Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Dirty Dozen

Okay, okay. We can finally talk about it. It's been long enough since the 5-0 home debacle that I actually forgot (for a couple of minutes yesterday) who the team was that handed Portland its worst home loss in history. It really does feel like an eternity since that match, the obvious product of the 12-day break between games.

Over said eternity, the Timbers made some interesting and undoubtedly difficult roster moves, dropping Aaron Heinzen and S. Saunders. Both will be missed for the quality and unique people they are, if not for their abilities on the pitch. Heinzen's athleticism and Saunders' toughness could prove difficult to replace.

The Sunday after the debacle may have been Father's Day, but I half expected my two and a half year old daughter to skip past the happy dad's day greeting an ask me the same question a zillion other people did that day, i.e. What happened to the Timbers last night? The clinical answer would have been to say the worse home loss in team history, but mostly I opted for the glass half full response of as bad as the score was, it's only one game and the team is still in second place. Now if Montreal comes to PGE on Thursday and brings a whooping stick, I may have to adjust my sunny view.

All and all, this has been a rough month and July can't come soon enough. I'm starting to wonder if either Heinzen or Aaran Lines found a Tiki idol in Puerto Rico (like Greg Brady did in Hawaii) and failed to return it to some ancient cave. Think about it - Greg nearly drowned, Lines separated his shoulder and missed a key stretch, and Heinzen was sent packing. All three had been surfing off the coast of a former or current U.S. Territory. Coincidence? I think not.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Ax to the Road

The moment is upon us. It's time to give this blog an official name. The secret ballots have been collected and tabulated by international auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, and the winner is... Ax to the Road, submitted by Obi-Wan. My sincere thanks to everyone who submitted a suggestion. Booth Jockey Confidential, Soylent Green, etc. - great stuff. The grand prize will be delivered to the Bull Pen following Saturday's match against Rochester.

Speaking of home matches... It seems strange to suggest that a home win over Puerto Rico was huge, but based on how things have transpired lately, it was the closest thing to a "must win" this season. Great to see Hugo back on form, and Dizzy continues to establish himself as the hardest working target man in the league. Keep eating those burritos big man.

After the match I had a chance meeting with the granddaughter of Mr. Swangard, who's name is affixed to the home stadium of the dreaded Vancouver Whitecaps. She allegedly roots for the Timbers, but claims to have no power to lift the Swangard Curse, an evil spell that has limited Portland to one victory in 1,238 matches on British Columbian soil. For all I know, she could be a double agent and should be approached with extreme caution on match days.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Prematch Jitters

As if tonight's match doesn't have the potential to be nerve wracking enough, I'm loading up on caffeine at a Portland cafe. It just seems like the logical nouveau blogger thing to do, especially here in P-town. Plus, I wrote yesterday's post on a desktop computer, which didn't feel right, so I had to get back on the trusty iBook before it started feeling neglected.

I get the sense that the faithful Army members are anxiously awaiting tonight's contest. It took only until 12:20 p.m. for me to spot my first 107 shirt of the day downtown. After yesterday's quality burrito, I ventured back to Chipotle again this afternoon and saw a fella sporting the colors. Unfortunately, the line was so long that I never made it all the way through in time to introduce myself or give the obligatory two-handed ax chopping salute. Yesterday it was Scot and Diz, today the person behind me was an old friend from my days working for the Portland Pride/Pythons indoor team that I haven't seen in a few years. There is definitely some kind of weird soccer Field of Dreams thing going on at the Grill. "If you build it, they will come." Who knew that "it" was a burrito.

Well I planned on this session lasting longer, but the coffee at this joint is atrocious and their WIFI connection is on the fritz. First and last trip here. The new name will be up tomorrow in conjunction with some post match thoughts. Go Timbers!

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

New Name Coming Soon

Three whole days without a post. If I wasn't exposed as an amateur blogger before, this is the clincher. Technically it is a travel-related digi-journal, but with no road trips in sight for nearly a month, I fear it may drift away into cyperspace never to be viewed again if I don't occasionally update it throughout the upcoming homestand.

The list of entries for the Name the Blog contest has been whittled down to five and submitted to a four-person panel for final voting. It's bound to be a tight race for the crown. Should the winning entry be unable to fulfill its duties, cause a horrific streak of bad luck and losing, or pose for revealing photographs in a non tasteful periodical, the second runner-up will elevated to the banner position. The winner will be announced by the end of the week.

Puerto Rico hits PGE Park tomorrow and the Timbers are more than ready to level the score. I just ran into Dizzy and Scot Thompson at the new Chipotle Grill near Portland State and they said practice has gone well this week. I'm going out on a limb and predicting that Hugo will resume his starting roll against the Islanders and the Boys in Green will score at least one goal in the first half.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

10,000 Miles in the Books

Shonna (L) and Diane: Team Players
Originally uploaded by Slax.
Oh the agony of it all.

The bus just pulled out from in front of Swangard Stadium, barely a half hour after the Timbers nearly pulled off the comeback of the season. Trailing 2-0 with 12 minutes to play, the boys scored twice, including an incredible strike from Edwin Miranda in stoppage time. The euphoria enveloping the bench area and section occupied by the Timbers' Army folks who made the drive up lasted all but 20 seconds as Vancouver took the kickoff down the field and scored to snatch back the win.

There is a collective feel of dumbfoundedness among the travel party, which numbers 25 for the ride home. Loyal staffers Shonna and Diane traveled by train and bus all day to make the match and are now forced to endure a six or seven hour drive back to Portland with an estimated time of arrival between 4 and 5 a.m. They almost didn't make it as their train had to make a sudden stop to avoid a possible collision that required an impromptu inspection of the train.

Leave it to Sam Reynolds to assume the role of team mom and lessen the angst. He just broke out a box of Chips A'Hoy cookies for the group and popped a Dave Chappelle DVD into the machine on the bus.

Great showing from the Army tonight. They greeted the team bus coming and going from the stadium, gestures sincerely appreciated by the squad.

Chappelle is cracking me up, making it impossible to continue this right now. Maybe more later...

We made it across the border without incident, although I was in panic mode for a few minutes while frantically searching for my passport. It ended up being in my suitcase underneath the bus. The customs officer that I had to show it to was very excited to learn I was born in New Jersey, citing that she hadn't seen a passport with that birthplace in a couple of years. Sounds like an exciting line of work she has chosen.

We stopped at a grocery store and loaded up on supplies for the endless journey down I-5. The last time we made this leg the bus blew a tire in Federal Way, adding another hour to the trek. Fingers are crossed that Vern's lucky vest will pull us through this time.

I'm anxious to read the latest Name the Blog suggestions when I go online tomorrow. I've got an early favorite, but now that the prize has been solidified, I expect a surge in creativity in the coming days. As there won't be any travel in the near future, effectively rendering a travel blog dormant, the next update will be to name the NTB winning entry.

The Bus grew wings and flew us down the interstate in record time, pulling into the Best Western parking lot by Delta Park at 3:40 a.m. The lads will have two days of rest before resuming training in preparation for Thursday's home match vs. Puerto Rico. Be on the lookout for the contest winner in the coming days, but until then, cheers to all and thanks for reading this thing!

Friday, June 10, 2005

Fancy a jube?

With a full morning and afternoon in Vancouver, prior to tonight's match, the non-playing crew made the most of the downtime with another trip into downtown. Collin, JT, Aaran and I took the Skytrain in and expanded our dining horizons by visting a different earls (on Robson) for lunch. As you can probably tell by now, we can't get enough of this place when north of the border. From earls, we loaded up at Starbucks for a walk to Stanley Park, an impressive, sprawling park with lots of trails and paths that wind down to the water. Aaran befriended a chipmunk, an animal not found in his native New Zealand, and also provided the title of this post by offering each us some of his chewy candies in Kiwi speak.

We are about an hour away from departing for Swangard Stadium, the site of many past disappointments for the Boys in Green. Collin and I both have the feeling that Byron is going to break out against the 'Caps. Tune in to find out...

Mission Accomplished

Name the Blog Signed Napkin
Originally uploaded by Slax.
Thursday night in Vancouver was a success. It took less than five minutes to collect all of the signatures for the earls cocktail napkin that will be awarded to the winner of the Name the Blog contest.

Timber Collin Romer, the Portland PR guy, and General Jim Taylor are on this trip, so I ventured out with them to downtown Vancouver post dinner at earls. The real 'Couve is definitely a very cool city, if you've never been.

It's Friday morning, and we're heading back downtown for some coffee and lunch. This time, we're bringing Aaran Lines with us, as he is out for tonight's match with a shoulder strain.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Heading to the original 'Couve

After just one day of R&R at home, we are back out on the road to put the wraps on our nearly 10,000 mile four-match trip. Per our normal Vancouver routine, we are on a Raz bus with our regular Northwest coach captain Vern, an older chap well north of 60 who occasionally drives by Braille, utilizing the turtle bumps on I-5 to guide him. It's not as big of a deal this time of day, but it can become rather nerve wracking on late night/early morning rides back home.

Yesterday was the Timbers' monthly day to utilize the Nike Employee Store, so the lads are all geared up with new duds, shoes and eyewear. It's hard to beat a 49% discount, especially for most of the young guys scraping by on nothing but their USL First Division contracts. Hurley (now owned by Nike) seems to be the most popular stuff among the squad. I grabbed a pair of "The Producer" shades, definitely an impulse buy. I guess they are the kind of sunglasses you wear if you're a Hollywood exec. If we had stopped in Tacoma, I would have picked up a mullet wig and could have been all set for Halloween.

We made a pit stop just south of Tukwilla so the boys could stretch their legs and Vern could have a smoke. I assume that we will plow through to the border from here.

A couple hours later... We made it past the border without incident. One time last year, Vern pulled away before being authorized to leave and set off sirens and flashing lights while customs agents chased the bus on foot. The border crossings are always interesting when traveling with the green card crew and Fadi, who's passport is from a country our president included in the Axis of Evil.

The team is scheduled to have a training session after we check in at the hotel, and then it's off to earls for some outstanding Canadian cuisine.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Chicago O'Hare

No postgame entry from last night. The match against P.R. - a 2-0 defeat - was hardly worth rehashing. Considering it was the third game in as many countries (okay Puerto Rico is practically the 51st state, but it has its own Olympic team and Ms. Universe contestant, so I'm granting them at least partial country status) over a four-day period, it was hardly a shocker. To give you perspective on how twisted and medieval this scheduling is, Aaran Lines, a 10-year pro, had never played back-to-back games in his life (let alone three in four days) before this trip and suffered a nasty shoulder injury for his efforts last night. All told, the Timbers garnered three points from this trip and actually moved up a spot in the standings to third, so no one among us is ready to push the panic button just yet.

The main excitement and entertainment yesterday took place prematch, when we all became extras in the latest installment of the Speed movie series, minus Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock. Our blue tuned-out school bus weaved its way through rush hour traffic with a police escort, driving in the breakdown lane, cutting off fellow motorists and nearly running over one of the Motorcycle cops in the process. It was awesome.

Much to my dismay, the blog's resident Cheerleading expert, Sam Reynolds, was in the locker room during the Islanders' dance team routine last night, so they will have to remain unranked. It's too bad, as I think they had a real shot at unseating the Rhinettes at the top of the table.

We are in the midst of an airport delay in Chicago, extending what was already scheduled to be a 12-hour travel stretch. Needless to say, the boys are looking forward to an off day tomorrow before resuming the road show on Thursday with a bus trip to Vancouver, B.C. I just polished off my 138th and final salad of the trip. I feel just like I did at the end of the Portland Marathon a few years back: I did it, and have no desire to ever do it again.

The big news bubbling out from PGE Park's executive wing is that this blog has been picked up for a second edition, starting on Thursday. As it's primary author, I think it needs a snappier name. Suggestions can be sent to Collin Romer or myself, and if your proposed moniker is chosen you'll win a cocktail napkin from earl's Restaurant in Burnaby, autographed by the Timbers.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Postallnet Internet Cafe, San Juan

My online withdrawal is over! After wandering for a half mile or so, I stumbled upon an "internet cafe" that is basically like a UPS Store with a couple tables and an espresso machine. After battling with the broadband modem at the hotel for too long, I'll take it. It's an overcast day here in San Juan, but the temperature is a tropical 80 degrees or so. This morning the squad went for a walk on the beach to stretch out, and a few of the boys waded into the warm waters for some brief body surfing, making me wish I hadn't worn cargo shorts. It took some work, but we talked most of the foreign guys into wearing their training shorts instead of speedos. The pace here is even slower than the West Coast, which takes some getting used to. That holds true for walking and restaurant service, but not for driving for some reason. San Juan is different than I expected - lots of luxury cars and clean streets for the most part. I guess I expected more of a third world feel.

The atmosphere among the team is pretty relaxed. The win at Toronto definitely took some pressure off and re-energized everyone. No one is taking the Islanders lightly, but the general consensus is that Friday's match at Vancouver is the more important of the two remaining on this trip.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Best Western Hotel Pierre, San Juan, Puerto Rico

Not sure when this entry will actually make it up on the web as I have a bum high-speed modem in my hotel room here in San Juan. I just spent the past half hour talking with tech support in Georgia trying to figure out the problem and the consensus was a bad modem. The two guys I spoke with, one Indian and one Irishman, were the nicest tech support people I've ever dealt with even though we made no progress. Worse case, I can wander the streets in the morning looking for a WI-FI connection.

We had a very long travel day today, leaving the hotel in Rochester at 8:00 a.m. and arriving at our hotel here in P.R. at 8:30 p.m. We were picked up in a suped-up blue school bus at the airport and driven very quickly and rather wildly to the hotel. The bus has no shocks and the driver used his horn at least 12 times. The horn thing is clearly cultural as I was honked at for being five yards from a car (on the sidewalk no less) turning into the grocery store across from the hotel.

The team's elder statesmen and I went out to a local restaurant for some authentic P.R. cuisine. Clean water is an issue here, so I had to get creative in order to keep the salad streak in tact, opting for plantains stuffed with chicken. We knew the place was going to be good by the fact that it had zero ambiance and was packed with locals. We had to wait nearly 20 minutes for a table late on a Sunday night, but it was worth it.

Tomorrow, I'm told, we'll have a police escort for the 45-minute ride to the stadium - common practice in most countries I've been to outside of the U.S. Training will consist of a walk down to the beach and some light running and stretching. There was plenty of speculation during the day about whether or not there will be a speedo sighting among the squad.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Shell Snack Shack, Toronto

Three points in the bank! The boys responded tonight with a big 1-0 victory over the winless Toronto Lynx. Just what the doctor ordered after opening the trip with a loss last night. Pizzas have been consumed by most of the squad and we're making a pit stop for hydration on the three-hour (or so) tour back to Rochester. It was a dominating performance, for the most part, despite the accusation by a guy in the press box that we had our "12th man on the field tonight... the official." Had I not been on the air, I would have told him that I didn't realize we were playing a swim team, with all the diving that was going on out there (budumpum).

On behalf of Dizzy, apologies to the FCC for some of the comments picked up by the effects mic tonight. If someone had randomly stumbled on the broadcast at one point, they may have thought they were listening to the Howard Stern show. While it would be flattering to find out Michael Powell listens to the Timbers on the net, I highly doubt he's a soccer fan.

The Toronto cheerleaders were not old enough to be included in Sam's Rankings (read the 11:49 a.m. entry for reference). With Michael Jackson's current legal woes all over the news, Sam quickly backtracked after briefly ranking them ahead of Minnesota.

Grabbed a diet cola and a granola bar (closest thing I could find to a salad at a gas station) at the Shell Snack Shack.

Niagara Falls, Ontario

We just completed a two-hour stop on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. Evidently, this place is some kind of tourist attraction, complete with a wax museum, the Guinness Book of World Records exhibit (the giant Guinness sign got Finnegan and I excited for a split second until we realized exactly what it was), a casino, endless shops selling My Parents Went to Niagara Falls and All I Got was this Dumb T-Shirt t-shirts, and clowns making balloons. Definitely a very bizarre combination of natural beauty and cheezy glitz. Speaking of cheese, Aaron Heinzen had the cheesiest plate of chicken pasta I've ever seen at lunch. I went with - you guessed it - salad No. 5 in as many meals (augmented with some soup). I'm fairly certain I don't have OCD, but it's starting to provide me with a twisted form of amusement for myself on this long, strange trip. The bus is silent now as we roll on to Toronto, with everyone in game face mode and/or resting. I better fire up the iPod with some early Police to get myself ready for the radio broadcast. Nothing like a little Reggetta De Blanc to loosen up the vocal chords.

I-585, somewhere between Rochester and Buffalo

We are on the road to Toronto for the second game of this four-match trip from the fiery underworld, currently 36 miles from Niagara Falls. Finnegan from the Timbers Army is with us for the ride, and we've been rehashing last night's debacle for the first few miles of this leg. Everyone pretty much has the same take on what happened, which hopefully will translate into a different start to tonight's match against the Lynx, who drew with Montreal, 0-0, last night. The added pressure on the Timbers is the fact that Toronto has yet to win a match this season and no one wants to be the first to fall against them. Finnegan, rookie goalkeeper Sam Reynolds and I were discussing Josh Saunders' play in goal last night, and we were in agreement that his performance could not be faulted despite the result. Sam also noted that Rochester's cheerleaders - The Rhinettes - out performed the cheerleaders from Minnesota that we witnessed earlier in the year. Should this blog continue throughout the rest of the season, I'll ask Sam to provide updates on his rankings.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Rochester Rumblings

Day 2 of this wild journey is about to come to a close and the result of Match 1 was not good: 3-1 Rochester. The 16-match unbeaten streak (regular season) is and was history. The silver lining is that the Timbers got down by three goals early and didn't pack up and leave. They made sure the Rhinos stayed off the scoreboard for the final 56-plus minutes, while tallying a goal of their own. Better days lie ahead, but the streak had to end sometime, so why not on the road against a quality foe?

This blog thing - my first, if you've yet to read the earlier installments - is starting to encompass all of my down time. I find myself constantly thinking about how to spice it up, provide inside information, etc., without breaking the No. 1 rule of professional sports travel. You know, what happens in Vegas... But seriously, this group is solid with enough veterans to police any problematic behavior. Anyway, back to my original thought, I'm not reading or playing my guitar nearly as much as I normally do on the road, thanks to my newfound WI-FI abilities and blogging duties. The price of cyber-pseudo-fame is steep.

Everyone I've talked to, including Gavin and Benny, who I dined with tonight, is disappointed with tonight's result, but have already gotten past it. If I was a gambling man, I'd bet big money on Paul Conway making his Timbers' debut in Toronto, and maybe a return to the 4-4-2. We shall see. On the way up North, we are stopping at Niagara Falls to stretch and see the sights. Heinzen was disappointed to find out they don't rent barrels, and going over the Falls in any kind of vessel is discouraged.

Still in Upstate New York

It's a beautiful sunny day here in upstate New York with temps in the mid to upper 70s. My room overlooks the Genesee River, which sounds appealing, but the dirty water has a constant flow of obscure debris moving along a swift current lessening the effect. The Genesee makes the Willamette (the downtown Portland stretch) look like the Gulf of Mexico.

The team trained this morning at 10:30, working out for about 45 minutes. The highlight came when we first arrived at the practice facility. A landscaping crew had gotten its front loader Bobcat stuck in a sea of bark dust and about six players (in full practice gear) took it upon themselves to push the thing out. Team athletic trainer Tony Guyette had a look of horror on his face while the good deed was in progress, but everyone made it through without injury. The driver, a New Yorker who made it clear he didn't think much of soccer in the overall sports spectrum, was grateful and just shook his head muttering "G-- d--m soccer team" which got plenty of laughs from the boys.

I just had my third salad in as many meals, dating back to yesterday. This one - with fried chicken - was by far the best of the leafy trio. Subconsciously, I've probably been inspired by the hefty fella on yesterday's flight into Rochester. The team is now in preparation mode, eating and sleeping before our 5:45 departure for Frontier Field.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Clarion Hotel in Rochester

The dude next to me never did touch his salad. Maybe he wanted to bring it home to his family as some kind of evidence that he knew what vegetables were. We arrived, safe and sound. As is typical the night before a match, everyone is laying low, relaxing and recovering from the early wake-up and day-long travel. Training is set for 10 a.m. and after that we will know the status of a couple of banged up players, which could impact the type of system Bobby decides to implement against the Rhinos. There was a baseball game tonight at the field, so we won't know until the morning whether or not training at the pitch will be an option. The best I can figure, only Benny, Gavin and Winters have played here before as members of the Timbers, a 1-0 OT loss on Aug. 5, 2001. I won the post-match bowling competition that night between Benny, Gavin, Matt Napoleon and myself, holding off a late charge by Gavin - a very unorthodox bowler - to take the title.

For those TA members in our midst, I received cyber-word tonight that Finnegan is among us in Rochester and will be at the match tomorrow as well as Sunday in Toronto. I'm planning on having him on at halftime if he can make it past security and into the press box.

Until tomorrow...

High above Lake Michigan

Our second flight is finally in the air after about an hour delay. On top of the delay, the plane (a Canadair Regional Jet) has no air conditioning and we were forced to sit in what essentially was
a giant sweat box on the ground for half an hour. Added to that was the fact that I'm sitting next to a rather portly chap, who is taking up 1.5 of the two seats here in Row 3. He does have a salad stuffed into the seat pocket, so at least he's trying. It's finally starting to cool down, but it's going to be hard to resist the temptation to order a cold one. Check that - impossible. Said cold one has been ordered.

We had a rather uneventful layover in Chicago's O'Hare airport. Lots of overpriced sandwiches and water consumed by the squad. I went with a BBQ chicken salad from Wolfgang Puck's restaurant. Not bad, but hardly gourmet cuisine. I was looking forward to using my new wireless card during the down time, but we were stuck in one of the old terminals, thus no WI-FI. PDX has spoiled me with its vast assortment of coffee, microbrews and free WI-FI, making it hard to adapt out here in Middle America.

Battery is dying... Cold one delivered - gratis thanks to the delay. More later...

36,000 feet, somewhere in the Midwest

Well, here goes nothing. While I consider myself ahead of the technology curve for the most part, this is my first attempt at a blog, and based on the current turbulence we are experiencing on a United flight to Chicago, it could very well be my last! The captain has just asked the flight attendants to take their seats - not a good sign.

We have just embarked on what will be our longest road trip of the season: Four matches; three countries; eight days; roughly 10,000 miles. Without my iPod and laptop, I'm not sure I could stay sane, and even with those creature comforts (I rank the iPod neck and neck with Tivo/DVR as the greatest inventions of the 21st century) this is bound to be a rather grueling trek. Which is why this is a perfect time to start a blog. There are bound to be plenty of trials and tribulations among the 21 members of the Timbers' traveling party. At least that is my hope, or this could end up being as painful to read as an issue of the Limbaugh Letter.

At the moment, we are headed to Rochester, N.Y., which will be our home base for the next three nights. The team plays the Raging Rhinos on Friday night and the Toronto Lynx on Saturday. We'll bus back and forth between upstate New York and Toronto. Everyone is already bemoaning the late-night drive back to Rochester on Saturday night (early Sunday a.m.) following the Toronto match, but it really does make the most sense to not switch hotels, go through double customs on the leg to Puerto Rico, etc. Ah, such is life in the First Division.

It seems all of our seats are in the back four rows of this A319 aircraft. The middle seat passengers on my side of the plane are Scott Benedetti, Aaran Lines, Josh Saunders and Gavin Wilkinson. Our other wedged in travelers are Hugo Alcaraz-Cuellar, Aaron Heinzen and Lee Morrison - poor blokes as the two Kiwis might say. One of those New Zealanders - Lines - is between Bobby Howe and myself (window). His trip is off to a rough start as the batteries in his cd player started leaking acid before we left the tarmac at PDX, so he is sans tunes and didn't bring a book. Reminds me of the time my iPod ran out of juice two minutes into a 40-minute MAX ride to Hillsboro, an experience so traumatic, I haven't taken public transit since.

Diehards are undoubtedly curious as to who the 18 players are on the trip, so without further ado, in addition to our middle seaters, the group also includes: Byron Alvarez, Edwin Miranda, Paul Conway, Shawn Saunders, Sean Higgins, Tom Poltl, Sam Reynolds, Scot Thompson, Fadi Afash, Dizzy Antoniuk and Brian Winters. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say 17 of them will see playing time over the next few days. The lone exception being Sam, but you never know.

That's all for now. I can feel the carpal tunnel setting in due to this cramped typing position.