creepy crawly nature deserve all they get. Anyway I think I must have stood on this one a few days ago in the garden and now it's getting some horrid revenge from it's tiny unmarked grave somewhere in the sole of my sandals. I'm sure this could be seen as some kind of Karmic thing - if only I believed in the power of Karma.

I also cut my finger by absent mindedly picking up a sharp kitchen knife that was hiding in a tea-towel, that little nick hurt like Hell and nearly caused me to forget the Pop-Tarts (another burn hazard - see my long suffering right thumb) and the boiled egg (pick those mothers up hot from the pot and split them with a knife = more pain). Perhaps kitchens and sharp objects are best avoided when you're in a spiral of self induced pain production. The good news is that I seemed to manage to go all weekend without banging my head on anything, falling down the stairs, hurting my back by looking too long at a spade or getting a paper cut.

I should also write a bit about Strimmer injuries, flying stones, thorns, nettles and "objects d'art" that fly up and pepper your legs and goggles and embed themselves in any exposed flesh. Yes I have learned to wear goggles and despite the head strap cutting the blood supply to the brain (not always helpful but the cause of colourful, happy hallucinations), my sight has now been saved many times over. Protective clothing, though frowned upon in France and other under-developed countries has at least found it's way into Scotland. Thank you B&Q.

Karmic revenge also seems to work on the hurried use of any kind of Sellotape. I've noticed that the more urgent the need to wrap a gift then the more difficult it can be to find the end of the tape. Of course many modern aids exist that should prevent this from happening (a sonic screwdriver?), sadly we don't have any. Our strategy is to have many rolls of tape, all stubbornly stuck at the point where their ends have disappeared into some invisible mass of tape that cannot be found and attack the roll with scissors. The other deciding factor in this is how recently you have cut (to the quick) your fingernails. This drastic pruning of said nails happens a few hours after a black finger nail experience (previous posts) and then renders any Sellotape manoeuvres completely off limits. I will not give in to this and reserve the right to rebel against these cruel universal rules which frankly must be the fault of either the fervent prayers of Muslims hoping to confound the infidels or a direct result of my bad thoughts about the hysterical and nonsensical headlines in the Daily Mail.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The most evil...

So what is the most evil thing in the universe (at the moment)? Funny the thoughts you have on a Sunday afternoon when really some shirts need ironing, broken things need mending and the thundery air outside waits impatiently to be taken on a tour of my lungs. Vashta Nerada, various forms of narrow eyed Islam, various forms of arrogant Christianity, various forms of ridiculous Satanism, various forms of Western indifference, cheap cartoons, the advertising industry, oil tycoons, despots, smug self righteous super models and the people who insist on releasing new and unwanted versions of Kit-Kat biscuits. When will they learn?

Today I purchased a new frying pan, a red dot Tefal super pan from Homebase. The packaging promises perfectly cooked food, a robust non-stick surface, it's easy to clean and it may manage to give the owner a happy life in which all kinds of resident evil(s) can be avoided. It can also be used, in extreme circumstances, to batter those pesky Vashta Nerada or Fascist extremists should they come scuttling across the floor of your kitchen whilst being pursued by the food police or green militants. Not bad for £14.99.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Bad Wolf

Wolf City: Is it the best Prog-Rock album ever? Is it better than a resprayed black Delorean with 666 number plate? Is it a predestined piece of prophetic rock heavy metal treason to add further weight to the "Bad Wolf" in Dr Who? Possibly and probably and in effect none of these. The Bad Wolf in Dr Who is a recurring theme, a metaphor and a person, a landmark and a milestone. The clues are of course hidden in the detail and graffiti of every episode like a giant conspiracy formulated by Russell T Davies, you have to keep your eyes wide open people. It is the end of the world as we know it and very little shall be revealed.

Funnily enough tonight during the Dr Who episode we experienced a series of time travel problems brought about by using Sky plus and pausing real-time TV. We inadvertently created a time paradox by stalling on a Euro 2008 prompt whilst recording. This resulted in us having to fast forward the recording whilst it was still recording, as we had had lost the real time (back in time by 5 minutes) version. Confused? You should be. Shine on Mr Wolf.

"Oh Rose, thou art sick! The invisible worm That flies in the night, In the howling storm, Has found out thy bed Of crimson joy, And his dark secret love Does thy life destroy."

Friday, June 20, 2008

Delorean Blues

Some months after it was released I've discovered the Neon Neon album "Stainless Style". A concept album about the life of the great, misunderstood, crooked crook, visionary and egotist that was John Delorean. I can't think of a better idea for a themed album in any musical genre. Of course this one is all over the place as SFA meets disco, rap and electronica with a few Star Wars references and a sweaty Raquel Welch thrown in. It's dark, seedy, stained, stainless and truly bizarre. Having heard it a few times now (I quite enjoyed it on a new VW Passat's stereo dawdling up a crammed M40) I'm almost prepared to not give up on the music business.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Man on the moon

The logic of having faith often escapes me but then I do believe that NASA did put a man on, in and around the moon a lifetime ago. Those cigarette smoking, crew cut scientists of the sixties using electrical equipment averaging the size of a cast iron refrigerator and tons of explosive fuel actually put a man on the moon. That I'm astounded by this, believing in it and am puzzled by it, all at the same time says a little (or a lot) about my age and state of mind. Sometimes you look a technology and think, where did it all go so wrong for us?

A good example of simple complication is that ultra reliable process of purchasing goods on the the Internet. Pay your dosh and wait on the delivery. All fine until you're not in to sign for the brown shiny package and it's a hike to the depot and a gallon of unleaded to collect that elusive prize held in check by a load of grumpy guys all on the minimum wage. That in turn reminds me of my ambivalent relationship with petrol. I use it but never see it, never spill it, touch it, only tug at it and irritate it with my right foot to spray it through some tiny fireman's hose into a blazing engine and it's converted into energy and blue smoke and gone leaving only a ghostly image on my credit card, like a frozen imprint on the moon's face. You only know what you've got when it's gone and when you have created a carbon footprint far bigger than Neil Armstrong's.

Fevered memories of the day and significant things:

Tie of the day - blue speckled M&S now a little frayed at the bottom.
Coffee of the day - first cup of Gold Blend, at work at 0745.
Meal of the day - an Ali special of rice, salami and various left overs and vegetables.
Song of the day - "Useless Money" by Impossible songs (in development).
Drink of the day - Grouse + 4 ice cubes.
Goal of the day - Ballack in 49 minutes against Austria.
Chord of the day - Cmj7 as used in many songs by the Velvet Underground.
Websearch of the day - How to buy live stock.
Bank balance of the day - £97.80.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Skull of Crystal Tips

It's a really bad film but it's a really good film in the way that Star Wars III was and James Bond can be and the last Chili Peppers album wasn't. So Indiana Jones returns to the screen older, more tired, not much wiser and with the voice of a 65 year old, grumpy action-hero. The battle is against those eternal enemies of the common American man, aliens and Reds so it's a no-brainer on who wins out...cue the intelligent troupe of monkeys, the indigenous natives with blow-pipes who never win and the ironic prairie dogs.

For Father's Day I ventured out into the wide world (with my thirteen year olds) to view local classic cars, buses, motor cycles, steam engines and general motorized junk from ages past, some of it even older than me, all on show at Lathalmond in Fife. I was in my greasy element staring into restored interiors, under blasted and painted bonnets and admiring huge and tiny engines, all robbed by enthusiasts of the chance to rest at the end of a long life. In the classic car world, once you dodge the compactor it's an eternal life of shows, pampering, waxing and no road tax for you. What did I like best (apart from yet another buffalo burger and a melting 99)?

A gleaming 1969 Wolseley 16/60 exactly the same as my first car (but it never did gleam).
Seeing open ended buses and describing to my kids how you could leap onto and off them while they moved - exhilarating and dangerous as I recall.
A VW micro bus in Irn-Bru colours - oh yes I want one.
A yellow Ferrari Dino - not really practical at all.
A Triumph Tiger motorcycle (not unlike my first mc).
A great, puffing traction engine that smelt like some kind of weird coal burning heaven.
3 Ford Mustangs in a row.
An old green lawnmower and a red pedal car.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Black finger-nail day

It's been a while since I had one but today was a black finger-nail day. The nails are not black with nail-varnish but engine oil and gunk and road grime. I had the socket set out, screwdrivers all over the place and the car all jacked up as I tried to fix my suddenly defunct windscreen washers on Mr Cougar. Ford have cunningly hidden the pump and washer system inside the front wheel arch so a road wheel, the front valance and the inner wing all have to be removed to access the beast. After a few hours struggling with rusty fasteners in the hot sun I had a clear route into the area and thankfully it was just a case of reconnecting a hose that had come away from the pump and taping it up. All done with only a few scratches, minor bruises, graveled knees and (most likely for the rest of the weekend) black finger-nails. All in all a fairly satisfying experience. Now for a spot of cookery...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

King Burger

Can there ever be a greater burger than the BK Angus? All others fade into insignificance and at only a white Victorian fiver for a meal (chips + strawberry milk shake) is there any better way to get vital proteins into a pale, thin, artistic body and tomato stains on your tie? I don't think so. No doubt Frankie and Bennie do a nice cheeseburger, McDs do bargains and if I was in the US I'd go for a Wendy's or Checkers but here in South Queensferry where choice is a little more limited then it has to be BK. As the incredible (what's green and sits in the corner) sulk would say "nuff said".

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

ubuntu utnubu

Constant change is here to stay. One of the problems of turning grey on the top is the prospect of also turning grey on the inside and becoming cautious about if not afraid of change, or at the very least trying something different. So (in a Simpson's newsreader voice) I'm happy to announce my new but not fully consummated love affair with ubuntu (software that is). This free, openly developed software that mimics all we know and love in Windows and MS office has to be worth a try, at the worst it can only cause me a few small seizures and some chronic time wasting. At best it will open an orange and yellow rainbow of delights into my dark and stilted world of no risk and experimentation computing. We shall see.

Speaking of computers what do we need them for anyway? Apart from writing and reading this stuff, managing a few bank accounts and pin numbers and telling you the mpg of your rapidly depreciating car what good are they? Once I'm bored with ubuntu, fed up with facebook and played out on I'll lie back, let old age sweetly wash over me and read a few books through my bottle-bottomed specs whilst slurping away my pension in red wine. There's a real change for us all to grasp at.

Men find that shopping is more stressful than fighting in the Battle of Bannockburn or dodging shells at the Somme. It's official but not really my actual opinion of how things are. The queues at Tesco can be grim and padding around in Jenners tedious, but it's not quite the same as having a mad Englishman running at you with a rusty spear first thing in the morning.

Food of the day: A banana dipped into a Muller fruit corner (oh yeah).

Drink of the day: Hot chocolate from the machine in our conference room.

Song of the day: "I told her on Alderon" by Neon Neon.

Book of the day: Dr Drum's manual.

Web page of the day: "Five Easy Pieces"on Wikipedia.

Weather of the day: Rain from 1700 onwards.

Cat of the day: Smudge for her incessant mewing.
List of the day: Not this one anyway.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Euro 2008 running in the background

It's with a certain interested detachment that I'm watching Euro 2008. From a distance whilst doing other things and stuffing strange objects into vacant time gaps you could say (but probably wouldn't). So it's the kind of Scottish summer we've become used to, a major sporting event takes place and we have no involvement apart from office sweeps and interrupted TV schedules. The pundits are all finding it particularly hard this year and the coverage is comprehensive but wafer thin in terms of it's passion and actual content. Nobody in the BBC cares who wins as long as it's not the French or Germans and my soft spots are for Croatia and Portugal for no good reason and as yet I've still to watch more than twenty minutes straight of any match. Perhaps I need to introduce a little more beer and crisps into the equation.
Ok, its now 21.45, two packets of crisps and some lager later Holland have beaten Italy 3 - 0. It seems that some strange, dark magic from the deep mists of time is starting to take effect.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Reach for the ambience

The weekend's nearly over and we are sunburned and worn out for various reasons. All meals (with the exception of breakfasts) have been al fresco, all cooking has been experimental, all drinking has been necessary to avoid the twin horrors of dehydration and reality, clothes have been functional and loose and our attitude remains a healthy mixture of positive, reflective and de-constructionist. Speaking of which I have managed to deconstruct some of the skin from my hands, mainly thanks to the rough edges of garden implements such as spades and heavy, unforgiving materials like concrete slabs, the guitar playing hasn't suffered mind you. A little rough skin is perfect for the Johnny Cash dunk-dada-dunk C to F to G7 sequences I'm perfecting along with my associate the good Dr Drum, I've no idea where it's all leading. Many new plants and seeds have been scattered across the garden and puzzled birds and squirrels observe all and try to correct their bearings in this seismic shift.

Today's under 13 football match was disappointing, the cruel and unmanicured pitches of the so called "garden city" (Rosyth) were useless and as there were no stanchions on the goal posts our team coloured nets could not be erected. We also got beat by a Kelty side that didn't really look up for the job but still managed to do it. Sunday is often the worst day of the week for football dads and soccer mums. Next week we'll try bigger bottles of Lucozade, the veiled threat of physical punishment and avoiding shouting anything intelligible or helpful from the touch lines.

Politicians - I'm fed up with politicians who are:

a) Unmarried, middle-aged, have no children and are clueless about real life.
b) Unable to drive and dont know how to operate a petrol pump.
c) Professional politicians who have never had a job outside of politics or Trade Union business.
d) Tory toffs with independent wealth and total detachment.
e) Scrounging socialist bastards who screw the system for every penny of expenses and their "creature comforts".

(I've nothing much of a creative nature to offer on this topic).

I'm also fed up with the UK media's covering of the USA's ridiculous pantomime of primary, pre-presidential money wasting, flag waving and utter drivel speech-mongering. Who gives a toss who gets elected in the US? Which ever grinning puppet gets in we're all on a hand-cart to Walmart via Hollywood anyway. I do love America so.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Busiest day of the year

We dug a hole the size of the Titanic.
We scattered stones and graded earth.
We drank beer and toiled under the hot sun.
I put up a fence.
We listened to Aim - Flight 602.
We talked about Uhersky Brod.
We laughed and gulped and were stunned at Little Miss Sunshine.
We ate chicken and salad and sweets.
The world turned some kind of revolution.
Football kicked off in Europe but we watched Dr Who and remained puzzled.
We hummed songs that are not written yet.
The washing machine took an awful beating. We built a water slide with a hose pipe, Fairy Liquid and a tarpaulin. It's hard to get some rest these days and the kitchen was in a terrible mess. The cat's remained laying low on account of a serious amount of small children running about. We waved at a tractor. A huge beetle was discovered along with long worms, they have all been living amongst us for some time it appears. We may well be up to no good. There is a bicycle in my boot. A large Kit-Kat and two phone calls of a work related nature. My grandchildren hosed down my dirty feet and sandals at the end of another epic day out in the garden. The tools were all very useful but the wheel barrow remains my favourite. Lara Croft films are a complete crock, so some people say. Opening Jiffy Bags in panic mode slows the overall process - thank you and goodnight Amazon.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Sweat like Jonny Cash

Uhersky Brod playing at the Phoenix 04/06. Scott Renton, Bruce Thomson and Paul Cumming (minus Dylan Matthews). I joined the band for the set by playing djembi badly from the edge. Some thoughtful and clever music from this eclectic trio with an uncompromising Scottish rasp and a black sense of humour. It all can be savored in a new, beautifully packaged cd called vz.61. A Skorpion vz.61 is the locally built small arms weapon produced in the town of Uhersky Brod which forms the subject matter for a song written and performed by "the Brods". My own favourite "Nae Drama" ended the set. When will we see their like again? Underground and unsigned: There is a huge raft of talented, careful and careless writers and performers out there, playing, performing and getting on with life whilst the wider world focuses on the trite and manufactured music that makes the media moguls rich. This unfocused but real band of musicians form an informal community that keeps some age old dream alive, writing about what they see and how they live - not a bad thing to be a small part of. The role call present last night included: Impossible Songs, CBQ, Tommy Mackay, James Jamieson, Nyk Stoddart, Fi Thom, Darren Thornberry, Ian Sclater, the Beggar Girls, Peter Micheal Rowan, Dave O'Hara and Jim Igoe. (I may have missed a few but...)

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Reasons to be cheerful

Black Hole Thinking

If you've ever felt you've dug yourself a black hole and then fallen into the black hole of your own making then you'll perhaps know how I feel at times. It's as if normal thinking, basic instincts of survival and good sense elude you, you are in the moment and you act, you act in a natural way not realising you have taken a step into a black hole. That is how it all begins.

Welcome to the non-world but real enough world of Black Hole Thinking. If only it was Black Whole Thinking, then all the possibilities would be covered but no, it is a hole, a space, a void, an empty place and once you've disappeared into this hole there is only one workable strategy possible, hang on and tolerate (enjoy is not possible) the ride. You may be lucky enough to become a little numb during the ride, you may be able to bite your tongue or the fleshy part of your thumb and so divert the pain, that does work for a short time. You may close your eyes and try to drift into some safe place but you have no real protection there. The Black Hole bites.

The journey through the Black Hole nicely defies the laws of life and physics, up can be down or sideways, out can be in or inside out, time can be quick and breathtaking or crawl like an alligator in the sun on downers. Negatives spin sharp and cut, positives charge and electrocute, Black Holes are charged full of all the stuff you'd want to avoid but you can't like boxes of cutlery dropping and china cups smashing over and over again. Still you cling onto the belief you can make it and slide through this inky interior that is nothing substantial but remains real in the moment.

Then comes the final jolt and the searing heat of re-entry, crashing back into the place you left without the aid of a parachute and into cold water. It's a kind of life but nobody should ever know it.
So now you are at the other end, bruised but alive and armed with the handy tool of persistent optimism and a poor short term memory. The experience is there as a shadow in the mind but gone like a stitched up nightmare in the morning. You run your fingers through your own hair, pat your head, scratch your chin and rub your eyes...time for a cup of coffee.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Vashta Nerada explained

Staying on the subject of Dr Who and the Vashta Nerada as featured in the latest episode (the Vashta name means "shadows that melt the flesh"), these bad boy shadows are in fact (or in fiction) microscopic beings that swarm all over the universe and eat meat in a rapid piranha kind of fashion but without the trashing and biting. If you're worried at all about this tricky creature(s) then perhaps it's better to sleep with the light on (as if that would help).This link may explain more and also lead into all sorts of murky truths and facts about Dr Who, most of which are of no interest to me at all:

In a (for us strangely) TV dominated weekend Lost reached a series finale climax last night. Lots of lost type things happened, ending in that modern time-lapse kind of way with the Island going of every body's radar, the ship blowing up, the helicopter ditching and the confused (but never hungry) survivors making a pact to lie about their experiences (groan!). Now they are back amongst us, the critics, the bewildered viewers and the many millions more who couldn't care less. So long and thanks for all the endless enigmas.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Vashta Nerada

It's hard to think of a sci-fi TV franchise more patchy and troublesome than Dr Who. In the BBC's hands it's been created, deleted, ignored, developed and finally has matured into it's current mildly compulsive form and been a mega-earner for spin of products and other series. Having said that it remains on a constant pivot point between absolute crap and brilliance, maybe that is the secret of it's survival. A great idea that is both enhanced and pillaged on a weekly basis, slave to rubbish acting, BBC contract players and dodgy production values ultimately saved by now and again good scripts, modern CGI and some kind of intrinsic x-factor that holds it all together. Perhaps it's the (good) Time Lords themselves that actually maintain it as a future-proof PR stunt. The producers of Lost, Heroes and the like must look at it and think WTF.

Thanks to Sky Plus we watched Saturday's show this evening (Sunday) after a heavy curry and a few glasses of wine, this seems to have had the desired effect on the quality and credibility of the episode, roll on next week's undoubtedly spiky conclusion.