Horseback Riding and Cougars Just Do Not Mix!

I recently had an encounter with a mountain lion while riding my horse. Button tried to tell me a big cat was near, but I couldn’t see it. I suspected she had seen the cat by the way she bolted. It was a wild ride but we got home safely (with much stomping and agitation) and the lion went on his way. As the fates would have it, an interesting article came up on my social media shortly afterwards.

A Canadian woman came across a cougar, another name for mountain lion, while hiking.  As the cougar approached, she yelled and waved her arms, causing the cat to stop but not back away. Keeping her wits about her, she pulled out her cell phone and played loud music to scare the cat away. Her choice was the loudest band she could think of: Metallica! The band’s hit “Don’t Tread on Me” did the trick. The cougar ran off.  Perhaps he wasn’t a heavy metal fan.

I really do like the idea of using loud music to scare off a lion. However, while riding a very agitated horse, I don’t have a spare hand to get the phone out of my pocket. Both hands are firmly on the reins. I’ll just have to sing loudly, instead. I know many operatic arias I could use.

There aren’t any videos of mountain lions . . . yet.

Note: If you like YouTube channels, please check out Curtis Curly-tail Speaks, where there are lots of videos about my children’s science books and my reptile family and friends, like the one about Roadrunner below that goes with my rhyming (fun) science book, Don’t Make Me Fly!

I happen to believe that science education should be fun! What about you?

 

Do Books Have Birthdays? Yes!

I am pleased to announce the “birth” day of my book above.

Curtis Curly-tail is Lizardnapped (an adventure tale featuring endangered flora and fauna of The Bahamas) is four years old this month.The book has a conservation/ecological theme–woven into a story about Curtis Curly-tail Lizard and his friends, who all work together to save themselves and stolen endangered plants from poachers.

I say, “Let’s learn about science in fun ways! That way, it sticks.”

And I have a new video to celebrate! The video can be seen on YouTube at Curtis Curly-tail Speaks.

Book Description:

In the third book of the series, the very curious Curtis Curly-tail mistakes a poacher for a tourist wanting to snap a picture of his perfectly-curled tail. Instead, he is captured, along with critically endangered native plants, Conch and Iguanas. Together the animals plot their escape from the dangerous poachers, but they can’t do it alone. Who will help them? How will they get free of the cages on a speeding boat and return home safely to Warderick Wells?

An Adventure Tale For Readers Age 10+
Lovely Colored Pencil Illustrations by Jessica Minns/30 Pages

What Do You Call a Group of Animals?

Image courtesy of Markéta Machová from Pixabay

Hello, Friends!

It’s me, Curtis Curly-tail! How is everybody out there? I hope you are staying strong and well.

Are you familiar with collective nouns? I knew they existed. They’re the words that describe a specific group of animals, like a flock of birds or a school of fish. Lizards like me are found in a lounge, i.e., a lounge of lizards (like in the photo above). Other reptiles have fun collective nouns, too. Alligators are found in a congregation, while crocodiles collect in a bask. Cobras form a quiver, while rattlesnakes, a rhumba! That’s one of my favorites. One I have a hard time understanding, though, is an army of frogs. Where did that come from? How threatening would an army of frogs be? (Although, from a reptile point of view, it does sound a bit slimy.)

Mammals have some interesting collective nouns, like a leap of leopards, a horde of hamsters, or a sneak of weasels. That one made me laugh. Then, I learned a collective noun I had never heard of: Fluffle. What is a fluffle a group of, you may ask? I certainly did. A fluffle is a group of wild rabbits. A fluffle of wild rabbits. Can’t you just imagine a group of fluffy, jumping rabbits? I thought this was the perfect collective noun.

Well, it’s time for me to return to my lounge and pose for some pictures on the beach. I just love showing off my perfectly curled tail!

Until next time, take care and please, check out the Curtis Curly-tail series of books, especially my latest adventure when I was caught in a hurricane: Curtis Curly-tail is Blown Away! I think you’re gonna love them. After all, the stories are about my adventures, and Elaine A. Powers, my friend and the author, sneaks science into them. She always says, “Science is fun! Let’s show them!”

I say, “Sure! As long as it’s about me!” She just shakes her head and smiles.

The show must go on! And that reminds me, please come on over and watch me in my starring role on my YouTube page. Lots of fun and interesting things there to learn about really cool (literally) reptiles.

Let ME Tell You How to Find a Lizard! by Curtis Curly-tail Lizard

Hello, my friends! It’s been a while! I’m just getting back home after the hurricane on Beach Cay. Phew! THAT was an adventure! If you’d like to see what I’ve been up to, Curtis Curly-tail is Blown Away is now available at Amazon.com. But I’m back, and my friend, Elaine Powers, author, asked me to tell you how to find a lizard. I’d be happy to!

Some of my lizard cousins live “in captivity” with humans. This living situation has advantages and disadvantages. A caring person will provide hiding spots for young lizards, so they feel comfortable. We lizards retain all our survival instincts in captivity and like to hide from possible predators. And, young lizards are so very tasty. (I hear the seagulls talking about this on my beach. Shudder.)

There is one problem with good hiding places, however. On occasion, it becomes hard for the human to locate their reptilian family member.

The photo above is what Twizzler, a Spiny-tail iguana’s, human saw when looking for the young iguana. Is that a lizard body part? she thought. Or just another piece of the plastic rock formation?

Okay, yes, it was a body part. When she looked behind the rock, she saw identifiable parts of Twizzler, his snout and tail.

 

a rock from an iguana's enclosure
Can you see an iguana knee in this photo? Please comment below and tell me where it is. Thank you! Curtis

And what is the part of Twizzler’s body seen in front of this rock? His human claims Twizzler’s knee is in the picture. I’m a lizard and I can’t see it! Can you? Please make a note for me in the comments, if so. I’d love to know where it is. Thank you for your help.

I do have a clue if you ever need to find a lizard: Remember to look for the tail. We lizards often forget to pull in our tails. Of course, Twizzler could have felt comfortable enough to leave his tail out. After all, there are no predators in his enclosure, and he knows that now.

Now, back to me! Here is my latest adventure story. I just love being the star of Warderick Wells and having my friends see me on You Tube!

children's book cover about Curtis Curly-tail lizard and a hurricane in the Bahamas
In this story, I join Allison Andros Iguana to warn the iguanas of Beach Cay about the impending hurricane. Low lying areas are particularly vulnerable to the storm surges, high rainfall and powerful winds of hurricanes. Small islands or cays here in the Bahamas can be completely washed over. Beach Cay, the setting of Curtis Curly-tail is Blown Away, has entire populations of endemic animals, such as the iguanas like Allison. One powerful hurricane could wipe out her entire species.

Until next time, you all take care out there. Be good to each other–life is short.

Did You Know There is More Than One “English?” by Curtis Curly-tail Lizard

Hi, friends! It’s me—Curtis Curly-tail! Did you miss me? (Come on  over and see me at my YouTube page.) I missed you, too!

Did you know there is more than one English? I was wondering about Elaine a few times when she didn’t understand something I said–I am from the Bahamas, a member of the British Commonwealth–but I’ve recently learned because of a blog post Elaine wrote that her English is actually different from my English. There’s a US English and a British English! Some of our words are even spelled differently. Elaine said in the post she will continue to write in US English, at least for now. (We will see about that.)

Elaine got me wondering about the other differences in the two Englishes. Brits and Americans also use different terms for the same objects. (That explains her confusion.) Some British words, like “boot” for the trunk of a car, make good sense. However, some involve animal terms and are a lot more fun.

What they call a ladybird in Great Britain, you call a ladybug in the US. A metal clip with long serrated jaws often attached to an electric cable is called an “alligator clip” in the US—but we call it a “crocodile clip” in the British Commonwealth. Did you just choose a similar reptile to be different? Personally, I’m glad both the gators and crocs have a metal clip named after them. Go, reptiles! I’m thinking someone should name something after Curly-tail lizards, too! Of course, it’s got to be curly. And the first one should obviously be a “Curtis.”

Another fun name in Great Britain is the term for crosswalks. Those stripes on the road where pedestrians walk across are called “zebra crossings!” Do real zebras cross there? I might have to take a trip to find out. Then Elaine could write another Curtis Curly-tail adventure: Curtis Curly-tail and the Crossing Zebra! I’m not sure how I’d get there by boat, but she will figure it out.

(Right, Elaine? Right?  Okay, okay. The fourth book in the series just came out. You’re probably waiting for inspiration. But aren’t I always inspiring??)

That’s right, my compadres–the next book in the Curtis Curly-tail series just came out. That’s four now–ALL ABOUT ME! What can I say? When you’re a star, you’re a star! I hope you’ll go over and grab a copy of Curtis Curly-tail is Blown Away! by Elaine A. Powers. (I mean, you’ve GOT to find out if I make it back home after a hurricane that blows me away. Just pretend like you didn’t see this post until after you read it. It’s really good–lots of weather and environmental science woven into the story. Kids don’t even notice–they just learn the science. And that, my friends, is how Elaine rolls. I just love that!

children's book cover about Curtis Curly-tail lizard and a hurricane in the Bahamas
In this story, I join Allison Andros Iguana to warn the iguanas of Beach Cay about the impending hurricane. Low lying areas are particularly vulnerable to the storm surges, high rainfall and powerful winds of hurricanes. Small islands or cays here in the Bahamas can be completely washed over. Beach Cay, the setting of Curtis Curly-tail is Blown Away, has entire populations of endemic animals, such as the iguanas like Allison. One powerful hurricane could wipe out her entire species.

It’s That Time of the Year–Weather is in the News! by Curtis Curly-tail Lizard

Illustration of Curtis on boat looking at a sneaker
Here’s me in Curtis Curly-tail and the Ship of Sneakers. This book started my career as a book-inspirer, writer and video performer. I must say that I have a lot to be thankful for! Illustration by Arthur Winstanley.  Book designed by Nora Miller.

Hello, everyone! I’m Curtis Curly-tail Lizard and every year, all of us in The Bahamas worry about hurricane season. I wrote here before about Hurricane Dorian, which hit the northern part of my country, causing a lot of damage. Of course, this the time of the year, weather is newsworthy in many places–like all the terrible fires now burning in California.  For my friend, Elaine, in Arizona, it’s the monsoon season. It amazes me that Elaine hopes for monsoon rains, while we Warderick Wellians hope the hurricanes will avoid us!

June 1 marked the official hurricane season start in the Atlantic Ocean, which includes the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. Of course, weather doesn’t always abide by the calendar, as Elaine has mentioned about Southern Arizona’s 2020 monsoon season. It never started. Everything is very dry there and the heat has been rather extreme. Elaine’s prickly pear cactus plants are drying up. It’s pretty bad when cactus dry up.

In the Sonoran Desert, the air rises upward due to the hot temperatures warming the ground. This creates a vacuum that can pull in moisture-containing winds from the west, including air from Baja California in the Pacific. Monsoon rains are powerful and can cause flash floods, lightning strikes can ignite fires, and winds can knock down trees and poles. They also create microbursts, which are like tiny tornadoes. But, after the heat of May and June, the refreshing rains allow the cacti to rehydrate, wildflowers to bloom, ocotillo to produce leaves. Animals, from insects to mammals, increase their activity. It is normally a time of fun and frolicking. The water is much needed by the plants and animals in the desert and much missed this year. Elaine and her friends are all still hoping the rains will come.

I hope you’ll stop by and visit me at my YouTube channel, Curtis Curly-tail Speaks. And I’m very excited to tell you that a new book will be added to the Curtis Curly-tail collection very soon. It’s about my experiences with the yiggies on Beach Cay. What’s a yiggie? You’ll soon find out in Curtis Curly-tail is Blown Away! I’m so excited and I’ll be sure to let you know when it goes on sale!

I hope you’re enjoying the summer weather, wherever you are. Take care of yourselves and each other out there! I sure am on Warderick Wells!

I’m Curtis Curly-tail and Have I Got a Roadrunner Video for You! (Meep-Meep)

“Hello to all! I’m Curtis Curly-tail and I am here to tell you about my latest YouTube video,  which focuses on Roadrunners in Southern Arizona. Did you know when these large birds leave tracks behind, you can’t tell what direction they came from or where they went? I wish I could do that! And roadrunners are really, really fast. That makes me a little afraid of them, too. They do love their lizard snacks!

We lizards are pretty fast, ourselves. So far, so good.

Come on over to my YouTube channel, Curtis Curly-tail Speaks, and watch my latest video about the Southwest’s iconic bird: the Roadrunner. I give lots of interesting details about this unusual bird that stays mostly on the ground.

And then, take a look at Elaine A. Powers book called Don’t Make Me Fly! The book tells all about this bird sacred to Native American peoples because of its courage and speed. The book is written in fun rhymes and vividly illustrated. Don’t Make Me Fly! is available at Amazon.com.

Thanks for stopping by to ‘catch a tail–I mean, tale!’ here at Elaine A. Powers’ author website. We both appreciate you very much! See you over at You Tube!

illustration of a desert roadrunner
Strong. Fast and Courageous, Roadrunner Doesn’t Need To Fly

It’s National Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Day by Curtis Curly-tail

Image courtesy of マサコ アーント (Aunt Masako) from Pixabay

Hello, friends! It’s Curtis Curly-tail, star of Curtis Curly-tail Speaks! I hope you are all staying safe and that you are ready to share or receive some zucchini squash. That’s right—August 8th is National Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Day! If you have ever successfully grown zucchini, you know they can be prolific. In fact, people often have so many zucchini, they sneak them onto their neighbor’s porches in the dark of night. August 8th is the day celebrating this act of generosity. 

But I’ll bet you didn’t know that reptiles enjoy the zucchini AND the flowers. That’s a hint for those of you who have too many fruit on your plants—just pick the flowers off the plants and feed them to your favorite plant-enjoying reptile, like tortoises and iguanas. I’ve even heard that humans also enjoy the flowers.

Zucchini don’t seem to grow near my home on Warderick Wells in the Bahamas, but I hope to someday enjoy zucchini flowers and the fruit, too! In fact, if you’re headed my way, you don’t need to worry about the date to sneak some zucchini into my den!

Speaking of my den, I don’t seem to spend a lot of time there. I hope you’ll come along on one of my crazy adventures! (I just can’t seem to help myself . . .) You’ll learn about ecology and conservation in fictional stories by Elaine A. Powers. She’s pretty awesome—who would’ve thought you could make science fun with rhymes and adventure stories? Why, me and Elaine, of course!

Here I am for your educational needs AND pleasure:

book covers curtis curly-tail
Three adventures so far! I meet Allison Andros Iguana in Curtis Curly-tail is Lizardnapped!

It’s New Tech Time–Elaine A. Powers Will Now Visit Your Classroom via Video Conferencing

Image courtesy of Alexandra_Koch from Pixabay

Hello, everyone!

It’s me, Curtis Curly-tail! You know me as the perfect curly-tail lizard from the Bahamas, who inspired Elaine A. Powers to write her very first children’s science book (fun science adventure tale, that is) called, most appropriately, Curtis Curly-tail and the Ship of Sneakers. Who knew Elaine would go on to write 25 children’s science books? Not me! But there was a need to make learning science fun and she grabbed the moment and ran with it. I am so proud of her!

Then she asked me to write for her blog and star on her YouTube channel, as well. What could I say? Who doesn’t want to be famous? I do have a bit of the star-strut going on at the beach near my home on Warderick Wells. And the girl curly-tail lizards–well, they get giddy and giggly when they see me. Someone’s gotta be that guy and it may as well be me.

After I started Elaine on her career as an author, I sent her out visiting schools and organizational meetings, teaching about us wonderful reptiles. She brought iguanas, tortoises and turtles and they were always a smashing hit! However, with the virus pandemic, Elaine hasn’t been able to take her scaled friends out and all of them are really bummed. Especially, Blue, the rock iguana. (The big guy is pictured with Elaine below.) He loved the attention he got and misses the people he was meeting. Now, schools are closed and Elaine and her reptile family are all stuck at home.

photograph of Elaine A Powers with her large rock iguana, Blue
Elaine A. Powers and her big buddy, Blue, a rock iguana hybrid.

Animals have many ways of communicating, and humans don’t communicate like we do. You must use electronic technology over distances. I think that’s a decent alternative. I myself am very familiar with photography, posing for all the tourists as I do on the beach. This new electronic technology allows for “live” images–you can see each other in real time! Much more amazing than a photo, unless the photo is of me, of course! And, you can hear your voices, too. It’s called video conferencing, and a group, a crowd (that’s a collective noun) of humans, can communicate simultaneously. Very impressive.

Once I learned about video conferencing, I told Elaine, “You have to do this! You can’t meet with them in person now, but you can talk to them online. You can teach about the reptiles and show the iguanas and tortoises to classrooms or during meetings.”

She said, “But the people won’t be able to touch the reptiles. And Blue loved that!”

“I know. So far, I can’t figure that one out. But this isn’t going to last forever. Someday, you’ll be out and about again. In the meantime, people need to know all about us reptiles. We love it when people learn about and understand us. Come on, Elaine–say yes! You are needed! And Blue can ham it up for the camera.”

“Well, I guess we could give it a try.”

“That’s the spirit! It’ll be fun, just like your books!”

So, my friends, if you’re an educator, or have an interest in reptiles, you can talk to Elaine about speaking to your classroom or group. You will also learn about the books she has written and the incredible workbooks and activity sheets from Lyric Power Publishing, LLC. Elaine’s heart and mind are all about making science education fun. Contact her today to spice things up in the science curriculum via video conferencing.

We must all adapt these days. And, don’t forget about us very interesting reptiles! Contact Elaine through her website, www.elaineapowers.com today! Or at www.lyricpower.net, to schedule an online get-together with Elaine and Blue and Myrtle and Calliope and Rango and Cantata and Chile and Turquoise and–well, you get the picture! Or, you will!

After the exciting session from the Powers home, stop by and see me at Curtis Curly-tail Speaks on YouTube. You can learn a lot about reptiles from me, too. That’s my job and I’m stickin’ to it!

Eat Your Veggies!

June 17th is one of my favorite days of the year.  June 17 is National Eat Your Vegetable Day. As an omnivore, I enjoy my vegetables. My iguana and tortoise friends are also big connoisseurs of vegetables–that means they’re experts.

There are so many delicious vegetables to choose from. Don’t be afraid to try something new; you just might discover a new taste delight.

If you want to see some of my friends enjoying their vegetables, take a look at the YouTube videos on Curtis Curly-tail Speaks.

To learn more about iguanas and tortoises, check out the thorough and fun educational workbooks, activity sheets and coloring pages at Lyric Power Publishing, LLC.

image of book cover My Book About Tortoises GRades 2-4

Forty-seven pages of fun activities about tortoises. Includes a KWL chart, fact sheet and coloring page; label the parts or a tortoise; predators of the tortoise coloring page; color by multiplication and division, color by three-digit addition; reading comprehension, 3rd and 4th grade vocabulary; four vocabulary-in-context pages; dangers to tortoises; ecology short answer; fill-in-the blank reading comprehension; True-or-False; cut-and-paste life-cycle; cause-and-effect worksheet; project sheets for writing a fable; nouns, adjectives, and adverbs; ecology crossword puzzle and word search.

Hey, Fans! Here’s My Next Video: All About Cantata Sulcata

Hi, everyone! It’s me, Curtis Curly-tail Lizard and have I got a video for you!

I figured you fell asleep last night thinking about Sulcata tortoises and you wondered: Do they make good pets?

Click here on Curtis Curly-tail Introduces Cantata Sulcata to learn all about my friend, Cantata, and these special tortoises.

Thanks, and have a great day!

Is That Torpor or Hibernation? by Curtis Curly-tail

Howdy, friends! It’s me, Curtis Curly-tail! You know how I LOVE to bask in the sun? Well, I’ve recently learned that some of my friends go underground when it gets cold—to stay warm!

My human friend, Elaine, wrote here at Tales & Tails that round-tailed ground squirrels spend the winter underground to stay warm. Yes, it gets cold in Southern Arizona during the winter, unlike the warm tropical weather of the Exumas, where I live. But ground squirrels don’t actually hibernate like some other mammals do—they go into a state of torpor.

Both the state of torpor and hibernation are means for mammals to survive cold temperatures, conserving energy due to low food availability. Hibernation and torpor both involve lowering body temperatures and breathing, heart, and metabolic rates. What’s the difference between them? It’s all in the planning. Animals that hibernate plan for it. They store fat in advance and stay in the quiet state for as long as possible. When the warm temperatures finally arrive, the animals take a while to wake-up, using up a lot of their energy reserves.

Torpor happens involuntarily and only lasts for short periods. It’s like a deep sleep. Waking up takes less time and involves violent shaking from muscle contractions. I call that shivering.

As scientists have learned more about hibernation, the definition has changed. Animals once believed to be hibernating were in fact in the state of torpor. Today, the term hibernation includes true hibernators and those asleep in torpor.

Here’s a fellow desert-dweller of Elaine’s, that hibernates during the cold winters.

Gila Monster image courtesy of David Mark from Pixabay

Another interesting state is aestivation, which is an entirely different topic, in my estimation. Do you like my word play? Aestivation and estimation? I think Elaine should explain what aestivation is and use my rhyme in one of her books—with credit, of course!

For information about a desert dweller that goes into torpor–not hibernation–the Western Diamondback Rattlesnake–check out the 46-page workbook and activity sheets at Lyric Power Publishing, LLC. It’s educational, but it’s full of fun activities. Elaine always says, “Learning should be fun! That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!”

Book cover with photo of western diamondback rattler
book cover graphic of rattlesnake

Or, a perennial favorite is the rhyming, thrillingly illustrated Don’t Make Me Rattle! People fear rattlesnakes because they don’t understand them. Come inside and learn about these amazing snakes, how they help people, and why they should be respected, not exterminated.

‘Zoe the Star’ Tortoise! by Curtis Curly-tail

Hello to all my friends out there! I hope you are taking care of yourselves and each other in these difficult times. I’m looking forward to the day when my human friends don’t have to worry anymore about the virus called Covid-19! (If I could, I would banish it right now!) Until this passes, please take good care out there.

I love having made so many friends through my sidekick, Elaine A. Powers, and today I’d like to introduce you to Zoe, a Sonoran Desert tortoise. She’s a female who knows her territory and stands her ground. (I just love that in a tortoise!)

I don’t want to tell Zoe she’ll never be the star I am, of course, but take a look at my You Tube channel on your small screen at this beauty in her habitat and learn about what it takes to be a tortoise in the Sonoran Desert.

And for the kids and kids-at-heart in your home, have some fun with science education using the activity sheets and workbooks from Lyric Power Publishing, LLC.

Here’s an example or two:

Twenty-three fun, engaging, and interactive pages on the Freshwater Turtle.
Ideal for your young learners.
Four ecology coloring and information pages; three spelling and tracing pages; what freshwater turtles eat coloring page; label the parts of a freshwater turtle coloring page; complete the life-cycle of the turtle (same for both freshwater and green sea turtle); three color by addition and subtraction pages; two learn to spell coloring pages; and several teacher information pages suitable for creating bulletin boards about freshwater turtles.

47 pages of captivating activities that kids from kindergarten through 3rd grade are certain to enjoy! Includes spelling pages, two Venn-Diagram activities: bats vs. parrots, and bats vs. rats; math pages, reading comprehension pages for both bats and rats; a teacher-driven felt board activity; rhyming words, less than-greater than coloring sheet; two word searches, and MORE! Students will gain a deeper understanding of the Caribbean Fruit Bat and the rats that live on Cayman Brac and how they affect the ecology.

Not Everyone Wants to Be a Star! by Curtis Curly-tail

Hello, friends! It’s me, Curtis Curly-tail! I’m visiting my friend and author of fun science books, Elaine A. Powers. She’s working with Brad Peterson, who is, among other things, a talented graphic artist and animator. He had the idea to educate about reptiles by showing them eating.

Of course, I agreed to help with the videography. (I know—I know what you’re thinking. I love to be in the spotlight, and I do. But, I’m also very curious and I enjoy learning about everything, so I volunteered to be on the filming team.)

graphic of a curly-tail lizard
Check out my You Tube Channel!

As you will see on my YouTube channel Curtis Curly-tail Speaks, many of the family members cooperated.  However, some were shy about being filmed while eating, while others were just plain hostile to the idea.

Turquoise, above, a hybrid green iguana, would not let me film her eating. In fact, she continued to glare at me until I left. And, no matter how I tried to sneak up on her, she wasn’t fooled. That is one alert dragon—I mean, iguana,of course!

Speaking of iguanas, they are awfully large, aren’t they? But quite fascinating. Did you know they don’t have vocal cords and make no sounds?

To learn more about them, check out “My Unit Study on Iguanas,” a 30-page workbook filled with fun and educational activity sheets.

Graphic image book cover about iguanas