Saturday, June 2, 2007

Gay Harmony

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The popular online dating service eHarmony was sued on Thursday for refusing to offer its services to gays, lesbians and bisexuals. Lawyers bringing the action said they believed it was the first lawsuit of its kind against eHarmony, which has long rankled the gay community with its failure to offer a "men seeking men" or "women seeking women" option.

At first glance, one would think that eHarmony is missing out on a huge demographic. After all, it must be difficult for homosexuals to find each other. It's not like they wear a sign or anything. I'm not in on all that left-earring/right-earring jazz. I haven't requested a handbook. Otherwise, I suppose it is very difficult to approach someone who theoretically could punch you in the face if you "guessed" wrong about his sexual preference. That's where a neat-o web site would be really handy. Unless, of course you were the type of person who would discriminate...

eHarmony was founded in 2000 by evangelical Christian Dr. Neil Clark Warren and had strong early ties with the influential religious conservative group Focus on the Family. It has more than 12 million registered users, and heavy television advertising has made it one of the nation's biggest Internet dating sites. The company said the allegations of discrimination against gays were false and reckless.

False and reckless? To the right is the registration screen that pops up when you open the eHarmony web site. Do you see anything remotely homosexual there? Me neither, but I'm reckless.

Maybe if my postal code was 94106 there would be more options? I skipped right past the zip code and went for the "I'm a" choice.

All of which brings me around to my Friday night in the city, and oh, how I wish the eHarmony gang could have been there with me.

Part of the adventure of me hanging in the city alone has always been the inevitable crush of men. That's right, men. How so? Allow me to elucidate.

The train dropped me at my favorite watering hole, the Locust Rendezvous. Generally, I have a nice time there. Mostly because the bar is small enough that whomever decides to stop by automatically becomes my drinking buddy by the mere fact that the bar is so tiny, there is no other choice. Tonight, for some reason, I decided to skedaddle quickly, and headed over to another fav - McGillin's Pub, on Drury Street - a place so tiny that you would have to know it to find it. That's where the night really began.

After drinking my fill, and allowing for the walk to the Electric Factory, I asked for my check and beat a hasty retreat sometime around 6. Little did I know that I would be followed out the door by a well-intentioned man who would ask the 64 thousand dollar question. At some point near Broad Street, he tracked me down and asked politely, "Please don't ... but, would you mind if I asked if I could suck your dick?" That's right, folks. Life in the big city. As you would expect, I politely turned him away.

I'm not as offended by such things as some may expect. It isn't the first time it has happened to me, and I suspect it will not be the last. Two things creep into my head when they happen. (1) Why can't women be as forward as men? and (2) Hey ... I'm almost 50 and I still 'got it'.

In case you were wondering, the show was awesome, fellatio propositions notwithstanding. If Umphrey's McGee wanders into your town, find them. Although, something tells me that you are re-reading the last couple of paragraphs, so my review of the show may be inconsequential.

Strangely, those sexual propositions bounce off me. While some men would take a swing at the guy, I take it as a compliment. I fully understand the difficulties inherent in being homosexual and appreciate the guts it must take to follow a stranger out of a bar and proposition him [me]. Some small part of me (not the important part) felt kind of bad for the guy.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Mathematically speaking...

...there is a thirty percent chance that my drunk-ass will get rained on before I get to the Electric Factory for the Umphrey's McGee show tonight. Math, as we know, is absolute - which is why I'm drinking Southern Comfort.
"Why aren't you driving?" you ask. I never drive to the city. The Electric Factory is near 6th and Callowhill, so I'll take the Speed Line to 8th and Market and start looking for bars. Any old port in the storm.
A full report will be filed tomorrow - but not too early.
I do know this: It won't be "lame", like Police drummer Stewart Copeland called their Vancouver show the other night.
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The singer in the Police jumps like a "petulant pansy," the drummer is making a "complete hash," and who knows what the guitarist is doing? "This is unbelievably lame," Copeland wrote of Wednesday's show at the GM Place arena. "We are the mighty Police and we are totally at sea." "The mighty Sting momentarily looks like a petulant pansy instead of the god of rock," Copeland reported. "And so it goes, for song after song," he wrote, with tunes such as "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic" and "Don't Stand So Close To Me" reduced to ruin.
"It usually takes about four or five shows in a tour before you get to the disaster gig. But we're The Police so we are a little ahead of schedule," he said.
Fortunately, no fists flew backstage as they did back in the Police's heyday. The threesome fell into each other's arms laughing hysterically, Copeland said.
"Screw it, it's only music. What are you gonna do? But maybe it's time to get out of Vancouver."
Sure, screw it. Meanwhile, the $400 ticket holders have no recourse, when they would probably like to ram a drumstick up your ass or ... at the very least ... squeeze a lemon in your eye.
I can be reasonably sure that the Umphrey's McGee show will not be lame, which is why I don't go in for stadium rock or over-hyped nonsense passing itself off as entertainment. It's also why I don't attend these reunion shows.
Emerson, Lake and Palmer was undoubtedly my favorite band as a youngster. When they re-united I wasn't going anywhere near the Mann Center. I preferred to be alone with my memories of great music. For those too young to remember or those who wished they had gone in the 70s, they have free will. For me, I will not sully the memory of a great band with a money-grab show made for industry, with ticket prices twenty times what we would have paid when the band was actually worth seeing.
The McGee ticket cost me $22, and I would see them twenty times before I'd see those grubbing geezers once. Good luck to you, if you're going.

Men at lunch

Since most of my readers are women, allow me to clue you into some of the things that men have going on in their manbrains. Generally, these things surface over the lunch table, where men are men and women are supposed to be subservient.

THE SCENE: Our cafeteria at work.

[A lunch bag opens]
HIM: Let's see what my wife packed me for lunch today.
ME: [smirking and raising one eyebrow]
HIM: Ohh ... baloney and cheese. [sounding mildly disgusted]
ME: Are these [holding out my hands] working? You could make your own sandwich, no?
HIM: [Looking perplexed] Well, everybody has their purpose.
At this point I want to hit him with a chair, but I have to work with these people, so I deftly changed the subject.
MOTTO: Anything worth complaining about is worth doing something about. If you don't like the sandwich, make the Goddammed thing yourself, buy something or shut the f*** up.
THE SCENE: The same cafeteria at work on a different day.
I pack my lunch every day. Lately, I have been mixing vegetables with chicken parts or turkey meatballs. It's better than it sounds.
A DIFFERENT HIM: What do you have today? [peering into my Tupperware quizzically]
ME: It's chicken and veggies.
HIM: Oh. Do you buy that together or ...
A moment. The "or" as a sentence-ender is particularly grating, but I digress.
ME: No, I buy the Birds Eye frozen veggies and Purdue chicken parts and mix them up.
[I feel like I'm telling him how to build a house. I felt the need to explain the process in its entirety...]
ME: The vegetables are in the freezer section of the supermarket, and I just buy them. The Purdue chicken is pre-cut and cooked. All I have to do is mix them together and microwave them. Lunch for five bucks. Ya can't beat it, even at McDonald's.
HIM: Hmmm.
What he is thinking is that he will go home and tell his wife to buy these things when she goes to the grocery store, because he hasn't a clue.
It should be noted that both "Him's" have stay-at-home wives who probably feel as though they are caring for an infant child in addition to the children they are already caring for.
I'm guessing that neither of these guys ever had to feed themselves or be particularly self-sufficient in any way. What I'm doing isn't nearly rocket science, which is what makes it particularly interesting that other men feel like I have a special skill, when all I'm doing is breaking open some packages, mixing them together and heating it in the microwave. As far as I'm concerned, it's the least I can do. And yes, I packed my own lunch when I was married, too.
On May 21, 1932, Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly the Atlantic Ocean alone. Seventy five years later and there are still women who pack lunches. If any of these men were married to Amelia Earhart, they would starve to death until she flew home; in which case, they would have starved to death.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

One for bad, two for good.

The next time you feel like a dumbass, think of this and you will feel better about yourself:
BERLIN (Reuters) - A German mistook a subway entrance for an underground car park and her vehicle got stuck on the stairs, police said on Wednesday. The 52-year-old drove her Volkswagen Beetle across the pavement in central Duesseldorf and into the entrance where it ground to a halt about five steps down, police said. Police estimated the damage at around 1,500 euros.

And of course, there are always people with more money than brains. To wit:

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is part of a group considering formation of a football league that would compete with the NFL for players drafted lower than the second round. The league, still very much in the preliminary stage, would play its games on Friday nights. The NFL does not play then because of the potential conflict with high school football. "It's a pretty simple concept," Cuban said in an e-mail to The Associated Press. "We think there is more demand for pro football than supply."

Yep, it's a simple concept alright. It's so simple that it has been tried several times by people smarter than Mark Cuban - if you can believe that. The USFL (founded 1982; folded 1985), former home of the Philadelphia Stars and the WFL (founded 1974; folded 1975), former home of the Philadelphia Bell. They thought they had it figured out, too. When was the last time you went to a WFL game? Right.

Hey, Mark - we actually enjoy the idea that there is more demand than supply for football. In fact, we demand it. Some of us here in Philadelphia are actually sick of the constant football talk on our sports talk radio station, WIP. Here, the supply far exceeds the demand, and in a city with four sports franchises, it gets a little tiring. The bigger problem is that our winter sports teams stink and the Phillies continue to struggle, and seem to have no trouble finding new and creative ways to lose games.

They crowed loudly after sweeping the Atlanta Braves on the road last week to go two games over the franchise's measure of success - the .500 mark - only to come home and get swept by the Arizona Diamondbacks to go back to a game below .500, at 26 wins and 27 losses. Damn. I was going to go to the big parade. I guess the perfect way to celebrate a break-even season would be some kind of half-assed party, but it will have to wait.

So, I suppose that it will be back to the football talk, as training camp is close to opening. I don't know how serious Mark Cuban is about this pro football league. Sometimes I think these guys are thinking out loud and float an idea to give a reporter something to write about, then sit around to see if their phone rings. I think that NFL games on Sunday, Monday, Thursday and Saturday are plenty, and I like football as much as anyone. However, unlike Mr. Cuban I don't consider more to necessarily be better.

Forget about the football league, Mark. Come to Philadelphia and buy the Phillies.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Pardon me while I rant

As I grow older, I find that my feeble mind (my second choice for a blog title) gets fixated on one thing at the exclusion of all others. In this case, it's my rather hectic schedule over the next week or so.
My new bike should be together and road-worthy by Friday or Saturday. In addition to paying for it (ugggghh) I need to find time to get there and pick it up. I'll be off on Friday, so I hope it is ready then. Why am I taking Friday off? Glad you asked. Friday night, Umphrey's McGee is playing at The Electric Factory. The show starts at 8:30 (with Tea Leaf Green), and they probably won't go on until around 10 - and play for 3 hours or so - so I'm sleeping in a bit so I won't fall asleep on the Hi-Speed line and miss my stop, as I have done in the past.
That's a particularly odd experience. I take the train from the Woodcrest station, and coming home I have to be fairly alert to be sure I don't miss my stop. Once, I got off a stop too soon and once I slept through it altogether. Either is bad, since the trains run every 40 minutes at those single-digit hours, so it takes a while to bring another one around to pick my drunk ass up. Hopefully, a few extra hours of Friday morning sleep will be just the thing to keep me coherent until the end of the evening/morning.
The following week is the LPGA McDonald's Championship in Havre de Grace, Maryland. I'm still undecided as to whether I will spend Wednesday night there or drive the hour-plus back and forth. I want to go for the practice round on Wednesday and the first round on Thursday, skip Friday and go back Saturday and probably Sunday. There is a nearby Motel 6 that will cost $80, so the money is a factor. The extra rest and lower stress might be worth it, though. Compound that with the inevitable shore traffic and it might be a bargain.
In the middle of all this (or maybe because of it) my television is starting to act strangely. The screen goes black at random moments. Turning it off and back on brings the picture back, but I'm worried because these things almost always get worse, and never better. I'm not up for TV shopping right now.
Maybe Lindsey Lohan has it right? Do some funky shit and throw yourself into rehab. I'm sure she has personal assistants to do her laundry and TV shopping. Forget about work. What is it exactly that she does, anyway? As near as I can tell, it's a bunch of crappy movies and equally crappy records. On the IMDB, the list of her as "self" is ten times as long as the list of her as "actress" - what's that tell you?
How did I get started on this?
And now, this one says "I've hit rock bottom." Get a grip, Britney. You are so far from rock bottom that you can't even see it from where you are. Take a walk along Broad Street and check on a guy curled up in a cardboard box with more teeth than cents and let me know where your rock hits bottom.
These people kill me. Over the weekend, I stumbled upon The Simple Life, with those two simpletons, Paris Hilton and whatshername - seemingly making a joke out of life's occupations. I don't know if we are supposed to think these two jackasses are hot, stupid or funny. I don't think they are any of those things, and I found the show to be insulting to people who live in the real world and have to make decisions about things with the knowledge that their decisions might end up with them in a cardboard box on Broad Street.
At one point in the show, they were "working" in a fast-food joint. Their supervisor gave them their paychecks - $56 each. One of them asked, "What are we supposed to do with this?" The supervisor told them, "You cash it."
"Where?", they asked. I immediately knew that they had never seen a check or had to actually sign one and take it to the bank, because when the answer "The bank" came, the look on their faces spoke volumes.
So, here we are in our world of made-up celebrities who seem to believe that their made-up world is shattered every time one of them crashes a Mercedes or gets so drunk that they would forget their train station - if they needed a train. Meanwhile, the rest of us would love to have a Mercedes to crash and a TV show to exploit people who made them what they are, just so we could feel what rock bottom is really like.
I gotta go pee.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The scenery is here, wish you were beautiful

One of the things I noticed about the long Memorial Day weekend is how nice it is around here when one-third of the people are out of town. Traffic flows more easily, there are parking spaces, the lines are not as long and there is just a little more room to breathe.
In this part of the world, people started running for the beach at 3 o'clock on Friday afternoon and didn't come back until late in the day on Monday. It was a glorious weekend without the congestion that life in the suburbs brings. I don't know exactly where they go, and frankly I don't care. As long as there is more available space for me and the others who are left here, I'm all for it.
JERRY: No, wait a minute, Newman! You can't let this dream die. You moving away is my dream too!
NEWMAN: What are you proposing?
JERRY: Whatever it takes, for as long as it takes me, wherever it takes me as long as it takes you away from me!
I have this odd image in my head of this great weight being dropped on the shore towns as the rush of shoobies flows in. If I lived in one of those towns, I would start popping the darvocet's on Thursday to build up my resistance. The shore rush is an annual event, and every year there are more people jamming the same roads they jammed ten years ago, making each year's traffic onslaught worse than the previous one.
Monday night's news was full of helicopter shots of jammed bridges, roads and tunnels with all the people who couldn't wait to get the Hell out of here, coming back. This morning, the roads were jammed again. Cars were backed up for 6 miles on their way to Philadelphia to start their short work week before they head off to the shore again on Friday afternoon. Fortunately for me, I go the opposite direction. There's a metaphor there, somewhere I think.
So welcome back, shoobies. I hate to tell you, folks; but it was better without you.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Good examples of odd behavior

LONDON (Reuters) - A British adventurer is planning to highlight the effects of global warming by becoming the first person to swim at the North Pole and break his own record for the coldest swim. Sporting just a cap, trunks and goggles, Lewis Gordon Pugh will swim 1 km (0.6 miles) in water at a temperature of minus 1.8 degrees Celsius (29 degress Fahrenheit) on July 15, a dip he expects to last 21 minutes.
I'm not sure if it highlights the effects of global warming or the boundaries of stupid human behavior - or both. Go ahead, Lewis - let me know how you make out. He said, "I can't think of a better way to show that climate change is a reality than by swimming in a place that should be totally frozen over." Geez, Lewis; you're not thinking hard enough. I can't think of a better way to shrink my balls and make people think I'm a little goofy - but that's my cross to bear. Here's an idea: Let's use science, photography and measuring devices to show the effects of global warming, and you can keep your pants on.
And, speaking of goofy, here's the oil company's leading spokesman explaining his radical behavior:
CALABASAS, Calif. - Like many holiday travelers, Ron Evenhaim isn't going to let rising gasoline prices curtail his plans for a weekend getaway. Evenhaim rented a 40-foot diesel RV to take his family of five the 300 miles from his home in suburban Los Angeles to Lake Isabella in the Tehachapi Mountains. "That's 30 gallons," he said, using the vehicle's average mileage of eight to 10 mpg. "Even if gas prices go up $1, that's an extra $30. You buy the kids a sandwich halfway and you've spent more," he said.
Whew! That's some high-powered math there, buddy. Actually, Ron - it's probably closer to 37.5 gallons (at 8mpg) so you might have to skip dinner, too. Jackass. Here's an idea: Starve your kids on the trip and make up the thirty bucks, then you can increase your mileage because your huge vehicle will be hauling less weight. Do you really need a 40-foot diesel RV to take five people on a 5-hour trip? More money than brains, I'm thinking.
The gang in the marketing departments of Exxon-Mobil and Chevron are taking notes. "No pain, yet, boss - keep raising the prices. Ron says his kids aren't hungry yet." Hey, how about a free sandwich with each fill-up?
As I said the other day, people aren't going to figure this out until it gets to $5 a gallon, and probably not even then. We see driving and waste as a birthright, and it will likely take more than another buck a gallon to make them see otherwise.

Hammering Hank

THEM: Hey Hank, ya wanna go to a ballgame?
THEM: It's a big deal. Barry's gonna break your home run record.
THEM: Aww, c'mon! I'm buying.
THEM: It's dollar-dog day.
THEM: You'll be on the TV.
THEM: Please?
HANK: No. I'm not going.
THEM: Reconsider.
THEM: Wanna go play golf?

What's it going to take to get people to realize that Hank Aaron does not want to go watch Big Head Barry break his home run record? How many times are they going to ask him? I'm guessing about 755 times. Hank ain't going. He said he'd probably be playing golf, and not watching baseball. It's almost comical - if it wasn't so pathetic. Bud Selig, the Commissioner doesn't want to go, and former Commissioner Fay Vincent told Selig he shouldn't go. Nobody wants to go except maybe Barry and whomever is in the right-field bullpen when Barry is hitting or is floating in McCovey Cove with a kayak, so they can fight over the ball.
Hank is free to go to any game he wants - or not. The issue with Selig not going is a little different. Selig is the guy who makes the rules, and if his issue over not going is Bonds' steroid use, then maybe Selig ought to examine his role in the steroid issue with Bonds and all the other players. They claim to be steroid testing, but so far, the guys who have been caught and suspended have been minor leaguers and a bunch of no-name players that probably needed drugs just to stay in the minors. Selig's loose enforcement of his own rule is the reason guys like Bonds get away with what they do.
If you are a student, and the teacher says that during an exam you are allowed to peek over at your neighbor's paper and use their answer, is it cheating if you do it? Selig has spent the last ten years letting guys like McGwire, Sosa, Palmiero and (I think) Clemens and lots of other pitchers and batters get away with using steroids by implementing a toothless policy, and not enforcing it. Random testing is bullshit, plain and simple. If he really wanted to stop it ... really wanted to ... he would implement mandatory testing for everyone and treat each of his superstars the way he treats minor leaguers, but baseball doesn't want that. They want us to think that they are doing the right thing. They like the home run, and the race between McGwire and Sosa saved baseball for that season. They have no intention of stopping it.
Hank, play golf if you want. The whole thing is a big TV show anyway. ESPN will be following Bonds' every movement when he gets within 3 home runs of the record, and each strike out, ground ball or pop up will be another excruciating example of the hype and glorious money machine that baseball, and pro sports has become.
Then, the fight over the ball will begin.
I can hardly wait.
Oh - and, um ... Paula lost yesterday. She played like crap and finished second to Young Kim, who played slightly less like crap. At least slightly less enough to win, if that makes any sense. Goodfed up my whole day. She said, "It was just, you know, I really don't know what happened out there. I tried talking it over with Colin, my golf swing, with my caddie, and just couldn't get that confidence back after the second hole. I hit it to the right on that hole and ever since then it was just not happening."
Get it straightened out, Paula. Maryland is two weeks away.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

A Sunday thing or two or three

One more round, Paula. The headlines say that Paula Creamer is tied for the lead with two other golfers up there in Corning, NY - which may as well be in Canada, for Chrissakes - but we know better. She isn't tied for anything. Don't burn yourself out, kid. I want you to be in top form in 2 weeks when I go to Maryland.
It says she is tied with Beth Bader and Young Kim. Feh. Step aside, losers. Final round coverage is on the Golf Channel at 6:30 Sunday. I know - The Golf Channel - Quick ... tell me which number it is on your cable. It's probably between Versus and a shopping channel in a place your TV only goes when your finger slips on the remote. Nine [click] seven ... crap! "What's this? Grass?"
Meanwhile, The Pope is considering a return to a latin mass. Smooth move, Benny. Why not alienate the fifteen people who haven't already been turned off by the irrelevance of religion. Apparently, he isn't the least bit concerned about job security. Oh wait ... he still rides around in that Popemobile, right?

HOUSTON - If you think gasoline prices are high now, consider the eye-popping possibilities if another monster storm pummels the Gulf of Mexico this hurricane season, the way Katrina and Rita battered the petroleum-rich waters in 2005.
Oh -- I'm scared. If it isn't a storm, it's a perceived shortage or trouble in the Middle East or some short-term price issue ... whatever. We're screwed, gang. I saw a story on ABC News on Saturday night that said a poll told them that people would not alter their driving habits until gas prices reached $5 a gallon. What that tells me is that the oil companies have the ability to raise prices to $5. They know that too, but they cannot raise prices so dramatically, so they do it in penny (or the ridiculous nine-tenths of a penny) increments. They wratchet it up a little at a time while we make subtle adjustments to our lives in response - until - we finally stop doing something that uses gasoline, at which point they will stop. It's $5 now, $6 next year ...
Meanwhile, they scare us with this storm nonsense. Did we have any storms last year? No. How are gas prices going?

My Sick Ride

I'm not sure if this officially makes me an old fart or a sensible commuter, but I have entered the world of commuter bicycles. This is the Specialized Globe City 7.1. It is much more practical and easy to ride than my road bike, and I don't have to wear that silly spandex and the special shoes, which make walking a challenge, and public ridicule a social event.
The Specialized catalog says the Globe is "for riders who believe that riding a bike is better than driving a car." Hey -- that's me!

There are way too many short car trips in my daily activities (especially on weekends), and every time I start the car to go a mile and back, I get a little more aggravated at (a) the price of gasoline (b) the "hidden" cost of starting and stopping the car on short trips and (c) the fact that it's just far enough to drive but too long to walk and carry bags and junk. So, the bike seems to be the best answer, and with the ever-increasing price of gasoline, it will only take about 200 miles for this little fella to pay for itself in both auto expenses and physical health. I'm 6 miles from my fitness center, 2 miles from a really good sandwich shop and about 4 miles from a town with a lot of restaurants and shops that would make perfect trips for a bike, but are too far to walk to. Plus, the bus that runs into Philadelphia has a rack on the front, so I can take the bike on a day-trip.

The good people at my local bike shop (also less than a mile away) are ordering one for me, and it and me should be on the road by Friday. The owner is looking forward to seeing one, since they do not stock them - yet. I am part guinea pig in this, but it's more guinea than pig, I assure you. For a cyclist, a good shop is like a good auto mechanic. Trusted, honest and hard-working people are invaluable, and the Action Wheels group is as good as it gets.
I can't help but think that I am a little ahead of the curve here, but better to be ahead than to have to catch up. As gas prices inch toward $4, even the fat-ass crowd will start to see the practicality of 2-wheeled transport. The problems start when you realize that the roadway system is not made for bicycles and that people seem to feel the need for speed, since our lives are increasingly cluttered, requiring us to go from place to place as quickly as possible. Maybe ... just maybe ... the high price of gasoline will have some ancillary effect. That of making us, by necessity, slow down and economize our vehicle usage. Maybe. I have been wrong before, like when I thought that people would give up smoking when cigarettes reached a dollar a pack. That was 4 dollars ago, and they are still puffing, social anathema notwithstanding.
The fact is, we love our cars and they will be taken from our cold, dead hands. My problems will arise as I try to negotiate busy streets that were never constructed for bikes. While I am forced to respect anything that weighs 5,000 pounds more than me, there will undoubtedly be times when I will have to restrain myself from throwing a bottle or saluting with one finger the motorist who cuts me off or squeezes me into the soft shoulder because they cannot bear to be a second late for that big scoop of Dippy's ice cream.
Screw 'em. Four-dollar a gallon autoslaves.