Learning is Change

Rooting for a Racist Football Team

I have been a fan on the Football Team from Kansas City since I met my wife in 2002. She introduced me to the wonderful world of Priest Holmes, Trent Green, and Tony Gonzalez. She introduced me to winning, as I had only known The Cleveland Browns growing up (for those of you who don’t follow football, the Browns lose more than they win). And while I had certainly been aware of the problematic use of Native Americans as props and mascots with my hometown Cleveland Indians, I mostly ignored “The Chiefs” as a racist construct.

But, there is no easy way to ignore the “Tomahawk Chop.” Its pervasive use at Arrowhead Stadium and around the league as Kansas City played their games around the league made it so you can’t get away from it. And it is truly something strange to watch tens of thousands of fans all imitating a fictional Native American war cry. Each year that fans continue to do it, it gets harder to justify the ongoing insensitivity towards fellow human beings. It seems as though the entire team (and the “Chiefs Kingdom”) is insisting that performing a chant is more important than respecting a fellow American’s culture.

And yet, I continue to be a fan. I like to watch the new crop of amazing football players do things that I never could. From Patrick Mahomes no-look passes to Travis Kelce’s yards after the catch, they are an incredibly entertaining team to watch. So much so that my family made the decision to go to one of their games. It was the last game of the season against the Denver Broncos, a team that hasn’t won against Kansas City since 2015.

From the moment that it was clear to be another Kansas City victory (this fumble and touchdown was it) the chants started. They got louder as the game ended, and they echoed around the stadium as we all walked to our cars and the light rail. It is clear from how widespread this chant is, that it means something to the people doing it. It means victory, sure, but it also means “community.” It is a way to communicate the supremacy of the team and of the fans. And that supremacy is never more felt than when those chanting are white men. They sing the loudest, likely because they have been drinking most heavily. The chant the hardest because they like to reassure one another: “we are still on top.”

The loudest voices, though, are not the ones we should be listening for.

We should listen to those most directly impacted by the use of this racist practice. The National Congress of American Indians says that “the Kansas City Chiefs… continue to profit from harmful stereotypes originated during a time when white superiority and segregation were common place… and should not be a vehicle of institutionalized racism.” They are saying to fans and to the team itself that a tradition of winning does not require a turn toward white supremacy. It does not require traditions be built and maintained in order to subjugate others.

We can just be a better football team.

And yet, I cannot as a single person, get the entire stadium to stop chanting. But, I can write a blog post. I can amplify the voices of those who need to be heard. And maybe some day soon, we can be louder than those who wish to keep racist war cries at the center of their identity. Maybe one day I can be fully proud to root for the football team from Kansas City.

Taking down the Decorations

I have often heard that the right time to take down holiday decorations is the first full weekend after we ring in the new year. That means that today and/or tomorrow is the exact right time for us. So, I will dutifully go down to the basement and into the crawl space. I will bring up the MANY different bins where we store the Xmas ornaments and the seemingly infinite strands of lights. And we will begin the work of putting away the past.

This past has years within it. It has the many Ugly Ornaments that we get every year, trying to outdo ourselves with each one. It contains all of the little animal ornaments that represent our family as it has grown and changed over the years (we started with two peas in a pod and this year we were 5 frogs, all with our names written in far better handwriting than I could ever muster). This past has our own childhoods represented by the pieces of plastic that have somehow made it nearly 40 years before getting lost or disintegrating.

But, we put the past away into these boxes. We put away both the good and the bad. The moments of conflict as our family becomes more and different than it was when we were just two peas in a pod. The sadness of those who have died since our first holiday as a family. We put them away.

And what do we hang in their stead? Are there decorations that we hang on the mental mantle, that represent our lives to us in little moments and memories? Yes.

As I look around my house and notice all of the things on the countertops or hanging over the banister, I know that it is all decoration. The piece of homework that is yet to be completed. The coat that has yet to be warn. The golden electric mini-tree that we illuminate whenever we have company. These are decorations that are ever present, but also ever-changing. Even the pieces of a stuffed animal that our dog has strewn about on the carpet and we have not collected enough energy to gather. This is our menagerie to the past, and even this trash is a part of it.

And we cannot take our decorations down or put them away fully. Everything we wear or put on our shelves is a testiment to who we have been and what we have wanted and hated and built and collected. We are our past, and we cannot put it away no matter how much we want to. There are not nearly enough bins to store our history. Which is why it doesn’t much matter whether I take down my Xmas tree or put away the lights. They are just the most obvious representation that time has, in fact, passed.

So, leave your tree up. Or don’t. Just know that for every ornament that you call an ornament, there are hundreds of other objects in your house that perform the same function: helping us to remember.

I remember my family. And my own history. And I will hold on to both and never put them away.

Standing in the Cold

Yesterday I wore 2 hats, 2 pairs of gloves, a pair of long underwear and a black suit. I wore these clothes to attend the funeral of a family friend: Jamie Lynn Sullivan.

I stood outside at Fort Logan Cemetary with nearly a hundred others. It was far below freezing (hence the clothing), but I wasn’t cold. I was with those who loved her most, those who respected her work and her life. The community who gathered is one that has only grown in my estimation as I have gotten to know them further since Jamie was killed on December 4, 2021.

Love is a funny thing. It grows with commitment and support. It dies in isolation and with division. As we stood together with one another out in the cold, I could feel the love growing and surrounding us. We were not warm because we wore multiple layers. We were warm because we were gathered together in a single purpose: to remember her and support those she left behind.

We will continue to stand together: for warmth, for community, and for love.

Newsletters for Truth

Email is simultaneously the default operating system for work and the cluttered antithesis of all productive activity. The convenience of having a single “inbox” for all of the messages that I might need is so seductive that I have subscribed to many different news resources that I regularly read. This is in addition to time reading Twitter, Apple News, and GoodLinks articles that I have saved for later (or possibly, never). I do not subscribe to these outlets because I want to distract myself from work. Rather, I have actively sought out these perspectives in the same way that I used to read blogs regularly. I want to hear from particular voices. I want to make sure that I am informed and I want that information to be intentional, not incidental. I wanted to enumerate these sources so that others can take advantage of the insights, or at least know how I am filling my morning reading time:

  • Heather Cox Richardson – A friend of mine recommended this one a couple of years ago, and I read it EVERY DAY. Her way of writing relies heavily upon historical research and modern political science. While her perspective is decidedly left-of-center, her ability to communicate current events in a way that makes sense in the broader context is a welcome respite from news articles that lack all historical perspective.
  • The Factual – I pay for this service to serve up the top 5 news stories of the day with a balanced set of articles to support each one. There is also a daily survey that gives me a pulse on exactly where my opinions stack up with other users of the service (short answer: I’m far more liberal than many other folks who are looking for a “balanced perspective.”). It is one of the biggest ways that I catch stories that fly under the radar in my carefully curated bubble on Twitter.
  • City Cast Denver – This is the only local newsletter that I subscribe to, but it is essential reading. I get 100% of my restaurant recommendations from this daily message. I also learn what is happening in my city in a way that a local newspaper would have done in the past. However, City Cast has an obvious personality that makes it worth reading too. It includes personal anecdotes from a Denver native, a perspective that I enjoy but could never understand. Denver has changed so much in the last 40 years that only someone who has been here for that whole time can describe. It is the Colorado history that I didn’t get when I was in school because I grew up in Ohio and they didn’t teach Colorado history there. Go figure.
  • Observatory: Institute for the Future of Education – This is one that I came to pretty organically. It is from Tecnologico de Monterrey and it is the only newsletter/website I know of that actually talks about progressive education that also is influenced by online and blended learning pedagogy. While this is obviously a niche interest, I really like staying up on what is happening at Innovative educational institutions around the world.
  • Rewire News Group: The Fallout – Ever since Texas passed Senate Bill 8 (the EXTREMELY restrictive anti-choice “heartbeat” law that allows anyone to object to an abortion and receive damages for it) I have become far more active in learning about and fighting for reproductive rights. It will come as no surprise that this kind of reporting was not making it into my news diet enough (Men do not get algorithmically recommended these kinds of articles, so I have to seek them out).
  • Tedium – While I do not read this newsletter from top to bottom, I often find the whimsical look at pop culture and technology to resonate when the topic crosses over with my own interests. The in-depth look “natural scrolling” for example was truly fascinating. The history of coupon clipping was far less so. Regardless of the topic, the writing is well researched and oftentimes hilarious.
  • Press Run – I have yet to decide whether or not I enjoy partisan pandering when I seemingly agree with the majority of what a person says as well. It feels like I am falling into a trap, but a trap for what? Is it a trap where I end up learning the truth about world events, or is it a trap where I cannot tell what I true because things are so slanted to only represent part of the story? I use Press Run to help me answer that. I end up reading this newsletter to determine whether or not I believe in each plank of the democratic platform or if there are some things that I different upon. It is a great check for my own sanity whenever I dig into a claim to see if it is backed up by other sources and viewpoints as well.
  • OnTech with Shira Ovide – I don’t always agree with her perspective, but I truly appreciate the way she questions the role of technology in our lives. She makes the most important elements of any story into an easy to understand narrative. She takes vague concepts like data privacy and makes them concrete and palatable on any given Monday morning. She also does the thing where you link to other articles multiple times in a single sentence so that you can see how her thinking has been informed. (For Example: “America’s cities are so reliant on cars not because we lack tech options or alternatives. It’s because we have policies that subsidize automobiles. There is free parking, zoning that separates people’s homes from work and shopping and a lack of investment in public transit, walking and cycling to make alternatives to car trips more appealing.”) It is a pleasure to view the tech world from her skeptical viewpoint.

While there are a few other newsletters that I still subscribe to, I rarely read them. They will all get purged when I do my next “great unsubscribe.” More importantly, though, I am thinking of starting back up my own newsletter. I wonder what my perspective will lend to others. Will it allow for better context or a wider world view? Or, will it simply be something to pass the time as you struggle to work up the energy to answer the far more pressing email in your inbox?

Apocalypse Soon

I have been watching a lot of (post-) apocalypse movies and television shows. I watch them because I find them both comforting and terrifying. Comforting because I know that our world has not actually devolved into killing one another for food or shelter. And terrifying because I see the seeds of each of the world-ending moments in my life.

Given that I am drawn to these pieces of media, I thought it might be useful to enumerate them and dig into why I find them so resonant. So, in no particular order, here are the shows and movies I’ve been watching that feature an end to the world as we know it:

  • Invasion – While this one is technically about an alien invasion that brings about the apocalypse, I found that the human elements of the story (children trying to survive on their own, a soldier trying to get back home, a family just trying to survive in the face of something they don’t understand) connected deeply. Just because the world is ending doesn’t mean that we instantly become better (or much worse) people. We will still be selfish and contemplative and loving and desperate. My takeaway: I’m trying to hold on to our humanity in a moment that feels totally out of control (i.e., do we live in a democracy?).
  • Station Eleven – After a deadly pandemic wipes out most of the planet’s population, a group of actors and musicians live the very small, dangerous, and intimate life of traveling performers. Also, there is a quasi-magical story book that has morphed into a prophecy for those who were born after the pandemic. While our pandemic is far more “slow rolling,” the way that society breaks down in this show points toward what is possible when the whole world shrinks into a single quarantined apartment or a few people that survived a tragedy. My takeaway: The world is always dangerous and people will create a story to help them survive. It doesn’t really matter what the story is, so long as people can hold on to it. And that is both devastating and beautiful.
  • Y: The Last Man – When a sudden and unforeseen illness kills all of the men on the earth with a Y chromosome (except one, of course), the world is run by what is left of the government (the women who were in the line of succession, etc.). It is a story about how a seemingly ordinary man has to embrace (or run away from) the label of “savior of the world.” All of the women are reminded of what they have lost (and what they have gained) whenever they look around and only see themselves reflected back. My takeaway: The world order can and will be turned on its head. The real question is, what will we do once that happens? Will we stubbornly cling to what was, or will we embrace reality to create what will be?
  • Finch – The earth now has a bunch of holes in its ozone layer, without which the sun becomes a fiery death ball. Finch (Tom Hanks) is trying to keep his dog safe, even as he dies from radiation exposure. To ensure the safety of his canine companion, Finch creates a sentient robot that is capable of learning and complex thought. In the end, it is more of a coming of age story for both Finch and the Robot (who chooses the name Jeff mid-film). Jeff is incredibly human in his mistakes, and the empathy I felt for him was unexpected in its depth. My takeaway: The (my) world is ending, whether slow or fast. What art am I going to make (or what legacy am I going to leave) before that happens?

Now, if I were a more topical writer, I would include Don’t Look Up in this list, but I am still trying to work out my feelings on that one. And, as the apocalypse really only happens in the last few minutes of the film, it really is a story about living in the time just before the world ends and not during or after. And for whatever reason, I feel more drawn to the aftermath, to “picking up the pieces.”

Because in some ways, it feels as though the world has already ended and we just haven’t recognized it yet. In some ways I see these stories not as foretelling the future, but as a reflection of the present. They are not warnings, but rather variations on the theme of our current reality. And when you look at them that way, they are the only stories worth paying attention to.

They are stories of survival, and right now, I am trying to survive.

Back to School

I have taken more pictures in the last three weeks than I typically take in 6 months. This is because my children have been home. I take more pictures of my children than I do of anything else in existence. They are the most photographed nouns in my house. And with that comes a huge amount of joy.

I take pictures of things that I want to remember or want to share with others. The 100+ pictures I took of my children unwrapping presents or helping in the kitchen or sitting down at the table or building legos or playing basketball is testament to just how much I want to remember them. And I have shared these pictures with my partner, with my extended family, and even with Twitter.

And yet, I think the real reason I take so many pictures of my family is that they are often not with me. After (almost) three weeks of being home, my children will be headed back to their respective schools (one elementary, one middle, and one high school). While I am happy that they will be able to see their friends and I will be able to get back into a routine with work, there is a sadness there too. I am sad that I will not be able to see them in the middle of the day. I am sad that I will not be able to pop three batches of popcorn and start on a movie marathon. I am sad that I will not be pulled out of my own head for long enough to consider the immediate needs of those I love.

And there will likely be no extra pictures of them today. It is just a regular Tuesday, the kind in which my children make their own choices. And I remind myself that this is a good thing. I remind myself that them going to school will (eventually) have benefits for their lives. I know that they will be taking their own pictures, and making their own moments that need remembering.

They are real people, and these hundreds of pictures I took are testament to that. They do not capture some idyllic life that is free from conflict. Rather, they tell the story of 3 beautiful creatures En Media Res. It is the middle of their beginning, with all of the complexity and struggle that comes along with. And while I mourn for the pictures that will not be taken because they are out of the house today, I rejoice for the snapshots I have of who they were heading into 2022.

I understand them just a little bit better after this “Winter Break.” I understand myself a little bit better too. I should probably take more pictures.


Hand above the water with a sparkler.

I often think about persistence hunting, even though I know very little about how it actually works. I think about chasing after a large animal and through sheer perseverance over a long period of time and distance, exhaust the animal and overwhelm it, capturing it for sustenance and resources. I understand it in concept, but not in practice. I have yet to persist in anything that doesn’t allow for a significant amount of coasting off of an initial effort. You see, I’m very good at initial effort, at starting things that have no hope of continuing after the moment passes.

I have over a dozen domains purchased for projects that never materialized. Not because the ideas themselves lacked viability (well, maybe phonephriend.com), but rather that they required significant persistence that never materialized. Obviously, this is not a new story. People have started and quit things with regularity for generations. History is filled with small businesses that didn’t pan out and household projects that amounted to nothing. And yet, it is the relative success that I experienced so early in my career that made me believe that my personal history would be different.

I thought that the “Totally Wired Teacher of 2007” represented the first step in a Totally Wired path that I would be able to identify and pursue. It was to be the first large animal that I stalked and brought down. And yet, the other animals did not keep coming, or perhaps I just stopped looking for them. I thought that the feast that I experienced from 2007-2010 would feed me for the rest of my life. But, it hasn’t.

2010 was 12 years ago, and while I don’t think I fully stopped pursuing the large animals that I still see in my dreams until late 2016, I could feel myself slowing down. I could feel the persistence giving way to apathy, a feeling that I hate more than any other.

And once I stopped looking for and chasing down the big projects that produce “big wins,” it became a mystery as to how I ever did it in the first place. It sounds like so much work to wake up even earlier and work on a new project or to eliminate the distractions that are ever present. You cannot both continue running down an antelope and sit on the couch watching YouTube. You also cannot persist on behalf of someone else. You have to be able to feel your own strength as you track and run and make and pursue.

And wandering around aimlessly, hoping that a large animal will just cross your path is not a viable option. You are likely to never see one.

And yet, I can’t help but think that there is at least one more caribou or buffalo out there for me. I will just have to leave the warmth of the fire for long enough to catch its scent. I cannot build the future I want if I am unwilling to craft new tools, ones that are better equipped to capture this generation of indifferent beast. So, craft them I will.

Waking before the sun, I will start to venture further out. I will find my next animal to track, and tackle to the ground. I will continue, even when I cannot find the right one. I will not stop when the trail is lost. Because it is isn’t really lost; the trail is always there. It is I who have become lost. And it is in the search, the passionate and relentless pursuit that I will become found.

Once again, I persist.

Ben Wilkoff and Kara Wilkoff’s House Bill 21-1310 Testimony

We were asked by ACLU Colorado to provide testimony for The House Transportation & Local Government Committee hearing on May 25, 2021. Here is the transcript and an audio recording of that testimony.

Dear esteemed members of the House Transportation & Local Government Committee and bill sponsors, Cutter and Rodriguez, thank you for holding this important hearing to listen to and learn about how this issue of free speech is directly affecting your constituents.

My name is Ben Wilkoff, and I am here today because I believe there is no institution in American life that the has standing or power to strip the rights afforded to me by the constitution of the United States of America. And yet, that is exactly what our Homeowners Association claims. This organization which oversees 71 homes and whose supposed purpose is to provide access to reliable trash service and to keep the front entryway to our neighborhood looking clean, has baselessly asserted that they have the right to limit any speech they deem inconsistent with, as one HOA board member put it, “a family-friendly place where people have established deep roots.”

And yet, the current HOA policy of selectively enforced content-based flag censorship is not friendly to my family. In fact, we have felt, in both the words and actions of our HOA, that the policing of our speech is meant to intimidate and select for only specific types of families to live in our neighborhood (and again, I’m quoting) “promote rising property values.”

We have lived in our neighborhood since 2009, and in that time, we have seen flags waive to show pride in a favorite sports team or signs put up to show pride in a graduating senior. These things are worthy of showing pride. We are proud of our children. We are proud when our favorite team wins. But so too are we proud of who we are, as Americans and members of a diverse society and democracy. And yet, when my family chose to express this pride in our multi-racial makeup and chose to proclaim, despite much evidence to the contrary, that Black Lives, do indeed, Matter, our HOA has declared this type of pride is not allowed. This type of solidarity will somehow lower housing prices. And this type of identity is worthy only of censorship.

And that is why I am here in support of HB21-1310. Passing this bill will mean that no other families will receive letters on official HOA letterhead telling them that their identity is “not approved.” Passing this bill will mean no other households have to hide who they are in order to be accepted within a community. You have the power to de-politicize our neighborhood. You can, with this vote, remove the illusion that a Homeowners Association can govern the content of a flag in the hopes of whitewashing a history of violence and exclusion.

Ultimately, though, our flag is not just a symbol to black members of our community that they matter or to my wife and children that they matter. It is a symbol that free speech matters; that the constitution matters. And, that is why your yes vote is so important to me and to my family. Thank you for your time, your attention, and your passion for making Colorado and my neighborhood of Kensington Ridge a place I am proud to call home.

Ben Wilkoff

Thank you to the House Transportation and Local Government Committee as well as the bill sponsors Representative Cutter and Rodriguez for being here today. Your service is greatly appreciated. My name is Kara Roux Wilkoff and I’m a resident of Littleton, CO.

Our first amendment clearly states that our freedom of speech shall not be abridged. This right, guaranteed over 230 years ago stands both true and unalienable today as much as it did then. My HOA, Kensington Ridge and Cobblestone Village, believes differently. They believe that they can choose which content and whose freedom of speech is allowable.

I would never have known this about my HOA had it not been for my family’s decision to fly a Black Lives Matter flag. The details of Elijah McClain’s murder in Aurora was the last I could handle in what has been a horrible time for people of color. As a half black woman, it is important to me, that I do something. Something to represent inclusion, acknowledgement, love and support of Black lives, of both my people and those of the world. Hanging our flag, albeit a small gesture was one of the possible way we could support and so we did.

My HOA has had flags since we’ve lived here; over 12 years. Athletic flags (like the Avs), American flags (which were expressly protected by the State Law) and many signs. Signs that show these neighbors are proud of who they are and even more proud to display them on their own property. This felt no different to me. My flag.

Then, we got the first letter from the HOA telling us we must take it down or get it approved. We jumped through all the hoops — dotted i’s crossed more t’s than were written. We were told our flag was not approved. We were told signs were not allowed based upon our HOA covenants. How could that be when for over the past decade we have seen many flags just like we can right now – all without any enforcement from the HOA.? It was then I realized that it was the “content” of our flag that was the deciding factor.

To be clear, that content states: BLACK LIVES MATTER. And they do.

Since then, I’ve received letters from neighbors telling me they are not racist with what I find to be painful anecdotes such as, “I used to date black men” but I just don’t agree with BLM. I have had neighbors, get into my personal space to tell me their story that inevitably has something to do with an experience they have had with a person of color. I have been told that a neighbor said, “Not that it matters, but George Floyd wasn’t that great of a person.”

And I weep.

Neighbors have consistently touted that they want “a quiet good life.” As if somehow a sign supporting black lives leads to not living a quiet good life. I’ve had neighbors tell me that they don’t feel comfortable (with my flag). Does my skin make you uncomfortable too? I still weep.

Members of this committee, passing HB 21 13 10 will make it so that the “association” will not be able to prohibit or regulate the display of flags based on their subject matter, content or message.” This is what our constitution protects. The HOA is abusing its power all over the state and using the current statue as a shield and we need your help, your courage, your fight to shift it back. To us, the citizens. So that we can continue to proudly fly our flag in support of Black Lives like our neighbors have done since we’ve lived here for causes that matter to them. Thank you.

Kara Wilkoff

A Hobby Computer


I have always been given a work computer. In every single role, since I began teaching in 2004. This is what they have been since I (or rather, my Apple ID) started keeping track:

  • MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2017, Four Thunderbolt 3 Ports) – University of Colorado
  • MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2016, Four Thunderbolt 3 ports) – Aurora Public Schools
  • Apple MacBook Pro “Core i5″ 2.5 13” Retina 2012 – Denver Public Schools
  • Macbook Air – Northstar Knowledge
  • Apple MacBook Pro “Core 2 Duo” 2.4 13″ Mid-2010 – Edmodo
  • Apple MacBook Air “Core 2 Duo” 2.13 13″ (Mid-09) – Douglas County Schools

Before that, they were iBooks or eMacs or some other thing that allowed me to get my work done.

And yet, I have always used these machines to do other things too. From writing to socializing to doing the slightest bit of gaming. And yet, when it comes to actually making a living from a machine of my very own, I have never had an easy way to separate things out. Sure, I have always had a home computer or device.

I have multiple Macs and a few iPads, all nearly 10 years old by now. And they have served me well. But, I’ve never been able to put away my work computer, my day job life, and then open up a hobby computer, the one that I want to build into what I become.

I have made a few attempts with a 2010 iMac, but every time that I boot it up now, it seems to be mocking me with the amount of time it takes between clicks to get anything done.

And yet, I may have found a solution for just such a (first world) problem as this:

My partner, Kara, purchased a Macbook Pro this past year. It is was the perfect computer for her combination of Nursing, Acting, and Production work. And yet, because she stopped running her own business (mostly), it has now been relegated to sitting in the corner of our wet bar, gathering dust.

And even though I have wanted a space of my very own to work from, whenever I feel the inspiration strike, when Kara tasked me to figure out what I wanted to do with this computer, I couldn’t.

I couldn’t think of any way to productively use this MacBook Pro “Core i5″ 2.3 13” Touch/2018, one that is exactly one year older than the amazing machine that my day job has paid for.

And then it struck me: this is the perfect development machine. This is the machine that I can use to finally build an app that I can call my own. This is the computer that I can use to make my own way in the world of developers and designers. Of writers and builders. It is fast enough to do anything I can throw at it, and light enough that I can carry it around to anywhere in the house that feels most productive.

It feels like the new way of interpreting Virginia Woolf’s, “A Room of One’s Own.” Except, this time, it is a laptop of one’s own. And yet, I will still share this machine with others. It is not just mine and it is not something that I alone will build things upon. Kara will continue to make things here when she wants to.

And if my kids want to help me to build apps, then they can do that with me here too. For now, this machine will rest underneath our couch, just waiting for one of us to grab it and learn or build something with it.