Archive for April 2009

Rummage Anyone?

Posted: Thursday, April 30, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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I was startled out of sleep early this morning by the sound of slamming car doors and the shrill voices of women talking rather loudly as they walked by just a few feet away from my window. Okay it was 8 o’clock..but still..when you’re a retired guy who desperately needs all the beauty sleep he can muster, that’s awfully  early and inconsiderate.
“What the heck is going on outside?”  Then it dawned on me. Oh, yeah it’s time once again for the annual neighborhood Spring rummage sale that brings all sorts of bargain hunting strangers into our neck of the woods twice a year; May and October. 
It’s not supposed to start until Friday, but  many families want to get the jump on their neighbors so they put their stuff out a day early. The experienced rummagers know this, of course, and start showing up shortly after first light before everything’s picked over.  
It’s been really busy too. The traffic in our normally quiet little corner of town is suddenly like drop-off time at the elementary schools.I suppose it’s because of our lousy economy; lots of folks trying to get some extra cash by getting rid of their extra crap..and plenty of others willing to wheel and deal for that crap because they can’t afford it at the store.One of my neighbors has hand carved wing flapping birds for sale.I once suggested to Linda, who is always complaining about the excess junk we have piling up around here, that maybe we should join our neighbors; hang some streamers from a step ladder in front of the house and turn our garage into a discount center.  It turns out that she would rather stick needles in her eyes than go through the torture of holding a rummage sale. I made the foolish mistake of asking “Why honey?”
“Doug, you have no idea of how long it takes to organize everything..get things sorted..clothing sized..tables borrowed and set up..deciding what to charge and getting those stupid price stickers on everything. But that’s not the worst of it..you have to sit out there from dusk till dawn watching total strangers paw through your possessions like hyenas over a fresh kill and then try to get a nickel knocked off something marked 10 cents. No thank you! I’d much rather give it away to Goodwill or the YWCA and get a receipt for taxes.”
“Oh, okay then.”
Linda doesn’t even like to go to rummage sales.
But, you know what? I do.     
You can’t drag me to a shopping mall but I absolutely love rummage sales. I’m not sure why..I really don’t need anything. It’s just fun to jump on my motorcycle and tool around the neighborhood looking for bargains from other people’s excesses. I’ve never been too interested in clothing or toys but if there are tools, musical instruments or sports equipment sitting in the driveway, I’m there ready to do a deal.  In the past I’ve brought home golf clubs golf balls and golf bags..fishing poles and lures, drums and cymbals, a couple guitars, a cowboy hat, a trumpet, a lawnmower, and several bicycles. Heck, I even bought a car at the spring rummage in 1986 and gave it to my daughter for her high school graduation. She drove it pretty much trouble free all through college in Brookings and for several years afterward.
Well, I gotta wrap this up and go see if I can find any long folding tables for sale just in case Linda changes her mind about a rummage of our own next Fall. I’ve been in the market for a Jeep Grand Cherokee like that one on the right..time for a closer look.

Driving Off Into The Sunset

Posted: Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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Little GTO, you’re really lookin’ fine Three deuces and a four-speed and a 389 Listen to her tachin’ up now, listen to her why-ee-eye-ine C’mon and turn it on, wind it up, blow it out GTO.
I never owned a GTO like Ronnie and the Daytonas sang about in the their 1964 hit song..and now, even though they’ve made a come-back (the car not the band) I guess I never will.  After 83 years, General Motors has pulled the spark plugs on its Pontiac division in an effort to prove to the government that it is trying to stop the financial hemorrhaging that has brought the once proud and profitable auto maker to the brink of bankruptcy and surviving on federal bailout money.Iwas never too keen on those big ‘ol boats that Pontiac used to build. You know, the ones that proudly displayed the image of Ottawa Indian Chief, Pontiac on the hood, fenders and steering wheel. This 1955 Pontiac hood ornament actually lit up when the headlights were on.But in the early sixties, new young designers including John DeLorien were brought aboard to bring Pontiac out of granny’s garage and into the hands of a new generation  of motorists that wanted to go fast. I shudder to think about it now, but the fastest I’ve ever gone in a car was the 1963 Pontiac I bought while living in Pierre in 1968. It was pretty plain on the outside but had a great big engine. It looked just like this one.I foolishly decided one day to see what this “Pontiac Wide Excitement” thing they advertised was all about and headed toward the two lane highway west of town. I pushed the throttle to the floor and didn’t let up again until the speedometer reached 110.  It might have gone faster but I was shaking so much there was a good chance of losing control.
In the following years, Pontiac not only produced the popular GTO but later the Grand Prix, the sporty Firebird and the Trans Am of Smokey and the Bandit fame. That film turned out to be a big hit for Burt Reynolds at the box office and for Pontiac in the showrooms. Still enough power in this 1977 Trans Am to smoke the tires. 
After a lull in sales during the 90’s, Pontiac was going through another necessary attitude adjustment bringing back the GTO and introducing what I consider to be the best looking sports car in the world for the money; the Solstice. I’ve driven one just like this and it’s as fun as it looks.
I know, I know..rather than getting sentimental over the demise of an automobile brand, I should be mourning the loss of 21 thousand jobs at Pontiac and worried about my tax dollars being used to prop up a lost cause.  But, it’s hard for some of us to witness these bits of Americana forced into extinction.
Nobody’s going to write songs about their “little Nissan Altima really lookin’ fine..tachin’ up..listenin’ to her why-ee-eye-ine.”

Rock & Roll part 2

Posted: Friday, April 24, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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Keloland Television’s Captain Eleven may have been the only man with the power to control time..but those of us involved in the newly formed South Dakota Rock and Roll Music Association are making an effort to rock back the clock to the roots of rock and roll music in South Dakota. Seven bands who played a significant role in providing the music that kept young people entertained and dancing during the 50’s and 60’s will be the first to be inducted into our Hall of Fame on Sunday evening May 24th at the Shrine Mosque (formerly the Arkota Ballroom) in Downtown Sioux Falls.If you grew up in..or have an appreciation for..those terrific times when music was simple and  simply wonderful..you can hear it again and meet the guys who made it happen during the ceremony on May 24th.
Among those in the 2009 Hall of Fame class are “The Jadesmen.”
The group, which includes former Augustana College president, Bruce Halverson, got its start at Edison Jr. High in 1958 and continued as they attended Washington High. During their hayday, The Jadesmen played at ballrooms and clubs throughout South Dakota, Iowa and Minnesota. The band kept going strong throughout college at Auggie until they finally went their separate ways in 1966.
Although now scattered all over the country, the guys reunited in 1998. It was so much fun they decided to produce a CD four years later. The Jadesmen have since recorded a second CD and will get back together again to perform at the induction ceremony May 24th.
Also in the class of 2009 are The Byrnes Brothers. They formed about 1955, being all Lakota, they received a large following across Indian country..especially on the reservations. Ted Bordeaux joined the brothers in 1958 and continued with them until the youngest Byrnes brother, Fred, became old enough to play bass.  Now nearing 80, Ted Bordeaux continues to play steel guitar on occasion. Sadly, all of the Byrnes Brothers except Dean have passed away. Dean continues to live in Pierre where he has his own entertainment business and still sings the oldies. He too has a CD and it sounds fantastic! Dean has also agreed to sing at the induction ceremony. 
For more information on the inductees and how to get tickets..just click here.
Next week, I’ll be profiling two more inductees; Gary Miller and the Vaqueros from Spearfish (Gary Miller went on to fame and fortune as a comedian, Gary Mule Deer)
Plus, The Mystics out of Aberdeen who also plan to perform at the ceremony.
Rock On!

Never Look A Gift Horse In The Mouth

Posted: Wednesday, April 22, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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How does a former Mitchell, South Dakota cop, earning less than 20 bucks an hour, end up deciding how to spend the multi billion dollar fortune of New York’s notorious “queen of mean,” Leona Helmsley?   Well, it’s one of the perks of being the late hotelier’s grandson.
32 year old Walter Panzirer is one of four children born to Helmsley’s only son, Jay, who died in 1982 at the age of 42.Panzirer apparently never mentioned his famous relative during his four years on the force in Mitchell. According to the Mitchell Daily Republic, it only came out when he ran unsuccessfully for Davison County sheriff in 2006. Walter Panzirer, Leona Helmsley’s grandson.      Mitchell Daily Republic photoAfter Helmsley’s death in 2007, he, along with four others, including his brother, David Panzirer, were named in the will as trustees of the Helmsley estate estimated at over 5 billion dollars. The first 136 million came out of the distribution vault on Tuesday and, thanks to the apparent influence and generosity of Mr. Panzirer, over 19 million of that is headed for South Dakota with the bulk going to Avera Health Systems. Clearly he has a soft spot for Mitchell..earmarking 2 million to Queen of Peace Hospital there and 3 ½ mill to the Abbott House..a facility for troubled girls.
I haven’t been able to find out much about why Walter Panzirer chose to make South Dakota his home but he certainly doesn’t seem to possess the dubious qualities of his famous grandmother whose reputation as a ruthless tyrannical hotel and real estate tycoon is well documented as is her 18 month stretch in prison for tax evasion in 1989. Leona and Hubby, Harry Helmsley 1991Even in death, Helmsley raised eyebrows and caused heads to shake in disbelief when, in her will, she asked that 12 million dollars be placed in a trust for the care and feeding of  her beloved little dog, “Trouble,” while leaving two of her grandkids zilch. In a mission statement, she also requested that the bulk of her estate go directly to the care and welfare of dogs. A judge has since ruled that the trustees don’t have to stick to those mandates and another judge ruled that Helmsley was mentally unfit when she executed the will so the two disinherited grandkids get six million afterall.Walter Panzirer and his brother each got ten million dollars..but not without stipulations. They’d receive five million outright but the other five would only come on condition that  the boys visit their father’s grave in New York once a year.
I’m betting that Walter would have met that condition without being told.
P.S. Here’s an interesting and timely tidbit from the Keloland memory banks:  Keloland founder, Joe L. Floyd was good friends with Wisconsin Senator, Gaylord Nelson. In 1969 the two of them were in Florida together when Nelson mentioned his deep concerns about environmental issues facing America. Nelson said he wanted to organize some major event to call attention to the worsening condition. He had the idea but was stuck for a catchy title. That’s when Joe Floyd said, “Why don’t you just call it Earth Day?” And that’s what Nelson did..promoting it from his Senate office before the concept caught on nationally.Now you know the rest of the story..er, sorry Paul.

Down In The Boondocks

Posted: Monday, April 20, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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I guess one of the sure signs that you’ve crossed the line from middle age to geezer-dom is when people keep sending you e-mails about it. For instance, here’s a list someone sent me just the other day:You start saving nuts, bolts, nails and screws in little glass jars.
You keep more food in the fridge than beer.
6 AM is when you get up not when you go to bed.
A four dollar bottle of wine is no longer “pretty good s*it.”
You realize you’ve been driving for a half hour with your turn signal on.
You’re willing to spend more for quality appliances knowing they’re probably the last ones you’ll ever buy.
You can’t wait to get together with friends for a game of shuffleboard.
Hey, wait a minute..that last one is true! 
A few weeks ago, our pals; Joanie and Denny, called to see if we wanted to go for a ride. Well, we wound up at Boondocks in Worthing about a half hour South of Sioux Falls. After commenting on how good the free popcorn was, I noticed they had a table shuffleboard game and suggested we give it a try.Unlike the shuffleboard that’s played with push sticks on the decks of cruise ships by white-haired women in moo moos and old guys in black socks and sandals, this shuffleboard is played indoors on a slippery long table with metal discs the size of hockey pucks.Because the 22 foot hardwood table is dusted with a wax-like powder, very little effort is required to send those pucks shooshing to the other end where points are awarded for getting closest to the edge. So, finesse is rewarded over brute strength.Linda and Joanie really love this game and have gotten very good at it but in doing so have developed a few characteristics that are not very becoming to Denny and me..like fist-pumping and saying yes, yes, yes when they blast one of our pucks out of scoring position and into the gutter with one of their carefully-aimed shots. 
Table shuffleboard has been around forever (My dad had one in the Volga pool hall back in the 50’s) but it’s popularity as a bar game has fizzled as much as it has flourished.
We are sort of hoping that it doesn’t get too popular again because we’re having so much fun and usually have the game to ourselves on Saturday afternoons  The four of us have checked out a couple other places that have tables but they’re not nearly as good ( too sticky or not very level) and cost two dollars as opposed to 50 cents a game at Boondocks.
Yeah, I  know…frugality is another sign of geezerhood.

Adventures In Space

Posted: Friday, April 17, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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I was 15 when Alan B. Shepard became the first American to fly in space. I remember being a bit disappointed that his flight was intended to only last 15 minutes and not to actually go into orbit like the Russian cosmonaut had already done.  We had to wait until John Glenn’s mission in February of 1962 for that.
It didn’t take long, though, for the United States to surpass those godless commies in every aspect of the space race and I was glued to the television watching network coverage of each major milestone.  I suppose, like most young guys, I thought about the thrills and challenges of becoming an astronaut but it didn’t take long to dismiss such fancies once I realized there were a lot of physical requirements to meet and I’d probably have to do better than "D’s in math and in Mr. Prendergast’s chemistry class.
We’ve been reminded many times, since Alan Shepard first sat atop that Redstone rocket in 1961, of how hazardous space travel can be. I recall one such incident, 39 years ago today, that brought people of the world together like never before.
Even though landing a man on the moon in 1969 was one of the most incredible achievements in history.. by the Spring of 1970, most Americans weren’t all that excited about our third trip to the lunar surface.“Been there, done that.”  Not me. I couldn’t wait for the crew of Apollo 13 to arrive and start sending back live images..in color! Up to then, the only live pictures we’d seen were those fuzzy ones from the first mission, Apollo 11.  Well, I shouldn’t say that because when Apollo 12  landed, people on earth were treated to a couple minutes of amazingly clear (for the time) color TV signals..which suddenly disappeared.In a bonehead move that he never did live down, astronaut Alan Bean pointed the lens directly into the sun which burned out the camera’s video tube leaving everyone on earth in the dark and groaning with disappointment. Apollo 13 would make up for that and give us our first really good live look from the moon. It wasn’t to be, of course. Apollo 13 astronauts, (l-r) Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert and Fred HaiseOn the way there, the service module blew up and over the next several days, people all around the globe watched and worried and prayed as NASA engineers came up with one unbelievably complicated life-sustaining idea after another in an effort to get our guys back home. After several days surviving in the unused lunar module and sling-shoting around the moon to gain trajectory and speed, the astronauts were nearing the earth once again preparing for re-entry. There were so many unanswered questions; would the command module still function? Had the explosion damaged the heat shield? The date was April 17th.  I’d taken an early lunch from Johnson Shoes and walked down the street to Shrivers and ordered my usual “Denver sandwich.” ( I don’t remember the last time I had a Denver Sandwich..or seeing one on a menu for that matter but the ones at Shriver’s café were really good.) Then, over the store’s p.a. system came the announcement that the astronauts were about to attempt re-entry and communications with the ground would be lost for a few minutes.There were dozens of us gathered around one small TV at Shrivers hardly breathing as the time came and past for the astronauts to call-in. We looked at each other. This isn’t good.  Finally, after what seemed like hours, their voices came crackling over the radio and we could hear the rescue ship reporting it had the capsule parachutes in sight.Strangers began to cheer..shaking hands and hugging one another right there in Shrivers Department Store. No atheists or agnostics that day, I can tell you.
 Apollo 13 astronauts safely aboard USS Iwo Jima after splashdown April 17,1970.
 
 

Hall of Fame Rockers Volume 1

Posted: Tuesday, April 14, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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Aside from church and the Brandon Golf Course, I don’t belong to any clubs or organizations like the Rotary, Lions or Optimists. I did, however, accept an invitation last year to become a member of theSouth Dakota Rock and Roll Music Association board of directors. Being an old rock ‘n roller myself, I have a sentimental attachment to the music of the late fifties and early sixties. It was simple innocent stuff to be sure but it was great fun for a kid to listen to and even more fun to play. Every town, no matter the size, had young guys saving up to buy guitars and drums so they could learn to play, form a band and become stars. Not many did, of course, but several came very close and there was always joy in the attempt.
On Sunday evening, May 24th, the association is going to hold the inaugural Hall of Fame induction ceremony at the Shrine Mosque (Formerly the Arkota Ballroom) in Downtown Sioux Falls at which seven of the early rock and roll bands from South Dakota will be honored. Not only that, but many groups have dusted off their instruments and will be performing the songs they did fifty years ago. For more information on who’ll be there and how to get tickets, click here.
In the weeks leading up to May 24th, I’ll be profiling the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame class of 2009, here on Lund at Large. Let’s begin with Gene Carroll and the Shades from Sisseton.
The band actually started out as the Harold Johnson Orchestra but when Elvis and Buddy Holly came along, they quickly switched to rock ‘n roll.  “The Shades” came about because they figured it would be cool to wear sunglasses on stage. That idea was soon scrapped when they couldn’t see a thing in the dark clubs and ballrooms where they played. The Shades really become popular in the Dakotas and Minnesota..even recording an extended 45 record that is now a collectable cult classic. One reason for that might be because band leader Gene Carroll went on to gain fame and fortune under another name; Mean Gene Okerlund.  Gene Carroll, heart throb rocker 1958 and as Hulk Hogan’s good buddy a few years laterYup, that Mean Gene who has spent some 40 years as a professional wrestling announcer and interviewer. Three years ago, he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame and he plans to attend our HOF ceremonies in person next month.
Sherwin Linton, who grew up in Watertown, is best known for his lengthy successful career in country music..but his roots are in Rock ‘n Roll. In 1956 at the age of 16, Sherwin got a job as a disc jockey at KWAT. Much of the music he played was rockabilly which inspired him to start a band of his own which became The Rocketeers.     Sherwin Linton as a Rocketeer in the late 50′s ….still going strong after over fifty years.The band developed quite a following throughout the upper Midwest. Sherwin’s career really took off, though, when he moved to the Twin Cities and formed “The Cotton Kings” after his hit song, "Cotton King" which he recorded in 1966.  Since then, he’s recorded over 25 albums and traveled millions of miles making music. And talk about staying power; in over fifty years as an entertainer, Sherwin Linton has never missed a gig.
I’ll feature more of the Hall of Fame inductees here next week.

Serving Two Masters

Posted: Wednesday, April 8, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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Depending on the moon’s cycle, Easter can fall anywhere between late March to late April. Unfortunately, this year it has fallen on the same Sunday as the final round of the Masters Golf Tournament..which means I’ll be sharing my celebration of Jesus’ resurrection with Phil Mickelson’s birdie putts on the tricky greens of Augusta National.  I’m already expecting icy stares from Linda when my brother-in-law, Bill and I wolf down our ham dinners then excuse ourselves from the table and head to the other room to watch Masters coverage on CBS TV.  Most women don’t understand why their golfing husbands are so obsessed with The Masters but for us, it is what Mecca is to Muslims or Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim is to Norwegian Lutherans. It is simply the holy grail of golf.
Created by the legendary Bobby Jones in 1933, The Masters has grown to become the most prestigious tournament on the professional tour. The course itself is so exclusive that play isn’t even allowed on it from June to October so it can be kept pristine for the first week in April. Membership at Augusta National is limited to 300 people; mainly incredibly wealthy old white guys who don’t even play the game but insist on clinging like old fashioned rules and regulations like lint to a wool sweater. For example..those who come to watch the tournament are called “patrons”..not fans, not a gallery or crowd. Veteran golf broadcaster, Jack Whitaker learned that the hard way when he made the mistake of referring to them as a “mob.” When the club got wind of what he said, Whitaker was banned from Augusta for many years.  CBS’s popular and colorful golf analyst, Gary McCord hasn’t been back to The Masters since 1995 when he joked that the greens were so fast they appear to have been bikini-waxed. The head honchos at Augusta didn’t find that one bit funny and banned McCord for life.It’s been six years since women’s activist, Martha Burk butted heads with then Augusta National chairman, Hootie Johnson over the club’s men-only membership policy. Burk called for pickets outside the course and boycotts against Masters’ sponsors if that policy wasn’t changed.  Hootie responded by simply saying no and announced that the event would go unsponsored that year. You can do that when you have guys named Gates and Buffet on the membership rolls.
I would love someday to actually see The Masters in person and walk along those hallowed lush green fairways lined by tall pine trees with thousands of flowering dogwoods and azaleas in full bloom.  This might have been the year to do it too. From what I’m reading, lots of corporate big wigs who have always made The Masters a rite of Spring party, are staying home in droves this year because of the recession. Oh, they still may have a few million tucked away in the bank, but in times like these, you don’t want to be seen flaunting it around by taking week-long flings to Georgia in the company plane; renting fancy homes and limos. Even the scalpers are hurting. Four day passes that used to bring 35 hundred dollars are now fetching less than half that.
That’s still out of my league.
Nope, guys like Bill and me will have to be content watching from our recliners. I wonder if our wives will serve us dessert in front of the TV.  

Shrouded In Mystery

Posted: Thursday, April 2, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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Every year around this time, I think about one of the most fascinating interviews I ever did for Keloland News. It was with a Dr. John Jackson..who took part in that famous scientific examination of the Shroud of Turin in 1978.  Jackson, along with 40 other scientists, were granted permission by Catholic Church leaders to carefully conduct all the tests they wanted on the shroud to settle the question once and for all if the holy relic was, in fact, the actual burial cloth of Jesus. 
I caught up with Dr. Jackson in Sioux Falls three years later..just as the group’s findings were being revealed..findings that stunned the world!This was their official conclusion:“We can conclude for now that the Shroud image is that of a real human form of a scourged, crucified man. It is not the product of an artist. The blood stains are composed of hemoglobin and also give a positive test for serum albumin. The image is an ongoing mystery and until further chemical studies are made, perhaps by this group of scientists, or perhaps by some scientists in the future, the problem remains unsolved.”That’s Dr. Jackson peering between two other scientists examining the bottom of the shroud.
I remember asking him if he personally believed that it was the image of Jesus..to which he replied, “I had my doubts going in but the evidence is now too overwhelming to say it is not.” When I asked how the image got on the cloth, Dr. Jackson went through a lengthy scientific explanation of what extraordinary events would have to take place in terms of radiation and energy for anything like that to happen. “Something like the resurrection” I asked?  I remember him smiling but I don’t believe he was quite ready to go that far.The face of a crucified man as it appears on the Shroud of Turin (left) and on the photographic negative (right)
A few years later, findings from three independent carbon dating tests on the shroud were released. They all had come to the conclusion that the burial cloth of Christ was in fact a medieval hoax and that the material was only about 700 years old.  I was really disappointed.
I know it’s not right but I have always been like the doubting disciple, Thomas; needing an occasional sign or wonder to bolster a faith that can occasionally get a little thin. I’m not saying there haven’t been a few answered prayers in recent years; family members who were at death’s door that miraculously got well, but it sure would be nice to witness an Old Testament-variety miracle to shake up all the doubters..especially those smarmy cynics who aren’t simply content in their own atheism but feel driven to publically mock all Christians through movies, TV or even blogs.
But, that’s not the way the big guy works.
There is, however, compelling new evidence that those carbon dating tests on the Shroud of Turin in 1988 were hopelessly flawed. It’s the subject of a couple TV documentaries ( to be aired during Holy Week) and a lot of renewed blustering and bickering on the internet.  It also sounds like the church in Turin, Italy  is going to once again make the shroud available for scientific re-examination as early as next year.So.. that should finally put the matter to rest..right?Oh, come on..you gotta have a little faith.