Sunday, April 29, 2012

Who Needs A President...

When you have an Emperor?! That's right the United States of America at one time had a royal family. No I am not talking about the Kennedy's and their Camelot story up in New England. I am talking about his Imperial Majesty Emperor Norton I, America's first royal family...kinda. The story of Emperor Norton I is quite an interesting tale but a bit of odd ball history. But who was this Emperor Norton I and why not a bigger part of American History and more important why have you not ever heard of him?

The great Emperor was born Joshua Abraham Norton in about 1818 in London, England. The young Norton immigrated to South Africa with his family around 1820 and would stay there until 1849 when he made his way to the city by the bay, San Fransisco after the death of his parents. Norton arrived in Frisco with a $40,000 estate left to him by his father. He was a master of real estate, perhaps the first successful house flipper in America. By the mid 1850s he was estimated to be worth around 250K. However, Norton faced some hard economic times due to some poor speculation. Word of a famine in China had reached the west coast and news that no rice would be shipped out of the country, Norton took a chance on a shipment of Peruvian rice. He paid 25K for the shipment expecting to corner the market, unfortunately for him several other people had the same idea. So instead of a rice shortage there was actually a surplus of rice in the city. Norton tried to void the contract with his Peruvian rice dealers but it was to no avail. The California Supreme Court ruled against Norton in the late 1850s and took most of his properties in North Beach to pay his debts. However it was this downfall that gave birth to America's first Emperor.

By 1858 Norton had declared bankruptcy and left San Francisco. It is believed that during this time Norton lost his mind during his self imposed exile. However, upon his arrival he was back with a vengeance. Disgusted by the legal and political systems in American Norton sought to rebuild the nation. On September 17, 1859 Joshua Abraham Norton officially became Emperor Norton I, Emperor of these United States and Protector of Mexico. Now how does one exactly become "Emperor of these United States?" Well you make a bad ass proclamation like this...

"At the peremptory request and desire of a large majority of the citizens of these United States, I, Joshua Norton, formerly of Algoa Bay, Cape of Good Hope, and now for the last 9 years and 10 months past of S. F., Cal., declare and proclaim myself Emperor of these U. S.; and in virtue of the authority thereby in me vested, do hereby order and direct the representatives of the different States of the Union to assemble in Musical Hall, of this city, on the 1st day of Feb. next, then and there to make such alterations in the existing laws of the Union as may ameliorate the evils under which the country is laboring, and thereby cause confidence to exist, both at home and abroad, in our stability and integrity."
-Emperor Norton I

So take that President...I mean ex-President James Buchanan and Congress the Great Emperor has given you fair warning, your time is over. It was time for a new era in American History to begin, the reign of Emperor Norton I. So by now you, just as the people of 1859, are just totally not taking Norton seriously. But you know who was? His Royal Majesty Emperor Norton I was and he had some pretty good ideas too. After self-appointing himself Emperor, Norton I made several decrees addressing problems in America. In October of 1859 he disbanded the Congress. In 1860 after Congress completely ignored him, he called upon his army (the United States Army) to forcible remove Congress from D.C. He would eventually "allow" Congress to operate but just for shits and giggles. By 1862 the Great and Glorious Leader wanted both the Catholic and Protestant Churches to publicly acknowledge him as Emperor of the United States. And as if I am making this stuff up our Great Emperor continued on almost setting the standard for other nut job leaders throughout history.

So Emperor Norton I continued his reign and was attempting to over throw and remove elected officials across America. In fact as of August 12, 1869 he abolished both the Democratic and Republican Parties, boy imaging a world without MSNBC and FOXNews. In 1872 he actually outlawed the word "Frisco" as it was an insult to the city of San Fransisco and imposed a $25 fine, payable to the Imperial Treasury of course. But Emperor Norton I wasn't a complete nut ball he actually every now and again stumbled across a good idea. He laid a plan to form a world union which forbade world conflict that would mirror the League of Nations. Later he again struck gold in September of 1872 with an idea to construct a bridge or tunnel linking Oakland with San Francisco, HELLO! The Great Leader gave us the blueprint for the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, which wasn't constructed until 1933 and the Trans-Bay Tube which was finished in 1974.

Norton was a very hands on leader as well. He was known to walk the streets of San Francisco in his full imperial dress inspecting the streets, buildings, cable cars, construction sites and everyday operations of his city. The Emperor was also known to hold political meetings whenever he found a crowd large enough to hear his speech. Norton was also a man of peace, there was horrible riots in San Francisco over the influx of Chinese immigrants and at one such riot Norton walked in and prayed aloud and the crowd dispersed. Hopefully by now you can tell I am just having some fun with the story of Emperor Norton I but in the city of San Francisco Norton I was always taken seriously and treated with the utmost respect.

Inside the city of San Francisco Emperor Norton I was more popular than any politician in America. City business would put up ornate signs saying "Appointment to his Imperial Majesty, Emperor Norton I of the United States." These signs were sure to promote business and be a place for the Emperor to frequent. Another place the Emperor was every Friday night was in San Francisco's music and play houses. No show opened without having the Emperor present and when there he sat in reserved seats with the best views. The city also allowed Norton to print his own money, which some place actually excepted! The city would also give Norton a new wardrobe when his began to look ratty, talk about paying homage to the Emperor. But Norton's reign wasn't without scandal, he was once arrested by a young police man named Armand Barbier and committed to a mental institution. Naturally San Franciscans were outraged at the arrested at their beloved Emperor, so he was released and a formal apology was issued. The in his own classy style Norton issued an "Imperial Pardon" for the SFPD. In return the SFPD would salute Norton when they saw him around the city.

As Norton grew older numerous rumors surrounded him. Rumors that tried to solidify his "royalness." Tales that he was the son of Napoleon III, engaged to marry Queen Victoria and to be known to be visited by foreign leaders. However the rumors would end on January 8, 1880 when Norton dropped dead on the corner of California and Grant in San Francisco. A police officer saw the Emperor collapse and immediately called for a carriage but upon its arrival Norton was already gone. A funeral fund was established almost immediately for the great leader's funeral by local businessmen . The entire city of San Francisco attend Norton's funeral, from the wealthiest men to the poorest children, they all lined the streets to pay their final respects to the colorful character that was Emperor Norton I. And this funeral procession was nothing small, it was a two mile procession. He was then buried in the Masonic Cemetery on the cities dime. His grave reads "Norton I, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico"

So what can we learn from Emperor Norton? That anything is possible in America? Well not really but we can learn that celebrating someone's eccentricities is pretty cool. Norton I never held any real power but people still respected him enough as if he did. American History is filled with crazy, nutty, eccentric and colorful characters like Norton. However, we as Americans are losing this people because they are out of sight and out of mind. Sure every town and city has their own wack-job who thinks he/she is the mayor or Holy Savior but did you ever stop and think just to entertain them? My fiancée hates when I stop and listen to these kind of people but I figure you never know what they're going to say and that's what makes them great. I mean just look at Norton, he laid a blueprint for a cross bay bridge and tunnel, called to establish a "League of Nations" to resolve conflicts peaceful and even wanted to disband Congress which today most people think is a good idea. Sure Norton lost everything and died penny less but he died a man more popular than anyone else in the city of San Francisco. So I say lets follow in the foot steps of Norton and celebrate eccentricities and perhaps try to honor his Imperial Majesty every January 8 by declaring in Emperor Norton Day.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Titanic Hits Iceberg and Sinks, Almost No Fatalities

That should have been the headlines on April 16, 1912 but sadly we all know the reality. What if there was a ship that was closer than the Carpathia the night the Titanic sank? What if I told you there was such a ship and that if they would have responded the fatalities following Titanic's sinking would have been minimal at most? I'm sure you think I am making this up and just feeding into the whole Titanic myth thing, but I'm not. The SS Californian was not only the closest ship to Titanic, she even sent Titanic numerous ice warnings and even reported stoping for the night due to the ice. We all hear the story about how the Carpathia steamed through the night to save the survivors, but we never hear about a the Californian and how they sat by as the Titanic sank and thousands died.

There isn't really anything special about the Californian that makes it stand out in the course of maritime history, well except that it did nothing as the Titanic sank. She was British operated ship and mainly used to transport cotton from the states to Jolly Old England. The relation to Titanic is very minimal, just some general chatter between radiomen. However that chatter was important and always overlooked by Titanic. Around 7:30pm on April 14 a message was sent to Titanic about "three large bergs." Another message was later sent around 11:30pm and the Californian informed Titanic they would stop for the night only a few miles away due to an ice field. Titanic, however responded back in a not so friendly way, "Shut up! Shut up! I'm working Cape Race" which would be her final message to the Californian. The Californian was now stopped for the night and Titanic was steaming directly into the ice they were warned about.

We all know what happens next, "iceberg, right ahead" and Titanic hits an iceberg and begins to sink around 11:40pm. But what was happening on the Californian? Well her captain, Captain Stanley Lord, was informed of Titanic's location and issued the ice field warnings before retiring and Second Officer Herbert Stone took over. After his orders to warn Titanic of their stopping for the night it would be only 10 minutes before Titanic hits the iceberg and the two ships are less than 10 miles away from each other. A few minutes later the Californian's wireless operator, Cyril Evans, turned off the wireless and went to bed. With Stone now at the helm, Titanic rested in his hands. The Californian had tried signalling Titanic with a Morse Lamp to give away their position. Stone had reported to Lord about seeing signal rockets but no further actions were taken. The crew of the Californian sat by with no knowledge of the disaster happening only a few miles away and Titanic would sink at 2:20am. At 4:30am Lord ordered Evans to find out why the ship was firing rockets all night, it was then that the Carpathia informed them about the Titanic's sinking. Lord then ordered the ship to assist in the search for survivors but arrived as Carpathia secured the last survivor. The Californian would hang around for a few hours, finding nothing, before steaming on to Boston.

The Californian arrived in Boston on April 19 and no one had any idea about her role in the Titanic sinking. The story about the Californian broke on April 23 in a report in a local New England newspaper, the Daily Item and in the Boston American. Both stories were identical as the witnesses were crew members of the Californian, carpenter James McGregor and assistant engineer Ernest Gill. Captain Lord also spoke to papers but his stories never matched up. As all the stories were released many crew members of the Californian were subpoenaed to testify at both British and American inquiries. Captain Lord was proven wrong time after time at both inquiries as his testimonies were consistently wrong, conflicting and evasive. The inquiries found that the Californian was closer than Lord testified and that Captain E.J. Smith of Titanic's order to lower the port side life boats first signaled another ships location as close enough to row to. It was later the judgement of the courts that if the Californian responded the loss of life would have been less. Captain Lord is judge and vilified for two reasons; First, if he had left the wireless on there would be a documented time table of events. Second, he should have responded to signal rockets as that was a maritime signal for distress.

So what happened to Captain Lord and the Californian? Captain Lord was either dismissed or resigned from the Leyland Line. He did however continue to captain ships and never stopped trying to clear his name from the Titanic Inquires. Lord would die in 1962 and never clear his name and will be remembered as the captain who stood by as people died needlessly and demonized by historians from 1912 until today. As for the Californian, she continued to be used for a few more years. She was taken over by the British government during WWI as a supply ship. While sailing from Salonica to Maresilles she was torpedoed by the German U-35. One man perished in the attack but the wreak of the Californian has yet to be found. But what do we see here? We see a captain who did nothing on a ship that could have been the most famous rescue ship ever. Captain Lord would have gone down in history as one of the greatest maritime heroes and the Californian would be held in higher regards than the Carpathia is today. In the end the Titanic's passengers were helpless in the North Atlantic as they awaited their deaths while there one chance at being saved sat less the ten miles away.

Sunday, April 15, 2012


Yes, even I gave into the Titanic anniversary hype. I mean it's hard not to get caught up in it. Its the 100th anniversary of it's sinking and people are finally interested in something historical. But not everything we've learned this month about Titanic is true (except for everything at We all know that the Titanic is the most captivating maritime story ever, so of course there is going to be some embellishment and legends. The question now is, who is to blame for this? I think most of us would blame survivors, but what would they lie for? Perhaps some retelling of their recollections were affected by the sheer trauma and fear they faced in the North Atlantic, but they are not to blame. Hollywood is. That's right, movies are to blame for these legends. Therefore, we can place blame on James Cameron and every other director who produced a Titanic based film. How you may ask? Well there a several key examples which will prove the Titanic was not the mythical giant she is made out to be.

There are five major myths about the Titanic's maiden and only voyage. There are the more popular stories like the band playing "Nearer, My God, To Thee" as the ship went down. Other stories revolve around the idea that she was advertised as "unsinkable" and the conditions for steerage passengers. There are other less exciting myths such as the fate of Captain Smith and the discussion of whether Bruce Ismay really was a villain. We are going to tackle these myths and take them down one by one. So get ready to have your mind blown and never be able to watch Jack and Rose the same way again.

Captain E.J. Smith did what any respectable captain would do after crashing an ocean liner into an iceberg: he went down with the ship. But what happened during his final minutes. Smith shouldn't be viewed as a hero for just simply sinking to the bottom of the sea with Titanic. In reality Smith did nothing and may have actually doomed more people then necessary. Smith knew the lifeboats would not be able to save every passenger on Titanic but still let them leave half full. Also Smith was hesitant to issue the abandon ship order in fear of causing mass chaos, however in not doing so people felt no urgency and made the fatal decision to stay in their rooms. Finally, Smith was never seen after the ship began to sink. Most historians think Smith just lost it and couldn't accept his fate. Captain Smith was never seen amongst the crowd of people fleeing the ship and it is just assumed that he returned to the wheel house, bridge or his cabin to await his death.

Mr. Bruce J. Ismay was one son of a bitch, but not in the way he is portrayed in the films. Sure Isamy was a ruthless businessman but, come on, it was the early 20th century and being rich and powerful was all the rage. Aside from that Ismay was also a coward, as he abandoned ship in the place of women and children. However, there are several instances in which Ismay is portrayed as a bully and an over controlling puppet master of Titanic's captain and designer. In almost every Titanic film Ismay is seen ordering Captain Smith around, demanding the ship arrive early, scoffing at ice warnings, joking about the number of lifeboats and just being an all-around jerk. Nonetheless, this was not really the case. This negative personalization of him was based on the blame in which Ismay received after the ships sinking. In reality we should feel bad for Ismay and his legacy but I guess every story has to have a villain.

Sure, traveling in steerage was a nightmare but, really, conditions couldn't have been that bad...could they? Well for starters, what the average ticket would have cost in 1912 was roughly $35 USD and in today's money that about $432 USD. So as you can see, this wasn't a cheap trip and the accommodations, although minimal, were a luxury for those traveling in third class. Now aside from the living quarters there is one other myth promoted by Titanic films and that is the lack of an attempt to save third class passengers. Before debunking the myth we need to understand one thing first. Immigrants in third class were kept separate from others on the ship, but that is due to the United States' immigration laws. However, they did have the same accommodations as first and second class in some sense. It is estimated that about 530 third class passengers died that April night but not because White Star Line employees were locking doors and keep the unwanted masses below deck. It was due to the construction of Titanic's third class compartments. There were many hallways and staircases which basically formed a maze, so it was almost impossible to navigate in the confusion after hitting the iceberg. Remember the third class is mainly made up of people immigrating to the United States and do not understand the English written signs throughout Titanic. Another key factor in the low survival rate is the unwillingness of third class passengers to leave their bags behind. You have to figure these people had all their earthly possessions and weren't going anywhere without them. Even at the inquires there was no evidence that any foul play was involved or that third class passengers were held back until the first and second class passengers were safely off Titanic.

Oh, the the bravery of the band. Yes, facing their own deaths they chose to play on... or did they? In every Titanic film the band is seen playing "Nearer, My God, To Thee" as the ship slips under the waves of the Atlantic. However this is not necessarily true. Survivors attest the the band playing music on the deck as people were loaded into lifeboats, but the music being played was the popular music of the time. The band did play "Nearer, Thy God, To Thee" but the song was played much earlier in the night as the first few lifeboats had let go. The band was pushed into Titanic lore after A Night To Remember was release in 1958 portraying the selfless musicians playing until the very end. Now did the band play till the end? I doubt anyone will ever know for sure but one thing we can know is that "Nearer, My God, To Thee" was not their final song.

"So you say shes unsinkable?" Not really. This term describing the Titanic comes sometime after she sank. It was added to add more fuel to the fire of the Titanic legend. In fact the White Star Line never advertised the Titanic as "unsinkable," and any posters you've seen that say so are novelty items that were produced afterwards. But in the case of this myth, Hollywood followed in the footsteps of the media. In the film reels following the sinking of Titanic, the word "unsinkable" was just thrown around to add more excitement to the disaster. It is from those newsreels that the legend was born and added to every Titanic film every made.

So what can we learn from this? Well the most important lesson is that legend is sometimes more important then fact. The sinking of Titanic is the greatest maritime disaster ever, but add all these extras to it and it becomes a timeless story. Here we are 100 years later, there are no more survivors, no members of the Carpathia left and no one that can really recall anything that happened in the time following the Titanic sinking and we are still talking about Titanic. Sure there are historians and experts on the ship but no one to really say for sure what happened. Instead we are left with an interpretation and a romanticized version of the story. Since her sinking in 1912, there have been 14 major films that support these myths and then there are countless others that relate to the ship. The films started back in 1912 and go up until today. Directors and audiences around the world love a story with the Titanic's voyage as the background. Nonetheless, it never fails that in that background these myths always come to light. Historian Richard Howells sums up Titanic lore which is seen in films and shows saying, "History turned into myth within hours and certainly days of the sinking."

Sunday, April 8, 2012

How Booze Saved My Life, The Charles Joughin Story

Sure the name Charles Joughin doesn't jump off the screen as a historically famous name, but he was part of the greatest maritime disaster. That's right its April 2012 which means only one thing, it's the sinking of the Titanic's 100 year anniversary. So instead of being like everyone else and talking about the ship, the iceberg or Mr. Ismay, I am going to start off with Mr. Joughin, a baker. Joughin fits right into Titanic legend and folklore, but unlike many Titanic myths, Joughin's story is true.

Charles Joughin was born in West Float, Birkenhead, Cheshire, England (Fancy shmancy!) in 1878. At the time the area was extremely reliant on seafaring work. So at the tender age of 10 Joughin was sent out to sea to make a living. He worked his way around from ship to ship and would eventually be hired by the White Star Line. He was trained to be a baker and was assigned to the Olympic. However, fate had a different plan for Charles. When he was in Belfast, he was assigned to help stock the Titanic for her maiden voyage. As the ship made it's way back to Southampton, Joughin was offered the position of head baker and a staff of 13 or a baker's dozen (see what i did there?). Joughin's destiny was now sealed. He, the Titanic, 2222 other passengers and crew were days away from becoming the world's worst maritime disaster.

We will skip ahead past the excitement of baking bread on Titanic to the night of the sinking. As the iceberg ripped a hole in the ship of Titanic's hull, Joughin was in his bunk. When he found out the ship was doomed he sent his men to get bread and provisions from the bakery to the lifeboats on deck. Joughin assisted in the evacuation loading women and children into the lifeboats, even running back into the ship to find more passengers. When Lifeboat 10 was ready to be lowered Joughin gave up his seat to another passenger and headed below deck. Once away from the crowds Joughin began enjoying Titanic's well stocked bar. The ship left port with 1,500 bottles of wine, 15,000 bottles of champagne, 20,000 bottles of beer, 850 bottles of spirits, 70 cases of cognac and 191 cases of liquor. Joughin had been known to enjoy his whiskey. He figured he was about to face a watery grave so he did what any of us would do: he got shitfaced.

After doing his part to rescue as many people as he could Joughin hit the bottle and he hit it hard. He was drinking for at least an hour and he was drinking the good stuff. Yet he wasn't done helping. Hearing the thousands of screams from the water, Joughin began throwing deck chairs and furniture into the water giving those in the freezing water something to hold onto. As the ship began to buckle Joughin made his way to the stern of the ship. As portrayed in Titanic, Joughin drank until the ship went under, riding it down until it sank. He claims that his head never went under water and survived form 2 to 3 hours just treading water until he was rescued. He was eventually rescued by a returning lifeboat and then made his way onto the safety of the Carpathia.

After the disaster, Joughin returned to England. He was called to testify to the British Inquiry Board about the events on April 15, 1912. However, Joughin continued to work in the shipping industry. He worked on several ships operated by the American Export Lines and even served on Liberty Ships during WWII. He would also go on to help Walter Lord when he was writing A Night to Remember.
He would live in Paterson, New Jersey for the remainder of his life and die at the ripe old age of 78 in 1956. Joughin died not being the last survivor but the last person to touch and leave Titanic. The man survived the ordeal by, well, getting drunk. Joughin was so drunk that the alcohol thinned his blood enough to were hypothermia could not set in. So in honor of Charles Joughin, have a nice glass of scotch or a bit of whiskey. Its what saved his life and could just be a small way to honor the man who helped in the rescuing and saving of lives in the ending moments of Titanic's existence. It makes you wonder how would you would react in a situation like that.

Monday, April 2, 2012

A Titanic Prediction!

The RMS Titanic is one of the most legendary stories in maritime history. There have been many myths about the Titanic, from laying of her hull to the death of the last survivor. Yet, there is one story that stands out among Titanic lore and that is Morgan Robertson's 1898 novel Futility, or the Wreak of the Titan. That's right, someone wrote a story about a ship named the Titan sinking, and guess what it happened in the North Atlantic and oh yea, it struck an iceberg. I know what your thinking, bullshit right? But no it's true, Google it. And there is a freakish parallelness between the Titan and Titanic, some which are too close to seem true.

The mother of all Titanic legends is the story of the Titan. Robertson's story follows deck hand John Rowland, a failed British Naval lieutenant who is down and out on his luck and working on the Titan. However, for this piece that's all that Rowland will be mentioned, but for those who are interested he lives happily ever after. So how does the Titan stack up to the Titanic? First would be size, the Titanic measured at 800ft while the Titan measured 882ft, thus making both the biggest ships on the sea at the time. Second would be the fact that both ships did not have enough lifeboats. Third, and the icing on the cake, both ships were dubbed "unsinkable." I bet Bruce Ismay wished he had read Robertson's story before he called the Titanic "unsinkable." But the similarities don't stop there, there are a few more which are too close to call and simply be coincidence.

How many more similarities can there be? Well when it comes to the sinking of this ships, a lot more. First, the iceberg. Both struck an iceberg and both struck it going way above a average speed. The Titan was steaming along at 25 knots and the Titanic at 22 knots. Both ships hit the iceberg on their starboard sides. And oh yea, both went down about 400 miles east of Newfoundland. Second, both went down by the bow forcing the stern to rise out of the water. However, in the case of the Titan, she would capsize and finally sink. Third, casualties. As I said before both ships lacked a sufficient amount of lifeboats which caused massive loss of life. The Titan lost 2500 fictional souls, while the Titanic lost 2200. Both ships had their maiden voyages in April. And oh yea, both ships were the largest ships on the ocean at the time of their sinking. And one more eerie coincidence, there was an ice warning from the lookouts.  We all know the Titanic's "iceberg, right ahead!" while the Titan's went a little something like this, "ice, ice, ahead iceberg!" We can see that the story was somewhat of perhaps a warning or we can see it as just a story.

There are some difference between the two ships. The Titan had almost no survivors, only 13, while Titanic had 705. The sinking times also vary greatly, Titanic sinking in 2 and half hours and Titan in only minutes. The ships were heading in opposite directions, Titan to England and Titanic to America. There are several other difference but they are so minor and I wouldn't want to bore you with the fiction of the story. But how do we look at the story of the Titan, and more important how do we look at Robertson? Can we see him among the likes of Nostradamus and other great future telling prophets? Or just as a guy who wanted to write a story to scare the crap out people sailing across the Atlantic and entertain his audience. Well what if I told you this was one of Robertson's many prediction?

So of course when Robertson publish his story he had no idea the impact his story would have in 1912. In fact it's because of this that his other works were even looked at and surprise surprise there is other creepy predictions in his works. First in 1905 he published the Submarine Destroyer, which a submarine used a new piece of technology called a "periscope" which wouldn't be used by the U.S. Navy for several more years. In his short story Beyond the Spectrum (1914) he talked about a future war between the United States and Japan. A war which would be started by a surprise attack by the Japanese on American ships on their way to the Philippines. He also published a short story which some literary scholars say was the influence and basis for the novel The Blue Lagoon and Tarzan and the Apes. Again, is this a coincidence or was Robertson some type of future seeing genius? I am pretty sure that it's all coincidence and Robertson was looking just to entertain. I highly doubt he had a supernatural gift to see the future for if he did he would have seen his own death which was an accidental overdose of paraldehyde. In the end I think we can see Robertson and the story of the Titan and its similarities to the Titanic as just another piece of Titanic lore and myth, which is sure to keep the legend of Titanic going for perhaps another 100 years.